The Role of Science and Advocacy Regarding a Chronic Health Condition

The Case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Leonard A. Jason
  • Renee R. Taylor
  • Judith A. Richman
Part of the Social Psychological Applications to Social Issues book series (SPAS)


This paper explores an illness, chronic fatigue syndrome, that is ambiguous in nature and has engendered problematic, stigmatizing societal responses to it. In addition, it offers research strategies to prevent the stigmatization caused by biases and unexamined assumptions about the nature and likely etiology of this disorder. In addition, it offers research strategies to prevent stigmatization caused by biases and unexamined assumptions. In the area of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), key decisions regarding the name, case definition, epidemiology and treatment were made many years ago within a sociopolitical context in which CFS was assumed to be a psychologically-based problem (Friedberg & Jason, 1998). In part, some of the decisions may have been due to the predominance of female patients with this illness, whose medical complaints have historically been discredited by the predominantly male establishment ([Richman & Jason, in press; Richman, Jason, Taylor, & Jahn, 2000). Many physicians and other professionals have continued to believe that most individuals with this syndrome have a predominant psychiatric illness. Many CFS activists have argued that the current name contributes to the invalidation and stigmatization process. Due to the controversy surrounding the name, etiology, and diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, people with the illness frequently face disbelieving attitudes from their doctors, family and/or friends, and many experience profound losses in their support systems ([Jason et al., 1997).


Cognitive Behavior Therapy Diagnostic Interview Schedule Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Envelope Theory Structure Interview Schedule 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonard A. Jason
    • 1
  • Renee R. Taylor
    • 1
  • Judith A. Richman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.The Department of Psychiatry University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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