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How Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by mfairma, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. mfairma

    mfairma Senior Member

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    Just came across this New Republic article. I only skimmed it for mention of the disease, as it looks like drivel.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/135468/exhaustion-became-status-symbol

    "When Schaffner reaches the turn of the twentieth century, she introduces the biggest problem in her book: the gulf between theories about exhaustion and actual experiences of exhaustion. This gulf is at its widest in her chapter on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition about which medical practitioners and patients often have extremely divergent opinions. Although most doctors and researchers agree that there is a microbiological trigger for the syndrome, they also see patients’ behavioral and psychological responses as perpetuating the condition. At its extreme, this view holds that CFS is a psychological illness with physical symptoms. Most patients, meanwhile—often housebound, even bedbound, unable to do the simplest task without suffering debilitating exhaustion—vehemently reject this model, arguing that CFS is a physical, and only physical, disease.

    In writing about CFS, Schaffner returns to an idea she first mentions in her introduction, borrowed from the medical historian Edward Shorter: that patients, absorbing the medical and cultural discourses of their time, unconsciously display the psychosomatic symptoms that doctors will take seriously. Shorter is convinced that CFS is all in the mind, a twentieth-century version of hysteria with subjective symptoms (fatigue, muscle pain) both impossible to disprove and in line with what “doctors under the influence of the central-nervous paradigm [expect] to see”."
     
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  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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  3. mfairma

    mfairma Senior Member

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    I skimmed through the rest and was reminded of a discussion in college of a book that attempted to look at the rise of suburbia, shifting relations with the urban core, and the effect of land use patterns on society. The problem was that how the book defined suburbia shifted significantly from the earlier examples to the more recent, so many of the comparisons given were ultimately quite empty. The book was written to justify theories rather than explore realities, which is what I see in this book. Social science needs to find a way toward less reliance on theory, greater precision in discussion of complex ideas, and more attention to fact. There is entirely too much glossy hand-waving in the social sciences.
     
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  4. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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    Oh that's rich, someone whose arguments rest on accepting theories of "the unconscious" or "psychosomatic" complaining that patients are saying things that are "impossible to disprove". Why on earth would his starting point be to try to "disprove" a patient's account of their symptoms anyway?
     
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  5. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    Bullshit in the New Republic? I´m shocked.

    ´In writing about CFS, Schaffner returns to an idea she first mentions in her introduction, borrowed from the medical historian Edward Shorter: that patients, absorbing the medical and cultural discourses of their time, unconsciously display the psychosomatic symptoms that doctors will take seriously.´

    Hahahahahaha, you utter moron, Schaffner.

    Let me see, how can we as a medical community justify not taking their disease seriously? I know, let´s say they unconsciously display the psychosomatic symptoms that we would take seriously...

    Honestly, these people are extremely mediocre intellects who, if they weren´t allowed to make up bullshit subjects like psychosomatic illness, would have no impact at all on the field of medicine.
     
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  6. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    Yeah, because I've spent so much time with doctors being taken seriously
     
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  7. duncan

    duncan Senior Member

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    Chic.

    Authors posturing as informed never amuse me. They broadcast their partially-informed theories as if they were writing for Vogue, and educating the public about which hue of taupe is acceptable for the gala dance.
     
  8. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

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    I think the part I am finding annoying is this; It would seem implicit that the authors of such work care more for the gain in the short term--In this case that might be as simple as having her theories published--the recognition that she gets published and paid over the longer term or even medium term how does the theorising stand up to reality. I begin to wonder if there isn't a whole large minority of academic/science types that aren't interested in pursuing an investigation of reality even when that is the mandate. They have a pet theory that soothes their particular bias and they make no effort at a reality check.

    If their theory is shown to not hold any weight I suppose they must think that they can hide behind something like 'I did the best with what was known at the time'. Mostly this is false. I'm sure something like this has gone on all the time in social and psychological theories.

    As @duncan mentions this isn't an article about this season's tips for gala success--there are consequences to others for spreading this drivel.
    There should be more accountability when people are free with theorising this way--it's pure bias with a potential to influence policy.

    It's just too easy for anyone to write on something they know nothing about--if they had the experience of having ME they would not write such nonsense.
     
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  9. Bob

    Bob

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    I concur with @Valentijn :vomit:

    I've rewritten this extract slightly... See red text for my amendments...
     
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  10. Gijs

    Gijs Senior Member

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    Headache is not measurable and a subjective symptom impossible to disprove and in line with what “doctors under the influence of the central-nervous paradigm [expect] to see”." So,
    does this mean that migraine and cluster headache doesn't exist?
     
  11. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Senior Member

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    Oh, what a surprise - she is from Great Britain. Why is it that whenever I read crap like this there always seems to be a British connection?!?
     
  12. Aurator

    Aurator Senior Member

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    Schaffner and Shorter are both Humanities "researchers", in comparative lit. and history respectively. What we're dealing with here isn't science, by a long stretch.

    They no doubt spout this kind of stuff in lunch-breaks and at dinner parties, and like-minded people no doubt listen and nod in agreement, but it's all just inconsequential babble ultimately, the like of which will be played over and over till the end of the world. There are far more worthwhile things to tune in to.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
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  13. *GG*

    *GG* Senior Member

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    Hope so, depends on who ears they bend.

    GG
     
  14. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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  15. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    Duncan, how dare you.

    I believe you've just insulted fashion writers everywhere by comparing them to this drivel.
     
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  16. perrier

    perrier Senior Member

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    If anyone would like to write to Prof Schaffner her email at the university is:

    A.K.Schaffner@Kent.ac.uk

    It's a public address.

    I've written her an email.

    She has clearly faltered seriously by not doing the research!

    And it is damaging to be so glib about a devasting illness, of the magnitude of MS, and Lupus, and Crohns.
     
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  17. halcyon

    halcyon Senior Member

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  18. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

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    Thank goodness for the people who are able to write these rebuttals to all the ignorant drek that gets published.
     
    JaimeS likes this.
  19. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    JaimeS and Snow Leopard like this.

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