You may have heard of Judith Acosta. She’s one of the dreaded Huffington Post‘s resident blogwarts and pimps H2Omeopathy on a fairly regular basis. Yes, I know all the articles in HuffPo’s Healthy Living section should be tagged May Contain Nuts, but Acosta has been trying really hard at beefing up her cognitive dissonance. Try this quote:
When I try to explain it to people — despite years of study and personal/professional experience — I wind up sounding like my worst woo-woo nightmare, stumbling over words like “energy,” “resonance” and “organism.”
And yet the alarm bells don’t go off. If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it (that was one of Einstein’s, I believe). If, on the other hand, you’re pretty sure you have a strong grasp of the subject, and you feel embarrassed at explaining it because even you can smell the WTF rising off it, then maybe it really is a festering rash of vaccine-preventable Stupid on the arse of Society.
She actually touts two different currents of fuckwittery on her blog Words are Medicine, by the way. In addition to homeopathy there’s “verbal first aid” (+100 WTF points, achievement unlocked) on the strange basis that one (unreferenced) study is supposed to show that “psychotherapy can change brain chemistry as much as psychotropic medication.” Yeah. Me and the SO are taking that with a dose of salt so large it’ll probably send me into terminal hypernatræmia. I might look at that some other time.
Anyway, today’s special guest wants to share some great tips on that very first time you tremblingly consult a homeopath
I’ve been a psychotherapist for 25 years. I believe it’s an important part of my job to make my clients as comfortable as possible from the first phone contact. Despite all reasonable efforts, though, the first interview seems to still be somewhat awkward and difficult for new patients. Really, it’s very understandable. They don’t know me. They feel vulnerable and unsure because they don’t know exactly what’s expected. They’re sometimes not even fully clear about why they’re there except they know they want to feel better.
Interesting that she admits in as many words that clients… Clients or patients? She employs the words as though they’re interchangeable, yet they’re not. Medical professionals have patients; all other professions have clients. In fact, I’d tend to consider that a psychotherapist (a real one, i.e. a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist) would have patients, whereas a homeopath would have clients. I’m not sure what a social worker, which is what Judith Acosta’s main qualifications are in, should call their paying customers, but it sure as hell isn’t ‘patient’ (“And I’m damn sure in other countries she couldn’t legally call herself a psychotherapist either.” – an irate SO).
Back to the main rant. Whatever a homeopath’s marks should be called to their face, you’ll note that the homeopath is profiting from a state of confusion, liberally laced with ignorance about what homeopathy really is, on the part of the victim. The victim probably isn’t actually ill, just vaguely out of sorts, or maybe has a chronic problem which isn’t life-threatening, but is untreatable, or at least hard to treat, with real medicine (allergies, rheumatism etc). The stage is set, let the embamboozlement commence.
The homeopathic interview may be even more of an unknown for some people. Not only does it start with the same “unknowns” as the social work assessment, but it adds some new ones, like the simple but monumental fact that it turns allopathic or “standard” medical practice on its head. You may have called the homeopath to get rid of that recalcitrant psoriasis, but he or she keeps talking about whether you kick the covers off at night, how you feel about injustice, or whether your sadness is worse in the morning or at night.
So the homeopath confuses them further, and chips away at that tiny feeling of “I should be better” until the bewildered victim ends up believing Doctor Quack has sharper insight than medical doctors because he/she is taking so much more into account. It’s standard procedure for charlatans: tell your victim they’ve got something they didn’t know they had, or that it’s worse than they thought, then promise them the cure. Which will take time. And patience. And money.
I think what burns me up most about these arsebrained fake therapies isn’t just that they operate and self-perpetuate using the same viral infection methods as sects: draw the unwitting in on false pretences, feed them the little lies until they’re so emotionally invested that you can teach them the big lies and be confident they’ll swallow them and teach them in turn to others. It’s that most practitioners are themselves victims, both of indoctrination by their predecessors and their own fantasies of importance.
So how does Acosta go about priming a mark for indoctrination?
