Hollywood A-listers including Clint Eastwood joined grizzled U.S. military veterans Monday to promote what they called the near-miraculous powers of meditation in overcoming war stress.
The event in New York drew an unlikely alliance ranging from fashion designer Donna Karan to traumatized veterans of World War II, Vietnam and Iraq.
Uniting them was a belief that transcendental meditation, dubbed TM for short, is the cheapest, most effective and medication-free way of healing people who have suffered severe stress in war and any other extreme experience.
Hey, great, they are getting together and raising money to teach PTSD sufferers to sit quietly and think about calming stuff. Since my wallet is feeling a couple of pounds too heavy, where do I sign-up? After all, I have a soft spot in my heart for PTSD sufferers, what with friends and family who have been diagnosed with the disorder.
Wait, wait, wait. I’m back to my senses. I’m the guy who subscribes to the Michael Shermer and Skeptic Magazine RSS feeds. TM is pseudoscience. Nothing more.
Do PTSD sufferers need to know how to take a break, eliminate stress, and relax for periods of time? Absolutely. Can this skill be taught by Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners, and Counselors already on the government payroll? Of course it can, and it is. In fact, these folks are doing a great job in making themselves and their programs available. I know. I’ve researched these resources for numerous cases and presented evidence of the programs to support my PTSD-suffering clients facing court-martial. I met some of the multidisciplinary and licensed professionals who develop and constantly improve these programs. They are fantastic, based on logical principles, and they work. The only thing they cannot directly treat is public and command awareness of PTSD, but the level of understanding and compassion is now higher than ever.
Still, the celebrity gala presented its own evidence.
…World War II pilot Jerry Yellin told the fundraiser that for three decades after the end of the war against Japan, he “found no satisfaction in life in anything I did.”
At age 51, he took up TM and says he found peace. “We have the ability to teach young people who are suffering tremendously … young people who are in a foreign land,” he said of today’s veterans.
One of those, a former infantry Soldier in Iraq, said TM “cleared the skies and I could tell where I was going.”
“I felt this warm groovy feeling,” he said. “It just gets better and better.”
Warm and groovy, you say? I’m all about some warm and groovy, man.
Seriously, Mr. Yellin, I’m happy for you. You deserve to be happy, and you made some amazing sacrifices at a time when our country needed you the most. However, I promise you that your ability to overcome came from within, and not because of some 12 step program of meditation espoused by some guru. You already had the skills and the strength–you proved that you had those through your service. The only exterior component necessary was support from friends, family, and community.
I’d rather people like Mr. Yellin go to their local VA Medical Center or military installation counseling center/PTSD resource center and support those existing services rather than join a bunch of celebrities who use their love of pseudoscience to obtain a red, white, and blue strokejob. Would you like to teach the powers of meditation? Fine, the framework already exists for you to help. All we need is for you to walk through the doors and volunteer (or even accept one of many paid positions for counselors and therapists).
But, as we know, redundancy is the hallmark of charitable organizations, and a celebrity just isn’t a celebrity without a foundation or jazzy charitable cause to give them the high that comes with the perception of helping others.
Not resting on the testimony of Mr. Yellin, the gala presented its ace-in-the-hole, comedian Russell Brand.
Brand said he had suffered severe stress from his much-publicized sex-and-drugs addictions and also found solace in TM.
“I felt love, sort of love for myself but also love for everyone else,” he said in a rambling speech delivered in his trademark hyper-energized style.
“I am a human being and it is applicable to all human beings. Someone, everyone can draw from it.”
Let’s see. Promoting TM with a “hyper-energized style.” Interesting.
Fine, Russell, if you really want to help, don’t attend some gala in New York, go visit the kids being treated at Ft. Bragg, or Ft. Hood, or Camp Pendleton, or Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Sign-up for a USO trip to Afghanistan. Those things really help, and they make a difference. Going to an event in NYC where celebrities compare clothing does not.