Richard G. Petty, MD

Sir Richard Branson’s Integrated Health

Sir Richard Branson is a hugely popular British entrepreneur and adventurer who has been able to keep the common touch and does not seem to be as ruthless as some other self-made billionaires.

For more than three decades Richard has also shown that he has a remarkably good nose for identifying important and/or lucrative new trends. Like all people, he has made the occasional bad call, but his overall success rate is astonishing.

So I was extremely interested to see that Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has launched a foray into the British National Health Service (NHS) primary healthcare market and they are trying to persuade family doctors to join them in establishing a network of branded clinics.

It is particularly interesting that British government ministers are welcoming Virgin Healthcare’s decision to open the first of six “one-stop-shop” health centers later this year. The plan is to offer services from homeopathy to psychotherapy alongside typical primary care services.

This project has been two years in the planning and the group has just started its first advertising campaign to generate interest among family doctors who could join its health centers.

The business model allows family physicians to retain their existing contracts but Virgin would manage funds the doctors receive for staff costs and rental. Virgin would then offer a range of additional NHS and private services to visiting patients, including dentistry, screening, a pharmacy “and a range of conventional and complementary therapies.”

The British government has identified the importance of providing more and better primary care services and has £250m a year earmarked for the new services and Virgin wants to be a provider.

What is different is that Virgin Healthcare is proposing to work with primary care physicians to help develop more integrated, accessible and personalized services for patients and that they are quite prepared to consider providing less conventional therapies for which there is patient demand and/or empirical evidence.

That last piece – including less orthodox therapies – will inevitably put the cat amongst the pigeons, but Richard Branson and his advisers have correctly identified that there are some good reasons for including some of these therapies, even if the research base is not yet as good as we would like.

A New Lie Detector?

I am sure that this is a story that is going to be picked up and re-worked by those excellent writers over at Law and Order.

An academic at the University of Sheffield has used groundbreaking technology to investigate the potential innocence of a woman convicted of poisoning a child in her care.

Professor Sean Spence, who is a pioneer in the use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to detect lies, carried out the experiments on the woman who, despite protesting her innocence, was sentenced to four years in prison. His results have now been published for the first time in the journal European Psychiatry.

Sean examined the woman’s brain activity as she alternately confirmed her account of events and that of her accusers. The tests demonstrated that when she agreed with her accusers´ account of events she activated extensive regions of her frontal lobes and also took significantly longer to respond: these findings have previously been found to be consistent with false or untrue statements.

Although the technology has previously been claimed to be 90% accurate, which is far superior to “lie detector” – polygraph – tests, its use has also been open to debate. Lie detection tests are already used regularly in parts of the United States justice system, as well as by businesses. But as far as I know, these are the first brain scanning tests of their kind, carried out on a real-life case, reported in the world literature.

Professor Spence said:

“This research provides a fresh opportunity for the British legal system as it has the potential to reduce the number of miscarriages of justice. However, it is important to note that, at the moment, this research doesn’t prove that this woman is innocent. Instead, what it clearly demonstrates is that her brain responds as if she were innocent.”

“If proved to be accurate, and these findings replicated, this technology could be used alongside other factors to address questions of guilt versus innocence.”

Blondes Make Us Dumb??

No, this isn’t just a cheap excuse to display a picture of Pamela Anderson.

I just received this from a regular reader:

“Dear Dr Petty,

Have you seen this article Times Online?

“WHEN men meet fair-haired women they really do have a “blonde moment”. Scientists have found that their mental performance drops, apparently because they believe they are dealing with someone less intelligent.

Researchers discovered what might be called the “bimbo delusion” by studying men’s ability to complete general knowledge tests after exposure to different women. The academics found that men’s scores fell after they were shown pictures of blondes.

Further analysis convinced the team that, rather than simply being distracted by the flaxen hair, those who performed poorly had been unconsciously driven by social stereotypes to “think blonde”.

“This proves that people confronted with stereotypes generally behave in line with them,” said Thierry Meyer, joint author of the study and professor of social psychology at the University of Paris X-Nanterre. “In this case blondes have the potential to make people act in a dumber way, because they mimic the unconscious stereotype of the dumb blonde.”

Do you have any comment to make about the research??”

The answer is that I have seen this article all over the Internet, with all kinds of sage comments.

The trouble is that I have not yet been able to read and critique the research. As far as I know, neither the hard copy nor electronic versions are available yet, so I cannot evaluate the report.

This highlights one of the problems of the Internet: news travels across it like the wind, yet a lot of material is passed on without analysis. So the story is fun to read, but until we can see and analyze the data, we cannot comment.