Preparing Yourself Philosophically
One of the fortunate aspects of my practice is that I see people more frequently because the primary focus of it is mental health treatment. Even though it also takes physical conditions into account, people almost always call me because they’re sad, anxious, grief-stricken, panicked, or in some way emotionally distressed.
Excuse me for a moment while I pry this axe from the SO’s white-knuckled fists. Being “sad, anxious, grief-stricken, panicked, or in some way emotionally distressed” is not a mental health issue. It’s part of life. Anyone seeing a social worker because they’re distressed in some way is most likely in dire need of a cup of tea, a chat and some useful tips: what help is available for their problem, or how to get in touch with people in a similar situation. Perhaps even help filling in forms or making phone calls for those who can’t do it themselves for any reason (elderly, disabled, poor grasp of the language or paralysed by real depression, for example). Look, what I’m saying is: this is needlessly medicalising normal emotions and therefore dangerous fuckwittery.
Unless a person comes specifically to be treated homeopathically and has already had some experience with the philosophy and practice of classical homeopathy, I usually anticipate spending at least some time in the first or second session on education. I give material for reading, lead them to the National Center for Homeopathy website, and take as much time as he or she needs answering questions.
The NCH is hardly going to give an unbiased view, considering the complete bollocks they wrote about Edzard Ernst in a desperate, coordinated (several homeopathy sites published the same pitiful and mendacious whinge) and obvious attempt to discredit him and Simon Singh.
In my opinion, the best book for the starting patient is Impossible Cure by A. Lansky. It is written in clear, concise prose and doesn’t fall back on “homeospeak” so you can follow her all the way through. And hers is an amazing, personal story of hope.
Lansky? Her Impossible Cure has already been examined here, and pronounced vastly inferior to Andrex. It’s terrifying to a bowel-loosening degree. You may notice that Lansky provides information on homeopathy via email. Fuck alone knows what lies are being repeated via that medium.
OK, let’s debunk some Stupid before I pick up that axe. Note the frequent use of the word “cure”. We are not being circumspect here. The words “treat” or “may relieve”, or even “may be good for” are eschewed in favour of barefaced claims of medical cures. Even in the notoriously lax USA (Acosta lives in New York, apparently) I don’t think you’re allowed to claim homeopathy cures anything without proof.
The principles of classical homeopathy are the following:
Like cures like.
This is the manner of cure. It is also called the Law of Similars and it is the way all proper remedies are chosen.
It’s the way most homeopathic remedies are chosen. Classical homeopathy excludes the “nosode” (yes, there are even purists in bullshit) remedies. However, call me picky: I reckon the use of the phrase “all proper remedies” in this context is… How shall I put this? Misleading.
It means that the practitioner is going to ask you a host of questions intended to draw out information that will help him or her choose the remedy that is most “similar” to your totality of symptoms.
What a homeopath calls symptoms bears little resemblance to anybody else’s. Cancer, for example, is a symptom. As is feeling faint when hearing music (both dredged up from ABC Homeopathy’s monumental webshite).
The simplest example of the Law of Similars is what we do when we get grease on our hands. We clean it with soap (or, if you’re out in the garage, Goop), which is little more than fat. The soap removes the grease because it is grease.
I learned what detergents are in school at around age 13. We made our own soap as an exercise. No, soap is not grease, you uneducated, lazy shitmeister. It’s made from fat, certainly, but it isn’t fat. What was it Sen. Al Franken said to the homophobic moron again?
In a homeopathic case, it may look like this: A little boy suddenly gets a raging fever with a pounding headache, dilated pupils, cheeks so red they could be purple and becomes delirious. The remedy a homeopath would choose (and there would be a couple of contenders) would have to produce those symptoms in a healthy person. By giving the remedy that would generate that particular type of febrile state to a person with it, it is cured.
Cured. No ifs or buts. Cured. That’s not just wrong, it’s potentially criminally wrong.
This is why quinine works curatively for malaria—because when it is given to a healthy person over and over, it creates symptoms similar to malaria. Like cures like.
Doesn’t quinine only produce those symptoms in a healthy person who’s allergic to quinine?
This principle goes back to Hippocrates
Bollocks. It goes back to that late 18th century dimwit Hahnemann, who just made it up as he went along.
