Boudewijn Van Houdenhove

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Boudewijn Van Houdenhove, M.D., Ph.D., is a retired Belgian professor of psychiatry at the University of Leuven.[1][2] During his career he took a special interest in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM), which he considers both[3] to be stress-related, psychosomatic disorders.[4][5] According to Van Houdenhove CFS is characterized by a long period of stress and overactivity which leads to a crash of the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and a subsequent lack of resilience.[6] Although Van Houdenhove is considered to be one of the most influential voices in the debate on ME/CFS in Belgium[2], his views have been criticized by patients for ‘blaming the victim’[7][8] and emphazising psychosocial factors.[9][10][11]

Van Houdenhove serves on the editorial board of the journal, Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior, published on behalf of the IACFS/ME.[12]

Background[edit | edit source]

Liaison psychiatry[edit | edit source]

Boudewijn van Houdenhove was a forerunner of psychosomatic medicine in Belgium in the 1980s and 1990s.[13] As a liaison psychiatrist he specialized in the interface between general medicine and psychiatry. Early in his career, he argued that the role of psychiatrists could be more than consultative.[14] According to Van Houdenhove psychiatrists could play an important coordinating role, for example in the multidsicplinay aprpoach offered to patients with chronic pain. He wrote that:

"Liaison psychiatrists can 'emancipate' themselves in this way by stepping out of their - often frustrating, because purely advisory - role and putting into practice their own biopsychosocial diagnostic and therapeutic policy."[14]

Inspired by the work of Freud and Lacan[15], Van Houdenhove started studying patients with unexplained chronic pain from a psychodynamic point of view. His impression was that these patients premorbid life history is characterized by hyperactivity.[16] He speculates this to be "symptomatic of underlying, frequently interrelated psychodynamic factors, such as unfulfilled (but overcompensated) dependency needs, excessive bodily narcissism, ‘phallic’ rivalry (in women patients) and masochistic or obsessional traits."[17]

Complex regional pain syndrome[edit | edit source]

An unexplained disorder Van Houdenhove focused on at the begining of his career, was reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)[18][19] also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In these patients a portion of the body (an arm, hand, leg or foot) becomes chronically impaired, usually after an injury. The cause remains unknown to this day.[20] Back in the early 1990s Van Houdenhove emphasized the psychosocial elements that come into play in CRPS and controversially claimed these to be not only perpetuating but also precipitating factors[21]:

"Our basic assumption is that patients suffering from RSD are at the time of the physical trauma confronted with a dramatic psychological situation that they experience as an existential loss i.e. a loss that fundamentally threatens an important life perspective with which they cannot adequately cope. […] More specifically the patient’s reaction to loss appears to be characterized by helplessness, i.e. a set of cognitive motivational and emotional deficits usually resulting from chronic uncontrollable stress and leading to passive withdrawal, decrease of self-esteem anxiety and depression as well neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous system changes."[21]

Van Houdenhove speculated that this maladaptive coping reaction was related to certain personality traits like narcissism and hysteria.[21] Although his theory was criticized[22][23] at the time, many aspects of it would return in his view on chronic fatigue syndrome. In 2003 for example Van Houdenhove wrote that the evidence of a relationship between CFS/FM and complex regional pain syndrome type I deserves further research:

"In the three disorders, symptoms and disability may be perpetuated by similar factors, such as disturbed sleep, comorbid anxiety and depression, and activity avoidance, resulting in physical deconditioning."[24]

Chronic fatigue syndrome[edit | edit source]

"Ill without a disease"[edit | edit source]

In the 1990s Van Houdenhove expanded his expertise to chronic fatigue syndrome, a disorder in which he saw many similarities with the chronic pain patients he was treating.[25][26] In his first book[27] about the issue, he named CFS "the psychosomatic disease of our time" and claimed CFS patients were "ill without a disease" (in Dutch: "ziek zonder ziekte"). Van Houdenhove also claimed that this was a disease, “ideally suited to rehabilitation."[28] As a reporting member for the ‘treatment working group’ of the Superior Health Council in 2001[29], he played a vital role in implementing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) as the state-sponsored treatments for ME/CFS in Belgium. When these therapies failed to show meaningful results[30], Van Houdenhove admitted his initial views to be erroneous and too simplistic (translated from Dutch):

