Archive Message - 1995

From braintree!!!sun4nl!xs4all!!not-for-mail Thu Oct 19 10:03:45 1995 Path: braintree!!!sun4nl!xs4all!!not-for-mail From: nobody@REPLAY.COM (Anonymous) Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology Subject: Yogi Suprise Date: 18 Oct 1995 00:21:24 +0100 Organization: RePLaY aND CoMPaNY UnLimited Lines: 495 Sender: Message-ID: <461dpk$> NNTP-Posting-Host: Content-Type: text Content-Length: 24864 XComm: Replay may or may not approve of the content of this posting XComm: Report misuse of this automated service to <postmaster@REPLAY.COM> Closing the chapter on Maharishi Ayur-Veda. JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association March 11, 1992 To the Editor.--When I read the Letter from New Delhi by Sharma et al [1] I surmised that JAMA had been duped into printing a seeming endorsement of a dubious healing cult, Transcendental Meditation (TM), and its recent front, Maharishi Ayur-Veda. JAMA is to be commended for exposing the chicanery and deceptions involved in the appearance of that letter. [2] For many years I have studied and written about various totalist groups, some of which are health quackery cults. I have followed the development of the TM Group from its early stages as a nonprofessional psychotherapy to the various front groups it now has spawned. I have interviewed and provided psychotherapy for dozens of former TM members who have suffered major psychological disorders (severe dissociative disorders, posttraumatic stress disorders, panic disorders, etc) which appear to have evolved out of the practices they were taught to follow. [3-5] I want to state that there are psychiatric hazards in prolonged involvement with the TM cult. Margaret T. Singer, PhD Berkeley, Calif [1] Sharma HM, Triguna BD, Chopra D. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: modern insights into ancient medicine. JAMA. 1991;265:2633-2637. [2] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. [3] Singer MT, Ofshe R. Thought reform programs and the production of psychiatric casualties. Psychiatr Ann. 1990;20:188-193. [4] West LJ, Singer MT. Cults, quacks, and nonprofessional psychotherapies. In: Kaplan HI, Freedman AM, Sadock BC, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry III. Baltimore, Md: Williams & Wilkins; 1980. [5] West LJ. Transcendental meditation and other nonprofessional psychotherapies. In: Freedman AM, Kaplan HI, Sadock B, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. New York, NY: Williams & Wilkins; 1975. To the Editor.--I feel compelled to respond to three paragraphs on page 1749 in the Maharishi Ayur-Veda story [1] inaccurately portraying my work. First, on page 1749, the article says that in a meeting of transcendental meditation (TM) representatives with Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) officials, "it was made clear the Arizona Department of Corrections was not interested in their proposal." This was not the case. The then commissioner expressed a clear interest in this proposal and indeed discussed using TM with a particular group of intractable, violent offenders detained in a special high-security facility. He asked us to submit a further proposal specifically targeted for that group. Second, the article reports that I said TM was the "only" effective way of rehabilitating prisoners. Although I did say that TM was distinctively effective in prison rehabilitation, I did not say it was the only way. Indeed, I suggested it could be fruitfully combined with existing prison programs. Third, and more importantly, this quote attributed to me is made out of context, and sounds like an unsubstantiated claim. Again, this is not the case. My doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1982 showed proportionally a one-third lower recidivism (return) rate among inmates who learned TM over a 3 1/2-year period compared with random samples of prisoners who participated in four other programs in Massachusetts' maximum security prison. [2] Moreover, a well-controlled study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice [3] showed that the recidivism rate of 259 inmates who learned TM in the California Department of Corrections (DOC) was 30% lower over a 6-year period than that of 259 demographically matched parolees. No consistent reductions were found for prison education, vocational training, or psychotherapy. Finally, in a large-scale project involving almost all the inmates in Senegal, Africa (over 11 000 inmates and 900 correctional staff), the director of the National Penitentiary System, Colonel Mamadou Diop, reported in a public letter [4] a more than 90% reduction in recidivism among TM inmates over a 6-month period. He said there were no other changes in prison policies during that time and directly attributed this unprecedented reduction to TM. If these and other inaccuracies and out-of-context statements were made in the few paragraphs directly pertaining to may work, how many occurred in the story as a whole? Numerous additional statements in the JAMA