Alt-Medicated in Beverly Hills

— Founder of “cult-like” alt-med cancer charity Johannes Fisslinger took donations from Clint Eastwood and other celebrities to fund breast cancer research, but now Fisslinger says the money wasn’t used to research breast cancer

— Another celebrity says Fisslinger used her name and image without her consent to promote a high-profile breast cancer research fundraising gala in LA – If someone misleads once, they will do it again. We won’t be used.

Johannes Fisslinger is an LA-based proponent/teacher of complementary and alternative therapies, and the founder of the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation (LPF) medical programme, recently the subject of a report by BuzzFeed UK (click here to read).

According to an e-mail Fisslinger sent subscribers of his LPF programme, Fisslinger once received a donation from renowned actor Clint Eastwood intended for Fisslinger’s now-defunct breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF).

source

What Fisslinger doesn’t mention in his e-mail is that money supposedly given to him by Eastwood and other celebrities wasn’t used to research breast cancer, and might even have been used to fund a “cult-like” alternative medicine programme whose members were later blamed for causing the deaths of three cancer patients.

He also doesn’t mention that another celebrity, whom it was claimed had a major role in a high-profile charity fundraising gala, now says Fisslinger misrepresented her involvement and used her name and image without her consent.

Johannes Fisslinger (source)

HBCF was founded in 2004 as the research arm of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), a California-based alternative medicine non-profit that teaches the discredited theories of the late German doctor and virulent anti-Semite Ryke Geerd Hamer, who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Hamer claimed that all diseases are caused by sudden or prolonged emotional trauma, and argued that conventional medicine, which he believed was a Jewish conspiracy, should be rejected in favour of non-pharmacological – or “natural” – treatment methods, including talking therapy.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

In 2007, IMMA held a high-profile charity fundraising and awards gala in Beverly Hills to raise money “to research the cause and natural healing mechanism of cancer” and “to honor six of the leading proponents in integrative medicine.”

The gala, which was promoted by the TODAY show and lampooned by the Washington Post, featured an all-star cast of big names and famous faces, some of whom paid up to $30,000 to attend.

RSVP Card - Heal Breast Cancer Awards Galasource

The money was supposed to fund the following research projects:

• Brain Relay Diagnostics – confirming the Organ-Brain Connection
• Traumatic Life Events causing breast cancer
• Pre-tumor breast cancer diagnosis and prevention

source

However, Fisslinger now says he did not carry out any research with the funds raised at the gala, except for a small study that was never published in any medical journal.

“Our intention was to do research,” said Fisslinger. “But then we found out quickly that it is very, very difficult to do preventive research into breast cancer and that the needed funds are very difficult to get.”

While Fisslinger didn’t say how much money was raised at the gala, public records show that for the financial year 2006-2007, IMMA grossed over $135,000 – significantly more than the organisation has made in any one year before or since.

source

So where did the money go? According to Fisslinger: “We did a small research project with Prof. Reiff from Cairo University but it was actually never published in a medical journal – then we basically decided to focus on teaching/training and helping clients.”

That’s when the bodies began to pile up.

In 2009, a Norwegian television station reported that at least three cancer patients died after they were advised by high-ranking members of IMMA’s Advisory Council, Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen, to stop conventional treatments.

TV 2 headline, April 17, 2009 (source)

Last year another prominent IMMA practitioner from Mumbai, Anu Mehta, wrote that a severely ill cancer patient she had treated for depression using “crayon drawing analysis” committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Fisslinger insists that IMMA practitioners follow a strict code of practice, but was unable to provide any research to verify Hamer’s theory that diseases are caused by emotional trauma.

“At this point we just don’t have double-blind studies and research to verify that specific life experiences, emotions, stresses affect specific organs,” said Fisslinger.

He added: “The reality is that over 1,000 health professionals [use] this knowledge daily in their work with clients. They wouldn’t do that if it [didn’t] help them in their analysis and in helping clients heal.”

I also spoke with some of those who were said to have been involved in the 2007 gala.

Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author/former White House public health advisor under the Clinton and Obama administrations, said he had “no relationship” with HBCF or IMMA.

Centre: Dr. Dean Ornish at the HBCF Awards & Gala (source)

Dr. Robert M. Goodman, professor of Applied Science at Indiana-Bloomington University, said he had “very limited contact from the Foundation and did not contact them” or do any breast cancer research while on HBCF’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Robert M. Goodman (source)

Marc Neveu, PhD, an honorary fellow at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, said he only had “a minor role on the advisory board and was not able to attend the event.”

