Lifting the Lid on the Meta-Medicine Movement

‘Advising against a potentially life-saving procedure is absolutely irresponsible’ – International Meta-Medicine Association founder Johannes Fisslinger talks about patient deaths in Norway

Earlier this month, I blogged about the lurid origins of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), an integrative medicine organisation based in Los Angeles, CA.

IMMA promotes an elaborate philosophy of preventive health based on the discredited theories of Ryke Geerd Hamer, a notorious German doctor and virulent anti-Semite who lost his medical licence in 1986 as a result of extreme misconduct.

Hamer’s illegal treatment of cancer patients using his so-called “Germanic New Medicine” (GNM) – a speculative model of disease exploring the “interconnections and relationships” between “the psyche, the brain and the organ” – has reportedly claimed dozens of lives.

There are few references to Hamer to be found on IMMA’s official websites, and none of the company’s high-profile supporters I’ve spoken with knew about its ties to him.

Munich native Johannes Fisslinger founded IMMA in 2004 to, quote“inspire millions of people around the world to become aware of their body’s self-healing intelligence.” 

According to IMMA Master Trainer Richard Flook, Fisslinger is a former student of Hamer. GNM proponent Ilsedora Laker has even accused Fisslinger of plagiarising Hamer’s work.

IMMA founder Johannes Fisslinger (source)

I asked Fisslinger about his organisation’s relationship to Hamer, and his opinion of Hamer’s theories.

Fisslinger credited Hamer with providing the basic framework for IMMA’s philosophy of preventive health, but made clear he does not endorse Hamer’s racial views or his “do-nothing” approach to treating patients.

“I agree that Dr. Hamer’s method and therapy is ineffective or dangerous,” said Fisslinger, alluding to a 2001 Swiss study of Hamer’s cancer theories.

“[Hamer] basically did not use any therapy at all, telling people to just allow the body to heal without doing anything. This is 100% opposite to what we are doing.”

Fisslinger insists IMMA closely monitors its practitioners to ensure that they adhere to the company’s lengthy code of practice.

Meta-Medicine Code of Practice

However, according to a series of 2009 reports by Norwegian television station TV 2, three or more people died after they were advised by IMMA practitioners Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen to abandon conventional cancer treatments.

Via TV 2:*

Cancer sufferers said no to treatment [17/04/2009]

Three people are dead after refusing to get cancer treatment in Bergen. All had been in contact with the theories of the convicted ex-doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer.

There is still a lot of snow in the cemetery in Kongsberg. But Terje Fjeldheim would like there to be some fresh flowers on her sister’s grave.

Elsemarit Fjeldheim got cancer in 2006, but refused to receive treatment.

“We knew that when the cancer was discovered early, the prospects for recovery were very good,” says Terje Fjeldheim.

After she got cancer, Elsemarit came into contact with the theories of the German ex-doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer. Hamer has hundreds of followers in Europe and now the cult-like movement is also trying to gain a foothold on the West Coast.

Bent Madsen is central to the Meta-Medicine movement in Bergen, together with Dagfrid Kolås, author of a book named “Hope.”

It was these two people Terje’s sister came in contact with in 2006.

“The worst thing was that they went so hard against using medicine and warned against it, that it only made matters worse,” says Terje Fjeldheim.

It’s murder [18/04/2009]

Gunnvor Vossgård believes her cancer-stricken daughter died as a result of blind faith in alternative therapists.

When Agnete developed cancer, she was offered chemotherapy. But she chose instead to rely on alternative therapists to get her well. Seven years ago, she died of cancer.

“I begged and begged and cried. And so did her friends too. But it was no use,” says Agnete’s mother Gunnvor Vossgård.

One of those whom she listened to was Dagfrid Kolås and her book “Hope,” which is built on the theories of the German doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer.

46-year-old died after refusing cancer treatment [22/04/2009]

Was advised by alternative practitioners to stop cancer treatment. At least five Norwegian cancer patients have suffered the same fate.

The father of Malin Birkeland is one of them. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

“My father was diagnosed in December, but the prognosis was poor. He would have lived two good years extra if the chemo worked,” said Birkeland to TV2 News.

But Tore Birkeland came into contact with Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen, and stopped cancer treatment. Kolås and Madsen head the so-called Meta-Medicine movement in Bergen.

“My father got advice to stop treatment because it would not work and that chemo contained mustard gas,” says Malin Birkeland.

I asked Fisslinger if he was aware of these reports; if he had spoken with and/or reprimanded Kolås and Madsen; and if he had carried out an investigation to ensure that other practitioners aren’t advising patients to refuse potentially life-saving treatment.

“Our code of ethics and policy is very clear about this,” said Fisslinger. “A client needs to make the decision together with their doctor and the Meta-Health professional. [Advising] not to use a potentially life-saving procedure is absolutely irresponsible.”

Fisslinger said Kolås and Madsen’s conduct was “absolutely unacceptable” and confirmed there had been an investigation into the deaths in Norway.

IMMA practitioners Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen (source)

He also denied that Kolås and Madsen were ever on IMMA’s Advisory Council.

However, this screenshot from the official IMMA website lists Kolås and Madsen as members of IMMA’s Advisory Council.

Meta-Medicine Advisory Council

Furthermore, Kolås – who according to Fisslinger retired “several years ago” – gave a talk (on the subject of “healing breast cancer naturally”¹) at the 2014 International Meta-Health Conference.

I’ve asked Fisslinger to clarify, but haven’t received a response.

Click here to read part three.

¹In her 2014 autobiography about her struggle with breast cancer, How I Healed My Life: From Crisis and Cancer to Self-EmpowermentKolås claimed she healed herself via natural methods. However, in 2013 she reportedly admitted having undergone conventional medical treatments. Incidentally, Kolås’ personal credo is: I believe in therapy, not chemistry.”

*For continuity, English translations of news reports have been edited and condensed.

The Macabre Origins of the Meta-Medicine Movement

The first in a three-part series charting the rise of the Meta-Medicine movement

If you’re interested in the often murky world of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), chances are you’ve heard of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA).

Founded in 2004 by Johannes Fisslinger – inventor of the Aura Video Station – IMMA (via its online university, Meta-Health University) claims to have trained over 1,000 practitioners in “the art and science of self-healing,an elaborate philosophy of preventive health focused on diagnosing the root causes of disease.

The university’s faculty list reads like a who’s who of the contemporary CAM scene, counting among its guest speakers pediatric surgeon Dr. Bernie Siegel, celebrity nutrition expert Dr. David Katz, and biologist Bruce Lipton.

Via its non-profit research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF), IMMA has attracted Hollywood actors like Ben Stiller and Geena Davis, and garnered high-profile endorsements from Dr. Dean Ornish and self-help guru Eckhart Tolle.

Yet despite its penchant for attracting big names, little is known about the lurid origins of this self-proclaimed “revolutionary new healing paradigm.

The central tenet of IMMA’s philosophy of preventive health is that the body is capable of healing itself naturally. The claims are based on the discredited theories of Ryke Geerd Hamer, a German doctor who lost his licence in 1986 as a result of extreme misconduct.

IMMA posits the onset of disease as occurring when a person suffers sudden or prolonged emotional trauma; to “self-heal,” they must overcome this trauma.

To understand Hamer’s theories, or by extension those of IMMA, you have to start with the story of Hamer’s son, Dirk.

Dirk Hamer and the catalyst for the “Germanic New Medicine

In August 1978, while napping on the deck of a yacht in the Mediterranean near Corsica, Dirk Hamer was shot by the last crown prince of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy. Dirk died four months later.

According to his official online biography, a short time after Dirk’s death, Dr. Hamer discovered he had testicular cancer. At around the same time, Dr. Hamer’s wife, Sigrid Oldenburg, discovered she had breast cancer.

Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer at his son’s funeral, 1978 (source)

Hamer attributed the onset of his and his wife’s cancer to the emotional trauma they had experienced as a result of Dirk’s death. He theorised that the most effective course of treatment would be to bypass conventional treatments and instead undergo a form of “natural therapy” to resolve the underlying trauma.¹

The theories Hamer developed during this period formed the basis for what would become the “Germanic New Medicine” (GNM), a speculative model of disease exploring the “interconnections and relationships” between “the psyche, the brain and the organ.”

According to one particularly fantastic claim, specific emotions are said to affect specific organs and bodily functions.