article suggest that unsubstantiated claims were being made, yet the author does not mention the hundreds of peer-reviewed published studies (like the Journal of Criminal Justice article cited above) backing up such statements. One wonders why JAMA would publish such a one-sided article on this promising new approach to mind-body medicine. Charles N. Alexander, PhD Maharishi International University Fairfield, Iowa [1] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. [2] Alexander CN. Ego Developments, Personality and Behavioral Change in Inmates Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique or Participating in Other Programs: A Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Study. Dissertation Abstracts Int. 1992; 43:539-B. [3] Bleick CR, Abrams AI. The transcendental meditation program and criminal recidivism in California. J Criminal Justice. 1987;15:211-230. [4] Mamadou D. Public letter. In: New Horizons in Criminology and Penitentiary Science: The Maharishi Unified Field-Based Integrated System of Rehabilitation in Senegalese Prisons. (Faroukh Anklesaria; translation from the French version). Vlodrop, Senegal: MVU Press-I11 1990;157-160. To the Editor.--Regarding the article in your October 2, 1991, issue entitled "Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Guru's Marketing Scheme Promises the World Eternal Peace," [1] as the media coordinator for the Tucson, Ariz, press conference that you mentioned on page 1749, I would like to correct two misrepresentations the author made. First, the press conference was not set up to announce a meeting with the director of the ADC as the article claimed. The press conference was sponsored by the Tucson TM professionals association to increase public awareness about the results of the use of the TM program in corrections. These good results have been validated by peer-reviewed scientific research, including a study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice [2] that found (among other benefits) that a group of 259 male felon offenders who learned the TM program in California prisons had 35% less recidivism 5 years after parole, compared with controls. Transcendental meditation prison program representatives were in Tucson on January 29 and in Phoenix on January 31 to meet with criminal justice officials. In both cities press conferences were held. At one point during the Tucson press conference, someone asked if TM representatives were going to meet with ADC officials during their visit. Joanne Anibal, local TM coordinator, replied that among other criminal justice leaders in Phoenix they were meeting with an unnamed ADC official. Sam Negri, a reporter with the Arizona Republic who was at the press conference, said that he had spoken with an assistant deputy director at ADC earlier that day and that person knew nothing about a meeting with TM representatives. Ms Anibal replied, "Well, the director does," and added that a proposal had already been sent to him. Thus, it was only circumstantial that our meeting with the director of the ADC was disclosed. The next day, the Arizona Republic ran a story [3] mentioning our scheduled meeting with Mr Sam Lewis, ADC director, but the article did not report what JAMA claimed it did, ie, that the press conference was set up to announce a meeting with Mr Lewis. This is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. Our motive is simple and straightforward. The TM prison program works, and therefore we have an obligation to bring it to the attention of civic, state, and national leaders as well as the general public. In view of TM's proven effectiveness and the growing crisis in corrections nationwide, it was not in the public's best interest for JAMA to misrepresent Maharishi's TM program. I hope you will correct this mistake. Wiliam E. Crist Maharishi Consultants International Fairfield, Iowa [1] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. [2] Bleick CR, Abrams AI, The transcendental meditation program and criminal recidivision in California. J Criminal Justice. 1987;15:211-230. [3] Negri S. Advocates want inmates to meditate. Arizona Republic. January 30, 1991. To the Editor.--The JAMA article on Maharishi Ayur-Veda by Andrew Skolnick [1] makes several false statements regarding Harvard Magazine and my published work. Our associate managing editor, Jean Martin, told Mr Skolnick that an assistant to Dr Deepak Chopra had ordered a large number of reprints of my article from our September-October 1989 issue. One cannot fault Skolnick for accurately reporting what he was told. As it turns out, however, while Chopra's associate did inquire about reprints, no such order ultimately was placed; no reprints were purchased, printed, or delivered. Skolnick's article describes my Harvard Magazine article as one that gives "a glowing account of Maharishi Ayur-Veda." The article in question profiles two brothers, Sanjiv and Deepak Chopra, both Boston-based physicians. Sanjiv Chopra is a gastroenterologist and hepatic specialist who practices