Austism, ME and how history doesn’t stop repetitive harmful mistakes.

After posting about World Autism Day yesterday, and wondering when some descent funding for proper research might happen, my oldest informed me he had read that in France they treat austim with psychoanlysis. In all honesty I believed he had read this as black humour April’s Fool’s joke. But then I googled it. Ye gods. It seems it’s true. (not just because the NYT says so obviously).

The history of medicine is packed with this sort of shameful assumption. There was a time when people with diabetes were told they had a mental illness, as were those with multiple sclerosis. It took a lot of money and research and of course tip-toeing around monstrous egos before the truth came out.

At least, in American and the UK (I’ve no idea about other countries) autism is known to be neurological. There are behavioural aspects that can be helped with behavioural training, but there is no way you can psychoanalyse your way out of autism. I was even more appalled to see that mothers were blamed for their children’s autism (The video isn’t available; can’t think why). This is just another flavour of the utterly discredited dx munchhausen’s by proxy.

The fact that Freud still has such a hold on PA in France is nothing to be proud of. The wise Victor Frankl moved away from Freudianism very early, having received some training from Freud himself.

Here in the UK people with a dx of ME/CFS are treated as having a mental illness. Well, no, actually they are not. They are treated as having a fake illness that’s “in yer ‘ead” and they should pull themselves together with exercise (because they are lazy) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (becuase they like being ill and need to change that). All the research that shows this is wrong and doesn’t work, and worse still harms patients, is ignored. All the research that shows immune deficiny on a massive scale and neurological results in high res MRI and spinal fliud analysis is roundly ignored. Meanwhile studies show that many ME patients are too ill to get medical help- and we are too enlightened to actually go to the patient in this country. I would like to believe that the death of Emily Collingridge might be the thing to change that.

I read many people saying that one day the medical profession will look back on it’s behaviour towards those with ME/CFS/FM and autism and be ashamed. But I don’t think so. (I’ve grown cynical) I have never heard a medic mention the shame of treating diabetics, MS patients or other people as mentally ill when they were not. Nor have I ever heard or read of a medic that recognises that while people with serious illnesses are told it’s “just” a mental illness, that this undermines the seriousness with which real mental illness needs to be treated.



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