I was listening to "Analysis" the other night on Radio 4 and David Aaronovitch was on about the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" panic from a few years ago. He was saying that it grew out what he felt was the spurious psychiatric definition of Multiple Personality Disorder and, as an adjunct, recovered memory. As he was talking, it struck me what parallels there were with how CFS was popularised within medicine - smuggled into the DSM by true believers, popularised with weak and anecdotal evidence, then foisted onto patients with little evidence of severe psychiatric problems in their background, resulting in a large scale increase in cases in a short space of time. They were often pushed into confessing that they'd been abused as children by doctors who wouldn't take no for an answer, a "heads I win, tails you lose" scenario. Aaronovitch was clearly, as ever, very pleased with himself at spotting the growth of an idea with little evidence behind it but which fitted in with the prejudices and interests of a small group of people, appearing almost out of nowhere and turning into an uncontrollable monster that went on to ruin the lives of countless people. But what was also interesting to me is that, back in the heady days of the summer of 2011 during the BMJ wars ("Daddy, what did you do during the BMJ wars?", "Hon, I lay in bed doing bugger all 'cos I was ill"), Aaronovitch found himself firmly on the side of the psychiatric profession, taking their position for granted and not being particularly interested at all in how ideas spread in a sympathetic profession and how they hurt innocent people. Indeed, the fairly broad streak of sexism that runs through his definition of our "anxiety" about not being able to prove the nature of our illness suggests that he'd feel very much at home with them. I do hope that, when the shit finally hits the fan, someone will see fit to tell the great debunker about the time when he fell on the wrong side of the line and ended up smugly defending what he would doubtless describe as "complete nonsense".