Critique of diagnosing Functional Illness

For anybody being told it is ‘all in your mind’ or it is ‘functional’ etc you might be interested in the critique made in this link against the tendency for the medical profession to fall back on freudian/psychosomatic explanations for diseases where no objective clinical signs have been found.

Interesting article, and one I think many people can relate to, when suffering with illnesses like ms, fibromyalgia, me etc.

Hi, well I found the article extremely interesting.

Now you know I have been having tests and been given various possible diagnoses, for 14 years, eh? Well not once in all that time, was it ever suggested that my problems could be caused by a psycological disorder.

I actually asked, more than once, if stress could be the cause and was told a definite no.

The article suggests that many people are fobbed off with that reason and are left feeling they are disbelieved,

I think CBT can be a cop out too…making folk hope they can think themselves better!

Thanks for posting this…hope it helps others as it has me!

luv Pollx

My neuro used the term functional, more than once but after diagnosis !! However re CBT, I am a fan. I have referred people for years to enable people to look at how to begin to address thinking and it’s effects upon behaviours. I have mostly seen very impressive and largely life changing results. I have to say though, in a completely different scenario to a health issue, usually regarding problem behaviours and distorted thinking patterns. However, despite some initial reservations, after a recommendation by my GP, I have begun a course myself and thus far am finding it very helpful, although, only three sessions in. It’s not about thinking yourself better, more about recognising and coming to terms with the situation I am in and learning about how this effects emotions and anxiety and, in term how this impacts upon my health. I know it’s not going to change having MS but I hope it will help me come to terms with it. At the moment I swing between not believing it, being in complete denial and feeling completely shocked and anxious. I feel like I have a ticking time bomb inside me and hate not knowing what’s going to happen next and not being in control of my future. Xx

I found this interesting too, my nuero did say he has seen stress cause some unusual symptoms and very simular to ours, not sure if this is a cop out though to clear MRI’s/blood tests as I sense there pride will not leave you without some sort of diagnosis or I wonder if they are not able to sign you off without some sort of conclusion. Its all very interesting. I still think its enough to be beleived and for Nuero to admit they do not know what is wrong and leave it at that, at least our symptoms can then be real and recieve appropriate medicine and care with respect. Future research may hold more answers.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome even though I’ve got abnormal results. The neurologists logic was that it would help with benefit claims (lol). I’ve upset a few people before so won’t be naming the neurologist.

A really fascinating paper.
Apart from a passing reference to the approach to science of Karl Popper, there is, unfortunately, no reference to the fact that none of Freud’s theories have ever been proven to have any real substance. However, Freudian analysis remains the basis for a lot of clinical psychology even today.

Another fascinating read is a work by David Rosenhan in the journal “Science” in 1973: On being sane in insane places. This had researchers getting admitted to Psychiatric hospitals with “hallucinations” who then reported themselves as normal - but who would not be released without a prescription for anti-psychotic drugs. Challenged, by one of the hospitals, to send more psuedopatients, Rosenhan agreed. Out of about about 200 new admissions the staff identified 40-odd as pseudo-patients, even though none had been sent .

The bit that really got to me was the researcher who was seen making notes - and recorded as “engaging in writing behaviour”. Of course, a lot of psychologists are a bit dismissive of psychiatrists - talking about the “medical model of treatment”. This is really the divide between something like CBT and the “have another prescription” approach.

OTOH, some forms of “CBT” are really not far removed from the “snake-oil” type of treatment, while others really can work - if the client works at it (ask any high level sports coach).


Excellent - I shall be referring to this in my own critique (to the neurologists at Reading) of being so readily dismissed as functional when I could have been well on the road to recovery by now with a correct diagnosis of ME in the first place.

I’ve been reading the International Consensus Criteria for true diagnosis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and it fits me exactly! It’s a well recognised and documented neurological condition so you wouldn’t think it was that difficult for a neurologist to diagnose.

I think the functional bandwagon is a too easy one to jump on especially if you’re a friend of the neoFreudian guru Jon Stone!

Thanks again,