By Margaret Cook:
I’ve said before in this column that the most important thing I have learned in a lifetime of medical practice, is that you should LISTEN to what the patient tells you. So, following my own advice, and feeling somewhat humbled, when they asked if I needed to know more about ME, where would I go? I replied that I could do worse than coming to this particular group. That raised me in their estimation.
But I picked up a name, the significance of which did not strike me until afterwards.
Simon Wessely, professor of epidemiology and liaison psychiatry at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, London. Ah, what a Big Cheese he sounds.
It seems that he has been central to the psychiatric perspective that ME does not exist at all, and that the related "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" is a mental condition best managed by a psychiatric therapeutic approach.
He has downplayed the need for research into diagnostic markers for the condition(s), and such is his influence that no state funding is forthcoming to support any other research than his own. For a mystery condition, this is closing down the portals and reducing the chance of the broad, open
perspective needed to break through the barriers of prejudice and ignorance.
After I left the meeting, that name echoed in my subconscious mind, until a day or so later, I suddenly remembered where I had met it before.
In May 2003, a revolutionary issue of the BMJ challenged the age-old association between doctors and their lavishly-generous sponsors, the pharmaceutical companies. The attack was bold, and very shocking to those who had not thought of how the profession prostitutes itself for funding, and how both treatment and research are distorted as a result.
Well done, the editor, said some of us. But not all.
One of the foremost who objected to the challenge to our collective integrity was the aforementioned Professor Simon Wessely, who (using a reductio ad absurdum argument), refused to countenance the possibility of his judgment being swayed by any such paymaster.
He wrote: "It is time we doctors grew up."
He no doubt subscribes to the principle of the double-blind, randomised clinical trial, yet is himself blind to the possibility that doctors can be biased by that most powerful motivator, money.
You can tell from every sentence of his letter that he is used to dictating principles and having everyone in his orbit humbly accept his gospel. If I needed persuading that the ME community merited my support, this letter and its author would convince me. When you have enemies like him, you need a powerful lot of friends.
See also: Premorbid risk markers for growing nose syndrome in a large cohort of CBT psychiatrists
See also: This is the worst from The Times yet: Prof Simon Wessely finally showing evidence of the death threats against him
See also: CFS Patients Try to Help Researchers Despite The Fact that Researchers try To Kill Them with CBT and GET