The latest hype in medical research, caused by a paper released stating that the benefits of breast feeding has been overstated. Every nut job and conspiracy theorist jumped up and shouted: “I told you so!!!!!!” Meanwhile no one reads the thousands of pier reviewed scientific papers released on the subject over many decades.


The latest hype in medical research, caused by a paper released stating that the benefits of breast feeding has been overstated. Every nut job and conspiracy theorist jumped up and shouted: “I told you so!!!!!!” Meanwhile no one reads the thousands of pier reviewed scientific papers released on the subject over many decades. This reminds me of the anti-vaccers.

Breast feeding isn’t for everyone and not possible for everyone. The facts are very hard to ignore about the benefits that breastfeeding provides.

I am posting that article below, as well as a very good follow-up article by a pediatrician, that explains why he does not agree with that study and why it is important to look at the facts.

New Study Confirms It: Breast-Feeding Benefits Have Been Drastically Overstated

A man gives a bottle of formula to his newborn baby at a hospital in Angers, France.
Photo by Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

A new study confirms what people like our own Hanna Rosin and Texas A&Mprofessor Joan B. Wolf have been saying for years now: The benefits of breast-feeding have been overstated. The study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, is unique in the literature about breast-feeding because it looks at siblings who were fed differently during infancy. That means the study controls for a lot of things that have marred previous breast-feeding studies. As the study’s lead author, Ohio State University assistant professor Cynthia Colen, said in a press release, “Many previous studies suffer from selection bias. They either do not or cannot statistically control for factors such as race, age, family income, mother’s employment—things we know that can affect both breast-feeding and health outcomes.”

Colen’s study is also unique because she looked at children ages 4-14. Often breast-feeding studies only look at the effects on children in their first years of life. She looked at more than 8,000 children total, about 25 percent of whom were in “discordant sibling pairs,” which means one was bottle-fed and the other was breast-fed. The study then measured those siblings for 11 outcomes, including BMI, obesity, asthma, different measures of intelligence, hyperactivity, and parental attachment.

When children from different families were compared, the kids who were breast-fed did better on those 11 measures than kids who were not breast-fed. But, as Colen points out, mothers who breast-feed their kids are disproportionately advantaged—they tend to be wealthier and better educated. When children fed differently within the same family were compared—those discordant sibling pairs—there was no statistically significant difference in any of the measures, except for asthma. Children who were breast-fed were at a higher risk for asthma than children who drank formula.

Colen’s conclusion is the same one I came to when I wrote about a British pilotprogram that would pay women to breast-feed: Breast-feeding is good, but it shouldn’t be such a huge societal priority. As Colen put it, “We need to take a much more careful look at what happens past that first year of life and understand that breast-feeding might be very difficult, even untenable, for certain groups of women. Rather than placing the blame at their feet, let’s be more realistic about what breast-feeding does and doesn’t do.”

As more and more research comes out showing that the benefits of breast-feedingare modest at best, I’m starting to come around to the French feminist theorist Elisabeth Badinter’s views, which I once thought were overly radical and sort of bananas. I’m all for women breast-feeding if that is what is right for their families, but as Badinter does, I am finding the cultural push for all women to breast-feed, no matter how difficult it is, to be more and more oppressive. Hopefully this study will give women who can’t or don’t want to breast-feed for whatever reason more ammunition to tell the breast-is-best purists to piss off.

Here is the follow-up article:

An interesting and provocative study, published last month in the journal Social Science and Medicine, suggests that the benefits of breastfeeding are overstated. In a clever experimental design, the authors analyzed data from a national database managed by the United States Department of labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. They queried from this database whether breastfeeding impacts any of the following outcomes in families with young siblings: body mass index, obesity, asthma, hyperactivity, parental attachment, behavioral compliance, reading comprehension, vocabulary recognition, math ability, memory based intelligence, and scholastic competence.  They firstly looked at all families with siblings and noted that siblings who were breast fed fared better than their non-breastfed counterparts on all of the outcome variables measured except one; asthma rates were surprisingly higher among the breastfed siblings compared to the formula-fed siblings. When the authors looked specifically at families in which one sibling was breastfed but the other sibling was formula fed (this sub-analysis helps control for environmental variables other than breastfeeding that may explain the differences) they found that there were no differences between siblings in any of the outcomes measured.   The authors conclude, therefore, that the benefits of breastfeeding are overstated.

The media and blogosphere followed suit with sensationalized headlines:

‘Breast milk no better than bottled,’ study claims

Are breastfeeding benefits overstated, overrated, or the healthiest way to go?

Hold the guilt! New study finds benefits of breastfeeding dramatically overstated. 

Did this paper really demonstrate that breastfeeding isn’t as beneficial as we once thought?  Well, I have a few comments to make in that regard:

Firstly, the ‘surprising’ asthma outcome is not really suprising. In recent decades, there has been a belief that breastfeeding is protective from asthma.  Since asthma runs strongly in families, it is very possible that mothers who have strong histories or family histories of asthma are compelled to do whatever they can to prevent asthma in their children. Since it has been widely thought that breastfeeding is protective against asthma, it is plausible that mothers in this study with asthma and/or family histories of asthma were more likely to choose breastfeeding in an attempt prevent their children from developing asthma. Since these children were genetically more likely to develop asthma, many of them likely did develop asthma despite having been breastfeed.  In this case, it was not the breastfeeding that increased the likelihood of developing asthma, it was the likelihood of developing asthma that increased the probability of the mother choosing to breastfeed her child.  Though the analysis picked up on the connection, the design is only able to identify the correlation, not the direction of the cause nor if there is a causal relationship at all.

Secondly, the authors only looked at the impact of breastfeeding on the children; the maternal health benefits of breastfeeding such as protection from cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health problems, were not considered at all.

Finally, I am suspicious of the outcome measures that were chosen by the authors. As one can see from the table below, there is no shortage of scientific literature demonstrating both the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula feeding:

References are listed at the end of this post

If, from the list above, I selected the conditions for which there is the weakest connection between breastfeeding and protection from said conditions, I would choose asthma, obesity and neurocognitive development. In other words, current research has not been able to demonstrate very strongly that breastfeeding reduces the incidence of asthma, improves brain development, or protects from obesity. If those were the only reasons to promote breastfeeding, there wouldn’t be a very strong public health case to make for breastfeeding promotion.  However, there are far more compelling reasons, as illustrated above, than those three outcome measures.  Amazingly, the authors only chose those three specific outcomes (obesity, asthma, and a variety of neurocognitive outcomes) to measure in their study. It is almost as if the authors were rooting for a negative outcome at the onset of the study by picking outcome measures that were least likely to show any difference.