As soon as I get a copy I shall see if I have anything to add to the firestorm of commentary!

Career Contentment Radio

Later today I have the privilege of speaking to Jeff Garton and Cathy Yin on Career Contentment Radio, which is broadcast by Business Voice America.

We are going to be talking about one of my favorite topics: Building Resilience.

This program goes out live at Noon Pacific, which is 3PM Eastern, and is rebroadcast at Midnight Pacific time. It will then be available on demand and podcast ready.

I have already sent out e-card invitations with the links to people on my list. If you did not get one, please let me know.

Later today I shall also be posting a report on “Building Resilience” on my main website with more free resources for you to use.

The Mile High Club

Your humble reporter just saw this on the BBC website:

“Airline bans A380 mile-high club

Singapore Airlines has taken the unusual step of publicly asking passengers on its new Airbus A380 plane not to engage in any sexual activities.

The potential problem has arisen because the first class area of its giant super-jumbo contains 12 private suites complete with double beds.

Singapore, which is the first airline to start flying the A380, said the suites were not soundproofed.

It said it did not want anyone to offend other travelers or crew.

Singapore added that while the suites were private, they were also not completely sealed.

“All we ask of customers, wherever they are on our aircraft, is to observe standards that don’t cause offense to other customers and crew,” the airline said in a statement.”

Does this mean that Singapore Airlines is going to do something with Virgin?

Richard Branson: Care to comment????!

Sri Chinmoy Has Moved On

I just heard that Sri Chinmoy has died, or as many would say, entered Maha Samadhi.

I was never one of his followers, but I was impressed by some of the things that he achieved in his efforts to ground spirituality in the “external” world.

He was born Chinmoy Kumar Ghose in a small village named Shakpura in what is now Bangladesh. At the age of 12, after the death of his parents, entered the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community near Pondicherry in South India.

He spent the next 20 years there engaged in spiritual practices, including meditation, writing poetry, essays and spiritual songs.

He moved to New York City in 1964 to work as a clerk at the Indian Consulate, and to teach Western spiritual seekers.

He used some unorthodox methods: he spread his philosophy through his own way of life, exercising and creating art and music. He drew attention by breaking weight lifting records and stunts like power-lifting pickup trucks and public figures like Muhammad Ali and Sting.

He claimed to sleep for only 90 minutes a day and when he was not traveling to perform in concerts and spread his message, spent the rest of the time meditating, playing music, exercising and making art.

Sri Chinmoy drew upon Hindu principles to advocate a spiritual path to God through love and devotion, prayer and meditation. But he was one of the first to publicize the idea that meditation does not necessarily mean sitting quietly. Instead he recommended that his disciples develop their spirituality by transcending seemingly impossible physical challenges.

At one time or other he was the guru of many people including Carl Lewis, Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Roberta Flack and Clarence Clemons.

As with so many teachers, there were plenty of allegations of impropriety, but I have never seen any credible evidence to support them.

Many years ago he wrote his own epitaph:
“Before the final curtain goes down
On my life,
I shall say to my Mother-Earth,
“My gratitude-heart is all for you, 
All for you.”

Here are some of my favorite poems and quotations that he wrote over the years. I do hope that you find some of them as helpful, enlightening and inspirational as I have.

“You hate someone whom you really wish to love, but whom you cannot love. Perhaps he himself prevents you. That is a disguised form of love.”

“Do not try to approach God with your thinking mind. It may only stimulate your intellectual ideas, activities, and beliefs. Try to approach God with your crying heart. It will awaken your soulful, spiritual consciousness.”

“If we know the divine art of concentration, if we know the divine art of meditation, if we know the divine art of contemplation, easily and consciously we can unite the inner world and the outer world.”

“By hating that person, you have lost something very sweet in yourself.”

“Be universal in your love. You will see the universe to be the picture of your own being.”

“If we call ourselves children of God, then others are also children of God.”

“Love is the only wealth that man absolutely needs.
Love is the only wealth that God precisely is.”

“You can only hate someone whom you have the capacity to love, because if you are really indifferent, you cannot even get up the enough energy to hate him.”

“Whether you accept or reject it, God’s Love for you is permanent.”

“Let us not worry
About the future.
Let us only do the right thing
At this moment,
Here and now.
Let the future take care of itself.”

“There comes a time in the seeker’s life when he discovers that he is at once the lover and the beloved.”

“Listen to the inner light;
It will guide you.
Listen to the inner Peace;
It will feed you.
Listen to the inner Love;
It will transform you,
It will divinize you,
It will immortalize you.”