"When I started to see patients with chronic fatigue symptoms in the early 1990s, I was initially a non-believer. It was hard for me to imagine that the exhaustion of these patients could be so dramatic. Perhaps they - like many chronic pain patients with whom I had some experience - had become abnormally tired because of the deterioration of their physical condition. I thought practicing a lot would help them to get over it. But in the course of time I went through a metamorphosis. I became a believer. I remember that this change of attitude was encouraged by the contact I had with some patients who had previously been passionate about sports. In their case, there was absolutely no question of severe deconditioning. Nonetheless, they were unable to perform normal efforts and complained of a feeling of sickness, if they tried to force themselves."[26]

The swith hypothesis[edit | edit source]

Van Houdenhove now believes effort intolerance[31] to be the main characteristic of ME/CFS.[26] He suspects that this is caused by a dysregulation of the stress system. Van Houdenhove has argued that when a normal person experiences acute stress, the HPA axis gets activated and the body produces hormones like cortisol to instigate a state of arousal.[3] When this state persists for too long and stress becomes chronic, Van Houdenhove speculates this to result in a crash[32] after which the body is no longer able to produce enough cortisol, as is often seen in ME/CFS patients.[33] Because cortisol has immunosuppressive properties, this switch from HPA axis hyper- to hypofunction is thought to be accompanied by an overactivation of the immune system and excessive production of cytokines.[32] According to Van Houdenhove, this induces sickness behavior that could account for the fatigue experienced by ME/CFS patients. The final result is a lack of resilience, which he sees as the main characteristic of ME/CFS.[32]

Perfectionism and overactivity[edit | edit source]

According to Van Houdenhove ME/CFS patients partly create their own stress, for example by being too perfectionistic.[34][35] In one of his first major studies into the disease, he showed that ME/CFS patients were more ‘action-prone’, meaning naturally more active, than healthy controls or people with anxiety disorders, and at a similar level to people with chronic musculoskeletal pain.[36] Van Houdenhoe argued that these patients weren’t lazy or too sedentary as is sometimes claimed by proponents of the deconditioning hypothesis, instead they were overactive.[35] They showed the same ‘ergomania’ Van Houdenhove had previously seen in his unexplained chronic pain patients.[37]

Victimization[edit | edit source]

Van Houdenhove wondered why ME/CFS patients were in a continuous state of overdrive before falling ill, as his research indicated. He argued that this behavior acted as a "stabilizing factor in the psychic economy". He wrote:

"In our clinical practice, we often hear from CFS/FM patients that—before they got ill—they never could sit still, they were always busy to avoid becoming nervous, or they needed physical workout to chase away negative thoughts or feelings."[38]

In another study by Van Houdenhove and colleagues, ME/CFS patients reported more emotional and physical abuse than controls with multiple sclerosis (MS) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA).[39] A considerable subgroup experienced lifelong victimization.[39] According to Van Houdenhove this explains why ME/CFS patients are often perfectionistic and in need of external validation.

"This case report illustrates the multifactorial etiology of CFS. Mr. A’s severe abuse history and his premorbid overactive lifestyle may be considered important vulnerability factors. Based on a deep-rooted lack of self-esteem, this man was driven to work hard and take part in sports to a fanatic degree (bodybuilding and karate) as a means of compensation for feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and insufficiency."[40]

When their outlet of overactivity becomes hampered, persons like Mr. A are susceptible to developing ME/CFS:

"What happens, then, when a protracted illness or physical injury makes further (over)activity impossible? Such events may seriously threaten the patient’s psychobiological equilibrium and precipitate a dysregulation of the stress system."[38]

A lumper standpoint[edit | edit source]

According to Houdenhove the mechanism described above is not unique to ME/CFS. He argues that low cortisol levels for example have also been reported in other stress-related disorders like atypical depression, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burn-out.[41] Van Houdenhove sees a lot of similarity between these conditions, stating for example:

