Concerns about charity Life’s 4 Living: an autistic child told that his “negative energy smelled so bad that the doors of the room had to be opened”

13 Mar

The charity Life’s 4 Living offers treatments for a range of disabilities and illnesses – including autism. They focus on ‘energy healing’, and offer residential treatment outside of Britain. Life’s 4 Living have – until recently – had blogs on their site. These were removed after HolfordWatch and Quackometer raised some concerns about the charity, but are still available in google cache. The blogs certainly raise some concerns themselves.

The blog about an autistic boy’s treatment (we’ll anonymise him as Y here, though the blog does give a first name) is especially upsetting. It is this that we’ll discuss in this post; you can access the google cache here. Under ‘Day 1′, the mother posts that:

My understanding of illness and disability is quite different to Life’s 4 Living – I am proud of Y and what he achieves – I see him as different but not sick. At the end of the first day I wondered if I had made a big mistake in coming – I had come a long way to be told my beautiful child’s negative energy smelled so bad that the doors of the room had to be opened and for other children to laugh at him when all he wanted to do was play with them.

The following day, the mother refers to an incident where

Master ding says that I ate something when I was pregnant that poisoned Y, causing his bones, internal organs and brain to be underdeveloped – like unripe fruit.

In a later session, the mother describes how

Y cried in session – Master Ping says that a person with a weak heart cries – I think something was hurting him and if he can’t speak how else is he going to let me know ? But in contrast I relaxed very well!

This is really horrible – and there is plenty more on that blog. An autistic child is suffering and being insulted – all in the name of ‘energy healing’, and all funded by a UK charity.

That said, the last post on the blog is more positive – and suggests that human decency can rise above the manipulation of self-declared healers. The mother ends the post by insisting that

Y may be a big potato who needs a lot of cooking, but he is my potato and he is beautiful.

Now that’s what I call positive energy. Hopefully, the mother will soon feel empowered to tell Life’s 4 Living and Master Ping where they can stick their energy and their horrendous advice. Then, she may be able to find many more effective ways of supporting Y.

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21 Responses to “Concerns about charity Life’s 4 Living: an autistic child told that his “negative energy smelled so bad that the doors of the room had to be opened””

  1. Patrick March 13, 2008 at 17:45 #

    Yet another uppity moneygrabber insulting the clients? (A woo based program at that even.)

    Why am I not that surprised.

    If this master had enough positive energy to actually do something productive then why isn’t that energy enough to keep a positive attitude? Alas, it appears they are no master at all, but a fumbling initiate that has not yet learned how to transcend.

  2. Sharon March 13, 2008 at 18:54 #

    Yuk. That organisation sounds rotten. Well, that was certainly a horrible thing to say about a child. I hope the mum will fully loose the scales from her eyes soon and get her son away from their clutches asap.

    Thanks for taking the time to investigate yet another dodgy organisation Jon.

  3. Another Voice March 13, 2008 at 20:41 #

    I will bet that they could accept that smelly old money.

  4. Jon March 14, 2008 at 00:57 #

    Thanks – it is depressing that anyone would try to ‘treat’ autism like this, and hopefully the mum will find a better way soon.

  5. Bob King March 15, 2008 at 19:24 #

    Hmph: Speaking as a person who regularly uses energy healing to great effect, I think Master Ding is deserving of a chi burn on the ass.

    “Negative energy” indeed. Well, I suppose one might consider the instinctive reaction of an autie to a clear fraud to be “negative energy.”

    One thing I’ve learned about myself and other AS people – we are walking BS detectors.

    As for the “Woo” aspect – well, believe it or don’t. I happen to for what I think are good reasons – but I’ve no freakin’ idea how you would even start to go about “curing” autism with energy work. Oh, and by the by, the ethical standards for those who make use of “woo” (woo wei?) in healing have to be higher than people that rely a little less on trust for their way to work.

