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Books, Journals, New Media
November 27, 2002

WhiplashWhiplash and Other Useful Illnesses

Author Affiliations
 

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media

 

Not Available

 

by Andrew Malleson, 527 pp, $49.95, ISBN 0-7735-2333-2, Montreal, Canada, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002.

JAMA. 2002;288(20):2617-2618. doi:10.1001/jama.288.20.2617-JBK1127-4-1

This delightful book by a Canadian psychiatrist examines the evidence supporting the diagnoses whiplash, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and similar me-too disorders and—citing chapter and verse—demolishes the diagnoses (but not the symptoms).

Life events are not diseases, and people who experience them get on with their lives, at least in less developed countries, Malleson maintains. But where trial lawyers abound, as in the United States, or social systems provide abundant compensation, as in Norway, these pseudoillnesses spawn a feeding frenzy and are attributed to trauma, no matter how remote, or to almost any untoward precedent in a post hoc ergo propter hoc logic. Many physicians and more lawyers make a substantial living from claiming that these events lead to disabling symptoms that require long-term, even life-long disability pensions and punitive damages. Support groups grow up around claimants, who aver I am the evidence.

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