"Could it be that the over-ambitious athlete complains about 'overtraining', the over-committed social worker about 'burnout', and the over-burdened modern woman who feels obliged to combine three 'fulltime' jobs (household, professional career and educator of children).., about ME?"[41]

Van Houdenhove confesses that he is a lumper, not a splitter i.e. he thinks fibromyalgia (FM) and ME/CFS should be regarded and treated as one disease.[3] In line with Simon Wessely he thinks the splitting of many so called functional somatic syndromes represents an artifact of specialized modern medicine.[3] In 2007 he proposed to rename FM and ME/CFS into "stress intolerance and pain hypersensitivity (SIPH) syndromes".[42]

ME/CFS; a symptom of a sick society?[edit | edit source]

Inspired by historian Edward Shorter, Van Houdenhove emphasizes how culture shapes the way we define illnesses.[43] For example, in a letter to The Lancet, he explained the curious situation in his home country, Belgium:

"French-speaking Belgian colleagues have repeatedly confirmed that the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has not yet become a hyped illness, as it is in Flanders (as well as in the Netherlands and the UK). In Flanders, for example, there are currently four CFS/ME self-help groups, whereas none exists in Wallonia. The Flemish press, has regularly reported the disorder for 10 years (eg, describing patients’ experiences about disbelief and incomprehension, or about so-called research breakthroughs), but the Walloon press has shown interest only in the past few years. Walloons are more oriented— culturally as well as scientifically—to France, whereas Flemish people are on the same wavelength as countries with Anglo-Saxon culture and science. Consequently, Walloon and Flemish patients and doctors use different labels to communicate about distress and ill health."[43]

Van Houdenhove speculates the prevalence of ME/CFS to be on the rise because of consumerism and the high social demands modern society places on the individual. In this respect he ponders if ME/CFS should be regarded as a "symptom of a sick society".[44]

Listening to the patient[edit | edit source]

According to Van Houdenhove the whole controversy around ME/CFS can be explained by doctors and researchers not listening to the story of the patient.[45] If they did, they would know that this isn’t merely a matter of deconditioning and unhelpful cognitions. Only if one listens closely to the life history of patients, is it possible to grasp the many complex dimensions this illness has. Psychologists who rely solely on questionnaires will often miss the underlying factors (childhood abuse, maladaptive perfectionism, overactivity etc.) that help explain why a person got ill. According to Van Houdenhove this is the main reason why the effectiveness of CBT in ME/CFS has been so disappointing.[45] He has argued that herapists should expand their scope:

"[…] when the patient’s story is left out of the therapeutic project, the risk of nonresponse or relapse might be substantial as soon as he or she is confronted with unresolved intrapsychic conflicts or ongoing psychosocial (e.g. interpersonal) problems. This surely does not imply that all CFS patients should engage in formal psychodynamic or interpersonal therapy. It does, however, suggest that cognitive – behavioural therapists should— besides their traditional focus on illness maintaining and reinforcing factors— broaden their scope to include predisposing and initiating psychosocial factors as well."[45]

Adaptation instead of recovery[edit | edit source]

When analyzing the results of the multidisciplinary center for CFS at the University of Leuven, Van Houdenhove and colleagues found that among all factors of the cognitive-behavioral model, only severity of depression before treatment was significantly associated with post-treatment fatigue.[46] As Van Houdenhove noticed, this wasn’t the only time findings contradicted the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) paradigm:

"[…] in CBT-oriented literature concerned with CFS, different treatment goals can be discerned. Some authors suggest that the therapist should mainly incite patients to diminish their somatic focus and correct inappropriate physical attributions. However, the usefulness of this goal is doubtful since the majority of patients with CFS and the largely overlapping fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) seems to accept a combined psychological/somatic causation of their illness. According to other authors, the therapist should in the first place tackle the patients’ activity avoidance or irregular activity patterns (outburst of activity followed by prolonged periods of rest), and stimulate them to engage in a graded exercise program in order to fight physical deconditioning. However, most CFS patients do not show kinesiophobia and loss of exercise capacity does not seem to play a major role in the pathophysiology of CFS."[47]

