White Coat Underground

EFT—a whole new woo

So, I was exploring the twittersphere and noticed that one of my followers was an advocate of “EFT”. This sounded familiar, so I dug through the old blog archive and found this piece from early last year.

Once again, by way of Mercola.com, I’ve learned of a whole new woo. He touts this one for the treatment of fibromyalgia. According to Joe:

EFT is a procedure that borrows from the much-heralded discoveries of Albert Einstein (everything, including your body, is composed of energy) AND from the ancient wisdom of Chinese acupuncture.

Of course I had to follow that link. Anyone who can explain Einstein’s work in this way must be some sort of wacko or some sort of idiot, or possibly both. (Of course, what does that say about the person who would repeat it on his website)…

So what is this wonderful panacea that combines the discoveries of Einstein and acupuncture? First, let’s just look at Mercola’s crimes against language. “Heralded” usually means “announced beforehand”, and I don’t think anyone sent out fliers before Einstein’s first papers. Next, we have the problem with “everything is composed of energy”. Now, IANAP (I am not a physicist), but matter and energy, while related, are not the same thing!

Anyway, back to EFT, which stands for “Emotional Freedom Techniques”. What does that mean? Nothing, although it is eerily similar to “electronic funds transfer”, which is certainly to show up somewhere on the website.

What is EFT?

EFT is based on a new discovery that has provided thousands with relief from pain, diseases and emotional issues.

Really? I read a number of journals and I’ve never heard of it.

Simply stated, it is an emotional version of acupuncture except needles aren’t necessary. Instead, you stimulate well established energy meridian points on your body by tapping on them with your fingertips. The process is easy to memorize and is portable so you can do it anywhere.

So, it’s like acupuncture, but you don’t actually puncture anything. And it’s portable, assuming your fingers are still attached.

It launches off the EFT Discovery Statement which says…

“The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.”

And because our physical pains and diseases are so obviously connected with our emotions the following statement has also proven to be true…

“Our unresolved negative emotions are major contributors to most physical pains and diseases.”

The fact that these assertions are unfounded, and that the conclusions don’t follow doesn’t seem to bother this guy. He’s still lookin’ for that EFT.

This common sense approach draws its power from (1) time-honored Eastern discoveries that have been around for over 5,000 yearsAlbert Einstein, who told us back in the 1920’s that everything (including our bodies) is composed of energy. These ideas have been largely ignored by Western Healing Practices and that is why EFT often works where nothing else will. As you will clearly see, conventional healing methods have overlooked the obvious.

Any time someone says “common sense”, get ready to run. Common sense sounds good, but therapies must be proven to work. Sounding good isn’t proof. Next is the appeal to pre-literate medical practices…nice. Then the massive misinterpretation and misuse of the name of Einstein. Finally, the appeal to the great conspiracy to ignore the obvious good of the EFT—to his wallet!

As is usual for woo, “You can also use it for everything from the common cold to cancer.” Wow!

And how big will be the EFT to this guy’s account? Try about $600.00 for the entire course on DVD.



  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    March 10, 2009

    Well, I have been a physicist — and he’s full of it. The trick is the play on words: “energy” is a precise term of art in physics, and “energy” is a freely used term for feeling good, and “energy” is a borrowed term used for what might have been called magic in more honest times. Shell games with the different uses for the same sequence of sounds is a classic trick for scammers of all kinds.

  2. #2 Trin Tragula
    March 10, 2009

    What is EFT?

    An eft is an immature newt.

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    March 10, 2009

    What D. C. Sessions said. It’s a classic, perhaps even prototypical, example of woo equivocation. “Linear” is another word which gets this treatment: the precise mathematical meaning of a linear equation or a linear ordering on a set is conflated with “linear thought”, a vaguely-defined thing to which some kind of “non-linear thinking” is deemed superior. What’s really funny is when quantum physics is trotted out as “postmodern non-linear science”, when the Schrödinger Equation is in fact a linear differential equation.

    Making up your own words or using old ones in a new way is one thing. Leeching off the credibility of established, useful terminology is something else.

