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J Psychosom Res. 1999 Oct;47(4):385-97.

Personality and social attitudes in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


One hundred one chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients attending a specialist CFS clinic were compared with 45 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients on a range of standardized questionnaire measures, to investigate whether CFS patients are characterized by particular personality traits or social attitudes. No differences were found between CFS and RA patients in measures of perfectionism, attitudes toward mental illness, defensiveness, social desirability, or sensitivity to punishment (a concept related to neuroticism), on either crude or adjusted analyses. Alexithymia scores were greater in the RA patient group (p<0.05). Social adjustment, based on subjective assessment of overall restriction in activities and relationship difficulties, was substantially poorer in the CFS group (p<0.001). This was highly associated with depressive symptoms, but remained significant even after adjusting for depressive symptomatology. There was no evidence from this study of major differences between the personalities of CFS patients and RA patients. The stereotype of CFS sufferers as perfectionists with negative attitudes toward psychiatry was not supported.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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