  6. Marian Tipler March 17, 2008 at 13:06 #

    Hello – my name is Marian and I am the mother in question !
    I have read the postings above with interest (!) and welcome the comments on my parenting skills… Now I would like to respond –
    I would like to say that I am shocked and unhappy that my comments have been picked out of context – on the Life’s 4 Living website, there is an interview with me in which I speak more about our experience in Croatia, and maybe your contributors would like to have a look at that to get a fuller picture.
    I fully admit that our first days in Croatia were a challenge – but I was always given the chance to express my thoughts and feelings and discuss them. I was never put under any pressure to attend sessions and I can assure you if I had thought that Joseph, my son, was at any risk, we would have withdrawn from the programme immediately.
    While I was in Croatia, I saw amazing results for other children, and since our return we have continued to attend Relaxation sessions offered by Life’s 4 Living. All of the people we have met who are involved with Life’s 4 Living have been very open to discuss their beliefs and have impressed me by their commitment to improving the lives of disabed children and their families. During this time, Joseph has become more focussed and is more able to concentrate on activities at school.
    My son has complex difficulties – he has Global Developmental Delay and is on the autistic spectrum. He has no verbal communication, limited understanding of cause and effect, and although he is lively and healthy requires the care you could give a very young child – feeding, changing, constant supervision to ensure his safety. There is no diagnosis for his condition – and even ‘autism’ is a description, not a diagnosis. In my view, to say that his disabilities are caused by a blockage to his flow of energy makes as much sense as anything else – and nobody else is giving any explanations ! Conventional medicine can offer no cure for Joseph and while I know he is a beautiful, special child, who gives me great joy every day, the world sees him as severely disabled. Through Life’s 4 Living I have found a different way to view my son – a different way which may lead to releasing in him that which is currently caught up somewhere inside.
    This way of thinking may not be for everyone, but looking around me at work and amongst my friends and family, I see many people who could do with relaxing and letting their energy flow. If you are sceptical about such things, that is your right, and it is my right to explore a different way of thinking, which causes no harm to my child and that I believe may have huge benefits.

  7. Jon March 17, 2008 at 16:14 #

    Marian- thanks for replying here. I’m glad to hear that Joseph is doing well now. I did quote fairly extensively from your blog posts – and don’t think I took things out of context – but if there’s a particular page/interview on the Life’s 4 Living site that you would like to refer readers to, perhaps you could post a link here?

    I certainly don’t object to relaxation exercises: these can be very helpful. That said, I do think that a negative attitude towards disability is potentially harmful. The attitude expressed by Life’s 4 Living, which you described in your blog posts, is definitely negative: it is not helpful to tell a mother that their “beautiful child’s negative energy smelled so bad that the doors of the room had to be opened and for other children to laugh at him when all he wanted to do was play with them.”

    After your experiences with Life’s 4 Living in Croatia – and with Joseph – would you prefer Life’s 4 Living to adopt a more positive view of disability?

  8. Reality check March 18, 2008 at 12:49 #

    Hi, about 20 years ago I was registered ‘disabled’ by the government/ medical profession, etc, because I had a life threatening, incurable illness, that left me pretty much weak, wasted… and smelly. At the time, as a 21 year old, it was a great shock to me, as before I was pretty ‘normal’. In time, I accepted I was disabled, but never liked the label. I ended up trying to feel good and positive about being disabled, because that was what I was. I got complacent, proud, arrogant. But I was still sick, and smelly.

    However, after a few years, when I went to see a top Chinese Qi Gong teacher/ healer, he told me my energy was terrible… very bad, and very negative… “you smell bad, your energy is totally sick!!!” He didn’t even want to look at me. I was sick… and he said it in a way that I TOOK TO BE CRUEL AND MEAN. Anyway, I cried after wards, because I felt sorry for myself, and inside I knew it was true; no matter what others said about it being ok to be disabled and sick etc etc, and I should be positive etc etc, I just wanted to be healthy again.

    The Qi Gong teacher took me on anyway – yes, because I spent any money I could get to pay him – and in time, because of his teaching and healing, I improved my health. This happened a few times more with other healers, and I discovered that the best ones were the most cruel (cruel to be kind!), and the people who were patronising and nice didn’t manage to help me much at all.

    In short, I’m not registered disabled any more, and, more importantly, I learnt what it meant to have negative energy, how to improve it, and got the positive benefits of this, which are immense. I now understand that you can be ‘disabled’, and have something that will never improve, BUT if you can have positive energy, it makes a huge difference to your general healthiness and mental health too… and more.

    After I worked p/t with some autistic adults, and other disabled kids etc… I realised that in this country, we have swallowed an unfortunate pill. We feel sorry for disabled people, think they basically can’t really be helped, so just try and make their lives as comfortable as possible; even worse, it has become a positive thing to be disabled. Like it’s cool! That’s the biggest shame I see in our country. Call it political correctness, or what ever. But the truth is, if there was a choice, NO ONE would choose to be sick/ disabled, and that includes their kids.

