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Therapeutic and other hoaxes

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bullet "Certain rash people have asserted that, just as there are no mice where there are no cats, so no one is possessed where there are no exorcists." Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1
bullet "It is a remarkable feature of mainstream academic psychology that, alone among the sciences, it should be almost wholly immune to critical appraisal as an enterprise. Methods that have long been shown to be ineffective or worse are still used on a routine basis by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people." Rom Harre.
bullet "I don't think Candace Newmaker died because of their ignorance. I believe she was killed because of their arrogance." Diane Obbema, sheriff's investigator in the Candace rebirthing fatality. 3
bullet "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Anon
bullet "When someone deviates from reality, others get hurt." One of this web site's mottos.
bullet "There are 40 kinds of lunacy, but just one of common sense." West African saying.
bullet About Dr. Zoe D. Katze, Ph.D., C.Ht., DAP. "Dr. Katze possesses certificates proving she is a Diplomate of The American Psychotherapy Association, a Registered Hypno-therapist of the American Board of Hypnotherapy, a Certified Hypno-therapist of the National Guild of Hypnotists, and a Certified Hypno-therapist from the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association." (Zoe Katze is not a human; she is a cat. "Zoe Die Katze" in German translates literally to "Zoe the cat" in English). 4


In other essays on this Web site, we make every effort to present both or all sides to each issue. In this essay, we are making an exception. We are openly expressing our opinions, biases and hunches.

We suspect that all of the therapeutic methods and urban legends, fringe science, wacky therapies, folklore, etc., in this section are hoaxes and/or worthless -- even dangerous -- ideas and therapies. Unfortunately, in some cases, governments and professional associations seem unwilling to investigate, expose, and (if they are found to be dangerous or useless) prohibit many of these techniques.

We recommend that all new mental and physical health therapies and treatments be evaluated for efficacy and safety on small-scale studies before being unleashed on an unsuspecting public. The federal governments of the U.S. and Canada regulate new medications before they are released to the general public. They later monitor the medications' safety and effectiveness after they are released. We recommend that the same procedures be expanded to alternative medical treatments and mental health therapeutic techniques. 

Only through the passage of time (and sometimes the accumulation of dead bodies) will the truth be revealed about these therapies. Perhaps by the year 2020, society will reach a consensus on most of them. Then we will have another look at this list to see the number of times that we guessed correctly.


One of our group's mottos is: "Whenever someone deviates from reality, others often get hurt." Many times, false teachings only mess with individuals' beliefs. Sometimes they can actually imprison some people and kill others. We feel that false teachings and dangerous therapies about sexual orientation, recovered memory therapy, reparative therapy, multiple personality disorder, Satanic ritual abuse, etc. have driven people to suicide.

We originally wrote this section back in 1997. A lot of people wrote Emails to us complaining that we had attacked their favorite belief or therapy. However, in the intervening 13 years, evidence has surfaced that most of the therapies mentioned in this section are indeed dangerous, unsafe and useless.

We are encouraged by Robert Epstein's article published in Psychology Today magazine and titled "The Loose Screw Awards." He wrote, "The mental health fields have, now and then, spawned and nurtured some completely crazy ideas. He proceeds to list what he regards as "psychology's top 10 misguided ideas." Included is my personal favorite: "The Idea That Launched a Thousand Suits: Recovered Memories." 5

Topics covered in this section:

bullet How hoaxes, urban legends, and useless therapies hurt people
bullet Ten current hoaxes? Satanic ritual abuse, ritual abuse, mind control cults, recovered memory therapy, abuse in former lifetimes, end of the world scenarios, crop circles, abuse by little green men on UFOs, UFO visitations, federal mind control experiements.

bullet Ten more hoaxes? Facilitated communications, Therapeutic touch, Homeopathic medicine, cattle mutilation, Reparative therapy, Multiple personality disorder/Disocciative identity disorder, Compression therapy, Primal scream therapy, exorcism, Rapid eye movement therapy (EMDR).

bullet 13 more hoaxes? Thought Field Therapy, Trauma counseling, cell phone cancer, autism, and nine more that we haven't studied in depth

bullet New developments & summary
bullet A counter-attack on potentially dangerous therapies

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Related essay and menus on this web site:

bullet CAM: "Complementary and alternative medicine"
bullet Satanic Ritual Abuse
bullet Recovered Memory Therapy

Some books:

Follow the links to read reviews and/or buy a book safely from online bookstore:

bullet Tana Dindeen, "Manufacturing victims: What the psychology industry is doing to people," Robert Davies Multimedia, (3rd edition; 2001). Review/order this book.
bullet Margaret Hagan, "Whores of the court: The fraud of psychiatric testimony and the rape of American justice," HarperCollins, (1997). Review/order this book.
bullet Joyce Milton, "The road to Malphychia: Humanist psychology and our discontents," Encounter Books, (2002). Review/order this book.
bullet Mark Pendergrast, "Victims of memory: Sex abuse accusations and shattered lives," Upper Access books, (2nd edition, 1996) Review/order this book.
bullet Robert Whitaker, "Mad in America: Bad science, bad medicine, and the enduring mistreatment of the mentally ill," Perseus Publishing, (2002). Review/order this book.

References used:

  1. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, "Aphorisms," F 134
  2. Rom Harre, "Acts of Living," Science, 289 (25) 2000-AUG, Page 1303.
  3. Peggy Lowe, "Rebirthing team convicted: Two therapists face mandatory terms of 16 to 48 years in jail," 2001-APR-21, Rocky Mountain News. The case actually involved compression, not rebirthing therapy. It caused the death of a young patient.
  4. Steve Eichel, "Credentialing: It may not be the cat's meow," at:
  5. Robert Epstein, "The Loose Screw Awards," Psychology Today, 2005-JAN/FEB. Online at:

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics & conflicts > here

Home page > Religious conflicts > Specific conflicts > here

Copyright 1997 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Written on: 1997-SEP-5
Latest update: 2010-MAY-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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