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A new low in research? "Writing about CFS symptoms causes harm"

Mark

Senior Member
Messages
5,238
Location
Sofa, UK
All the more reason why it would be good to get Neil Coulson's research into the PR forum experience into the literature...we need sensible citations in this area just as in any other.
 

aimossy

Senior Member
Messages
1,106
Talk about a particular slant taken by the researcher how obvious can you get!
Perfect example of filtered perception!
The study itself is almost comical its so biased. Its not comical however that some would take it seriously.
 

Stuart

Senior Member
Messages
154
This means nothing but confirmation bias in psychiatry.

This a known effect called 'Mirroring.' Read a book, watch a movie, play a video game, or yes, put yourself in some others experience and write about it, and your brain is activated as if your are actually experiencing that reality. Whoopee.

I bet they will say this proves it is all in your head and proof of somatic disorder... :rolleyes: :bang-head:
 

Stuart

Senior Member
Messages
154
This reminds me of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode where a psych had a very suggestible patient he could hypnotize and the patient would exhibit any illness, or even robust health. He pushed it to include death and 'forgot' the knocking sequence to reverse the condition, and the man's fiance found out and went to his crypt and did the knocking sequence... cue the screeching violins...

Point being the psych was suggesting that this proved all illness could be cured by psych/hypnosis means etc... Sound familiar?
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,810
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
This reminds me of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode where a psych had a very suggestible patient he could hypnotize and the patient would exhibit any illness, or even robust health. He pushed it to include death and 'forgot' the knocking sequence to reverse the condition, and the man's fiance found out and went to his crypt and did the knocking sequence... cue the screeching violins...

Point being the psych was suggesting that this proved all illness could be cured by psych/hypnosis means etc... Sound familiar?

Charcot, the nineteenth century French neurologist who defined hysteria had a similar issue though history does not show if he knew the game was rigged. His helpers hired people to be hypnotized and play hysterics, and they put on a big show at his asylum. Some of these people were their cooks and other helpers, and not inpatients at all. He was totally convinced that mesmerism, because it could mimic hysteria symptoms on command, showed it was mental, and not that it showed that people could pretend they had symptoms.

Most of the hysteria case files from Charcot were re-examined by medical historians, who concluded that his real patients had epilepsy and otherwise hard to identify brain injury. Ironically Charcot got it right earlier in his career when he postulated that these patients had brain injury that they were unable to detect using current methods.
 
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Roy S

former DC ME/CFS lobbyist
Messages
1,376
Location
Illinois, USA
This reminds me of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode where a psych had a very suggestible patient he could hypnotize and the patient would exhibit any illness, or even robust health. He pushed it to include death and 'forgot' the knocking sequence to reverse the condition, and the man's fiance found out and went to his crypt and did the knocking sequence... cue the screeching violins...

Point being the psych was suggesting that this proved all illness could be cured by psych/hypnosis means etc... Sound familiar?


As I may remember it was an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery. The hot babe was having an affair with the subject who she found irresistible because he was in perfect health due to the hypnotic suggestion. Jealousy made the doc "forget" although he was kind enough to cut the subject open to perform open heart massage which added to making the final scene not a pretty sight.

And the moral of the story is?

1) Hollywood can make fantasies seem real
2) psychs can make fantasies seem real
3) hypnosis is dangerous
4) hot babes are dangerous

unrelated -- Can anybody recommend a good hypnotherapist? I'm asking for a friend.
 

taniaaust1

Senior Member
Messages
13,054
Location
Sth Australia
So why don't these psychologists apply their above conclusion to psychotherapy as well, which after all, involves elaborative talking to a therapist about one's life problems and mental symptoms. Their above conclusion would suggest that elaboration of personal problems and mental symptoms during psychotherapy is harmful, and therefore that psychotherapy or similar psychological talk therapies are harmful.

Maybe that is the direction psych therapy for ME/CFS is changing towards, seeing as we all know psych therapy for this illness doesnt work well at all. Maybe they want to go to no treatment at all and complete ignorance of the persons symptoms (that is how I got treated for years and years.. no talk therapy of any kind was even offered...this could be even crueler then offering talk therapy).

This study could be used to bring in no treatment for us recommended and that complete ignorance is better.
 

taniaaust1

Senior Member
Messages
13,054
Location
Sth Australia
Talk about a particular slant taken by the researcher how obvious can you get!
Perfect example of filtered perception!
The study itself is almost comical its so biased. Its not comical however that some would take it seriously.

Its comical too in how they got people who probably knew nothing about ME/CFS and what it is like, to try to imagine having it in the first place.