    Clearly, Marian has been on a learning curve, has seen that it is possible for her son to improve even more, thanks to the treatments he has been having and I really think it would be good if people sat up, and had a good look at the reality… It seems to me that these energy healers have been dong really amazing work, but all I hear is that they said some nasty things and thus must be very negative!!!

    Please. You want to improve peoples lives, or just hold on to your dead end views of what is right and wrong. I certainly don’t believe that we need to go around being ‘negative’ to people, but sometimes the truth hurts the most, and if we can’t take the truth, we will be the biggest losers. Please, try and be a bit more interested in REALLY healping these sick and disabled kids, not just dressing them up in nice clothes, and leaving them with some nice words and positive ‘spin’… to slowly rot away – because you don’t have any real answers…

    If these lifes4living people put up this ladies blog initially, and then people start to use that BIT to try and destroy them, instead of seeing that this lady was just giving her initial opinion, then I really understand it if they take it all down.
    IF you saw it in a time line, IF you listened to what she says later on in the video, and even above, in her reply (which Jon clearly doesn’t like, nor want to accept)you will see that her initial reaction was one of someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on. Like you people, you just don’t understand what’s going on… you look at something you don’t like, out of context, and think the whole thing is bad. Some one offers you light and hope… and you only see darkness and despair. THAT IS, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, REALLY NEGATIVE.

    Thank you.

    I’m writing this because I have learnt… Everything is possible!

  9. Joseph March 18, 2008 at 20:04 #

    This lifes4living and QiGong sound interesting and the personal experiences involved aren’t too bad. But why spend any time on that, when there’s the amazing thought screen helmet? It scares away all the “negative energy” that sorrounds us, specifically the negative energy used by aliens for thought control. Don’t believe that, you closed minded cynic? You obviously need to become aware of the testimonials, such as that of the autistic girl who began to speak after wearing the hat, or the autistic kid who now excels in math.

  10. Marian Tipler March 19, 2008 at 12:53 #

    Hello Jon – and ‘reality check’ –
    I do think that negative attitudes can be unhelpful, but what appears to be negative may be the thing that spurs you to do something about your situation. The children who laughed at Joseph were just children – and we get stared at and whispered about most days when we go shopping or to the park – but that particular day it really wound me up, after a long journey, and being in a very unfamiliar situation. They weren’t encouraged to do so by Life’s 4 Living but were encouraged to think about what they had done, and its effect on me and Joseph afterwards – which is more than most parents do here. I am happy to be involved with Life’s 4 Living, and enjoy talking with them about Joseph, energy and life in general.

  11. Reality check March 19, 2008 at 20:11 #

    Hi Marian, all things considered, it sounds like the experience might have been cathartically as useful for you as mine were for me. It’s always hard for people to understand, and normal for them to judge, from the outside. It’s just a shame when this gets in the way of being open minded and the search for a way to change and improve any situation in life. I guess when it comes down to it, most people only give up their prejudices when they have tried everything, and they don’t get any results, or limited results, but they have a feeling there must be another way, whether it makes sense, or not… keep up the good work with Joseph… and don’t care what anyone else thinks or says… it’s there problem!

    Thanks

  12. Essy March 20, 2008 at 10:29 #

    RealityCheck, you write:

    “… top Chinese Qi Gong teacher/ healer, he told me my energy was terrible… very bad, and very negative… “you smell bad, your energy is totally sick” He didn’t even want to look at me. I was sick… and he said it in a way that I TOOK TO BE CRUEL AND MEAN. Anyway, I cried after wards, because I felt sorry for myself, and inside I knew it was true; no matter what others said about it being ok to be disabled and sick etc etc, and I should be positive etc etc, I just wanted to be healthy again.

    The Qi Gong teacher took me on anyway – yes, because I spent any money I could get to pay him – and in time, because of his teaching and healing, I improved my health. This happened a few times more with other healers, and I discovered that the best ones were the most cruel (cruel to be kind!), and the people who were patronising and nice didn’t manage to help me much at all.”

    What you write above left me feeling disturbed. The reason why? I feel that you were invalidated through verbal abuse by this man who you went to for help. You possibly lacked the confidence in yourself, to demand the respect you deserved, and maybe he spoke to your own self hatred of your condititon, so it sounded like he was telling you the truth. Not like the others. I think your initial response was right, he was cruel and mean, but like many people who are abused by someone who has more power than them, or who is in a position of authority, it may be easier to tell themselves they deserve what was done/said to them.

