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Review: CFS book by Nick Duerden

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by MeSci, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. MeSci

    MeSci Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Source: The British Journal of General Practice

    Vol 68, #677, p 586

    Date: December 2018

    URL: https://bjgp.org/content/68/677/586.1

    Ref: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/get-well-soon-9781472950482/

    https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/get-well-soon-9781472950475/

    Books: Get Well Soon: Adventures in Alternative Healthcare: Chronic Fatigue from the Inside
    Nick Duerden, Bloomsbury, 2018, PB, 272pp, 8.57 pounds,

    978-1472950482
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Dougal Jeffries

    - Falmouth. Email: dougal6@gmail.com.

    'An irritating enigma' is a description of chronic fatigue syndrome quoted by the author, but 'irritating' is the last adjective that could be applied to his book. Rather, it is engaging, entertaining, thoughtful, and moving, and it goes a long way to demystifying the enigma it explores.

    Nick Duerden was, in 2009, a successful self-employed journalist, thriving on frenetic activity and, by his own admission, prone to 'a little harmless competition'. His hectic lifestyle came to a sudden halt following a bout of severe flu-like illness contracted in the US, launching him into a new existence in which debilitating fatigue overshadowed everything else. His book, which in itself would prove to be part of his therapy, tells the story of his attempts to understand his condition and his search for a cure.

    It comes as no surprise that the NHS was unable to offer much help, and neither his GP nor the specialist to whom he is first referred - whom he tellingly dubs Dr Dolittle - emerge with much credit. He is diagnosed as having post-viral fatigue but is advised to follow the guidance offered to those labelled as having full-blown ME/CFS, an arguable error of judgement of which, later in his narrative, he makes perhaps too much.

    In any case it transpires that he is not depressed enough to qualify for CBT on the NHS (and no one seems to have given him any detailed advice about graded exercise therapy, the other NICE-approved treatment), so, with the help of his long-suffering and admirably determined wife, he sets out to find his own solutions.

    By nature something of a sceptic, he wisely avoids the wilder shores of alternative medicine, apart from some dubious nutritional supplements, focusing instead on therapies that aim to transcend the mind-body dualism of which mainstream medicine is so often accused. Over the years that follow he takes up various forms of yoga and meditation, spending a small fortune with various outfits - some wackier than others, and many founded and run by recovered sufferers of CFS with messianic zeal and an eye for commercial success. He passes up the offer of a day with a celebrated 'motivational guru' at the discounted price of 6000 pounds.

    His investigations finally lead him, via explanations of the stress-adrenaline-cortisol axis, to the reluctant acceptance that there might be some psychological factors involved in his collapse into crippling fatigue, not only relating to his lifestyle but also to his childhood. At the same time he learns strategies for dealing with his day-to-day symptoms and the demands of parenting a young family as well as keeping up with his work, and he manages to convey the sensations of extreme fatigue with powerful imagery.

    Duerden employs a light touch, and his gentle pokes at some of the more outrageous practitioners he meets is matched by his self-deprecation.

    But his purpose is serious, and he does not shy away from sharing painful insights and experiences. On the whole though he is generous in his opinions, and his open-mindedness extends to both the orthodox and the alternative. Towards the end of his explorations he spends an hour with Susie Orbach, of Fat is a Feminist Issue fame, and is clearly struck by her undogmatic wisdom, as she gently explains her psychoanalytical perspective on his story. What finally emerges is the uncertainty that we all feel when faced with the challenge of a chronic condition with psychosomatic components.

    To disentangle the predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors becomes almost impossible, but the attempt is surely worthwhile. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in chronic fatigue - doctor, patient, or involved observer - whose opinions on this most puzzling of conditions are not already fixed.

    --------
    (c) 2018 British Journal of General Practice

    (c) 2018 The Royal College of General Practitioners
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
    MEMarge, Binkie4, Barry and 6 others like this.
  2. ScottTriGuy

    ScottTriGuy Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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  3. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The blurb says "It is also about negotiating a long term illness while still leading a hectic modern life, because hectic modern lives rarely pause for breath. But we can."
     
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  4. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    MEMarge, JaimeS, ScottTriGuy and 6 others like this.
  5. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    ME patients, along with millions of other chronically ill patients, are insulted and condescended to at every opportunity when they try alternative treatments or anything that may work to treat a ruinous disease. We are insulted by medical professionals for stupidly "believing we are sick" and held in contempt for trying to find any explanation or help.

