A Story Worth Telling / a Book Worth Reading

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A recent article in The Age, one of Australia’;s leading newspapers, provides an intriguing tale about "darkness at the heart of the wellness industry." The book is about a woman who faked having and recovering from a terminal disease. She had a large following who believed her claims, until they were exposed as fiction by two investigative reporters. This guru of ersatz wellness had enjoyed years of success claiming she cured herself, and many others, with a mix of New Age / Alternative / Complementary / Integrative remedies, or whatever name you prefer, for unscientific, unproven varieties of healing modalities, nearly all erroneously mislabeled "wellness."

A key element of The Age article is an account of the origins of the modern wellness movement, based largely upon interviews with part-time Aussie resident John "Jack" Travis, America’;s own pioneer of the wellness movement back when the word mean something. Today, the term "wellness" is so widely applied / misused and distorted it means very little. (Well, that is, unless it has a modifier like "REAL," my own acronym for a form of positive wellness focused on the dimensions of reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty.) Travis provided the authors with the information needed to clarify the actual nature of wellness, a telling that has been extended into a paperback book about the entitled, "The Woman Who Fooled The World by Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano (Scribe Publications, Melbourne / London, 2017).

The wellness movement in America, like the US medical system in the 19th century, is overburdened by snake oil remedies and promoters of cures alternately described as colorful, ingenious, persuasive, maniacal, brilliant or all of the above – and a few more adjectives, most of an unflattering nature.

One of the book authors said the wellness industry "has become dangerously untethered from best medical practice" in a 12/12/2017 story published in The Guardian. That statement reflects a widespread error in public understanding of wellness. This positive concept about lifestyles focused on wellbeing should be untethered from medical practice, because it’;s not medical! For well more than half a century, wellness promoters, beginning with Halbert L. Dunn, author of the book "High Level Wellness," have promoted wellness lifestyles as a way to learn and grow, to enjoy life more and not at as a way to fix problems. It’;s a positive focus on wellbeing, not disease avoidance, healing, salvation, pain relief or prevention. If it were understood as such, such scams as described in this book, and advertisements would not contain references to wellness. Ads for dog food, for example, would not be the number one hit (at half a million) whenever someone Googles the term "wellness."

I endorse this book, as have other wellness promoters who insist that the word wellness and the movement to advance it, relates only to actions, programs and forms of communication about exuberant, positive living, not healing.

I hope the authors turn their investigative journalism talents on the quacks, fraudsters and misbegotten innocents who, for many decades, have misrepresented the nature of the wellness concept and overlooked the better possibilities for human functioning inherent in this concept.