by David Tuller, DrPH
Aura-reader and Tarot expert Phil Parker, also known as the founder of the Lightning Process, has posted a video on YouTube of an “ME/CFS success story.” Without knowing anything about Amy’s situation or medical history beyond what she shares, I have no reason to disbelieve her testimony of recovery from illness. But I also have no reason to believe her testimony means the Lightning Process can cure people of ME, multiple sclerosis, eating disorders, or any of the other claims that have been made repeatedly by practitioners. Some people might find such videos convincing, but they are meaningless as evidence of anything other than what the protagonist believes.
(I won’t link to the video, but there’s a discussion of it on the Science For ME forum.)
The pediatric study of the Lightning Process, conducted by my BFF at the University of Bristol, purported to document that the intervention was “effective.” In reality, it was a dung-heap of methodological and ethical violations. It has now been slapped with a correction that seems almost as long as War and Peace.
In truth, when I downloaded the correction into a Word doc, it came out to 2,849 words. That was accompanied by a 983-word “editor’s note” that offered tortured logic to explain why this disastrous study only required “clarifications” rather than retraction. Since the study would never have been published in the first place had the investigators been honest about the conduct of the study, it is disturbing that Archives of Disease in Childhood has allowed them to republish their original and obviously biased findings.
As a counter-weight to the propaganda and false information emanating from Bristol, Phil Parker and BMJ, I thought I’d repost an account from my friend Joan McParland, the force of nature behind Hope 4 ME & Fibro Northern Ireland, about her own experience with the Lightning Process. She wrote this statement years ago–long before publication of the Bristol study.
Joan McParland’s Account
I am almost ashamed to say that I tried LP last year. After ten years of this dreadful illness I think my reasoning has become unreliable as I am so desperate to get better and get my life back to normal.
The great publicity given to LP as a cure for M.E. is hard to ignore and as you read the ‘recovery’ stories the thought of good health overcomes any misgivings you might have about this mysterious ‘cure’. The fact that there is NO diagnostic test for neurological M.E. leaves one with the question of exactly who does have M.E. rather than chronic fatigue or depression. This miracle cure claims to cure a disease of which medical research has not yet found the cause (impossible).
The course consisted of three days from 10am until 2pm with a half-hour break for tea and biscuits (no lunch). The cost was £880.00 – plus two nights in a nearby hotel (as the coach advises to stay away from home and look on this as a life-changing holiday).
There were four people on the course, so that’s £3520.00 for the coach for just over ten hours work. Not bad wages! The coach was very friendly, caring and convincing he could teach us how to recover. He told us he had recovered from M.E. after seven years and been in a wheelchair at one stage. Another lady who was learning to become a coach was taking notes and observing everything. She too told us she had had M.E. but was now recovered by the process.
We were not allowed to discuss the process with other sufferers but just to do it and recover. We were told to cut off all contact with other M.E. sufferers and when asked about LP to say we were cured. We were told to ignore symptoms and keep saying we were cured regardless. I know this sounds crazy but the coach was excellent at his job of VERY high-pitched sales and the people he was selling to were very desperate to get better. The product he was selling us was positive thinking; nothing more, nothing less.
The Lightning Process is:
Believe the Lightning Process will cure you.
Tell everyone you are cured.
Stand on paper circles with some key words written on them.
Learn to say a rhyme when you feel symptoms, no matter where you are, and as many times as it takes to make the symptoms just go away!
Speak in positive words and think with positive thoughts only.
Shout “Stop!” at every symptom.
You are responsible and choose to have M.E. – you must choose a life you love.
If the process is not working, you are not doing it right.
That’s it, believe it or not. Sounds stupid, I know, but these are highly-trained life coaches and after handing over £880.00 we all tried really hard to give it our best shot. Not one of the four sufferers recovered and from talking to them I realised they were extremely sick, desperate people who, like myself, would do anything to get better.
It’s sad that we have to revert to every charlatan who looks you straight in the eye and says they can cure you. Cure you of what? So we are back to the same scenario.
Until there is a diagnostic test for neurological M.E. no one can cure us. You cannot treat a disease until you know the cause.
Many people self diagnose M.E. Many doctors diagnose M.E. but the average GP has no training in the illness. Many people suffer from depression and would probably benefit from LP but I can assure you no one can cure neurological M.E., yet.