Groucho Marx

Blog Archive – November 2005

Click here for translations

Henry Ford Hospital by Frida Kahlo (detail)

Henry Ford Hospital
by Frida Kahlo (detail)

" Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. "
Martin Luther King Jr

November 28 2005

Death by medicine

Somehow seemed appropriate to top off this month's cheery theme with this comprehensively referenced piece of research on US medical statistics by Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD.

Their introduction states:

"Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins are dangerous, yet ignore published statistics showing that government-sanctioned medicine is the real hazard.

[...]

"A group of researchers meticulously reviewed the statistical evidence and their findings are absolutely shocking. These researchers have authored a paper titled “Death by Medicine” that presents compelling evidence that today’s system frequently causes more harm than good.

"This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year.

"The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. (By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2001 was 699,697, while the number of deaths attributable to cancer was 553,251.)

"We placed this article on our website to memorialize the failure of the American medical system. By exposing these gruesome statistics in painstaking detail, we provide a basis for competent and compassionate medical professionals to recognize the inadequacies of today’s system and at least attempt to institute meaningful reforms."

It's depressing reading, but can any consumer of conventional healthcare or concerned health professional afford not to?

November 28 2005 | | | Permalink

Hugg Digg del.icio.us Furl Reddit StumbleUpon Facebook Yahoo top



Inventing the AIDS Virus by Peter Duesberg

" Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. "
Winston Churchill

Peter Duesberg

Peter Duesberg

" I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would be such as oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives. "
Leo Tolstoy

November 08 2005

Study AIDS

While writing November 5th's entry about the current 'avian flu' scare I got a strong sense of deja vu. The scenario seemed all too familiar – widespread panic in the face of potential annihilation, and all arising from the spectre of a disease based on the most flimsy and tenuous of scientific rationales.

We've been here before.

The rationale employed to explain the logic of HIV ‘infection’ runs counter to all other instances of viral infection. The usual reasoning says that an asymptomatic individual who tests positive for a viral antibody is regarded as having met, successfully overcome, and consequently acquired some degree of immunity to that infection. However, in the case of AIDS, the presence of HIV antibody (which is what an HIV test determines) in an asymptomatic individual is interpreted as meaning that the person who tests positive has active infection which they are highly likely to die from at some unspecified future date 5-12 years or more hence.

Viral infections are, by and large, associated with acute manifestations of disease – ie. self-limiting conditions that arise as a direct result of infection, have a well-defined characteristic symptom picture and disease progression, and end either in recovery or death. The only infection with proven direct association with the HIV virus is a fairly mild flu-like illness that soon passes off. To connect this virus with the wholesale collapse of the immune system a number of years later, which manifests in a variety of ways (hence ‘syndrome’) with different timing and progression in each individual, seems remarkably tenuous, to say the least. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now defines AIDS as comprising no less than 26 different diseases. All this from one virus?

Supposedly the virus remains active in the body after all the outward symptoms of infection have resolved (something that usually indicates that infection has been successfully dealt with), steadily working away over a period of around 5-12 years chipping away at the ability of the immune system to discriminate between self and other, so that eventually it fails to protect itself against incoming threats. Proposed causative mechanisms such as this theory usually take years of observation, testing, and a lot of work from a large number of people to establish and then confirm, particularly if they run counter to general consensus on viral behaviour. In the spring of 1984, when Robert Gallo announced – with a fair amount of professional publicity behind him – that he had found the cause of AIDS, he hadn’t published a single paper that even claimed to seriously prove that HIV was the cause of AIDS (and he’s now backtracking to say that it can’t be the only cause) and no other researchers had verified his conclusions.

Adequate proof usually requires that the virus be observed in action, doing what it's claimed it does, yet the virus is so hard to detect that its 'presence' can only be confirmed by the existence of the antibody. The absence of a virus and the presence of its antibody is, of course, just the situation you'd expect to find if the infection had been successfully dealt with ...

AIDS was also predicted, on the basis that it was a viral infection, to decimate the western world. This hasn’t happened. In the West it’s predominantly restricted to those whose immune systems are severely compromised by immunosuppressive lifestyle choices, including recreational IV drug use (which extends to the children of IV drug users), haemophiliacs and other transfusion recipients, and those on prolonged anti-viral therapy.

The result of the HIV explanation of AIDS causation was that billions of government research dollars were pumped into the development of an HIV vaccine. This is also illogical. Why give those with HIV antibodies a vaccination to encourage the development of something they already have?! And phenomenally expensive drugs like AZT are being prescribed to people for the rest of their lives who have nothing wrong with them apart from an HIV-positive blood test result.

Respected virologists (notably Peter Duesberg, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a pioneer in the discovery of retroviruses, and Kary Mullis, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) have repeatedly challenged the HIV=AIDS hypothesis. Duesberg actually thinks AZT, along with long-term recreational drug use, may be among the principal ongoing causes of the syndrome in the West.

