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Charcot's Bad Idea Paperback – 15 Feb 2009

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
Good concept, inadequate execution - strident is a good word for it 6 Sep 2014
By invisible - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Some basic premises were sound. These include the idea that the functional illnesses are a listing of miscellaneous diagnostic and communication problems, medicine in the age of complex diagnostic machines and procedures has the capability of being correct more of the time than it did in the age of magic, and disease produces suffering.

What I was looking for was a good history of the evolution of and historical patterns of neurological attribution, mis-attribution, diagnosis and misdiagnosis.

What I read was something which more resembled a stream of consciousness novel. Novels, especially modern British literary novels, benefit from having multiple threads, nuances and meanings and even some convolution. Expository prose does not. This book appeared to be a mixture of history, speculation, autobiography and internet self help group culture.

There were some good references listed in the back and a fair index. The index is sorely needed and a very good idea because otherwise the book is apparently organized like a laundry list or a desk drawer. It jumps all over the place in both space and time. So just when I picked up a thread of the idea he switched places, times, diseases and the cast of victims, heroes and villains.

A better organized, less strident and more readable book for people wanting to learn about the history of fads of medical misdiagnosis is Creating Hysteria: Women and Multiple Personality Disorder by journalist Joan Acocella
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A triumphant expose of the belief systems that lie behind modern neurology: functional weakness and conversion disorder 10 Jun 2009
By Martin Eden - Published on Amazon.com
"Science must begin with myths and with the criticism of
myths"- Karl Popper

Patients often present to doctors with illness for which there is no
obvious organic explanation despite investigation. Historically
medicine lacks a tradition of ignorance and has a tendency to suggest
explanations for illness and treat the patient accordingly, even when
these explanations and cures are bizarre and absurd. Examples in the
medical canon range from the leeches and bloodletting of the
Ancient Greeks to the lobotomy of pre 1970's neurosurgery. Illness
that is not easily explained can challenge the hegemony of medicine.
Patients and others can see the psychiatric referral that often follows
as a means of controlling this threat to the physician's authority, for
how after millennia of "progress" can medicine itself be deviant or
deficient? Perhaps as a result of this tradition some contemporary
thinkers in neuropsychiatry, (Manu, Sharpe, Wessely and others)
place the blame on the patient for their illness, or more specifically
the ideas held by a patient about their illness1.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Recommended 29 Jun 2009
By Jodi-Hummingbird - Published on Amazon.com
Simon Overton is a fellow advocate that I communicate with regularly.

Simon was kind enough to ask me to write the forward for this book.

An excerpt from the forward text:

"Substantial medical evidence spanning many decades continues to be ignored by those in positions of power who are abusing that power to further their own vested interests. Once an idea takes root in the scientific community it is not reason but the ability to gather kudos and grab research funding that informs dominant thinking. These groups and individuals are helped immeasurably by the creation of bogus disease categories, categories such as 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' and other unscientific concepts such as somatisation disorder, functional weakness, conversion disorder, hysteria, and so on.

Despite an utter lack of scientific legitimacy and the enormous costs to the many patients involved and to the community at large, these massive medical frauds have continued in perpetuity almost entirely unchallenged by the world's media, human rights groups, and governments. It is a worldwide disgrace and one of the biggest scandals in the history of medicine.

How much more extreme do the suffering and abuse caused by these malign scams have to be? How many more very ill patients have to be denied even basic medical care? How many more hundreds of thousands of children and adults worldwide have to be left severely disabled or dead through inappropriate treatment?

Simon Overton is to be congratulated for creating such a timely, intelligent and compelling book on this important topic. More uncompromising educational efforts like this one must be produced if change is ever to occur. The fox has been left in charge of the hen house for far too long already. Knowledge is power.

May the day soon come when such books (and other advocacy projects) are no longer needed, and when patients can rely on something as simple as treatment based on legitimate scientific evidence and on the reality of their pathology - rather than being subjected to various self-serving and illogical pseudo-scientific `theories'. Such ideas are extremely unlikely to help any of the patient groups involved to regain their health."

I recommend this book. The chapter which deals with the case of Ean Proctor in particular is a must-read for anyone involved in this field of medicine.

Jodi Bassett, founder of the 'Hummingbirds' Foundation for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis' (HFME)
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