Voodoo therapy is NOT the cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, Oxford University!

This is appalling. Oxford University academics are trying to tell us that sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome (otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME) can make themselves better by positive thinking.

Oh – and exercise. Have you ever tried to get an ME sufferer to do more exercise?

It seems we are heading back to the days when the condition was dismissed as “yuppie flu”.

The research so easily fits in with what the DWP and its cronies at Unum, Atos et all have been saying that This Writer half expected to see one or all of them credited as funders for the project – and was more astonished to find that it was actually funded by the Medical Research Council which, on the face of it, actually seems to be respectable.

If this article had been published in the Daily Heil, we could all have had a laugh at the idea that, while positive thinking might be hailed as a cure for ME this week, it’ll be pilloried as a cause of cancer in seven days’ time. It was in the Torygraph instead, which is almost as bad – and the possibility that this is a support piece for DWP thinking cannot be dismissed.

In fact, This Writer has seen positive evidence that suggests ME can be alleviated for a period of time – but only by using one substance:


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not actually a chronic illness and sufferers can overcome symptoms by increasing exercise and thinking positively, Oxford University has found.

A landmark study which followed hundreds of sufferers for two years found that those who were encouraged to be more active and alter their mind-set suffered less fatigue and were able to cope with daily life more easily.

The condition, also known as ME and once dismissed as “Yuppie flu”, is a recognised illness which affects around 250,000 people in Britain.

Sufferers report extreme fatigue, joint pain, headaches and memory problems, but doctors still do not know the cause or cure.

But the new study found that graded exercise therapy (GET), in which sufferers gradually increase activity levels, as well as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which encourages positive thinking and behaviour, had a dramatic impact.

Source: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers ‘can overcome symptoms of ME with positive thinking and exercise’ – Telegraph

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21 thoughts on “Voodoo therapy is NOT the cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, Oxford University!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      What, the ‘F’ word?
      Obviously I agree that there’s something fishy going on here.

      1. The Porcelain Doll

        Sorry for swearing.

        They thought I had ME when I had my breakdown, I went to see a psychiatrist and he said I had depression.

        But a psychiatrist is diagnosing this.

        Also I think this is what the government think will cure everything.

  1. Maria Josephine

    Did you hear Professor Michael Sharpe being given a pretty easy ride on ‘Today’ this morning? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p036fnz0). Admittedly he stressed that the combination of graded exercise and CBT isn’t a cure for ME but insisted that it’s (as he put it) ‘the best show in town’. However the paper is being published in ‘The Lancet Psychiatry’ which indicates the general thrust behind the research and, as you say, this will be used by the DWP to push people into employment that they can’t cope with.

  2. Pip (@pipsterish)

    Is it possible that the Medical Research Council is working with RCPsych on this, the President of which holds the belief that ME/CFS is ONLY a behavioural disorder, that can be “cured” by some kind of cognitive therapy?

    Sadly, it seems to have those kind of incorrect assumptions running all the way through here.

  3. Barry Davies

    Having been a long term sufferer of M.E. I can say without doubt that the only condition that is aided by GET (Graded exercise therapy) and talking therapies is depression which is sometimes the true condition of someone wrongly diagnosed with M.E. Having been forced into accepting this therapy by an unqualified assessor at ATOS I twice wound up in the back of an ambulance with blues and twos taking over 8 hours of intense therapy at the hospital to recover from the damage done by GET, and still the ATOS advisors expect it to help. The major problem is that the international classification for a long time came under psychiatry despite the evidence that it is a physical condition and the depression generally comes from previously very active people being left with little possibility of ever being able to be active again.

  4. Maria

    Funny you should mention this, they also tried to give me CBT, they said I would be able to cope better at hearing when they had finished, even though its been proven when I was a child that I am physically deaf and only giving me the right equipment makes me hear better.

    1. MsJustice

      If people with ME can recover, by changing their thoughts and behaviour, then why are they permanently banned from donating blood? As the cause is unknown, it’s a precautionary measure, to protect the recipient/blood supply.

  5. arahn

    The only reason that average people don’t accept this illness as real is because there isn’t any official explanation for it. One of the worst problems of this illness (after the illness itself) is the social stigma and ridicule that the sufferer is either lazy or a hypochondriac (or both) and either way they treat the sufferer with a mix of disdain, contempt and underhanded attempts to hurt them as though it would “teach them a lesson” about being like that. The real cause is IMHO is infectious and likely came from contaminated vaccines but we’ll never know if they won’t look for that.

    1. Florence

      Interesting comment on vaccines. While many who question vaccination are discredited and marginalised as “tin-hats”, I feel that here needs to be much more consideration given to this. We now have epidemics of auto-immune diseases, and cancers, autism & spectrum disorders, and a number of other health problems such as ME and “CFS”. These have all followed an upward trajectory, (such that cancer is now occurring in 30 – 50%of the population, and degenerative diseases also crippling millions), along with the frequency and life-time total combined vaccination treatments, and the various adjuvents delivered as part of the vaccine. While there are also many environmental factors at play too, we should not avoid asking the basic questions. These include the methods of production of vaccines, from the post-war period to now. It might tread on toes, it will definitely be unwelcome by govts world wide, but if we are to tackle and prevent harm to future generations, we need to act now.

