What Works Global Summit. Register now.

Putting evidence at the heart of policy and practice. 26th - 28th September.

Learn more

Plant Science Panel

Insecticides, biofuels, GMOs …

Learn more

'The Ugly Truth'

by Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science

Learn more

Measuring government transparency

New framework rates use of evidence

Learn more

Publications and resources

Response to headlines suggesting ME 'is all in the mind' Image

Response to headlines suggesting ME 'is all in the mind'

Articles on Wednesday 28th October in the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and others reported that new research on ME/CFS showed it to be a disease that was “all in the mind”, and that the research contradicted the view that ME/CFS is “chronic and cannot be alleviated”.

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, was a long-term follow-up to a study that suggested that cognitive behaviour therapy and graded exercise therapy were moderately effective ways of treating some people with ME/CFS.

Lead author of the study, Michael Sharpe, Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of Oxford:

"The study did not find that ME/CFS is ‘all in the mind’ – in fact it didn’t look at causes of the disease at all. People think that if these kinds of treatments help, it is saying something about the nature of the illness, which of course isn’t true. This study tells us nothing about the cause of the illness, just how to help people who have it. 'All in the mind' is also a hugely misleading description of conditions that might be associated with psychological and social factors."    

*Clarification: the following is Professor Michael Sharpe's further comment on the treatments, published at the time. It should have been edited out as our For the Record responses should just respond to the misleading statement: 

"The study did not contradict the view that ME/CFS is a chronic illness. These treatments, which we have found previously to be moderately helpful, are not a cure, and they do not benefit everyone. But the good news is, the benefit of these treatments is still apparent two years later, and they do not lead to a relapse of the illness. This new finding should reassure patients who want to try these treatments."

Document type: For The Record

Published: 28 October 2015

Back · New resources search