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ME/CFS SKeptic: A new blog series on the dark history of psychosomatic medicine

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Michiel Tack, Mar 13, 2021.

  1. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    In a new blog series, we will investigate how illnesses were once thought to result from stress, psychological disturbance, or deviant personality features. From the cancer-prone personality to the theory of ‘refrigerator mothers’, medicine appears to suffer from a recurrent tendency to attribute illness to psychosomatic causes. As a result, patients are often blamed for being sick. Doctors seem to keep making this mistake over and over again. By narrating this dark history of psychosomatic medicine, we hope to empower patients against harmful preconceptions.

    ....

    In each new article, we will try to tell the psychosomatic history of a disease, starting with multiple sclerosis, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, and hopefully many more. We will not only try to summarize the psychosomatic literature but also estimate how it might have influenced doctor, patients and the public at large. If you like to receive an email notification each time a new article appears, you can subscribe to this blog by entering your email below.

    Link to the full article: https://mecfsskeptic.com/a-new-blog...-of-psychosomatic-medicine/?_thumbnail_id=760
     
    Viola, DokaGirl, inox and 58 others like this.
  2. NelliePledge

    NelliePledge Moderator Staff Member

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    Great idea. This topic definitely needs highlighting. :thumbup:
     
  3. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Great blog @Michiel Tack :thumbup:

    Once again it often comes down to blind bias & an inflated confidence i their own judgement by people who are well educated enough to know far better.

    We all judge, sometimes blindly, but when we allow these judgements to take over unfiltered and unquestioned and suppose we know better than others that's a slippery slope to all sorts of dangerous discrimination.

    When we allow those judgements to affect our professional careers that would usually be career limiting. When you're in a career that automatically puts you in a position of authority over others and you allow this to happen then you'll likely do as much harm as good.

    The irony of such educated people who believe they understand what makes people tick being so blinded by their own biases, biases often born of their own sense of moral superiority is outstanding.

    Discrimination and prejudice have been the root cause of so much hardship and cruelty in this world. Prejudice by those fortunate enough to have a good education and who should be capable of critical thinking along with a modicum of self awareness is one of the most frightening & cruel things of all.
     
  4. Sisyphus

    Sisyphus Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    A quibble: Discrimination is not prejudice, it means ‘to differentiate’. e.g: “We must discriminate between good evidence of the cause of our disease and psychobabble.”
    There is a later and common usage of the word which has made its way into online dictionaries, amounting to ‘differentiating among people for bad reasons’. It’s a corruption of the word’s root meaning.

    /Pedant Mode Off ;-)
     
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  5. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Surely every modern day usage of words represents a corruption of their root meanings if one goes back far enough, though we may not have written records that go back far enough to fully delineate this for all words. In general words evolve rather than spring into being fully formed.

    I would argue both ‘discriminate between’ and ‘discriminate against’ are acceptable as long as the context allows us to discriminate between the two and that as long as this is the case we should not discriminate against the latter more modern usage.
     
  6. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Couldn't agree more. Very much needed.
     
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  7. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I was hoping that there would be some good books on the topic that I could read and then summarize, but to my surprise, there was very little that provided a good overview. So that's when we decided to delve into the literature ourselves.

    We can already say that you'll always find something: there's always some weird psychosomatic theory or paper simply because the scientific literature is so big. The big difficulty is figuring out if such papers had any influence on doctors, patients and the public at large.
     
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  8. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes, which makes this so very timely. If you google you'll be led to metaphorical ocean liners full of describing / explaining / diagnosing psychosomatics, so much so that it must be everywhere. There is a very huge imbalance in the literature with no or very tiny and well hidden criticism allowing the psychosomatisers to run free and wild with their theories.
     
  9. Louie41

    Louie41 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The very best doctor I've ever had was at the Mayo Clinic. What made him the best? He believed what I told him about my body and, despite all negative test results, pursued diagnosis until he found out, through biopsy, what was wrong: a rare autoimmune disorder.

    He also took me as a full person, interested in what I was reading and thinking. I'm a pretty strong personality, and he enjoyed my company as I did his.

