This site is for information and entertainment purposes only.

This blog does not constitute individual medical advice.  It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, a consultation or advice from a licensed medical practitioner.  Any medical information contained on this site should be discussed with a licensed medical practitioner before incorporation into your own individual medical treatment.  I do not take any responsibility for the use of this information for any purpose: intentional, accidental or otherwise.

The opinions expressed in comments on this blog are those of the commenter, and do not necessarily represent my personal views, but are published in the interest of intellectual freedom and freedom of speech.  This is an open forum for rational discussion about Dr Leaf and her teaching, far from the reach of Dr Leaf’s social media censorship team who remove all comments of critique, depth or intelligence.  Comments favourable to Dr Leaf’s teaching or critical of my work are welcome here, but should show some depth of reasoning.  General and/or overly sycophantic comments will not be posted, since there are far more appropriate places if you wish to show your support for Dr Leaf, like her Facebook page, or you can communicate to her directly through email or the post.

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12 thoughts on “Disclaimer

  1. Hi Dr Pitt,

    Thanks for you scientific rebuttle of Dr Leafs presentation at Nexus Church last Sunday. I was at Nexus and heard her speak. Interestingly, many times through her sermon I was questioning what she was stating. She never once backed her statements up with any research or ‘proof’ which wasn’t very scientific for a scientist. I immediately disagreed with her statement that “98% of cancer is caused by toxic thoughts”. I also felt that she seemed to be giving herself a lot of credit and was almost boasting. I tried doing her 21 day detox when I was suffering with depression once but couldn’t make it past day 2 as it was very difficult to make your brain do what she wanted you to do. Her claims, I think could lead people to condem themselves and try to do things in their own strength. I agree that dwelling on what isn’t good is toxic (which the bible says) but claiming that it will cause cancer is very difficult to prove. I think it’s great that you are explaining why her statements aren’t correct. Thank you for taking the time to inform people.

    • Hi Tammy,

      Thanks for your feedback. I concur with your observations of Dr Leaf – her reliance on speculation rather than citations is concerning. I think your experience with her 21-day detox is very interesting – that you couldn’t make it past day 2 because ‘it was very difficult to make your brain do what she wanted you to do’. I’d suggest very difficult it’s because your brain was doing exactly what it was designed to do. Our brains are meant to be a “don’t get killed” organ. It’s meant to alert us to potential dangers and help us avoid them. So ‘negative’/‘toxic’ thoughts are inevitable. In depression and anxiety, the problem tends to be that we can’t experience anything else appropriately, but this is a disruption of functions well below the level of our thoughts. I discuss this further in my writing on the Cognitive Action Pathways model – Chapter 2 in my book (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/466848 or https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/hold-that-thought/id908877288?mt=11) or in these posts (https://cedwardpitt.com/2014/11/08/dr-caroline-leaf-putting-thought-in-the-right-place/ and https://cedwardpitt.com/2014/11/11/putting-thought-in-the-right-place-part-2/). So, you’re right, people will condemn themselves unnecessarily for their ‘failure’ when it’s not failure at all, but are simply being mislead about the real problem.

      Can I encourage you, like I encourage everyone who offers feedback here about Dr Leaf, to also discuss your concerns about Dr Leaf with your friends, and take the time to let the leaders at Nexus know you’re concerns, as well as the National Executive of the Australian Christian Churches. It’s only through politely making our concerns known that other people will realise something isn’t quite right with her teaching, and it’s only through an open dialogue with our pastors that they can make a balanced assessment of Dr Leaf’s teaching to their congregations. Your voice is important.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to share your story. All the best to you.

  2. Hi Dr. Pitt,
    Having heard Dr. Caroline Leaf for the 1st time, I find several observations:

    1) She is not a “true scientist”
    2) Her othopraxy is Scriptural/metaphysical rather than neuroscientific
    3) Given the 1st 2 observations, unless her ‘patients’ are committed, bible-based based, “born-again” believers, they will ‘fail’ her treatment regimen; in which case whatever psychotropic medication they are on is probably better than a relapse into whatever malady they were diagnosed with.

    The Key Issue which I believe you find with Dr. Leaf is faith, and we all know that “faith”(Biblical faith) is the antithesis of science. Science forms conclusions based on reason and observation; faith is based on revelation from God, both written and communicated by the Holy Spirit, who is beyond a ‘scientific model’. She readily provides clinical evidence as to the ‘physical mechanisms’ of the brain as they are associated with Divine intervention, and yet she cannot “procedurally” take you from a state of skepticism to a reception of Divine Providence, something no true scientist would do. You have to do that on your own, and to her credit, she is adament that it is your choice to do so.

