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Simon Wessely's Warped Mind Strikes Again

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Hip, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Nearly 300 Cambodian workers fell sick at a garment factory.

    Toxic chemical exposure you'd think is a reasonable assumption, and is certainly something that warrants further investigation. A precautionary principle would urge one to do that.


    Cue Simon Wessely and pals: What's Causing 'Mass Faintings' at Cambodian Factories?

    In other words, in his usual cavalier and morally bankrupt way, Simon Wessely says "forget about health and safety, take it from me that these symptoms are all in the mind".


    This excerpt particularly ranks:

    Oh right!

    It couldn't be the asbestos dust from the WTC collapse, permanently lodged in sufferers' lungs, that might be responsible for their long term complaints.Asbestosis and siliocosis being known for their long term lung symptoms.

    No, it's not real, it mass hysteria, according to Wessely and pals.
     
  2. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    Who's Simon Wessely ! - never heard of him .....popping up in Cambodia - sounds quite a traveller.
     
  3. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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  4. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

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    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    ME
    Camelford Water Poisoning scandal
    Aerotoxic poisoning events
    Mobile Phone risks
    Sheep dip poisoning (iirc)
    severla others which I cna't recall at the moment, have all been "hysteria" and such, according to him
    and what do the eventual FACTS show us?
    that they are real

    this shows a pattern of behaviour by Wessely: he supports Big Business or perhaps Technology over all. It maybe as I've said before, for him "Technology/progress Uber Alles" rather then greed, I'll give him that benefit of the doubt.

    on such events by the way, here's oen for you all, see if this is "Hysteria":
    http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-warehouse-2011-9
    Big Business hires pundits, warps or just "skews" research and manipulates things in all kinds of ways, Wessely seems to be one of its "enablers"
     
    Katherine and jace like this.
  5. In Vitro Infidelium

    In Vitro Infidelium Guest

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    Given the involvement of the ILO, the testing regime can be taken as having some validity and the health issues may well be non work environment related - that doesn't mean that the oppression that forces workers into accepting poor working/living conditions is acceptable and can be ignored because there is no chemical causation involved. If psychological oppression is the cause, then it is that which has to be challenged not ignored in favour of some endless search for an elusive toxin. Anyone who thinks that physiological responses such as fainting are not communicable should look at the 'infectivity' of yawning and vomiting, there are very good evolutionary reasons why such behaviour are communicable and humans remain social creatures subject to non cognitive 'involuntary' behaviours that have evolved over the last several million years. These behaviours may not be to the fore in the atomised societies of the developed world but amongst socially fractured, deprived and densley populated groups, survival behaviours do come to the fore and should be valued for what they are, and merely recast into what is meaningful to rich world conditions.

    IVI
     
  6. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    Except this explanation is not safe.

    1. Fainting is a loss of consciousness. It has never been verified as being an 'evolutionary behaviour' or even a 'behaviour' as such (depending on the uncertainties in what constitutes 'behaviour'). Either way, notions of fainting as psychogenic rely mostly on the trivialising of female fainting (when there have been, and remain, good physical reasons that women can lose consciousness).

    In contrast, it is known that loss of consciousness can occur due to heat exhaustion, lack of efficient blood flow to the brain, the inhalation of certain chemicals, or other injuries or insults to the brain.

    2. Wessely and crew have taken the uncertainty of cause of these episodes to postulate a 'psychogenic by default' explanation, meaning: : "I don't know what it is so it must be a metaphysical condition: beliefs, lies, performances, delusions, the power of the mind to exert Carrie-like psychokinesis of the body to the nth degree". We are expected to believe in an occult process that is unexplained and undelineated (and confused in how it is conceptualised) on the basis of someone's say-so and appeal to authority. That these workers are NOT likely to have had a full investigation of the health and safety provisions (or lack of) is even more of a reason NOT to be claiming mass hysteria, especially as Wessely has not examined those people himself, and is therefore making a remote diagnosis (something doctors can get disciplined for- remember 'diagnosis by telly' Southall, for example?)

