Opinion: Examining the political underbelly of ME/CFS and Long Covid

Welfare reform, corporate profiteering, academic collusion, and the biopsychosocial model by Joanne Hunt

The full article appeared in ME Essential magazine Spring 2023

Introduction: My route into research

I have lived with the symptoms of ME/CFS since very early childhood but was diagnosed in my teenage years. Now in my forties, I have experienced endless tugs-of-war with healthcare practitioners over my treatment, which has comprised little more than psychosocial interventions (including graded exercise and cognitive behavioural therapies), that I believe have caused me significant harm.

Additionally, I have found the attitude of most of my healthcare providers – dismissive, apparently unconcerned and sometimes derisive – to be incredibly damaging. This has been exacerbated by delayed diagnoses, having very little social support and, as a woman from a working-class background, apparently occupying the ‘hysterical, incompetent, attention-seeking’ space in the collective clinical imagination.

After a short career in central government (curtailed by untreated chronic illness and unaccommodated disability),I re-trained in psychology and psychological therapies, slowly and painfully over many years, and became fascinated as to what was driving the systematic clinical and societal disability denial that I was experiencing. I began to research the political backdrop to ME/CFS healthcare and to consider what individual and collective psychological needs might be served by mainstream representations of ME/CFS (that is, representing ME/CFS as a psychosocial entity to be ‘treated’ by cognitive and behavioural interventions).

The result has been a number of scholar-activist style blog posts and a few published papers – a meagre offering in the grand scheme of things, but significant for me as a now severely chronically ill and disabled person, with no funding or pay ,no appropriate healthcare and very little social accommodation of basic needs.
Rather than summarise the papers individually, which I am doing elsewhere, I will outline the political underpinnings of ME/CFS healthcare and offer an interpretation of the possible purposes served by a psychosocial framing of this neglected condition.

Shopping Basket