ME/CFS: Past, present and future, by William Weir and Nigel Speight in  Healthcare 2021, 9(8), 984 []


Article abstract:

Dr Nigel Speight, WAMES medical adviser

This review raises a number of compelling issues related to the condition of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Some historical perspective is necessary in order to highlight the nature of the controversy concerning its causation.

Throughout history, a pattern tends to repeat itself when natural phenomena require explanation. Dogma usually arrives first, then it is eventually replaced by scientific understanding.

The same pattern is unfolding in relation to ME/CFS, but supporters of the psychological dogma surrounding its causation remain stubbornly resistant, even in the face of compelling scientific evidence to the contrary. Acceptance of the latter is not just an academic issue; the route to proper understanding and treatment of ME/CFS is through further scientific research rather than psychological theorisation. Only then will a long-suffering patient group benefit.


Dr William Weir

In conclusion, proper scientific research into the physical cause(s) of ME/CFS will eventually replace the damaging influence of pseudoscientific, psychological dogma. A reliable biomarker currently in development [25] is a big step in this direction.

Also, the current Covid19 pandemic may be a cloud with a silver lining. “LongCovid”, a devastating aftermath of Covid19 infection, is currently attracting research funding. The clinical presentations of “LongCovid” are strikingly similar to those of ME/CFS, and the underlying pathology may well be the same [26]. Hopefully, the funds referred to will be used for properly directed scientific searches for the precise cause of this pathology, rather than for a PACE mark 2.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein:

“the definition of insanity is to do the same thing again, expecting a different result”.

If sanity prevails, properly focussed scientific research will eventually bring much needed relief to a population of patients who have hitherto been very poorly served by the medical profession.

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