Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deepak Chopra: I Can't Adequately Convey His Hucksterness

From the Huffington Post:

A recent cover story in a struggling news magazine, under the title "Crazy Talk:" accuses Oprah Winfrey of spreading "dubious advice" in a wide range of health issues from menopause and hormone replacement therapy to autism, cancer, aging, and weight loss. The tone of the article was the same tiresome blend of gotcha journalism and selective fact-reporting that fills tabloid coffers.

The story failed to gain traction for obvious reasons. Oprah has aired innumerable shows on health, of which the controversial ones are a tiny minority. Her intention to improve women's lives on all fronts is so obvious as to be almost above criticism. The credibility for women's well-being and welfare she has earned day after day over the past two decades will not be undone with a story that cherry-picks the guests who can be made easy targets of ridicule by the medical establishment. And the fact that she has celebrity guests who have causes and crusades in the area of health, such as Jenny McCarthy or Suzanne Somers, is not the same as Oprah herself endorsing what they say.

Actually, that's true, but not in the way Chopra intends. Let's play the tape, which Deepak Chopra wouldn't:

On Oprah's show, there is one opinion more equal than others; and by the end of the program there was no doubt where Oprah herself stood on the issue. She told her audience that she found Somers's bestselling books on bioidentical hormones "fascinating" and said "every woman should read" what she has to say. She didn't stop there. Oprah said that although she has never had a hot flash, after reading Somers she decided to go on bioidenticals herself. "After one day on bioidentical estrogen, I felt the veil lift," she wrote in O, The Oprah Magazine. "After three days, the sky was bluer, my brain was no longer fuzzy, my memory was sharper. I was literally singing and had a skip in my step." On the show, Oprah had her own word of warning for the medical establishment: "We have the right to demand a better quality of life for ourselves," she said. "And that's what doctors have got to learn to start respecting."

Clearly there is a mind-body connection to health, but what Oprah - and Chopra (hey, that rhymes! ) are selling is denial of the inevitable. And they don't want to admit that this fattens their bottom line, because desperate people will buy this exrement; they'll lap it up.

As I noted below, my mother is dying. Multiple organ systems are failing at once. Decades of obsessive-compulsive massive over-consumption of vitamins, minerals and other "alternative" methods did nothing to help her.

Let me quote more more piece of his garbage:

We're just scratching the surface here. Yet even if these massive problems didn't exist, the Oprah affair raises the question of sins by omission. It's one thing for official medicine to decry alternative medicine and hurl accusations of quackery, not just at the non-M.D.s who work as health practitioners but at licensed, highly educated and qualified physicians who are creative enough to explore new avenues of treatment. Their own lack of curiosity and creative thinking is disturbing. Does the most brilliant researcher in the world know why cancer sometimes spontaneously disappears? Why a patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression can respond equally well to talk therapy and drugs -- that is, why talk is as effective as chemicals in altering the brain? Or how the body's healing system is influenced by outside forces?

The answer is no. Which means that mysteries remain to be solved, and creative solutions have every chance of arising from unexpected quarters. Scientific medicine is leery of so-called anecdotal evidence, that is, individual stories of disease and cure.

I am a scientist, albeit not a physician, and I DO look at outliers for evidence, just as any other scientist would.

And the we DO have some knowledge of why the placebo effect works: the human body is not in and of itself a "closed system," it's nonlinear, and it's composed of multiple interconnected subsystems.

Is there a spiritual connection to human life that interacts with the physical condition of the body?

It appears to be the case, but it also appears that there is a time to die.

We are born to die, and Deepak Chopra would do anything to distract from this, but as a Buddhist I have to constantly echo Suzuki Shosan's "You will die."

Because it's true, and because that gives anyone enough pause to live their life fully.

"Dr." Chopra's position skirts ethical boundaries that if I were him, I would not cross. The desperate WANT to hear that those nasty scientists are mean and not letting him have a good real alternative medicine treatment. And if he helps those exploit the dying, it's beyond the pale.

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