Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Medical Research

Dangers of research into chronic fatigue syndrome

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 22 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3780

Re:Can we learn from researching chronic fatigue in chronic illness - the case of HIV?

Would addition of another group - one that experiences paradoxical
arousal - be worthwhile (in future studies)?

Regina Casper's team propose, "that behavioral activation and arousal
represent core symptoms unique and specific to AN [Anorexia Nervosa]." (1)

When reading Casper's paper I was stuck by the similarity of the
effects of semi-starvation to symptoms experienced by people with CFS/ME.

Quote from Casper's paper:

Aspen, a wilderness traveler attempting to survive on an energy
deficient diet, described the behavioral effects of semi-starvation: "we
moved slowly, as if in a dream. It took a long time to get anything done.
We were indecisive and spiritless--no longer able to think clearly, to
act, to choose." In striking contrast, emaciated AN patients display
normal, occasionally high energy and activity levels and tenacious

(1) Casper RC. The 'drive for activity' and "restlessness" in
anorexia nervosa: Potential pathways. J Affect Disord 2006; 92(1):99-107

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 July 2011
Jayne Warwick
Patient Advocate