“Love is not a thing to understand.
Love is not a thing to feel.
Love is not a thing to give and receive.
Love is a thing only to become
And eternally be.

“I shall love the whole world,
But I shall control
Only myself.

“The aspiring soul which he embodies is the lover in him. And the transcendental Self which he reveals from within is his Beloved.”

“Complete and total perfection will come about only when we feel that our perfection is no perfections as long as the rest of humanity remains imperfect.”

“He who loves, never grows old. God it a shining example.”

“The very nature of kindness
Is to spread.
If you are kind to others,
Today they will be kind to you,
And tomorrow to somebody else.”

“When we have
A childlike state of mind,
It becomes extremely easy to find God
Here, there and everywhere.”

“Of all the medicines
In the inner life,
A smile is by far
The best medicine.”

“Meditation is the only way to overcome fear. There is no other way. Why does meditation help us overcome fear? In meditation we identify ourselves with the vast, with the Absolute. When we are afraid of someone or something, it is because we do not feel that particular person or thing is a part of us. When we have established conscious oneness with the Absolute, with the Infinite Vast, then everything there is part of us. And how can we be afraid of ourselves?”

“For a genuine seeker,
The inner world
Is infinitely more real
Than the outer world.”

“My Lord does not want to know what I have done for Him. He just wants to know how I am. If he hears from me that I am happy, then he himself becomes exceedingly happy. In unmistakable terms He tells me that my happiness is His real and only Satisfaction.”

“Today I must dive deep within
And know what I come
To this earth-stage for.”

“Smile, smile, smile
At your mind
As often as possible.
Your smiling will considerably reduce
Your mind’s tearing tension.”

“Your self-transcendence-goal
Is not something
That you have to achieve.
It was already given to you long ago
By your Beloved Supreme.
You have only to believe it.
You have only to receive it.”

“You follow
Your heart’s love.
Your life’s happiness
Will follow you.”

“God’s foremost treasure on earth
Is my ever-blossoming

“Yes, I can!
I certainly can!
I can have
A gratitude-flower-heart
That shall remain open
At all hours.”

“If you give God your heart’s
Dearest treasure, surrender,
Then God will grant you
His Vision’s Dearest treasure, peace.

“Instead of telling the world
What it is supposed to do,
Why don’t you immediately do it yourself ?
In this way, I assure you,
Your happiness will be surprisingly multiplied.”

“Once you have established
Your inner contact
With your inner Pilot,
Your life’s transformation-victory
Will not remain a far cry.”

“O kindle the fire of happiness!
Therein I shall see
The door of friendliness,
The room of greatness
And the palace of goodness.
I shall see, I shall see.”

“If your Lord Supreme requests you to do something, rest assured he has already given you the capacity – even more than necessary – long before you actually need it.”

“If you are already an awakened soul,
Then you must realize
That God has already given you
A supreme task to perform:
He wants you to work
For His Vision’s world-blossoms.”

“My service to humanity
Is my real opportunity
To prove my genuine love
For God and God alone.”

Rules his inner world.
Rules his outer world.
Happiness has become
His real name.”

“Of all the gifts
You have offered to God,
Your happiness-gift
He treasures most.”

“If you want to remain always happy,
Always perfect and always fulfilled,
Then always keep inside your heart
A pocketful of sweet dreams.”

“To my extreme happiness,
My Lord has come to tell me
That from now on
I must stand apart from my actions,
Divine and undivine.
He alone is the Doer;
I am a mere observer.”

“Be in love with your heart-life.
There, only there,
Is the flood of happiness.”

“God loves only one philosophy,
And that is the Do-it-here-now philosophy.”

“Every morning and evening I am
Determined to sing and dance
On the highest peak
Of my sun-flooded

“At last
He is healed of his self-doubt.
Now what is happening ?
He is awakening
To his souls ecstasy-sun.”

“Every second a seeker can start over,
For his life’s mistakes
Are initial drafts
And not the final version.

“We must see that God operates not only in us but in others as well. God also operates in our so-called enemies. But these are not our real enemies. Our real enemies are doubt, fear, anxiety and worry. When we do not cry to perfect others, but only try to perfect our own lives, then we will have joy.”

“A sincere seeker knows what his goal is: the highest Truth. He will not delay his journey. In the spiritual life we aspire for the highest Truth, for God, and for nothing else.”

“Precious and spacious
The aspiring heart has to remain

“I am not even six feet tall. Yet I am praying to the Absolute Supreme to reach His infinite Height, which is far beyond even my imagination’s flight. For me to long to grow into that Height — is this not a miracle?”

