The last decade or so certain psychologists and pseudo-psychologists have been claiming to be could cure any craving or phobia in minutes, sometimes even over the phone, by just a wee bit of tapping and some positive thinking to "rebalance [the body’s] natural energy system." Anything, really, from addiction to biscuits, alcohol, cigarettes to murdering homeopaths. The buzzword is "Thought Field Therapy” (TFT), a mish-mash of psychology, acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, hypnotherapy and what amounts to reiki and life force mysticism. It has absolutely no scientific foundation, and test results don’t exactly go in its favor. But woo apparently appeals.
Not only is there no evidence for its efficacy – it also relies on such quack myths as ”meridians”. In fact, the American Psyhological Association asserted that TFT "lacks a scientific basis" and removed support for it in 1999, stating that TFT "does not meet [our] definition of appropriate continuing-education curriculum for psychologists".
The technique was invented and is promoted by – you guessed it – Roger Callahan (pictured right), who terms his treatment "Thought Field Therapy" because he theorizes that when a person thinks about an experience or thought associated with an emotional problem, they are tuning in to a "thought field. and the evidence adduced in support of TFT by Callahan and other proponents comes from uncontrolled case reports that were not peer reviewed. In 2001, in an unprecedented move, the Editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology agreed to publish, without peer review, five articles on TFT of Callahan’s choosing. Psychologist John Kline wrote that Callahan’s article “represents a disjointed series of unsubstantiated assertions, ill-defined neologisms, and far-fetched case reports that blur boundaries between farce and expository prose.” It has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine.
You can read about them here. And here. And here’s his website:
Dr. Callahan also brags about being endorsed by Kevin Trudeau (who will appear later, rest assured). Perhaps because both were in major trouble with the FTC in 1998).
For their importation of TFT into Africa to treat PTSD and Malaria, see here.
And here is an NPR interview where Callahan claimed TFT successfully treated malaria.
A balanced analysis can be found here.
(hat tip to Monica Pignotti for the last set of links)
Diagnosis: crackpot and charlatan (probably unconsciously). His influence is appallingly wide, and his crackpottery has been adopted by several serious practitioners and even received governmental endorsement.
Roger Callahan's disciple, Gary Craig (pictured left), invented a variant of TFT known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), applied kinesology and pure woo. His website is here.
Critically evaluated here.
EFT is apparently a procedure that ”borrows from the much-heralded discoveries of Albert Einstein”. How, you may think? Well, because ”everything, including your body, is composed of energy”. The residue is borrowed ”from the ancient wisdom of Chinese acupuncture.”
Diagnosis: Pure, delusional crackpot of the worst kind. Impact uncertain, but EFT is a spin-off of some frighteningly popular quackery.