mainstream academic medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Mass. Ayurvedic medicine does not enter his practice. My description of Deepak Chopra's work is--like that of Sanjiv's--a positive, though not unbalanced or opinionated one. The final inaccuracy is the statement that our magazine's readers were not informed that I practiced TM-Sidhi or "yogic flying." At the time the article was written and published I did not such thing. Let me be clear: I did regularly practice TM while working on this article. However, I did not undertake the TM-Sidhi course until after its publication, and this was a distinction that I clearly and explicitly enunciated to Skolnick during his telephone "interview" with me. Knowing this did not prevent his use of circumlocution to strongly imply that I practiced "yogic flying" while creating my article. This deception constitutes, on my view, firm evidence of an intent to mislead the readers of JAMA. In this light, Skolnick's reference to Harvard Magazine's readers being "disserved" is richly ironic. Craig A. Lambert, PhD Harvard Magazine Cambridge, Mass [1] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. To the Editor.--With the October 2, 1991, publication of your attack against Maharishi Ayur-Veda, [1] JAMA's readers have been presented with two diametrically opposed views of our activities: 1. In the May 22/29, 1991, article co-authored by me, [2] Maharishi Ayur-Veda is portrayed as a serious attempt to bring a respected system of traditional Indian medicine to the West. 2. This effort is backed by credentialed physicians who wish to explore a viable health care alternative. No outlandish claims are made for the efficacy of Maharishi Ayur-Veda. We present sound scientific research to support our hope that promising new therapies are being uncovered. In stark contrast, JAMA's subsequent attack portrays a cult that uses deceptive practices to further its dubious ends. I and my colleagues are made out to be quacks and unprincipled agents of a conspiracy to "infiltrate" prestigious journals with our superstitious nonsense. It is further alleged that our approach to Ayurvedic medicine is not authentic, although authentic Ayur-Veda is also belittled and dismissed out of hand by the author. A majority of JAMA's readers will probably choose to accept the second, lurid picture of our work--the knee-jerk reflex of many mainstream physicians to scorn alternative medicine as shady to begin with. I would like to point out that without an open mind no sound judgment of Maharishi Ayur-Veda can be made. JAMA did not address the significant questions: Is this approach sound? Do patients feel that they benefit from it? Is there new knowledge to be gained from it? In every case, the answer is an emphatic yes. More personally, I must also note that JAMA's attack was rooted in prejudice and fear. If we back away from the insinuating language of the article, the simple facts are these: No evidence exists to show any illicit use of funds in our organization. No research exists to counter the more than 200 peer-reviewed articles published on TM and Maharishi Ayur-Veda. No harm against patients of any kind has been demonstrated. Quite the contrary. More than 1 million people in this country have learned TM; tens of thousands take advantage of Maharishi Ayur-Veda. These people form a large, enthusiastic public for our work. It saddens me that JAMA threw out all objective standards in writing its attack against us. Anyone who wishes to look further into this case will find a glaring example of fear mongering. I look forward to the day when JAMA wakes up to realize that the holistic programs of Maharishi Ayur-Veda deserve its wholehearted respect and support. Deepak Chopra, MD American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine South Lancaster, Mass [1] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. [2]Sharma HM, Triguna BD, Chopra D. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: modern insights into ancient medicine. JAMA. 1991;265:2633-2637. To the Editor.--I was distressed to see that in an article in JAMA, [1] critical of Maharishi Ayur-Veda, one of your associate editor has, in essence, called me a liar. Regarding a letter I wrote to JAMA in 1989, [2] he identifies me as such an author under the heading "Publications Misled" and states that I "gave the Rees Family Medical Clinic as _my_ affiliation." He then writes that I "turn out to be the medical director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center. ... However, in correspondence with JAMA, he used Rees Family Medical Clinic stationery. . . ." as if I were trying to conceal my relationship with the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center (even though my letter, regarding TM, made no mention of Maharishi Ayur-Veda). The first two statements are false; the third, though true, is misleading; the entire context is defamatory, the assertion "Publications Misled" is incorrect and intolerable. The facts are that I never saw, received, or