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There is something rotten in Scandinavia8 min read

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Myalgic encephalomyelitis (also sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME/CFS) is a physical illness with severe neurological symptoms. However, a small but persistent group of doctors, psychiatrists and private businesses refuse to let go of their hold over the diagnosis. Their ideas are especially prominent in Scandinavia where they are now also harming the rising amount of long-COVID patients. In Norway, a group of these people are preparing a study that will do further harm.

The Lightning Process and Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Before we go into the details about the Norwegian study, lets have a look at The Lightning Process in general. We already dedicated a page to the Lightning Process and their ‘spiritual’ leader Phil Parker. One single Google search will tell anyone about their shady past and unsatisfied customers. It will tell you how the LP-people tried a number of things to make their first ‘study’ (very vague term here) seem succesful for Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS).

Now, lets begin with a small summary on what The Lightning Process really is. It is created by Phil Parker. A man who was a ‘healer’ before he came up with his ‘magical program’. In the Lightning Process, they tell patients that that;

  • they are “doing” ME/CFS and that they can just stop doing it with their mind.
  • the only way to be cured is by believing the process and by doing it religiously.
  • patients must only speak positively about the Lightning Process.
  • they must tell everyone that they are cured (if not, it will not work).
  • they must not talk about what they actually did at the course.

And how powerful is the Lightning Process then? The LP-trainers will tell you that their program cures around 80-90 % of ME/CFS patients. However, if you ask the actual patients the percentage is 0.

Norwegian Study on the Lightning Process and Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Regardless of these truths about the LP and the fact that it is a trademarked program, a group of Norwegian researchers at NTNU still wants to study if the LP-training has an effect on Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS).

Furthermore, these Norwegian researchers are apparently confused as to why people are upset about their study.

“It’s hard to understand the emotional uproar over psychosocial relationships being linked to CFS. We can study psychosocial conditions in everything, including cancer and femoral fractures in the elderly. Isn’t CFS related to something?” asks Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, who heads the research project.1

There are, of course, numerous reasons why this study is unhelpful. If Leif Kennair truly does not understand the ’emotional uproar’ from patients it means that he simply has no knowledge about ME/CFS and its history of neglect 2. Sadly, we do not believe this study is just based on ignorance.

Why the study is not relevant for ME/CFS

It is shocking that educated people want to be associated with this ‘study’. As mentioned, the real (and only) motivator for this study seems to be the clear commercial interests for the Lightning Process people. These people are known for their absurd marketing claims 3, controversy about their older ‘study’ 4and protests from patients who went through their program. The sole purpose of this study is obviously to promote their commercial product.

So, this Norwegian group is applying a flawed, debunked and commercial program on a physical illness where patients have the absolute lowest quality of life compared to similar illnesses 5 and still they act surprised by the backlash. It is exactly this kind of acts that have belittled ME/CFS-patients for decades and has hindered real treatment.

Here’s what wrong with the ‘study’

So, why are ME/CFS-patients and doctors upset with this study? There are some very obvious reasons and we will explain the main ones here.

The legitimacy of the study

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a confirmed physical illness. Therefore, the diagnosis should no longer be held captive by psychiatric ideas. Considering that this is publicly available knowledge, it seems absurd that actual professors want to do a study on a commercial and debunked program aimed at mental disorders. You would not expect to see actual professors study a dubious commercial program for cancer, either.

The main author

The study is lead by Leif Kennair. Not surprisingly, he is a professor of psychology who specialises in cognitive therapy. A profession from where a small but influential group of people have already damaged ME/CFS research for decades by actively preventing them from getting medical treatment. Even now, where ME/CFS is cemented as a physical illness, the field is still infected with these professors of psychology.

To us, it does not make sense that Kennair truly does not know why this study is damaging and unhelpful. This is an actual professor who has chosen to work with a group of people organised much like a pyramid scheme and led by a spiritual healer. What will his next study focus on? Crystal therapy? EFT-tapping? Both have the same anecdotal curative evidence for ME/CFS.

ME/CFS and the insurance companies

Leif Kennair seems to be either extremely incompetent or to have another agenda. Sadly, hidden agendas are common for ME/CFS especially in Scandinavia. Why? Certain insurance companies benefit from having ME defined as a psychosomatic disorder. When patients are diagnosed with a psychosomatic diagnosis they are not eligible for financial support. These companies connect with health professionals and researchers with exactly this understanding of the disease and fund their research.

The follow-up period

As explained by people who went through the LP training, the patients are constantly advised to only speak positively about the program if they want it to work. They are also immediately told to answer a survey on how the course had helped them, again, in a way that has some serious flaws as explained here by a patient:

For instance, Phil asked us to email him a few weeks after our training with a progress report but he specifically told us to only mention the positive things that had happened to us and not to mention any negative feelings, symptoms or experiences we’d had (…) 6

Now, how will this Norwegian study determine its results? They will simply ask the patients themselves after a short period of time. Obviously, these patients will have been told all the usual LP-stuff that we have mentioned. Kristian Sommerfelt also see this as a potential issue.

“The way Kennair’s study is designed, I believe that the positive effect of LP is almost a guaranteed result, without having any real way to shed light on whether or not this is due to the placebo effect,” – Kristian Sommerfelt, a professor at the University of Bergen and a paediatrician.

So, they designed the study in a way where they can control the outcome. This is not surprising considering this is The Lightning Process.

Commercial interests

This one is almost comical. One of the co-authors of the ‘study’ is an actual Lightning Process coach herself. Live Landmark is a life coach who has bought herself a spot in the LP-business. She added the LP to her life-coaching repetoire and has made money through the LP ever since. With the reputation that the LP has, this does not seem like something that will add to the scientific value of any study. Does anyone really think that Live Landmark would want the ‘study’ to have negative outcomes? How is she supposed not to be biased or to encourage a certain response from the study participants when the ‘study’ will have actual consequences for her income and the LP in general? And do they really think that their spiritual leader, Phil Parker, would ever allow that?

Conclusion

Researchers and doctors worldwide agree that Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) is a physical illness and that it has no links to psychiatric issues. The NICE guidelines specifically mentions the LP as something that should not be recommended to ME/CFS-patients. Furthermore, the evidence that the LP is not a cure has always been very clear and the ‘theory’ behind the program has been debunked by several doctors.

Still, the main author, Leif Kennair, clearly ignores these facts. It seems obvious that this study is only being done to give LP a marketing boost while also making it seem like a legit treatment. As Kristian Sommerfelt notes, the study is designed in a way that will make LP look good to attract future ME/CFS and long-COVID patients.

In conclusion, this study simply has no relevance for Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS). It seems silly that actual educated professors are spending their time on something labelled as a “magical program” created by a spiritual healer.

You just would not see this happening for any other illness.

References

  1. https://sciencenorway.no/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-ethics/study-on-lightning-process-course-for-cfsme-patients-raises-controversy/1800982
  2. https://illustratorinterrupted.blogspot.com/2021/05/i-caught-virus-and-never-recovered-part.html
  3. https://www.asa.org.uk/advice-online/health-the-lightning-process.html
  4. https://me-pedia.org/wiki/SMILE_trial
  5. https://me-pedia.org/wiki/SMILE_trialhttps://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132421
  6. https://sciencenorway.no/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-ethics/study-on-lightning-process-course-for-cfsme-patients-raises-controversy/1800982

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