[Steere's] "diagnosis", ... without any physical examination, is an inherently political act, not a scientific one.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR by blossoms@tp.net:

``In "Stalking Dr. Steere Over Lyme Disease" (June 17, 2001), David Grann makes little attempt to conceal his bias, referring to Dr. Steere as "the world's foremost expert on the illness." Steere, "based on the science," told patients that they were overdiagnosed and overtreated.

Based on whose science?

Had Grann done his homework, he would have discovered that there is a good deal of science on Dr. Burrascano's side as well. Instead, Grann refuses to acknowledge its validity: "[Dr. Burrascano] said there was evidence" to support his position, as if the existence of this evidence cannot be verified by Grann.

Ultimately, what chronic Lyme sufferers need are well-designed studies that test long-term antibiotics, as opposed to the lone study supporting Steere's position, which was based only on a three-month trial. [By Mark S. Klempner and others, New England Journal of Medicine, 6-12-01]

The study's authors' [Mark S. Klempner and others, New England Journal of Medicine, 6-12-01] definition of three months as "long-term" is proof of their disingenuousness, and their refusal to seriously address "the science" of this debate.

For someone who is supposedly mystified by the politics of disease, Dr. Steere is apparently quite willing to engage in it. His public, psychiatric "diagnosis" of a chronic Lyme patient, without any physical examination, is an inherently political act, not a scientific one.

Without any mental health credentials to speak of, and despite evidence that chronic Lyme infection exists and causes myriad debilitating symptoms, he has encouraged physicians everywhere to dismiss the physical complaints of thousands of patients.

The absurdity of Steere's position was made clear by an anonymous doctor in his camp, who asserted that patients seek a diagnosis of Lyme Disease in order to be told: "This is not depression...This is not your fault."

It is quite obvious to chronic Lyme patients that symptoms such as neuromuscular weakness, impaired vision, cardiac abnormalities, and arthritis are not our fault.

That this is not obvious to those in Steere's camp is truly frightening, especially when one considers that this attitude inevitably informs their medical practices and research designs.

I take no issue with Dr. Steere personally, ... Even if his actions are motivated by genuine concern, he may still be doing serious harm to thousands of chronic Lyme patients by perpetuating an outmoded view of this illness.

How sad that those who claim to champion levelheaded, objective reasoning, resort to shallow rhetoric in order to make their point. According to Grann, chronic Lyme patients and their advocates are "self-taught medical experts" (i.e., scientifically illiterate), violent "stalkers" with no minds of their own; a "growing army" of "hundreds of Polly Murrays" who are "egged on by advocacy groups."

It should go without saying that when one has suffered with misdiagnoses for years, and finally gets well with a treatment regimen that Dr. Steere is working to make inaccessible, anger, and the desire for action, are perfectly rational ... ''

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