I'm not Orac, and this isn't Friday. But once again I'll take a crack at taking a poke at some woo.
Of late while passing the pamphlet bin at the Saskatoon Public Library's main branch I noticed what appeared to be pamphlets for some sort of so-called alternate medicine seminar. Picking one up today it turned out to be for something called BodyTalk Access. This is the "lite" version of the more elaborate BodyTalk system as the International BodyTalk Association "has recognized the critical need for a simplied version of the system to provide access to many of the key benefits of BodyTalk to as many people as possible." The cynical part of me figures they've realised a cut price version of this stuff will attract a bigger clientel, and hence a bigger revenue base, than the full blown system. A local practitioner will be offering courses on BodyTalk Access for a mere $140 per person, $125 if you register early.
What is BodyTalk, you ask?
The BodyTalk System is a well-established system of health care utilizing state-of-the-art energy medicine in a safe and comprehensive manner. Its power is based on increasing the levels of internal communication within the body-stimulating the body's own ability to regain and maintain a healthy balance.
If you've had a bit of exposure to altmed stuff this will seem familiar. Energy fields are a popular concept in this kind of thing. The fact that conventional science has found no evidence these energy fields exist doesn't stop woo merchants from using the concept. Vague ideas of the body being out of balance when ill, and in balance when healthy, are quite common. Another is the idea that your brain isn't being used at its full power, something that is supposedly improved by the BodyTalk Access Cortices technique:
The Cortices technique is designed to improve and balance the communication between the two halves of the brain. (It's like hitting the rest button on your brain's computer.) This will improve the efficiency of the brain-thereby improving overall health.
Wow, betcha didn't know your brain had a computer, and one with a reset button no less! This of course is a variation on the old, and inaccurate, saw about humans only using 10% of their brain power, and how much more wonderful we'd all be if we used the other 90%.
A look at the BodyTalk system website turns up more familiar ideas, such as that "Each system, cell and atom is in constant communication with each other at all times." No doubt this was inspired by some of the misreadings of quantum physics all too common these days. The system is a creation of Australian Dr. John Veltheim, an acupuncturist and chiropractor. Veltheim admits on a video on the website that many of the concepts he incorporated into BodyTalk come from previous alternative medicine practices, such as Applied kinesiology.
And how do BodyTalk treatments work? By the practitioner tapping you on the head and breastbone. Yep, after determining what's out of whack they whack you on the noggin. To quote the website:
The BodyTalk system works by first identifying the weak energy circuits that exist within the body. The practitioner relies on the innate wisdom of the body to locate the energy circuits that need repair by using a form of biofeedback, which is a subtle muscle testing technique.
For every malfunctioning energy circuit that is found, the practitioner or client contacts the corresponding "points" with their hands. The practitioner then lightly taps the client on the top of the head, which stimulates the brain centers and causes the brain to re-evaluate the state of the body's health. The result is that the general energy balance of the body is greatly improved.
The practitioner then taps the client on the sternum to "announce" the corrected energy flows to the rest of the body. This is beneficial because the heart is responsible for communicating the state of the body's health to the rest of the body. Stimulating the heart by tapping the sternum forces the heart to store the corrected energy patterns in the body's cellular memory. This means that the body will remember these changes after the treatment.
It's interesting that one of the pluses given for BodyTalk is that it's non-invasive. I agree. At least it's not like some other woo that requires you to ingest questionable compounds or flood your lower intestine with coffee. But I don't agree that one has "nothing to lose and everything to gain" by using BodyTalk, since an "incorrectly" performed BodyTalk proceedure will have no effect. Someone going to a practitioner of such nonsense will lose valuable money, but more importantly could risk their health deteriorating by wasting time getting tapped on the head instead of getting a treatment that actually works.
No diagnosis is given, no medications prescribed, and no invasive techniques imposed upon the patient. The BodyTalk System does not conflict with, or legally contravene, any existing health care system or law.
Nice ass covering there. If a BodyTalk client doesn't go see their doctor as well as their BodyTalk practitioner and gets sicker it's not their fault, since they didn't tell them they shouldn't see a mainstream doctor as well. Conversely you know BodyTalk proponents will claim that someone's illness being healed was primarily the result of BodyTalk if a person does see conventional doctors. It's also interesting that they state in several places that no diagnosis is given, another way of protecting themselves from legal problems if someone becomes sicker after their BodyTalk sessions, or for that matter from treating someone when they don't actually suffer from any illness at all.
It should be hard to imagine that there are people who seriously think that getting tapped on the head and chest is a cure for anything. But it really isn't. We live in a world where large numbers of people think that having someone wave their hands over your chest will change your energy field, or that a vial of liquid with every last bit of active ingredient diluted out of it will cure their affliction. An idea like BodyTalk really isn't a stretch.
Addenda: One oddity on the seminar info sheet that came with this pamphlet was this:
The BodyTalk System is registered with the Saskatchewan CASS(Canadian Agricultural Skills Service) Program as a Learning Activity Provider.
Eligible students may be sponsored in full to take BodyTalk Courses.
Say what? It would be bad but understandable if Health and Welfare was giving this stuff credence and support, but the Agriculture Department? Someone in Regina seems to have forgotten what their department is supposed to be doing.