signed any such disclosure statement regarding my affiliations or financial interests. I "gave" no affiliation whatsoever; no one ever asked me for any. I simply wrote a letter on my professional letterhead, a letter that was completely compliant with the "Guidelines for Letters" as published by JAMA at that time. It would be bothersome if Mr Skolnick had merely failed to do his homework before making such statements. And it was reprehensible for him to have framed such inaccuracies in an article so bereft of objectivity or balance. But it is inexcusable and malicious to write such defamatory falsehoods when he had prior knowledge of their falsity. And he did have such prior knowledge. In a letter to me dated August 5, 1991, he admits "you did not submit a signed statement ... when you submitted your letter, the policy _to_request/require_ disclosure_statements_ was not yet in effect...." In the same letter to me he makes the accusation that "the letterhead used in your correspondence with JAMA is aimed at disguising your involvement with the TM movement," despite the fact that he knew from our correspondence that I had founded the Rees Family Medical Clinic on the same premises as the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center back in 1987 and despite my having written to him: "You are incorrect and provocative in asserting that my letterhead is aimed at 'disguising' anything." No doubt this lack of journalistic responsibility surfaces throughout the article. In the other point referencing our clinic here, he states that one of our receptionists identified Dr John Zamarra, a cardiologist in Brea, Calif, as being on our staff. I find this hard to believe; all our receptionists deny having made such a statement, and as there are only two physicians on the staff (me and my wife), there is little chance for confusion on their part. Somehow I doubt that this was an innocent mistake. I believe that if Skolnick wishes to expose hypocrisy and duplicity, he need look no further than his mirror. Brian M. Rees, MD MPH Rees Family Medical Clinic Pacific Palisades, Calif [1] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. [2] Rees B. Better living through brain chemistry? JAMA. 1989;262:2681-2682. To the Editor.--With regard to the report on Maharishi Ayur-Veda in your October 2, 1991, issue, [1] it seems to me that the indignation expressed was disingenuous. The original article on Maharishi Ayur-Veda published in the May 22/29, 1991, issue [2] clearly referred to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the TM program. One of its authors was described as president of the organization that trains physicians in Maharishi Ayur-Veda. And, in the October 11, 1990, letter submitted to JAMA's editors with the original article, the authors disclosed that they were consultants to a Maharishi Ayur-Veda organization. [3] In light of this, JAMA's editors must have known before May about such a connection. Therefore, JAMA's October attack, predicated as it was on alleged deception, seems to me to have been unjustified. I think your readers should know that our organization has always been straightforward in presenting Maharishi Ayur-Veda to the public. We don't try to hide anything; we are open, innocent, and sincere in our approach. We are scrupulous in the way we quote people and document facts and events, and I strongly contest allegations to the contrary. Had JAMA employed a fact checker, I believe that article would have been very different. Your readers should also know that we are not in any way motivated by monetary gain, but instead by genuine desire for a healthier world. The letterhead of the AMA states, "Physicians dedicated to the health of America." Our goal is the same: to create a disease-free society in this country and throughout the world. I was heartened that your October article did not challenge the substance of the original May article, which went through your peer review process. Scientific research results and physician and patient report on the benefits of Maharishi Ayur-Veda continue to accumulate. It is on this evidence that the reputation of Maharishi Ayur-Veda proudly stands. Vinton D. Tompkins Ayur-Ved News Service Livingston Manor, NY [1] Skolnick AA. Maharishi Ayur-Veda; guru's marketing scheme promises the world eternal 'perfect health.' JAMA. 1991;266:1741-1750. [2] Sharma HM, Triguna BD, Chopra D. Maharishi Ayur-Veda: modern insights into ancient medicine. JAMA. 1991;256:2633-2637. [3] Correction: financial disclosure. JAMA. 1991; 266:798. In Reply.