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Part 1: What is Chronic Fatigue? The definition of complex adaptive systems

Chronic Fatigue, otherwise known as ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), is a harrowing and debilitating condition, with no differential diagnosis in medical terms.  Diagnosis is exclusion based only, therefore other conditions similar by experience and presentation of symptoms must first be eliminated. To receive the diagnosis of CFS/ME other possibilities such as cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions must be eliminated.  When nothing else comes up after 6 months of unrelenting fatigue then the diagnosis is given.  This is the FUKUDA criteria.

Low-grade chronic inflammation has been found consistently in those with Chronic Fatigue.  Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord as well as muscle pain and tenderness.  According to official guidelines in the realms of psychology 1990s, CFS was understood to be an unrelenting and debilitating condition, more functionally impaired than congestive heart failure, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 2 Diabetes, and even End-stage renal disease!


The realms of psychology also cleverly define CFS from depression by differentiating underlying motivations.

Ask the question ‘ What would you want to do with your life?’

The depressed person will tell you that they do not know.  While the CFS person will give you an exhaustive list, but if it wasn’t for their energy!!

Do personality types then factor into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

There is also a clinical definition of neurochemistry which ties into psychological predisposition.  High serotonin is often found in those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome rather than low serotonin.  Depression is LOW serotonin.

Chronic Fatigue has not gained much traction within medical communities, and this is largely down to the linear medical model and approach typically adopted by allopathic medicine.

Ultimately Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a thresh-hold illness, with a range of imbalances resulting in a perfect storm ending up with post-exertional fatigue and CFS.

This does not serve those with CFS/ME since there are multiple biological adaptive systems which will be under-functioning.  And when you seek to support one system alone, within the Chronic Fatigue Model, you can very easily upset other systems which are also functioning to the brink of chaos and tip them over.

This is an extremely important point when understanding the nature of this condition and its healing pathway.  Since it feels as though we have lost control of our bodies.  We are no longer in control of how much energy we have, there may be pain throughout the body and we seek to regain control.

And so, when multiple systems have collapsed and reorganised to a new level.  Meaning that the way we produce energy is no longer happening as it should, and we have limited energy, then this is the new norm, and the system is stable.  True, we don’t have energy, and we have lost control.  But, the system is still stable.

By attempting to heal CFS / ME without an understanding of how biological systems lean into each other. Therefore looking at ‘communication between systems’, it becomes easy to collapse currently stable systems into temporary chaos and to feel sicker than ever!

For this reason, a holistic approach, Otherwise known as a systems biology approach, which values multiple systems, is the only model which can successfully support the CFS sufferer toward health.  This is why the medical model cannot help the CFS / ME sufferer.  And we end up feeling sicker, more terrified, more out of control and more at sea with our symptoms than ever before.