Thanks to the enormous amount of fear and anxiety generated by the spectre of a latent viral disease just waiting to wipe out most of the western world, US federal funding of AIDS research runs at around $7 billion per annum, which is more than even cancer research gets. Nice work if you can get it.

November 08 2005 | | | Permalink

Hugg Digg del.icio.us Furl Reddit StumbleUpon Facebook Yahoo top



Avian flu

" Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."
James Thurber

" Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality."
G K Chesterton

November 05 2005

Avian hooey?

Someone wrote and asked a question about homeopathic prophylaxis. Not that they mentioned the avian flu scare, but it got me thinking about it, particularly in view of last weekend's timely seminar.

David Nabarro, the newly appointed Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, announced to the world at the end of September that an outbreak of avian influenza could kill between 5 and 150 million people. Despite the WHO's spokesman on influenza immediately responding "There is obvious confusion, and I think that has to be straightened out. I don't think you will hear Dr Nabarro say the same sort of thing again," Nabarro's statement pressed the collective panic button to an extent well surpassing any of the previous Asian/avian flu scares which seem to erupt reliably every year at around the same time, just as the annual flu vaccination programmes get underway.

The US Senate immediately appropriated $4 billion to plough into vaccine research and most western nations, under pressure of public anxiety and demands that something be done to prepare, have been stockpiling antiviral drugs and last years' flu vaccines ever since.

All of this on the basis that a bird virus might jump species and might combine with a human flu virus to make it apparently capable of infecting large numbers of people. So far there is very little concrete or conclusive evidence to suggest either that it can or that it will (see BBC Q&A). This global pandemic exists purely in the realms of the collective imagination, up there along with asteroid strikes and other suitably large potential demonstrations of the power of the universe to make human beings feel uncomfortably powerless and out of control.

Since there is no manifest disease to treat (apart from perhaps the fear of epidemic disease), any attempt at 'prophylactic' treatment is really just feeding the need to do something ... anything! ... no matter how inappropriate, irrational or specious (like vaccinating people against a different virus altogether), to restore some semblance of feeling in control. The pharmaceutical industry must be laughing like drains all the way to the bank. It's certainly not 'avian flu' that needs to be treated here. And neither is it homeopathic remedies that are exploiting the placebo effect ...

(On the subject of vaccination, see Eleanor McBean's 1977 account of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic which she witnessed. Far from attributing the pandemic to 'avian flu' as scientists have so recently and conveniently done, Ms McBean, a naturopathic doctor, comments that as far as she could see it was the massive vaccination program in the wake of WW1 that seemed largely responsible. It appeared that only those who had been vaccinated fell ill, and the symptoms of the 'flu' manifested as a combination of all the diseases that the population had been vaccinated against.)

While the greatest present danger from 'avian flu' is likely to be the drain on bank balances as people accumulate lifetime's supplies of Tamiflu, a very real problem is that such large numbers of people visualising and panicking about a potential pandemic and speaking and writing about it as if it's already a fait accompli has much the same effect as the power of prayer. I would be concerned about that far more than the potential of a virus, left to its own devices, to mutate by chance into something appropriately virulent. Quantum physics teaches us that the fundamental substrate of our reality is the interconnectedness of everything with everything else, which is exactly what the esoteric traditions of the major religions teach too (see the essay Holed in One). Could it be that the worldwide panic may just be giving the virus the impetus to do the very thing that all the panic's about?

November 05 2005 | | | Permalink

Hugg Digg del.icio.us Furl Reddit StumbleUpon Facebook Yahoo top



The Scream - Edvard Munch

" Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination. "
Ernest Hemingway

Massimo Mangialavori

Massimo Mangialavori

" We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic. "
Cullen Hightower

November 01 2005

Massimo Mangialavori – Remedies for Panic & Crisis

Last weekend (October 29-30) I was at a 2-day seminar on remedies for panic and crisis given by Massimo Mangialavori in Edinburgh, the first time he's presented this seminar in English. He's now cutting back on teaching to devote more time to writing, so will not be giving as many seminars in the future.

In keeping with all the cases that Massimo uses in teaching to illustrate the remedies he discusses, the ones he presented here were ones where the patient has responded well to the same remedy prescribed for both acute and chronic complaints over a period of several years. Each of the 3 cases presented during this seminar were so-called 'small' remedies, but Massimo emphasises that in his view there are no 'small' remedies, just remedies that are well known and remedies that are not so well known. He also places a lot of emphasis on understanding remedy pictures in both their compensated and decompensated states, bringing out both the characteristic coping strategies of the remedies as well as the various triggers which have a tendency to break through those strategies to the fundamental state itself.

