Wessely psychologises Chemical warfare

Orla

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Radio interview with Wessely re Shell Shock victim

This is a bit long but worth looking at to see Wessely's absolute lack of compassion for the family of the man they are talking about.

Following publication of his article The life and death of Private Harry Farr in the Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM:2006:99:440-443), on 2nd September 2006 Wessely was interviewed on the BBCs Today programme on Radio 4 by John Humphrys. This is the transcript.



John Humphries: A few weeks ago the media was full of stories about
Private Harry Farr the soldier shot at dawn during the First World
War for cowardice, he was one of many, and the big news was that the
government had decided he and the others should be pardoned, well
now a leading psychiatrist Professor Simon Wessely of the Institute
of Psychiatry at King`s College London who is a consultant to the
Army, says he should not be [pardoned]. He`s written an article in
the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine about it and he`s on
the line, so is Lord Dubbs the Labour Peer who argued for the
pardon , why should he not be pardoned Professor Wessely?

Simon Wessely: Well I think first of all I think like most people
listening to the programme I wish things hadn`t happened the way
they did because I`m opposed to the death penalty adamantly but I
think the problem we have here is two things first most people
probably don`t have much idea of exactly what happened that night
and why it happened I mean my own children for example get most of
their knowledge of the First World War from the last episode of
Blackadder..

JH:And we`re talking about that night being a night in October 1916
when he was in the trenches

SW: He was indeed and he refused three times to go forward with his
comrades to take part in an attack which all of them knew would be
very dangerous and catastrophic for many of them as indeed it was..

JH: Well most of them died it was as simple as that..

SW: Well a quarter of the batallion died and of course he was judged
by many of his contemporaries at the time on that basis but more
importantly I think it`s that, it`s the issue about, it`s not really
for us to, from our extremely comfortable present, to kind of second
guess and judge the past we can understand it and understand why
things happened the way they did and sympathise with both Farr and
also those who were called on to take those decisions and make those
judgements about him but I don`t think we can rewrite histroy simply
because we don`t like the ending..

JH: But are we rewriting history if we say what we now know is that
there is a condition that we now call shell-shock and he, Private
Farr, was clearly suffering from that therefore, to execute a man
because he was ill, which is what he was, we now believe to be wrong
therefore he should be pardoned because even at the time it clearly
wasn`t a crime that he had committed or an offence that he`d
committed, the man couldn`t help it..

SW: There were two things clearly at the time it was an offence that
he`d committed there was absolutely no doubt about that he had
deserted he`d shown cowardice in the face of the enemy

JH: But we now know it wasn`t cowardice, that`s my point


SW: We don`t know that, it`s actually back then they called it shell-
shock, now we call it something different, they did know that he had
a history of shell-shock, but it doesn`t have the same meaning to
them as it did to us


JH: That`s really my point, and Lord Dubbs would you like to come in
on that, I mean, are we rewriting history?

Lord Dubbs: No I don`t think we are, we`re accepting what happened
and it clearly was an offence at the time, but looking at it now we
believe that executing several hundred people, young men who
volunteered, Private Farr was a regular, but some of them
volunteered to fight, they were below age, and they suffered shell-
shock and then they just couldn`t take it anymore and we shot them
at dawn because of it, don`t forget Private Farr had a trial lasting
twenty minutes, he had nobody to defend him and he`d been ill three
times before with shell-shock, and the doctor who had treated him
before couldn`t give evidence because he was badly injured, so there
was nobody to speak for Private Farr.

JH: So, hard to see why he shouldn`t be pardoned again I repeat
Professor Wessely.


SW: I think, I think it`s because again the people who had to knew
the same information that Lord Dubbs has said, that thats` true, but
they had to weigh up all the various things that were happening both
the events on that night and exactly the circumstances of his
offence which was a very very bad time for him to do this most of
the times he would of course have been reprieved nine out of ten
times those who were sentenced to death it was not carried out
usually the military showed compassion towards people in exactly the
same situation as Harry Farr, on this occasion they didn`t and there
were reasons for it it was partly the nature of his offence, partly
the changing views of shell-shock in 1916, partly the wider issues
in 1916 we shouldn`t read history backwards..