“I am mortal. My thoughts, my deeds, my experiences — everything that I have and everything that I am — represent mortality. Yet despite everything that I have and everything that I am, I am longing for Immortality. Is this not a miracle?”

“There is only one immediate question:
Where is God?
The immediate answer is:
God is where
My heart’s love-breath is.”

“Ingratitude is as old
As man himself.
Gratitude is a child
Of yesterday.”

“The supreme secrets of a peaceful life:
Expect not; just give.
Delegate not; just start and continue.
Retire not; just aspire for

“In the spiritual life the easiest way to conquer ego is to offer gratitude to God for five minutes daily. If you cannot offer gratitude for five minutes, then utter it for one minute. Offer your gratitude to God. Then you will feel that inside you a sweet, fragrant and beautiful flower is growing. That is the flower of humility.”

“In our spiritual life very often we get fascinating experiences and then we don’t want to aspire anymore. It is true that experiences can give us encouragement, but very often when we get too many experiences we enter into the vital world. Suppose you are walking along a street toward your goal. If you see beautiful trees, ponds and flowers alongside the street, what happens? The scenery is so beautiful that you take a rest. You say, “Let me stay here and enjoy this,” and then you stop and enjoy it. But your destination remains a far cry.”

“The problem with fault-finding
Is that he who finds fault with others
Is in no way a happy person
Even after he has successfully
Accomplished his task.”

“True inner joy is self-created
It does not rely on any outer circumstances
A river is flowing in and through you carrying the message of joy.
This divine joy is the sole purpose of life.”

“Meditation is not an escape. Meditation is the acceptance of life in its totality, with a view to transforming it for the highest manifestation of the divine Truth here on earth.”

“When we meditate soulfully, devotedly, we have to accept humanity as our very own. We have to know that humanity as it stands is far, far, from perfection, but we are also members of humanity. We have to take it with us. If we are in a position to inspire others, if we are one step ahead, naturally we have the opportunity to serve the divinity in the ones who are following us. We have to transform the face of the world on the strength of our dedication to the divinity in humanity.”

“God-realization, or Siddhi means Self-discovery in the highest sense of the term. One consciously realizes his oneness with God. As long as the seeker remains in ignorance, he will feel that God is somebody else who has infinite Power, while he, the seeker, is the feeblest person on earth. But the moment he realizes God, he comes to know that he and God are absolutely one in both the inner and the outer life. God-realization means one’s identification with one’s absolute highest Self.”

“What we call our joy, God calls our perfection. Each human being has come into the world with the message of perfection. Each human being will one day realize the highest Truth. Each human being is destined to be fulfilled. It is the birthright of our soul.”

“Not one
But twenty-four self-giving-hours
Every day I have
For my use.”

“At the end of all the roads
There is only a sound-life
That does everything,
And a silence-life
That becomes everything.”

“True spirituality is the acceptance of earth-life. A true seeker is he who accepts life, transforms life and perfects life so that the earth-life can become a conscious instrument of God.”

“When I was an animal I evolved through selfishness.
Now that I am a man my evolution can be achieved only through self-sacrifice.”

“How can one know who his spiritual teacher is?…His heart looks at the spiritual Masters and makes the choice. When the heart sees a spiritual Master, if it is overwhelmed with joy, then there is every probability that that spiritual Master is the right one for the seeker.”

“The joy of a self-giving life
Can neither be measured
Nor be expounded.”

“God is not a thing to be achieved, but a thing to be.”

“You may not know,
But it is absolutely true:
With each heartbeat
Your heart is calling: “God, God!”
You may not hear it,
But God Himself definitely hears
Your heart’s cry.”

“The moment we use the term ‘help’, a kind of egocentric idea enters into us. If we help someone, that means we are in a superior position. When we help, we feel that we are one step ahead or one step higher than the ones that we are helping. But if we serve someone, then we offer our capacity with humility, on the strength of our loving concern and oneness. So let us use the proper term, ‘service’.”

“A moment of
self-giving life
can conquer the sorrows
of many long years.”

“Forgive, you will have happiness.
Forget, you will have satisfaction.
Forgive and forget,
You will have everlasting peace
Within and without.”

“Imagination plays a most significant role in the spiritual life. Suppose you are not having good meditations, but six months ago you had a very good, powerful, high meditation. What you can do is try to imagine that powerful meditation. Then your imagination will become reality. After fifteen minutes or half an hour, you will get a good meditation. Vivekananda was such a great spiritual figure, yet sometimes for six months at a time he did not have a good meditation. What did he do? He used to imagine a time when he did have a good meditation, and inside his imagination was aspiration. So imagination is very good.”