    He was a brilliant diagnostician and discovered parathyroid tumors---a search that started when he noticed I had pain in my shins on physical examination.

    Sadly, he moved down to Vanderbilt and I no longer have access to him.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
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  10. Sisyphus

    Sisyphus Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Both usages are accepted, but note that they also contradict. So in my (rather minority) view, dsc.b and the loaded dsc.a need to be spelled out if both are to remain in use.

    General pedantry Continued: Yes, word meanings have often changed from their roots, but not ‘nearly every’. Most current words have a meaning which is equal to or a version of their root, and with good writers the word origin is intentionally made part of its usage — Borges did this.
     
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  11. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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  12. Louie41

    Louie41 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Sadly, @Sisyphus, though I am a fellow pedant re. language usage, I must agree with @Peter Trewhitt.

    I offer as evidence my doubt that anyone on this forum, other than a linguist specializing in English, would be able to read and comprehend even one paragraph of Beowulf.

    Many readers cannot read Middle English (Chaucer) either with easy comprehension, for reasons of both vocabulary and syntax. And many readers today find the King James version of the Bible (1611) too remote from the modern day to allow their understanding.

    These changes in meaning and usage happen slowly and inexorably. But they do happen, and where is the authority to prevent them? Language is a creation of living people, not of institutions--- no matter how much institutions may try to lock it in place.

    I'm struggling with this realization myself, atm, trying to come to grips with the almost complete disappearance of the word "who" in American English vernacular.

    I will stop there, as I don't want to highjack Michiel Tack's thread about his excellent blog. Thank you, @Michiel Tack, for undertaking this work on our behalf. I will be eager to see what you tackle next.:emoji_ok_hand:

    Mods: please remove if too far off topic.
     
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  13. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    People take as their word roots an arbitrary point in time, even Roman and Greek words came from somewhere. Though we can speculate about possible original Indo-European or Sino-Tibetan or Afro-Asiatic parent roots for some words, this is still an arbitrary point in time and I suspect only a small core vocabulary with words such as ‘mother’ will have remained pretty much unchanged for more than a few thousand years.

    I agree understanding relatively recent roots and reflecting that in your usage can help the quality of your language, but what is more important is how well what we say can be understood. Use of formal systems can serve to include but they also can serve to exclude.

    I was being myself wilfully pedantic and not making a totally serious point, rather a feeble attempt at humour, but I do believe there is a serious side, that what is important is looking at the experience of the person communicating rather than seeking to impose our own beliefs or conventions, which brings us back to the topic in hand where the believers in psychosomatic interpretations are trying to fit the world into their own mental constructs rather than responding to individuals’ lived experience.

    I too echo the support for the importance and utility of this blog series.
     
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  14. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Great article. Look forward to the rest of the series. :thumbup:

    Besides Sontag's book that you refer to in the article, Barbara Ehrenreich's book* also deals with related issues in a broader context.

    * Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (2009). UK: Smile Or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Ehrenreich

    Not that I am wanting to increase your reading burden. :whistle:
     
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  15. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thanks for the reading tip! The whole 'positive thinking is healthy' - movement also seems worth digging in to, but will probably take us a while.
     
  16. Joan Crawford

    Joan Crawford Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Angela Kennedy wrote a book called Authors of our own misfortune, if I recall.

    Also, the book Why Freud was wrong has an excellent appendix about the history of Hysteria.
     
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  17. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thanks, I was able to read a copy thanks to the help of @lycaena. It's mostly about problems with the cognitive behavioural model of ME/CFS. If I understand correctly Kennedy was also one of the people who criticized the PACE trial at the very beginning.

    Thanks, it was already on my reading list. I'm a bit reluctant to delve into Freud and hysteria because it will probably be lots of nonsense that I'll have to go through...
     
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  18. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yeah, love both those books. I was frequently in contact with Angela at the time.
     
  19. Joan Crawford

    Joan Crawford Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Me too She acknowledged my support in the book which was lovely of her.
     
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  20. Joan Crawford

    Joan Crawford Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Richard Webster's book is a pretty big door stop. Through job. I seem to recall that the appendix about hysteria may be available on his website.
     
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