Mark Neveu, PhD (source)

One famous actress whom it was claimed had a major role in the gala and whose name I’ve agreed to withhold, said Fisslinger misrepresented her involvement and later used her name and image, without her consent, in a 2015 promotional video for an event in Hawaii.

Here’s what her agent told me:

[Fisslinger] misstated and admitted to [redacted] NOT being involved with the breast cancer event.

He used her name in the Hawaii conference without approval in order to generate business.

He used her name/image (unauthorized) for the video.

I’ve told him that if he removes [redacted]’s name from any and all references to him, his company, mission, etc, I will be still.

He said he would do it.

I don’t like misrepresentations at all.

Clearly those who do it use [redacted] to enrich themselves and in so doing, they are misrepresenting her name, goal, intents, etc.

I don’t want to be further involved and will never have anything to do with this man/org. moving forward.

I know many of those with whom he deals.

If someone misleads once, they will do it again. We won’t be used.

Fisslinger didn’t reply when asked to clarify if he used other celebrities’ names and images without their consent, but here’s a list of those who were said to have been involved:

Benefit Committee
Ben Stiller
Geena Davis
Tommy Lee Jones
Sir Ben Kingsley
Rosie O’Donnell
Kathy Griffin
Paula Abdul
Teri Polo
Lisa Vidall
Shaun Toub
Mario Lopez
Alfre Woodard
Harold Perrineau
Kendall Payne
Allison Janney
Tyler Hilton
Lourdes Benedicto
Antonio Sabbato Jr.
Laura Innes

Honorees
Dr. Dean Ornish
Eckhart Tolle
Susan Ryan Jordan
William Arntz
Dr. Christian Northrup
Dr. O. Carl Simonton

Celebrity Guests
Laura Dern
Ben Harper
Seane Corn
Ron Moss
Jon Seda
Lili Haydn
Caitlin Crosby
Elaine Hendrix
Kelly McCarthy
Dr. Raj Kanodia

Scientific Advisory Board
Robert M. Goodman, PhD, MPH, MA
Friedemann Schaub MD, PhD
Andrew S. Baum, PhD
Bruce Lipton, PhD
John C. Pan, MD
John Gray, PhD
Gerhard Schwenk, MD
Richard Flook, PhD
Ruediger Dahlke, MD
Mark Neveu, PhD
Nicki Monti, PhD
HP Christa Uricher

Board of Directors
Erich Haeffner
Anton Bader, MD
Johannes R. Fisslinger, PhD
Danijela Haric, MA
HP Jutta M. Fisslinger

Freunde von Meta-Medicine

Here’s what celeb doctors Dean Ornish and David Katz said when I asked about their involvement in freaky alt-med organisation (one of them accused me of harassment!)

Last month, I blogged about the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), an LA-based integrative medicine organisation with ties to Ryke Geerd Hamer, a ghoulish German doctor who lost his licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

IMMA teaches that the body can naturally heal itself of illness and disease, claims originating in Hamer’s highly speculative model of disease, the “Germanic New Medicine” (GNM).

Founded in 2004 by Johannes Fisslinger – inventor of the “Aura Video Station” – IMMA has attracted several world-famous American doctors and alternative medicine practitioners.

The Aura Video Station

source

In 2007, best-selling author and White House policy/public health advisor during the Clinton and Obama administrations, Dr. Dean Ornish was awarded¹ the distinction of Excellence in Integrative Medicine” from IMMA’s breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF).

Based on Hamer’s widely discredited theories, HBCF believes that cancer can be prevented and even cured via a “biopsychosocial and holistic understanding of the body, mind, spirit and environment connection.”

2127726747_edd1cc0985_o

Dr. Dean Ornish (photo by Joi Ito)

Dr. Ornish later appeared in Fisslinger’s 2010 film, Titans of Yoga, and at one time was slated to host the 2013 Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit.”²

As recently as March 2016, Dr. Ornish was identified as a teacher at IMMA’s online teaching university, Meta-Health University (MHU).

Meta-Medicine Tuition Dean Ornish MD

Dr. Ornish’s other connections to pseudo-science have been criticised by anti-quack medicine experts, still it was surprising to see him featured alongside Quackwatch regular Dr. Bernie S. Siegelwho claims that “happy people generally don’t get sick,” and Gary Craig, inventor of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), sometimes described as “emotional acupuncture.”