JH: But wasn`t it mostly because they knew that if they let him as
it were, get away with it then others would do the same? That`s a
very bad reason for executing somebody.

SW: Not neccessarily, I mean first of all that`s partly true but
usually they did reprieve he was very unlucky, of those who are
sentenced to death for cowardice only 5% were executed so usually
they did show compassion usually they did judge people who had bad
nerves, but remember this is a terribly difficult judgement John,
that night everybody had bad nerves, they were all scared.

JH: Isn`t that the thing Lord Dubbs?

LD: Well of course it`s a difficult judgement but I`m not
criticising the people who made those judgements at the time,what
we`re saying saying now is that 90 years later these are people who
fought for our country as Private Farr did very bravely for two
years, they fought for our country and in the end we shot them
because they were shell shocked, and it seems to me that the
compassion we should show is for their families. Private Farr`s
daughter is I believe 93 years old, their families and their
relatives are desperate that the stigma should be taken away from
their loved ones.

JH: And isn`t that really the point in the end Professor Wessely,
and it does no harm does it?

SW: No it doesn`t do any harm and you know you could say yes it
makes us feel better but I don`t think that`s what we should be
doing though I do think it`s more important we understand things as
they were, we thank God that we`re never going to be in that kind of
situation..

JH: But we can still understand them can`t we?

SW:But we can`t kind of make it better now , those things happened,
things have changed, we don`t see things the same way now..

LD: Look, we are making it better we`re making it better for their
families who`ve argued for years that the stigma should be taken
away and that`s the important thing, we`re doing for doing it for
their families.
 

Orla

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Just to put the human face on the background to the story. This is part of an article from a UK newspaper

At last the family shame has gone

Sunday TimesAugust 20, 2006


John-Paul Flintoff meets the family who last week won their 14-year
fight to lift the taint of cowardice from their grandfather, and
asks: are we sanitising history


Gertrude Harris was 40 when she finally learnt what had happened to
her father. Harris, now 93, was at a dinner with her extended family
when an aunt asked: "What's all this I hear about Harry?"

The aunt had left home after the first world war, ignorant of the
details of her elder brother's death. But her surviving brothers
declined to comment. "They said, `Oh, we don't talk about that',"
Harris recalls. That dinner took place in the early 1950s.
Afterwards, Harris confronted her mother, Harry Farr's widow.


"And she said, `Well, I've kept it to myself all these years, but
now I will tell you that your father was shot for cowardice'."

This week the Ministry of Defence announced a pardon for Private
Farr, along with 305 other servicemen executed between 1914 and
1918.

In the light of modern ideas about soldiery and a somewhat clearer
understanding of shell shock, or post-traumatic stress disorder,
most people have greeted the news with approval.

After all, the number of soldiers deserting and absent without leave
has more than doubled since the start of the Iraq war. Nearly 2,800
went missing from their units between 2003 and 2005. These days the
army tends to write them off in their absence, not even bothering
with a court martial. Just imagine the outrage, today, if they were
rounded up and shot. Or if the same fate attended the 800-odd troops
who have been sent home from Iraq for treatment at the Priory clinic
after developing psychiatric illnesses in the war zone.

Sceptics argue that a retrospective pardon of soldiers executed 90
years ago is meaningless. Correlli Barnett, the military historian,
says the decisions were taken from a different moral perspective.
Another, Sir John Keegan, says a pardon essentially seeks to
impose "a sanitised version of the past".

Farr's family has campaigned in the courts for years to achieve
this. The news, conveyed to Harris by telephone by John Dickinson,
her lawyer, on Tuesday, was utterly unexpected. "He said, `Gertie,
you've got it.' I didn't understand. I said, `Sorry?' And he
said, `You've got the pardon for Harry'."

That night she was unable to sleep at her home in Harrow, northwest
London. She kept the radio on and hourly news bulletins reminded her
that her father had been cleared.

