Skull manipulation takes a lot of ‘training’
Cranial osteopathy is based on the notion that the bones of the skull can be manipulated. Even doctors have been taken in by this nonsense. The following account is by a registered medical practitioner, Dr Putative (not his real name).
The craniosacral movement is a rhythmical expansion of the skull and meninges around the cerebrospinal fluid. “It is a very subtle small amplitude excursion which is palpable with careful trained hands.” (So there, all you Skeptics: if-like me-you can’t feel it, you lack training.)
“The bones of the skull open and close rather like a flower opening to the sun.”
“It must be emphasised the movement is very subtle and can only be felt after considerable practice.”
The article goes on to claim that cranial osteopathy can successfully treat colic, a blocked nose, Bell’s palsy, and facial asymmetry in infants. I wish it could cure terminal gullibility! When doctors involve themselves with such nonsense, it always reminds me of HL Mencken’s criticism of an American gynecologist who believed in the literal truth of the story about Jonah in the belly of the whale. I can’t remember the exact words but it goes something like this: “How is it possible for the human brain to be divided into two halves? One capable of brilliant thought and the other complete balderdash!”
This quote could also apply to Dr John E Mack. (In 2004 he died after being hit by a car.) He collected a group of fantasy-prone individuals whom he gradually came to believe had been abducted by aliens. Harvard was furious; some of his colleagues started a movement, Knife the Mack, but Mack became very wealthy from his book about these patients. He basically argued that because psychiatry can’t explain such matters the accounts must be true. Wrong. It is well known that certain fantasy-prone individuals experience vivid dreams (hypnagogic) at certain stages of sleep.
This absurd nonsense has now become part of mainstream pharmacy. Commercial pressures and PHARMAC, the government drug buying agency, have squeezed profits and many pharmacies stock a wide range of unproven and ridiculous pro-ducts. One local pharmacy has a range of such items which is larger than the OTC section.
Another local pharmacy advertised it was going to have an in-store iridologist for the day. The iridologist was described as having a Bachelor Degree in Health Science. (BHSc) It is little wonder that universities continue to oppose the granting of such degrees by various polytechnic institutions.
Chinese Frauds and Dangerous Products
The Chinese are already recognised as an international threat in regard to traffic in endangered species (eg tigers and bears) as well as promoting ‘traditional products’ which are adulterated with Western drugs such as steroids and Viagra.
A Chinese-made toothpaste (Excel) was withdrawn from sale in New Zealand when it was found to contain diethylene glycol, normally found as antifreeze in the radiator of your vehicle. Hmmm, could be useful when brushing your teeth in Antarctica.
It appears that Chinese doctors can be as venal and corrupt as their herbal industry. Reporters posing as patients produced urine samples which were actually green tea. The diagnosis made was urinary infection and the prescribed treatment cost $40. One reporter re-submitted the same sample and received the same diagnosis. At least the quacks were consistent. These frauds are to be expected in a poor country where doctors are underpaid.
Some NZ Doctors perpetrate similar frauds by using ‘black box’ devices and other unproven treatments. These frauds are not to be expected in a country where doctors are both well paid and well educated!
Dominion Post 24 March
BMJ 9 June 2007 Volume 334 p1183
The Culture of Complaint
In his book, From Paralysis to Fatigue, Edward Shorter predicted that the next era of medicine would revolve around psychosomatic medicine. This also encompasses a culture of complaint which sees a whining populace avoiding responsibility for their own actions by finding someone else to blame for their misfortune.
There is a new vaccine (Gardasil) against human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is the main risk factor for cervical cancer in women. Following vaccination at a school, about 25 girls presented to the sick bay with headache, nausea and dizziness. The media had a field day while more sensible people correctly diagnosed ‘mass sociogenic illness’ which is a polite way of saying ‘mass hysteria’. There is an excellent account online at www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20070528-Schoolgirls-have-mass-sociogenic-illness-but-Neil-Mitchell-needs-the-smelling-salts.html
There is a huge and fascinating published literature on mass hysteria. A constant feature is the rejection of this label by people involved in the incident. People do not like to accept that they have been victims of their own panic. It’s much better to believe in a mysterious vapour or poison. My favorite mass hysteria story concerned a kitchen which was evacuated due to a bad smell causing symptomatic illness. It was traced to a rotten onion in a cupboard!
In the case of the Gardasil story, the media beat-up wiped $A1 billion off the market value of the drug company.
Marlborough Express 26 April
Some time ago I roamed the internet looking for evidence supporting the efficacy of physiotherapy. I was interested in its scientific basis. I looked in vain. There are a few trials which showed certain practices were either useless or even dangerous.
I recently received a report from a specialist which included the following gem:
“I do not think that there is any specific medical contraindication to his undergoing whatever rigorous physiotherapy programme is planned for him, although by the same token I am not all that enthusiastic about physiotherapy in these situations: my opinion is that physiotherapy simply helps to pass the time and I cannot really understand what good it is meant to be doing. However…that..opinion does not sit comfortably with the ACC’s and patient’s enthusiasm for having their bodies tweaked and pummeled at great expense in the name of ‘rehabilitation’.”
The phrase “great expense” is important. There are so many treatment providers with their snouts in the ACC trough that treatment costs have become excessive. These treatment providers have developed a beneficiary mentality and whenever ACC attempts to control or restrict treatment practices there are indignant protests.
ACC reforms mean that patients can go to a treatment provider and register a claim and have treatment. If they need time off work this can only be provided by a doctor. The ‘gate keeper’ function of the doctor has been lost. I heard of two recent examples of how people can be harmed by this practice.
An osteopath gave a maximal number of treatments to a patient who was eventually diagnosed as having a complete rupture of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. Osteopathic treatment is completely useless for this injury. In fact there is no published evidence showing that it works for any injury.
In the other case a 15-year-old child was treated by a physiotherapist for some time for a sore leg and was eventually diagnosed with bone cancer.