RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Wiseman writes: "It's hard to fight miraculous cures to nebulous problems with dull, unphotogenic but science-based solutions. But for every new wellness fad there is a noisy, science-based argument debunking it."

Not everyone felt the wellness love: Gwyneth Paltrow at In Goop Health, London, June 2019. (photo: Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
Not everyone felt the wellness love: Gwyneth Paltrow at In Goop Health, London, June 2019. (photo: Darren Gerrish/WireImage)


After a Trend of Magical Thinking and Quick Fixes, Science-Based Solutions May Not Be So Dull

By Eva Wiseman, Guardian UK

15 July 19

 

ike a worm cut in half, its head regenerating into a new, even angrier worm, the “wellness” trend is one that refuses to die. But this week, its wiggle appeared to wane. A certain weariness had set in. Is this the end of wellness?

The evidence: “I was a huge fan of Gwyneth,” one attendee of Goop’s recent “wellness summit” in London told website Page Six, “Now I feel like I have lost my faith in God.” “GP [Paltrow],” said another, “is a fucking extortionist.” These were people who had spent up to £4,500 on weekend tickets, getting off the tube in Hammersmith as if landing in Lourdes, expecting to leave healed. What do they need healing from, you ask? Well, what have you got? Creepy energy, deep thirst, smell of cardboard, troubled pits, babyish sleeping, bad vagina – the beauty of the term “wellness” is that it encompasses almost everything, and can cost almost anything. Which is why I was excited to see the attendees rebel – a tipping point has been reached. Somewhere among the self-care stations and lavender lattes, a healthless revolution.

The same day that Goop fans revolted, a wellness company called Get a Drip withdrew a £250 “fertility drip” from sale after experts accused them of exploiting vulnerable women. They specialise in intravenous drips of vitamins, with customers reportedly feeling more “alive” when they leave, despite doctors pointing out there’s no scientific evidence they have meaningful impact, that the risks outweigh the benefits, and that they should be used only for people unable to absorb nutrients through their gastrointestinal tract – saying that any positive reaction is due to a placebo effect.

It’s one thing to market IV drips that claim to brighten your skin or make your hair look glossier. It’s quite another, argued Katherine O’Brien at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, to tell the one in seven couples in the UK that have trouble conceiving, that there is a “quick fix at an extortionate cost”. “There is no evidence that an IV drip of any combination of vitamins can improve a woman’s fertility,” she said. “In promising hope to women at a very desperate time, we are concerned that, aside from providing no real benefit, these drips may be causing real damage to women’s emotional wellbeing.”

Wellness has traditionally been a women’s issue, much like bloating and white jeans, but last year a men’s movement began, only to be tripped up this week for violating Facebook policies. Men’s wellness brand Hims has had online ads for erectile dysfunction medications removed, with Arthur Caplan, director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Division of Medical Ethics, telling Wired they were “dangerous [and] irresponsible. A lot of people are looking for a quick fix. These direct-to-consumer ads are undercutting the idea that you should be seeing a doctor – which is the wrong attitude.” This came soon after Britt Hermes, a former naturopath turned whistleblower on the “alternative therapy” industry, was awarded the prestigious John Maddox prize for championing science in the face of hostility and legal threats. Some superheroes don’t wear capes. Instead, natty little white coats, with space for a Biro.

The wellness industry thrives due to a collection of complementary ideas, blended hard into a thick juice. One is the alluring mystique of nature, compared with the cold arrogance of Western medicine and its relentless evidence; wellness cures are rarely proven to fail because they can rarely be proven to work. Another is the new idea that health, a place of painless calm and joy, a sort of inner Center Parcs, is the body’s natural state, with any diversion from this an aberration that must be corrected. There is the celebration of wellness in glossy media, with its celebrities and plentiful lifestyle accessories, from crystals to large jade eggs. And there is a gendered claw, with a combination of feminist tropes – the idea that women’s health is misunderstood and the medical establishment ignorant about our bodies – and a sly regifting of the diet industry, this time with detox plans and slimming drips.

It’s hard to fight miraculous cures to nebulous problems with dull, unphotogenic but science-based solutions. But for every new wellness fad – activated charcoal, pink salt, placenta smoothies – there is a noisy, science-based argument debunking it, and increased responsibility from trusted institutions who understand more care is required when representing magical thinking and its premier philosophers. And too, growing acknowledgement of the reasons these quick fixes appeal to so many people, especially those with busy lives and limited healthcare, especially those who have grown up being told that life can be perfected. The worm turns, slowly.

Email This Page

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+3 # Wise woman 2019-07-15 10:17
As a survivor of not one, not two but three catastrophic medical injuries beginning over thirty years ago, I can only say that it has been complimentary medicine that has kept me alive. No I don't drink exorbitantly priced smoothies or indulge in other nonsensical ideas. Believe me when you're medically injured, your finances are totally depleted and you certainly can't afford such !uxuries. The hospitals will take every last dime of your retirement savings and and anything else they can get their grubby hands on. Is it any wonder that Americans become desperate? They are living in a country where 250,000 people did every year at the hands of American medicine. At least a smoothie won't do that!!
 
 
+3 # Texas Aggie 2019-07-15 10:28
Nice thought, but the fact that 40% of voters think Phat Boy is doing a good job means that there are enough dingbats and space cadets to keep this thing going forever. Remember that every day there are 1440 suckers born and not that many are dying (although to be sure, Darwin is selecting some of them out).
 
 
0 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-07-15 17:15
"You can fool some of the people some of the time. And, that's enough to make a good living." --- W.C.Fields
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN