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Open letter to Professor Simon Wessely

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Professor Simon Wessely
Professor Simon Wessely
Photograph: Laura Mtungwazi for the Observer

From Dr. John Greensmith (via email):


Open letter sent to Professor Simon Wessely, Re: "M.E. death threats" story

Open letter sent to Professor Simon Wessely, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London from Dr John H Greensmith, M.E. Community, with copies for publication and his expected reply to all media in which the "M.E. death threats story" appeared.

Dear Professor Wessely,

I wonder if you realise the terrible distress you have caused amongst the M.E. Community with your "M.E. death threats" story, repeated in several broadcasts and newspapers, each time gathering a little more inaccuracy and venom?

To be scrupulously fair, you have never mentioned Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (or its initials M.E.), nor do I believe that any allegations you make apply to M.E. sufferers because they are too ill to carry them out, or attend your clinic for treatment which, for them, would either be ineffective or make a majority worse but you know that M.E. is often, quite unjustifiably, taken to be synonymous with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). M.E. patients have certainly appeared in the headlines and even a cartoon.

Will you, therefore, make it clear, in the same places you enjoyed the publicity, that you specifically exclude people with M.E. or, if you do include them, will you say according to which diagnostic criteria?

In advance of any response you make, may I offer some comfort to people with this dreadfully disabling illness that we know is a discrete illness with a physical cause or underlying disease process, for which psychiatric history or concurrent illness is not a prerequisite and this organisation will be properly researching it with valid experimental design; subjects selected according to criteria at least as discriminatory as the Canadian Consensus Criteria, rather than the heterogeneous CFS, within which bundle there is not an illness that one could not include if one desired and appropriate statistical analysis.

All of these will be subject to a consultation preview period – to which you will be invited – before we go ahead, funded by money gained by subscription, donations and charitable fund raising initiatives, whose independence of its donors is assured, conducted by researchers whose careers do not depend on the outcome.

This will take some time but since you say you know the dreadful experience of a death threat, you may wish to take the opportunity to set minds at rest and prevent some unnecessary deaths, by their own hands, amongst people you may have inadvertently affected.

Yours sincerely
M.E. Community



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