“Our goal is not to have
A problem-free life.
But to conquer all the problems
As they appear
Along our life-road.”

“Let us serve the world soulfully. The pay we will receive for our service will be in the currency of gratitude, God’s gratitude, God the only gratitude.”

“Each human being can at once be a fighter and forgiver. When self-doubt tortures him, he must play the role of a fighter. And when his own ignorance humiliates him, he must play the role of a forgiver.”

“A spiritual man should be a normal man, a sound man. God Himself is normal; He is not insane. In order to reach God, a spiritual person has to be divinely practical in his day-to-day activities. Spirituality does not negate the outer life. But we have to know that the outer life does not mean the animal life. The outer life should be the manifestation of the divine life within us.”

“Either by silencing the mind or by opening the heart, today’s man can become tomorrow’s God, tomorrow’s Divinity. And embodied Divinity soon becomes revealed Immortality.”

“If we believe in our own
Then there can be
No unreachable goal.”

“Love of the limited self, the very limited self, is another name for human love. Love of the entire world is another name for divine love.”

“Silence tells the seeker in us to love, to love himself. It tells us it is wrong to hate ourselves because of our imperfections. When the seeker loves himself, loves the Divine within himself, he eventually realizes the Ultimate Truth.”

“Inner silence is not just the absence of thoughts. No! Silence is the blossoming of our indomitable inner will. Silence is our inner wisdom-light. “

“The way to become happy
Is to think
And to feel
That the very best is yet to come.”

Is not falling down.
Is desiring to live
Where I have fallen.”

“There is no greater miracle
Than our conscious efforts
To become good human beings.”

“Meditation is man’s self-awakening and God’s Self-Offering.
When man’s self-awakening and God’s Self-Offering meet together
man becomes immortal in the inner world
and God becomes fulfilled in the outer world.”

“You have no idea
How much you do for mankind
When you love God unconditionally
Even for a fleeting moment.”

“My soul reminds me
Again and again
That I am not the doer.
I am only a witness-

“Allow everything else to vanish
Save and except your cherished dreams,
For your cherished dreams
Are treasured sleeplessly
By God Himself.”

Should be taken
As a world-prayer
On a daily basis.”

“Just start your inner race without waiting to see
Who else is ready to run with you.
When others see you have reached your goal,
They will also be inspired to run.”

“Keep an open heart
To allow the world
Lovingly and faithfully
To come in.”

“Although it is extremely difficult
We must realize
That we came into the world
Not to destroy but to illumine
Our enemies.”

“Human love wants to possess and be possessed by the world. Divine love wants to establish its inseparable oneness with the world and then it wants to divinely enjoy this oneness. Supreme Love transforms human love into divine love and blesses divine love with boundless joy and divine pride.”

“Each devoted moment
Prepares a beautiful sunrise
And a fruitful sunset.”

“A genius is he
Who ends rules and regulations.
A genius is he
Who is nothing but a powerful drop
In the ocean of cosmic life-energy.”

“When you consciously use time
To do something Divine,
You enter into timeless Time.

When you are consciously thinking
Of something divine, eternal Life come
And shakes hands with you.”

“The heart of every human being
Can leave behind a legacy
Of world-illumining compassion.”

“To inspire others
Is to be immediately rich
In the inner world.”

“What is joy? It is a bird That we all want to catch. It is the same bird That we all love to see flying.”

“When you talk and God listens, it is Prayer. When you listen and God talks, it is Meditation.”

“The moment you want to make progress is the moment you become an eternal beginner. The dawn is the beginning of a new day: it symbolizes hope, illumination and perfection. Every day the dawn begins its journey in the infinite sun. If you can feel that your whole being – your body, vitality, mind and soul – represents the ever-blossoming dawn, then you will always remain an eternal beginner.”

“Do not allow yourself
To be rued by dark doubts.
Make friends with bright hopes
At every moment
To change your own world
And the world around you.”

“Peace will come when we replace the love of power with the power of love.”

“God hears
The soulful prayers of a seeker
Not only with great readiness
But also with immediate

“In tomorrow’s world
Many things will enlighten humanity.
But the thing that will enlighten
Humanity’s inner and outer life most
Is the transcendental temple
Of universal silence.”

