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Chronic Fatigue and its Syndromes

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    Chronic Fatigue and its Syndromes. By simon wessely, matthew hotopf, and michael sharpe. (Pp 428, £29.50). Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998. ISBN 0-19-263046-6.

    My first sensation is that such a book is long overdue. There is a paucity of books written by clinicians on this subject compared with the many gloom and doom tracts written by sufferers who have apparently been ill with CFS/PVS/ME for 20 years and which depress the hell out of the patients that I see. Why this lack? Undoubtedly because relatively few doctors want to put their heads above the parapet and profess to a great expertise or desire to see patients with it. It is a condition for which there is no objective test, no objective monitoring of progress, whose symptoms are so vague that they repeatedly defy classification and can only be catalogued. Among those patients with a genuine postinfectious fatigue (who mainly get better relatively quickly) there is a large body of those with hospital records measured by the kilogram who arrive with sheaves of self compiled additional notes and occupy huge periods in the clinic to little effect other than frustration for both doctor and patient. Why they do this is a different story.

    So what about the book? Firstly I must …

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