Government figures, including John Major, the Conservative former
prime minister, and Geoff Hoon and John Reid, the Labour former
defence ministers, have persistently opposed a pardon, presumably on
the grounds that it might present an unwelcome precedent.

Des Browne, the current defence minister, was careful to emphasise
that the pardon was aimed substantially at easing the suffering of
the executed men's families: "Although this is a historical matter,
I am conscious of how the families feel today. They have had to
endure a stigma for decades."

Gertrude Harris was born a year before the war started. Her mother,
also called Gertrude, had met Farr when she was 16. Having already
served in the army as a regular soldier, he was among the first
troops sent to France.

He saw action at the battle of Neuve Chappelle in March 1915, when
11,500 British soldiers died or went missing in three days. In just
35 minutes, more ammunition was fired than in the entire Boer war.
In May he fought at Aubers Ridge, in which another 11,000 British
soldiers were lost. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with shell
shock.

Officers in similar situations were sent home to recover, but not
Farr.

After five months of treatment in France during which time nurses
had to write letters home because he could not hold a pen in his
shaking hand he was sent back to fight at the Somme in July 1916.
But he was not ready and by September he had lost his nerve
irretrievably.

He told the court martial: "On the sergeant-major's return I
reported to him and said I was sick and could not stand it. He then
said, `You are a f****** coward and you will go to the trenches. I
give f*** all for my life and I give f*** all for yours and I'll get
you f****** well shot'."

Two men were ordered to conduct Farr to the front. "They commenced
to shove me. I told them not to as I was sick enough as it was. The
sergeant-major then grabbed my rifle and said, `I'll blow your
f****** brains out if you don't go'. I then called out for an
officer but there were none there."

A captain in the 1st West Yorkshire Regiment reported that Farr had
shown good conduct and character except under fire: "I cannot say
what has destroyed this man's nerves, but he has proved himself on
many occasions incapable of keeping his head in action and likely to
cause a panic."

The tribunal disregarded Farr's medical history. "He was in hospital
for five months," says his daughter now. "Would they have kept him
there if he was well enough to fight? No, he was a helpless mess."

Farr represented himself at the tribunal, which lasted just 20
minutes. He was shot at Carnoy at 6am on October 18, 1916. He
refused to wear a blindfold.

Shortly afterwards his widow received an official letter: "It is
with regret that I have to inform you that Pte Harry Farr has been
shot for showing cowardice." It would have been bad enough to learn
that he had been killed in action. This was much worse. She shoved
the letter away and told nobody.

However, she started to look unwell and as people challenged her
over this she admitted the truth to her parents and in-laws. Harry's
own father was a military man. As soon as he was told, the blinds of
the home were drawn in shame. Nobody mentioned Harry in front of him
again.

Soon after, Farr's widow went to the post office to be told that her
pension had been stopped. She was 21 with a three-year-old girl to
support. Unable to pay rent, she was turned out onto the streets. So
she went looking for a job in service, eventually finding a post as
kitchen maid at a house in Hampstead, north London, where she was
allowed to take her daughter.

She had only one photograph of her husband and every year at
Armistice Day she suffered terribly. "Nobody knows the feelings,"
she once said. "Every year I feel worse because I look at all those
men who've been through it and came home and I think my husband
should be with them."

Mother and daughter kept the secret until the late 1980s when
Gertrude Harris's daughter, Janet Booth, said that she was taking
her family to France and wanted to visit her grandfather's
grave. "There was a look passed between my grandmother and my
mother," Booth recalls. "And my grandmother said, `He hasn't got a
grave'."

In 1990 the government released papers relating to the first world
war courts martial. Farr's widow watched a television interview with
Andrew MacKinlay, the Labour MP for Thurrock, who said that he was
going to try to secure pardons. Booth got in touch with him and
introduced him to her grandmother, then 99 years old.

They brought Julian Putkowski, a military historian who had written
extensively about the executed men. Putkowski recorded an interview
with Farr's widow in which she poured out her memories for the first
time. It was broadcast on Radio 4 and a copy remains in the archive
of the Imperial War Museum.

