Thursday, August 25, 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole indeed

I always check out Univ California talks because a lot of them are medically oriented.

But in the last week or two, they are broadcasting a lot of lectures by new age guru Chopra.

Much of it is about mindfulness.

Apparantly yoga and mindfulness can cure everything...

Uh, two problems:

This is being presented as science, but it is actually religion. Not even religion, but magical thinking that you can control disease etc by using these techniques.

Check out the start of this link.

or this one that promotes yoga "

We visit her studio to get an in-depth look at the relationship between her struggle with cancer and her art. We also follow her to the yoga studio with Eddie Stern, Yuko's yoga teacher for almost two decades, who shares his perspective on her illness and recovery, and how yoga practice contributes to
spiritual strength and perseverance.

Define "spiritual strength".

This is not one or two, but at least half a dozen lectures by Chopra. Fine.

But I suspect he will sell a lot of books from those watching these videos, meaning tax dollars at a secular institution is pushing religion as science and promoting an eastern faith, ignoring the wall between religion and state.

My problem: "Mindfullness" essentially is hypnosis. Which means that the entire "mind body" theory is essentially Mesmerism:

The method or power of gaining control over someone's personality or actions, as in hypnosis or suggestion.
now, as a doc, I am well aware of the placebo effect and the power of suggestion, not to mention the power of the mind to help one cope with illness. LINK from the Univ of MD lists lots of stuff but reading through the lines, you see it mainly helps you cope with stress... and none of the articles they list as references are double blind studies or in major journals.

But why is pushing "mindfulness" is "science", but if you push a pilgrimage to Lourdes or sending someone to a faith healer is not?

One of the problems with mindfulness/hypnosis/ deep concentration/relatxation etc. is that different people have different capacities to be hypnotized. It is not "in your mind": It is neurophysiologically wired into you. Want to find if you can be hypnotized? Look up while closing your eye and measure how much white of the eye shows.
LINK... PDF here.

You have a deep ability to use these techniques or be hypnotized if you are creative, emotional, not well organized, can roll your eyes up and show a lot of white below the iris..

 welcome sucker: because you are also prone to be persuaded easily (use my medicine and voila you are cured... and you will swear you are cured, up to the time you die.)

 and about 10 percent are very very easily hypnotized and because they are easy to persuade you can end up with a lot of error (and sometimes they will be persuaded if they think what they say will please you, without being told and even without being hypnotized/relaxed: This is where false memories can be implanted).

If you are a scientific geek, however, furgedaboutit. Think Dawkins, or Sherlock, or the guy running facebook.

And if you have emotional problems, are drunk or high, are schizophrenic, or just plain tired, it might not work too.

so how many of the studies suggesting mind body works for people are biased because they self select from the most vulnerable part of the population? I have no idea.

this NIH paper wonders the same thing.

Conventional medicine relies on methods proved to be safe and effective with carefully designed trials and research. But, many complementary and alternative treatments lack solid research on which to base sound decisions. The dangers and possible benefits of many complementary and alternative treatments remain unproved.

a lot of what is done is symptom relief or stress relief, and basic common sense medical advice all of us give to our overworked worried patients.

But you know what is the most common method used by Americans for stress control? Prayer....

People have used prayer and other spiritual practices for their own and others’ health concerns for thousands of years. Scientific investigation of these practices has begun quite recently, however, to better understand whether they work; if so, how; and for what diseases/conditions and populations. Many Americans are using prayer and other spiritual practices. Prayer is the therapy most commonly used among all the CAM therapies.
Encouraging someone to go to a Bible study, having the local prayer group pray over you, the Sacrament of the sick, Eucharistic adoration, saying the rosary, or arranging for my native American patients to have a ceremony are all ways for people to cope.

And I've recommended them all. That doesn't mean I don't use physical therapy and medicine too.

I doubt yoga will work better than a CABG for your bad heart, although if you go on a strict vegetarian diet and lose 100 pounds along with the yoga it might help. My problem? I have had only one patient in 35 years of practice who managed to do that...

So when a major university is pushing one religious practice as "scientific", well, excuse me.

And religion, which gives you the grace to cope, is not the same as a philosophy that by doing X (mindfullness or yoga) will cure the disease. That is not religion but magical thinking, which is why both Chopra and your local faith healers make me angry.

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