Stress, Illness and Primary Care in Europe (2)

In the year I was born, James Watson and Thomas Crick were young scientists working at Cambridge University (UK) who often discussed their work over a pint at the centuries-old Eagle pub.  They deduced the double-helix structure of DNA using x-ray images taken by Maurice Wilkins and especially Rosalind Franklin.  (Dr. Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958 and her contribution came to light only after the three men received the Nobel Prize in 1962).  After the discovery, Dr Crick went to the Eagle and announced they had “found the secret of life.”

So it was with a real sense of medical history that I lectured in an auditorium of Corpus Christi College, next door to the Eagle.  The occasion was the launch of SIRPA, the Stress Illness Recovery Practitioners Association.  This organization plans to train licensed clinicians from a variety of disciplines to diagnose and treat Stress Illness.  (I am providing some technical advice on the content of their curriculum).

One of the founders of SIRPA is Georgie Oldfield, a physiotherapist from Yorkshire who taught herself to manage stress illness (much as I did).  The need for her skills is so great that her practice gradually became almost entirely devoted to stress illness patients.  The expectation is that most practitioners trained by SIRPA will experience a similar evolution in their work.

Stress Illness has been the largest blind spot in medicine since the time of Hippocrates in the 4th century BCE.  If SIRPA achieves its goals this will, at long last, begin to change.  It was inspiring to hear the SIRPA presentations.  Afterward,  I almost felt like walking over to the Eagle and announcing “we have found the secret of medically unexplained symptoms.”

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