British chronic fatigue scientists get 'death threats'

British researchers looking at the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome have received death threats from protesters angry at their focus on possible mental triggers, a report said Friday.

Several scientists researching the condition, which is also known as myalgic (ME), say they are being subjected to a campaign of harassment and abuse, the BBC reported.

Professor Simon Wessely, a scientist based at King's College London, told BBC Radio that he now scans his mail for suspect devices after receiving "maliciously unfair" threats of violence.

"It's direct intimidation in the sense of letters, emails, occasional phone calls and threats," Wessely said, adding that those behind the abuse were also making official complaints to British medical bodies.

"I think sadly some of the motivation here comes from people who really do believe that any connection with psychiatry is tantamout to saying there is nothing wrong with you, you are making this up... That is profoundly misguided."

The causes of are currently unknown but symptoms include severe and debilitating tiredness, muscle and joint pains, and .

A doctor representing sufferers in Britain said there was anger about the way the condition was being probed.

Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association, said threats to scientists were "completely unacceptable" but called on the British government to support more research into the possible biological causes.

"I think you need to put this into the context of the fact that we have about 250,000 people with this illness (in Britain). A very, very tiny minority of these people are involved in this sort of behaviour," he said.

A major US study in 2009 claimed that a mouse virus was the cause but researchers later said its findings were wrong and likely based on contaminated lab samples.

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BigJesus
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2011
Interestingly, those protesting against this research less make light of the researchers attempt to delegitimize their condition as psychiatric, than it betrays in the protesters that they do not view psychiatric conditions as legitimate. As a group of people who want their pain to be understood and believed by others, one would think that those with chronic fatigue would have an appreciation for the lack of recognition those with psychological illnesses get from most of society. In particular, those who suffer from psychological illnesses are similarly characterized by the society as being simply lazy whiners, and their attempts to gain recognition for their condition similarly viewed as attempts to unwarrantedly gain dispensations from others. It is surprising that there are people who believe they suffer from chronic fatigue but shudder at the thought of their condition being thought of as being even remotely psychiatric.
la7dfa
not rated yet Jul 30, 2011
It sounds very plausible to connect ME to e.g. an illnesses like depression. Both have similarities, perhaps caused by less connectivity in the brains synapses. Memory loss, sleep problems and severe tiredness are common for both conditions.
ironjustice
not rated yet Jul 31, 2011
One might wonder what link there is between the finding of ciguatera fish toxin being related to fibromyalgia and the tick.

"Chronic phase lipids in sera of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chronic ciguatera fish poisoning (CCFP), hepatitis B, and cancer with antigenic epitope resembling ciguatoxin, as assessed with MAb-CTX."
"Reversed by D-mannitol"

"Tick Bite Link To Meat Allergy, Medical Journal Of Australia"
ziphead
not rated yet Aug 01, 2011
20 years ago, you would see your GP to complain about stomach ulcers and he'd tell you that it's all stress related. Now we know that the cause is bacterial and that course of antibiotic clears it out.

This is to illustrate general tendency in the medicine that when it all gets too hard GP calls it psychosomatic and either:
1. (If you have the money) give you referral to a psychotherapist
or
2. Pump you up with SSRI/SNRI, leading to significant weight gain, and likely dopaminergic dysfunction few years after.

Not saying the above does not help. The problem is, it is a symptomatic treatment; majority feels better, but few feel cured after say 6 months. And so the treatment must continue

And we wander why desperate people get pissed off?

Commonality of symptoms strongly points at likely common root cause. It is the job of the researches to find what that is.
hush1
not rated yet Aug 07, 2011
"I think you need to put this into the context of the fact that we have about 250,000 people with this illness (in Britain). - Simon Wessely

Put this into the context of the fact:
Symptoms are more lucrative than cures.
ironjustice
not rated yet Aug 07, 2011
"Commonality of symptoms strongly points at likely common root cause. It is the job of the researches to find what that is."

THAT has been proven not to work. Name one disease the researchers have cured or even found the cause of ? What research does is try to find something which will alleviate the symptoms of that disease. THAT is what they are PAID to do. The money for research comes from pharmaceutical companies and they look for a treatment. IF they serendipiously find something that IS causing something they will attempt to remove that something WITHOUT telling anybody what that something IS. If they DID tell everyone what they DID find then their drugs would be of no use. They are not boudn by law to tell us but morally and ethically they ARE. Imho.