    I am not doubting the beneficial effects of positive energy, but I think what this man gave you was 100% negative. That you turned it around and made it positive and healing is down to you, not him.

    I hope that you don’t allow people to treat you like that again. On reading your post, it does sound like someone coming to terms with abuse, and finding a way to re-validate yourself.

  13. Jon March 20, 2008 at 11:15 #

    I’m glad that both realitycheck and joseph seem to be doing well now. I’m not saying that healthcare practitioners should be patronising towards disabled people – that’s also unhelpful – but it is important for them to treat their patients with respect. If a child is already struggling with bullying and so forth, I would see stigmatising them – for example, by opening the door because their energy ‘smells’ – as extremely unhelpful.

    Of course, many healthcare practitioners (both in ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative’ medicine) don’t treat patients with respect. In spite of this, many of their patients do pretty well for themselves. Obviously this is a positive thing – and a great achievement for the patients – but it’s no excuse for healthcare practitioners to treat their patients badly.

  14. century March 20, 2008 at 20:56 #

    Marian said

    “I am happy to be involved with Life’s 4 Living, and enjoy talking with them about Joseph, energy and life in general.”

    Jon – get over it and move on, and maybe apologise

  15. Reality check March 21, 2008 at 14:10 #

    Oh please, do me a favour Essy! Your pop psycho-analysis of my life might reflect an element of truth – that at the time I held deep inside a hatred of myself. But that is pretty normal in our society – most sceptics have plenty of that too, as I can vouch for, as an ex-sceptic, who used to be surrounded by sceptics. Anyway, just look at all the people with their ‘normal’ behaviour… alcohol/ smoking/ drugs / junk food/ sex etc etc abuse. That shows us what our society is full of. Weakness. I was weak then, and that guy gave me something to fight for – to be strong, like him. He challenged me like no one else was prepared to do – certainly not my family, nor doctors I saw… and that was great… it raised my spirit, my will to live and be better. I thank him, from my heart, for that. All athletes want tough coaches, because they force them to excel, not sit around dreaming of what might be…

    So, I don’t need you to try and tell me what was happening to me, in my life, thanks. Were you there, bye the way? Did you actually read what I said, or Marian, for that matter? If you did, you were clearly not reading in an open minded way, nor engaging in a meaningful way with what I said. Better comment on your own life. As I said, the truth hurts, and I was getting a very good dose of REALITY, because everyone else was being so very English, so polite and nice, and just pretending to care, but in fact what they were doing was much worse… They found disability/ sickness disgusting, they thought there was no hope for me, they patronised disabled people, felt sorry for them… but when they are out of sight, they are relieved. Be honest Essy. Would you rather spend time with someone who’s ‘nice’ and says all the ‘right’ things, but sick, complaining, depressed and negative, or someone who’s not so nice and polite, but is healthy, full of life, positive, fun and very creative? So few people really care, nor know what it means to really care or respect – let alone try and really help someone develop.

    Tough love, leading by example, being sincere enough to say things that someone might not like, but need to hear… those are signs of respect and real caring. When you don’t respect, when you don’t care, then you just pat them on the head, there there, every thing’s fine… you are fine exactly as you are… that’s really patronising and dis-respectful, and negative. It’s no wonder so many kids are getting into trouble these days, and becoming sick. Their role models are frankly appalling.

    Acceptance and love of our selves is crucial for healthy development – and DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTH, but that has to be learnt and achieved, and not fake. We live in a society that is so focussed on the material side of life – nice clothes/ make up/ thin bodies etc, that the deeper, inner side is over looked. Every disabled and sick kid has a deeper side, that once engaged with, and stimulated, challenged, can become stronger, and grow… helping the body similarly develop.

    If you judge someone by their words, you are missing the point. Look at results. Look at deeds, that’s where you see if someone is positive or not. That Chinese Qi Gong master (I won’t mention his name, out of respect) has gone on to selflessly help thousands of people regain/ maintain their health, become strong, full of self respect, happiness and success. He’s tough, and disciplined, and I knew he only wanted to teach the movements, not to do healing – because healing damaged his energy – but he did it from a deep sense of morality and willingness to help people. I don’t know what you do – surprise me, please, but if you were even half as courageous and dedicated and serving humanity as people like him, you would already be doing a lot to contribute to the world to be a better place – believe me.

