ON MIND-BODY MEDICINE
The article by Dr. David Simon, “Scientific Evidence Supports Mind-Body Medicine” (August 1, page 4), comes disguised as a scientific discussion of the role of the mind in causing or modifying disease. In actuality it is an advertisement for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in San Diego, a proprietary health spa that purveys ayurvedic medicines, massage, and other “natural” therapies, which have no proven medical benefit. Dr. Simon is an employee of this commercial enterprise. Interested readers may wish to visit the Chopra Web site at www.chopra.com.
A careful reading of the references cited by Dr. Simon (and only favorable articles are cited) reveals that they contain dubious and often shoddy research, which fails to support the assertion that emotions play an important part in causing or influencing physical illness. The 1991 article in the New England Journal of Medicine (miscited as 2001) was followed by an editorial and several letters pointing out the defects of the research; these criticisms were not, of course, mentioned by Dr. Simon.
In 1991 Chopra and his associates managed to sneak an article touting ayurvedic remedies into JAMA (1991;265(20):2633–2634). The blizzard of protesting letters that followed prompted the embarrassed editors of JAMA to publish a disavowal. I'm sorry to see Neurology Today caught in the same trap.
Robert Layzer, MD
University of California-San Francisco San Francisco, CA