Three months later she died. But the campaign was unstoppable, Booth
says. "The reason I started was for my grandmother, and when she
died it was for my mother. It's been 14 years. It's taken a long
time, but we can't take all the credit. We have had so much help.
We're delighted that not only have we got a pardon for my
grandfather but also for the other 305. That's the icing on the
cake."

Later on in the war, relatives of executed men got letters saying
they had been killed "in action". Many relatives remained ignorant
of the truth for decades, Booth says: "One chap found out only two
days ago what had happened to his relative."

Of the 306 men who will now be pardoned, 266 were executed for
desertion, 18 for cowardice, seven for quitting their posts, six for
striking or showing violence to their superiors, five for
disobedience, two for sleeping at their post and two for casting
away arms. Another 37 were shot for murder and three for mutiny.

Gary Sheffield, professor of history at King's College London, says
a general pardon fails to distinguish between those who deliberately
let down their comrades and those who did not....
 
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Thanks very much for this Orla.

Wow.

"JH: But we now know it wasn`t cowardice, that`s my point

SW: We don`t know that, it`s actually back then they called it shell- shock, now we call it something different, they did know that he had
a history of shell-shock, but it doesn`t have the same meaning to them as it did to us
"

I can't help wonder how Wessely defines 'cowardice'. It does point to my ongoing concern about how psychiatrists seem sometimes (often when it comes to some of them) to make value-judgements about people's actions, based on their own subjective beliefs. There's a case for arguing that a psychologist's fallacy is at work here in Wessely's reasoning, even if Wessely does imply others are doing that sort of thing:

Wessely: "[it's not for] us to, from our extremely comfortable present, to kind of second guess and judge the past we can understand it and understand why things happened the way they did make acknowledgement of..."

I think it significant Wessely believes people know little about WW1 (his own children only know about WW1 from the last episode of Blackadder? Honestly? I have to say, my kids knew a LOT more even as young children. A trip to the Imperial War Museum helps with that. Even a read of a Horrible Histories book is useful!). Obviously Blackadder is a comic, satirical narrative, but it works as that BECAUSE people understand the wider context of WW1.
 

Orla

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The life and death of Private Harry Farr

Simon Wessely

King's Centre for Military Health Research, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London SE5 9RJ, UK.

J R Soc Med 2006;99:440-443
http://jrsm.rsmjournals.com/cgi/content/full/99/9/440
A few comments on parts of it

We for example have shown that the ‘flashback’, characteristic of modern posttraumatic stress disorder, is absent from medical files of shell shock victims of the First World War; but this is not an important point.
Just because they are not on the medical notes doesn't mean it didn't happen.

I am not convinced that Shell Shock was purely a psychological phenomenon. I wonder whether it was something of an umbrella terms for people with a range of "unexplained" health conditions who had been at the war front?

Having seen footage of people who had "shell-shock", some had real difficulty walking, were sort of wobbling all over the place, and not just psychiatric problems. I think in some cases this carried on for years. Of course it cannot be studied properly now but I wonder whether there was some sort of neurological injury in some cases?

So the label of shell shock, which to our modern mind is synonymous with psychiatric disorder, and should automatically have meant mercy for Farr, was more ambiguous to the people of 1916. It was already falling into disrepute, and was being increased seen on both sides of the trenches as a convenient medical label for people to avoid their duties, and would be banned completely as a diagnosis in 1917
That view was obviously coloured by military/political policy. (He is, in theory, putting what happened in context, but in a way accepting politically motivated decisions as if they were acceptable or reasonable)

There were no psychiatrists available on the Western Front (psychiatrists were mainly asylum doctors anyway who looked after the insane), but if a modern psychiatrist had made the journey back in time to interview Farr, it is probable the diagnosis would be of some form of anxiety, phobic or post-traumatic stress disorder (the diagnoses are not exclusive). A phobic disorder is when a person experiences severe irrational disabling symptoms out of proportion to any actual risk. There is no rational reason to be crippled with anxiety when confronted with a spider, nor to have panic attacks inside a supermarket. But there was nothing irrational about Farr's fears that night—indeed, one might argue that refusing to go ‘over the top’ was the most rational response to the situation
A bit off topic for this discussion, but when I saw this comment on phobias, I thought I would point it out. Exercise phobia came up onanother thread. I mentioned on that thread that phobia would mean something in particular to mental health professionals, not just a little rational worry about something, and that is basically (in bold) what they would mean by a phobia.

