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AJOB Neuroscience.

Faces of Fatigue: Ethical Considerations on the Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition of undetermined etiology. CFS has been considered by some scholars (Ware and Kleinman 1992) to be a psychosomatic manifestation of sociocultural stress, while others have compared it to multiple sclerosis (Richman 2010) or traumatic brain injury (Bruno 2008). Although several neurological and neuroimmune disorder mechanisms have been proposed, the treatment of physiologically unaccounted-for fatigue often falls in the realm of psychiatry. By being placed in the in-between space of biomedicine, the patient’s subjective experience of suffering is delegitimized. The Western medical mind/body dualism approach to disease does not leave room for a holistic explanation of this condition. Hence current treatment approaches are inefficient at both curing the pathology and legitimizing the validity of the patient’s complaint through a nonstigmatizing diagnosis. This article takes a multifaceted approach in investigating ethical issues related to the CFS illness course. It considers the implications of theoretical views of chronic fatigue as psychiatric in origin. The recovery process and the need for person-centered management of the condition are addressed as well.

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Volume 4, Issue 3
July 2013