  4. #4 D. C. Sessions
    March 10, 2009

    An eft is an immature newt.

    Ah, but you see that’s backwards. Where an eft precedes a newt, EFT supercedes Newtonian physics.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    March 10, 2009

    “How do you know she is a witch?”

    “She turned me into a Newtonian!”

    “. . .”

    “I got better. Relatively speaking.”

  6. #6 nana
    March 10, 2009

    If you check out the EFT website, somewhere amidst the nonsense they also admit that in Gary Craig’s “own studies” he realized it didn’t even matter where you tapped, as long as you tap yourself somewhere. So those magic meridians aren’t so magic, eh? But that self tapping must be mighty powerful.
    You can download their manual for free on the site, and it is just chock full of babble & miraculous recovery tales.
    I don’t know what to make of the list of papers listed in the “research” section.

  7. #7 D. C. Sessions
    March 10, 2009

    If you check out the EFT website, somewhere amidst the nonsense they also admit that in Gary Craig’s “own studies” he realized it didn’t even matter where you tapped, as long as you tap yourself somewhere.

    And so we come back around to bleeding the patient.

  8. #8 jonandsuch
    March 10, 2009

    Deepak Chopra’s stare from the upper-right corner scared me away immediately.

  9. #9 intransigentia
    March 10, 2009

    Nothing new about this one. I had some quack try to get me to do it back in the 20th century. There I am having delusions about random strangers stalking me and intending to attack me, and he wants me to start drawing attention to myself by chanting and tapping myself. But I’m the person with the problem. I’m the noncompliant patient. Feh.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    March 10, 2009

    Like orthomolecular psychiatry,EFT often finds its target audience among the SMI and their families: easy ways to deal with the serious,complex issues of mental illness.-Imagine if you can, someone with schizophrenia assure you that it’s only an imbalance of vitamins or energy patterns…*and* they’ve found someone who can supply this re-balancing,eshewing all of those nasty pharmaceuticals,day programs,hospitals etc…and they have such *rapport*,as neither the client not the “therapist” actually believes in mental illness- but I digress:seriously,I wonder if the promulgators of these “therapies” actually (if they have sufficient person perception skills)*planned* it as such, because it seems to fit the deficiencies/tendencies of the SMI so well.

  11. #11 Dianne
    March 10, 2009

    Simply stated, it is an emotional version of acupuncture except needles aren’t necessary.

    I’m sure it’s every bit as effective as acupuncture too.

  12. #12 leigh
    March 10, 2009

    emotional version of acupuncture? by tapping certain places on your body? training for $600? what in the hell lends that a shadow of legitimacy?

    i can’t believe people buy into this crap.

  13. #13 Former Placebo Junkie
    March 11, 2009

    “…that is why EFT often works where nothing else will.”

    When you have an invented problem, nothing works quite so well as an invented cure. “Studies find that the blue placebo scares off just as many evil spirits as the red placebo, without all that nasty redness. Buy blue today!”

    I once fell for this sort of woo. Well, the ones where they invented enough sciency-sounding language to pacify me. Until I learned how to tell the difference between “science” and “sciency-sounding.”

    The unfortunate effect was that because placebo A worked on psychosomatic pain A, I also took placebo B for physical disorder B. Eventually physical disorder B put me in the hospital. It turns out woomeisters are not qualified to (or simply don’t) differentiate between real problems and invented ones.

  14. #14 rob
    March 13, 2009

    i am a physicist. it irks me greatly when woomeisters mix up scientific definitions with the colloquial or woomeister versions to spread crap remedies.

    energy is one of the most overabused concepts. grr.

    i think my meridians are getting entangled!

  15. #15 The Blind Watchmaker
    March 14, 2009

    But it sounds so cozy and touch-feely.

  16. #16 Citizen Deux
    April 27, 2009

    EFT is not simply the brainchild of Gary Craig, but a derivative of Roger Callahan’s TFT (thought field therapy). In pure psychoilogical sense, this is nothing more than CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). There have been a couple of legitimate studies attempted to examine its efficacy, but mostly it is practiced by new thought adherents and practitioners of dubious qualifications. Monica Pignotti, a formwe LCSW and now post-graduate candidate at FSU has a good blog outlining most of the politics and history of these topics.