    Therefore, you are entirely correct in your observations that she is not “medically or procedurally” orthodox in her prescriptions; they are based on a “faith” methodology and that will never suit those who seek a temporal fix to a spiritual condition. To those we must continually prescribe a ‘soma’ capable of relieving their malady, yet affording them the ability to make choices that in fact contribute to their conditions.

    • Hi. Thanks for your very thought-provoking observations and comments. I appreciate your fresh perspective.

      Your summation of the fundamentals of faith and science is both accurate and articulate. Dr Leaf’s audience is primarily Christian, hence the appeal to faith. I have no problem with faith per se, nor with its relationship to science. My concern with Dr Leaf is that she misrepresents both the science and the faith that she purports to stand for. She also misrepresents the power of thought and choice, proposing that choice is the vehicle by which full physical and mental health and well-being should be attained.

      Indeed, observation shows that even committed, bible-based based, “born-again” believers fail her programs, and I would suggest that’s because Dr Leaf’s programs are neither scripturally sound nor based on rational scientific theory.

      Faith is not completely protective for medical and mental ill-health, and as you imply, psychotropic medications and cognitive therapies aren’t adequate for spiritual conditions. What’s important is that the best evidence-based treatment is given for the patients illness, not to label all illnesses as caused by a ubiquitous element of our neurobiology as Dr Leaf attempts.

      Thanks again for your intriguing insights, and for taking the time to comment. They were much appreciated.

  3. I teach on Un Godly beliefs and have applied for years the practice of “renewing your mind” and have not only seen the maturity process of that over the years personally, but have helped MANY young women who have struggled with drug addiction (illegal and legal) and all manners of dealing with pain and neurochemical imbalance. I would encourage you to look to other research besides Dr. Leaf… also have you gone through the studies that she sites on her website? I have gone to the actual studies themselves (not all done by her of course) and have found them to be reliable and relevant. Don’t worry about her “program” it is just ONE way to apply the principles that are clearly found in the word and also proven by science. Check out Dr. Amen and what he is discovering through PET scans… check out the work of Judith Glasser as she compiles and practices in the business world (secular)… then there is Life Model Works and the work of Dr. Lehman. She is NOT the only person with these truths.. and I would say that I could help someone not only use and complete the 21 day detox tool (not a cure, not a program.. just one tool)… if they were committed to it. I would almost guarantee that there would be some change in belief as I coached you through it (for the person above who “failed” in 2 days)… Failure isn’t Final… :0)

    • Hi Charlene,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’ve looked at a lot of different research over the years. In my professional life, I’ve been trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I’ve also reviewed Dr Leaf’s own published evidence that her programs are based on. I’ve looked at a number of papers that she lists on her website and in her books. I’ve also found a number of current research articles which counter Dr Leaf’s arguments. Most of my citations are listed in the references section of my book, or on the website http://www.debunkingdrleaf.com/references/ if you want to review them.

      I understand you’re a fan of Dr Leaf, but I’ll be honest with you, Dr Leaf has a habit of cherry-picking and paraphrasing. The research that she cites backs up her arguments because she has been very selective to only cite what supports her, but when you look at her citations in the context or the broader research, it’s clear that her views don’t have the support she claims. She also tends to paraphrase the research that she finds, “quoting” it in ways which seem to support her when the original paper didn’t say anything of the sort.

      The best case-in-point is her claim that 75-98% of illnesses come from our thought life. I have reviewed this statement and her references in detail in chapter 10 of my book http://www.debunkingdrleaf.com/chapter-10/. As it turns out, this statement of hers is completely baseless, but she has used this statement in her teaching for years. If she is so far off base about this claim that’s foundational to her teaching, can you really trust the rest of her teaching?

      I’m familiar with Dr Amen’s research. I’m assuming the research you’re specifically referring to is the work he did on the brain changes associated with meditation? It’s certainly interesting, but entirely expected as the same changes are seen in any part of the brain that’s frequently used (e.g.: London Taxi Drivers study). Indeed, it’s a basic physiological principle – the more you use something, the stronger it becomes. I’m not familiar with Lehman’s work, but from what I can tell from first glances, it seems his theory is based on classical Beck cognitive therapy. I’ve discussed the merits of cognitive therapy in my book, in the section “Does cognitive therapy really help” in chapter 7 (http://www.debunkingdrleaf.com/chapter-7/).