I bet if they were well educated people in this illness, those psych students wouldnt go thinking maybe they could have those symptoms.
 

Gijs

Senior Member
Messages
696
CFS patients with CBT must write down their symptoms in a diary. This is an essential part of therapy. This therapy can therefore not be good for CFS patients. I was wondering if you can imagine these changes in the immunesystem also (...) Significant changes were observed in B cell subsets, Tregs, CD4+CD73+CD39+ T cells, cytotoxic activity, granzyme B, neutrophil antigens, TNF-α and IFN-γ in the CFS/ME patients in comparison to the non-fatigued controls. Alterations in B cells, Tregs, NK cells and neutrophils suggest significant impairments in immune regulation in CFS/ME and these may have similarities to a number of autoimmune disorders.
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
Location
Cornwall England
Makes me wonder how doctors must feel. Writing down all those patient notes...

Oh wait, they don't do that anymore. Perhaps this study then explains their reluctance to write all day long about bothersome patient problems.

They don't want to record actual comments in case they descend into CFS! :nerd:
 

MeSci

ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?
Messages
8,232
Location
Cornwall, UK
Normally I ignore rubbish studies but this one is so bad it deserves a special mention.
Brief report: Writing about chronic fatigue increases somatic complaints

Marko Jelicic ; Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Mincke Frederix ; Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Harald Merckelbach ; Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Abstracts

Participants were instructed to imagine that either they or a friend were suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and were asked to fabricate a story about how CFS affected their own or their friend's daily functioning. Control participants were not given an imagination exercise but were asked to write about their study choice. After the writing exercise, all participants completed the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90). Participants who had written a story about how CFS symptoms affected daily life (either their own life or that of a friend) had higher scores on the Somatization subscale of the SCL-90 than controls. This finding resembles the misinformation effect documented by memory research, and suggests that elaborative writing about illness, through its symptom-escalating power, has iatrogenic potential [harm].

The most striking feature of this study is that it doesn't feature any CFS patients, instead using a bunch of psychology undergrads (who may, co-incidentally, have strong views on CFS).

All this shows is that imagining life with CFS affects how healthy people answer a questionnaire taken immediately after that bit of writing - a 'priming' effect that is well-known is pyschology.

There is no comparison group either. They may have had similar findings if they had used MS as the illness instead, but I doubt they would have suggested in that case that the writing was causing 'harm'. The Discussion section speculates:



I haven't read fully, and don't intend to but the full text is available for masochists.

And if writing causes harm, just imagine the effect of talking about symptoms to a consultant for an hour could have. Surely better to have not medical attention at all...

Don't know whether to :lol: or :cry:

Wait a minute - does that mean I'm bipolar?
 

Cheshire

Senior Member
Messages
1,129
CFS is a psychiatric illness: sufferers are trapped in a vicious circle where whenever focusing on their symptoms, they worsen them. Oh, I’m gonna prove it right now. Let’s take healthy people and make them think they have CFS and test them. Oh yes it works, they score higher on the Somatization subscale of the SCL-90 than controls. I’ve proven CFS is a psychosomatic condition! Now let’s do it with cancer, you’ll see the difference right now… Oh no, when thinking about cancer symptoms they also score higher on the Somatization subscale of the SCL-90 than controls! Whaoww, I have scientific proofs that cancer is also a psychosomatic condition! Hey guys, stop your expensive chemotherapies, it’s all in their mind, they need CBT!!!
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,810
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
@Cheshire, I know you were satirical, but the way the DSM is heading this is very much what they are are doing, only they want to combine physical disease with comorbid psychiatric disease! There are some who are trying to psychologize everything, and those who let them. At some point something has got to be done about DSM-V, it is not fit for purpose.
 

stridor

Senior Member
Messages
873
Location
Powassan, Ontario
Gee, I think that I will be a lone voice on this issue.

While I don't understand why ME was centered out, I agree with this premise, in fact I think that it is pretty basic. While I am not sure about when I was at my sickest, now I do better at work than at home and I do better when my mind is occupied elsewhere than when I have nothing better to do than concentrate on my symptoms.

I agree that I am overly sensitive to subtle shifts in my internal world. I suspect that this is universal in our community. This has been helpful for me to determine which supplements are working and just as importantly which are not, before they drag me into the vortex.

The biggest problem with this study is that it brings nothing new or interesting forward. Anyone who ever had a kid knows that if you get them to describe how they got their most recent "bo-bo" they will sometimes start to cry as they focus on the injury and realize that it still hurts. We also know that a distraction can turn off the flow of tears. This is pretty basic stuff.

The power of suggestion has been well-researched. This study is stupid and boring.