--It is disappointing that Dr Chopra expresses no regrets for having misinformed JAMA concerning his conflicts of interest. Chopra prefers to level charges of "prejudice" and "fear mongering" rather than to explain why he claimed that he had no affiliation with the marketers of the products he wrote about--products that continue to be sold from his Lancaster headquarters. These are the undisputed facts that JAMA learned of too late to stop the publication of Chopra's article: Maharishi Ayur-Veda is a registered trademark for a line of TM products and services. Dr Chopra had been the sole stockholder, president, treasurer, and clerk of the company that sells Maharishi Ayur-Veda products. This marketing company and Chopra's American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine have the same phone number. He is the medical director of the premiere Maharishi Ayur-Veda center. Chopra collects many thousands of dollars in honoraria and fees for lecturing and teaching Maharishi Ayur-Veda techniques. In spite of this, he submitted to JAMA a signed statement claiming he was not affiliated with any organization that could benefit by publication of their article and that he collected no such honoraria. Mr Tompkins says that my article suffered for lack of "a fact checker," but neglects to cite a single falsehood. His protest that the TM movement is "scrupulous in the way _they_ quote people and document facts and events," is not borne out by the record. The movement's false portrayal of "Professor" Tony Nader as a "neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology," who was honored by Harvard University with "the Whitaker Health Sciences and Technology Award" for his "landmark studies" on Maharishi herbal remedies, is but one example of TM's blatantly deceptive practices that were documented in my article--any one of which shows the hollowness of Tompkin's claim of always being "straightforward in presenting Maharishi Ayur-Veda to the public." I asked the California and Arizona DOC to comment on Professor Alexander's letter. According to Robert Dickover, chief of research for California's DOC, the studies Alexander describes were seriously flawed by a self-selection bias. The California DOC is not interested in providing inmates with TM instructions, he adds. The Arizona DOC has absolutely no interest in TM programs, says assistant director J. C. Keeney. He confirms my report that DOC officials were distributed by what appeared to be the movement's attempt to use the news media to pressure them into considering TM proposals. Mr Crist would have the reader believe it was a coincidence that the TM representatives held two press conferences right before meeting with Arizona DOC officials and that release of information about the meeting was unintentional. In regard to Dr Rees' letter, JAMA's financial disclosure policy required him to disclose his TM affiliation as medical director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center in Pacific Palisades. My article accurately reports his failure to do so. I stand by everything in my article, with the exception of when Mr Lambert became a "yogic flier." My report was based on a letter Lambert sent me 2 months after we had our brief telephone conversation, a conversation I did not recall clearly. His letter gave me the impression that he was practicing TM-Sidhi or "yogic flying" when he wrote his article. I regret getting the timing wrong. Regardless of when he started trying to levitate, my point stands: Harvard Magazine did not inform its readers that the author of an article extolling TM programs was involved in the TM movement. Lambert's article was in no way balanced. Nothing was included from experts familiar with TM's history of deceptive practices--such as William Jarvis, PhD, of the National Council Against Health Fraud, and John Renner, MD, of the Consumer Health Information Research Institute, who say that Maharishi Ayur-Veda is just the latest of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's deceptive marketing schemes. I did not have enough space to address the scientific evidence for TM's claims. According to Michael West, [1] Susan Blackmore, [2] and other authorities, the studies touted by the TM movement were nearly all conducted by members of the movement, most are seriously flawed, and relatively few are published in peer-reviewed science journals. Contrary to Chopra's assertion, independent studies show that TM is no better than other relaxation techniques. [2,3] There is also evidence that considerable harm can result from the practice of TM, especially when it is used as a method of mind control, [4-6] as former members of the TM movement charge. Andrew A. Skolnick American Medical Association Chicago, Ill [1] West M, ed. The Psychology of Meditation. London, England: Oxford University Press; 1987. [2] Blackmore S. Is meditation good for you? New Scientist. 1991;131:30-33. [3] National Research Council Report on Meditation. In the Mind's Eye: Enhancing Human Performance. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1991. [4] West LJ. Oral and written communications; 1991. [5] Report commissioned by the German Ministry of Youth, Family, and Health. The Various Implications Arising From the Practice of Transcendental Meditation: An Empirical Analysis of Pathogenic Structures as an Aid in Counseling. Bensheim, Germany: The Institute for Youth and Society; 1980. [6] Singer MT. Oral communications; 1991.


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