Responses to Rod Liddle: letters published in ‘The Sunday Times’, 7 August 2011

Narrow vision on ME

Rod Liddle was as immoderate as the outrageous behaviour he was criticising (“Shoot the medical messenger — see if that’ll cure you”, Comment, last week). There are around 193,000 myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/ chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients in Britain, and most have never threatened scientific researchers. So why paint a picture — “malingering mentals”, “foaming paranoia” — tarring thousands with the actions of a few?

There is a legitimate debate about which model — biomedical or biopsychosocial — best fits the illness, but it’s not true that evidence for the former is “non-existent”.

More than 90% of official grant spend on ME/CFS in the past decade has gone on research into cognitive-behavioural approaches. These are the “palliative treatments” Liddle refers to, but even their advocates recognise that they benefit only a small minority over and above standard medical care, and are not the answer to the biomedical enigma at the heart of ME/CFS. Its sufferers deserve better.
Dr Neil Abbot, ME Research UK

Terms and conditions

The term ME has not replaced CFS. It is the other way round. The medical profession has redefined ME as CFS so as to include both physical and psychological presentations. The ME Association agrees that ME is a neurological condition.

Our website is a rich source of information, but discussion pages on the internet attract a few who post uninformed rants. We deplore the actions of a handful of activists who threaten those who disagree with their views.

Recently, after great pressure from this charity, members of parliament and other ME organisations, the Medical Research Council finally agreed a list of biomedical research priorities with ring-fenced funding.
Neil Riley, Chairman, ME Association

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