So, has this study demonstrated that formula feeding is the same as breastfeeding? I really don’t think so.  And has this study demonstrated that the benefits of breastfeeding are overstated?  For obesity, asthma, and cognitive outcomes: very possibly. But for the many other benefits that breastfeeding confers to both the child and the mother: not at all.


Dr. Flanders is a Toronto pediatrician practicing primary care and consultation pediatrics at Kindercare Pediatrics. He also works at the North York General Hospital’s Pediatric Eating Disorders Program and the Infant, Child, and Adolescent Nutrition Clinic.


30 thoughts on “The latest hype in medical research, caused by a paper released stating that the benefits of breast feeding has been overstated. Every nut job and conspiracy theorist jumped up and shouted: “I told you so!!!!!!” Meanwhile no one reads the thousands of pier reviewed scientific papers released on the subject over many decades.

  1. I don’t know whether breast feeding causes asthma, but my asthma started as a toddler the day my father gave my mother a hard klap and started to throttle her in front of me. She couldn’t breathe so I started choking on my breath as well.


  2. Good commentary.

    Atheism is not the “new gay marriage” (or the new anything else)

    A few months ago, Bill Maher made a claim that I regularly hear from other atheists:

    “[Atheists are] out there, they’re thinking it, they’re just afraid to say it. But that’s changing,” he said. “It’ll be the new gay marriage.”

    He’s certainly not the first person to have made the comparison. Earlier this year Todd Stiefel, a prominent atheist activist and generous philanthropist, took the analogy a step further when speaking with CNN:

    “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights.”

    Austin Cline claims on’s atheism section that “atheists [are] hated more than gays,” and bestselling author Richard Dawkins has frequently compared the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) rights movement to the atheist movement—drawing heavily from the LGBTQ rights movement for his “Out Campaign,” which encourages atheists to “come out.” And these are just a few examples in a long line of well-intentioned atheist activists and organizations—who generally consider themselves LGBTQ allies—comparing the LGBTQ rights movement to the atheist movement.

    There are things about this comparison that, on the surface, make sense: atheists and LGBTQs are marginalized communities that deviate from normative ideas about how people should live, that often share an experience of needing to reveal our identities to others (sometimes with terrible consequences), and that experience social stigma.

    I understand the desire to compare our communities, and I think a useful partial analogy can be drawn for the sake of the atheist movement looking to and learning from the LGBTQ community. However, the extent of the comparison made by a number of atheists frustrates me. There is often a problematically broad equation of the challenges our communities face—that atheism is “the new gay marriage,” or “the next civil equality movement,” or other such claims—and I strongly object to that. Here’s why.

    Hate crimes

    Anti-atheist bias does exist, of course—particularly in other parts of the world—and it should be strongly condemned and combated. The prevalence of violence in the U.S. motivated by an anti-atheist bias, however, is more than eclipsed by violence motivated by heterosexism.

    In 2012 the FBI reported that the largest percentage of reported hate crimes were those motivated by racial bias. After that, the next largest percentages of hate crimes were motivated by bias against sexual orientation and against religion (primarily against Jews and Muslims). But of the reported hate crimes motivated by bias against religious belief (18.7% of all hate crimes), only 0.9% stemmed from an anti-atheist/agnostic bias. In other words, the magnitude of violence against atheists and agnostics does not begin to compare to what many other communities experience.

    Personally speaking, I rarely fear for my safety as an atheist in the U.S., but I frequently do as a queer person. I have been physically assaulted for being queer, and many of my Muslim and Jewish friends have also been the victims of hate crimes. This is not to say that anti-atheist hate crimes do not happen, but statistically they are extremely less common. Like other atheist activists and writers, I have received anti-atheist death threats—but there is a significant difference between threats and completed acts of violence, and the numbers aren’t at all equivalent. So when an atheist like Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins—powerful, influential, financially comfortable, heterosexual white men—implicitly or explicitly attempts to parallel his experience of life to those of people in other marginalized communities, it’s difficult not to cringe.

    And that’s far from the only flaw in the equation of LGBTQ experience with atheist experience.

    “Atheist rights”?

    I’m passionate about challenging anti-atheist bias and actively do so in my day-to-day work, but the legal challenges atheists and queer people face are entirely different. It’s true that there are several states with laws saying that an atheist cannot hold public office—there isn’t much precedent for these laws being enforced, but that doesn’t mean that their existence isn’t a clear sign of bias or a violation of the separation of church and state. But it’s difficult to sympathize with the idea that issues like “In God We Trust” on our money or “One nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance are at all comparable to the fact that in many parts of the U.S. LGBTQ Americans—transgender Americans in particular—are not afforded essential protections under the law such as non-discrimination in employment or housing.

    This distinction isn’t meant to minimize the sense of alienation that legally reinforced religious privilege or religious homogeny can create for nontheists, particularly for young nontheists who may feel like the only kids who do not believe in any gods when their peers recite the Pledge. These are important issues of inclusion and of the separation of church and state—issues that impact other non-Christian religious minorities as well—and they have my full support. But they are substantively different from the legal barriers many queer people still face. For the most part, few atheists suffer from a lack of legal protections in the U.S.

    Thus, it seems untenable to claim that the American atheist movement is a “rights” movement in the same sense as the LGBTQ rights movement. Instead, the primary challenge atheists face is one of social stigma and of being excluded. The LGBTQ community faces this issue, too—but the equation of atheists and LGBTQs fails in this regard as well.

    Disgust vs. distrust

    I anticipate that some atheists might respond to this article by saying that the comparison between LGBTQ rights and the atheist movement is apt because the root of discrimination or stigma against both atheists and LGBTQ people grows out of a shared source: institutional religion. But while the roots of anti-LGBTQ and anti-atheist attitudes are far too complex to unpack in this piece, it is clear that religion alone is not responsible.