When I asked about Dr. Ornish teaching at MHU, Fisslinger replied that he had invited Dr. Ornish to teach, but had not confirmed anything.”

When I asked Dr. Ornish, he initially replied that he has no relationship” with MHU. He subsequently clarified that he in fact had been invited to speak, but had not yet confirmed anything.”

Dr. Ornish did not respond to questions about his participation in the 2007 gala and 2013 summit.

The Katz Connection

Dr. Ornish was replaced in the above list of “Guest Faculty Speakers” by celebrity nutrition expert and author/columnist Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of the CDC-funded Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

Meta-Medicine Tuition David Katz MD

Dr. Katz is also listed as an MHU faculty member in the organisation’s 2015 programme.

META-Health University Program Guide 2015

source

When asked about his relationship with IMMA or MHU, Dr. Katz replied that he has never endorsed any of the company’s programmes or products.

I once gave a talk, via Skype, on my model of integrative medicine for something called the Meta Health Summit [but] that is the extent of my involvement,” said Dr. Katz.

Dr. David Katz (source)

I also asked him about his correspondence with German journalist Aribert Deckers.

A few weeks before the 2010 Integrative Medicine Congress” – an IMMA event held in Munich, at which Dr. Katz was scheduled to appear – Deckers wrote an open letter to Dr. Katz informing him about IMMA’s ties to the notorious Hamer.

Here is Dr. Katz’s June 17, 2010 reply to Deckers:

Thank you for these precautions, Aribert.

The speech was canceled roughly a week ago; I would hope the website would promptly be updated to reflect that.

All best,
DK

Three years later, Dr. Katz gave his Skype talk at the 2013 Meta-Health summit.

Meta-Health Summit Dr. David Katz

Deckers then published a statement accusing Dr. Katz of knowingly support[ing] a lethal cancer fraud.”

After having sent my email (Date: Thu, June 17, 2010) to Prof. David Katz, and having spoken with his office I thought that he would stop from making further contacts with the “meta-mediciners”. But that is not the case: Prof. David Katz AGAIN is on the list of speakers at a “meta-mediciner” “symposium”. But this time he can not claim to have known nothing.

Responding to Deckers’ accusations, Dr. Katz said he doesn’t recall the exchange, but reiterated that he “did not support anything,” stating: I gave a talk, and permission to promote only that.”

As of publication, Dr. Katz is still listed as a “Guest Faculty Speaker” at MHU. 

Incidentally, MHU’s sister website, Lifestyle Prescriptions TV, charges ninety-seven dollars per year to watch Dr. Katz’s 2013 Skype conversation with Fisslinger.

I asked Dr. Katz if he had signed-off on the sale of these videos.³

Dr. Katz then referred me to his attorney, Alan Neigher, who didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. When I again asked Dr. Katz, here’s what he sent me:

Sterling/Dean/Cartoon Character-

You have asked me the same questions several times, and I have answered them. My office has done the same. At this point, you are harassing us. Kindly state your agenda.

Best,


David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM
Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center
Griffin Hospital 

Read part one and two of my series on the Meta-Medicine movement here:

• The Macabre Origins of the Meta-Medicine Movement (Part one) – June 9, 2016
• Lifting the Lid on the Meta-Medicine Movement (Part two) – June 30, 2016

¹The award is a regular feature of Dr. Ornish’s online biography, and was even cited in his 2009 health care reform testimony to the US senate.

²According to Johannes Fisslinger’s April 29, 2013 e-mail to Dr. David Katz, the presenters of the 2013 Meta-Health summit were said to include Bruce Lipton, Dr. Dean Ornish, Wayne B. Jonas (Samueli Institute) and John Robbins.

³According to Johannes Fisslinger’s April 29, 2013 and July 8, 2013 e-mails to Dr. David Katz, Fisslinger offered Dr. Katz the option to become a Meta-Health “summit partner,” by which Dr. Katz would receive “50% commission on all upgrade summit sales,” including “digital downloads or DVD sets.”

The Macabre Origins of the Meta-Medicine Movement

The first in a three-part series charting the rise of the Meta-Medicine movement

If you’re interested in the often murky world of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), chances are you’ve heard of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA).

