I first finished reading “The Polio Paradox” in 2002 and have always held it in high esteem. Since finishing the book a lot has changed in my life. I have trained as a hypnotherapist and used my training to help myself move from being a mobility Scooter user to being runner. I have come a long way with my M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome but there are also parts I have yet to make progress on.
After a very useful discussion about helping other ME sufferers in the 25% ME Group I found my Hypnotherapist ideas had, in the eyes of others, put me into a camp I have never associated myself with. IE one that believes ME/CFS is all in the head.
From the first time I was diagnosed by Dr Elizabeth Dowsett in 1994 I have always found her theory of M.E./C.F.S. to be quite believable and have never seen any reason to change that view.
The reason I loved this book was it backed up Dr Dowsett’s views with a different illness and lots of research.
I am currently studying the countries first degree in Clinical Hypnosis and part of this degree will require me to be more critical of research. I am not at that point in the course but I am becoming more aware of the body and am able to be more critical of psuedo-facts. In fact I believe less and less in pure fact as everything has so many perfectives. EG it could be correct to draw a tyre as a rectangle or a square.
Given my new perspective on life and ME/CFS I chose to read this book again and I am very glad I did.
It wasn’t until I was half way through the book I read my first review again. I was struck instantly by the fact that again I was wanting to discuss this book almost chapter by chapter with my partner (who is now my wife). Also I noticed my recommendation to read the ME/CFS chapter first. Since I was struggling for context so I therefore proceeded to do this. This was a great help and enhanced my understandings for the rest of the book.
Another thing I noticed was that I now loved the section I originally hated on the “Biology” of the illness. This was very useful to me.
The book is written in a very easy to read style. From an acedemic point of view I would have preferred numbered references for each point in a chapter but each chapter does at least list the references chapter by chapter so when I am wanting to looking into ME/CFS in greater detail I will have a wealth of references.
I must say I particularly liked the subsection headings. Quite often their seemed to be a certain amount of playfulness and fun in them.
The chapter I found less essential this time was the one on “The Pest House” which quoted a lot the awful things Polio patients were subjected too. I think it is quite educational so I would leave it in the book but at times I felt subjective quotes from individuals didn’t necessarily provide good science.
The chapter do provide some clues as to why Polio survivors tend to be more highly educated than the general population. This is something mirrored in ME groups hence when I first become ill the term “Yuppie flu” was still being used. The virus causing the problem didn’t pick on particular social groups. It is just that suffers became ill and people often felt they were faking tiredness etc. In order to prove they were not and that they were “normal”, the sufferers often worked harder and despite difficulty with “brain fog” and general fatigue they proved they could still pass exams and become “normal”.
This has led Dr Bruno to observer that a far great proportion of sufferers are of “Type A” personality IE hard-driving, time-conscious, driven, self-denying, perfectionist, overachieving nature.
As I mentioned this time around I was far my interested in the biology of what was happening. I was interested that Enterovirus’s can enter Neurons and damage them. That if only 40% of Neurons are left Paralysis of a limb can occur for a time but then the existing Neurons link to parts of the dead Neurons’s structures and cause recovery. The difficulty is that years later as these overworked Neurons age and are mis-used they start to fail again and then Paralysis and weakness become a problem again.
This has disturbed my sense of recovery. So has reading about the problems that I am still facing and the explanation for them. My running has currently taken a set back as I have a knee problem. At present I am having to consider if I have moved myself forward so far I am doing myself damage or whether the book is just playing with my head. As a Hypnotherapist wanting to help ME/CFS sufferers I need to get a balance on helping themselves gain the most from their lives while not encouraging them to do damage to themselves in the long term.
I am pretty disappointed that the government bodies looking into ME/CFS still don’t seem to accept a Viral Model for ME/CFS. A recent PACE study has compared Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Graduated Exercise Therapy, adaptive pacing therapy (APT). CBT and GET were found most effective but many ME/CFS sufferers have had little improvement and even some bad effects from them.
I have discovered with my own efforts that elements of these work. I have also discovered roadblocks in recovery for which I have now been given a road map. EG My Brain fog could be caused by the brain having damaged Neurons which reduce the amount of Brain-activating Hormone ACTH released. I have not had this thought to play with before so now I can focus on suitable images to see if I can get my brain to increase it production of ACTH. If Dr Bruno is wrong about this it won’t really matter because I now have an idea of a positive image where as before I just couldn’t remember what it felt like to have a lively brain.
This book is plausible and should be considered when looking for ways to help ME/CFS sufferers.
I recommend all ME/CFS sufferers or their close partners/families read the book. It doesn’t provide the miracle cure but it does provide a way of maximising the body you have. The book recommends ensuring you get enough protein early in the day. I haven’t managed this yet but it is something to look at.

The more educated you are on the subject  the more you can educate your GP and specialist and hopefully progress research into important areas that don’t just affect CFS/ME sufferers but possibly sufferers of other illness too.