Van Houdenhove criticizes his Dutch colleague Gijs Bleijenberg for arguing that full recovery should be the main goal of CBT. Based on years of experience working in ME/CFS clinic, Van Houdenhove does not see this as a realistic objective.[47] Instead he suggests clinicians should recognize the lasting vulnerability of ME/CFS patients. He advises ME/CFS patients that:

"…they should accept their ailment and functional limitations and work through the painful grieving process resulting from the fact that CFS means giving up many important things in life. Second, they should realistically adapt to their effort intolerance by learning to carefully pace activities in order to avoid post-exertional malaise reflecting abnormal immune activation. In many patients, this implies abandoning their previous ‘overactive’ lifestyles, which may be rooted in narcissistic, perfectionistic or counter-dependent tendencies."[47]

Despite these criticisms, Van Houdenhove continues to promote graded exercise therapy (GET) and CBT as an essential part of the treatment of ME/CFS patients.[48]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

By researchers[edit | edit source]

Too much stress?[edit | edit source]

Boudewijn Van Houdenhove's approach to ME/CFS has been questioned by researchers and patient advocates. A recurring criticism is that his emphasis on stress in the etiopathogenesis of ME/CFS is not supported by sufficient evidence. Harvard professor and renowned ME/CFS expert Anthony Komaroff for example commented:

"Van Houdenhove and colleagues would have to concede, however, that many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome do not report unusual stressors in the months before the onset of their illness and do not have evidence of hypothalamic dysfunction. Available data do not support the hypothesis that stress leading to hypothalamic dysfunction explains all cases of chronic fatigue syndrome. It must be more complicated than that."[49]

Neurologist Benjamin Natelson essentially made the same remark:

"While we also occasionally find patients whose history of fatigue precedes their getting a flu-like illness from which they are unable to recover, our own careful approach certainly does find appreciable numbers of patients who were perfectly well until succumbing to a sudden flu-like illness."[11]

Others pointed out that even if stress is a factor in the development of ME/CFS, this doesn’t necessary mean much, since stress plays a role in almost every disease. As the De Meirleir & De Becker wrote:

"It is clear that stress can influence the course of disease adversely as in cancer for example but do we treat stress instead of the biological correlates in cancer patients?"[50]

Not a sound scientific method[edit | edit source]

Another criticism states that Van Houdenhove uses ‘the story of the patient’ and case examples to put forward his own preconceptions about the illness. As Natelson wrote:

"While we as clinicians depend heavily on narration to inform us about the patient and the patient’s illness story, we believe that the evidence-based approach is the only way the medical field can solve the problem of illness cause."[11]

Twisk & Maes wrote about Van Houdenhove and colleagues:

"[…] the authors neglect the fact that there is a considerable gap between their philosophical point of view which they erroneously call evidence-based and numerous scientific papers which show that ME/CFS is a medical disorder with a biological pathophysiology."[51]

Recall and selection bias[edit | edit source]

Natelson also questioned the means by which Van Houdenhove and colleagues profile ME/CFS patients as being perfectionistic, action prone or abused during childhood years:

"Self-reported data are open to substantial recall bias. For example, a number of studies have linked abuse in childhood as reported to have occurred by adults with fibromyalgia( e.g. Walker et al. 1997). However Raphael et al.(2000) have recently shown that rates of widespread pain do not differ in people with documented abuse in childhood compared to nonabused samples."[11]

Gijs Bleijenberg made the argument that Van Houdenhove' method suffers from selection bias: because he is known as a doctor who treats ME/CFS from a psychiatric point of view, he might see more patients with more comorbid psychological problems than are present in the general population. Bleijenberg wrote (Translated from Dutch):

