Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New Age, Old Tricks

"I am the ALL-POWERFUL OZ!... Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain..." (The Wizard of Oz)

Out to dinner the other night with friends and the topic of Jin-Shin Jutsu (JSJ), came up. They asked me what I thought.

I am no specialist in JSJ, and hold nothing against it per se.
What I can say is that there are a lot (an awful lot) of people on the fringe of homeopathy and alternative healing fleecing the unsuspecting. Many of them prey on our emotional weaknesses, naivete, gullibility, and insecurity, and cause innocent people to pay exorbitant amounts to get nothing in return (except poverty).

I am a big believer in spirituality, and accept the importance of faith in daily life. Still, these charlatans anger me. The next time some scammer hits you up, please consider the following:

1) What's the Science?
If it is a legitimate healing methodology, what is the science that backs it up? If this cannot be easily and simply explained, hold onto your wallet tightly. Acupuncture is a great example. Although there are some unbelievers, the healing effects of acupuncture and TCM for a variety of ailments are extremely well documented and backed up by modern medical science as well. The body's hydroelectric system can indeed be tuned using the needles, and there can be little doubt as to acupuncture's effectiveness by a skilled practitioner.

2) Touch
I am sorry, but it is very hard for me to accept healing arts that do not even touch the patient.
I guess I watched too much Star Wars as a kid. If they claim to heal you without touching you, head for the door.

3) The Thin Line between Healing and Psychotherapy (and cultism)
Of course the patient's mental state has a lot to do with healing. That said, I do not personally believe meditation or the like on its own can heal bodily injury. Therapies which rely solely on this cause me to want to meditate on how to get my money back. When the line is further blurred by adding some supernatural being (God) into it, I need to exit immediately.

4) Magic Words
I lump chanting and other magic healing words with 3) above. My magic healing word would be "refund".

5) Happy Endings
In my view, any treatment plan for an injury (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) has a beginning and an end, as well as constant feedback along the way. If I broke my arm, for example, I expect the doctor to diagnose (X-RAY or CAT scan), treat (cast and/or sling), assess using periodic visits, and complete (rehab to regain mobility). If my doctor told me to keep coming back once a week for the rest of my life, I would be highly suspect (and might break his arm in return). By this rationale, I find it unacceptable when alternative therapies are presented as open-ended, where you keep going (and paying) forever. If my specialist wants to see me every week for an indefinite period, great, but I am going to stop paying after a fair and reasonable time frame.

Remember, in China, doctors were paid to maintain health, not to treat sickness. We should err on the side of preventative medicine, and be skeptical of long-term therapies. Of course, religions and lifestyles are long-term approaches, but they should be presented as such, NOT as therapies or treatments. There needs to be honesty and transparency between caregiver and patient in order for trust to develop.

My apologies to all the legitimate alternative healers out there. Your reputations are being wrecked by pseudo-babble from those who would seek to exploit the unknowing. Please join the cause to educate people about what the real benefits of real treatment from real therapists can be. Alternative medicines, and pseudo-medicines, should be licensed and regulated. Practitioners should be able to show clear credentials to patients. Treatments should have a logical basis in scientific fact, and have start and end goals.

The charlatans are better left in Oz, where they belong.

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