Thursday, 17 June 2010

Michael Cohen - "NHS Approved"


Here is my second complaint about Michael Cohen, one of the few men in the world who can wave his arms around theatrically for an hour without having his arms drop off.

(Image credit - scan of the flyer)

A flyer (available here and here) advertises his Bioenergy Healing Clinic - which is, apparently, "NHS Approved"!

Well, actually not. As far as I understand, Michael is not "NHS Approved" at all.

Actually, it's the NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners who approve of Magical Michael. The directory is administered by something called the NHS Trusts Association and, as this Guardian article helpfully clarifies, they are nothing to do with the NHS.

ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about a flyer I picked up at the "Mind, Body & Spirit" festival, in London, in May this year.

The flyer, for Michael Cohen, promotes "Bioenergy Healing".

I suspect that the flyer may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide the original flyer by post, if necessary.

1. In April 2010 I submitted a separate complaint about Michael Cohen. Regarding a magazine advert, I challenged whether:

(i) Joanne Cohen and Michael Cohen can "[treat] DIFFICULT and DEBILITATING symptoms" using their "technique"
(ii) The technique can "access the bioelectromagnetic field to rewire the brain and physical body"
(iii) The technique can be used in "Distance...Treatment"

2. My current complaint is confined to those claims which were not addressed by my previous complaint, which I understand is still under your consideration.

3. (i) In the flyer, Michael Cohen claims he is "an acknowledged international expert in the field of Bioenergy Healing".

(ii) I have been unable to find any mention of Michael Cohen's expertise in any scientific or medical journal.

(iii) Under Section 7.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether Michael Cohen's claim to be an "acknowledged international expert" is misleading.

4. The flyer is marked with a logo which states "NHS Approved".

4. The flyer is marked with a second logo which states "THE NHS DIRECTORY OF COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE PRACTITIONERS Approved".

5. The "NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practicioners" is maintained by the NHS Trusts Association (NHSTA) [1].

6. A 2007 article in The Guardian [2] describes the activities of the NHSTA. According to the article,

"...the Department of Health, which has launched an inquiry into the NHSTA as a result of questions raised by the Guardian, says it does not represent the NHS or the Department of Health in any way."

7. Regarding the logo which states "NHS Approved", under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the flyer:

(i) Misleadingly claims that Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic" have been "approved" by the NHS
(ii) Misleadingly conflates approval of the "NHS Directory of Complementary Alternative Practicioners" with approval by the NHS

8. Regarding the logo which states "THE NHS DIRECTORY OF COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE PRACTITIONERS Approved", under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the flyer:

(i) Misleadingly implies that the Department of Health have "approved" Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic"
(ii) Misleadingly implies that the NHS has "approved" Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic"
(iii) Misleadingly implies that any of the NHS Trusts associated with the NHSTA's activities have "approved" Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic"
(iv) Misleadingly implies that the broad claims of efficacy made by Michael Cohen for his "Bioenergy Healing" are accepted by mainstream medicine

9. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) The "Raphayad Bioenergy Healing technique" is "proven and successful"
(ii) Bioenergy Healing can "increase your body's ability to repair & heal itself"
(iii) Bioenergy Healing is effective against "hyper-sensitivities, fatigue and intolerances"
(iv) Bioenergy Healing can "overcome...stress & depression"
(v) Bioenergy Healing is a "proven hands-on/off technique that can access your body's energy circuitry system in order to affect the functioning of your cells - their ability to repair..."

10. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:

[1] NHSTA Update, November 2007, downloaded from http://www.nhsta.org.uk/About.htm
[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/dec/14/health.nhs
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