Letter: Don't blame the helpless ME patient

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The Independent Online
Sir: Suzanne Moore's article "The secret fears of the ME generation" (23 May) is a welcome addition to the ongoing debate. However, there would have been greater clarity if ME could have been presented as a multi-causal illness. Arguing for one cause, in this case psychological, over and above others, is too one-dimensional. This has grave consequences when it comes to the appropriateness of different treatments, for different sub-groups.

It is not that our members see mental illness as a shameful diagnosis to be avoided under the cloak of ME. It is instead that they have to contend with distressing neurological symptoms which remain unrecognised and untreated. Then the psychological factors really do kick in, stemming from isolation and despair.

Let's finally admit that the helplessness and loss of control routinely felt by those with ME, from having an illness which is misunderstood, is equally a factor for those trying to help them. Doctors, when confronted by ME, are forced to face the fact that their traditional understanding of causation and treatment may not be applicable. Could it be that they fall back on "blaming the patient" and the "ME lobby" rather than themselves?

GILL JACOBS

Director

Action for ME

Wells, Somerset

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