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Teachers, magnets, pseudo-healers... Parasciences (and their dangers) are common

Teachers, magnets, pseudo-healers… Parasciences (and their dangers) are common

Paris science is arousing increased enthusiasm among the French, especially in this period of health crisis. Something to worry about health professionals and public authorities.

According to a recent surveyifop In collaboration with the Jean-Jaurès Foundation for current wife, 58% of the French say they believe in “at least one” of man’s disciplines, such as astrology (41%), handwriting (29%) or even magic (28%). For their part, non-traditional medicines, such as energy practices, homeopathy or healers, have more and more followers. You don’t have to worry about this princesses craziness.

Hamas is undeniable.

“Practices that do not correspond to data gained from science or illegal practices in medicine multiply exponentially,” testifies Jean Thévenot, President of the Occitanie Regional Council of the Physicians Union. “Just type in the name of any medical activity on the Internet, like ‘therapist’ for example, to find dozens of them, most of which don’t match anything, and many of them will extort money from people who are in good faith considering seeking treatment.”

An increase confirmed by the Inter-ministerial Mission for Vigilance and Combating Sectarian Violations (Miviludes). “We are witnessing an undeniable enthusiasm for unconventional therapeutic practices,” the foundation told La Dépêche newspaper. “As a corollary to a significant and alarming increase in the number of so-called pseudo-healers. We see it on websites but also in salons organized around unconventional practices and wellbeing.”

“It’s hard, even for a sharp mind, to sort out”

But how do we explain this phenomenon? “It is clear that Covid, with all the misinformation swirling around it, is only increasing it,” said Jean Thévenot. “During this period of concern for everyone and where everyone must adapt, miraculous proposals or just promises of explanation and solution to deal with the situation find a wider resonance,” Miviludes explains for her part. “Our citizens are not more naive, but they are more receptive to alternative solutions.”

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Thus, in recent months Miviludes has received dozens of reports regarding health proposals, such as advice to prevent infection with the virus or pseudo-cures against Covid-19 against the background of conspiracy theories.

The president of the Occitan Regional Council of the Medical Syndicate also points to the role of social networks. “It allows you to send all the information you want in all directions without verification and with no connection to reality. And it is difficult, even for a sharp mind, to sort out what corresponds to real medicine or unreasonable things.” Another fact indicated: “We are in a society where we tend to question everything that has been created. This is very good, but we must know where to stop,” said the doctor.

“Through their psychological contribution, treatments can help”

How do you protect yourself from it? For Jean Thevenot, the first thing to do is talk to his doctor. “And depending on what he says, you may be accompanied by more ‘linked’ treatments than the alternatives,” he explains. “I have the example of a patient, with breast cancer, who did not come for surgery because a teacher advised against doing so. Fortunately, she came to talk to me about it, and the Physicians Syndicate was able to intervene.”

“Another example is misinformation about vaccines. Anti-tax campaigns are generally based on unproven data. I spend my time convincing my patients to get vaccinated. Today, it’s Covid, but before that. The vaccine was against HPV, hepatitis B, and tetanus. … In any situation, a benefit/risk analysis must be determined. For most vaccines, they have a much greater benefit than the risks. A clinician can be helpful and put things in perspective, provided he has more confidence in caregivers than in social networks” .

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Some alternative medicines are more harmful than others, nuance Jean Thévenot. “Some aim to support care, while others aim to replace it. Through their psychological contribution, treatments can help. For example, a therapist who somehow helps someone who is doing radiotherapy for a patient. The main thing is that those who do not seek to Replacing proven medical care. That’s where we hold on tight.”

What does the law say?

Article 39 of the Code of Ethics states, “Physicians shall not present to patients or their retinue as beneficial or without risk a treatment or operation that has been dummy or has been inadequately tested. The practice of quackery is prohibited.”

Article 32 also states that “once he has agreed to respond to the request, the physician undertakes to personally guarantee to the patient the conscience and dedication and on the basis of data gained from science, by appeal, if necessary, with the assistance of competent third parties.”