Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Biologie Totale: The quackery of German New Medicine on steroids

OK, I give up.

I hadn’t planned on blogging about this because I thought I had already taken care of this woo before. Well, not exactly this woo, but a related woo of which this new issue is just a warmed over more woo-ified version. Indeed, I had even considered it as a candidate to be the first “victim” of a new, improved, resurrected version of Your Friday Dose of Woo (yes, I still do intend to resurrect it but haven’t managed to find the time to give it the justice it deserves), but decided against using this particular form of woo because, well, it’s quackery that kills. And that’s a buzzkill if anything is.

Still, you, my readers, would not let me easily ignore this particular bit of quackery. Over the last few days, you sent stories about it to me. It is indeed appalling and utterly pseudoscientific. It is indeed full of the most amazing bits of idiocy. It is indeed Biologie Totale.

Except that it’s nothing of the sort. Unfortunately, it’s gaining traction in Quebec:

A new therapy that claims to cure cancer and other diseases but has been blamed for dozens of deaths in Europe is gaining popularity in Canada, according to a Radio-Canada investigation.

“Total biology” is a therapeutic approach that claims illness is caused by psychological conflicts in the brain.

The approach, also known as new medicine or bio-psycho-genealogy, professes to heal all disease, including AIDS and advanced forms of cancer.

The method is gaining traction in Quebec where patients are often told to ignore their cancer, or stop medical treatment altogether, according to an investigation by CBC’s French-language service.

Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s a rehashed version of the German New Medicine by Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer. As you may recall, Dr. Hamer, like so many purveyors of “alternative” medicine, doesn’t think that disease is really disease or that cancer is really cancer. He thinks that cancer is a result of psychic trauma, which causes what he referred to as a “Dirk Hamer Syndrome” (DHS), in what he calls the “Iron Rule of Cancer.” Indeed, Dr. Hamer doesn’t call a disease a “disease.” Rather, he calls it a Significant Biological Special (SBS) program. Or maybe the DHS is the disease, being as it is the reaction to the SBS program. In any case, to boil it all down, according to the German New Medicine the cure for cancer is not all that nasty chemotherapy; it’s doing something to resolve the psychic crisis that supposedly caused the cancer. In other words, make cancer patients think happy thoughts and banish those nasty psychic traumas that caused the cancer in the first place, and the cancer will go away. How convenient, eh? In fact, it’s a lot like The Secret. It’s basically the Law of Attraction in which psychic trauma results in bad things and thinking good thoughts banishes that nasty trauma, along with all those cancer cells.

Too bad real life doesn’t work like that. Or maybe it isn’t. After all, too much woo in essence blames the victim for not wanting to get better badly enough, and if the world really worked like the fantasy world of the German New Medicine, there would actually be justification for doing that.

So what’s Biologie Totale (or, for you English-speaking folks, Total Biology)? It’s nothing more than German New Medicine made even more ridiculous. First off, it always cracks me up to see such a name. Total Biology. Not New Biology (like German New Medicine). Total Biology. This quack, Dr. Claude Sabbah, thinks that he’s understood the complete and total biology of the human organism. It would be nice if he did, but he doesn’t, as is demonstrated here:

The Total Biology of Living Beings is a concept that was developed by Claude Sabbah, the fruit of over 35 years of experience. In addition to his medical training (as a specialist in oncology, emergency medicine, sports and hyperbaric medicine and psychotherapy), Claude Sabbah is a researcher, NLP practitioner and a teacher and speaker of world renown. Total Biology integrates the knowledge drawn from several areas of medical specialization, recognized scientific research and various observations on the plant, animal and human realms. The concept sheds light and understanding on the normal functioning of a living creature, how it becomes ill and how it is possible for it to regain health and well being.

Wow. Are you amazed yet? Then read some more. First Dr. Sabbah cites his inspiration by Dr. Hamer. Then he, like so many woo-meisters, claims to have taken Dr. Hamer’s woo and gone much further:

Claude Sabbah has applied these findings from 1985.  Since then, with his years of medical practice, his own findings, with the cooperation with many other researchers and scientists… Claude Sabbah has set the concept of Total Biology which integrates: Dr Hamer’s New Medicine, Modern Western and Asian Medicine, Observation of the Biological Laws of the Fauna & Flora, Biological Cellular Memorized Cycles, NLP, the concept of the mini-Maxi Schizophrenia, Biogenealogy, personal researches, and many more…

Is there any quackery Dr. Sabbah hasn’t mined for his Biologie Totale? And what does neurolinguistic progamming have to do with it? Patience. More importantly, what, exactly, do Dr. Sabbah and his acolytes spreading like a–if you’ll excuse me–cancer throughout Quebec and Canada tell their patients to do to try to fix the results of these “psychic traumas”? Radio Canada journaists went undercover to find out. It isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s an unholy combination of seemingly faith healing and German New Medicine:

He teaches his approach in six-day seminars offered in France and Canada. He tells students that cancer and other diseases are formed in the brain first, and must be deprogrammed.