    4. No work is actually done to help the so-called 'psychologically oppressed'. Note Wessely is NOT speaking out against conditions at the factory and calling for psychological support and improvement of pay and conditions. Indeed, he feeds into notions of 'weak in spirit' that accompany psychogenic explanations- certainly with regard to ME sufferers, and indeed this article has a lot of that construction going on. Hips' comment about health and safety being conveniently discarded by the mass hysteria explanation is highly apt. Even though RSI is taken very seriously by the Health and Safety Executive over here, for example, explaining it away as 'psychogenic' has allowed judges and others to discard the physical damage caused by RSI. We only recently have had Japanese authorities attempting to claim radiation sickness only affects the 'weak in spirit'!

    5. Evolutionary psychology is another area where untenable claims are made as if they are truth. They often constitute 'just so' stories, and are quasi-religious, relying on faith. It is funny that 'the search for an elusive toxin' is deemed as not worth continuing, in favour of pursuing unverifiable, untenable beliefs in the metaphysical, especially the 'since the dawn of time' type explanations, which are, for the most part, and certainly with regard to fainting (!) REALLY unverifiable.

    6. The usual sexist trivialising of female illness happens in this article. It is known in academic disciplines that women are traditionally misdiagnosed more with psychogenic illness. The assumption of psychogenic illness being more prevalent in women is not based on verifiable evidence, just prejudice. Wessely in particular has engaged in unsafe psychogenic explanations of women's illnesses over the years.
     
  7. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I sometimes feel feint at the sight of blood/when blood is being taken. It's related to whether I've eaten well, etc... but there must be some psychological mechanism there too. It's strange because I'm really not consciously fearful/anxious about having blood taken/small cuts... I'm not really sure how it works. Some sort of learned response? Combined with some instinctive anxiety, unaffected by my own cognitions? And then there is the fatigue/physical stuff too.

    It was something I grew out of as a teen, and then returned (but to a much lesser degree) when I fell ill.
     
  8. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    A study has shown people with ME have very low blood volume compared to the boring normal people. When it's that low to start with, I wouldn't be surprised if having a vial or two drawn is enough to cause some light-headedness for purely physical reasons.
     
  9. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    The problem is Esther, is that yes, you can speculate about feeling 'faint' at the site of blood, just I can admit I retch when I have to clean up dog-sick, and wonder if these represent 'psychological' or purely involuntary physiological responses not under control of the 'mind' (bearing in mind the problem of defining a 'mind'- an abstract concept).

    It's quite another thing to extrapolate highly uncertain and sometimes very philosophical discussions or speculations about the 'mind-body' problem and create a dogma called 'mass hysteria' about people losing consciousness in a factory, or going down with catastrophic neurological, immunological and cardiovascular dysfunctions, or developing physiological dysfunction associated with Aluminiun toxicity! Or claim that developing radiation sickness is due to a 'weak spirit'.
     
  10. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Don't we have about 5 litres of blood? I'd be pretty amazed if losing such a tiny amount would have any significant affect... especially when recovery is so rapid.

    Oh sure, I certainly wasn't claiming that, as I sometimes feel a bit faint at the sight of blood, those workers were probably passing out for the same reason. I just wanted to point out that it's pretty uncontroversial to say that psychological factors can lead to light-headedness, fainting, etc - looking back, it probably didn't need pointing out.
     
  11. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    A good and interesting point IVI. I have witnessed myself that there is a different kind of consciousness in more primitive, less developed societies and countries (and I say "more primitive" as a compliment). In these simpler societies, you can feel that there is a kind of holistic fabric of consciousness that weaves through the minds of ensembles of people a consciousness that often acts like a "living being" in its own right. This holistic fabric of consciousness does have its own life, a bit like crowd behavior, but at a more subtle and pervasive level.

    In fact, I have always felt quite depressed and even lonely when returning back home to our atomized developed world, when this group consciousness energy is more or less dead, as you suddenly loose the intimacy of this group consciousness that you had. The only places you might experience this intimacy of consciousness in the developed world is in say some weekend spiritual workshop (and only very temporarily), or in a religious cult.

    This loneliness is the price we pay in the developed world for the material benefits provided by our atomized, modularized societies. This atomization of consciousness is the real cause of the lonely state of modern secular materialism, rather than material objects themselves.


    Nevertheless, as Angela Kennedy points out (see quote below), when it comes to disease and ill health, it is extremely dangerous and bad practice to assume symptoms are psychogenic by default.