Founded in 2004 by Johannes Fisslinger – inventor of the Aura Video Station – IMMA (via its online university, Meta-Health University) claims to have trained over 1,000 practitioners in “the art and science of self-healing,an elaborate philosophy of preventive health focused on diagnosing the root causes of disease.

The university’s faculty list reads like a who’s who of the contemporary CAM scene, counting among its guest speakers pediatric surgeon Dr. Bernie Siegel, celebrity nutrition expert Dr. David Katz, and biologist Bruce Lipton.

Via its non-profit research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF), IMMA has attracted Hollywood actors like Ben Stiller and Geena Davis, and garnered high-profile endorsements from Dr. Dean Ornish and self-help guru Eckhart Tolle.

Yet despite its penchant for attracting big names, little is known about the lurid origins of this self-proclaimed “revolutionary new healing paradigm.

The central tenet of IMMA’s philosophy of preventive health is that the body is capable of healing itself naturally. The claims are based on the discredited theories of Ryke Geerd Hamer, a German doctor who lost his licence in 1986 as a result of extreme misconduct.

IMMA posits the onset of disease as occurring when a person suffers sudden or prolonged emotional trauma; to “self-heal,” they must overcome this trauma.

To understand Hamer’s theories, or by extension those of IMMA, you have to start with the story of Hamer’s son, Dirk.

Dirk Hamer and the catalyst for the “Germanic New Medicine

In August 1978, while napping on the deck of a yacht in the Mediterranean near Corsica, Dirk Hamer was shot by the last crown prince of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy. Dirk died four months later.

According to his official online biography, a short time after Dirk’s death, Dr. Hamer discovered he had testicular cancer. At around the same time, Dr. Hamer’s wife, Sigrid Oldenburg, discovered she had breast cancer.

Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer at his son’s funeral, 1978 (source)

Hamer attributed the onset of his and his wife’s cancer to the emotional trauma they had experienced as a result of Dirk’s death. He theorised that the most effective course of treatment would be to bypass conventional treatments and instead undergo a form of “natural therapy” to resolve the underlying trauma.¹

The theories Hamer developed during this period formed the basis for what would become the “Germanic New Medicine” (GNM), a speculative model of disease exploring the “interconnections and relationships” between “the psyche, the brain and the organ.”

According to one particularly fantastic claim, specific emotions are said to affect specific organs and bodily functions.

For example, a child who is forced to live under the conservative – or “inflexible” – rule of an overbearing parent might develop rigid joints. A recently-divorced woman might, in the absence of intimate physical touch, develop a skin condition. And so on.

Decades later, Johannes Fisslinger would integrate Hamer’s claim into IMMA’s trademark theory, the “organ-mind-brain connection.”

The “two phases” of disease, according to Dr. Hamer (source)

In 1981, Hamer submitted his postdoctoral thesis on the psychological roots of disease to the University of Tübingen with the objective of convincing the university to test his hypothesis on patients. The university rejected his thesis, citing flaws in the form and methodology.

Having failed to establish himself in academia, Hamer then tried to find evidence for the link between unresolved trauma and the onset of cancer and other diseases.

In 1982, he opened a private cancer clinic near Freiburg, Germany, where he began putting his theories into practice. 

Surviving accounts of his clinic, Sanatorium Rosenhof, paint an unremittingly bleak picture. To paraphrase a translated 1983 report featured in the German news magazine Stern:*

Around the dinner table sit Hamer’s patients, their bodies emaciated and swollen, their faces yellow from jaundice. They are deathly ill. Instead of receiving the proper medical treatment, they only sing and eat – for this is the course of treatment Hamer has prescribed, and they have faith that it will heal them.

Not surprisingly, this course of treatment was not effective, and of the 50 patients who were treated by Hamer at Sanatorium Rosenhof, only seven are thought to have survived.

Following the closure of Sanatorium Rosenhof by German authorities, Hamer opened an illegal clinic near Bremen, Haus Dammersmoor. Reports of patients dying again caught the attention of authorities, and Dammersmoor was forced to close.

In 1985, Hamer moved to the town of Katzenelnbogen, where he opened yet another illegal clinic, Amici di Dirk, which in German is “Freunde von Dirk,” meaning “Friends of Dirk,” after his late son.

The conditions inside Amici di Dirk – his third clinic in just over two years – were horrific. The clinic lacked staff, money, and basic medical supplies. Hamer was allegedly absent for days at a time, leaving patients alone without any medical assistance.

