Posts Tagged ‘CBT’

Florence on Government-Approved Pseudoscience In ME and the ‘Nudge Unit’

October 31, 2015

Yesterday I blogged on Mike’s article, criticising a highly dubious report by the Torygraph that scientists at Oxford had concluded that ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, was all in one’s mind and could be cured through a mixture of exercise and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I took the view that this was basically pseudoscience. I got two highly interesting comments from Florence confirming this and providing further information. She writes

Reports in the literature from the USA on ME / CFS, The NIH for example, cite fMRI, PET scan (imaging of brain) evidence for CFS/ MEe, along with immunologic and inflammatory pathologies, ie it is a physical disease, with measurable physical changes in the patient. There are ample published critiques of the Oxford authors’ results, analysis and conclusions, poor experimental design and methods, and fatal flaws in the execution of the studies. Not least some medical researchers have raised ethical concerns regarding the Oxford Authors earlier PACE study, which is the basis for CBT/GET therapy in the UK. Indeed the IOM proposed a new name for the disease – Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease, embedding the key concept of post-exercise malaise (mental or physical). So much for GET IN fact many of the committees and editorial boards of post-conference publications have expressly bewilderment and concern with the “UK model” of psychological illness. The prominence of this report in the national press demonstrates that these are the preferred Establishment scientists, and they are being rewarded for their work in providing (quasi) scientific support for a political view of this illness. Worrying.

In a nutshell, science has proven that ME is a real disease, and this tripe peddled in Oxford is purely politically motivated pseudoscience.

She adds

It dovetails nicely with the fake, and ethically-damned nudge unit foray into forced psychological “testing” of JSA claimants which was revealed a couple of years ago, plus the new forced CBT for JSA and ESA claimants in the Job Centres, illustrating the govt ideology that worklessness, like disability, is a psychological deficit in every individual. Many years ago I was asked to read & deliver my opinions on a number of publications by those working under Stalin (it was hard going). I took away a couple of things that remain relevant today. The Corporatist control of research, especially since Thatcher, has been quasi-Stalinist, and has been damaging to scientific research generally, but medical research in particular. Second, the current govt is following a descent into Stalinist state use of psychiatry and psychology against those it wants to control.

In other words, it’s just part of a general pseudoscientific model of illness that claims that somehow it’s all imaginary because this fits with Tory and Blairite attitudes to unemployment and those off sick through disability, in the same way that Stalinist policies corrupted science in the Soviet Union.

There are a number of very good books on pseudoscience, and the promotion of spurious, fake, and in the case of eugenics, murderous doctrines in the history of science. The one I mentioned yesterday was Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science.

Another book worth reading is Walter Gratzer’s The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-deception and Human Frailty (Oxford: OUP 2000).

Undergrowth Science Cover

This has chapters on the following fake science:

1. Blondlot and the N-Rays

2. Paradigms Enow: Some Mirages of Biology
Gurvich and his mitogenic radiation
The curse of the death-ray
Abderhalden and the protective enzymes
The case of the amorous toad
Memory transfer, or eat your mathematics.

3. Aberrations of Physics: Irving Langmuir Investigates
Capturing electrons
Allison’s magneto-optical effect.
Langmuir’s rules.

4. Nor any Drop to Drink: The Tale of Polywater

5. The Wider shores of Credulity
-This includes a number of weird ideas, including the controversy over Uri Geller and his supposed mental powers.

6. Energy Unlimited
– This is about Cold Fusion.

7. What the Doctor Ordered.
This includes a number of examples of extremely bad medicine, such as
-Ptosis, the doctrine that disease was caused by sagging organs, and which resulted in a fad of entirely
useless operation on perfectly healthy people, including their kidneys.
– Intestinal lavage, or colonic irrigation
– Surgical removal of parts of the colon to prevent aging.
– Monkey glands, or the surgical implantation of part of monkey testicles in order to rejuvenate people.
– Homeopathy.
– Drinking radium for your health.
– Lobotomy.

8. Science, Chauvinism and Bigotry.
This is about the growth of the nationalist belief of different countries in their own superiority as

9. The Climate of Fear:
The tragedy of Soviet genetics
The spread of the contagion
Soviet physics: idealism, pragmatism and the bomb
Is there a Marxist chemistry?

10. Science in the Third Reich: Bigotry, Racism and Extinction
The Roots of Fascist biology
The Ahnenerbe: Himmler the Intellectual
Die Deutsche Physik (German Physics): Its friends and enemies
A deutsche Chemie (German chemistry)
Anti-Semitism and mathematics
The consequences of the Nazi incursion into science.

11. Nature Nurtured: The Rise and Fall of Eugenics
The birth of eugenics
Eugenics and politics in Europe and America
Eugenics in the Third Reich
Eugenic nemesis in the Soviet Union
The rise and fall of eugenics: a pathological science.