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Joins the Open Access Revolution

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has agreed to support Springer’s Open Choice program. What that means is that if articles are accepted for publication after a process of rigorous peer-review, they will immediately be published with full open access and deposited in repositories such as PubMed Central, at a flat-rate fee per article of $3,000. Springer’s Open Choice program applies to all its journals.

HHMI has a strong commitment to ensuring public access to original research articles. Beginning with papers submitted for publication after January 1, 2008, HHMI will require its scientists to publish their original research articles in journals that allow the articles and supplementary materials to be made freely accessible in a public repository within six months of publication.

HHMI is the largest private funder of biomedical research in the United States and commits more than $500 million a year for research and distributes $80 million in grant support for science education.

HHMI investigators already publish a significant number of research articles in open access journals or in journals with open access options. Under the new policy, HHMI will pay up to $2,000 in open access charges per article with the balance coming from laboratory budgets or other sources.

It is wonderful that one of the largest and most prestigious research institutes in the world, is actively supporting open-access publishing and backing up their words with significant funding

Taking Action on Food Additives and Hyperactivity

Regular readers will remember my recent article concerning food additives and hyperactivity in children.

I have just read that he British Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been accused by campaigners of “chickening out” of banning additives linked to hyperactivity in children even though they funded the research that was published in the Lancet.

After the research was published, the FSA issued updated advice that eliminating the artificial colorings from the diet might have some beneficial effects in hyperactive children.

But critics said it did not go far enough and several environmental and children’s campaign groups, including the National Union of Teachers, called on the watchdog to extend that advice to all children since the additives posed a threat to psychological health.

The FSA responded by saying that the evidence was not strong enough to justify a ban and it would wait for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to make a decision on use of additives in food.

EFSA says that it is considering the research as a matter of urgency and will be making an initial response within the next month.

We shall see what they have to say.

These were the main additives incriminated in the Lancet study:
Sunset yellow (E110) – Coloring found in some drinks
Carmoisine (E122) – Red coloring in jelly
Tartrazine (E102) – New coloring in some frozen and carbonated drinks
Ponceau 4R (E124) – Red coloring
Sodium benzoate (E211) – Preservative
Quinoline yellow (E104) – Food coloring
Allura red AC (E129) – Orange / red food dye

New Treatment Options: Knowing What to Use

One of the main reasons that I created this blog is that I want to empower you: I want to give to give you the information that you need to care for yourself and the people around you.

One of the problems with many new treatments is that they promise the earth, sometimes drag people away from things that may help them and then fail to deliver.

This is something that I struggled with in the field of holistic medicine for thirty years. I constantly hear and see fantastic claims that cannot be right and are often based on a complete misunderstanding of how the body functions. On the other hand there are some highly unorthodox methods and techniques that can be amazingly helpful. My job has been to find out which is which!

But it is not only in the field of unorthodox medicine. I have recently heard about something very questionable in the field of psychotherapy. Somebody has invented a new form of therapy that cuts across and ignores decades of research. He is now offering certifications in his method. So long as you have a very basic healthcare qualification, you pay him a few hundred dollars, do an online training and then you can set up shop as a therapist. Many members of the public do not know how little regulation there is for some of these therapies.

Here are some guidelines for checking out a new therapy or remedy:

1. Efficacy
Be suspicious of any treatment or therapist if they:

  • Claim that a treatment works for everyone: I have yet to find ANY treatment that works for everyone
  • Only use case histories or testimonials as proof. The plural of anecdote id not evidence. If we see or hear about something that looks promising, it is essential to confirm the reports with systematic, independent controlled research. Be aware that if that has not been done, the person selling you the treatment or the therapist claiming to help is essentially experimenting on you. And if they want to experiment they need your consent and the approval of an Institutional Review Board. And don’t buy into the “my work is so brilliant and cutting edge that nobody will publish it in a journal.” It is hard to publish really new work, but we cannot believe what people are saying until it has been subjected to peer review: other experts go through the work with a fine toothcomb to see if it is right.
  • Cite only one study as proof. Hundreds of promising studies have turned out to be dead ends when someone else tried to repeat it. You can be a lot more confident if several studies have shown the same thing.
  • Cites a study that did not have a control (comparison) group. That is always a first step in evaluating a new treatment.
  • Cite a study that you cannot see yourself. We spend a lot of time checking some of the claims made on infomercials and websites. They often talk about some obscure study in a hard-to-find journal written in a foreign language. We go and find the papers and if necessary translate them. We constantly find that the studies quoted contain results that are 180 degrees away from what they claim.
  • Only reference themselves. This recently came to light with a form of therapy that comes with a short book. There was not one scientific citation, but loads of self-references, so it looked as if there was something credible behind it.
  • Testing a treatment without a control group is a necessary first step in investigating a new treatment, but subsequent studies with appropriate control groups are needed to clearly establish the effectiveness of the intervention.

2. Safety?
Be wary if:

  • A therapist or someone promoting a remedy cannot tell you the exact consequences of not following up with some other treatment. Safety is not only about the safety of a product or a therapy: it is also about the risks of declining a proven treatment
  • A therapist tells you stop any other treatment that you are on without discussing the risks of stopping it, and without discussing the situation with any previous therapist. It does not matter whether you were on a medication or having acupuncture. Different treatments interact, and stopping and starting can be risky. If a therapist who does not prescribe medications tells you stop them, be very, very careful. There are precise ways to discontinue most treatments
  • A remedy comes without precise directions about how to use it
  • Something does not list its contents or ingredients
  • A product has no information or warnings about side effects
  • If a product or therapeutic approach is described as natural, with the implication that natural means safe. Hurricanes, arsenic and deadly nightshade are all natural!

3. Promotion
Be very cautious if a therapy or treatment:

  • Claims to be based on a secret formula or a secret that has been deliberately hidden from you
  • Claims that the particular treatment or therapy is being suppressed or unfairly attacked by the medical or therapeutic communities
  • Claims to work immediately and permanently for everyone
  • Is described as an “Amazing breakthrough” or a “Miracle.”
  • Claims to be a cure for something that other experts believe is incurable. They could be right, but then we have to go back to the first point about efficacy
  • Is only promoted through infomercials, self-promoting books, online or by mail order

4. Evaluating Media Reports

  • When evaluating reports of health care options, consider the following questions:
  • What is the source of the information? Good sources of information include medical schools, government agencies (such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health), professional medical associations, and national disorder/disease-specific organizations. Information from studies in reputable, peer-reviewed medical journals is more credible than popular media reports.
  • Who is the authority? The affiliations and relevant credentials of “experts” should be provided, though initials behind a name do not always mean that the person is an authority. Reputable medical journals now require researchers to reveal possible conflicts of interest, such as when a researcher conducting a study also owns a company marketing the treatment being studied or has any other potential conflict of interest.
  • Who funded the research? It may be important to also know who funded a particular research project.
  • Is the finding preliminary or confirmed? Unfortunately, a preliminary finding is often reported in the media as a “breakthrough” result. An “interesting preliminary finding” is a more realistic appraisal of what often appears in headlines as an “exciting new breakthrough.” You should track results over time and seek out the original source, such as a professional scientific publication, to get a fuller understanding of the research findings

5. What Are the Financial Implications of This New Therapy or Remedy?

  • Is the treatment covered by health insurance?
  • What out-of-pocket financial obligation will you or your family have?
  • How long will this out-of-pocket financial obligation be?
  • Is there any kind of guarantee?

Tips for Finding Reliable Information Online
The good news is that the Internet is becoming an excellent source of medical information. The bad news is that with its low cost and global entry, the Web is also home to a great deal of unreliable health information.
In addition to the tips cited earlier, Web surfing really needs some special considerations:
Know the source. The domain name tells you the source of information on the Web site, and the last part of the domain name tells you about the source. For example:
.edu = university/educational
.biz/.com = company/commercial
.org = non-profit organization
.gov = government agency

The same rules do not always apply if you are looking at websites in other countries.
Obtain a “second opinion” regarding information on the Web. Pick a key phrase or name and run it through a search engine to find other discussions of the topic or talk to your health care professional.

Experts who spend time and trouble evaluating reports and then publish their findings online will often answer questions. is one that does, and there are many others.

Albert Ellis, R.I.P.

I just heard that Albert Ellis has passed away at the age of 93.

I think that most people who have ever done a psychology course will have heard of him. He was always controversial and upset a lot of people, particularly in regard to some of his early comments about religion and human sexuality, but he also made some important contributions to psychologyadn , was not afraid of changing is position if he thought tht he was wrong.

In 1955 he developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and he was considered by many to be the grandfather of cognitive-behavioral therapies.

In 1982 a professional survey of U.S. and Canadian
psychologists, declared that he was one of the most influential psychotherapists in history (Carl Rogers placed first in the survey; Sigmund Freud placed third). Ellis founded and was the president and president emeritus of the New York City-based Albert Ellis Institute. His 90th birthday party was attended by Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.

Here are a few of his quotations that I found in my library and database.

“Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human.”