The following excerpts from interviews arranged by German journalist Aribert Deckers and carried out by University of Tübingen student journalist Silke Bauer with some of Hamer’s former employees, provide a chilling account of conditions inside Amici di Dirk.*

“I would describe my time with Dr. Hamer as a very chaotic and exhausting period. Chaotic because he had no money, because some days he lacked the money to feed our patients. It was hard to work there. He could not administer therapy because sometimes there were no drugs available to relieve suffering.”

– Mrs. M, former accountant at Amici di Dirk

“There was a young lady with us, a patient with cancer. She was accompanied by her brother. And one morning Dr. Hamer started his car and did not tell us where he was going or when he would return, and did not leave even a phone number, nothing.

“The brother came to me and told me his sister was in severe pain, and wondered where Dr. Hamer was. I told him: ‘I cannot reach Dr. Hamer, he did not tell us where he was going.’ The brother returned two or three times, saying: ‘My sister screams in pain!’ And I said: ‘I’ll call another doctor, it can’t go on like this.’”

– Mrs. Gemmer, former accountant at Amici di Dirk

“Dr. Hamer was particularly interested in one young patient. I think he had bone cancer and was in terrible pain. For days he banged his head against the wall, into the night. I said to Hamer: ‘Doctor, we have to give something against the pain, this is not normal.’ Hamer said: ‘For God’s sake, no! We cannot give an analgesic, this would change the blood values, the effect of healing would be compromised.’”

[Speaking about a female cancer patient who had been admitted into Hamer’s care] “I lifted the blanket on the bed and I could see that she had a big hole like a blow on the thigh, and you could see the bone. And there was no treatment.”

– Mrs. F, former nurse at Amici di Dirk

After Amici di Dirk was closed in 1985, German state authorities had had enough and revoked Hamer’s licence to practice medicine.

Since then, Hamer has been convicted and imprisoned for medical crimes in several European countries, and reportedly there’s a warrant for his arrest in Austria regarding a high-profile 1995 case in which he attempted to illegally treat six-year-old cancer patient Olivia Pilhar.

Olivia Pilhar in 1995, post-chemotherapy (source)

Meanwhile, medical authorities have widely denounced the former physician’s theories and practices.

In 1989, the Koblenz district court ruled that Hamer did not possess the mental capacity to grasp the ethical ramifications of treating patients using an unproven therapy.

In 2001, a Swiss study found “no evidence” to support Hamer’s “New Medicine,” which it called “dangerous, especially as it lulls the patients into a false sense of security so that they are deprived of other effective treatments.”

In 2004, The German Cancer Society offered its “expert opinion”: Hamer’s hypothesis lacked “any scientific or empirical justification.”

The final nail in the coffin came from Dr. Michael Reusch, president of the German Medical Association, who in a 2006 interview called it “a tragedy” that vulnerable cancer patients had been taken in by Hamer’s “charlatanism.”

Dr. Hamer in 2009 (source)

Despite these setbacks, Hamer continued to put his theories into practice,² amassing a criminal record that rivals Nazi scientist Gerhard Wagner. As it happens, Hamer – like Wagner – is a virulent anti-Semite.³

According to GNM proponent Ilsedora Laker, the 81-year-old Hamer now lives in Norway, where he continues to promote his discredited theories.

Click here for part two.

¹In a 1999 Radio Toronto interview, Hamer said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer at Tübingen University Hospital. While it remains unclear if his wife underwent similar surgery for breast cancer, Hamer reportedly said her death in 1985 was caused by her scepticism about the efficacy of treating disease using the methods prescribed by his “New Medicine.”

²With few exceptions, Hamer has been ignored by mainstream media, but German journalist Aribert Deckers states that the number of Hamer’s victims is in the hundreds.

³In a 2009 interview, Hamer claimed that vaccines are a Jewish conspiracy to implant genocidal “death chips” into the bodies of non-Jews.

*For continuity, English translations of interviews and news reports have been edited and condensed.

Update, 30/06/2016: This article originally stated that German journalist Aribert Deckers had estimated the number of Hamer’s victims “at around 150.” In fact, Deckers says he stopped counting in 2008, and that he believes the true number is in the hundreds.

This article has also been updated to properly reflect Deckers’ part in arranging the 2008 interviews conducted by University of Tübingen student journalist Silke Bauer with some of Hamer’s former employees. Transcripts can be accessed via Deckers’ comprehensive website on Hamer, deathsect.com.