    A myriad of religious and political institutions have perpetuated and sustained anti-LGBTQ attitudes throughout history, and these attitudes are still frequently expressed and enforced through religion—but calling religion the source would be misguided. (Besides: if atheists consider religion to be human-created, then it follows that anti-gay attitudes come from humans who sometimes express them through religion.) Instead of originating from religion, studies suggest that negative attitudes toward gay people are influenced by intuitive, moral disapproval linked to the emotion of disgust. An important series of studies from Paul Bloom and Joshua Knobe at Yale University, David A. Pizarro at Cornell University, and Yoel Inbar at Tilburg University suggest a strong link between disgust and negative attitudes toward homosexuality. Because of this link, anti-gay attitudes are frequently articulated through the rhetoric of disgust or dehumanization—“homosexual activity just isn’t natural” or “homosexuality is an illness” being two common examples. Sometimes this rhetoric is religious, but it seems to reflect an emotional source that’s ultimately not.

    Anti-atheist sentiment, on the other hand, appears to be most strongly linked to distrust rather than disgust. In a set of studies from the University of British Columbia, Will Gervais and his colleagues found that atheists are highly distrusted. Trust is important when it comes to maintaining positive feelings toward a group, and this may explain why, for example, a 2013 study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that Americans think that atheists are changing this country for the worse more than any other group.

    To equate the two, however, is a stretch. Disgust is a very dehumanizing, visceral, and moralized emotion, whereas distrust is not—it’s the difference between denying someone’s humanity and simply avoiding them. This is perhaps why you see serious and widespread anti-gay prejudice in the U.S., but not such violent and frequent manifestations of anti-atheist prejudice. Thus, in addition to facing different legal challenges, the social stigma atheists face seems rooted in a different emotion and expresses itself differently.

    Intersecting oppressions

    As a queer atheist and as an activist, I understand the desire to connect the marginalization of atheists and LGBTQ people. In fact, I’ve done so myself. It’s tempting because such a connection can help suggest that people should reconsider a prejudice in light of its parallel to another. But appealing to intersectionality as a way of suggesting that marginalized groups’ experience of oppression is the same is shallow at best and erasure at worst. Rather than implying that the experiences of marginalized groups are the same, intersectionality is a way of recognizing that our struggles are systemically connected.

    I feel the same kind of frustration over “atheism is the new gay” as I do when members of the LGBTQ community say that the fight for LGBTQ rights is the new civil rights movement. Such statements imply that the fight against racism is somehow over (I’m looking at you, recent GOP tweet), or that (white) queer people experience the same kinds or levels of discrimination that people of color do. That kind of relativism helps no one. Statements like “atheism is the new gay” are generally unhelpful for the same reason.

    But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a parallel to make.

    Though our communities face different (but connected) challenges originating from different (but connected) sources, we share an “outsider” status. Our identities deviate from the norm, and as “others” we must work to challenge the norm.

    Challenging the norm, building relationships

    In this vein, a number of atheists have pointed to the gay rights movement and said that in order to move the cultural needle as the gay rights movement has, the atheist movement needs both conciliatory atheists and aggressive ones (or “diplomats and firebrands”). But here again there is an important difference: the “confrontationalists” of the gay rights movement have worked to fight against heterosexism and legally supported discrimination and bias against queer people, but as a whole they haven’t worked to eliminate heterosexuality. Many vocal atheist activists—perhaps even the majority—name the elimination of religion as a primary goal. That is a very different fight than working toward freedom of—and freedom from—religion, or for greater societal acceptance for nontheists. In fact, the explicitly stated goal of ending religion may make the work of attaining allies—which has been crucial to the advancement of societal acceptance for LGBTQ people—much more difficult, if not impossible.

    Unfamiliarity and outsider status is a shared challenge for atheists and LGBTQ people. In this regard a parallel is actually quite helpful, as atheists can benefit from studying how other marginalized communities have addressed this challenge. The Pew Research Center found that of the 14 percent of Americans who shifted from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage—a historic, monumental shift over such an incredibly short period of time—the top reason given was having “friends, family, acquaintances who are gay/lesbian.” Studies have shown that positive attitudes towards LGBTQ people are correlated with socialization. So while education is important, having a relationship with someone of a different identity seems to be the key to transformation.

    This can of course apply to nontheists as well. The fewer relationships we have with people of faith, and the more often our activism is defined in the negative and focused on what separates us from others, the worse we will be perceived. But if atheists focus on building relationships with religious believers, much like the LGBTQ community has—while also vocally sharing our atheistic worldview in the affirmative—I suspect we will make major progress in combating anti-atheist bias based in distrust.

    Toward a better world

    Rather than co-opting another community’s narrative, let us see ours as a distinct part of the larger human story—the greater human quest for justice and progress. As the late agnostic astronomer and author Carl Sagan said in Cosmos: “Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group.” Relationships across lines of difference can help usher in this awareness. Or, as Sagan continued in Cosmos: “Groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together [is] surely a humanizing and character building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth.”

    As we move ever closer to this recognition of our shared humanity, we must also recognize that our communities face unique challenges. Until Sagan’s vision of a united human community is realized, different communities will continue to face particular challenges rooted in our distinct histories. While we can learn from other movements like the LGBTQ rights movement, atheists will have to carve out our own particular path to justice. As we broaden our loyalties, let us avoid broadly equating our experiences.

    We are not the “new gay,” or the new anything else. We are our own movement, and it would serve us well to remember that whenever we are tempted to broadly equate our experiences to those of other groups. While that may not be as pithy or as catchy as saying “atheism is the new gay,” it will bring us one step closer to a world undivided.


  3. No comments are necessary on Holy’s off-topic rant.

    The article disputing the benefits of breast feeding has been refuted directly (and indirectly (where the benefits of breast feeding have been scientifically documented)), so many times, and that in peer reviewed scientific journals, that even considering the validity of the nay-sayers as ridiculous. It compares with the recent Tim Noakes’ new diet refuting most of decades’ long dietary research.

    These, however, are nothing new. A conspiracy theory is dreamed up almost daily, and the unscientific mob loves them. It is apparent that the godbots are the easiest to convince that a scientifically untested idea is gospel. How could it be otherwise? The whole godbottery educates them in this metal behaviour.