    Even the references to this apparent group hysteria behavior in the Middle Ages that Wessely studies (an era which can certainly be considered as primitive times), you would first want to enumerate the biochemical causes of strange behavior before you class some medieval event as mass hysteria. For example, it is well known that in the Middle Ages the psychedelic ergot fungus would often grow on rye grains in damp weather, and when eaten, would cause mass psychedelic effects, affecting thousands of people at a time.


     
  12. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I should add that my disdain with Simon Wessely is that he seems to want to increase the "market share" of psychogenic explanations of human behavioral phenomena at all costs.

    There is an important difference between people that have desire to find the fundamental underlying explanation(s) of phenomena, to find the truth whatever surprising places the truth might take you (discipline-wise), and those just want to shoehorn phenomena to fit their cherished theories, not matter how bad the fit.
     
  13. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

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    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    I lsot about a pint or more of blood in an injury, and fainted.
    SO you'd be surpised ;)


    As for "mas shysteria"
    ever note how often it's associated with odours?
    very easy explanation for some of the "mass hysteria" episodes:
    smell is about the strongest trigger for memory there is, it has very big impact on the mind AND although conciously we may not note a weak smell, subconciously we may
    Pheremones, toxic gasses, products of burning etc may all trigger "fight or flight" reactions, or other effects.

    They ARE reacting to something real. It maybe harmless, or it may indeed be dangerous
    "fainting" may happen because of peoples' nerves getting overwrought after it starts, not because they are "female", but because a mass of folk especially when young inexperienced and their hormones are raging anyway, in tight proximity will give off what? More fear pheremones! Basically induce a massive panic attack wave, as it were.

    That's "good" psychology theory combined with practical reality.

    And yes, ergot (where we get LSD from) and other things can have caused widespread problems, maybe even long-term nerve/brain or other forms of damage form some of the epidemics
     
  14. sickness

    sickness

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    On a broader scale, M.S., Polio and AIDS were all considered hysteria at some point. Even when people started to die. I remember reading a quote once about AIDS regarding this where the person explained away the deaths by saying that it was just a really bad psychological disease :eek: Really good example of 'My mind made up, don't confuse me with the facts'.

    take care. ness
     
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  15. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

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    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    iirc, they said AIDS was just "Gay Related Stress Disorder" :/
     
  16. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I've seen some CFS patients exaggerate the importance of those who saw AIDS as a psycholoigcal disorder, and have it come back to bite them. It was only a small minority that approached AIDS in this way, a minority that quickly dwindled to one guy, self-publishing his own papers. It was never anything like the mainstream medical view that AIDS was a stress disorder.
     
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  17. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member

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    "During the 1930s50s, asthma was considered as being one of the 'holy seven' psychosomatic illnesses. Its aetiology was considered to be psychological, with treatment often based on psychoanalysis and other 'talking cures'.[177] As these psychoanalysts interpreted the asthmatic wheeze as the suppressed cry of the child for its mother, so they considered that the treatment of depression was especially important for individuals with asthma"

    These people grab anything that isnt nailed down and then subject patients to medical terrorism, whilst I'm sure that most have good intentions a lot are simply used as "hit men" to marginalise/demonise sections of society that some percieve as a useful target. I'm not sure that as a group they perform any useful purpose to patients or society, or at least no more than, say, loan sharks. They can provide an immediate "fix" to a problem but cause many many more further down the line.

    SW is, based on his published comments, an example of the worst kind of "hit man" IMO and as such should be gainfully employed in area's which protect society, and patients from him. Barrel tester seems ideal
     
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  18. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    Esther, do you have any evidence to support your comments here? I'm genuinely interested in how much there was psychologisation of AIDS. Let alone the problem of defining 'mainstream' (!)
     
  19. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    Can you provide the source for this comment here Wonko?
     
  20. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asthma
    history section, they provide their own references

    edit

    in this case it links to an NIH page

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1253523/?tool=pmcentrez

    which provides it's own references on the matter (to which unfortunately I dont have access)

    Dunbar F. Mind and body: psychosomatic medicine. New York, Random House; 1947.
    Alexander F. Psychosomatic medicine: its principles and applications. New York, Norton; 1950.
    French T, Alexander F. Psychogenic factors in bronchial asthma. Washington, D.C., National Research Council; 1941.
     

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