  6. arahn

    I forgot to mention that there is a cure for it called GcMAF (the real GcMAF isn’t available and please don’t waste your money on the fake stuff that is) but “they” decided to remove availability of GcMAF by shutting down the supplier of it — wouldn’t want to encourage any entertainment of the idea that there’s a desire to NOT cure people of their illness but the facts don’t leave any good explanation for the removal of GcMAF from the options of treatment.

    1. Silly

      You can still get colostrum, which has a small amount of GcMAF. I thought I had developed a “sensitivity” to milk because I got severe fatigue and bloating and asthma from it, and I avoided milk for years but then I started drinking colostrum and I can guzzle it all day and it only helps my asthma. After drinking some bottled water and getting sick for three days and then another time breathing in some out gassing plastic fumes from the closet and getting sick again for three days I finally realized my problem with plastic. Dry foods in plastic don’t seem to bother me, but liquids are like poison! Takes hours to get sick too, so it’s hard to pinpoint the cause. I have multiple chemical sensitivities so I know what it’s like when the doc’s say it’s psychiatric. Doctors don’t like it when their drugs don’t work so they blame the patient.

  7. Jane jacques

    As mother of a child diagnosed with ME, and also diagnosed with ME, both wrongly, this is a subject close to my heart. We were later DX with a rare genetic syndrome and I wonder how many other ME folk are undiagnosed other illnesses. This is not new, GET and CBT have been recommended for ME/CFS previously. They may help some patients. Some patients will be to ill to undertake them, and as in all treatments patient consent is paramount. ME/CFS is a recognised. Neurological illness, and research is being done into probable autoimmune. basis, although this isfar from certain at the moment.

  8. Neilth

    This is a compound problem. ME is difficult to diagnose as symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Also other underlying conditions can complicate the diagnosis.

    Having ME is in itself depressing. The feelings of constant weariness and pain are enough to grind anyone down so it is little wonder that Depression is often diagnosed.

    Depression is susceptible to treatment using CBT or/and antidepressants and so such treatment can help the patient cope more effectively with their illnesses including the ME. They will not cure ME and to claim that is patently absurd though as I say they may alleviate some of the side effects.

    Once again an example of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing when it comes to reading scientific reports. Newspapers of all colours are notoriously stupid when it comes to science taking what is often a minor aside in the report and making that the headline.
    The Heil, Excess and Scum do it almost daily with some food or diet scare or other medical misreporting, but sadly the so called quality press can be equally sensationalist and immoderate.

    Back to the point, DWP wants to cut as many deserving claimants off their books as possible in order to pretend that things are getting better so they order their minions to ask questions etc in such a way that the only possible answer will reduce the number of points the claimants score. This justifies their prejudices as they can then point to these new figures and bray ‘I told you so.’

  9. Florence

    There is a large body of evidence that indicates any diagnosis of CFS is a mis-diagnosis, but ME is indeed a separate and defined, and hence diagnosible, illness. CFS is simply a term for a group of symptoms. CFS mis-diagosed includes possible ME, RA, cardiac disease, endocrine, malignancy, and many other conditions including genetic, as Jane says.


    The problem with this type of research in Oxford is that the starting point assumes the current paradigm – in this case that CFS is a single “condition”, and that the bio-psycho-social model is also correct – is typical of the establishment bolstering it’s own through choice of research projects Funded. (I know because is was a research fellow and made multiple applications for this type of funding, although in a different field. The awarding committee is full of ‘establishment’ scientists. They include many who are treated to e.g. invitations to Downing St and Ministerial jollies.)

    The problem is that those with the CFS diagnosis, or mis-diagnosis, or ME, can be made substantially worse by any exercise. For the most severe ME cases, any exercise can be fatal. (Warning – this is very rare, I’m making no claims about mortality rates), as can exercise for those mis-diagnosed who have cardiac problems, which also means that treatable conditions are missed. There is no mistake about the underlying institutionalised misogyny behind these assumptions about the psychosomatic nature of ME, and Fibro, and depression, which have a higher incidence in women.

  10. Alyson Ross

    I thought I would be angry, and I am, I’m furious, but more than that I find I’m terrified. ME/ CFS is not my only condition. Nevertheless, the terror that I might be found ‘fit for work’ is stopping my breathing. This will set us back years and years. This is – sorry, but this is catastrophic.

  11. Mary Schweitzer

    Have you seen Berkeley, CA, journalism/public health professor Dave Tuller’s 3-part series on the travesty that was the PACE trial? It was posted on Columbia U’s virology Prof. Vince Racaniello’s blog (This Week in Virology) in three installments (the first installment has parts 1 and 2, so it’s actually 4 parts in three installments):


    1. Florence

      Excellent posting, and the links through to the critique of the original PACE study, which was carried out by the same “scientists” who have carried out this study. They do indeed have links in the early 2000’s to the “usual suspects” in promotion of the bio-psycho social model, insinuating themselves into the workings of government depts., and there is a definite conflict of interests when those involved in the studies are also on govt committees that “inform” govt policy, including spending decisions.

  12. Sarah Lawry

    Many thanks for this and your blog in general, Mike. Please also see this excellent resource – I have not read past 50 – it does not make for easy reading in any sense of the word:

    101 Good Reasons :Why it is wrong to provide CBT and GET to ME Patients. Compiled by Greg Crowhurst 2nd March 2010


    For the PACE trial authors, surely neglecting these facts/ published research is criminally negligent?

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