The recent kerfuffle over Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has highlighted how strongly many people still believe in a distinction between the physical and the psychological

When the philosopher A.C Grayling (who seemed to be giving an impression of a philosopher rather than actually being one) came to speak, he peered out at the audience over his horn-rimmed glasses and said something like, "I don't expect there are any dualists here, and there certainly aren't on this panel". His point being that the old Cartesian idea that there are minds and bodies and never-shall-the-twain-meet has been decimated in recent decades, as a respectable intellectual position, by the amazing discoveries of scientists studying the brain.

And yet elsewhere this assumption lives on. In this otherwise very good piece in yesterday's Times on chronic fatigue syndrome, everyone, from the writer to the experts to the sufferers, frames the question of the condition's causes as if we were still living in a dualist world. To take one example:

Stephen Holgate, professor of immunopharmacology at the University of
Southampton, chairs the Medical Research Council’s expert group on CFS/ME.
“As a clinician who sees patients with this group of diseases I recognise
there’s a real thing here, it’s not all psychiatric or psychological,” he


The Mind Hacks article he links to is also excellent.