Dr. Nigel Speight is a pediatrician who has treated more than 500 cases of ME/CFS in Great Britain. He has also successfully acted as a patient advocate when young ME patients have been removed from their families on psychiatric grounds. In this interview by the Dutch ME Association, he explores some of the basic features of the illness.
According to Dr. Speight, ME is best described as a clinical syndrome because it “breeds true.” That is to say, the symptoms fit into a pattern that is recognizable. Dr. Speight considers the cardinal symptom to be not fatigue, but fatigue that worsens after exertion. Dr. Speight believes that ME and CFS are the same illness, however, some of the definitions of CFS have led to the inclusion of patients with depression, which may have affected individual trials. One of the virtues of using ME is that it implies a physical, organic illness. In contrast, CFS leads to disbelief and lack of support for patients. Dr. Speight concludes that doctors who use the term ME make better advocates for their patients.