"The percentage of patients with psychopathological problems underlying or related to CFS complaints reported by them – 75% -, is very different from the percentages mentioned in the literature. […] We know from presentations at conferences that other CFS patients end up in the group of Van Houdenhove et al. than for example, in Nijmegen. The average scores in research with questionnaires for psychological or psychopathological problems are considerably higher in his group; they are comparable to scores of psychiatric patients. The scores in our group are comparable to those of other patients who visit the hospital because of physical complaints. If the patients of Van Houdenhove et al. were to be compared to a control group with equal scores for psychological or psychopathological problems, it would almost certainly be concluded that the presence of traumatic childhood experiences is not characteristic for patients with CFS."[52]

Bleijenberg also criticizes Van Houdenhove for using antidepressants in the treatment of ME/CFS, as this is not evidence based.[52]

By patient advocates[edit | edit source]

The biological basis of the disease being neglected[edit | edit source]

Though some[53] have emphasized that Van Houdenhove treated his patients with empathy and compassion, most patient organizations and advocates in Belgium have criticized his approach to ME/CFS. In the 1990s members of patient group ‘Samen Sterk’ wrote that (translated from Dutch):

"Although Professor van Houdenhove is apparently concerned about CFS patients, one increasingly gets the feeling that his interviews in the popular press are an advertising stunt for his field of expertise and the psychosomatic rehabilitation department of the UZ Pellenberg."[25]

In 2002 patient advocate and published researcher Anna Wood decried the fact Van Houdenhove was appointed to lead the ME/CFS reference center at the University of Leuven:

"How unfortunate that professor Boudewijn Van Houdenhove is linked to the K.U. Leuven that he gets publicity rather than someone else.[…] With the gross imbalance of research efforts and money being out into the psychological side of CFS, patients with this disease will have to wait extra-long before there is any progress into understanding the processes, finding the cause and ultimately a cure for their disease."[9]

Even those who welcome a more holistic approach to ME/CFS like Stefan Pasture of the CVS-Society and Marie Helewaut of patient organization Anamkara[54] have criticized Van Houdenhove for treating the disease exclusively from a psychiatric angle. Stefan Pasture for example wrote (translated from Dutch):

"One of the few who can express how CFS patients feel is Prof. Van Houdenhove. But that's precisely why I don't understand why his ME/CFS reference centre pays so little attention to the physical side of the disease. Van Houdenhove does refer to neurobiological dysfunctions in his book, but the reference centre does no attempt to map them out. Of course, acceptance of the disease and learning how to deal with it are crucial. However, this must not result in the biological basis of the disease being neglected."[55]

A narrative of ME/CFS that conflicts with how patients experience it[edit | edit source]

In a notable television debate in 2006, Van Houdenhove was heavily criticized by ME/CFS patient and former singer/radio host Luk Saffloer for constructing a narrative of ME/CFS that conflicts with how most patients experience it.[56]

Medical journalist and patient advocate Marc van Impe noted that Van Houdenhove rarely shows up at international conferences of ME/CFS and that he prefers to philosophize instead of conducting proper research into the disease.[8] Van Impe also criticizes Van Houdenhove for writing in reports for insurance companies that there is no organic basis for the diagnosis of ME/CFS.[8][57]

Van Houdenhove has often been criticized by patients on the online information website ME-Gids.net. One patient, named Marlène, wrote him an open letter stating (translated from Dutch):

"I hope that you will devote your energy […] to treating people with trauma's, fears and so on and leave people like us, who are ill [with a neurological disease much like] MS or Parkinson’s, alone. Stick to your expertise. And if you really want to get involved in ME/CFS, then listen to patients instead of imposing your opinion on them."[7]

More recently, The Wake-Up Call Beweging has criticized Van Houdenhove for downplaying the value of biomedical research into ME/CFS. Gunther De Bock for example wrote (translated from Dutch):

"The articles in which BvH [Boudewijn Van Houdenhove] is involved are always drawn up according to a recurring pattern in which he (1) questions the credibility of biomedical researchers, (2) weakens the scientific value of biomedical findings,(3) portrays the criticism of patients as fanatical and/or negligible, (4) highlights the psychosocial causes of CFS, (5) addresses usefulness of CBT and GET, (6) portrays other treatments as dangerous or a scam, (7) emphasizes that there is no diagnostic marker (8) that only the biopsychosocial model is evidence based (9) and that there is and will not be a pill that cures ME/CFS.”[10]