This is the road of cure in homeopathy. In simplest terms it refers to the way and the order in which the pathology will be healed. Cure moves from top down, from present to past, and from in to out (from the spiritual-mental-emotional down through the organs from most to least important and finally out to discharge in a benign way, e.g., a runny nose, brief diarrhea, fever, or skin eruption).
What. The. Fuck? Top down? What are you supposed to do, wash your hair with it? From present to past? I’ll believe that when homeopathy can unscramble an egg. As for “from in to out“, that noxious chunk of purulent WTF seems to mean that emotions get flushed out of the body (and how in the name of sweet loving fuck do they establish a hierarchy of importance among the organs?) via the shits or snot.
OH GOD, IF YOU EXIST KILL US ALL NOW. A giant meteorite would be fine. I know you have a plentiful stock out there in the Kuiper belt. Just wallop one over here, no questions asked. It’s probably best for all concerned.
One remedy at a time.
This is the technique of cure and it is an obvious but overlooked wisdom.
Actually, it’s not obvious, deary. I remember my philosophy tutor – whom I loathed – ripping into Marx for continually stating things were self-evident when they patently weren’t. He’d have had a field day with you. I shudder to think what he would have made of the gratuitous use of the word ‘wisdom’, although it is certain he would have been no kinder. When someone starts wittering about ‘wisdom’, especially in the context of unproven/disproven hypotheses like vitalistic healing, you can be 100% sure that what they’re spouting is about as far from wisdom as you can get while still remaining in the same Universe.
There’s some more guff about having to be patient. Well, if all you’re taking for your ailments are sugar pills and distilled water, you do indeed need to be patient while Nature takes the same damn course it would have taken anyway for far less money. Patience is a great virtue in the eyes of homeopaths. The more patient a customer is, the more money they can make out of him or her:
When patients ask me, “Well, how much time,” I have to say, “As long as your organism needs. You’ll tell me how much time.”
So this can go on until the money supply dries up or the penny drops for the mark. Then follow the usual attacks on ‘Western medicine’, merrily sidestepping the fact that homeopathy was invented by a German. In Germany. And has been exported by affluent white whackjobs to countries that really needed genuine healthcare.
Western practitioners often mistake the presenting problem for the only problem they need to cure, not having been trained to see the embedding of one pathology over the other or the inheritance one may have received from one’s ancestors.
Bollocks of the first water. Real doctors are quite capable of dealing with multiple pathologies and genetic predispositions. Having no cogent argument for their favoured mumbo-jumbo, homeopaths and other woomeisters resort to smears, lies and defamation.
These are levels of defense.
Eh? I had to go back to the original text, which I’m pruning a bit so as not to go on all night about fuckwittery I’ve already debollocksed many times, but that sentence really does follow the last quote and, as far as I can see, it is a complete non sequitur.
We know this by what happens in our relationships. First bad joke, we get a giggle and a snort. Second bad joke, we get a “cut it out.” Third bad joke, we get kicked in the shins.
You have some really fucking weird relationships, lady, if they get abusive that quickly. However, for assimilating any form of social interaction to medicine, you get a strike three round the lughole with the WTFometer as well.
It is common knowledge that when an organism is injured, it inflames. It is a mechanism of repair. Homeopaths trace what happens if the injury is not healed (by itself, with proper medicine or the removal of inflammatory agent): the inflammation worsens, leading to induration (hardening). If that is not healed, then the organism resorts to its last defense to save the whole. Thus a cancerous tumor or an ulcer is a result of this process at the genetic level.
There is so much wrong in that claim I reckon the best we can do is don the Hazmat gear and dispose of it as highly toxic waste. It contains more offensive shit than a slurry tank on a pig farm.
In homeopathy there are three basic levels:
Miasms. Only three this time? They should make their fucking minds up how many of the damn things there are. I’m cutting the rest of this section, since it’s all 100% certified weapons-grade Stupid and you can always get a good laugh over at the original site. For those who missed the previous episode: miasms are the homeopathic version of humours, the old theory of disease that was thoroughly discredited when the link was made between bacteria and disease.
