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Are Wessely, Sharpe & Co psychologically manipulating gullible journalists into writing articles that present them in a good light?

Discussion in 'General Advocacy Discussions' started by Hip, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. Hip

    Hip Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I often get the impression that Prof Simon Wessely, Prof Michael Sharpe and others from the Wessely School of psychiatrists prey on naive young journalists. I suspect these psychiatrists are using their skills in psychology to butter up the journalist, perhaps over a few beers in a bar, playing the nice guy in order to manipulate the journalist into writing positive articles about them.

    In general, when journalists interview most public figures or persons of interest, sometimes the journalist will write a positive and flattering article, other times the journalist can be very critical. That's the norm in journalism, and as a public figure, you can never know what your interviewer is going to write, and whether they will present you in a good light, or criticize you.

    So it is just the luck of the draw when you are interviewed: in some media articles you may be criticized, in others you may be praised.

    But how many newspaper or media articles have you seen where Wessely, Sharpe, White and others have actually been substantially criticized by the journalist? I've never seen any. That defies all odds, because even the most upstanding public figures will get critical articles written about them.

    So how can Wessely, Sharpe and colleagues always come out smelling of roses in the media? How is it they are never on the receiving end of substantial journalistic criticism? Or even just mild criticism? The only time they have been criticized is in the sterling work of journalist David Tuller.


    This small, ambitious and self-serving group of Wessely School psychiatrists have wielded enormously global influence, and after their ascendancy in around the late 1980s, were able to successfully dupe the world into thinking that ME/CFS is an "all in the mind" psychogenic condition, whereas previously ME/CFS had been understood to be a real biologically-caused disease.

    Wessely often denies to journalists that he portrays ME/CFS as "all in the mind", but Wessely is on record as saying "I will argue that ME is simply a belief, the belief that one has an illness called ME", an outrageous statement (but no journalist ever asks him about that).

    Sadly most of the medical profession uncritically adopted Wessely School ideas on ME/CFS like lemmings.

    By ambitiously promoting their own entirely unevidenced ideas that ME/CFS is a psychogenic condition, and suggesting that ME/CFS patients simply "think themselves ill", the Wessely School have ended up stigmatizing millions of very sick ME/CFS patients around the world as being lazy, malingerers or having the wrong attitude. Thus the Wessely School caused terrible social as well as scientific harm.

    So given their enormous and noxious influence on the world of ME/CFS, Wessely School psychiatrists could (and should) be strongly criticized in the newspapers for multiple reasons.

    Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that their intentions were at least honorable, the actual results of their ideas have been disastrous. Their 30 years of research has not led to any cures from ME/CFS, and their PACE trial results on CBT/GET were so bad they had to spin them (these psychiatrists have always been better at spin than science). So media criticism is very much needed.

    Although you wonder if their motivations were actually so pure, given that all these psychiatrists have had longstanding working and pecuniary relationships to disability insurance companies like UNUM — companies who were able to save millions by withholding disability payment to ME/CFS patients as a result of ME/CFS being refashioned as an "all in the mind" condition by Wessely and his colleagues.

    Yet in spite of all this wrongdoing, in the media the Wessely School invariably come up smelling of roses. Why is this?


    I think this in part might be because the Wessely and Co are (consciously or unconsciously) using their psychological talents to manipulate the minds of the journalists who interview them. This is one of the advantages of being a psychologist or psychiatrist: you have the skills to get into the minds of others.

    Wessely, Sharpe and colleagues, being well versed in psychological techniques, are probably very good at playing the role of "I am such nice, affable and civilized guy, and I've been so misunderstood", thereby persuading a gullible journalist to write an article that portrays them in a positive light, and portrays the real victims of the Wessely School — the 17 million stigmatized and medically neglected ME/CFS patients worldwide — as the bad guys. That is the beguiling power of the Wessely School.

    Wessely in particular is a master manipulator of the media, and routinely wraps naive journalists around his little finger. Wessely is always playing some media trick, courting some gullible journalist, and indoctrinating that journalist into his worldview.

    I suspect Wessely and Co are are also adept at pre-selecting young, naive or gullible journalists to talk to, providing easy journalistic fodder for them to manipulate. They probably will not talk to hard-nosed, worldly-wise journalists; just those journalists who are easily duped.

