Marco's post of Mar 14 (not quoted in my reply):

Whatever else he is, he is most definitely a player.

In my experience, those who succeed in any field, and by succeed I mean gain a position of influence, are those who have a degree of intelligence, work hard and know how to play the game.

The first two can get your foot in the door and a reasonable way up the ladder but I've found that those who attain positions of power excel in the latter. In the scientific field very few good scientists attain positions of influence. Most likely because they are committed to the science and don't have an interest in politicing, or are unwilling to compromise their scientific objectivity for positions of power. Those in positions are power are not the brightest or the hardest working, they are those who know what the game is and how to play it. If I recall correctly, Wessely, in one of his interviews, jokingly suggested that he wasn't a particularly good medic.

With the traditional scope of psychiatry being steadily eroded by advances, for example, in neurology, either by luck or design, he has found himself well placed amongst a combination of propitious circumstances e.g. :

rising dependency rates throughout the western world with governments' discretionary public spending increasingly disappearing to fund an ageing and ailing population;

rapid rises in 'complex environmental' illnesses such as ME/CFS; GWS, Autism, MCS etc that do not kill immediately but leave an expensive legacy of morbidity;

a government whose keystone social policy is to move people from 'welfare to work';

a 'biosocial' model of illness, partly developed by insurance companies in response to chronic illnesses, that downplays diagnosis in favour of the degree of functional capacity and the potential for rehabilitation (coincidentally -sic, New Labour have recently replaced Incapacity Benefit with the Employment Support Allowance which assesses not what you can't do - your illness - but what you can do - potential for rehabilitation);

add to this the deepest recession in 60 years and the financial imperative for 'rehabilitative' approaches is irresistable.

Players are easy to spot. They tend not to be too hung up on idealogical commitment. Rather they sniff the wind, go with the flow and jump on bandwagons. Note how the Wessley message has recently changed from somatoform 'par excellence' to post-viral but the exact virus doesn't matter, nor is it any barrier to 'recovery'. No doubt there's sufficient flexibility in his thinking to accommodate any future scientific findings.

Players also like to avoid getting tied down in details which might come back to haunt them. They tend to speak in bland generalities that others project meaning on. To the unbiased observer his words probably appear entirely reasonable, progressive, perhaps even sympathetic. To those with most to gain from the biosocial model of illness, his words probably sound like manna from heaven. We are the only ones offended by him and find it difficult if not impossible to explain why to outsiders. Hence we are seen as hysterical and fanatical in comparison to his reasonableness.

Finally players work well with other players, and politicians my friends are players 'par excellence'.


I think, at the end of the day, as CBT is rolled out across the NHS, he can be quietly confident of having played the game well.

 

Hello Marco,

That is a good analytical survey I agree mostly with. Here are a few remarks:

1. Players -> careerists. I prefer that substitution, because it is clearer and more to the point. I know the type well from the University of Amsterdam, and you are right on real scientists: They are not interested in power (games) because (1) they are far too interested in real science and (2) they are not of that type, in Aristotle's classification of philosopher-scientists - politicians-traders - artisans - slaves. Or without Aristotle: Real scientists are not careerists.

2. I agree with the points you list, which strongly suggest an underlying theme: Ordinary citizens as second-class persons without individual say-so, who are to do what the state-bureaucrats and their so called scientific spokesmen and politicial leaders tell them, and all be "integrated in society" and "work for the common good" if not full time then part time. (See Orwell.)

3. You're right that it seems that Wessely seems to be tacking, and indeed he is slippery and careful to utter forth in terms of generalities only, joined to bland statements of his awfully good intentions. However

4. I think you are perhaps a bit pessimistic as to

 
 
Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
They tend to speak in bland generalities that others project meaning on. To the unbiased observer his words probably appear entirely reasonable, progressive, perhaps even sympathetic. To those with most to gain from the biosocial model of illness, his words probably sound like manna from heaven. We are the only ones offended by him and find it difficult if not impossible to explain why to outsiders.

First, Wessely does not like to mention professor Hooper, Sophia Mirza, Kate Gilderdale and many other cases of evident medical and bureaucratic maltreatment and hounding of physically ill people, but those things have happened under the aegis of HIS theorizing and standing of two decades.

Second, his science is not real science, and it is no good morally either. Both points do not need much intelligence to become clear to anyone willing to look at the evidence. For also

Third, there are quite a lot of real scientists and there is quite a lot of real science that contradict many of Wessely's sayings, stances and recommendations flatly.

Fourth, there is the undeniable point that men like him and Whyte are into state and health-care policies re ME, and that real bio-medical research by real scientists has been almost completely made impossible: The "research" that is funded is his own sort of research; the research that is not funded is real science, of which therefore the last decades there was far too little, due to far too little research funds being allocated to it.

Fifth, Wessely is a psychiatrist and not much of a scientist at all, and this is not a type of men "the general public" takes very serious, and rightly so. (The problem is that they have little reason to do, until they get iill themselves and run into the health-bureaucracy, and Wessely is especially a man who works behind the scenes, in committees, institutions, and medical and governmental organisations.)

Sixth, there still is the chance that real science does discover the real cause of ME, real soon now, perhaps. (Maybe XMRV is it, but this I don't know.)

Seventh, not all GPs are idiots or malevolent or indifferent or only in it for the money. I have had a very good one for 12 years, and quite possibly would have been dead without. (I agree intelligent people of good will are a minority, in all walks of life, alas.)

Eighth, see

-- http://www.maartensz.org/me/ME%20-%20Documentation.htm

Ninth, there are the Phoenix-forums, where you may learn a lot about ME and meet all manner of intelligent informed persons with ME....

But these were just a few musings and remarks, and I think we mostly agree.

Maarten.