During the investigation, Radio-Canada journalists went undercover with hidden cameras seeking medical advice about fictitious diseases.

One of the journalists claimed to have breast cancer. She visited several total biology practitioners who told her that her life was not in danger, and the lump in her breast was the result of a maternal conflict.

She was recommended to stop chemotherapy altogether. During another visit a practitioner told her to drink champagne and relax.

Another undercover journalist who claimed he had prostate cancer was told his ailment was caused by a conflict between his parents at the time of his conception.

He was given orders to recite a prayer 15 times a day.

The story of the woman with breast cancer sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Do you remember a woman named Michaela Jakubczyk-Eckert? She had breast cancer, and she listened to Dr. Hamer. She ended up dying a horrible, painful death. It’s a good thing it was just reporters pretending to have breast cancer this time, as any real woman with breast cancer who listened to this nonsense risks suffering the same fate.

It’s also pretty amazing that anyone could think a malignant tumor is the result of a “maternal conflict.” But, as mentioned above, it’s not just this life we have to worry about. According to these woo-meisters, a conflict at conception can result in cancer. But it goes even further than that. Indeed, Biologie Totale is a cornucopia of woo that goes into the past before conception. I hadn’t had any idea, but after looking into it I found that it’s somehow become attached to a form of pseudoscience known as Memorized Biological Cellular Cycles and Biodecoding, whatever they are. If you want to get a load of how far this quackery goes by expanding on German New Medicine, read and be amazed at Psycho-biogenealogy & Transgenerational, which gets all lumped together with neurolinguqitic programming in a manner that is hard to believe, at least to anyone with an understanding of evolution:

Through Dr Hamer’s theories, we understand that diseases, emotional impacts associated with them and memories of traumas can be transmitted to future generations via genes. It seems logical that in some cases the primary programming cause of illness can be found on previous generations.

Man, cancer patients just can’t catch a break. If it isn’t their fault for thinking bad thoughts or being unable to overcome psychic trauma, then it’s the fault of hteir family and previous generations! Never mind that there sort of idea is inconsistent with modern biology. In fact, it’s downright Lamarckian! I wonder if Dr. Sabbah is a creationist, too.

So what evidence does Dr. Sabbah and his merry band of “blame-the-victim” quacks have to back up their claims that Biologie Totale can cure cancer and pretty much every other disease? Do you even have to ask? It’s testimonials all the way down, of course:

The approach “can seem crazy,” but it works, claims Olivier Comoy, a Quebec naturopath and total biology practitioner.

Comoy says he’s seen cases where people have completely recovered from their illnesses after undergoing total biology therapy, which helps them understand how life events and emotions leave marks on their bodies and behaviours.

Of course he has. I’m guessing, however, that he didn’t see a single case of cancer or a non-self-limited disease that was cured by his ministrations. Either that, or he treated diseases with a waxing and waning course, saw the patient during the waning phase of his illness, declared a “cure,” and then sent the patient on his way, never to see the waxing phase return. Certainly there’s nothing like any sort of clinical trials, of even crappy quality, to support Olevoy’s observations. Unfortunately, there are more and more like him:

Sabbah is no longer allowed to practice medicine in France, but he’s trained more than 7,000 people, most of them with no formal medical experience.

Many practise the approach in Quebec.

Worse, it’s metastasizing to the United States, as these testimonials demonstrate.

There are few things I detest more than quacks like these believers in German New Medicine and Biologie Totale preying on the desperation of seriously ill patients. Not only can they not cure any patients, but they actively hurt them by telling them that the means to cure themselves is within them, not caring that the flip side of that message is that if they are not healed by tis quackery it must be their fault for not wanting it enough or not being able to work through some psychic trauma. When it comes to sinking to to the feces-encrusted bottom of the sewer and then burrowing even further into the slime, no quack matches Drs. Hamer and Sabbah.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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