May 30, 2010


ME+me: O frabjous day! Encouraging Dutch TV?! About ME?!


   " I am no politician, and still less can I be said to be a party-man: but I have a hatred of tyranny, and a contempt for its tools; and this feeling I have expressed as often and as strongly as I could."
   -- William Hazlitt


1. The Prince of Polemicists: William Hazlitt
2. Excellent Dutch TV program about ME/CFS

1. The Prince of Polemicists: William Hazlitt

As I wrote the day before yesterday: "As it happens, I have been feeling considerably better the last few days, which is very pleasant" - and so it was yesterday, that finished 25 minutes ago, and in which I did not write anything for the site.

The reason is typically me: If I feel well enough to do so, I move to a bookshop, which is what I did, whence I came with "The Day-Star of Liberty - William Hazlitt's Radical Style" by Tom Paulin, since when I was mainly in bed, in part too tired to do anything, in part to read the book.

Hazlitt is probably the English writer I feel closest to, ever since finding him by accident, in an antiquariat - the same as I got the abovementioned text from, the proprietor of which assured me today that it is soon over, since the the days of books and bookshops are past "and people read no more" - and it is difficult to say why, because he is so much alike and because it is complicated and difficult to do it well, also because I don't like literary criticism and the usual approaches to authors, writings and styles, while I know a fair bit of the Hazlitt literature, incidentally a lot better than most literary criticism, as is their literary subject, and also have read some about style, writing, rhetorics, and related subjects.

Moreover... few of my readers, even if they are English, Irish or American, will know of him, and far fewer will like him, because he lived rather a while ago, from 1778-1830; wrote a beautiful but difficult English, almost all in the form of essays; requires a considerable intelligence and learning to get well; and anyway just is not for most, precisely because he was a radical, honest extremely intelligent and widely learned man who tried to get to the real roots of things - "I dare venture an opinion where few else would, particularly if I think it is right" (Hazlitt, on having mental courage) - and who was, as if by natural accident, the "Shakespeare-prosewriter of our glorious century" (William Bewick's words, the artist who drew Hazlitt's best likeness).

Hazlitt was so radical, so honest, and also with so few illusions, that he still mostly met with silence, ignorance, or rejection, although few who read him with any intelligence and knowledge have denied he was a master of English prose, and the greatest polemicist in a language with many great polemicists, whose fate was and still is that he wrote too well, too honestly, too sharply, too intelligently not to displease most.

Highly recommended!

2. Excellent Dutch TV program about ME/CFS

But I did not want to speak of Hazlitt, or rather not now and here, for I had read on the Phoenix Forums that Dutch TV would show an interview with professor Kenny De Meirleir, also one of the writers of the medical Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (<-- here I have linked in the more readable excellent version later produced by two of its writers).

As it happens, since 40 years I have no TV, but these days there is the internet, and some helpful soul had earlier posted a link to the program in which was the interview, which opened on a Dutch journalist in an orange - Gerrit? - modern TV-interior, reading cue-cards as if disowning autocues, and proposing a wealth of Dutch TV-news I much rather do not partake of, so I switched it off, without regrets at having verified Dutch TV is still not fit for me nor I for it.

But then there was another post, this time with a link to Youtube, with just the interview, and here that link is, for Dutch speakers and for those rare souls who might want to listen what Dutch sounds like - and it is a part of the program "En Vandaag" = "One Today", with the following title and link:

As my title of today suggests - and I have been praising and encouraging, these days - it is an unexpectedly good brief interview and program, and one which British readers with ME would love to see about professor Wessely.

The program starts thus (and see the last Wesselyan link):

"Is the fatigue disease ME located between the ears or not?"

in the 3-fold orange Dutch TV-interior as sketched above, with the journalist with the cue-cards - but he is quite sensible, I must honestly admit, against my prejudice, for he continues thus, in a free and fast translation:

"Yes, Dutch experts say, no say some experts from America and Belgium.

People in Holland with ME have been fighting in vain for recognition of ME as a real bodily disease. In America they have come so far already. There evidence has been found that ME is caused by a virus, against which one can take medicines. And that's something quite different than the behavorial therapy with which ME is dealt with in Holland.

But virus or not: How do you get it and especially: who become its victims?"

After which professor De Meirleir appears who says

"Everybody - everybody can get this disease"


It's simply a good program and I'll be putting this text soon on line to say so, and may write later some more about it, but I do not want to publish this first reaction without the final quote of the program, by professor dr. Jos van der Meer, of Radboud Ziekenhuis and University of Nijmegen fame, who refused to appear in a program on Dutch TV in which a black man also appears - pardon me: who refused to appear in a program on Dutch TV in which a professor Kenny De Meirleir also appears.