    • That was not MY rant, that was a lucid commentary by a gay guy who also happens to be atheist, on how being gay has little or nothing to do with being atheist, and vice versa. Or at least it shouldn’t have anything to do with it, but gay men get so EMOTIONAL, and all.

      I don’t see how the topic of breast feeding belongs on an atheist website unless said website is run by gay men looking for alternatives to conventional methods of child rearing – as per Fanie’s rants on letting your child scream its head off whenever and wherever it feels like it.

      Good luck, you gay guys, on adopting and child rearing, now that you can get married and you have all that theoretical knowledge. It’s evolution gone wrong that you don’t have boobs and a vagina. Now to track down this arsehole called Evolution and moer the bastard.


      • Holy, we discuss a lot of scientific topics here too.

        This is not an atheist blog. It is a blog that discusses human rights violations where religious organisations are involved. Go ahead, read this!

        We like to discuss interesting topics. We don’t all have to agree, but discussion is interesting, and we learn from others this way.


        • So what are you saying, that it’s a human rights violation for women to have breasts and the Catholic church is behind the insufferable burden of 50% of the population having twin peaks? You have been rumbled, McBrolloks. The balloon is up. The cat is out of the bag. Die koeel is deur die kerk.


            • Don’t worry, Mac. I’m too overwhelming for anyone else’s blog so I’m sticking to being master of my own universe and completing my novel. I won’t be rewriting the bible, however, as JK Rowling already has the contract for that.


              • Good luck Holy.

                You give yourself a lot of credit saying: “I’m too overwhelming for anyone else’s blog so I’m sticking to being master of my own universe and completing my novel.”

                If by “overwhelming” you mean totally fucking nuts, I get it.

                Good luck with your novel.


  4. It is your rant, you posted it. And criticising the topics on someone else’s blog shows your arrogance we’ve become accustomed to.


  5. What did I do to deserve this?

    – Well my friends, it is not what you did but who you stood next to.
    – You mean I could get neurotic just standing next to my father or mother?
    – Yes, yes. But allow me to explain.

    People exude who they are from every pore of their being. I mean that literally. An uptight, tense mother radiates her repression. An angry father radiates his anger. They don’t have to “do” anything; just be. But it is worse than that. When their underlying feelings show themselves we sensed we were right to avoid them or be very careful around them. They distort our words, detour our natural movements and disapprove almost everything we do, not by words but by those looks. And worse, when they show no emotion, a child next door almost drowning, we know that feelings are what we keep to ourselves. The point is that even before we have words a child is undergoing a lifetime of experience. And the earlier the more impactful. It should be obvious; those early experiences that directly affect breathing, digestion and elimination are going to do a lot of damage and will last a lifetime.

    Secondly, those experiences that lie on the feeling level will certainly inhibit later access to our feelings.

    But now look at this: Our genes form the matrix of later life; that much we agree on. But there are epigenes, severe experiences that build a new “genetic” base called epigenetics and they get imprinted and compounded, change or distort the evolution of our genes. They then become “inherited.” We too often distort this with our genetic heritage, but those experiences are long duration and largely impervious to later events. They become a meld of genes and epigenes. Instead of saying, “she looks and acts just like her mother,” we need to say, “her mother was “infected” with neurosis, which got imprinted into the system of the offspring. And now…..she is just as hyperactive and ADD as her distracted and hyperactive mother.

    In other words the infant who is being carried has caught what could be a fatal disease: neurosis, the same one lying inside the mother. The baby will reflect the internal life of the mother and that is what will be imprinted inside him and last a lifetime. Why? Because this is what had been learned in order to adapt and adjust. No words, no reprimands, no social neglect; just who she is, does it all. Look at the work of The Association for Psychological Science. (Feb 3 2014). (see They discuss emotional synchrony. The baby is learning how to manage the incoming stress of the mother. They did studies of several different mothers who gave a talk with a different audience—one approving, one neutral and one not approving. Guess what?
    The 14 month old babies reflected what happened. Differences in heart rate and a greater stress response in those children of mothers who had disapproval. The children “learned” through some kind of osmosis. The were inculcated by the mother’s emotional state. Now imagine that the baby and mother are one, where the baby lives inside the mother. The influences are far more impactful.

    You see, you do not need to yell at the child; all you need to do as a mother, is be around the child and the damage can be done. Picked up early that my parents were emotionally removed. So I never even thought to tell them that a wave hit me and I almost drowned but someone saved me. Those vibes get picked up very early in our lives.

    So what gets transmitted? Odor, facial expression. Lack of feeling, body movements and on and on. All of the parent is transmitted to the child. And the child never says to himself, “I guess that’s the way it is, “ cause that is the way it is. Too often we are completely unconscious of it all. We live as we always have in a state without acknowledgment of that is just the way it is.

    All this to say that our early environment weighs heavily on this and can drive our behavior. In an article by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, they found that unique experiences in the womb may give a more profound effect on epigenetic factors that influence health later on. And though fraternal twins share a womb there is also the difference in the structures of the umbilical cord and placenta which play an important role. They found that even in identical twins there can be great differences in the methylation patterns between them. (see a preview of a Scientific American article on this topic:

    So you say to yourself, “Did I inherit my mother’s craziness?” and the answer could be, “Yes.” But not in the usual sense of inheritance. Rather, who she was, hyperactive (or depressed and down) while carrying, left you with a neurotic inheritance which still shaped your life.

    So is it life-long? I believe we can reverse some of it in our therapy and we shall test it soon, but I also believe that the earlier and stronger the imprint the less likely it can be reversed. The best we can do is love and hold the child right after birth and thereafter. The best way to reverse the imprint is through the slow, methodical process of therapy where the least pains can be integrated first. Finally descending to the great early traumas and the measuring the results. In other words, we need to trust nature and all its processes; chemical reversal is far too general and non-specific to each trauma. It is a shotgun when we need a scoped rifle. We need nature as a reference. It is when we leave nature behind that need the reference of statistics; never as good as nature itself.

    All those childhood studies that think it is early childhood that is to blame, which it is, in a sense, need to convert their work to earlier times if they want to be accurate. Arthur Janov


  6. Holy,
    Your anger is unrelenting ! Nowhere did I ever say that you should let a child “scream” WHEREVER” it wants to. I am beginning to think that your severe anger is blinding you and affecting your judgement. Do not put words in my mouth.

    A child who has been allowed to cry its pain out from day one as a baby, never has the need to go into a “scream”, such as what people stupidly call throwing a tantrum. Yes, a baby/child who was never allowed to cry its pain out, having been shaken and shushed and talked to from day one when it is crying, will definitely eventually start to scream and “throw tantrums”. One good example is in a supermarket or toy shop where the child wants an item but can’t have it.

    A healthy child (having cried its pain out) accepts the reality of the moment i.e. he/she cannot have that item now. There will be no screaming trauma.

    You are just so full of shit and anger. I also think you are bipolar.

    i lived in Los Angeles for many years amongst people who practised exactly what I have been posting about. It is indeed a wonderful and refreshing experience to see babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers who are so totally at ease with themselves from the moment of birth onwards to adulthood. You cannot even imagine it if you never saw it. I have a family member who allowed the same with his daughter. Today she is a mother herself and her child also cries his pain out in her arms. He is an extremely happy child.


    • You seem to see unrelenting anger, rage, shit, hysteria and bipolar disorder everywhere.

      Extract from a previous comment of yours: “Can you not see the simple fact that a six week old foetus has no defence mechanisms at all, in the face of a raging, hysterical and angry mother? She could be depressed, or even bipolar, filled with anxiety and panic, drinking many cups of coffee daily, or even drinking or doing drugs.”

      If I really had a serious disorder like manic depression I would consult a qualified specialist, not take advice from someone on the internet who sounds both hysterical and engaged in a personal smear campaign. Please do NOT address me again. I want nothing to do with you.


  7. Religion and also every and all belief systems, ideations, philosophies and cultist movements, provide hope for their followers. Hope is a very powerful painkiller. These institutions and entities promise wide differing varieties of hope in ending suffering or providing eternal life in some way or another.

    When you dangle hope in front of people, you have them in your power. You can do almost anything with them. They will forever hang onto your words
    and ply you with money and idolise you. They will suspend their lives and live in some sort of a twilight zone, waiting and hoping for the big reward that has been promised to them, until the end of their days.

    I used to know a woman who dared not leave her house in the morning until she had spoken to her fortune teller. She had disconnected completely from the reality within her. It is the reality that is part and parcel of our feelings and the connection to our bodies. Many people actually disconnect from their bodies, and forever after live in their heads. They try to solve all their problems by “thinking their way out of them”.

    Thus they create a never ending circle of thought processes, going round and round within their heads, unable to connect to their feelings again, because just underneath their “thinking brain” , lies a boiling cauldron of Pain which they experienced through their lives. very likely from soon after conception.

    A serious accident resulting in major injuries can cause the brain to block all memories of the trauma, thereby mercifully protecting the individual from the total awareness of the horror. However, there is a price to pay, and that means walking around disconnected from your centre of truth, which is your body and your feelings. That is when all sorts of crazy ideas and beliefs start to look very appealing. And the hope is there, being driven and pushed by the intolerable pain from below.

    Same thing happens if a person has been emotionally injured from a very young age. Often, the parents will dictate the act-out which a child will embrace in the years to come. E.g. a young girl will not be allowed to cry or talk back or shout or scream or behave in a way that the parents do not allow.
    But……. she will be allowed to eat as much as she can, and will often be encouraged by the a parent to do so. She will become overweight as a result, and no-one will see the neurotic situation for what it is, believing that “some people are just overweight, and others not”.

    The insanity continues unabated.


  8. Holy,
    On this very page you were told that you are arrogant. It was also suggested that you may be fucking nuts and that you have gone over the edge again.

    On another page someone told you that hes is sick and tired of your non-ending report about the saga with your neighbours, and also suggested that it could be actually you causing all that shit.

    I do not care whether you want anything to do with me or not. from the way you have been hogging this blog, your ranting and raving, you immense anger that makes you attack other commentators, I find you a most detestable person.

    Now, stop trying to crash my postings with all your uneducated bullshit


    • I ask you not to address me again, and you do it anyway!! I am not remotely interested in the crap you post. I was ignoring your posts before you decided to pester me into commenting on them, like the attention whore that you are. I gave my opinion and it infuriated you. Please look up narcissistic personality disorder.


  9. Holy,
    You did NOT ignore my posts. You attacked them viciously, with that boiling, seething anger and hatred that you so openly display in your posts. You insult and you attack. You are indeed an extremely hateful person! You immediately attacked one of my posts as “bullshit” before doing any kind of proper research, before asking me any further questions or wanting any further proof of the scientific validity of my posts.

    I will say it again…..Stop attacking my posts. I f you disagree, then ask me to provide absolute and total proof, otherwise shut the fuck up! It is very easy to find an article on the internet attacking and trying to debunk anything at all , no matter how scientific it is. That is what you did immediately after I posted something Arthur Janov wrote, dredging stuf up from 40 years ago. The guy is becoming a highly respected individual for the scientist that he is. His postings are increasingly peer reviewed by other highly recognised scientists who totally agree with him.

    In the not too distant future, we will see Arthur Janov recognised for the incredible work he is doing. talks about pain and feelings is bringing up pain for you and you can’t handle it, because you are so emotionally fucked up


    • When someone has given you misery for many years, it is normal to be relieved when they die. No seething anger, no hatred for someone you have long learned to pity. Just relief.

      You should not be posting on the internet if you insist only on adulation for your opinions. Opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one, and you don’t praise someone just for having an arsehole either.


  10. Why Shrinks Have Problems

    Suicide, stress, divorce — psychologists and other mental health professionals may actually be more screwed up than the rest of us.

    By Robert Epstein, Tim Bower

    In 1899 Sigmund Freud got a new telephone number: 14362. He was 43 at the time, and he was profoundly disturbed by the digits in the new number. He believed they signified that he would die at age 61 (note the one and six surrounding the 43) or, at best, at age 62 (the last two digits in the number). He clung, painfully, to this bizarre belief for many years. Presumably he was forced to revise his estimate on his 63rd birthday, but he was haunted by other superstitions until the day he died—by assisted suicide, no less—at the ripe old age of 83.

    That’s just for starters. Freud also had frequent blackouts. He refused to quit smoking even after 30 operations to correct the extensive damage he suffered from cancer of the jaw. He was a self-proclaimed neurotic. He suffered from a mild form of agoraphobia. And, for a time, he had a serious cocaine problem.

    Neuroses? Superstitions? Substance abuse? Blackouts? And suicide? So much for the father of psychoanalysis. But are these problems typical for psychologists? How are Freud’s successors doing? Or, to put the question another way: Are shrinks really “crazy”?

    I myself have been a psychologist for nearly two decades, primarily teaching and conducting research. So the truth is that I had some preconceptions about this topic before I began to investigate it. When, years ago, my mom told me that her one and only session with a psychotherapist had been disappointing because “the guy was obviously much crazier than I was,” I assumed, or at least hoped, that she was joking. Mental health professionals have access to special tools and techniques to help themselves through the perils of living, right?

    Sure, Freud was peculiar, and, yes, I’d heard that Jung had had a nervous breakdown. But I’d always assumed that—rumors to the contrary notwithstanding;—mental health professionals were probably fairly healthy.

    Turns out I was wrong.

    Doctor, Are You Feeling Okay?

    Mental health professionals are, in general, a fairly crazy lot—at least as troubled as the general population. This may sound depressing, but, as you’ll see, having crazy shrinks around is not in itself a serious problem. In fact, some experts believe that therapists who have suffered in certain ways may be the very best therapists we have.

    The problem is that mental health professionals—particularly psychologists—do a poor job of monitoring their own mental health problems and those of their colleagues. In fact, the main responsibility for spotting an impaired therapist seems to fall on the patient, who presumably has his or her own problems to deal with. That’s just nuts.

    Therapists struggling with marital problems, alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, and so on don’t function very well as therapists, so we can’t just ignore their distress. And ironically, with just a few exceptions, mental health professionals have access to relatively few resources when they most need assistance. The questions, then, are these: How can clients be protected—and how can troubled therapists be helped?

    The Odd Treating the Id

    Here’s a theory that’s not so crazy: Maybe people enter the mental health field because they have a history of psychological difficulties. Perhaps they’re trying to understand or overcome their own problems, which would give us a pool of therapists who are a hit unusual to begin with. That alone could account for the image of the Crazy Shrink.

    Of the many prominent psychotherapists I’ve interviewed in recent months, only one admitted that he had entered the profession because of personal problems. But most felt this was a common occurrence. In fact, the idea that therapy is a haven for the psychologically wounded is as old as the profession itself. Freud himself asserted that childhood loss was the underlying cause of an adult’s desire to help others. And Freud’s daughter, Anna, herself a prominent psychoanalyst, once said, “The most sophisticated defense mechanism I ever encountered was becoming a psychotherapist.” So it’s only appropriate that John Fromson, M.D., director of a Massachusetts program for impaired physicians, describes the mental health field as one in which “the odd care for the id.” He chuckled as he said this, but, as Freud claimed, humor is often a mask for disturbing truths.

    These impressions are confirmed by published research. An American Psychiatric Association study concluded that ‘”physicians with affective disorders tend to select psychiatry as a specialty.” (Curiously, the authors presented this as their belief, “for a variety of reasons,” without explanation.) In a 1993 study, James Guy, Ph.D., dean of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, compared the early childhood experiences of female psychotherapists to those of other professional women. The therapists reported higher rates of family dysfunction, parental alcoholism, sexual and physical abuse, and parental death or psychiatric hospitalization than did their professional counterparts. And a 1992 survey of male and female therapists found that more than two-thirds of the women and one-third of the men reported having experienced some form of sexual or physical abuse in early life. Freud seems to have been right about this one: The mental health professions attract people who have suffered.

    Patients Can Really Ruin Your Day

    So we’re starting out, it seems, with a pool of well-meaning but slightly damaged practitioners. Now the real fun begins.

    Check out the numbers: According to studies published in 1990 and 1991, half of all therapists are at some point threatened with physical violence by their clients, and about 40 percent are actually attacked. Try to put this in context. A special, intimate relationship exists between therapist and client. So being attacked by a client is a serious emotional blow, perhaps comparable, in some cases, to being a parent attacked by one’s child. Needless to say, therapists who are assaulted get very upset. They feel more vulnerable and less competent, and sometimes the feelings of inadequacy trickle over into their personal relationships.

    Let’s take this a step further. Imagine working with a depressed patient every week, without fail, for several years and then getting a call saying that your patient has killed herself. How would you feel? Alas, patient suicide is another hazard of the profession. Between 20 and 30 percent of all psychotherapists experience the suicide of at least one patient, again with often devastating psychological fallout. In a 1968 hospital study, psychiatrists reported reacting to patient suicides with feelings of “guilt and self-recrimination.” Others considered the suicide to be “a direct act of spite” or said it was like being “fired.” Whatever the reaction, the emotional toll is great.

    Virtually all mental health professionals agree that the profession is inherently hazardous. It takes superhuman strength for most people just to listen to a neighbor moan about his lousy marriage for 15 minutes. Psychologists, of course, enter the profession by choice, but you can imagine the effects of listening to clients talk about a never-ending litany of serious problems — eight long hours a day, 50 weeks a year. “My parents hated me. Life isn’t worth living. I’m a failure. I’m impotent. On the way over here, I felt like driving my car into a telephone pole. I’ll never be happy. No one understands me. I don’t know who I am. I hate my job. I hate my life. I hate you.”

    Just thinking about it makes you shudder.

    It’s a Rough World Out There

    Patients aren’t the only source of stress for psychotherapists. The world itself is pretty demanding. After all, that’s why there are patients.

    A number of surveys, conducted by Guy and others, reveal some worri-some statistics about therapists’ lives and well-being. At least three out of four therapists have experienced major distress within the past three years, the principal cause being relationship problems. More than 60 percent may have suffered a clinically significant depression at some point in their lives, and nearly half admitted that in the weeks following a personal crisis they’re unable to deliver quality care. As for psychiatrists, a 1997 study by Michael Klag, M.D., found that the divorce rate for psychiatrists who graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine between 1948 and 1964 was 51 percent—higher than that of the general population of that era, and substantially higher than the rate in any other branch of medicine.

    These days, therapists face a major new source of stress: HMOs. Richard Kilburg, Ph.D., senior director of human resources at Johns Hopkins University and one of the profession’s leading experts on distressed psychologists, says managed care is having a devastating effect: “Therapists are chronically anxious. It’s getting harder and harder to make a living, harder to provide quality care. The paperwork requirements are enormous. You can’t have a meeting of practicing psychologists today without having these issues being raised, and the pain level is rising. A number of my colleagues have been driven out of the profession altogether.”

    No wonder Richard Thoreson, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, estimates that at any particular moment about 10 percent of psychotherapists are in significant distress.

    The Final Resolution

    Bruno Bettelheim. Paul Federn. Wilhelm Stekel. Victor Tausk. Lawrence Kohlberg. Perhaps you recognize one or two of the names. They’re all prominent mental health professionals who, like Freud, committed suicide.

    All too often the stresses of work and everyday life lead mental health professionals down this path. According to psychologist David Lester, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Suicide, mental health professionals kill themselves at an abnormally high rate. Indeed, highly publicized reports about the suicide rate of psychiatrists led the American Psychiatric Association to create a Task Force on Suicide Prevention in the late 1970s. A study initiated by that task force, published in 1980, concluded that “psychiatrists commit suicide at rates about twice those expected [of physicians]” and that “the occurrence of suicides by psychiatrists is quite constant year-to-year, indicating a relatively stable over-supply of depressed psychiatrists.” No other medical specialty yielded such a high suicide rate.

    One out of every four psychologists has suicidal feelings at times, according to one survey, and as many as one in 16 may have attempted suicide. The only published data—now nearly 25 years old—on actual suicides among psychologists showed a rate of suicide for female psychologists that’s three times that of the general population, although the rate among male psychologists was not higher than expected by chance.

    Further studies of suicides by psychologists have been difficult to conduct, says Lester, largely because the main professional body for psychologists, the American Psychological Association APA), hasn’t released any relevant data since about 1970. Why? “The APA doesn’t want anyone to know that there are distressed psychologists,” insists University of Iowa psychologist Peter Nathan, Ph.D., a former member of an APA committee on “troubled” psychologists.


    Wait, there’s more. “Mental health professionals are probably at heightened risk for not just alcoholism but [all types of] substance abuse,” reports Nathan. It’s not surprising: Substance abuse is one of the most common—albeit destructive—ways people deal with anxiety and depression, and, as we’ve seen, mental health professionals have more than their share.

    Richard Thoreson’s decades of research on alcoholism, in fact, stemmed from his own problems with the bottle. “I began drinking at a fairly early age,” he says, “and I continued during my early academic career. My life was organized around drinking. It had a very negative impact on my family. At one point I resigned as president of an organization because I was too shaky to speak before a group. I stopped drinking in 1969, at which point I was drinking the equivalent of 16 ounces of whiskey a day.”

    In the 1970s, with the help of several colleagues, Thoreson founded an informal group called Psychologists Helping Psychologists, which has held open Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the annual APA convention ever since. This unofficial, all-volunteer group has helped hundreds of psychologists over the years — with no financial support from the APA.


    “Some therapists,” says James Guy, “expect to continue practicing longer than the life expectancies in actuarial tables.” But with advancing age, impairment is almost inevitable. Explains Guy: “Lower back pain becomes a problem. Failing eyesight and hearing make it difficult to pick up on subtle nuances. Poor bladder control can make it difficult to sit, and fatigue becomes a big factor.”

    Further complicating matters is that as therapists get older, more and more of their intimacy needs and social support actually comes from their patients. “Often, most of their waking hours are spent with clients, focusing on emotionally laden material,” notes Guy. “When that’s the situation, it’s difficult for them to think about retirement. It’s even difficult for them to know when to take time off.”

    Many psychotherapists become, in effect, woefully addicted to their clients, with no one offering them guidance or alternatives. In general, private, independent practices—often conducted out of the therapist’s home—put the therapist at greatest risk, no matter what his or her age. Thoreson adds that such practices have special appeal for therapists who don’t want to be seen by colleagues; the isolated practice is the ideal one for the alcoholic or drug abuser.


    If therapists really have special tools for helping people, shouldn’t they be able to use their techniques on themselves? After all, the late behavioral psychologist, B. F. Skinner, systematically applied behavioral principles to modify his own behavior, and he ridiculed Freud and the psychoanalysts for their inability to apply their “science” to themselves. University of Scranton psychologist John Norcross, Ph.D., and his colleagues have studied this issue extensively, with two major findings. First: “Therapists admit to as much distress and as many life problems as laypersons, but they also claim to cope better. They rely less on psychotropic medications and employ a wider range of self-change processes than laypersons.”

    This sounds encouraging, but Norcross’s second finding makes you stop and think: “When therapists treat patients, they follow the prescriptions of their theoretical orientation. But the amazing thing is that when therapists treat themselves, they become very pragmatic.” In other words, when battling their own problems, therapists dispense with the psychobabble and fall back on everyday, commonsense techniques—chats with friends, meditation, hot baths, and so on.

    But aren’t psychotherapists required to be in therapy at various points in their careers, so that they get specialized help from their colleagues? Not so. “People are shocked when they learn this isn’t true,” says Gary Schoener, Ph.D., who directs The Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis, perhaps the country’s first and last free psychology clinic. “Lawyers are subjected to more psychological screens than psychologists are.”

    Surveys do indicate that most therapists—between 65 and 80 percent—have had therapy at some point. However, except for psychoanalysts—the pricey, traditional Freudians you see more in movies than in reality—psychotherapists are virtually never required to undergo therapy, even as a part of their training.

    Freud himself would be appalled by this. “Every analyst should periodically—at intervals of five years or so—submit himself to analysis,” he said. Unfortunately—and ironically—many psychotherapists are reluctant to seek therapy. In a survey by Guy and James Liaboe, Ph.D., for example, therapists said they were hesitant to enter therapy “because of feelings of embarrassment or humiliation, doubts concerning the efficacy of therapy, previous negative experiences with personal therapy, and feelings of superiority that hinder their ability to identify their own need for treatment.” Others are hesitant to seek therapy because of professional `complications’ — that is, they cannot find a therapist nearby whom they do not already know in another context. Or they mistakenly believe, as many patients do, that seeking therapy is a sign of failure.

    “I worry,” says psychologist Karen Saakvitne, Ph.D., “about the implication that the therapists who are in therapy are the ones who are impaired. They are the ones acting in their clients’ best interest. I’m more worried about the therapists who don’t seek help.”


    Maybe there’s an upside to all these problems among psychologists — if, say, a therapist needs to have experienced pain and suffering in order to relate to his or her clients’ pain and suffering. This “wounded healer” concept is, I believe, woven into the fabric of the mental health profession. When I served as chair of a university psychology department, I helped evaluate candidates for our marriage and family counseling program. The admission process — interview questions, essays, and so on — was structured, albeit subtly, to screen out people who hadn’t suffered enough. What’s more, I’ve heard colleagues express concern about the occasional student or trainee who, through no fault of his or her own, came from an unbroken home.

    Data supporting this idea, however, are hard to find. “There’s no evidence whatsoever that you need a history of psychological problems in order to be a good therapist,” insists John Norcross. “In some studies, in the first few sessions only, [patients see] the wounded therapist as a little more empathetic, but the effect doesn’t last. Experience with pain can enhance a therapist’s sensitivity, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into good outcomes.”

    “I don’t think therapists need to have had the same experiences as their clients,” adds psychologist Laurie Pearlman, Ph.D. “As long as the therapist can feel those feelings, he or she can connect with clients.”

    On the other hand, in 1989 psychologists Pilar Poal, Ph.D., and John R. Weisz, Ph.D., found that therapists who faced serious problems in their own childhood are more effective at helping child clients talk about their problems, perhaps because of greater empathy. That study, however, is practically the only one that supports the wounded-healer hypothesis.


    So you’ve gotten into therapy because your life is falling apart — and now you have to keep one eye on your therapist just in case his or her life is falling apart, too? Basically, yes. Like it or not, you, the client, are probably carrying the major responsibility for spotting the signs of distress or impairment in your therapist, especially if you’re seeing an independent practitioner. The current president of the California Psychological Association, Steven F. Bucky, Ph.D., puts it this way: “The truth of the matter is that unless someone complains about an impaired therapist, there is no protection for the client.”

    Here are some tips for protecting yourself from impaired mental health professionals, and, perhaps, in so doing, for helping them overcome their own problems. Remember, therapists are people, too.

    First, it’s probably safer to bring your problems to a practitioner who works in a group setting. Independent, isolated therapists are probably at greatest risk for having undetected and untreated problems of their own. On the other hand, therapists working for managed care organizations or working under the gun of insurance companies are exposed to special constraints and stressors that may limit their ability to help you.

    Second, trust your gut. “If you get the feeling that there’s a problem, you shouldn’t deny what your instincts are telling you,” says Kilburg. If, during your session, a little voice in your head begins screaming, “This guy’s eyes remind me of my college roommate’s when he was tripping on acid,” don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    Indeed, any time your therapist shows clear signs of personal distress or impairment, bring your concerns to his or her attention. (Ideally, do this on the therapist’s dime, after your session is over.) If you’re uneasy about raising the issue with your therapist, talk to one of his or her colleagues about it. Or, consider finding a new therapist. If you think your therapist’s problem is serious and has the potential to do harm, report it to the appropriate professional organization or licensing body (see below). You have legitimate cause for concern if your therapist:

    shows signs of excessive fatigue, such as red eyes or sleepiness.

    touches you inappropriately or tries to see you socially.

    smells of alcohol, or you see liquor bottles or drug paraphernalia in the office.

    has trouble seeing or hearing.

    talks at length about his or her own current, unresolved problems. This is known as a “boundary violation,” and it’s especially worrisome, because it’s often a prelude to a sexual advance. In fact, therapists who talk about their own unresolved problems are more likely to make sexual advances than those who actually touch their clients.

    has trouble remembering what you told him or her last week.

    is repeatedly late for sessions, cancels them, or misses them.

    seems distant or distracted.

    For help locating the appropriate organization or board, call the relevant national organization. For psychologists, call the American Psychological Association at (202) 336-5000; for psychiatrists, call the American Psychiatric Association at (202) 682-6000. If your therapist is a marriage and family counselor, try the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy at (202) 452-0109, and if your therapist is a social worker, try the National Association of Social Workers at (202) 408-8600.

    Contributing editor Robert Epstein’s most recent books include Self-Help Without the Hype and Pure Fitness: Body Meets Mind.


  11. Holy,
    Once again ….. Arthur Janov is NOT psychology, neither psychoanalysis, neither any of all the other pshycotherapeutic bullshit that has been around for a hundred years.

    Arthur Janov is PRIMAL THERAPY, a therapy that helps a patient to access, in a slow and gentle way, the deep pains from his past. Primal therapy has undergone non-stop reseach and progress since 1965. Yes, just like any science on earth, in the beginning mistakes were made. But being the scientist he is, Arthur Janov refined and honed the therapy until today it is done with almost mathematical precision,

    There is no mumbo jumbo or any bullshit to it. It is real, it is safe, it is tremendously effective and healing. Other fake bullshit artists, both lay people and psychologists/psychiatrists, have jumped on the bandwagon thinking they can just do it because they read one of his 16 books to date. they have messed people up badly.

    Please note the following…..

    Recently, citing his dissatisfaction with the progress being made in helping people suffering with a broad range of mental diseases, the President of the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA invited Dr. Arthur Janov to a meeting to discuss and present his work. This is probably in progress right now. We will hear about the outcome of these meetings.

    All the Freudian and other bullshit that you once again just posted in an attempt to crash what I am saying about mental health, is just that:
    Bullshit, all of it.

    Psychology/Psychiatry does not help people to access deep pains in a slow and methodical way. It is just hot air, all that talking and “analysing”.

    Now please, leave me in peace and allow me to post updates and information about mental health or mental disease as it relates to people who suffer and grab onto gods and all sorts of other kak as a painkiller.


  12. “… the President of the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA invited Dr. Arthur Janov to a meeting to discuss and present his work. This is probably in progress right now. We will hear about the outcome of these meetings.”

    One can only hope so, as Arthur Janov is ninety years old.


  13. Even at the age of ninety, Arthur Janov is as alert and lucid as anyone.
    He has been running his blog for five years now, and still does so to this day.


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