    Monica Pignotti

  17. #17 Kristen
    May 21, 2009

    EFT sounds like a great alternative to conventional therapy for physical and emotional stress, especially for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money on treatment. I just found a book that details even more techniques you can do on your own. It’s called No Open Wounds-Heal Traumatic Stress Now. The focus of this book is all about Traumatic Stress but you can use the treatments to heal yourself for Phobias, Anxiety, etc.

  18. #18 helen
    June 9, 2009

    Plus EFT is blessed with a stalker called Monica Pignotti.

    She is a true Scientology intimidator and is very active attacking TFT, EFT and anything that she has tried and failed at in her career.

    What I’ve found is that any alternative medicine usually attracts the nuts – and Monica Pignotti is a great one to look up… he scientology story is almost as good as Mr. Hubbard’s version

  19. #19 Monica Pignotti
    June 14, 2009

    Wrong. I did not “fail” at TFT. I was considered one of the leading most highly trained proponents until I did a controlled study showing that Callahan’s $100,000 VT was not as claimed and published it in a peer reviewed journal. Too bad you’re so far into woo that you cannot tell the difference between critical thinking and stalking. My involvement with Scientology was 33 years ago and it is about the only cheap shot the true believers have to take against me. The difference between you and I, Helen, is that my involvement with pseudoscientific practices is in the past, whereas yours appears to be in the present.

  20. #20 Monica Pignotti
    June 14, 2009

    Oh and one more thing you might not be aware of, Helen. I don’t recommend either TFT or EFT but if someone is determined to try it, I do not hesitate to recommend EFT over TFT because at least the manual can be downloaded for free and unlike TFT, there are no expensive trade secrets. With TFT people can have their pocketbooks drained by Callahan’s overpriced VT that he charges clients $600 per hour for. I had a student that wanted to try tapping therapies and since she was determined and was going to do it regardless, I recommended she download the EFT manual for free and hold onto her pocketbook. That said, both are making claims that go far beyond the evidence for all kinds of conditions, including physical conditions and that, I do not approve of. Calling me a “nut” doesn’t change this one iota, Helen.

  21. #21 helen
    November 21, 2009

    Oops.. cybernut Monica Pignotti has arrived.

    She reminds me of Debra Frisch (http://debfrischtimeline.blogspot.com/ )

    Sorry about my comment attracting her here. She seems to have a lot of time on her hands – isn’t she supposed to be working at the Florida State University. If you watch her, she spends all day commenting in Google groups and other sites. Great use of employers computer and time.

  22. #22 Monica Pignotti
    December 6, 2009

    Calling me a “cybernut” doesn’t make it so and is nothing more than an ad hominem. I have numerous legitimate scholarly criticisms published on the therapies I criticize. You also jump to unwarranted conclusions about whose computer I use to post — I use my own since, like many people in the scholarly community, I do a good percentage of my work from home and no, it does not take me more than a few minutes to dash off a response to people. Your propensity to jump to unwarranted conclusions, the same one that likely led you into promoting pseudoscience, is showing.

    The ones who seem to have a lot of time on their hands are the cyberstakers who are concocting elaborate photoshopped images and creating multiple blogs and posting to over 180 different newsgroups (I don’t even come close to that volume) as part of an ongoing disinformation campaign against me by people who don’t like the fact I have criticized their favorite pseudoscientific interventions.

  23. #23 Monica Pignotti
    December 6, 2009

    I’m also highly amused that a proponent of a ridiculous tapping therapy that makes all kinds of ridiculous claims would call me a “cybernut” when she is the one who came in on this website, critical of the therapy she so vigorously tries to defend, with lame attacks on critics. Speaking of amusing, here’s a great website that spoofs tapping therapies:


    so the joke is on you, “helen” because the therapies you call me a “nut” for criticizing are the laughingstock of the internet, it would seem.