“As a result of my philosophy, I wasn’t even upset about Hitler. I was willing to go to war to knock him off, but I didn’t hate him. I hated what he was doing.”

“By not caring too much about what people think, I’m able to think for myself and propagate ideas which are very often unpopular. And I succeed.”

“Cognitive behavior therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy are much more popular with the public than they ever were.”

“For that again, is what all manner of religion essentially is: childish dependency.”

“Freud had a gene for inefficiency, and I think I have a gene for efficiency.”

“From the start, I always included philosophic techniques as well as experiential, emotional and behavioral techniques.”

“I eventually gave up being an analyst. You had to be too passive and not speak up.”

“I get people to truly accept themselves unconditionally, whether or not their therapist or anyone loves them.”

“I had a great many sex and love cases where people were absolutely devastated when somebody with whom they were compulsively in love didn’t love them back. They were killing themselves with anxiety and depression. “

“I had used eclectic therapy and behavior therapy on myself at the age of 19 to get over my fear of public speaking and of approaching young women in public.”

“I hope to die in the saddle seat.”

“I just had a client this week who came to me after 10 years of Freudian therapy. He’s in love with his analyst, and she is sort of in love with him.”

“I regret that I’ve been so busy with clinical work that I haven’t been able to spend much time on experiments and outcome studies.”

“I started to call myself a rational therapist in 1955; later I used the term rational emotive. Now I call myself a rational emotive behavior therapist.”

“I think it’s unfair, but they have the right as fallible, screwed-up humans to be unfair; that’s the human condition.”

“I think the future of psychotherapy and psychology is in the school system. We need to teach every child how to rarely seriously disturb himself or herself and how to overcome disturbance when it occurs.”

“I thought foolishly that Freudian psychoanalysis was deeper and more intensive than other, more directive forms of therapy, so I was trained in it and practiced it.”

“I would have liked having children to some degree, but frankly I haven’t got the time to take the kids to the goddamn ballgame.”

“I wrote several articles criticizing psychoanalysis, but the analysts weren’t listening to my objections. So I finally quit after practicing it for six years.”

“I’ll be 87 tomorrow. When I’m in New York, I see as many 70 or more clients per week.”

“I’m very happy. I like my work and the various aspects of it-going around the world, teaching the gospel according to St. Albert.”

“I’ve lived in sin with the executive director of our institute for 35 years. I was married twice briefly before that.”

“If I had been a member of the academic establishment, I could have done other experiments.”

“If something is irrational, that means it won’t work. It’s usually unrealistic.”

“In the old days we used to get more referrals, because people had insurance that paid for therapy. Now they belong to HMOs, and we can only be affiliated with a few HMOs.”

“Let’s suppose somebody abused you sexually. You still had a choice, though not a good one, about what to tell yourself about the abuse.”

“Many psychoanalysts refused to let me speak at their meetings. They were exceptionally vigorous because I had previously been an analyst and they were very angry at my flying the coop.”

“Most people would have given up when faced with all the criticism I’ve received over the years.”

“People could rationally decide that prolonged relationships take up too much time and effort and that they’d much rather do other kinds of things. But most people are afraid of rejection.”

“People don’t just get upset. They contribute to their upsetness.”

“People got insights into what was bothering them, but they hardly did a damn thing to change.”

“People have motives and thoughts of which they are unaware.”

“Rational beliefs bring us closer to getting good results in the real world.”

“Self-esteem is the greatest sickness known to man or woman because it’s conditional.”

“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.”

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

“The psychotics, naturally, don’t think straight. Severe personality disorders take much longer to treat than people who are neurotic.”

“There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.”

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that men are more rational than women. Both sexes seem to be equally irrational.”

“We teach people that they upset themselves. We can’t change the past, so we change how people are thinking, feeling and behaving today.”

“We teach people to be flexible, scientific and logical in their thinking and therefore to be less prone to brainwashing by the therapist.”

“We’re a nonprofit organization, and it usually costs $100 an hour for individual therapy. Participating in a group costs $120 a month.”

“You largely constructed your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore, you can deconstruct it.”

“I just got fed up. I was ready to blow up. This country is about enforcing our laws and if we don’t, we’ll have chaos worse than we already do.”

“The more sinful and guilty a person tends to feel, the less chance there is that he will be a happy, healthy, or law-abiding citizen. He will become a compulsive wrong-doer.”

“Tolerance is anathema to devout divinity-centered religionists."

“Anyway, devout religionists are frequently attracted to and bound to their piety largely because it presumably offers them holier-than-thouness and one-up-man-ship over non-religionists."

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