It seems very probable that Farr was suffering from a psychiatric disorder, even if we do not know which one
And yet, he insists on being against the pardon.

Competing interests Simon Wessely is Co-Director of the King's Centre for Military Health Research, part of King's College London. He is also Honorary Civilian Advisor in Psychiatry for the British Army.
Edit, in theory he is putting the event in conext in this article, but in practice he is avoiding mentioning the bigger picture of the war, motivations for the war, how the "higher up" people in the army or government viewed the people on the front (basically as expendable). And another poetry moment thay I think illustarates some of what I am talking about:

Base Details

by Siegfried Sassoon

If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honour. “Poor young chap,”
I’d say—”I used to know his father well;
Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.”
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die—in bed.
 

Mithriel

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I was reading a novel which had a lot of detail about shell shock and WW1. Not the same as a factual book, but it got me interested and if I feel well enough I will try to find out what I can.

I think it is important for us because some of the ideas of somatisation and hysteria come from studies of soldiers. There were psychiatrists who got very interested and did lots of work, some compassionately. (Though the criteria for damage was changed to reduce the number of pensions paid out.)

Recently, they have shown that percussive damage causes micro brain injuries. They are trying to develop helmets which will cushion the brain because as it is shook by blast small tears and damages occur which do not show up easily but cause lasting problems.

I am convinced that many of the cases of "shellshock" and the like were actually percussive damage. The strange movements, dystonias and tics of ex soldiers were seen as psychological and experiments done then are the basis for somatisation in neurology.

One experiment struck me. When soldiers with difficulty walking were hypnotised they resumed a normal gait. This was taken as proof that psychology cause walking difficulties. Yet if one part of the brain was sending a signal causing contractures then deep relaxation could damp down that signal and release the muscle to walk properly. I doubt if they had the men walk far and they may well have exaggerated how "normal" the gait was the same way "recovery" for us is so far from the usual meaning of the word.

Mithriel

Meant to say thanks to Orla for all the information, very interesting.
 

Orla

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Thanks Mithriel, so my suspicions may have been correct then.

I have some notes I took from a documentary on the first world war which covered the issue of shell shock. I will look for it and see if there is anything relevant.

And if people can bear it, here is another article on Wessely, with some interesting history and comment on CFS. Sandhurst is some sort of military training college. I have put some of the text below in bold and underlined to highlight some important points.


The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9575, Page 1783, 26 May 2007

Perspectives, Lunch with The Lancet
Simon Wessely


by Geoff Watts


I tell an acquaintance I'm having lunch with the man who leads the UK's King's Centre for Military Health Research. He offers sympathy. "Bit of a stuffed shirt, I suppose. Very proper." Actually, no. In outlook and demeanour the entirely unmilitary Simon Wessely is less Sandhurst than S & Dthis latter being his shorthand for the Sun and Doves, the local gastropub where we met. And the royal patronage
implied in the Centre's title is merely a reference to its home in King's College, London. Wessely, a psychiatrist, works with the military, likes and respects them, but is definitely not of them. "Some people go to the Amazon rain forest to study strange tribes. I go to Sandhurst and Colchester. They have their own rules and customs."

Set up in the mid 1990s, the King's Centre studies the health of service personnel: Gulf War veterans in the first instance. Wessely had already made waves with his research on chronic fatigue (CF). The work played a big part in changing the way that the illness is treated, and his doubts about the popular viral theory of CF made him some enemies. "There's a small number of people who are almost psychotically obsessed with me. But I'm used to that."

