Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On CFS, Psychiatry, TG and idiocy in medicine

I link to two great articles whether you have CFS, know someone who has or have no idea about it.

Read this.

Some days, when my natural instincts slip past my stict internal ethics-filters, i consider how just it might be to get all the people who make ignorant assumptions about CFS and jam them in a room filled with mosquitos carrying Ross River Fever or some other illness with similar symptoms to CFS so they get a taste of it, oh and use some drug to mess with their memory so they have no idea whats wrong with them when they start to feel ill.

That or just take a big hammer with the studies showing biological factors in CFS wrapped around the hammerhead and smack them right in the knee with it to remind them of the damned data!

Thankfully for all these I am both too tired and too ethical for such behaviours.

But lets check another shall we? Try this It took something like 5 years before I was diagnosed. During which time I had to leave school, tried to get work, tried to do several forms of further education all of which made me deteriorate to the point of having to quit and overall dramatically worsened my condition with all the antibiotics and antidepressants, (the latter i was not informed were antidepressants I might add, the doctor led me to believe it was a different antibiotic for the 'unknown virus' he said was the likely cause of my illness after the courses of anitbiotics had no effect... only when i webt for a second opinion did i learn what i'd been placed on!) let alone the fact that no matter how sick i felt I still kept up a moderate level of activity (I get bored too easilly to be happy being bedbound thank you very much you *censored*) till after trying several different doctors one said:

I'd say you had chronic fatigue syndrome.. If i believed it

Amusing no? So when I tried another doctor i mentioned this quote. He was astonished. A bunch more tests later to rule out more possibilities he said i clearly had CFS and there i was, finally diagnosed. Now if this moron discussed in the second article is correct then what the heck illness did i have for years and still have long before I had internet access or had heard anything about CFS beyond vague jokes about Yuppie Flu?

Back from my experiences to the excellent article:

Why can they not see this? Because they don’t want to admit that they don’t know
everything, perhaps? I think that’s a component, but there’s more to
Here’s my current take: These psychologisers are believed, because they
are the people who are reinforcing existing prejudice. I think that popular
conceptions of CFS are heavily gendered: If a disease is suffered more often by
women, we all know they’re doing it to themselves, don’t we? And if people -
especially women - have diseases we don’t understand, they must be to blame
somehow. We’re not very comfortable with uncertainty, we don’t like “shit
happens” as an explanation.
We seek to blame, and who better to blame that
the people who we see at the centre of the problem - women with disabilities?
The shadows of victim-blaming rear their ugly heads again and again and again
within every axis of oppression, and those shadows are multiplied at the
And so, people with disabilities are abused - medically,
socially, financially, and psychologically. Every day. Because of people like
Wessely who are “just trying to help”.

Well my oh my does this seem familiar to me. Just like the Zucker and Blanchard nonsense. Just like constantly calling non-binary folk all 'fetishists'. Despite the data when it fits the prejudice it must be true.

I should point out though that for several years after my diagnosis I was still trying to get work and study. I asked three times and DSS/Centrelink about the disability pension and was told each time that CFS was not covered. Then I met a local woman who also had CFS (and a much much milder case than mine) who had been on the pension for years! I mentioned this to my doctor and he had several other patients with CFS on the disability pension, all women, and he helped straighten things out so I finally got my pension.

So in this case was it an assumption that as a 'strong' male i could just ignore the illness and keep going while 'frail' women could not? Or was it that womens contributions were considered negligible and could be pensioned off while I as a male needed to keep being a productive worker?

I'd appreciate others theories on that. Either way back then I heard of quite a few cases locally at least where males with CFS had much more trouble obtaining the disability pension than females.

At any rate there are patterns here. Patterns of sexism, ablism and more. At each turn there is a lack of Ethics, a lack of conclusions based on thorough data. Just prejudice used to draw faulty conclusions from the outset and construct bad studies to support them.

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