Ever science Sir Francis Bacon and Descartes in the 17th century, science has been one of the most powerful forces in human society for extending human knowledge, and improving health, living conditions and industrial, technological and economic progress. But it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s made by humans, sometimes fallible human, who can make mistakes, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Some of this is caused when science is moulded by ideological, particular political forces, such as in the Third Reich and Stalin’s Russia. While these cases are notorious, the topic is still highly relevant today, when it seems that nearly every day the papers carry stories claiming that scientists have found the cure for this, or that a particular disease is in reality caused by such-and-such. In many cases scepticism is most certainly warranted. And in the cases of the model of disease now promoted by the DWP, these should be taken with a whole mountain of salt. It’s clear to me that Ian Duncan Smith’s and John Lo Cascio’s ideas on the origins of the disease in the unemployed should also be consigned to the dustbin of dodgy, politically motivated pseudoscience, to be included in future editions of book’s like Glatzer’s.


Welfare to Work Hits Sickness Benefits

February 10, 2014

I’ve just reblogged Mike’s post over at Vox Political on the government’s plan to set up a service to the long term sick off benefit and back into work. Mike found the plans on the BBC’s website yesterday. They were also announced on the Andrew Marr Show that morning. Marr did not, however, provide any details except that it would help employees and employers get back into work, and gave the statistic of the number of days lost due to sickness. In fairness, Marr did actually say that we had the lowest rate of long-term sickness in Europe.

In my comment to the piece I’ve already stated my opinion that it looks like the government is introducing a similar scheme to long-term sickness as they have with disability and unemployment. The emphasis will be getting people back into work, regardless of whether they are fit or well, and the possible effects to their long term health. It’s supposed to be voluntary at the moment, but as the commenter’s on Mike’s blog have pointed out, this was also how Universal Jobmatch was introduced, and now it’s very compulsory if you sign on benefit. I also have absolutely no doubt that legislation will also be introduced to deprive the sick of benefit if they don’t follow the back-to-work regime offered by this private company.

And I also have very severe reservations about the competence of whichever company they choose to run this service. Atos’ questionnaire for assessing whether someone is well enough to return to work is, quite frankly, so unscientific that it my view it constitutes medical fraud. The doctors and other medical professionals that administer it are merely window-dressing. They are not required to use their own, personal medical knowledge or initiative to declare whether or not you are fit. The assessment could be carried out by an ordinary civil servant with exactly the same results. Moreover, Atos and its employees have repeatedly shown themselves to be mendacious. They have lied and lied again to meet the government’s targets for people thrown off benefits. What are the odds that this new crew will be any different? Any takers?

One of the best comments on the situation comes from Florence, who has posted this on Mike’s piece:

What about the existing “pilot” scheme that is compulsory for those claiming sickness benefits? SOund just like what they are supposed to be promoting on this “service” to the disabled and chronically ill.

The official site says:-

“People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefits……….(they) will have regular appointments with healthcare professionals as a condition of receiving their benefit, to focus on helping them move closer to being able to get a job!

So there is a choice, – attend or starve? So no choice, then? It continues:-

“The regular discussions with healthcare professionals – which will be provided by Ingeus UK – will not replace someone’s GP, but can promote health support and help a claimant to re-engage with their GP if they are struggling to adapt to their condition. They will also signpost claimants to activities and information to help them manage their condition to improve their readiness for getting a job, and work with local services to provide a holistic approach to health interventions.”

So what will be the “help” to “adapt”?

Experience says it will be a form of crude behavioural abuse, sorry, help called CBT. We all know how the Nudge Unit has worked before in ignoring all professional standards about coercion to participate. CBT has been proven (in published MEDICAL papers) to be worse than useless for people with long-term illnesses such as arthritis, and especially fibromyalgia and other chronic immune system problems with associated fatigue, and depression. The main study showed that for the first few weeks of CBT all seemed much better in treated group but 10 months later the untreated group – who had been left to manage their own illness – were in fact much better, more able to cope with pain, and more had achieved better mental & physical functioning.

The most telling remark came from someone who had been referred for CBT for fibromyalgia (aka complex regional pain syndrome). She said that it was tantamount to physical and mental torture, and in the end she agreed to everything that she was expected to, including doing exercise programmes that were causing extreme pain & distress, just so they would sigh her off from the programme. After, she needed treatment for depression.

Crude abuse seems the right description. The government seems to have outsourced motivating the long-term unemployed back into work to various forms, which now ring them up at home to harass them, demanding to know why they have not found work. One of my friends has been subjected to this, and when he asked them what they were doing, the person at the other end of the line claimed that they were ‘motivating him’. No, it’s not motivation. It’s simple abuse. But it’s in line with a government that has no solutions except to blame and persecute the poor and the sick.