Then came the Gulf War and its aftermath. "I started seeing reports of soldiers who were exactly like my CF patients. At the same time it was clear that the MoD [Ministry of Defence] was making a dog's breakfast of dealing with it. Every time a Gulf veteran died, the headline was `Veteran dies of Gulf War Syndrome'. The MoD hadn't got even the most elementary mortality statistics." Wessely saw a research opportunity, and seized it. More controversy. Is this something he regrets or enjoys? "A bit of both." With hindsight he admits "I could have been more diplomatic. I wasn't thinking about the language I used or its impact. I was just keen to get into print." He understands why patients would prefer to be told they've acquired a virus. Nowadays, he reckons, he can make a better fist of handling controversy.

What Wessely loves most about psychiatry is the multiplicity of factors that contribute to every condition. Nothing, he says enthusiastically, is ever clear cut. Which is perhaps why, if he had to choose an alternative occupation, it would be history. When writing about neurasthenia in Victorian England and charting the management of shell shock in World War I, he's taken pleasure in these opportunities to taste his alternative career. Leaving Wessely outside the S & D I recall his advice on what not to do when working with the military. "You mustn't try and pretend you're one of them", he cautions.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673607608022/fulltext
He is saying that he would choose his words (rather than ideas) more carefully if he had to do it over again. I have noticed that the psycho-social school sometimes write more diplomatically now, same ridiculous ideas, but more manipulative language. Personally I prefer it when they come straight out and say what they are thinking.

Orla
 

MEKoan

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Thank you, Orla and Mithriel, for reminding me of all the grim details of this tragic story. I can sometimes begin to feel pity for Simon Wessely because he begins to appear such a sad a desperate little fool but when I am reminded of his immense cruelty... Base Details was just right. Just right.

It's unbelievable, really, that someone could go on and on being pathologically cruel and be well compensated for it. I forget, sometimes, that something so bizarre is possible. I really do think he gets away with it because ordinary people, like me, find it hard to remember that this kind of thing really does go on and that sadistic people can appear banal and slightly idiotic.
 

justinreilly

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Mithriel, what you were referring to, I have a few other interesting bits and pieces on this issue. Worth bearing in mind that WW1 was an imperial war (so no real justice or "cause" to it), and the soldiers were treated like expendable cannon fodder. It was truly horrific for the soldiers in combat.
Orla, Thanks for all your great posts!

What a scumbag. Farr was a WWI soldier executed for cowardice and Wessely is going out of his way 90 years later to sh!t on his grave.

Wessely would lose it if the cowardly baby wasn't allowed to engage in his raison d'etre: abusing disabled people. And his fragile psyche surely wouldn't last 10 minutes in a war trench. A true human POS par exellance.
 

justinreilly

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Conclusions: Chronic symptoms and work difficulties maintained beliefs about the potency of chemical weapons... [G]as... was associated with a sense of unfairness.]

Recent studies of troops in training or civilians attacked by terrorists have shown that chemical weapons have retained their capacity to frighten.
"[G]as... was associated with a sense of unfairness" :confused::confused::confused:
How can anyone write or read this stuff with a straight face?

Obviously, he's doing the same thing in the same way with all the groups he victimizes. Thus, I'm sure these veterans who 'have no health problems' really are very sick and the ones who were permitted adequate testing have reams of significant lab abnormalities, just as we ME patients, according to Wessely's articles, have 'no pathology' and just 'believe' we are sick.
 

Dr. Yes

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Orla, thank you once again for filling me with disgust. :mask:

And yet, he insists on being against the pardon.
It has to be for political reasons, i.e. an effort to quash sympathy for and discussion of victims of GWI and PTSD. He is doing exactly the same thing about ME/CFS; trying to prevent the governments and insurers from having to compensate victims of this disease (or any other one he and his colleagues can manage to label as "medically unexplained symptoms").

Btw, as you noted, I didn't know that 'cowardice' was a psychiatric diagnosis.