Controversy[edit | edit source]

Membership of a patient organization as an illness-perpetuating factor[edit | edit source]

Boudewijn Van Houdenhove has responded to criticism by patient advocates. In his book ‘Moe in tijden van stress’ (2001) he wrote that he felt "surprise, pity and vicarious shame" as he read criticism of patients on the internet. In another of his books, ‘Herwin je veerkracht’ (2009) he referred to the website of patient advocate (and published researcher) Frank Twisk with the remark (translated from Dutch) “It is suffice to say that most of them do not bother to read what I write […] They just echo each other's prejudices.” And concerning the protest of some ME/CFS patients against a psychiatric approach to their illness, Van Houdenhove noted (translated from Dutch):

"The stubbornness with which this happens in some patients sometimes prompts us to think that, if the energy wasted in this fight were used to work on rehabilitation, the process of recovery would probably have come a long way."[58]
In a 2008 scientific paper on the treatment of ME/CFS, Van Houdenhove wrote that membership of a patient support group could be regarded as a perpetuating factor of the disease.[59]

Recovery is an undesirable goal[edit | edit source]

Another controversial statement Van Houdenhove has made, is that for ME/CFS patients, full recovery is not only an unrealistic but also an undesirable goal.[26] This has to do with Van Houdenhoves view that the premorbid behavior of ME/CFS patients is an important precipitating factor of the disease (translated from Dutch):

"Elsewhere we have argued that in many CFS/FM patients - before the outbreak of their disease - the balance between their will and ability had become lost. They perpetrated continuous violence against themselves, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This imbalance was a source of chronic, undermining stress. Sooner or later this had to go wrong..."[3]

According to Van Houdenhove some ME/CFS patients were "trapped in a narcissistic urge to perform" while others were "a slave of their perfectionism".[3] This is the reason why there will never be a simple pharmacological cure for ME/CFS. (Translated fom Dutch):

"[…], it seems unlikely that CFS/fibromyalgia can be 'cured' completely by pharmacological therapy. Indeed, as discussed above, the course of the condition often depends heavily on secondary physical and psychosocial factors. For many patients with CFS/fibromyalgia, a return to 'former times' is an entirely undesirable goal, given the factors that contributed to the disease."[60]

Patients should help themselves[edit | edit source]

At Van Houdenhoves clinic, the ME/CFS patient was encouraged to be more self-sufficient. (Translated fom Dutch) "We tell him that he must stop expecting medicine to solve everything, that he must stop doctor-shopping."[61]According to Van Houdenhove, ME/CFS patients “can best be helped by helping themselves.”[25]

ME should not be a condemnation of disability[edit | edit source]

Another controversial intervention by Van Houdenhove occurred at the turning of the millennium when Belgian ME/CFS patients, through lobbying and protests, just about managed to have their disease recognized by the government. At the time, Van Houdenhove published an article, cautioning about these developments.[44] Though he stressed that the ‘illness’ of these patients (by which he means the subjective feeling of being sick) should always be respected by physicians and society, recognition of an official disease and disability is a more complicated matter. He published an opinion piece in the Belgian newspaper, De Standaard, stating:

"Recognition of the authentic feeling of illness and inability of the CFS patient certainly does not have to result in long-term or permanent disability. After all, in many cases the GP can intervene in a timely and adequate manner in order to prevent the patient from falling into a downward spiral."[62]

According to Van Houdenhove "labels such as CFS and ME should be used in a constructive way, not as a condemnation of disability, but as a point of departure for realistic and pragmatic help."[43]

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

  • 1995, Does high 'action-proneness' make people more vulnerable to chronic fatigue syndrome?[36](Abstract)
  • 2001, Premorbid "overactive" lifestyle in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. An etiological factor or proof of good citizenship?[37](Abstract)
  • 2013, Prevalence of DSM-IV Personality Disorders in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Controlled Study[63](Abstract)

