Hypnosis Revisited

Is hypnosis for real? Do people actually go into a trance, or is it just a matter of imagination and role playing? Some people swear by it. One website proclaims that “Your mind power is limitless…The highly focused, yet deeply relaxed state of mind achieved via hypnosis yields many great benefits, digging to the root cause of

Self Esteem Is Overrated

Most people believe that fostering self-esteem in children will have many benefits, from happiness to better school performance, but that belief is not supported by the evidence. We are encouraged to reward children and not punish them, to praise them not only for real accomplishments but also for trivial successes and even failures (“everybody’s a

Visual Stress

The Opticalm Clinic claims to diagnose and treat visual stress with colored lenses and other aids. Visual stress is a poorly defined, questionable condition and Opticalm’s claims are not backed by scientific evidence. What does “visual stress” mean? It appears to be a new term for what has also been called Irlen syndrome (described by Steve Novella

Shooting the Messenger: Activists Persecute Scientists Whose Findings They Don’t Like

Alice Dreger’s book recounts many instances of shooting the messenger, when scientists were persecuted for research findings that activists found objectionable. Social justice matters, but it should rely on science and reality, not ideology. Don’t shoot him. He’s just bringing a message. Alice Dreger is an academic historian who has been active in supporting those

Electronic Screen Syndrome: Is It Real?

You may have noticed that children seem to spend a lot of time interacting with screens: cell phones, tablets, computers, and video games. You may have wondered if this is bad for them or good for them. I think the answer is “it depends.” In 2012, Victoria L. Dunckley MD was the first to describe

You Can’t Pray The Gay Away

Tolerance for the full spectrum of human sexuality has made great strides. LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) issues are frequently in the news. Same-sex marriage is now legal in all U.S. states and in numerous other countries around the world. But in seventy-two countries, homosexuality is a crime, and in thirteen countries, gay

New Drug Is Effective for Post-Partum Depression, But There Are Drawbacks

A new drug promises to cure postpartum depression, but it is restricted and patients must be hospitalized for a 60-hour IV infusion. There’s a new cure for postpartum depression; but don’t celebrate just yet. It’s far from a panacea, and it’s not for everyone. The devil is in the details. Post-partum depression (PPD) affects about

Treating Mental Illness with Nutrition: The Walsh Protocol

The Walsh Institute offers the Walsh protocol for the nutritional treatment of mental illness. This “orthomolecular psychiatry” is not supported by any clinical studies. You can use the words in Scrabble, but claims to produce mental health with nutrition don’t hold up to scrutiny.The Walsh Institute, founded by William J. Walsh, is “dedicated to unraveling

Pseudoscience in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

This new book addresses the neglected field of research on child and adolescent psychotherapy and does an excellent job of distinguishing treatments that have been proven to work from treatments that are based on pseudoscience. Pseudoscience in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: a Skeptical Field Guide is a new book with multiple authors, edited by Stephen

Rapid-onset Gender Dysphoria and Squelching Controversial Evidence

A flawed study suggested that rapid onset gender dysphoria around the time of puberty might be a result of peer pressure and media influence. It raised some important questions, but Brown University succumbed to pressure from activists and removed it from its website. On August 16, 2018, Lisa Littman, an assistant professor at Brown University,

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