It’s not common for ME/CFS to be discussed on mainstream blogs, so this article in buzzfeed grabbed my attention. It’s on the “controvery” of a bogus treatment called the Lightening Process.

Would you tell a person with breast cancer that they could cure themselves with positive thought? Would you treat someone with AIDS by asking them to deny that they’re sick? Would you tell someone missing a limb to pretend that is wasn’t missing? Would you then blame them when the “treatment” didn’t work?

Welcome to the Lightening Process, which is a cult-y type of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), and asks you do things like jumping into a circle titled “the life you want”, and verbally denying your illness. People who fail to improve are made to feel that their lack of dedication to the process is to blame. The Lightning Process is a variation of something called neurolinguistic programming, which has long been recognized as pseudoscience.

Worse than ineffective, asking someone with ME/CFS to behave as if they were well and ignore their limitations is a recipe for exacerbating their illness, sometimes dramatically. It goes against the #1 most critical thing ME/CFS doctors teach their patients, which is Pacing.

Despite website claims that they consider ME/CFS to be a physical illness, LP is really just another iteration of the “it’s all in your head” destructive attitude that ME/CFS doctors and patients have been fighting for years.

The process was developed by Phillip Parker, a hypnotist, who, in the past, had incorporated tarot cards and “medicinal divination cards” into his treatments, and it’s touted as a cure-all for depression, anxiety, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Tinnitus, OCD, MS and other conditions.

Although there is study which seems to support using LP (known as SMILE), the study was unblinded and measured subjective outcomes. Given that LP programs its patients to verbally and mentally repeat mantras telling themselves that they are better, it’s generous to say that such a study is unreliable.

This sort of pseudoscience is highly damaging to the ME/CFS community, and undoes so much of the effort that goes towards educating the general public about the severity and physicality of the illness.