    Thanks

  16. Jon March 22, 2008 at 02:04 #

    century – I’m not sure where you’re coming from here? If details of a particular case are posted on the Internet – and used as part of the marketing for a questionable treatment approach – I think it’s quite reasonable to offer a critical assessment of this. I was considerably more polite that the ‘healer’ referred to here who claimed that a “child’s negative energy smelled so bad that the doors of the room had to be opened”.

    I will move on in time, though maybe not in the way that you had in mind. There is, depressingly, still rather a lot more to come out about Life’s 4 Living.

  17. Essy March 24, 2008 at 15:12 #

    >your pop psycho-analysis of my life might reflect an element of truth – that at the time I held deep inside a hatred of myself.

    >As I said, the truth hurts, and I was getting a very good dose of REALITY.

    Sounds like I’ve hit a nerve here, judging by your response, and just to make you a bit madder, I’d say that your response is typical of someone defending an abusive authority figure.

    With regards to Marian and Joseph, I read her blog, and didn’t think John had quoted her out of context. He just wrote here what she said there. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have gone with the Charity at their expense, abroad, and to be greeted with that. Marian could hardly turn away and come home at that juncture, as she was beholden to them. Was it Marian’s idea to keep the blog, or did L4L ask her to? Was it Marian’s idea to video herself and put the video up on their site?

    >and I knew he only wanted to teach the movements, not to do healing – because healing damaged his energy –

    I don’t believe healing results in damage to the healer.

    >but he did it from a deep sense of morality and willingness to help people.

    Morality?

    The sort of tough love you describe, you could have got for free from the Army.

  18. Reality check March 25, 2008 at 13:41 #

    He, he , he, Essy, as I half expected, you didn’t really attempt to answer any points, nor offer any real insight or advancement of the issues… but just tried to score some asides, as is unfortunately the case with many of you sceptics. When it comes to it, you are closed minded, and hollow inside. AND, you simply quote me, out of context. Must be the sceptic’s fav ploy… LOL!

    You hit the nail on the hammer – it is you, it seems, who is STILL full of self hatred, and you are simply projecting your negativity out on what ever you don’t like/ understand/ find threatening. Does that sound like a poor, weak bully’s behaviour?

    Hmm… perhaps you were in the army already, which is dedicated to teaching people how to kill others, but I don’t think you were ever in a Qi Gong class, or ever did any real healing work… which is dedicated to helping others.

    As for you comment you don’t ‘believe’ that healing can damage a healer’s energy… that makes me wonder, what you do ‘believe’ in…
    All I really can see is that you are probably someone who was abused your self/ have or still do consciously or unconsciously committed abuse on others… especially by your initial reaction : “What you write above left me feeling disturbed.”

    As for me becoming madder? Quite the opposite, He, he, I’m fine; I enjoy the mental challenge, and the chance to practice compassion… I really understand you, as I WAS where you are now. In the dark (ages).

    Good luck, I hope you will become less disturbed, in time, and meanwhile may the healers who are doing great work to help people like Joseph and others be in peace!

    Thanks

  19. Essy March 25, 2008 at 23:18 #

    On the contrary, I’m not a sceptic at all. I just don’t think someone telling someone/anyone at all, that their negative energy smells so bad that the doors of the room have to be opened, nor what your healer said to you.
    i.e “you smell bad, your energy is totally sick” He didn’t even want to look at me.

    If you think that’s fine then I accept that it works for you and for Marian.

    If that means I’m a sceptic, I’m fine with that.

    Good luck to you mate.

  20. Essy March 26, 2008 at 09:46 #

    P.s -I didn’t finish my sentence, that’s what comes of writing when tired! It should have read:

    On the contrary, I’m not a sceptic at all. I just don’t think someone telling someone/anyone at all, that their negative energy smells so bad that the doors of the room have to be opened, nor what your healer said to you:
    “you smell bad, your energy is totally sick” He didn’t even want to look at me”, is either good practice, or necessary and has no purpose, beyond making the person who it’s directed towards feel even worse. It’s pointless verbal abuse. A bit like kids in a playground acting the bully.

    As I said before if that works for you then fine, but don’t be too surprised when others like myself think it’s objectionable.

    I’ve not addressed your other points about projection etc because you’re right off the mark. However, I accept being verbally abused works for you.

    You’re not above being a bit patronizing yourself:

    >I really understand you, as I WAS where you are now. In the dark (ages).

    Good luck mate.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Skeptic’s Circle and Left Brain Right Brain « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science - March 14, 2008

    [...] also an interesting post on Left Brain Right Brain, about Life’s 4 Living and autism.  A Life’s 4 Living blog referred to an autistic [...]

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