Trial By Error: Psych Issues Do Not Predict ME/CFS, New Chicago Study Shows


David Tuller


By David Tuller, DrPH.

For decades, investigators have argued over the causes of the illness or cluster of illnesses variously called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),  ME/CFS, CFS/ME and other names. In the absence of an adequate explanation for the debilitating symptoms, a flawed approach to intervention based on the perceived need for psychological and behavioral rehabilitation has been relentlessly promoted by a committed band of professional campaigners at high levels in UK medicine and academia; their favored treatments are cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET).

These CBT/GET ideological brigades grounded their interventions in an interesting but unproven hypothesis. In their view, a cognitive disturbance in the form of purported “unhelpful” beliefs–specifically, beliefs of having a serious organic disorder–was a major factor in perpetuating the devastating symptoms. Disrupting the hegemony of these ideological brigadiers and their followers has been—and continues to be—a necessary step toward progress in seeking legitimate and evidence-based treatments.


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