My letter to organizer of 4th Columbia Psychosomatics Conference

Yesterday I sent an email to Dr. Landa who had previously written to David Tuller about the 4th Columbia Psychosomatics Conference (link to David’s post). Like David, I was unhappy about Dr. Landa’s note so I decided to write her and see if she might respond better to a Columbia colleague. Apparently my faith in collegiality is misplaced – as of this writing I have not had a response. My email to Dr. Landa is reproduced below.

18 October 2018

Dear Dr. Landa:

I am writing to lend support to the protests surrounding Per Fink’s participating in this weekend’s Psychosomatic Conference, and to protest your email to my colleague, David Tuller.

Dr. Tuller is a Berkeley faculty and journalist who has been writing about ME/CFS on my blog, He has worked to expose bad research in the field, including the PACE trial. I fully support his work. Another Columbia faculty, Bruce Levin, has co-signed letters on these faulty studies on the blog. For you to write off David’s recent post is not acceptable. He has valid concerns should be addressed. Perhaps you are too busy to do so, but it’s not a good reason.

I want to join the voices who are complaining about having Fink participate in the conference. This is simply unacceptable. Having him speak at a Columbia conference is tantamount to validating his views – that is exactly how the outside world will perceive this. It’s why there will be a protest Saturday morning.

You wrote to Dr. Tuller that ME/CFS is not the focus of the conference. It doesn’t matter: even if there is just one mention of the disease in one talk, it will be a focus because there are so many patients and others who follow work in the field and will take note. And that comment ignores the real problem of Fink, who has had a hand in ME/CFS.

I’m sure you are aware of Fink’s poor record in dealing with persistent medical conditions. As just one example, I quote Dr. Tuller: “You have decided to invite to your gathering a man involved in what can only be called the *egregious mistreatment [see note at end] of a vulnerable young Danish woman diagnosed with the illness you have just indicated is a serious organic disease. This *mistreatment, conducted with the full authority of the state, was considered justified based on the sorts of claims about functional somatic disorders being presented at Columbia this weekend.”

Given this record, it is quite clear that Fink should not be speaking at Columbia. It is your meeting and you can invite who you wish, but we also have the right to protest his presence.

Dr. Tuller has a very large following and merits a better response to his concerns and those of the ME/CFS community. Perhaps Columbia PR has advised you to send Dr. Tuller a form letter. As a Columbia colleague, I’m asking you to respond to his concerns, and those of the ME/CFS community. Thank you.

Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D.
Higgins ProfessorDepartment of Microbiology & Immunology
Columbia University, New York |
“Tanto sa ciascuno quanto opera”


*In his own letter to Dr Landa, Dr Tuller used a phrase that he later decided was inappropriate, and he removed it from his “Trial By Error” post. I have done the same in quoting his response here.


25 responses to “My letter to organizer of 4th Columbia Psychosomatics Conference”

  1. Terri Wilder Avatar
    Terri Wilder

    WE all deserve a better response than what she gave. She sent the same response to every person who emailed her. I’m personally offended as I was one of the first people to contact her to discuss the issue AND I’m the lead organizer for the protest taking place Saturday, October 20th at Columbia. Shame on Columbia!

  2. Terri Wilder Avatar
    Terri Wilder

    And my friend Dr. Jeffrey Kwong (Columbia Nursing School) also sent her an email and got the same response. Message? They don’t care and it doesn’t matter who you are. State Senators, NYC City Council Members, Deputy Commissioners, etc have all reached out and are getting the same response.

  3. Nina Avatar

    Thank you so much for your support, Dr. Racaniello. It’s much appreciated! Inviting Per Fink is completely unacceptable.

  4. Anton Mayer Avatar
    Anton Mayer

    Thank you Dr Racaniello for supporting us

    The petition against Per Fink’s talk is very close to 10000 signatures:

  5. Sandra Avatar

    Well said, Dr. Racaniello. So nice to read straight talk and not the beating around the bush we get from the BPS Brigade whose spiel about ME/CFS and other long term conditions is built on nonsense. Thank you! By the way, the petition has reached 10,000 signatures a few minutes ago.

  6. Anil van der Zee Avatar
    Anil van der Zee

    What an amazing and heartfelt letter by Dr Racaniello. Thank you so much!!

  7. Diane Kirk Avatar
    Diane Kirk

    Thank you for your support. It is much appreciated by many.

