Squeeze the psychs out of M.E.: Prof Wessely RSM presentation

During his presentation at the Royal Society of Medicine’s “CFS” Conference on 28 April 2008, Professor Simon Wessely referred to “the demonstration Squeeze the psychs out of M.E.”  using a PowerPoint slide of the “Squeeze the psychs out of M.E.” graphic to illustrate this section of his talk.  I would like to clarify that whilst I am happy for Professor Wessely to have included my graphic in his presentation, that the “Squeeze the psychs out of M.E.”  graphic and slogan were prepared exclusively for use with the RSM “On a Postcard, please” campaign and that neither initiative was associated with the demonstration organised by Gus Ryan outside the RSM building on the afternoon of the conference.

This extract from the closing minutes of Professor Simon Wessley’s presentation to the Royal Society of Medicine “CFS” Conference is not an official transcript. Whilst considerable care has been taken in the preparation of this transcript, some errors and omissions may remain.

Prof Simon Wessely’s RSM CFS Conference presentation (and PDF of PowerPoint slides)

Epidemiology: Professor Simon Wessely, King’s College London

Webcast available from RSM website (registration required) at: http://rsm.mediaondemand.net/events.aspx

PowerPoint slides only available to download at:

Epidemiology [PDF 544k]
Professor Simon Wessely, King’s College London


Title: Epidemiology counts… [illustrated with 54 PowerPoint slides]


32.00 mins into Prof Wessely’s presentation [34.38 mins]

These are important, then, because what we’re saying is that any proposed model for CFS, if it’s going to reflect the world as it is, must explain these epidemiological findings, it must explain the genetics finding, it must explain the gender bias, it must explain these links with previous psychological disorders, it must explain why some, but not all agents can initiate CFS and it must explain these complicated links with activity.

Copyright Suzy Chapman
Copyright Suzy Chapman

PowerPoint slide 53: Image: “Squeeze the psychs out of M.E.” graphic from “On a Postcard, please” campaign

It’s not possible, really though, to completely avoid the outside world much as though we would like, and this kind of erm, demonstration “Squeeze the psychs out of M.E.” – and one can understand the emotions behind this – but I do find it hard to sympathise and I also think it’s a great mistake because if you really actually want to understand chronic fatigue syndrome, M.E. whatever we’re  going to call it, you have to do so in possession of all the facts – not just those facts that you like, but all of them; you can’t pick and choose and the history of science tells us very clearly that turning your back on erm, things that you don’t like, things that aren’t going the way you want them to, and  there are many, many examples of this, at best leads to false conclusions and bad decisions, and at worst leads to bigotry and intolerance.

It is not good enough to dismiss the research that we have described as “nonsense” or those who followed it as “knaves”, “charlatans” or “varlets” because they’re none of those things – if you want to help sufferers you have to see the world as it is, in all its complexity and not just parts of it.

PowerPoint slide 54: Image: Front cover: Kings Centre for Military Health Research Ten Year Report 

That’s ought to be my last slide but I don’t want to leave it like that as I don’t like it, so this actually is my last slide and this is just finally a kind of personal note – a strange thing has happened, I still see patients every week but I’ve really pulled out of research in this area and I have very little involvement, now, and I’ve done the exact opposite of Sir Peter Spence [sic] there at the back. He’s moved from the armed forces into the world of chronic fatigue syndrome at about the same time as I’ve done exactly the opposite – I haven’t joined the armed forces, by the way, so those interested in the security of the country can be, can be relaxed on that one [laughter] but I have now devote nearly all of my time towards research into this area and erm, if Sir Peter, if things are going as well for you as they are for me in this area then you’re a very happy man because I certainly am, as well.  At that point, thank you very much.

[No question sesssion included in webcast]


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