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Massage Today
March, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 03

We Get Letters & E-Mail

By Editorial Staff

How to Reach Massage Today's Goals

Dear Editor,

I was excited to see my first issue of Massage Today, and was equally excited by your goals: forming coalitions between diverse practitioners; sharing these diverse perspectives; overcoming public misinformation and mistrust due to lack of knowledge: and taking those steps to becoming accepted by the public at large as worthy somatic problem-solvers.

However, I fear that your publication will fail to achieve these goals, as all other massage publications that I've seen have failed, until you are willing to do what they have not done: acquire the traits of a professional organization worthy of public trust and respect.

And what are those traits? Self-criticism. Internal debate. The demand for objective definitions of new terms. Incorporating new theories into the body of current knowledge. Challenging new theories to prove themselves with something other than anecdotes, testimonials, and idle theorizing. This is what is lacking in much of massage therapy literature, and in the alternative medicine movement in general. It is this lack that causes us to remain on the outside of the mainstream looking in. When we say things like "look at the ... emotional and spiritual relationship to the headache," or "the energies of our bodies mix and integrate when we consciously intend it to happen" (two examples I pulled from your first edition), the average person out there looks at us like we are nuts. And they do so for good reason, because the first statement appears nonsensical, and the second preposterous. Are they? How do we know? Where is the evidence? Where is the critical scrutiny? Where are the controlled studies?

The word to describe what I'm calling for from the massage industry is "science," and it isn't a dirty word. It also is not some guy with a lot of diplomas on the walls telling us what is and is not true. It is a method of testing our theories, a way of keeping us from fooling ourselves. It also appears completely absent from massage literature. (The "Power of Touch" study in your January issue is moving in the right direction, but alas, there were no controls, so the results proves nothing.) Nowhere do I see theories challenged and debated, much less refuted. Has anyone reading these words ever seen, in any massage publication, an article explaining why a popular massage theory is untrue? (Want an easy target? How about ear-candling, where it is simple to prove that the wax that appears in the tube comes from the burning of the tube, not the ear) All I see is everything touted as if it were self-evidently true and wonderful, and how mean and nasty the mainstream world is to reject it. Are we saying we never make mistakes?

The mainstream isn't mean and nasty, nor is it rejecting what many of us have to say because it is ignorant. What they see is that we as an industry are more fond of touting theories than we are of making sure they are true. If we want to be trusted and respected by the public as professionals more interested in their health than we are in turning a buck, than we need to show the possibility that we are in error, through repeatable, controlled, scientific testing. Nothing short of that will suffice.

Mark Pisk

"I personally found the content about 50-50."

Dear Editor,

I received my first issue of Massage Today and would like to congratulate you and your staff on what must have been a Herculean effort. I am certain that producing such a well-done publication took a tremendous amount of work and deserves high praise indeed.

I personally found the content about 50-50: Fifty percent pleased and excited, and about 50 percent absolutely furious. Given my reputation as somewhat of a curmudgeon (Christmas was about 75-25) this is really pretty high praise. A few things I would like to praise:

  • Dear LyndaLMT, for her response to an aromatherapy question: "well done." My wife is a certified aromatherapist, and this is a fairly complex art. I would extend a reminder to anyone curious about it that 100% natural does not mean 100% safe. There are a lot of dangerous things in nature. Improperly used aromatherapy can be one of them.
  • "Business Insights": Outstanding! I think our profession needs a lot of guidance in this area. I personally have been in business for nearly four years and am constantly irritated and confused by the "business" end of my profession. I am thrilled to see someone addressing this. If Mr Isenberg had anything to do with Biofreeze, then he is an excellent choice to address this.

Regardless of your opinion on the product, (I like it) it has been very well marketed and I see it everywhere.

  • The presence of a column by Dr. Upledger lends high praise and creditability to your publication. I feel I will be in business and studying for a lot of years before I am qualified to even carry on an intelligent conversation with this man.
  • Ralph Stevens' article, "Work more for Less": Now this is where I start getting angry, but it is because I agree with him wholeheartedly. In fact, I would go a step further: it is a known fact that keeping people healthy is much cheaper than treating them after they are sick. So if we stand to save the insurance companies literally thousands of dollars per client then they should consent to doing business our way and deal with whatever requirements that we see necessary.
  • "Lifelong Learning" by Cherie Sohnen-Moe: Now this really sends me through the roof on several levels. Starting the article by saying "If you don't agree with me you must be like this" absolutely infuriates me. Stress has nothing to do with my opinions on continuing education. I enjoy learning new techniques and applying what I've learned on my clients. I have an excellent memory and absorb new material well. and I have devoted a great deal of time learning about such things as carpel tunnel syndrome, post-polio syndrome, and anything else my clients have come to me with, hoping for some help in treating. However the free market system that is already in place is more than adequate to regulate continuing education. The government stepping in and saying you must do this and this to keep your license is nothing short of extortion. the government's only concern should be for safety of the client. Given a profound lack of cases of clients being injured by a licensed massage therapist, there is no need for further government interference in my attempt to earn a living and assist my clients in returning to good health. And I am sick and tired of hearing about ethics and ethical behavior and classes on proper behavior. It has been prostitutes working at massage parlors, not massage therapists working as prostitutes, that has caused all the problems. I am a 5' 10", 295-lb. male with a full beard. I have never to my knowledge been mistaken for a prostitute, and if I were to decide that this was a field I wanted to pursue, I am certain that the free market system would also prevent this from becoming a lasting endeavor.

When my clients get off the table, the last thing on their mind is what is hanging on my wall. If they feel better, then they will be back; if they do not feel better, then they will go somewhere else whether I have complied with the government interference or not. One of your advertisers is an excellent example. They offer a distance learning program that looks wonderful, I can order the course, learn the material, become proficient in the technique, and probably do my clients a lot of good. But if I want the CEU's and diploma, that will be an extra 90 dollars. This is extortion by the government, not the advertiser. I am certain that government interference in the advertisers business has made this necessary. So why is it that we need more government interference?

I have a lot more to say on these subjects, but this letter probably already puts me on the lunatic fringe with you and your staff. Maybe I'll submit an article if this gets published.

Bret H. Burlock RMT, Reiki Master
The Healing Touch
190 Woodlawn
Abilene, Texas 79603


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