By David Marks
New preprint available here
The Wessely School’s (WS) approach to medically unexplained symptoms, myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (MUS/MECFS) is critically reviewed using scientific criteria. Based on the ‘Biopsychosocial Model’, the WS proposes that patients’ dysfunctional beliefs, deconditioning and attentional biases cause illness, disrupt therapies, and lead to preventable deaths. The evidence reviewed here suggests that none of the WS hypotheses is empirically supported. The lack of robust supportive evidence, fallacious causal assumptions, inappropriate and harmful therapies, broken scientific principles, repeated methodological flaws and unwillingness to share data all give the appearance of cargo cult science. The WS approach needs to be replaced by an evidence-based, biologically-grounded, scientific approach to MUS/MECFS.