Personality & social attitudes in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

One hundred one chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients attending a
specialist CFS clinic were compared with 45 rheumatoid
arthritis (RA) patients on a range of standardized
questionnaire measures, to investigate whether CFS patients
are characterized by particular personality traits or social
attitudes. No differences were found between CFS and RA
patients in measures of perfectionism, attitudes toward mental
illness, defensiveness, social desirability, or sensitivity to
punishment (a concept related to neuroticism), on either crude
or adjusted analyses. Alexithymia scores were greater in the
RA patient group (p<0.05). Social adjustment, based on
subjective assessment of overall restriction in activities and
relationship difficulties, was substantially poorer in the CFS
group (p<0.001). This was highly associated with depressive
symptoms, but remained significant even after adjusting for
depressive symptomatology. There was no evidence from this
study of major differences between the personalities of CFS
patients and RA patients. The stereotype of CFS sufferers as
perfectionists with negative attitudes toward psychiatry was
not supported.

Wood B, Wessely S

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