ME/CFS is not a psychosomatic illness

W. Ian Lipkin, Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the Center for Solutions for ME/CFS at Columbia University, has written the following letter several days before the Fourth Annual Conference on Psychosomatics at Columbia University this weekend. The original letter can be found at this link.

18 October 2018

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) has been committed to ME/CFS research since 2010. We began this research with generous support from the Chronic Fatigue Initiative of the Hutchins Family Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Microbe Discovery Project.

In 2017, the CII was selected to host one of three NIH centers funded for collaborative research into the biology of this disease. The Center for Solutions for ME/CFS (CfS for ME/CFS) includes representatives from and Solve ME/CFS as well as clinical and basic scientists drawn from leading academic institutions and clinical sites across the United States.

Our studies of blood, cerebrospinal fluid, saliva and feces, using state-of-the-art methods that include microbial gene sequencing, metabolomics, proteomics, and immunological profiling, confirm that patients with ME/CFS have biological abnormalities that cannot be characterized as psychosomatic.

Committees convened by the National Academies of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also concluded that ME/CFS is not a psychosomatic disorder.

We are committed to actively investigating the causes of immunological and metabolic abnormalities in ME/CFS. Our hope is that this work will enable insights that lead to treatments.


W. Ian Lipkin, MD
Director, Center for Infection & Immunity
Director, Center or Solutions for ME/CFS



5 responses to “ME/CFS is not a psychosomatic illness”

  1. TW Avatar

    I find that the letter is full of nothing. It isn’t helpful and doesn’t take a stand. It doesn’t even mention Per Fink. If they were truly taking a stand in advance of the conference it would be stronger and actually connect the fact that Per Fink is coming to the content of the letter. This is a disappointment. How do we even know this is about this weekend?

  2. Fiona Avatar

    This letter looks like it’s been ‘legalled’ to within an inch of its life. Still, it’s better than nothing!

  3. Sandra Avatar

    I am grateful to these scientists and others who are standing with us. I thank them for all their efforts on our behalf and for stating that this is a complex, organic, physiological disease as evidenced by the abnormalities their research is uncovering. And I thank them for staying the course until we will one day have effective treatments that can truly change our lives for the better.

  4. Joan McVichie Avatar
    Joan McVichie

    I have followed Ian Lipkin in his research of viruses back to HIV, & know he will seriously research ME/CFS. If this was all in our head/psychiatrically we would be running to one, rather than live the way we do. Psychiatrists tell us we are having adjustment problems to living from a very active life to inability to do much of anything. I feel it’s in my head psychically controlling my 25% less blood volume to my brain. It also prevents me from getting a deep restful sleep because my waking sleep waves interrupt my deep sleep waves found in my sleep clinic.
    I trust the cause will be found for what knocked us over.

  5. Sarah Lawry Avatar
    Sarah Lawry

    Iain Lipkin in 2013 said: “We found retroviruses in 85 percent of the samples. Again, it is very difficult at this point to know whether or not this is clinically significant, and given the previous experience with retroviruses in Chronic Fatigue I am going to be very clear in telling you, although I am reporting this at present in Prof. Montoya’s samples, neither he nor we have concluded that there is a relationship to disease. I’ll repeat that one more time. We found retroviral sequences, but their relationship, at this time, to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is unclear and, in fact, if I were to place bets and speculate, I would say that they are not going to pan out.” Taken from: