Friday, 23 February 2007

Guardian interview

An interview with Darian in today's Guardian, which is largely friendly, but which contains two major errors. We have sent the following letter to the Guardian.
Dear Guardian,
We were very pleased to read the piece in Friday's Guardian about our book 'Why do people get ill?, yet wanted to correct two important errors in it. The claim ascribed to us that "Illness - even cancer - is the body's way of communicating..." is exactly what the book argues against. A whole chapter spells this out clearly, as does a does a chapter devoted specifically to cancer. Our argument is actually that not all illnesses are attempts at communication. Believing this to be the case was one of the great problems with early psychosomatic research. The piece also quotes one of us as setting the beneficial outcome of psychoanalysis at 20 to 30 years, figures that are of course absurd and which were nowhere stated.
Darian leader and David Corfield
Aside from these, I found another comment of Stuart Jeffries a little odd. After mentioning a case of an artist being treated for the effects of teeth grinding (bruxism), Jeffries writes:
One of my problems with Leader's new book is that while it may be convincing to argue that grinding one's teeth has a psychological cause, can it be true that cancer and heart disease may have psychological factors in what Leader calls the "constellation of causes"?
Now the interview took place before the book came out, so possibly Jeffries hadn't had the chance to read an advance copy. But then why is talking about his "problems with Leader's new book"? On the other hand, if he had read it, why didn't he explain what he found implausible about the chapters on heart disease and cancer, and the supporting chapter on the immune system?

He ends by saying that Darian "may well be a voice out of time", in the sense that even if the message of our book is right, it is quite likely to be ignored by government and doctors. Well, we're hardly expecting an overnight transformation. And even if it is ignored, if right, then it ought to have been written. Finally, our audience is not restricted to the government and medical profession. We all have a responsibility to contribute to a healthier society. The person who bullies a workplace colleague may be contributing to more than mental anguish.

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