Tag Archives: Bonnie Kaplan

Despite Science, Alternatives Flourish

By Marvin Ross


Despite the tremendous advances that medical science has made over the past number of years, many persist in their unscientific beliefs about vitamins and alternative medicine. A few things cropped up in the last week to make my head hurt. First, the Journal of the American Medical Association released a report on vitamin and mineral supplements and their efficacy. They stated:

“most randomized clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements have not demonstrated clear benefits for primary or secondary prevention of chronic diseases not related to nutritional deficiency. Indeed, some trials suggest that micronutrient supplementation in amounts that exceed the recommended dietary allowance (RDA)—eg, high doses of beta carotene, folic acid, vitamin E, or selenium—may have harmful effects, including increased mortality, cancer, and hemorrhagic stroke”

They then go on to discuss what vitamins should be used for and that list is very specific.

At about the same time, it is revealed that Georgian College in Barrie Ontario is setting up a three year course in homeopathy. Dr Stephen Barrett of Quachwatch describes homeopathy as the ultimate fake. I remember an episode on Marketplace a few years ago where they tried to have people overdose on homeopathic medicines (distilled water) and no one could. The public outcry against Georgian College was so strong that they cancelled the program.

Next up was a notice that David Stephan was to be the keynote speaker at the Saskatoon Wellness Conference. Stephan is the man who, with his wife, was convicted for the death of their toddler who suffered from a very curable meningitis but was given vitamins and homeopathic potions instead. One of the products the child was given was EM Power Plus which is the product his father’s company manufactures and sells. More on that in a minute but the organizer of the event (and Stephan is to speak in other cities as well) is that “he judges his vendors based on their products, not on their personal lives.”

Nice but the two are intertwined. I’ve been writing about this product for years and the following is from an earlier Mind You blog:

The blog Neurocritic entitled one of its articles as EMPowered to Kill as one man with schizophrenia went off his meds to take EMP and brutally killed his father in a psychotic state. I have written on this case as well in Huffington Post. Health Canada has declared the product a health hazard on two occasions. I have written critical articles about this in various publications and an e-book with Dr Terry Polevoy and a former Health Canada investigator and now private detective in Calgary, Ron Reinold, called Pig Pills.

Stephan and his wife both worked at the Truehope website advising customers on their treatment. You can listen to some calls that were made to the call centre here.

One of the research gurus for Truehope is a psychologist at the University of Calgary, Bonnie Kaplan. Her research trial on EMP at the University of Calgary was shut down by Health Canada because it failed to meet the proper standards for a clinical trial but she now writes on mental health and vitamins for the Mad in America website. She also gives lectures where she tells the audience not to google her name (slide 3). She even went so far as to bring professional misconduct charges against Dr Terry Polevoy with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario because he criticized her work.

And yet, she was just named as one of the 150 Canadians who make a difference in mental health for the above work.

Meanwhile, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada states in its recent report on re-imagining itself that:

External stakeholders expressed concern that emphasis on a western medicine biological model of understanding of schizophrenia does not reflect the diversity of ways people from different cultural groups understand and explain mental illness.” (P13).

What can I say to this? OK some people do not agree with how science has tried to understand schizophrenia (and it has a long way to go), and would prefer to ignore treatments (again not perfect but reasonably effective) for their own folkways like exorcism to let the demons out as depicted in the graphic that goes with this.

How is that gonna work?

Probably as well as it did for a young Aboriginal girl from the Six Nations Reserve near me who decided to stop her chemo for what was first described as native healing. Her acute lymphoblastic leukemia was given a 75% probability of a cure with conventional medicine. The “traditional indigenous treatment” she sought out was at a vitamin cure spa in Florida called the Hippocrates Health Institute which is being sued by former staff who allege the company’s president Brian Clement is operating “a scam under Florida law” and practising medicine without a licence.

Sadly, Makala died.

PS I wrote this on Sunday morning and by late afternoon Sobey’s,  a grocery chain, had cancelled its sponsorship with the Wellness Expo and the organizers of the event had removed Stephan’s name from its list of speakers.

Are Psychologists Over Educated Bartenders?

Marvin Ross

By Marvin Ross

A rather provocative title but that is the gist of a new book called Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Side of Science and Therapy. The book is written by Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski, two Polish scientists who argue that psychotherapy is a business and a kind of prostitution rather than an effective evidence-based medical treatment.

Witkowski is a psychologist, science writer, and founder of the Polish Skeptics Club while Zatonski is a surgeon and researcher who debunks unscientific therapies and claims. Their book was reviewed by Dr Harriet Hall on the blog Science Based Medicine.

I’m pleased to hear them call psychotherapy a business as that is a criticism that I’ve lodged against psychology in a couple of my earlier Huffington Post Blogs. In one, I quoted an internal paper I came across from the Canadian Psychology Association. They were concerned that an emphasis by government on treating serious mental illnesses would mean an exclusion of mental and behavioural health which is their domain.

In my second, I suggested that there is a turf war between psychology and psychiatry with psychology trying to gain more clients. If we don’t call psychiatric illnesses an illness but a mental health problem, then it becomes more appropriate for other professionals like psychologists to be the first line of assessment and treatment. Interestingly, psychologists are lobbying to prescribe medications and can do so in three US States. Likely, some of them seem to realize that their own theories may be deficient.

The authors point out that psychotherapy has been unsuccessful. Most of what psychologists do lacks proper evidence. Psychologists are still fixated on childhood trauma as the precursor to personality and as the cause of mental disorders. The only way to treat these mental disorders is with psychotherapy which depends on the reconstruction of childhood experiences. That is the concept underlying a great deal of their theories of problems like schizophrenia.

This concept, they argue, is dangerous and has led to the abuses of the recovered memory movement. In fact, the repressed memories are often the creation of the therapists themselves. Suggesting that schizophrenia is the result of childhood trauma and possible abuse serves no purpose other than to vilify the parents of offspring who are sick through no fault of anyone.

I made reference to bartenders earlier because the common perception that many have is of the wise and friendly bartender providing a sympathetic ear for the problems of his/her patrons and offering sympathy and support. The authors point out that conventional psychotherapy offers no additional benefits to that of a sympathetic friend. That is something we all need and those who are experiencing a serious illness need even more.

My own very special psychologist is Dr Bonnie Kaplan of the University of Calgary. For years, she has been pushing the use of vitamins for mental illness. She now begins her presentations with a warning to her audience with “Don’t Google My Name” as she did twice in this presentation in Syracuse.

Part of the reason she wants no googling is that two of my colleagues and I have been very critical of her vitamin research over the years. She went so far as to file a formal complaint against physician Dr Terry Polevoy with his regulatory body for unprofessional conduct arguing that he had no right to criticize her research. It was thrown out.

And what purpose does telling people not to google them have? We all know that human nature will only result in the opposite happening. Seems that she fails to understand basic human psychology.