  24. #24 Jason
    December 11, 2009

    Wow… Monica replies to herself. Over and over again.

    Good catch Helen.

    Monica is really someone else: Psycho.


    There is no Monica Pignotti – she’s a sock-puppet

  25. #25 Monica Pignotti
    December 21, 2009

    Wrong. I am honest and up front about my identity. You, on the other hand are not. Now who’s the anonymous coward? Not I. I have never been anything less than honest and up front about my identity. Your attempt to identify me with someone else who I have never had the least bit of anything to do with is lame. And for the record, I have never, ever sued anyone in my life. You must really feel threatened of my criticism of your bogus therapies to keep coming back here and ranting about me and if you look back on this thread, you will find that the reason I was brought onto it was through a favorable mention of my work by Citizen Deux who wrote “Monica Pignotti, a former LCSW and now post-graduate candidate at FSU has a good blog outlining most of the politics and history of these topics.” That obviously really set you off. Guess your tapping quackery doesn’t work for you.

  26. #26 Jane
    February 27, 2010

    You can learn EFT off a you tube clip for free and use it at your own leisure so I hardly think it’s a money making scam. I think the point is that many illnesses can be relieved by looking at possible emotional blocks that may have stiffled our bodies energy flow and emotional growth. I helped my mum release a heap of child hood crap she was holding onto and making her more and more sick. No one is demanding cynics use the technique. Basically anyone who has had results from EFT only wants to share the easement in emotional or physical pain they felt….so sue them those evil dogooders!….whether or not it is a quanitfiable technique is irrelevant if it helps people in anyway and it’s free and very easy. Maybe you could do some “tapping” on your negativity and fear of the unknown.

  27. #27 Monica Pignotti
    April 18, 2010

    A sure sign of woo is when someone advises critics to use the technique being questioned to rid themselves of their “negativity” towards the technique. To promoters of woo, criticism and anything less than complete unquestioning gullibility equals “negativity” and “cynics”. Such purveyors of woo don’t stop to consider that perhaps it is they who have a negative attitude towards critical thinking, which is actually a very positive, life-enhancing skill.

    And no, tapping techniques are not always “free and easy”. What we often see is a bait and switch. When the “free” things don’t work, which is more often than they’d care to admit, people are directed to practitioners who are more than happy to take your money.

  28. #28 Jim
    May 9, 2010

    Monica always has the last word,.. in fact, if you look around you’ll see she talks to herself on most newwsgroups and blogs.

    Once you’ve attracted Monica Pignotti, she’s like a bad rash – impossible to get rid of.

    I really agree with Helen, Monica is most likely Deborah Frisch… google the names and you’ll see both can’t find work because of their internet activities. Who’s hire such a s nut that spends her days trolling online.

  29. #29 Monica Pignotti
    May 9, 2010

    False, I have had no problem finding work and there are plenty of people more than happy to hire me. I am respected for my scholarly criticism and have never sued anybody. I am not Frisch. I don’t even know who she is. You don’t know me and I suspect it is your same propensity to jump to unwarranted conclusions that allows you get suckered into bogus therapies.

  30. #30 Monica Pignotti
    May 9, 2010

    I see that clicking on “Jim”‘s name links to a libelous posting about me. Jim is the one who is the online stalker, spreading lies about me, not I, so it is ironic he would try to flip this. I was not fired from FSU and I have impeccable references from FSU who will prove it to anyone with a legitimate reason to request such a reference. The only reason I left FSU was because I graduated and I left in good standing in every way. Graduates tend to leave the institutions they graduate from, not because they were “fired” but because they graduated. Duh.

    If you want me to “go away”, it’s very simple. Stop posting lies about me that I have to refute because I have every right to protect my reputation. The only reason I come back here is that your lies are coming up on web searches on my name. You’re the stalker here, not I.

    If you look at the original posting of this blog entry, you’ll see that it was a highly critical posting on EFT. Strange that you would focus your attacks on me, when the original poster, who I happen to agree with, was quite critical to begin with. The truth is that you have no rebuttal to the substance of my criticism against tapping therapies, hence your need to personally attack me.

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