Books[edit | edit source]

Letters, blogs and videos[edit | edit source]

Online presence[edit | edit source]

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Website
  • YouTube

Learn more[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "KU Leuven who's who - Boudewijn Van Houdenhove". www.kuleuven.be. Retrieved Sep 14, 2019. 
  2. 2.02.1 "Over CVS: Moe in tijden van stress | gezondheid.be". www.gezondheid.be. Retrieved Sep 14, 2019. 
  3. 3.03.13.23.33.43.5 Van Houdenhove, B. (2005). In wankel evenwicht. Over stress, levensstijl, en welvaartsziekten. Tielt: Lannoo. p 139-140.
  4. Altijd moe. Interview Boudewijn van Houdenhove with P-magazine, May 2012.
  5. "Ziek zonder ziekte". www.boek-durf.be (in Nederlands). Retrieved Sep 14, 2019. 
  6. Van Houdenhove B, Van Den Eede F, Luyten P. Does hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hypofunction in chronic fatigue syndrome reflect a 'crash' in the stress system? Med Hypotheses. 2009 Jun;72(6):701-5. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.11.044. PMID 19237251
  7. 7.07.1 https://www.me-gids.net/module-ME_CVS_docs-viewpub-tid-1-pid-736.html
  8. 8.08.18.2 Van Impe M. (2012 March 16). Een aangekondigde mislukking waarbij we ons moesten neerleggen. Retrieved from: http://www.cvsmeliga.be/home/over-cvs-me/referentiecentra-cognitieve-gedragstherapie/een-aangekondigde-mislukking-waarbij-we-ons-moesten-neerleggen
  9. 9.09.1 Wood A. (2002 May 30). Forum: Chronische vermoeidheid. Campuskrant. Retrieved from: https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/nl/campuskrant/0102/13/forum--chronische-vermoeidheid
  10. 10.010.1 De Bock G. (2018 may 5). Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/Wake-Up-Call-Beweging-action-group-for-MEcfs-fibromyalgia-sufferers-202494729818299/
  11. 11.011.111.211.3 Natelson B. Reply to Dr. Van Houdenhove. Hum Biol. 2003 Jun;75(3): 413. Retrieved from: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/46036
  12. "Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior". www.tandfonline.com. Retrieved Nov 1, 2019. 
  13. Jannes, S. 2010. Psychosomatische hoogvliegers in de Lage Landen. Een historiek van het psychosomatische gedachtegoed. In: Van Houdenhove, B., Luyten P., Vandenberghe, J. (eds). Luisteren naar het lichaam. Het dualisme voorbij. Tielt: Lannoo
  14. 14.014.1 Van Houdenhove B. Moet de pijn weg... of kan men ermee leren omgaan? Bedenkingen bij het concept ‘pijnkliniek’ en de rol van de psychiater in de diagnostiek en de behandeling van chronische pijn. Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 1997;39(10): 802-808.  Retrieved from: http://www.tijdschriftvoorpsychiatrie.nl/assets/articles/articles_649pdf.pdf
  15. Van Houdenhove I. (Sep 30, 2010). Het emeritusexamen: Jan Van Damme, Boudewijn Van Houdenhove en Guido Langouche. Campuskrant. Retrieved from: https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/nl/campuskrant/1011/01/het-emeritusexamen--jan-van-damme--boudewijn-van-houdenhove-en-guido-langouche
  16. Van Houdenhove, B. (1986). "Prevalence and psychodynamic interpretation of premorbid hyperactivity in patients with chronic pain". Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 45 (4): 195–200. doi:10.1159/000287948. ISSN 0033-3190. PMID 3588817. 
  17. Van Houdenhove B, Stans L, Verstraeten D. Is there a link between ‘pain-proneness’ and ‘action-proneness’? Pain 1987; 29: 113–117.
  18. Bruehl, S.; Husfeldt, B.; Lubenow, T. R.; Nath, H.; Ivankovich, A. D. (Sep 1996). "Psychological differences between reflex sympathetic dystrophy and non-RSD chronic pain patients". Pain. 67 (1): 107–114. doi:10.1016/0304-3959(96)81973-7. ISSN 0304-3959. PMID 8895237. 
  19. Van Houdenhove, B.; Vasquez, G. (Sep 1993). "Is there a relationship between reflex sympathetic dystrophy and helplessness? Case reports and a hypothesis". General Hospital Psychiatry. 15 (5): 325–329. ISSN 0163-8343. PMID 8307346. 
  20. "Complex regional pain syndrome - Symptoms and causes". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved Sep 14, 2019. 
  21. 21.021.121.2 Van Houdenhove B, Vasquez G, Onghena P, Stans L, Vandeput C, Vermaut G, Vervaeke G, Igodt P, Vertommen H. (1992). Etiopathogenesis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy: a review and biopsychosocial hypothesis. Clin J Pain. 1992 Dec;8(4):300-6.
  22. Goris. R.J.A. and Van Spaendonck K.P.M. (1991). Conversief of somatisch? Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde; 135 nr.13.
  23. Van Houdenhove B. (October 1991). Conversief of somatisch?
  24. Van Houdenhove B. Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and complex regional pain syndrome type I. Psychosomatics. 2003 Mar-Apr;44(2):173-4. doi:10.1176/appi.psy.44.2.173 PMID 12618538
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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - A type of psychotherapy geared toward modifying alleged unhealthy thinking, behaviors or illness beliefs. One of the treatment arms used in the controversial PACE trial.