Panic is a common word that's used fairly indescriminately to describe a wide range of fearful states. Its principal defining characteristics are that it's sudden, unexpected, unpredictable, overwhelming, uncontrollable, irrational and a very physical experience. In Massimo's hands, its definition has far greater precision, allowing it to be distinguished from a phobia, or a state where the fear arises as a consequence of a specific underlying condition. For him, the key characteristic is that it is irrational and apparently unfounded. It's as if the entire system suddenly has to react against a threat that outwardly doesn’t exist, and the person experiencing it will generally have little or no insight into why it happens. This is different from the state of fear arising from a specific trigger, a fear of something, even though panic will engender fear of the fear itself.

The word originates in mythology, in the nature of the god Pan who symbolises the forces of nature as they express themselves in man; the bestial, the uncontrollable, the untamable, the unconscionable. The son of Hermes/Mercury, who personified the trickster achetype (among others), Pan was mischievous. He delighted in making humans lose control and become disorientated. He was strong, but not destructive. He always struck in daytime and always when people were outside of their familiar environment. As a representative of the immensity of the forces of nature, his name as a prefix also means 'all', signifying something immense or all-encompassing – pandemic, panorama, panacea, pandemonium, etc.

This etymology provides the main key to the understanding of the panic states Massimo discussed and presented. At root it is a fear of losing all means of control, of being overcome by the immensity of the forces of nature; specifically as they manifest in and through the body. These forces cannot be grasped by the mind. They are alien to the conception of existence. This is more than a split between self and other – 'other' can be conceptualised, visualised, anthropomorphised, which is what we do to 'aliens' in the movies – truly 'alien' is outside of experience or imagining, hence unpredictable, uncontrollable, disturbing, disorientating, fundamentally and absolutely unknown and unknowable.

The inability to conceptualise – to represent in any form – the nature of the fear, and a strong need to avoid confronting it to be able to maintain a coping strategy, is largely why a psychotherapeutic approach (or one using the mental state to lead a homeopathic prescription) is often unsuccessful. The differentiation between the physical realm as viewed through the biomedical model, which is largely transpersonal (ie. dealing with the common features of human physiology) and the physical realm as viewed through the homeopathic model, which is largely personal (ie. addressing the individual physiology) is key. Massimo referred to the latter as the 'corporeal', as opposed to 'physical'. Conventional approaches to the problem, which don't recognise the existence of the corporeal dimension, tend to focus on the mental and physical realms. These strategies can palliate, but in most instances are unable to cure because panic states are centred in the corporeal realm, and it's at this level that therapeutic intervention is potentially successful.

Panic, as opposed to anxious and phobic states, is more common in immature and dependent personalities (irrespective of age), reflected in remedies such as the sea animals, some tree remedies, Nitricum salts, Carbon salts, Kali salts, Arsenicum and its salts and the Lacs. Support – the requirement for, nature of, and attitude to – is a critical factor and an important means of differentiating between various remedy states.

The cases Massimo presented were of successful cures using the remedies Limulus cyclops (horseshoe crab), Castanea vesca (sweet chestnut) and Fraxinus excelsior/americana (European and American ash). These were very clear and presented in his usual style, read by himself and a member of the audience in the form of a dialogue. This is an efficient way of presenting cases in translation, but it would be a helpful addition to have a video of the patients to show all the aspects of the case that a paper presentation alone can't convey.

Finally Massimo looked at the remedies in the rubric MIND, FEAR, panic attacks, overpowering. In particular he talked about the additions he has made to the rubric, differentiating along the way those remedies where the state of panic is allied to pictures which contrast with the typical panic picture he presented. In the Argentum salts for instance (which, being products of a noble metal, don't have the undeveloped ego of the typical panic subject), the state relates more to a fear of failure. In Melilotus, it is closely tied to a process of depersonalisation, and in the drug remedies to one of de-realisation.

An excellent and inspiring seminar, but as ever one I left wishing that the clarity and fine discrimination so evident in a distillation of cases and themes produced for a seminar were as easy to find in the ambiguities of daily practice!


Homeopathic seminars often seem to feature amusing little synchronicities, and this one was no exception. Within a short time of beginning, the projector linked to Massimo's computer started overheating and flashing up the warning "check air flow". Simultaneously my laptop crashed for the same reason. Appropriate, given the fact that panic can feature flushes of heat, shortness of breath and a sensation of being smothered! After a while and a bit of propping up (= support) to increased the air circulation, the projector and the laptop both settled down. The following day, unpredictably and suddenly, the same thing happened again, with both projector and laptop overheating despite being propped up, and this time with another laptop two rows in front of me crashing for the same reason as well. It's not something that's happened at any of the many seminars I've been to at this venue before, even on warmer days ...

November 01 2005 | | | Permalink

Hugg Digg del.icio.us Furl Reddit StumbleUpon Facebook Yahoo top


smeddum.net – Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard