I wrote previously about CEASE Therapy and the awful way in which it is marketed to prey on parental guilt and anxiety. In this post I want to look at the way CEASE selectively promotes its efficacy. CEASE is marketed almost exclusively using anecdotal evidence of recovery. The CEASE website has a number of unconvincing anonomous case studies, and they also provide links to another powerful part of their marketing strategy – the blogs of parents who are apparently having success treating their children’s ASD using CEASE. There are a number of these blogs such as
I’m sure that the reasons for creating these blogs was to establish a support network, to share experiences and to discuss their childrens ASD with those going through similar experiences. These are, of course very laudible aims by genuine people facing huge challenges. But these blogs are often a source of misinformation, encourage fallacious thinking and censor comments which may give parents a more critical view of dubious interventions which provide false hope. I recently came across a series of interesting exchanges on this blog which I think are worth sharing. Apart from the staggeringly bizarre advice given to the poster – which includes the blog author’s Homeopath Sima Ash suggesting treatment using isotonic minerals obtained from a UK Vet – it provides a fascinating insight into how CEASE Therapists practice in private. Anna’s first post about CEASE says
“My daughter Scarlett has been doing the CEASE therapy since August 2011 when she was 3 years old. We stopped in March 2012 due to a backfire with the treatment. We started to detox and DTAP she had her first 10M in February. She had a dreadful aggravation and regression to it and the regression never stopped from that day.”
‘DTaP’ refers to a common CEASE protocol involving ‘clearing’ using a high potency DTaP isopathic remedy. This is made from the DTaP Vaccine itself diluted according to homeopathic principles, based on the flawed premise that the vaccine was a causative factor in the childs ASD. Anna was concerned enough about the ‘aggrevations’ she observed to stop CEASE Therapy altogether, despite I presume believing that homeopathic remedies are inherently safe.
“Now 10 months later Scarlett is worse than ever. She screams and hums and rocks on the floor all day. She has no language and no interest in the world.”
Now I am not being critical of Anna, but I don’t think for one minute that CEASE harmed Scarlett in any way. I believe she is mistaken. At the potency mentioned, 10M, there were no active ingredients of DTaP in the remedies she was given and so any perceived ‘regression’ was likely the natural course of her development (or due to some unknown other factor). But because CEASE encourages parents to attribute cause and effect to factors they believe caused ASD, and to make subjective assessments of the effectiveness of treatment over short time periods based on observation it is unsurprising that sometimes incorrect negative associations of cause and effect can also be made. In this case, Anna concluded that the rapid regression was directly linked to beginning CEASE
“She had moderate autism before the CEASE therapy now she has severe autism. I would give anything to have her back the way she was before the treatment. I do not know what to do. My CEASE therapist has tried everything to stop it including 20 different constitutional remedies. Nothing has worked. Have you ever heard of this happening and what are your thoughts on this?”
Whether right or wrong, Anna clearly believes that CEASE has had a negative effect on her daughter, despite the desperate attempts of the homeopath to
buy time until a perceived positive improvement occurs and then take the credit for it identify a ‘constitutional remedy’ for Scarlett which would help. At this point, some people would question whether the therapy recommended by an “extensively trained” CEASE practitioner was working at all, but the blog author a self styled ‘warrior mom’ attempts to weasel a way out for the Homeopath by asking
“Did your homeopath ever try dilutions of the potency causing the aggravations?”
which prompted this unequivical response from Anna
“We tried the diluted method several times which only made the situation worse. My homeopath, Ursula is the most experience CEASE therapist in the UK and she is baffled by Scarlett’s case. She has been asking for advice worldwide but come up with nothing.
By a process of deduction, the Homeopath in question is Ursula Kraus-Harper. She is a Member of the Society of Homeopaths, makes claims on her website which breach the SOH Code of Ethics and Practice, and has some interesting views on vaccine safety. She also makes this fallacy mangled claim about CEASE Therapy
“Clinical experience has shown that it works in almost all cases, except when there is brain damage. Note that no conventional randomised, controlled trials (RCTs) have been carried out to support this statement (in the same way as such RCTs have not been carried out for most of the treatment you get on the NHS).”
So it works as well as something else without a good quality evidence base?! High praise indeed. Despite the lack of results Anna confirms to another CEASE Therapist on the blog that she is continuing to consult with the baffled Ursula
“Many thanks for your advice Sima, I will get Scarlett started with this as soon as I can. I am meeting with Ursula on Sunday so I will pass on your email address if that’s OK and maybe she can contact you regarding some more advice.
whilst also mentioning another anecdotal case (presumably from Ursula herself tut tut)
“I know she has taken on another Child who regressed and developed seizures with CEASE from another CEASE therapist in Holland. If another child can be helped from this it would be great.
So what have we learnt from this exchange about CEASE and Homeopathy? CEASE encourages parents to use short term subjective measures of success based on personal observation which are inherently unreliable and subject to unconcious bias. Parents who believe and commit to the CEASE approach however may still continue treatment and be convinced of its value even in the face of perceived negative results and anecdotes of the potential for harm. While there are unimpressive anecdotal cases of CEASE being ‘successful’ which are touted by proponents as good evidence, there are also anecdotal cases of it causing direct harm such as those above. Those who wrongly give weight to anecdotes over proper high quality evidence and promote and practice CEASE therapy are seemingly happy to dismiss or ignore these negative anecdotes. Yet again, when faced with a lack of success and having exhausted all know approaches an experienced homeopath and SOH member unashamedly continues to believe in magic pills, a stubbornness in the face of stark reality which does no good for the children and parents they claim to be helping. Ursula may be baffled that a flawed approach such as CEASE which uses pseudoscientific and inert treatments failed to produce tangible results, but I am not. Are you?
It seems that Ursula Kraus-Harper isn’t very happy with my criticism of her. She has recently updated her blog with the following:-
(Apparently someone called Slippydidoo or so posted a blog about me on the internet, which claims that I doubt homeopathy or the Cease therapy. I am doubtful about many things, especially of people who do not disclose their names when attacking other people. But I certainly do not doubt the effectiveness of homeopathy and of the Cease therapy. Quite the contrary!)
I thought the only reasonable thing would be to send her a polite email explaining my position.
I note from your website that you claim I have got some facts wrong in my blog post about you (from June 2013).
Well it seems you have got one major one wrong yourself in your response.
Let us be clear – I have never suggested or claimed that you ‘doubt’ the CEASE or Homeopathy which you practice this is a misunderstanding on your part. Your commitment to inert confectionary as medicine is obvious.
What I actually did was comment on a posters account of treatment which said that CEASE practitioner ‘Ursula’ was ‘baffled’ and CEASE Therapy had failed to successfully treat her child.
You may well have no doubts about CEASE but that’s irrelevant – ‘Anna’ certainly had doubts – and it was an intervention which brought no benefit to her daughter.
That’s the important point isn’t it? One you fail to address.
Slippydidoo or so