Monday, 8 August 2011

The 25% ME Group reply to Stefanie Marsh’s article about Professor Simon Wessely in The Times

Following on from the Interview with Professor Simon Wessely in The Times on 6 August (see, the 25% ME Group ( have written a response -

Permission to repost.

The 25% ME Group sent this to The Times

The 25% ME Group is the only UK charity representing just severely affected ME sufferers, we would like to request a right of reply to the article by Stefanie Marsh in The Times, 6 August 2011.

Stefanie Marsh’s article about Professor Simon Wessely "the most hated doctor in Britain” begins by naming him Britain’s foremost authority on ME. This may be his opinion, but it is worth reminding readers that medics worldwide who treat and study ME disagree with Professor Wessely that the illness is psychiatric. Substantial and significant published research shows ME to be organic, not psychiatric and it is considered to be so by doctors in all fields other than psychiatry.

The renowned expert Dr Byron Hyde said "The belief that [ME] CFS is a psychological illness is the error of our time."

In 2004 the Countess of Mar claimed in the House of Lords, "Since his arrival on the scene in 1987, Wessely has repeatedly and persistently played down, dismissed, trivialised or ignored most of the significant international biomedical evidence of organic pathology found in ME because it does not fit his psychiatric model of the disorder”. She went on to call him "savagely cruel to the ME community”. This is a view of Simon Wessely that it may have been useful to explore in an article that seems astonished that some ME patients are angry with him.

In Stefanie's article Wessely states "a pessimistic illness perception can become a self-fulfilling prophecy of non-recovery". "Patients tend to view their symptoms as part of an overwhelming, mysterious, unexplainable disease that struck them out of the blue and from which they most likely will never recover."

A very quick internet search would have found The Case Definition for ME compiled by the world's leading authorities on ME which makes these "beliefs" seem more like reality. It states that it is "a severe systemic acquired illness" that "follows an acute infection" and that previously "patients had been healthy, living full and active lifestyles".

It quotes studies that show less than 10% of patients return to pre-illness levels of health and claims that loss of quality of life is more than for "many other chronic illnesses”. The article presented Wessely as a victim of abuse from ME sufferers. However the real victims of this story could be seen as the thousands of ME patients whose lives are drastically affected by dangerous and unproven assumptions that nothing is physically wrong with them.

The recent deaths of Sophia Mirza and Lynn Gilderdale show where this can lead.

Patients anger at Wessely’s loud and damaging mis-diagnosis, like the anger of MS patients when psychiatry labelled it hysterical paralysis, is not based on prejudice against mental illness but on the fact that they will not receive treatment or a cure if Wessely's therapy is all that is offered.

As the Countess of Mar pointed out, the end result of Wessely’s proclamations is "that patients receive no investigations, support, treatment, benefits or care”.

25% ME Group

No comments: