Article Review:
Environmental Illness & Multiple Chemical Sensitivities - Invisible Disabilities
By Pamela Reed Gibson
From Journal of Women & Therapy
AEHA Quarterly, Summer 1994

Dr. Gibson, Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at James Madison University, talks about just how hard it is to be part of a population of people with hidden disabilities.  She describes sometimes dramatic lifestyle changes patients may need to make in order to survive.  “Women who suffer effects this serious must make lifestyle accommodations that rob them of social, economic, and personal opportunities.”

The paper stresses just how important it is for the health professional and particularly the mental health professional to “have a basic knowledge of this illness, and be aware that not all psychological symptoms are psychologically caused.”  A list of over two dozen secondary consequences of coping with this debilitating illness highlights many of the poignant realities of those afflicted with MCS.  These include:

· Loss of health, job, mobility, lifestyle and friends;
· Physical and mental isolation;
· Lack of choice about what emotions to show in public because of the unpredictability of reactions triggered without warning;
· Lack of privacy about health and health problems;
· Loss of choice regarding lifestyle choices;
· All resources are taken up with coping with the illness; and 
· The process of acceptance of illness is interrupted by periods of feeling good during which the person begins as much as possible to push the illness out of consciousness.  “The next exposure is thus a devastating experience as the person was hoping that the disease, which had not reared its head for awhile, was gone.”