    And of course with Wessely placing himself on the board of the Science Media Centre, that puts him into the media manipulation hot seat.

    Simon Wessely also has a history of issuing legal threats to publishers or media organizations, threatening to sue them for libel whenever they write an article about him which is less than flattering, usually resulting in these articles being withdrawn. That is another way Wessely manipulates the media.



    So the question we need to ask the journalistic community is: why have you never written any critical articles about Wessely, Sharpe and colleagues? Are you too gullible, or just too timid?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
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  2. pteropus

    pteropus Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    perhaps there WERE critical articles, but the 'establishment' pulled strings, or implied career death, and the articles were disappeared.
     
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  3. Alvin

    Alvin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Funny that i was also thinking about this earlier today, how can a small group of liars get away with murder?

    I think its an analogue of whats happening in the world today, they are bullying and easy answering their way to power and influence. And coincidentally their easy answers and lies helps the government save money for their austerity agenda. The enemy of their enemy is their friend...

    Their basic game plan has been to start with a conclusion and provide easy answers that we have no real answers to counter with. People are gullible and they have used the playbook of smears, bullying, intimidation, apologists, propaganda and a whole host of unethical behaviours from manipulating their data to threatening dissenters to elevate and keep themselves in power. People don't cross bullies because they are feared and if they do its their neck on the line. The alpha is given deference and control.
    As @Jonathan Edwards said
    I am reminded of this clip


    Oh and they use tactics of classical abusers from claiming victimhood to blaming victims to projection to believing their own lies and so on. Psychiatry has a dark hidden history they don't really like talking about but have not yet escaped
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  4. Seven

    Seven Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Let me give you my 2 cents, All this effort is not naivite. Is a very well coordinated spider web of insurance, government disability and the BPS machine worth millions of dollars. Each writer, reviewer... That has been confronted does not back down. There is too much money at risk to leave it to luck, That a writer would do the research and back down... Nothing this people do is out of stupidity, ego, naivite....

    They are laughing all the way to the bank. Not stupid.
     
  5. James Morris-Lent

    James Morris-Lent Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well I don't think that's right.
     
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  6. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think the age of the journalists is particularly relevant. More often I suspect it is lack of time to investigate properly, so they just take what the SMC feeds them.

    I'd go more for the toxic mix of bad science, defending their careers and status, the English old boys network power structures and government and insurance company power. And the SMC.

    There are plenty of experienced doctors and scientists who have swallowed the story too. I agree Weasely is an arch manipulator who has succeeded in getting himself into positions of power and influence.

    I'd like to know why he decided so early in his career that people with ME are basically malingerers or deluded or both, however he chooses to dress it up and pretend that's not what he thinks.

    That he (Edit: I mean Weasely) discovered quite quickly that other doctors were happy to leave the field to him and a few cronies was a bit of luck for him, as I suspect his aim as a doctor was an easy life without too much hard scientific study required to get him status and power over others.
     
  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Some articles may involve the SMC, but others may be direct interviews with Wessely and colleagues independent of the SMC.

    It comes across as considerable journalistic naivety and incompetence when there is a major dispute between two parties — in this case the Wessely School and the global ME/CFS patient community (and researchers aligned with patients) — and the journalist simply listens only to Wessely or Sharpe's side of the story, like an obsequious fawn.

    It makes these journalists look amateur and foolish. It's embarrassing for the press that their journalists are so obsequious and easily duped.
     
  8. Cheshire

    Cheshire Moderator Staff Member

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    And with easy patients, because despite what he keeps saying everywhere about the abuse he endures, that has nothing to do with the harsh work within a psychiatric ward, with psychotic patients.
     
  9. Skycloud

    Skycloud Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Journalism in the UK has declined over recent decades. There are fewer reporter man hours expected to produce more content than ever. It's unusual for newspapers, even the serious ones, to do investigative stories about anything. They just don't provide the budget for it. There also seem to be a lot more opinion pieces rather than proper news. And then there's all the celebrity/royal family/lifestyle filler. Newspapers really aren't what they were. That's not to say that there aren't still good journalists.

    However, what would be cheap entertaining and informative is if the BBC put Michael Sharpe up against Jonathan Edwards on Newsnight. It's a pity that would never happen.
     
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  10. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    There was the Scottish article by the wife of a prominent Liberal politician (sorry my memory is so bad) that was retracted.
     