Then there’s some spurious maths, presumably to convince the naïve that some science is involved somewhere. Avogadro gets a name-check.
The way I explain it to patients is this: Homeopathy is an energy delivery system, like a musical instrument or a beating heart or a scream of “fire” in an auditorium.
There you are. Naked vitalism. If the mark swallows this, she’s got them by the short and curlies. Once again, the comparisons are inappropriate as fuck. As a musician, I object to the first; as a living person with a basic grasp of anatomy, I sneer at the second; the third… Well, there’d better be a fire in that auditorium, or else the screamer will be severely WTFometered, just as you are being now, Ms Acosta.
So if the remedy is sulphur 30c, there are no molecules of sulphur in it. It acts on the vital force (and this is important!!!) by energetic resonance.
Energetic resonance. I think she means vibration, but that wouldn’t be a sufficiently high-falutin’ term when trying to sound as if you have access to some Secret Wisdom. I should probably shove a ™ on that: some mercenary little tit has probably already trademarked it.
It does not work on our bodies directly the same way that taking an aspirin or steroid does.
Well, no: lactose and water don’t have the same chemical composition as aspirin or steroids
It seems to work more along the lines of quantum physics than Newtonian law. (Poitevin, Bernard (2005). “Jacques Benveniste: a personal tribute”.
QUANTUM PHYSICS! *Drink*
No, you doughball, it doesn’t ‘seem’ to work that way at all, because you don’t understand quantum physics, nor the placebo effect. That’s a pity, because it’s the latter definition you really need and as a qualified social worker it’s something you should understand very well. By the way Benveniste was a tosser who couldn’t design a clinical trial properly and was thoroughly discredited and shamed, which is an excellent reason for binning the consequent ramblings about ‘water memory’, since there’s not a word of sense nor truth in them.
Some fun stuff: Acosta’s particular flavour of mumbo-jumbo forbids coffee. Pausing only briefly to wonder how many caffeine-withdrawal headaches she has sold to the customer as being “getting worse before you get better”, here are some more insane questions on stuff the homeopath “needs to know”:
Interior function (most important):
Creativity, compassion, forgiveness, centeredness, relatedness, empathy, adaptability, consistency in relationships, integrity/honesty, and consistency between intention and behavior.
This may not coincide exactly with interior function. However, I believe and have found that our pathologies normally express themselves poetically or holographically.
Holograph (n.): a document entirely handwritten by its author. What the ever-lovin’…???? I am increasingly of the opinion that this is in fact an exercise in writing word salad.
You may recall the expression, “as above, so below.” It is true for us, as well. So we will ask you about situations that reveal your capacity for appropriate behavior (clothing, responsiveness to social cues), money management, job status, time management, socialization, housing.
I’m pretty certain my idiosyncratic clothes and the size of my flat have nothing to do with my allergic conjunctivitis.
Parents’ medical history, personal medical history, current disease state (psoric, sycotic, syphilitic), diet (especially cravings and aversions), exercise, chronicity (how long the problem has persisted), periodicity (how often it occurs and whether there are specific cycles), and modalities (what makes it better or worse).
Fairly sure my parents’ medical history has nothing to do with my athlete’s foot either. Or mine, really. You either have it, or you don’t. I doubt me Mam’s traumatic anosmia (she fell off a motorbike while not wearing a helmet) is of any consequence except to her.
Rigidity, belief system, presence, judgment, fear.
I can’t even begin to comment on the above, because all that springs to my lips is one gigantic WTF. Would a practising Christian be given a different “remedy” for the same illness, compared to a Hindu or an atheist? Presumably total wimps and outright bastards would require different treatments for flu or cold sores. It’s just magic, carefully disguised to look like medicine until you actually look at it.
There’s no such thing as magic. Sometimes all you can do is be there and hold their hand. It won’t heal anything, but it can make the pain easier to bear. The soothing powers of a Wee Cup of Tea and a Biscuit, accompanied if necessary by practical advice and maybe a helping hand, are seriously underrated.
All Acosta’s sugar pills are useful for is sweetening the tea. Dangerous delusion.