  8. Helen Wojciechowski Avatar
    Helen Wojciechowski

    Thank you ~ your outspoken response is much needed, and much appreciated x

  9. Joan Byrne Avatar
    Joan Byrne

    All the way from Ireland from the ME Advocates Ireland, we thank you Dr. Racaniello. Your truth to power words are so much appreciated. From some of the sickest people on the planet – thank you.

  10. Paul Fox Avatar
    Paul Fox

    As on so many occasions, many thanks are due to Prof Racaniello for standing against fake science. What does it say about the state of the professions of psychiatry and psychology, and about the medical and academic establishments as a whole when a communication of the kind sent by Prof Racaniello is necessary so long after it became clear that the quackery in question is dangerous and unconscionable, as is the bogus “research” still being defended and promoted?

  11. Wendy Boutilier Avatar
    Wendy Boutilier

    Thank you Dr Rancaniello.

  12. Milo Avatar

    Thank you for writing this letter Dr Racaniello. The worst part of their psychosomatic meeting is that there are human being at the receiving hand of their construct and theories. When a patient report a symptom or a collection of happenings in their bodies, you believe them. history has shown over and over that what was supposed to be ‘all in the head’ are now well seated biological diseases, namely epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stomach ulcers.

    I once participated in a patient information session and this person presented themselves by saying they had been diagnosed with somatization but they disagreed, that clearly they had fibromyalgia. There was a recent paper published that widespread inflammation wa found in the brain of FM patients via MRI.

    Psychosomatic ‘medicine’ love the unexplained, and they will ensure it remains unexplained, because it suits them, their careers and the insurance industry. By publishing their phony papers, they ensure that their target disease remains unexplained, under-funded and under-researched. The stigma perpetuates.

    Again, thank you for speaking up. It means a lot to the patient community.

  13. Amanda Williams Avatar
    Amanda Williams

    Thank you for writing this letter, Dr. Rancaniello. As one of the Millions Missing who is rotting away in a bed, the idea that Per Fink is being given this platform at Columbia sends shivers of fear and revulsion down my spine. We are dying alone and in the dark as ‘experts’ gather to celebrate a field that wishes to hold us up as exemplars of how the mind can trick the body. History will not look kindly on the life work of these people.

  14. Alison Head Avatar
    Alison Head

    Thank you so much for standing up for Patients. We finally feel like we have a voice. As always Thank you to David Tuller.

  15. James Foulger Avatar
    James Foulger

    Thank you for the continued efforts Dr Rancaniello

  16. Noreen Murphy Avatar
    Noreen Murphy

    Thank you so much Dr. Racaniello. Your sincerity speaks volumes and is very appreciated by all us M.E. patients.
    Thank you.

  17. Janice F Reilly Avatar
    Janice F Reilly

    Dr Rancaniello, Bless you for having the courage to stand up in defense of the millions (including my adult son) suffering from ME/CFS. For the most part their immense suffering is hidden from public view so it is easy for a fraud like Per Fink to take advantage of their vulnerability.
    Thanks for your integrity.

  18. Marielle Huber-Bowman Avatar
    Marielle Huber-Bowman

    Once again the psychosomatic school has proven they don’t care what anyone has to say except for themselves. But that’s fine, the truth will be out there soon, and the fall will be even harder now.

  19. Justin Reilly Avatar
    Justin Reilly

    Thank you so much, Prof. Racaniello, for standing up for science and people with ME. I conveyed a summary of your letter to Alla Landa and Per Fink during a comment period at the conference today. The protest today was a great success thanks in no small part to your integrity and courage.

  20. Justin Reilly Avatar
    Justin Reilly

    Alla Landa interrupted me to ask if I had a question. I asked Prof. Fink why he “in the words of Dr. Tuller, ‘kidnapped and tortured’ Karena Hansen.” He declined to respond or look at me.

  21. Justin Reilly Avatar
    Justin Reilly


  22. Kate Behrend Avatar
    Kate Behrend

    Thank you so much for your support for ME sufferers Dr Racaniello – it’s very much appreciated.

  23. Lene Jensen Avatar
    Lene Jensen

    Thank you for your support.
    Mr. Fink should be stopped, before he creates more harm to innocent , and physically ill people

  24. Lynn Twohey Avatar
    Lynn Twohey

    Thank you so much for following up on this. You and David have been wonderfully supportive. It truly means so much to us. THANK YOU!

  25. Steve Hawkins Avatar
    Steve Hawkins

    Many thanks for so thoughtfully following up on Dr Tuller’s own prompt action on bringing this unfortunate invitation to the attention of Columbia colleagues. There should be no place for such ignorance in the most prestigious centres of learning. (y)