Two Thumbs Way UP for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide
Book Review

Five stars, two thumbs way up, three cheers and heartfelt thanks to Pamela Reed Gibson for reissuing Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, A Survival Guide, Second Edition.

In Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, A Survival Guide, Gibson has created a lifeline, a support system, a medical advisor, a disability advocate and a self-help program all in one package.

Well organized and solidly researched, Gibson covers the basics, including what causes MCS and how to create a safe environment. She includes chapters on emotional survival, including coming to terms with chronic illness and disability, and one called “Share this Chapter with your Therapist”, which highlights the stresses caused by having MCS and how people can work with the emotional issues which are raised by becoming chemically sensitive.

There is also a section on disability issues, including workplace accommodation and how to document an invisible disability in order to gain disability benefits.

“Every chapter is a gem,” says one enthusiastic reader.                     

Gibson’s great strength is her compassionate understanding of the deep and diverse impacts caused by MCS,  and her practical suggestions for finding ways to live with the difficulties created by this illness.

“If the effects of environmental sensitivities could be summed up in three words, those words might be loss, loss and more loss. It is traumatic to lose access to almost everything you have ever wanted, worked for and though you would have,” Gibson writes.

This Second Edition contains much of the information from the original book. The information  remains very relevant.  Two key additions in this volume are information on electrical sensitivity and an appendix summing up the results of 101 treatments tried by 937 research participants. The Treatment Efficacy Study assesses what percentage of respondents were helped and what percentage harmed by each treatment. The study was originally published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2003. This appendix alone is worth the price of the book.

Gibson is a professor of psychology at James Madison University.  MCS, A Survival Guide  draws on research studies she has conducted on the life impacts of environmental sensitivities. Sometimes summing up the experiences of hundreds of people with MCS, and other times through the words of individual MCS survivors, Gibson provides valuable insights. 

“If you can only have one book on MCS, this is the one,” commented one long term MCS survivor. The book is equally useful for the newly diagnosed and for people who have lived with MCS for many years.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, A Survival Guide, Second Edition is self published by Gibson.  The Survival Guide is available through for $19.95 US plus postage.  Also at are links to other material written by Gibson and colleagues.