For example, a child who is forced to live under the conservative – or “inflexible” – rule of an overbearing parent might develop rigid joints. A recently-divorced woman might, in the absence of intimate physical touch, develop a skin condition. And so on.

Decades later, Johannes Fisslinger would integrate Hamer’s claim into IMMA’s trademark theory, the “organ-mind-brain connection.”

The “two phases” of disease, according to Dr. Hamer (source)

In 1981, Hamer submitted his postdoctoral thesis on the psychological roots of disease to the University of Tübingen with the objective of convincing the university to test his hypothesis on patients. The university rejected his thesis, citing flaws in the form and methodology.

Having failed to establish himself in academia, Hamer then tried to find evidence for the link between unresolved trauma and the onset of cancer and other diseases.

In 1982, he opened a private cancer clinic near Freiburg, Germany, where he began putting his theories into practice. 

Surviving accounts of his clinic, Sanatorium Rosenhof, paint an unremittingly bleak picture. To paraphrase a translated 1983 report featured in the German news magazine Stern:*

Around the dinner table sit Hamer’s patients, their bodies emaciated and swollen, their faces yellow from jaundice. They are deathly ill. Instead of receiving the proper medical treatment, they only sing and eat – for this is the course of treatment Hamer has prescribed, and they have faith that it will heal them.

Not surprisingly, this course of treatment was not effective, and of the 50 patients who were treated by Hamer at Sanatorium Rosenhof, only seven are thought to have survived.

Following the closure of Sanatorium Rosenhof by German authorities, Hamer opened an illegal clinic near Bremen, Haus Dammersmoor. Reports of patients dying again caught the attention of authorities, and Dammersmoor was forced to close.

In 1985, Hamer moved to the town of Katzenelnbogen, where he opened yet another illegal clinic, Amici di Dirk, which in German is “Freunde von Dirk,” meaning “Friends of Dirk,” after his late son.

The conditions inside Amici di Dirk – his third clinic in just over two years – were horrific. The clinic lacked staff, money, and basic medical supplies. Hamer was allegedly absent for days at a time, leaving patients alone without any medical assistance.

The following excerpts from interviews arranged by German journalist Aribert Deckers and carried out by University of Tübingen student journalist Silke Bauer with some of Hamer’s former employees, provide a chilling account of conditions inside Amici di Dirk.*

“I would describe my time with Dr. Hamer as a very chaotic and exhausting period. Chaotic because he had no money, because some days he lacked the money to feed our patients. It was hard to work there. He could not administer therapy because sometimes there were no drugs available to relieve suffering.”

– Mrs. M, former accountant at Amici di Dirk

“There was a young lady with us, a patient with cancer. She was accompanied by her brother. And one morning Dr. Hamer started his car and did not tell us where he was going or when he would return, and did not leave even a phone number, nothing.

“The brother came to me and told me his sister was in severe pain, and wondered where Dr. Hamer was. I told him: ‘I cannot reach Dr. Hamer, he did not tell us where he was going.’ The brother returned two or three times, saying: ‘My sister screams in pain!’ And I said: ‘I’ll call another doctor, it can’t go on like this.’”

– Mrs. Gemmer, former accountant at Amici di Dirk

“Dr. Hamer was particularly interested in one young patient. I think he had bone cancer and was in terrible pain. For days he banged his head against the wall, into the night. I said to Hamer: ‘Doctor, we have to give something against the pain, this is not normal.’ Hamer said: ‘For God’s sake, no! We cannot give an analgesic, this would change the blood values, the effect of healing would be compromised.’”

[Speaking about a female cancer patient who had been admitted into Hamer’s care] “I lifted the blanket on the bed and I could see that she had a big hole like a blow on the thigh, and you could see the bone. And there was no treatment.”

– Mrs. F, former nurse at Amici di Dirk

After Amici di Dirk was closed in 1985, German state authorities had had enough and revoked Hamer’s licence to practice medicine.

Since then, Hamer has been convicted and imprisoned for medical crimes in several European countries, and reportedly there’s a warrant for his arrest in Austria regarding a high-profile 1995 case in which he attempted to illegally treat six-year-old cancer patient Olivia Pilhar.

Olivia Pilhar in 1995, post-chemotherapy (source)

Meanwhile, medical authorities have widely denounced the former physician’s theories and practices.

In 1989, the Koblenz district court ruled that Hamer did not possess the mental capacity to grasp the ethical ramifications of treating patients using an unproven therapy.

In 2001, a Swiss study found “no evidence” to support Hamer’s “New Medicine,” which it called “dangerous, especially as it lulls the patients into a false sense of security so that they are deprived of other effective treatments.”

In 2004, The German Cancer Society offered its “expert opinion”: Hamer’s hypothesis lacked “any scientific or empirical justification.”

The final nail in the coffin came from Dr. Michael Reusch, president of the German Medical Association, who in a 2006 interview called it “a tragedy” that vulnerable cancer patients had been taken in by Hamer’s “charlatanism.”

Dr. Hamer in 2009 (source)

Despite these setbacks, Hamer continued to put his theories into practice,² amassing a criminal record that rivals Nazi scientist Gerhard Wagner. As it happens, Hamer – like Wagner – is a virulent anti-Semite.³

According to GNM proponent Ilsedora Laker, the 81-year-old Hamer now lives in Norway, where he continues to promote his discredited theories.

Click here for part two.

¹In a 1999 Radio Toronto interview, Hamer said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer at Tübingen University Hospital. While it remains unclear if his wife underwent similar surgery for breast cancer, Hamer reportedly said her death in 1985 was caused by her scepticism about the efficacy of treating disease using the methods prescribed by his “New Medicine.”

²With few exceptions, Hamer has been ignored by mainstream media, but German journalist Aribert Deckers states that the number of Hamer’s victims is in the hundreds.

³In a 2009 interview, Hamer claimed that vaccines are a Jewish conspiracy to implant genocidal “death chips” into the bodies of non-Jews.

*For continuity, English translations of interviews and news reports have been edited and condensed.

Update, 30/06/2016: This article originally stated that German journalist Aribert Deckers had estimated the number of Hamer’s victims “at around 150.” In fact, Deckers says he stopped counting in 2008, and that he believes the true number is in the hundreds.

This article has also been updated to properly reflect Deckers’ part in arranging the 2008 interviews conducted by University of Tübingen student journalist Silke Bauer with some of Hamer’s former employees. Transcripts can be accessed via Deckers’ comprehensive website on Hamer, deathsect.com.

Ali, Bomaye!

Muhammad_Ali_NYWTS

Muhammad Ali 1942 – 2016

Long before he was “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali was a champion braggart.

During his early career, he mercilessly ridiculed his opponents, labelling New Yorker Doug Jones “an ugly little man” and rechristening heavyweight champion Sonny “The Big Bear” Liston “the big ugly bear…after I beat him I’m going to donate him to the zoo.”

Yet for all his braggadocio, vaingloriousness and showboating, there was the sense that Ali wasn’t merely trying to “psyche out” his opponents – jabbing at them until they lost their composure – he was trying to psyche himself up, will himself into greatness.

It was the same inside the ring. Ali was all razzle-dazzle, quick on his feet, given to flights of fancy. He promised to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and with his balletic footwork, plus a few lightening right hooks, he delivered.

But he always had a way of surprising you. Facing certain defeat against the hulking George Foreman in Zaire in 1974, he wisely reverted to the “rope-a-dope strategy,” which involves laying on the ropes in a defensive stance and allowing your opponent to punch himself out.

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 1964, file photo, The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Fla. Ali turns 70 on Jan. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/File)

In this Feb. 18, 1964, file photo, The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/File)

Through sheer invention, Ali triumphantly transcended his physical limitations. With his outsized personality, pronounced commitment to the civil rights movement, and principled objection to the Vietnam War draft – costing him three years of his athletic prime – he even managed to transcend his profession, earning him the title of “The People’s Champ.”

Shortly after retiring from the sport aged 37, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but insisted he didn’t want pity. Despite worsening health, he kept his famous wit, goading Fresh Prince star Will Smith, who did a stellar job portraying the legendary boxer in the less-than-stellar 2001 biopic of his life: “Man, you’re almost pretty enough to play me.”

Muhammad Ali died Friday at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, having been admitted the previous day with an undisclosed respiratory issue. His phenomenal gift for trash talking aside, Ali’s winning appeal is encompassed by – forgive me – this poem (thought to be the shortest in the English language), written by the great man himself: “Me, We”