History of postviral fatigue syndrome.

  title={History of postviral fatigue syndrome.},
  author={Simon Wessely},
  journal={British medical bulletin},
  volume={47 4},
  • S. Wessely
  • Published 1 October 1991
  • Medicine
  • British medical bulletin
In writing a history of any illness there is always a dilemma whether to attempt the story of the condition 'itself', the medical attempts to define its nature, or to glimpse it via our changing reactions. The easiest is a straightforward account of the attempts of scientists to solve a problem--the classic medical detective story. However, this is often more fiction than fact. Medicine rarely moves smoothly from ignorance to knowledge, but often in a more circular fashion. A historical… 

Neurobiological aspects of the chronic fatigue syndrome

The current consensus is to use the label ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ (CFS), since it is accurate, short and free of unproven aetiological assumptions, which will replace the previous unsatisfactory labels for these patients.

Chronic fatigue in historical perspective.

By the time of the First World War, chronic fatigue was a common complaint in Europe and North America and recently, these four separate paths have tended to converge into the diagnosis of 'chronic fatigue syndrome'.

Chronic fatigue syndrome: a 20th century illness?

  • S. Wessely
  • Medicine
    Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health
  • 1997
The relevant research linking chronic fatigue syndrome with somatization is reviewed in this article and the former term, which first emerged in the mid-1980s, is now regarded as a misnomer and should be abandoned.

Taking time to smell the roses: Accounts of people with chronic fatigue syndrome and their struggle for legitimisation

Abstract This paper examines some of the current themes around the contested illness Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is based on a review of the biomedical literature, both current and historical, and

War Syndromes from 1900 to the Present: Symptom Patterns and Longterm Health Outcomes

This report summarises the research undertaken in the second year of the Study into War Syndromes from 1900 and suggests that the morbidity and mortality rates of servicemen with post-combat syndromes are greater than a control population of veterans with equivalent levels of physical disability.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

A Medical History of Chronic Fatigue

This chapter provides an insight into the depth of the problem that fatigue poses to society by chronicling its medical history from neurasthenia in the 1800s to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The

Two sides of the same coin? On the history and phenomenology of chronic fatigue and burnout

The phenomenology of burnout and CFS in a historical context may provide some insight into the links and relationship between these conditions, as well as looking beyond the psychology/medicine divide.

Making sense of chronic fatigue syndrome: Patients' accounts of onset

Common themes in patients' accounts were episodes of infection, “doing too much” and stressful circumstances; in two-thirds of cases, accounts encompassed physical, behavioural and psychological factors.



Old wine in new bottles: neurasthenia and ‘ME’

  • S. Wessely
  • Psychology, Medicine
    Psychological Medicine
  • 1990
It is shown that neurasthenia remained popular as long as it was viewed as a non-psychiatric, neurological illness caused by environmental factors which affected successful people and for which the cure was rest.

Mind and its Disorders a Textbook for Students and Practitioners of Medicine

  • Medicine, Psychology
  • 1927
The main new feature of clinical psychiatry is the recognition of mental changes following epidemic encephalitis, and a chapter is devoted to this disease and its sequelae.

Neurasthenia and chronic fatigue syndrome: the role of culture in the making of a diagnosis.

The authors argue that chronic fatigue syndrome will meet the same fate as neurasthenia--a decline in social value as it is demonstrated that the majority of its sufferers are experiencing primary psychiatric disorders or psychophysiological reactions and that the disorder is often a culturally sanctioned form of illness behavior.


Considering the extraordinary increase in the proportion of cases of diabetes observed In civilized countries durlng the last twenty or thirty years, it seems to me that diabetes may be getting a common di£ea3e among the Chinese, especially among the wealthier classes, who have adopted many of the luxurious habits of Earopeans, and this view is supported by the appearance of the diseaseamong the Chinese at Singapore.


The rise and wane of the periarticular swelliogs in their early days seem to indicate a possibility of complete recovery; and the periodic variations in size of the thyroid gland may perhaps have some deeper significance, bearing upon the reactionary power of the individual.

Brucellosis. III. Psychologic aspects of delayed convalescence.

The present study was done to investigate the role of psychologic factors in the pathogenesis of this delayed convalescence of "chronic brucellosis", which is clinically similar to neurosis in that nonspecific symptoms occur in the absence of abnormal physical findings.


The patient who seeks advice because he feels weak and tired seldom realizes the complexity of the problem he presents to his physician, and actual experience with the problem shows that there may be need for investigation utilizing all the resources of medical science.