14 maart 2010


ME: Back to the Middle Ages with professor Simon Wessely

As before, I keep dysfunctionally believing I am ill, so therefore I am ill.... and there is a beautiful logic puzzle by Raymond Smullyan about this line of reasoning, but it also is the method of doctor Coué who preached it in the twenties of the previous century and the last decades also of professor Simon Wessely, about whom there is more under the last link.

Really, I am not very well today, what with ME, and have been writing some for the Phoenix-forums so here is just a link to a recent effort by Wessely in the New Scientist under the title "Mind over body?" (should have been "Soul over matter!", but OK) that starts with the following introduction:

Can people think themselves sick? This is what psychiatrist Simon Wessely explores. His research into the causes of conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf war syndrome has led to hate mail, yet far from dismissing these illnesses as imaginary, Wessely has spent his career developing treatments for them. Clare Wilson asks what it's like to be disliked by people you're trying to help

and the following mindboggling - it's 2010, it's the New Scientist, not the Inquisitioner's Digest - pair of questions and answers as a starter:

How might most of us experience the effects of the mind on the body?

In an average week you probably experience numerous examples of how what's going on around you affects your subjective health. Most people instinctively know that when bad things happen, they affect your body. You can't sleep, you feel anxious, you've got butterflies in your stomach... you feel awful.

When does that turn into an illness?

Such symptoms only become a problem when people get trapped in excessively narrow explanations for illness - when they exclude any broader consideration of the many reasons why we feel the way we do. This is where the internet can do real harm. And sometimes people fall into the hands of charlatans who give them bogus explanations.

As I am writing it, New Scientist scored 648 responses, some removed, nearly all scathing, and deservedly so - for this is a charlatan posing as a fighter of charlatans, and his theory of the mind and the body is medieval. Note that the professor claims (it would seem, for he also trades on vagueness) that you get ill when you

get trapped in excessively narrow explanations for illness

notably that you are ill when you feel ill and that you are in pain when you feel in pain. Not so, according to professor Wessely: This is not Psychiatrically Correct thinking; this is clear evidence for A Dysfunctional Belief System and he, professor Simon, is just the man to cure you from thinking you're ill when you feel ill and in pain and miserable - by forcing you into massive doses of physical exercise, with the threat of removing your dole.

Welcome to the Brave New World of British Psychiatry Anno Domini 2010!

O, and here is the man himself - about whose facial likeness I raised an interesting point on the Phoenix-forums:

Now look carefully at the middle of the picture - New Scientist reproduces it, so it must be a scientifically correct likeness, mustn't it? - and consider this question I posed:

And in this context, and given his background (family formerly called Weisel), I find it most peculiar that in all the pictures I saw of Wessely - for example, check out the link Knackered provided:


- he seems to wear a small Hitlerite moustache. Did somebody paint this in, or does he really sport it? And note please that someone with my background, site and proven talent for satire can do a lot with this, so I really like to know:

Does anybody know - and when I write "know" I mean "know", not "guess", "surmise" etc. - whether professor Simon Wessely, whose father sat in the train to Treblinka, but survived the war, who knows with what lesions and traumas, does or did wear a small Hitlerite moustache in real life?

Outside neo-nazi circles, he must about the only one to do so, in the West, since 1945.

Anyway... you being Welsh (I suppose is the right term, having known Welshmen and Scotsmen) and a psychologist may know people who may know whether Wessely does or did wear this secondary male characteristic. (It is very odd if he did or does, and I can base a whole tome of psycho-analysis on it, in a period I am a bit fitter than now, and my satire-glands itch. And I have known a considerable number of Jewish people - or of Jewish background - of my parents' generation who did survive concentration-camps: Noone of them wore a moustache, let alone a Hitlerite moustache, and that was definitely not done, morally speaking.)

I'd much like to know the facts about the moss on Wessely's upper lip, and use it if it is so: Psychiatrically, it is a major symptom, for a man with his background, and for such a one it is decidedly odd.

Maybe he had rashes the day the picture was taken; maybe he likes Frank Zappa...  but look closer..............................

It does have a certain almost dashing Feldwebelish look, doesn't it? Alas, the New Scientist, that doesn't seem to run high on science also doesn't provide a high resolution, so this is the best I could make of it for the moment.

P.S. Incidentally, someone on the forum who has met him says that then and there he didn't wear a moustache.

Maarten Maartensz

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