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  11. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Are you thinking of Margaret Cook former wife of the labour minister Robin Cook?
     
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  12. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Carefully cultivated networking I strongly suspect. a.k.a. Grovelling, palm greasing, a*$£-kissing, etc, etc, etc.
    Agree 100% with this. Psychiatrist of all people know how to get into people's heads. Needs great integrity to not abuse that power. Being deeply manipulative is an abuse of that power, and shows profound lack of integrity. So I've been convinced for a good while this is exactly their forte. Many manipulative people have such skills naturally, and if you reinforce it with psych knowledge too ...
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  13. inox

    inox Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I don't think there is much need for manipulating actually.

    As others have pointed out, there isn't much investigative journalisme these days. Papers have cut back on number of journalist, and they are under pressure to push out more pieces. It's more or less the norm that a journalist is functioning as microphone stand for anyone wishing to air their opinion.

    There is a case happening in Norway right now with many similarities, or it's been ongoing for some time - but it just blew up, and turned into a harsh criticisme of newspapers/journalist.

    It would seem to me, that as long you are willing to set yourself up as the victim, your story will be told and belived. No need to fact check or ask critical questions. Then - other stories will be built on the initial one, taking it at face value. This way, you become your own source.

    The story in Norway, is the wife of the minister of defence have had a strong media presence - beeing very critical of a small theater group, that have included some photo of their house in a play. She went on to blame them for setting her familiy up to be victimes of hate crime, vandalism etc. Her story became the truth about what happened. The theater group have been under tremendous pressure and criticism, had death threats etc.

    It turns out, the whole thing might have been orchestrated by the wife of the mininster of defence herself. She is now under police investigation for doing the vandalism. No one ever asked about the validity of her claimes. The theather group got harsh criticism, even by the prime minister, for airing the possibility the whole thing was staged. It was at the verge at becoming a political scandal.

    Now the scrutiny is turned at the press, and their failure to fact check and take precaution.

    I think it has more to do with the media landscape, and some people taking advantage of it. Beeing the victim is always a good story, it will get a wide reach. People like scandals and a culprit to turn some felt just indignation at.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  14. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    But this has been going on for decades, and the human tendency for power and influence is as old as humanity itself. The trait will still be there, and I'd be amazed if such folk were content to let it lay dormant. It just gets used in new ways, to influence the influencers - SMC etc.
     
  15. Hip

    Hip Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I don't mean that Wessely and colleagues use any "now look into my eyes" formal techniques to manipulate the press, but rather that they are intuitively able to get people on their side using their psychological talents, similar to an expert salesman who knows what conversational patter to use to convince people to buy a product.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  16. Alvin

    Alvin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think your giving them too much credit.
    I think its more a case that they are the abusers their profession claims to abhor hence use tactics many a spouse uses to abuse their family.
     
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  17. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes I think I am.

    [added - At least I got the Scottish aspect right. Here is a link to a archived copy of her article criticising Wessely in the Scotsman that he had retracted, see http://www.whale.to/a/me12.htm

    She concludes "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." ]
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  18. Hip

    Hip Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes, and the ability to get into people's heads comes in handy if like the Wessely School, you've invested whole academic careers into trying to cure biological diseases such as ME/CFS by psychological therapies, but your efforts have failed miserably (it's not surprising that psychological techniques would fail to cure biological diseases).

    Rather than admitting failure, you instead just try to con and manipulate everyone into believing that your failure was actually a success. The PACE trial publication itself is an example of this: a failure that was spun by the Wessely School to make it look like it was a success.

    The Wessely School ideas and theories have stigmatized millions of ME/CFS patients around the world, portraying terribly ill ME/CFS patients as merely malingerers, lazy or faking it. But rather than admitting you have caused this terrible harm to patients, you manipulate naive journalists into believing you really care and really want to help.




    Certainly I am amazed that no journalists have investigated the connections that Simon Wessely and Michael Sharpe have with the UNUM disability insurance company (previously called UnumProvident), which was described as "rogue" firm by the BBC, and was accused of cheating thousands out of their welfare benefits. And Peter White has connections with insurance company Swiss Re.
     
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  19. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think it has been commented on before that when journalists have attempted to expose their shenanigans in the past, they and their organisations have been jumped on from a great height, highly likely thanks to manipulative influential words into cowed ears.
     
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  20. Roy S

    Roy S Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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