The self and others in CFS/ME: Reinterpreting research evidence
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Chapter 7 provided interpersonal perspectives on CFS/ME without offering any theoretical commentary. This chapter considers how the meanings of CFS/ME are developed between individuals and others. We begin with a critique of the cognitive-behavioural model of illness and suggest how it might better take account of connections between human relationships and illness. Using examples from Chapter 7 and elsewhere we thenr eview research literature in terms of the following propositions: (1) The social implications of CFS/ME are fundamental to its personal meaning; (2) individuals (and also health professionals) interpret illness through a cultural lens; (3) meanings of CFS/ME are established within personal relationships; (4) interpretations of symptoms, severity of illness and family relationships influence one another; (5) 'coping' is a social process, intimately related to meaning-making; and (6) meanings derived from present and past relationships are important vulnerability factors. Each of these gain support from available evidence although our interpretation sometimes requires a shift from a cognitivist to a discursive paradigm. We end with a discussion of gender.