Trial By Error: A Reminder about Saturday’s Columbia Protest

By David Tuller, DrPH

In my earlier post about this issue, I accurately credited #MEAction but did not specifically make clear that Saturday’s demonstration has been organized by the movement’s New York arm. I apologize for the oversight.

So here’s an official New York #MEAction announcement about the event. I would be there tomorrow if I weren’t still in London trying to make my own noise.

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ACTIVISTS PROTEST SPEAKER AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CONFERENCE
Human Rights Abuser Per Fink is Not Welcome in New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2018–New York, NY

Activists with NY #MEAction will converge on Columbia University Saturday, October 20that 8:00 a.m. to protest Danish Physician Per Fink’s appearance at the 4thColumbia Psychosomatics Conference and demand that he stop harming children and adults with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). ME is a serious complex neuro-immune disease which affects over one million Americans and approximately sixty thousand in New York. People with the disease suffer from severe and profound exhaustion, neurological, metabolic and immune system dysfunction. Most are left completely disabled and many are completely bedridden. Due to the lack of understanding of this disease, many are prescribed dangerous therapies like graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with harmful results.

Per Fink is speaking at the Columbia University conference and believes that the neuroimmune disease ME is a psychosomatic illness. He teaches that physical ME symptoms are simply psychiatric manifestations, and claims that he can cure 25 percent of patients with CBT and GET. His treatment plan attempts to isolate patients from other doctors or specialists who might actually take the person’s symptoms seriously. Per Fink’s method has destroyed families in Denmark. His approach has led to children being removed from their homes and institutionalized. When a severely-ill ME patient, Karina Hansen, refused Fink’s treatment, he had the government forcibly remove her from her family. He treated her against her will for 3.5 years. Finally, she returned home in a much worsened state. So far, 55 patient complaints about his practices have been sent to the Board of Patient Safety in Denmark.

“Human Rights violations are happening right now by Per Fink. His unscientific approach to healthcare has been responsible for children and adults being harmed. All you have to do is google the name Karina Hansen to read what he is capable of,” said Terri Wilder, a New York ME activist. “We are sending a clear message that Per Fink is not welcome in New York.”

New York State has recognized ME as a biological disease on their Department of Health website. The Department of Health also lists CBT and GET as inappropriate treatments based on the myriad of objective scientific evidence proving these treatments are harmful and ineffective. In 2017, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker sent a letter to over eighty-five thousand physicians in New York urging them to take their patient’s complaints seriously and to make ME a part of their differential diagnosis when evaluating patients with these symptoms.

“Per Fink perpetuates the debunked and demoralizing falsehood that ME is psychosomatic rather than a serious biological disease. This has ramifications, including inappropriate treatments and inadequate funding for research. I’m proud to stand with those who suffer from ME, and the advocates and doctors who work on their behalf against this cruel and dangerous practitioner,” stated New York State Senator Brad Hoylman.

The protest is organized by New York #MEAction. New York #MEAction is a network of people with and affected by ME fighting for health equality. www.meaction.net.

Press Contact: Terri Wilder terri@meaction.net 404-502-4710

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Sandra 19 October 2018, 6:20 pm

    Wishing all those taking part in this protest well. I am joining you in spirit. You are in my thoughts and prayers for a successful event. Thank you for standing up for all of us.

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