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NZ Listener - Ills thought out - Wilson 2019

Discussion in 'General Advocacy Discussions' started by Hutan, May 7, 2019.

  1. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    @Ravn brought this article in a NZ magazine to our attention in the New Zealand thread.

    Marc Wilson is a regular columnist in the Listener, a mainstream magazine in New Zealand that is currently claiming to be New Zealand's Bestselling Current Affairs Magazine (although I imagine a lot of people only get their news online these days). Wilson's column in the May 11-17 edition talks generally about how poor thinking can impact on how people manage their illnesses.
    The irony of following that statement with an endorsement of CBT for CFS later in the article is sadly lost on Wilson.

    Wilson talks about a study by Moss-Morris:
    And presumably CBT:
    On the positive side, Wilson doesn't doubt the seriousness of CFS, mentioning "hugely debilitating fatigue". He says that we don't know "exactly what's going on with CFS, but we do know sufferers have abnormal immune systems". He notes that there is no treatment for CFS (but does quote health navigator as saying that reducing stress and practising mindfulness meditation may help).

    And, the reported 15% improvement in quality of life from changing how you think is hardly a cure. So, it could be worse.

    The article may turn up online at noted.co.nz/the-listener.

    Letters to the editor can be sent to letters@listener.co.nz. Letters under 300 words are preferred. You need to include your full name and residential address.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
    ladycatlover, MEMarge, Trish and 12 others like this.
  2. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    I sent the following as a letter to the editor today:

    Thanks to Marc Wilson in 'Ills thought out' for correctly reporting that CFS (or ME/CFS as it is better called) is 'hugely debilitating' and that currently there is no treatment.

    The recent trans-national consensus document by the International Alliance for ME noted that no study has provided scientific evidence to support the theory that personality, psychological or behavioural factors predispose or perpetuate ME/CFS. This document was signed by 12 national societies including ANZMES, New Zealand's ME/CFS charity, and dozens of leading researchers.

    Studies claiming to find evidence for poor-thinking causing ME/CFS tend to have a morass of design problems including small sample sizes (as was the case with the Moss-Morris paper quoted in Wilson's article which had just 17 people with 'CFS') and p-hacking. More robust studies fail to find such evidence. A recent study found that young people with ME/CFS did not have more perfectionist traits than healthy controls.

    There are estimated to be 20,000 people with ME/CFS in New Zealand, people of all kinds, people who are sometimes perfectionists and people who are sometimes comfortable with mediocrity.

    Thankfully, most people no longer believe that neurotic personalities predispose women to breast cancer although this had been widely held to be true. It is time to similarly move on from victim-blaming ideas related to ME/CFS.​

    I would have liked to address the issue of CBT only producing small and short lived responses on subjective outcomes but didn't have enough words.

    Perhaps more letters might make someone at the Listener think that a bigger better article is warranted.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  3. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent letter, @Hutan. I hope they publish it.
     
  4. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    One is immediately suspicious of a title like "Ills thought out". Too clever by half. Perhaps that is where all the effort went. Clearly indicates the authors "thinking".
     
  5. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    You're a star :thumbup:
     
  6. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Good letter @Hutan. It seems that you and @Ravn are doing some excellent advocacy work in New-Zealand.
     
  7. Carolyn Wilshire

    Carolyn Wilshire Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Pretty taken aback by this article. By a colleague in my own department too. I've also sent a letter. Its way too long, but I'm hoping they might give me special dispensation as a fellow psychologist!

     
  8. JemPD

    JemPD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well done @Hutan great letter!

    & @Carolyn Wilshire thank you for talking to your colleagues in this wonderful way. Great to see a psychologist making sense.
    With your permission i would like to copy it & print it out to give to a psychotherapist i may meet with to see if they can give me some support through some difficult life circumstances I'm currently experiencing. It debunks a lot of the nonsense in a short piece & written by a fellow psych professional it will carry more weight than my own opinions. If she is interested I will obviously link her in to read your main studies & work, but as an intro it would be so helpful.
     
  9. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    This is the TL;DR of problems with this research. The entire body of research exists in that space, mixed in with cherry-picking random correlation and declaring it causative. By their broken reasoning shivering is what makes us cold.

    It's absurd that this point has to be made over and over again but thank you for taking the time to make it loud and clear to your, uh, logically-challenged colleagues.
     
  10. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thank you. I do hope they print it. Ideally as a guest columnist in place of Wilson in the next edition ;)

    Or maybe it at least gives them the idea to do a bigger - and more informed! - feature on ME one day? Maybe David Tuller's visit later in the year could provide a suitable occasion?
     
  11. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    Great letter @Carolyn Wilshire. We in New Zealand are fortunate to have you here, embedded in the NZ psychology scene.

    I hope that does happen. Even just a telling of the PACE story would be great, and it perfectly illustrates much bigger issues in psychology research.
     
  12. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Particularly disappointing is that Wilson in previous columns expressed great concern - genuine I believe - for the mental welfare of young people constantly exposed to all sorts of pressures and messages of unattainable ideals.

    Yet here he seems oblivious to the potentially damaging effect of his message that if you're ill with CFS it's because you're too perfectionistic or too depressed or too anxious or too all-or-nothing or just generally don't think right. He might argue he's talking about % risk increase but the message readers get is "you're all wrong as a person if you have CFS". How helpful is that going to be to a young person already struggling with serious illness?

    Even if Wilson actually believes Moss-Morris' research conclusions to be valid (which would suggest that either he didn't actually read her article or that he doesn't understand methodology - and he definitely doesn't understand ME) - even if he did write in good-faith ignorance, it was still irresponsible to write the way he did.
     
  13. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    My PEM must be lifting at last. At least I managed to write a letter to the Listener expressing my dismay at Wilson's piece and suggesting they contact @Carolyn Wilshire and @dave30th for a future feature to make up for Wilson's misstep.

    My letter wasn't the sort to be published but more a letter of complaint crossed with a tip off for a story. I figured it was a good idea to approach the issue from different angles and since we already have two letters to the editor, thanks again @Hutan and @Carolyn Wilshire, I decided on a different tack.

    Took all day but I got there, phew. And always feels good to achieve that first proper and completed task when emerging from PEM.
     
  14. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    Brilliant idea @Ravn. And good to hear the PEM is lifting.
     
  15. Gretel

    Gretel Established Member

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    Just chiming in here - also as a psychologist . This kind of pop psychology that gets perpetuated, in my opinion discredits our profession. The two things that are most important to the profession are that we use science (evidence) to inform our practice and that we do no harm. No scientist should take information out of context and report it as if it has some merit.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  16. Inara

    Inara Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    :laugh:
    That's funny - and embarrassing for the author. But surely this needs to be viewed more differentially, like it's unhelpful to pretend it's not happening and helpful to pretend it's not happening. (Sarcasm)
     
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  17. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Welcome @Gretel. Good to have you here.
     
  18. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi @Gretel, welcome. It's good to have another psychologist here who talks sense!
     
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  19. Carolyn Wilshire

    Carolyn Wilshire Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Sooo... people with ME simultaneously catastrophise about what's happening and also pretend its not happening... they simultaneously lack perseverance and try way too hard... they simultaneously do too little exercise and overdo activities... these simultaneous paradoxical states are just doing my head in...
     
  20. strategist

    strategist Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    It all makes sense! The CBT/GET model is a patient blaming device and it works very well: no patient is without blame in this model, because anything they do is wrong.

    The solution for patients that do it wrong is of course CBT.
     
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