Friday, July 29, 2011

BBC News: Scientists working on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or ME, are abusing and intimidating patients

Professor Simon Wessely, of King's College London Speaking on the programme on Friday, and ME Association's Dr Charles Shepherd condemned the abuse, but said sufferers had a justifiable complaint that no government-funded research was looking at the bio-medical aspects of the illness.

Dr Shepherd said that while he condemned the intimidation, there was frustration that all the Government funding was focused on whether the illness has a psychological cause.

He added: ''This sort of personal intimidation ... is I believe completely unacceptable and it is also counterproductive because it doesn't stop the type of research going on and it puts good researchers off, there is no doubt about that.

''I think you need to put this into the context of the fact that we have about 250,000 people with this illness. A very, very tiny minority of these people are involved in this sort of behaviour.

''But what people do however have a justifiable complaint about is that there has been very little, or almost nil, Government-funded research into the biomedical aspect of this illness.

''We have a whole spectrum of people there who have an illness ranging from a physical illness at one end to a psychiatric cause of chronic fatigue at the other, and it is rather like putting everyone who has a chronic headache, from migraines to brain tumours, under a chronic headache syndrome saying that they all have the same cause and the same treatment.''

He added: ''Yes, there may be a psychological input to the illness in some people but the anger, the frustration, is the fact that all this effort, all this Government funding, has been going just to the psychological side.

''I don't want to see scientists leaving the field. I want a debate with scientists and it's the way I feel we should do it. It's the way I do it.

''Scientific debates, criticism is healthy but it should be done through the medical journals, through constructive criticism. As I said, intimidation, personal abuse, has no role to play in this whatsoever.''

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