    Then the very same people turn around and say "look at this alternative treatment that worked, isn't that wonderful?". And to add insult to the original insult, they add that it only works because this guy believed in it and now believes in himself, which is all the evidence they will ever need to continue believing this is not a real disease, because anecdotes that confirm their bias overrule science because their prejudice is so intense.

    And again with this "mind-body duality" tripe. It's really fascinating and all but it still doesn't have any basis in objective evidence and anything that is claimed on this topic is purely ideological. It's a mess of logical fallacies and wishful thinking. The review literally includes "motivational guru" as a positive as if it had a scientific basis. "Jump on mats", they, "it will cure all your diseases", they say. And it's only 6,000 pounds, that's a bargain! Only 12 easy payments! Call now for a free loofa (it has a smiley face!)!

    Regressive, condescending bunch of hacks.
     
  6. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    Sigh. That review is in the British Journal of General Practice.

    It's all dreadfully unhelpful. I don't really blame Nick Duerden though - with the prevailing culture and so much uncertainty, it is easy to fall into this way of thinking. I hope he finds his way here and gets a deeper understanding. When better informed, he could be an asset to the community.
     
  7. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    When the original thread appeared I actually bought the book out of curiosity. I can see it from my bed now, sitting on the shelf unread.
     
  8. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Susie Orbach has some connection to Elaine Showalter but I've forgotten what it is.
     
  9. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought I'd take a look at the book on amazon...

    Totally forgot! :oops: Haven't looked at it even. :rolleyes: Or have I? It's on my Kindle, and labelled as "New", but when I opened it up it wanted to take me to the furthest read page, which turned out to be 89% read! :confused: Gone back to the beginning, read the introduction, didn't recognise it at all, but then why would I when my memory is totally shot? :laugh:

    So then I took a look at the reviews, it gets 75% 5-stars 25% 4-stars. One reviewer, "Still Listening" has written a very long review, (scroll down to see) ending by thanking the publisher and author for a pre-release copy to review. They revealed this:

    And also, when talking about the Optimum Health Clinic, talks about shouting stop when you notice negative thought patterns. Sounds more like LP to me, but there you go.

    I might give the book a go after the brilliant one I'm reading now about blood. "Nine Pints" by Rose George, which I thoroughly recommend.
     
  10. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The question remains, is Nick Duerden still ill?
     
  11. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm now half way through reading the book. He seems to have bought in to the stress theory and thinks psychotherapy to dig out past traumas is the way to go. If I manage to finish it I'll report back here.
     
  12. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    And if so, what with. Might end up a very useful case study on misdiagnosis, and how that maybe leads to supposed treatments being useful/dangerous for real sufferers of ME.
     
  13. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    I've finished reading the book. Spent this morning writing the following attempt at a review. Apologies that it's rather long.

    It is based on what I remember from a single read through. Apologies to Nick Duerden if I have misunderstood or misremembered the details.

    The short version:

    The long version:
    Edit to add: I've put up a slightly edited version of this review on Amazon. Apparently it could take a few days to appear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  14. NelliePledge

    NelliePledge Moderator Staff Member

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    Apart from having interviewed Peter White and written a book I suspect that his experience isn’t that unusual.
     
  15. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Isn't he a journalist? Aren't they supposed to be sceptical and question what they are told?
     
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  16. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, that was an interesting experience. I've just had my review knocked back by Amazon.
    Here's what Amazon said in their e-mail to me:
    Here's the review as I posted it:
    And here's what they added at the end of their e-mail to me:
    I think I might have another go, using my short version as a basis. Watch this space.
     
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  17. adambeyoncelowe

    adambeyoncelowe Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Delete 'F**k It'. That'll help with the profanity part. Amazon blocks anything even slightly offensive (or words like Scunthorpe or cocktail, which contain swearwords according to their filters).

    I would refer less to the author. Or rather, make fewer statements about him as a person. Calling him gullible, etc.
     
  18. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    You're probably right @adambeyoncelowe. I rushed the Amazon review by slightly adapting the review I'd written for the forum. If I can find the energy tomorrow I'll have another go and make it much shorter too.
     
  19. Dr Carrot

    Dr Carrot Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I listened to an audio extract of this on audible and decided not to buy it. Not because of anything untoward, just didn’t seem my cup of tea. Is it an illness memoir or a purely first hand account of his experiences with alt medicine?
     
  20. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what an illness memoir is, but I'd say it's both.
     

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