I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but I get a veritable torrent of missives from publicists touting every sort of fraud, quackery, hokum, bunkum and crap you can imagine. I generally just hit the delete key, but I have decided to establish a policy of occasionally putting one of these con artists through the compost grinder.
The latest is from one David Gruder, who describes himself as
"a clinical psychologist, . . .the Mental Health Coordinator of the non-profit Energy Medicine Institute. As the Founding President of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology in 1999, he has been a pioneer in applying insight and techniques from time-honored healing traditions for enhancing mental health.
Gruder complains that the APA has been denying psychologists continuing education credits for learning his method of "energy psychology," which is evidently "time honored" by 11 years of him touting it.
Energy Psychology involves procedures such as tapping on acupuncture points at the same time that a traumatic memory or stressful trigger is brought to mind. The technique appears to send signals in the brain that counteract the stress response. It has been shown to be effective with a range of disorders, from simple phobias to irrational anger to severe PTSD.
"Shown to be effective," has it? Gruder says "Increasing numbers of articles and reports documenting the effectiveness of carefully administered Energy Psychology techniques have been appearing," but he only refers to one: a conference abstract. It's impossible to glean from conference abstracts any details of how a study was conducted or how credible it might be. He says this was a randomized controlled trial but he presents the results this way: "The data show that PTSD symptoms were dramatically reduced in 49 military veterans. Forty-two of them, an almost unheard of 86 percent, no longer scored within the PTSD range after six sessions. There was only one drop-out. The gains persisted at 6-month follow-up. Compare this with the 9 of 10 drop-out rate in VA programs."
A randomized controlled trial requires, guess what, a control group. This says nothing about any control group. Hmm. He is actually comparing his results to some unspecified, unmatched comparison group. We don't know what the initial state of these 49 individuals was and whether it is in any way unusual for 42 of them not to "score within the PTSD range," on some unspecified measure, after six sessions -- which covered an unspecified period of time, and during which we have no idea what else was going on with them. In other words, this is total bunk.
I did a PubMed search on "energy psychology" and I got exactly 3 hits. Three. Here they are:
Randomized trial of tapas acupressure technique((r)) for weight loss maintenance: rationale and study design.
Elder C, Gallison C, Lindberg NM, Debar L, Funk K, Ritenbaugh C, Stevens VJ.
J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jun;16(6):683-90.PMID: 20569037 [PubMed - in process]
Pilot study of emotional freedom techniques, wholistic hybrid derived from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and emotional freedom technique, and cognitive behavioral therapy for treatment of test anxiety in university students.
Benor DJ, Ledger K, Toussaint L, Hett G, Zaccaro D.
Explore (NY). 2009 Nov-Dec;5(6):338-40.PMID: 19913760 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]Related citations
Energy psychology and thought field therapy in the treatment of tinnitus.
Int Tinnitus J. 2009;15(2):130-3.PMID: 20420336 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]Related citations
The first one doesn't even report results. It describes a trial which is proposed but has not been conducted. Oh yeah, it's published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The second one is a three-arm trial with, get this, 5 subjects in each arm. None of the methods involved tapping on acupuncture points, as far as I can tell. The end point was reduction in test-taking anxiety among students, not PTSD or any other mental disorder. The third one is a report of two (2), yes 1 + 1 case studies. The condition being treated is stress from ringing in the ears.
So "Doctor" Gruder, I call you a liar. Pants on fire.