(re)Naming ME

There are intense reactions to the name IOM (Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease, SEID) has proposed for this disease.

It seems that the naming of illnesses is more complex than we would like to believe. Pages 58-59 of the IOM report (http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=19012) has Box 3-2 which lists the names submitted to the committee in response to their request for input on the name. Text near Box 3-2 describes the committee’s rationale for SEID.

Astoundingly among the names submitted were “chronic fatigue”, “chronic fatigue syndrome”. Several other submissions included the term “fatigue”. Seriously????

But people are not keen on SEID. In fact it seems that many people are wrapped up in discussions about the name and that the contents of the report seem to be of little interest or concern.

Dr. Lenny Jason has written a blog post about disease names and SEID:

“How disease names can stigmatize

By Leonard A. Jason

  • February 16th 2015

On 10 February 2015, the long awaited report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) was released regarding a new name — Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease — and case definition for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Because I was quoted regarding this report in a New York Times article, in part due to having worked on these issues for many years, hundreds of patients contacted me over the next few days.

The reaction from patients was mixed at best, and some of the critical comments include:

  • This new name is an abomination!”
  • Absolutely outrageous and intolerable!”
  • I find it highly offensive and misleading.”
  • It is pathetic, degrading and demeaning.”
  • It is the equivalent of calling Parkinson’s Disease: Systemic Shaking Intolerance Disease.”
  • (It) is a clear invitation to the prejudiced and ignorant to assume ‘wimps’ and ‘lazy bums.’”
  • The word ‘exertion,’ to most people, means something substantial, like lifting something very heavy or running a marathon – not something trivial, like lifting a fork to your mouth or making your way across the hall to the bathroom. Since avoiding substantial exertion is not very difficult, the likelihood that people who are not already knowledgeable will underestimate the challenges of having this disease based on this name seems to me extremely high.”

Several individuals were even more critical in their reactions — suggesting that the Institute of Medicine-initiated name change effort represented another imperialistic US adventure, which began in 1988 when the Centers for Disease Control changed the illness name from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) to chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients and advocacy groups from around the world perceived this latest effort to rename their illness as alienating, expansionistic, and exploitive.

Please read the rest of the post here: http://blog.oup.com/2015/02/disease-name-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-me/#sthash.obiMRbIj.dpuf

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