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Margaret Williams op

"It's safer to insult

the Prophet Mohammed

than to contradict

the armed wing of

the ME brigade".






In een open brief aan de redactie van de Telegtraph reageert Margaret Williams

op een demoniserende blog-rubriek van Damian Thompson in diezelfde krant.




Response to Damian Thompson's article on ME

29th September 2012



On Saturday 29th September the Daily Telegraph published a blog entitled

'It's safer to insult the Prophet Mohammed than to contradict the armed wing of the ME brigade', written by Damian Thompson.


The following letter was sent to the Telegraph letters editor in response to this blog,

which can be read below:



The Letters Editor

The Daily Telegraph

29th September 2012




Is it no longer a responsible journalist’s job to report facts and events accurately?

Seemingly not, at least as far as the neuro-immune disease ME is concerned.


Today, Damian Thompson continues the denigration of those with ME, asserting an overlap which does not exist between "ME and eating disorders" and describing as "brave and brilliant" the bizarre speculations of an American Associate Professor of English, Elaine Showalter who, with no medical training, likened ME sufferers to those believing in "alien abduction".


A journalist concerned with accuracy would surely have taken the trouble to check and report the facts and would know that although the recent Lipkin study found no association between ME and the retroviruses XMRV or pMLV (referred to by Dr Max Pemberton in the Daily Telegraph on 24th September: "Why few dare tackle the psychology of ME – The findings of a study into the role of viruses in ME will not be acceptable to some"), the association of other viruses, in particular, enteroviruses such as Coxsackie B, is well established.


Lipkin himself stated that patients have a particular pattern of immunoreactivity, indicating a persistent disease process, but this important finding has been ignored by those determined to dismiss ME as psychogenic.


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently re-categorised ME under "Immune Diseases", describing it as a "serious or life threatening illness" on a par with cancer and heart failure, and the Primer for Clinical Practitioners published this month by the International Association for CFS/ME sets out evidence of multi-system disruption consistent with an autoimmune inflammatory disease.


Factual reporting would avoid the repetition of sensational claims that seem designed to provoke the very response which Thompson rightly condemns and which further fuels such discord.


Margaret Williams


Research Assistant to Malcolm Hooper

Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry

University of Sunderland





'It's safer to insult the Prophet Mohammed than to contradict the armed wing of the ME brigade'


By Damian Thompson

September 28th, 2012




The Columbia finding was a terrible blow to many ME sufferers, who hoped that these viruses were the Holy Grail of a biological cause for their illness. But, as Max explained, it wasn’t widely reported because medical journalists are frightened of the militant wing of the ME lobby.




In contrast, medical science has no great difficulty explaining what’s wrong with most people diagnosed, or self-diagnosed, with ME. Their brains create a debilitating fatigue and pain that often correlates with certain personality traits. For example, there’s an overlap between ME and eating disorders.


Once you start talking about overlaps you’re in dangerous territory. In 1997, the feminist historian Elaine Showalter wrote a brave and brilliant book called Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture. She suggested that "psychogenic diseases" such as ME and Gulf War Syndrome had something in common with the confabulated memories of "Ritual Satanic Abuse" and alien abduction.