"There's a small number of people who are almost psychotically obsessed with me. But I'm used to that."
Oooh, can I make that my signature?

"What Wessely loves most about psychiatry is the multiplicity of factors that contribute to every condition. Nothing, he says enthusiastically, is ever clear cut."
Of course, that spares him from ever having to REALLY figure anything out. It becomes a playground for weak minds.

"Which is perhaps why, if he had to choose an alternative occupation, it would be history."
He would be well suited to the history departments in many universities. You can arrange or ignore evidence however you want to fit your own biases, and rewrite reality on a daily basis.

Great points by you as well Mithriel. I was thinking the same thing. All the explosive devices used in WW I (and even worse since then) are capable of shattering ear drums and damaging peripheral vestibular systems that control equilibrium. They also induce concussions, which cause brain damage themselves. Quite a few American football players have suffered from something called Multiple Concussion Syndrome; the first time I read about the symptoms of one player, I was stunned by how closely they resembled my own. It can't have been 'deconditioning'; these guys are of course in incredible shape; yet they suffered some of the same symptoms that for us are dismissed as 'deconditioning effects' by so many doctors.

Can we get this information on Wessely out to a wider audience? Not just within ME/CFS communities... all of this would, for example, be the basis for a great piece in Harper's or any number of other magazines. I can see the caricature now..

(Also, perhaps certain people within the ME/CFS community who feel it is appropriate to try to convince or be convinced by the arguments of people like Wessely would benefit from knowing what they are dealing with.)
 

MEKoan

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Shell Shock vs PTSD

or

Making it up as you go along.

[video=youtube;NJUn7Koe01g]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJUn7Koe01g[/video]
 

justinreilly

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Shell Shock vs PTSD

or

Making it up as you go along.

[video=youtube;NJUn7Koe01g]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJUn7Koe01g[/video]
Wow, he never ceases to amaze me. Veterans get PTSD because they saw in Platoon that they're supposed to get flashbacks?? Shell-shocked veterans were 'unmanly'?- look who's talking! Will someone flush this turd already?
 

Orla

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Dr Yes
Orla, thank you once again for filling me with disgust.
No problem, my pleasure :D


<What Wessely loves most about psychiatry is the multiplicity of factors that contribute to every condition. Nothing, he says enthusiastically, is ever clear cut.>

Dr Yes
Of course, that spares him from ever having to REALLY figure anything out. It becomes a playground for weak minds.
Yes, he can waffle to his hearts content, and also be right so many times, as like a psychic he is spreading the risks by saying a few different things at the same time, so that one of the things he says might be right.

"Which is perhaps why, if he had to choose an alternative occupation, it would be history."

Dr Yes
He would be well suited to the history departments in many universities. You can arrange or ignore evidence however you want to fit your own biases, and rewrite reality on a daily basis.
What is that you are saying about historians! :Retro mad: :Retro mad: :Retro mad: :Retro mad: ok just kidding ;) I agree.


Great points by you as well Mithriel. I was thinking the same thing. All the explosive devices used in WW I (and even worse since then) are capable of shattering ear drums and damaging peripheral vestibular systems that control equilibrium. They also induce concussions, which cause brain damage themselves. Quite a few American football players have suffered from something called Multiple Concussion Syndrome; the first time I read about the symptoms of one player, I was stunned by how closely they resembled my own. It can't have been 'deconditioning'; these guys are of course in incredible shape; yet they suffered some of the same symptoms that for us are dismissed as 'deconditioning effects' by so many doctors.
That is very interesting.

Orla
 
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I suppose that PTSD has a time passport then? Or is it just a little baby still new to the world?

And NO war films do not always use the flashback, that is how Weasley organises his memory. (Great Escape, Lawence of Arabia, Bridge too far - nope nothing there)
 

Orla

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Thanks Min, Camelford water incident

let us not forget the way he was wheeled out to cover up the Camelford water poisoning incident

http://www.jstor.org/pss/25185888

http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/2008/01/safe-water-camelford-cover-up-plus.html
Thanks for the link. Is there no end to what this man well get up to? He is like a gun for hire to help cover things up.

