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Sonya Chowdhury responds to ‘psychosomatic’ comment

October 10, 2016

Action for M.E. Chief Executive Sonya Chowdhury has challenged a comment posted on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website which suggested that for M.E. patients, the condition is “all in their heads”.

Dr Jordan, a medical doctor from Edmonton, Canada, posted his comment in response to an article titled Freedom of information: can researchers still promise control of participants’ data? The article by Nigel Hawkes pertained to the recent judgment that Queen Mary University must release data from the PACE trial

Dr Jordan said: “The action taken against the researchers appears to be a continued attempt to justify the condition as a disease entity, thereby creating an environment in which some form of personal gain may be achieved. Whether that gain is in the form of a financial incentive or to manipulate the research findings as a way of placing some distance between a possible underlying mental health or psychosomatic illness and a true physical illness is unknown. It obviously helps satisfy alleged sufferers to hear that it is not all in their head and that what symptoms are experienced must be seen as real and part of a real disease process. Arguments against the sceptics and critics must be answered with facts, according to one's own definition of the facts.”

In her response, Sonya expressed disappointment with Dr Jordan’s comments, stating:

“Such comments propagate the long-standing myth that M.E. is not a true physical illness, and perpetuate the disbelief and stigmatisation that people with M.E. are subjected to.

“For M.E. patients, who often struggle to find acceptance and support from friends, family, colleagues and social and welfare services, this can cause a great deal of harm and prevent them from accessing the medical, financial and emotional support they desperately need, which is something I hope Dr Jordan recognises.

“Dr Jordan's opinion is at odds both with the research evidence that supports M.E. as a true physical illness, and with an appropriate medical stance.”

You can read Dr Jordan’s and Sonya’s comments in full on the BMJ website