Graded exercise therapy (GET) - A gradual increase in exercise or activity, according to a pre-defined plan. Focuses on overcoming the patient's alleged unhelpful illness beliefs that exertion can exacerbate symptoms, rather than on reversing physical deconditioning. Considered controversial, and possibly harmful, in the treatment or management of ME. One of the treatment arms of the controversial PACE trial.

ME/CFS - An acronym that combines myalgic encephalomyelitis with chronic fatigue syndrome. Sometimes they are combined because people have trouble distinguishing one from the other. Sometimes they are combined because people see them as synonyms of each other.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) - A disease often marked by neurological symptoms, but fatigue is sometimes a symptom as well. Some diagnostic criteria distinguish it from chronic fatigue syndrome, while other diagnostic criteria consider it to be a synonym for chronic fatigue syndrome. A defining characteristic of ME is post-exertional malaise (PEM), or post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion (PENE), which is a notable exacerbation of symptoms brought on by small exertions. PEM can last for days or weeks. Symptoms can include cognitive impairments, muscle pain (myalgia), trouble remaining upright (orthostatic intolerance), sleep abnormalities, and gastro-intestinal impairments, among others. An estimated 25% of those suffering from ME are housebound or bedbound. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies ME as a neurological disease.

Cognition - Thought processes, including attention, reasoning, and memory.

Post-exertional malaise (PEM) - A notable exacerbation of symptoms brought on by small physical or cognitive exertions. PEM can last for days or weeks. Symptoms can include cognitive impairments, muscle pain (myalgia), trouble remaining upright (orthostatic intolerance), sleep abnormalities, and gastro-intestinal impairments, among others.

Bias - Bias in research is "a systematic deviation of an observation from the true clinical state".

Biopsychosocial model (BPS) - A school of thought, usually based in psychology, which claims illness and disease to be the result of the intermingling of biological, psychological and social causes. (Learn more: en.wikipedia.org)

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) - A disease often marked by neurological symptoms, but fatigue is sometimes a symptom as well. Some diagnostic criteria distinguish it from chronic fatigue syndrome, while other diagnostic criteria consider it to be a synonym for chronic fatigue syndrome. A defining characteristic of ME is post-exertional malaise (PEM), or post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion (PENE), which is a notable exacerbation of symptoms brought on by small exertions. PEM can last for days or weeks. Symptoms can include cognitive impairments, muscle pain (myalgia), trouble remaining upright (orthostatic intolerance), sleep abnormalities, and gastro-intestinal impairments, among others. An estimated 25% of those suffering from ME are housebound or bedbound. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies ME as a neurological disease.

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.