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Link between CFS and exposure to a virus grows

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Dr Andrea Bonior
Dr Andrea Bonior

From Express NightOut:

Baggage Check: Link Between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Exposure to a Virus Grows

Posted By Andrea Bonior at 1:50 PM on August 26, 2010

After years of research, the link between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and exposure to a virus may finally be solidifying. A certain retrovirus appears to be present in extremely large numbers of people diagnosed with CFS, compared with control groups. While this does not mean that the virus actually causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, finding a correlation is a significant step forward.

The media coverage and commentary about these findings, however, reveals a prevalent misconception about the nature of illness in general. "It's just psychological," many people have complained, dismissing the condition altogether. "Maybe these findings will finally show doctors that it's not psychological at all!" others have excitedly commented, eager to finally get validation of their symptoms.

But both of these viewpoints miss the big picture. Every illness that involves changes in mental functioning, emotion or behavior by definition does have a psychological component — and that's pretty much everything.

That doesn't mean a disease is fake or made-up; it's merely an acknowledgement that our brains are pretty much where the action is. Most obviously, they are part of our bodies: If you break your arm, you feel that pain via your brain.

I understand that advocates for those with CFS are simply trying to emphasize that the syndrome's sufferers aren't faking it. But by equating anything "psychological" with being "made-up," they're doing a disservice to all of those who suffer from any sort of psychological disorder — like depression or anxiety.

Talk back to Dr. Andrea by leaving a comment below. To ask a question for Baggage Check in the Express print edition, e-mail or submit an anonymous question here.

The article, with extensive and thougtful comments, originally appeared here.



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