October 2, 1992


Homeopathy, n. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary disease, and they can not.

Ambrose Bierce,1906

A number of years ago some clever advertising man created a disease called The Blahs, just for the makers of Alka Seltzer. It's symptoms were that you just felt, well...blah. The Blahs were, of course, treatable with Alka Seltzer, a drug whose active ingredients are aspirin and baking soda. Some government agency put the kibosh on it, but not before millions of bucks worth of Alka Seltzer were sold to treat this non-existent disease.

It's an ancient scam: create a non-existent disease, and then make money by treating it. Note that I said treat. If you cure it, you stop making money, but a treatment can go on forever, and it often does.

A few of these non-existent diseases are alcoholism, drug addiction and over-eating. If these are diseases, so is gum chewing, nail biting and ass scratching.

In 1845, an anonymous writer in Punch wrote "The quack is a personage too essential to a large class of society to be deprived of his vocation. He is, in fact, the Physician of the Fools --a body whose numbers and respectability are by far too great to admit of anything of the kind." I agree with the statement in principle, but believe that gullibility and susceptibility to quacks and advertising is not a matter of intelligence, but of training. There are some fairly bright people who fall for advertising pitches and who can't do much of anything without the help of a therapist of some kind.

It's surprising how many people don't seem to be aware that any habit can be broken by deciding not to do it any more. The people who have been most successful in breaking bad habits have been those who simply decided to stop doing what they had been doing. Of those who go into therapy, many fail. They fail for two reasons: 1. No one but YOU can change YOUR behavior, and 2. It's in a therapist's financial interest to keep you coming back for treatments.

I am a creature of habit, much to the chagrin of my wife who hates doing things at the same time every day. I wake up at about the same time every morning, go to the bath room, have a glass of orange juice, toast and decaffinated coffee, and so on through much of the day. I retire at the same time every evening. All of these habits are useful to me and none are harmful. Should I decide that one or more of these practices was disadvantageous, I would simply change it. Some habits, such as smoking are harder to kick than others, but any habit can be changed by the person involved. ALL THAT IS NEEDED IS TO WANT TO CHANGE IT. Then all that is necessary is to JUST DO IT!!

What I can't understand is why there are so many people who seem to be unable to make a simple decision regarding their own health or happiness without professional help. What is it in a kid's upbringing that leads him to believe that he can't do anything by himself? What makes a person powerless over himself?

Maybe parents have a stake in keeping their kids powerless and dependent. It goes along with keeping a kid obedient. A parent can't have a small child doing whatever he wants to do. Obedience to parents and teachers is essential to maintain some kind of order.

The breast or milk bottle is also essential. While kids are eventually weaned from the breast or bottle, some parents neglect to wean their kids from obedience at the appropriate time. I don't really know what time is appropriate, but I am sure that it should be before he goes out into the world on his own.

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