That second article there has this:

In the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol 39, No 1. pp.1 9. 1995, Wessely together with his colleague Anthony David, published a paper entitled 'The Legend Of Camelford : Medical Consequences Of A Water Pollution Accident' (http://tinyurl. com/3a4fev). "There was little cause for concern," announced Wessely. He also accused Camelford residents of somatisation and the media of irresponsible reporting of this water-poisoning incident. Wessely apparently also blamed those affected of sensationalising their symptoms in order to get compensation.

Here is one recent comment from a Green party member: "It was a scandal. As in the Black Report on the Seascale leukaemias, they used the scholastic method, not the scientific method, to decide that there was no causal link between the chemicals in the water and the symptoms suffered."
I have heard about a few other things Wessely has been involved with (when I have the energy I will look for the information). He seems to have roughly the same script for every condition.

And Koan, thank you for that lovely little video of him waffling away as usual. I have the notes from his speech at Gresham college (aren't I lucky?).

Orla
 

Orla

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Unfortunately we don't have to imagine V99. I have out some of the text below in bold.

World Trade Centre syndrome
We are healthier than ever - but fear is making us ill.


by Simon Wessely


Similarly, the emergence of 'World Trade Syndrome', a vague collection of symptoms among the residents of Lower Manhattan, blamed on various 'toxins' released after the collapse of the Twin Towers, only makes sense in the context of a seemingly endless list of other mysterious symptoms and syndromes that are blamed on similar toxic disasters.

.... it is precisely because we are healthier, with higher expectations of the power of medicine, that we have actively encouraged the spread of medicine into areas where it has not gone before. We medicalise the non-pathological - and this is instituted not just by the medical professions but by the consumers themselves. So the normal symptoms and malaise that are part of the human condition, exacerbated by encounters with adversity such those on and after 11 September, are now more likely to be medicalised.


Who do I blame for this? In the UK, I blame generations of politicians who have been in charge of the health service, and who have found it hard to say 'enough is enough' - instead writing 'patients' charters', which perpetuate the idea that unrealistic expectations can be met.

...research has shown that one explanation in particular is on the increase, and that that the 'environment'. Increasingly, it is the environment - mystery bugs, toxins, chemicals, pollution, and so on, that is blamed for those non-specific symptoms that have always been with us.


One reason why this has happened is our increasing awareness of risk.

....We only have ourselves to blame for allowing this to happen. Anthraxiety and World Trade Centre Syndrome are the latest consequences of an ideology that tells us that our physical environment is responsible for most of our bodily discomforts and ills. We have created a climate in which a maverick, disgruntled individual can bring a society to its knees by adding anthrax to a letter.


Simon Wessely is professor of psychiatry at King's College London, and is speaking at the spiked conference After 11 September: Fear and Loathing in the West, on Sunday 26

http://www.spiked-online.com/articles/00000006D903.htm
These are just some extracts, worth reading in full if you can stomach it.

Orla
 

MEKoan

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This diatribe is dated May 23, 2002. So, SW had formed and was shopping a theory regarding what ailed people who lived in an environment which was literally blanketed in a thick snow of pulverized buildings and airplanes - a hitherto unique situation - following a terrorist attack which took place just 8 months earlier.

I cannot understand how he is allowed to carry on with his half baked ideas which drip with psychopathology consistent with having a big, big issue with illness in others. I am left, always, wondering who in this man's early life was ill -- one of his parents, his mother perhaps? Why did that upset him so much and why has he been unable to come to terms with his anger and anxiety as an adult doctor.

No matter what scenario he is faced with, he finds a way to explain all symptoms and distress as whinging. It's stunning. It's also pathological. I do not believe he is a happy or a well adjusted human being.
 
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Orla
WOW, what a loony toon. Why he bothers studying anyone is beyond me, he already has the answers to everything.

Interestingly he says cancer is just cancer, but for ME, it's more complicated. Biopsychosocial only when it suites him.