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Illegems et al: Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Senior Member
Letter to the editor: Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Illegems J.a, b Moorkens G.a, b Van Den Eede F.a,c,d

a Behaviour Therapy Division for Fatigue and Functional Symptoms,
b Department of Internal Medicine, and
c University Department of Psychiatry, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, and
d Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

Psychother Psychosom 2016;85:308 Vol. 85, No. 5, 2016

illegems group cbt for cfs.jpg



The wise nematode hibernates
It's so cute when the quacks bicker with each other in journals :love:
To be honest it's the first time I've seen a "psychotherapy and psychosomatics" quack be critical of another quack's work, so I suppose it's a progress of sorts. Until now there seems to have been some sort of unwritten rule that they offer uncritical and unconditional support to each other, whilst collectively ignoring all evidence from outside their field (except Hitchcock movies of course, which count as "scientific proof"). The writers of this letter will probably be diagnosed with something in response. Not sure whether it's a good thing to see them bickering among each other, or whether I should just be lamenting the waste of paper once again.
I agree, @TiredSam. In psychosocial medicine, the general rule seems to be: accept anything other believers say (so long as it doesn't threaten your own career), but rigorously criticise anyone who's not "with us". Especially if they present evidence that might suggest psychosocial factors do not play as a big a role as they deeply hope. We've seen this a lot - the soft standards they adopt for themselves, but the high standards they demand for biological research (must be double blind, consistent outcome across multiple studies, large populations, etc).

But of course, this disagreement isn't a genuine disagreement. Its a manoeuver. The authors are justifying why they didn't get as good results as Wiborg et al, and setting the scene for their next "personality" study.

Is is quite funny when you read more closely. They describe a study by Poppe et al that found
article said:
... that high levels of neuroticism at baseline were associated with a larger improvement in mental quality of life after group CBT for CFS whereas no correlations were found with physical quality of life
This is funny. "Neuroticism" is an archaic term used to label a pattern of responding on some personality questionnaires - one suggesting the person has a negative mood (depression) and/or high anxiety.

So what they're saying is that CBT can help people who have low mood/anxiety (could be either or both), but it only helps their psychological issues. It doesn't have any impact on their physical wellbeing. So in other words. CBT helps psychological distress, but doesnt impact on the physical complaints at all!


Senior Member
This bit is pretty funny (my bolding):
letter said:
The authors report that their randomised controlled trial showed that group cognitive behaviour therapy can be effectively delivered to adults suffering from CFS, independently of group size. In Antwerp University Hospital we have been administering group CBT for CFS since 2002 in the context of the Universtity Reference Centre for CFS (2002-2012) and the Behaviour Therapy Division for Fatigue and Functional Symptoms (since 2012). We were hence happy to read that the authors found support for the effectiveness of group therapy for CFS as this is in line with our experiences.
The Reference Center was shut down in 2012 because an independent scientific evaluation (by the well respected Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre) shred it to pieces. But instead of going back to the drawing board, they just went on carrying out the same flawed treatment techniques, and just gave the place a different name. It's funny how they still believe their 'experience' is worth more than actual recovery rates (I believe it was something like 8% of people 'feeling better', whatever that means). :rolleyes: