Pain Reprocessing Therapy

In a trial of Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), 2/3 of patients with chronic low back pain reported significant pain relief with psychotherapy that helped them reconceptualize the pain as nondangerous. Impressive if true, but flaws in research design make the study untrustworthy. I don’t usually get my medical information from Reader’s Digest, but when I read

Patients Who Deceive

Loren Pankratz’s book Patients Who Deceive covers the whole spectrum of different kinds of deception. It is well written, informative, and entertaining, with case examples that read like detective stories. As Dr. House says on the TV series, “Everybody lies”. Doctors know their patients can’t always be trusted to provide a complete and accurate history. For one

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

I have long been skeptical of the diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Here’s what I wrote about it four years ago in an article in Skeptic magazine: An episode of ABC’s Nightline news show about Dr. Rea’s controversial diagnoses and treatments aired in 2009. I was appalled by the interviews with a patient diagnosed by Dr. Rea as sensitive to almost everything

¿Qué es la hipnosis?

[This article is also available in English. Thanks to Pensar for the Spanish translation.] ¿La hipnosis es real? ¿La gente realmente entra en trance o es solo una cuestión de imaginación y juego de roles? Algunas personas lo juran. Un sitio web proclama que el poder de tu mente es ilimitado: “El estado mental altamente concentrado, pero

Hypnosis Revisited

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] 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

Self Esteem Is Overrated

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] 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,

Meet the Psychologists

In this book, you will meet 16 of the most prominent people in psychology in conversational interviews that reveal their thoughts about the current state of psychology and its future. Enlightening and entertaining.  Psychology is more popular than ever, but it has been criticized for scandals involving fraud, failed replications, and assisting torture. Many people

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

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE)

TRE exercises can supposedly cure PTSD by inducing tremors. Not credible. And there’s no science to support the claims. This bear is running away. After he has escaped the danger, will he lie down on his back in the woods and deliberately tremor to release the aroused stress? I doubt it! Pseudoscience and silliness are

In Praise of Uncertainty

There is an old joke about a patient who had high praise for her new doctor. She had had headaches for years, and no one had ever been able to explain why. The cause remained uncertain. But the uncertainty ended when her wonderful new doctor promptly diagnosed her with cephalalgia. The joke is that cephalalgia

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