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Dr David Tuller:Correctives from Putrino & Iwasaki (and Others) to the Long-Covid-Is-Psychosomatic Claims


Senior Member
Trial By Error: Correctives from Putrino & Iwasaki (and Others) to the Long-Covid-Is-Psychosomatic Claims
18 February 2023 by David Tuller Leave a Comment

By David Tuller, DrPH

When the pandemic began, everyone involved in the ME, CFS, and ME/CFS domain assumed that there would be a wave of post-acute, prolonged complications, since every virus seems to leave in its wake a small but still significant number of people who report a range of non-specific symptoms. It was also widely predicted that many in the medical world would interpret these physical complaints as psychosomatic, psychogenic, or “functional,” to use the current buzzword in this complicated field.

That has all come to pass.

Luckily, the CBT/GET paradigm—as applied to ME/CFS, at least–was already in a state of collapse before the pandemic began. Not surprisingly, some of those who would be the biggest losers of this paradigm shift are among the most enthusiastic boosters of the notion that the long Covid phenomenon has been largely triggered not by any underlying pathophysiological processes but by pandemic-related anxiety, depression and other mood disorders arising from “psychosocial strain.”

So when it comes to long Covid, mainstream and scientific publications alike have lately published some pretty stupid crap–and that’s my professional assessment as both a journalist and public health academic. Two high-profile feature articles at the end of 2022—one in New York Magazine and the second in The New Republic—presented profoundly biased accounts of the history and science of post-viral illness. Both journalists flogged the idea that millions of people around the world whose health and daily lives have been ravaged by long Covid are most likely suffering from psychosomatic or functional conditions.

Right. Tell that to Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Senior of The Atlantic, who just this week wrote about her own debilitating case of long Covid.

Then we’ve had the academic versions. I wrote a blog post about a poorly reasoned article in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. In response to a similar piece in Lancet Respiratory Medicine called “A new paradigm is needed to explain long COVID,” a colleague and I sent a letter to the journal. (It was rejected, but it is posted here as a pre-print.).............................................