Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
A Guide to Self-Empowerment

By William Collinge, Ph.D.

Table of Contents


Introduction by Daniel Peterson, M.D.

     In the fall of 1984, my quiet Internal Medicine practice was suddenly interrupted be the intrusion of a strange malady. Long established, otherwise healthy patients developed a "flu-like" illness with low grade fevers, swollen lymph nodes, headache, myalgias and fatigue. Not so unusual, I thought, for a viral syndrome. Thus, I waited expectantly for everyone to recover.
     The saga had, however, just begun. Many of the patients remained ill and, in fact, developed disabling fatigue, severe insomnia, intolerable myalgias, and even striking cognitive dysfunction. Some became bedridden, lost jobs, financial resources and even families. 
     Media attention to the phenomenon, spurred on in part by the recent discovery of the AIDS virus, resulted in national and international attention to this disorder, now labeled as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
     Now, many long years later, critical questions remain unanswered. While many researchers feel the clinical course is most compatible with a prolonged viral infection, others feel immune dysregulation is the primary abnormality, in some cases leading to viral reactivation. Some physicians, at a loss to explain the myriad symptoms, resort to psychiatric diagnoses such as conversion reactions or hypochondriasis.
     Despite the mysteries accompanying this syndrome, its profound effects on victims and their families are clearly documented and definable. CFIDS is now recognized worldwide and across socioeconomic barriers. Any clinician who postpones treatment while wishfully waiting or complete definition of the disease totally ignores the plight of the suffering patient.
     The argument of mind-body dualism that has pervaded medicine for many years has slowed research into diseases affecting the whole person. This has produced disability and delayed therapy in many patients suffering from CFIDS and similar syndromes. Researchers must reach beyond this dichotomy and unite in the national scientific effort to better define the disease process. Potentially successful therapies can then be suggested for thousands of sufferers.
     CFIDS physicians sought and continue to seek the magic bullet of medicine that will lay the enemy forever to rest. Meanwhile a number of therapies considered "band-aid" medicine do afford some relief of symptoms. Examples include tricyclic antidepressants in low doses; certain axiolytics; and some immune modulating agents. Based on the premise that CFIDS is due to immune dysregulation and viral reactivation, a few clinical trials are in progress with antiviral and immune regulating agents. 
     In the earlier years of this phenomenon, I gained much wisdom about CFIDS from listening to the patients. There were many whom I gradually began to see less frequently. These patients told me that they weren’t “cured”, but had come to a truce with their disease. They had modified their lifestyles or expectations and had learned to control or ameliorate their symptoms.
     I then met William Collinge, who at the time was working with self-help programs for cancer and AIDS patients. While I was somewhat skeptical of the approach, largely due to my own lack of understanding and training, I referred many CFIDS patients to his program. The pilot program evolved into a structured approach for patients and their families and/or interested others. 
     The results were striking. In short, many patients have found themselves to be far more functional in their everyday living than they ever hoped possible. They gained a new understanding of their disease process. And their families, who experienced the real essence of the disease, could be trained to share true empathy and caring for the affected patient.
     This experience has shown that CFIDS, like other chronic diseases, requires multi-disciplinary skills and expertise for successful management. Certainly patients require the help of basic scientists and  compassionate, inquisitive primary care physicians. But they also need supportive services, including psychotherapy and self-help programs. Self-awareness, self-education, and self-help are critical to minimize the devastating effects of the illness and to achieve a functional, fulfilling life. 
     For clinicians, this book outlines an adjuvant therapy readily available to all CFIDS patients. The methods and philosophical approach to CFIDS espoused in this book represent critical steps toward our better understanding of the disease process and its treatment. Dr. Collinge summarizes an ever changing and ever broadening topic objectively and bases his interventions on tried and true clinical experience.
     Patients, please read and enjoy this book. With open and receptive mind, the directives become clear. New understanding and healing may come very quickly. The profit will be yours at a low cost.


Audio CD Program Available
Recovering from CFS:
The Home Self-Empowerment Program

For information about Dr. Collinge's four-CD audio program of inspirational talks and guided self-healing exercises that accompany this book, click here.