Here is his full explanation why, as given at the end of the program, in professor Van der Meer's immortal Dutch prose, followed by my translation - preceeded by another fine quotation from the program leading up to it, with pictures from the Radboud Ziekenhuis on the screen and the following spoken text, in my fast and free but fair translation:

Holland treats patients with ME with behavorial therapy. In popular terms: "It is between the ears - and do try to exercise as much as possible".

Professor Kenny De Meirleir bases his approach on chronic infections in - specifically - the guts. The publication Ortho published earlier this year about professor De Meirleir's treatment.

But what are the results?

By Dutch behavorial therapy treatment approximately 6% of the patients achieve improvement. By the treatment of De Meirleir 70% of patients achieve improvement. "

The percentages are shown big on screen - 6% and 70% - and then a Dutch doctor declares

"The people who are far ahead of their own time are being worked against. (..) Mr De Meirleir is by my reckoning 10 or 20 years in advance of his time, and he is part, together with some others, of the world top concerned with ME/CFS (...) unfortunately, Dutchmen do not belong to this group"

Which is followed by more of a patient of De Meirleir's - it seems - who has been cured for 85%.

This is followed by the voice of the female commenting voice:

We asked the Radboud Ziekenhuis to take part in our program. They let us know that they did not want to take part with professor De Meirleir in one program. They were willing to give a written declaration:

[ DUTCH - read by male voice, background an organ, with text on the screen:]

"Prof. Van der Meer, de leider van de Nijmeegse
ME/CVS-groep, voelt vooralsnog weinig voor een
interview in En Vandaag; dit vanwege het feit dat u
ook van plan bent de heer Kenny de Meirleir aan het
woord te laten.

Hij staat in medisch-wetenschappelijke kring bekend
als iemand die het niet erg nauw neemt met de
waarheid, voorzichtig gesteld."

[ ENGLISH - professor Van der Meer's immortal rational and reasonable words:]

"Prof. Van der Meer, the leader of the Nijmegian
ME/CFS-group, does not feel much for an interview in
One Today; this because of the fact that you also
have the plan to let mister Kenny de Meirleir speak.

He is known in medical-scientific circles as somebody
who does not take proper care with the truth, to
put it carefully." (*)

At this point I was loving Dutch TV, after which words and text the journalist with the cue-cards reappeared, speaking his punchline:

And this was One Today.

Excellent stuff! O frabjous day! (And perhaps I have not been writing in vain... who knows.)

So... another fine day for me, what with being fit to go out and buy an excellent text about Hazlitt, and then getting the above excellent piece served by - almost miraculously, in my atheist eyes - Dutch TV.

Nice, very very VERY nice!

P.S. AND a big thank you very much to the Dutch journalists who made it! Well done! Well served also: Professor Van der Meer both deserves it and clearly did it himself, for it must be written under his responsibility, who know by his own hands.

If it isn't actionable, it surely shows what manner of man professor Van der Meer is... - and yes: if he does not like the link (he should have been informed of quite some time ago) he can go to court against me.

O, and please, please, please auntie Beeb: Do one like this on Wessely for the English patients with ME. They well deserve it! And there are mrs. Crian Wilson and mrs. Gilderdale, and there is professor Hooper, all of whom - I imagine - would want to speak with professor Wessely in front of cameras.

It's about time the BBC allows they can, I'd say.


Last edited: 02.05 May 30
First edited: 03.05 May 30

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
     insufficient evidence
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

"Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

P.P.S. ME - Resources needs is a Work In Progress that hasn't progressed today.

(*) Literally, the Dutch paragraph

Hij staat in medisch-wetenschappelijke kring bekend
als iemand die het niet erg nauw neemt met de
waarheid, voorzichtig gesteld."

translates as

He is known in medical-scientific circles as somebody
who does not takes it very narrowly with the truth,
carefully put."

but that is idiomatic (and professor Van der Meer's Dutch just is lame, in principle it seems) for

who does not take proper care with the truth, to
put it carefully."

or directly translated into fairly basic English

who lies, in plain speech."

Professor Jos van der Meer, the writer of this prose (it would seem, and if not, the man responsible for it), by contrast, is an honourable man, yes like all his Nijmegian colleagues, who are all most honourable men.

Maarten Maartensz

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