Thursday, November 17, 2005

Second Opinion Saved My Life

Tuesday's show featured two miracle cure stories.

A woman with frozen shoulder used Myopractic to effect a cure. She chose this particular form of voodoo after "researching" on the internet. Myopractic is apparently good because it "involves the whole body" and "takes a holistic approach". It is also a form of "manipulation". But aren't they all?

There appears to be nothing to distinguish this from other forms of massage, both legitimate and illegitimate (apart from the language of magic happening). The practitioner found a "distinctive difference" from one side of the patient's body to the other. This sort of thing amazes patients, who don't seem to understand that just about everybody has such an asymmetry.

The practitioner explained that Myopractic involved a "series of cross fibre moves" which "allows muscles to release" and "balances vital organs" as a fortuitous side effect (see, SCAMs do have side effects, but they're always beneficial, because SCAMS are Nice and Holistic and would never be Nasty and Evil). Sounds suspiciously like Bowen Therapy, which claims exactly the same methods and madness. I wonder if they'll sue? Oh, hang on, look at the browser title bar at the Australian College of Myopractic, and whose meta tags include CONTENT="MYOPRACTIC The Bowen Approach" and CONTENT="Bowen, Bowen therapy, Bowen School, Bowen College.

While we were told that only 2 to 3 treatments were needed to effect the miracle (at least EoR was pleased they weren't being SCAMmed continuously) there followed the usual disclaimer: ongoing "maintenance" required. Of course. Must keep that cash flow going. At $A60 to $A70, one of the cheaper SCAMs.

The patient claimed she was cured, even though the movements she was making seemed to be the same ones she was making at the beginning of the segment when she was explaining her injury. She also reinjured her shoulder carrying shopping, and now uses a shopping trolley. But didn't the Myopractic give her back the ability to do all things muscular?

Secondly, we had a woman with severe epilepsy who was on large amounts of medication (Pills! Evil! Side effects!).

Initially, she turned to aromatherapy (this postulates that smells can effect marvellous things - for example, when the practitioner smells the cash, they become happy). Yet again, a madness selected after internet "research". For $A55 to $A180 she was massaged with scented oils (actually, only one scent, since she needed to be "triggered" to that particular scent). This apparently produced "behavioural conditioning". Is anyone concerned that the witch doctors are practicing psychology? Now, the patient only needs to spray the scent on her wrist (but it can only be used when having a seizure - there was no explanation why it shouldn't be used at any other time. Were there dangerous side effects? Surely not...). This allowed her to reduce her medication slightly (but would this have happened anyway - epilepsy medication is constantly being monitored and adjusted?).

The tame GP (who is supposed to provide the conventional Big Pharma point of view but who always seems to be the metaphorical equivalent of a slap in the face with a wet cabbage leaf) said she didn't think "conventional medical theory totally agrees". Nonetheless "aromatherapy can have a positive effect". It turns out the tame GP is also the patient's GP, and recommended the aromatherapy.

Still not satisfied, more research produced Donna Andrews, a California clinical psychologist whose "theory" (if EoR's rather small mind understood its convolutions correctly) is that, because epileptic fits produce electrical storms in certain areas of the brain, not thinking thoughts that stimulate that particular area can stop the fits. EoR wasn't aware that thoughts could be controlled, or traced in the brain, to that level of detail and management. And EoR thought people being pretend psychologists, like the aromatherapist, were bad. Like all California gurus, this one was as optimistic as the next self-help (she left the patient with a workbook) revivalist pumped-up inspirational speaker: "Do you think you're going to take control? I'm EXCITED for you! It's WONDERFUL!" (No wonder: her airfares to Australia were paid for her either by the patient's sister, or someone equally desperate in the same state that Second Opinion is made in. Apparently, she also cures 86% of epilepsy cases. Completely. Why hasn't she got a Nobel prize?). After this particular treatment, the patient's mother claimed to be able to bring the patient out of an epileptic fit by talking to her and rubbing her hand. $A75 to $A175.

The tame GP thought what improvements occurred were due to reductions in the patient's anxiety levels. EoR tends towards this theory. A couple of posters to the guestbook seemed to be slightly less than satisfied, claiming aromatherapy can bring on seizures (no! side effects from natural nice holistic gentle non-invasive woo? surely not!) and stating "Epilepsy is no longer the realm of snakeoil salesmen". Sadly, this last statement is patently untrue. Everything cures epilepsy: hormonal therapy, neurotherapy, osteopathy, homeopathy, herbs, phytotherapy, acupuncture, ayurveda, meditation, craniosacral therapy, cognitive restructuring, ketogenic diet, art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, exercise, yoga, aromatherapy, magnetic stimulation, autogenic training, and chiropracty.

EoR was also disappointed that Aleisha didn't roadtest a lunacy this week. Maybe she was ill.

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