A hypnotherapeutic approach to the treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.)
Welch, Jennifer Mary Justine
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In the absence of a reliable biological marker, much professional and public non-acceptance surrounds the diagnosis of M.E. using the diagnostic criteria formulated by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) (Fukada et al, 1994) in Atlanta, Georgia, or the Oxford (Sharpe et al (1991)) or Australian (Lloyd et al, 1988) criteria. Research thus far has focused primarily on the etiology of the disease from a medical bias debating whether M.E. is a physical or psychological disease (Hyde, Bastien & Jain, 1992; Hickie, Lloyd & Wakefield, 1992). This Cartesian dichotomy between mind and body is presently challenged by the burgeoning evidence from psychoneuroimmunology and clinical hypnotherapy that mind and body should be conceptualised as interreactive, specifically that emotion drives the body (Rossi, 1994). In practical terms the M.E. patient typically is unable to manage home or employment duties for periods from one to three years, sometimes longer. Medical attention is focused on alleviating symptomatology with limited temporary effect; the sparse attention given to psychological programmes in the literature focuses on cognitive behavioural therapy (Sharpe, 1996), but in practice, purely cognitive interventions suitable for depressed patients are generally ineffectual with M.E. sufferers, especially in the initial stages, because of the organic nature of the disease. (Shepherd, 1996). This research aims to describe a different therapeutic approach to M.E. using the paradigms and power for change of clinical hypnotherapy: i) the chief need in the literature is for an effective therapeutic model for intervention and rehabilitation to the highest possible level of function in the shortest possible time based on ii) a study which furthers the understanding of interreactive physiological, cognitive and affective aspects of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis which would be useful to both medical personnel and psychologists.