On Nov 8, 2010, a report on CDC-funded research by Nater et al. – “Personality Features and Personality Disorders in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Population-Based Study” – was published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
A reading of the report reveals that in fact Nater et al. found no more frequency of maladaptive personality traits in their CFS cohort than in those with other chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (i.e., debilitating illnesses are punishing), and that the large majority of their CFS patient cohort had no symptoms of personality disorder.
• The popular media took away such messages as this one in a MedicalNewsToday.com report, titled “Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a Personality Disorder?” and beginning: “This study suggests that chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with an increased prevalence of maladaptive personality features and personality disorders.”
• And there’s the issue of why the CDC’s CFS research funds have remained focused on re-plowing this old field.
On Nov 11, three days after the Nater et al. article hit the media, the CFIDS Association of America issued a scalding STATEMENT ABOUT RECENT PUBLICATION FROM CDC (http://www.cfids.org/pdf/response-110810-study.pdf). The statement, which was disseminated again on Dec 9 via the Co-Cure Listserv as media questions about CFS continue:
• Points out that the study selected its cohort using the Reeves case definition of CFS (the so-called "empirical" definition), which is used only by the CDC and is "widely criticized" for extending the definition of CFS to allow “too broad a patient cohort with higher rates of psychiatric comorbidity.”
• Notes that even though the CDC's CFS research program is housed in the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, it "has sacrificed laboratory-based studies to conduct assessments of personality and early life stress."
• Concludes that “In a time of scarce federal resources, CDC must focus its programs on research that will contribute to advances in patient care and improved quality of life, rather than topics that deepen misunderstanding and perpetuate stigmatizing myths about CFS.”
To access a printable pdf file of the CFIDS Association’s STATEMENT ABOUT RECENT PUBLICATION FROM CDC, go to http://www.cfids.org/pdf/response-110810-study.pdf