Personal Stories

I haven’t tried the oil from that snake yet!

My neighbor is in school to be an acupuncturist. She is by her own telling, $130,000 in debt pursuing this degree. She texts me one morning, asking if I can come down and chat with her for awhile on her porch. I say ok, and go down, and she’s asking questions about my health that are kind of surprising. Then she tells me that she is learning a new technique called “skull acupuncture” which is exactly what it sounds like. She knows it works because her instructor had someone who allegedly had “cerebral palsy” and “couldn’t talk” come in, get the skull acupuncture, and them whoa my god! hold the phone! His speech is suddenly perfect, and not even a little slurred. How could this be?

The only explanation must be that the treatment worked! In her mental model of the world, that’s more likely than “a person without cerebral palsy is lying, and I fell for it because I’m the kind of person who invests $130,000 in an acupuncture degree” and doesn’t really understand the “cerebral” part of “cerebral palsy” or know to what the “central” part of “central nervous system” refers.

And I, too, could get relief from my Eagle’s syndrome – even the calcified ligaments, I’d imagine – if I just went with her to Castro Valley and let her perform this skullcupuncture on me. She warned that I’d probably feel sick after, but luckily she could give me a ride since we’re neighbors! Yay! No part of this plan sounds bad! I’m sure she’d immediately recognize if she knicked an artery or severed a nerve, what with all her alternative medical training.

Acupuncture is known to be beneficial for basically every condition known to man! And that statement is definitely true for certain values of the word “beneficial.” But that’s not a compelling reason for me to let an arrogant and miseducated stranger stick needles of dubious sterility into essentially random points on my body, following some mystical chart detailing lines of meridian that have no physical correlates, and hoping for… what? Temporary reduction in my subjective experience of pain? No thanks. But you can’t just tell your neighbor to your face that you think she’s a delusional, narcissistic fool who at best will have no lasting impact on any of her “patients.”

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Yessenia is a graduate student studying to be a speech therapist with an emphasis on traumatic brain injuries. She spends far too much time correcting the wrong people on the internet, lifting heavy things and training her cats. She's a proud internet atheist and trolls only for the greater good.

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