      So, I’m not against coaching, but I think we need to be realistic. Glasser and Lehman, all the way up to the super-famous coaches like Tony Robbins, may claim success, but how much of this is simply the coaching effect which is independent of the program? I’d say most of it. I’m sure that you could help someone using the 21-day Detox, but that’s your skill and their readiness to change, not the program itself, which is scientifically flawed. Even Dr Leaf’s own research showed that her program was ineffective when applied in a real life situation.

      I had a look at your organisations website and I read your blog “Remember: you are called to go up …” I’m very sorry to read about your friend. Suicide is always an abject tragedy. I understand what you wrote was heart-felt. I don’t want to sound like I’m invalidating your experience, but my experience was very different. I became depressed while in the midst of one of the most fruitful seasons of my life when it came to ministry. Indeed, that’s what tortured me all the more, wondering why I was in the depths of depression when I knew God loved me, and I knew that I loved him. If I had applied Dr Leaf’s teaching at that time I would have been worse, because she teaches that our illnesses are because of our toxic thoughts, and I would have also blamed myself for failing her “therapy” because I was already doing my own version of trying to be positive, but to no avail. Dr Leaf’s teaching would have made me worse, and I have spoken to a number of people who have become worse after applying Dr Leaf’s various teachings on mental health.

      Because it’s not a choice whether a person is mentally healthy or mentally ill. It’s not a choice to have ‘negative’ thoughts. Our thoughts themselves are not toxic, they are a symptom of a much deeper pathology which is beyond our conscious reach, and is independent of our relationship to God and our love for him.

      Seven minutes a day doesn’t fix real anxiety and depression. Our thoughts are not toxic. Fear doesn’t “trigger more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.” Dr Leaf isn’t even a cognitive neuroscientist.

      For your sake, and for the sake of your organisation, I would encourage you to review Dr Leaf’s claims again. If you still feel like she’s correct, then fair enough, but personally and professionally, I think Dr Leaf’s teaching poses a real danger to vulnerable people and I would encourage you to be wary.

      Again, thanks for your comment. All the best to you.

  4. Hi,
    My name is Chad Anderson and I am nobody important. I came across your site by chance and read a few things. So I have limited information. It would seem that Dr. Pitt is a Christian by the Faith, Hope, and Love header on website and that He appears to have been published in a Christian publication (but maybe I am wrong on this). I have heard a couple of sermons by Dr. Leaf. It seems like Dr. Leaf would hold to the framework that bad thoughts lead to sin and sin leads to sickness and eventually death. It seems to me that the whole of biblical scripture would support this view. It would seem that Dr. Pitt and any other Christians posting on this site would support that view also.

    • Hi Chad. First of all, there are no nobodys here, only somebodys. Everyone is welcome to their opinion and to share it here.

      I can confirm that I am a Christian. I can also confirm for you that I was published in a Christian publication – I wrote a regular article for a nationally distributed Christian magazine in Australia for about 10 years up until 2011.

      In terms of the connection between sin and sickness in the Bible, there’s no doubt that it was by the sin of Adam and Eve that sickness and death entered the world.

      Dr Leaf believes that toxic thoughts are the major cause of all illnesses, and also that toxic thoughts are sin. She defines toxic thoughts as anger, fear, stress etc. Although if toxic thoughts were sin, then Jesus would have sinned since he experienced anger and high levels of stress (in the garden of Gethsemane). So it’s safe to conclude that toxic thoughts are not sinful, and that Dr Leaf’s theology here is misguided. Dr Leaf has also preached in the past that toxic thoughts cause illnesses like cancer. But again, that’s preposterous. There is no evidence that our thinking or our stress levels cause cancer or any other disease for that matter. If you want to look further into this, I suggest you read my analysis of Dr Leaf’s foundational ninety-eight percent premise: http://www.debunkingdrleaf.com/chapter-10/

      So your statement, “that bad thoughts lead to sin and sin leads to sickness and eventually death” is half right. The premise “Sin leads to sickness and death” is broadly correct, but the premise “Bad thoughts lead to sin” is not correct.

      I’m happy to discuss this further if you wish.

      Thanks for your comment, and all the best to you.

  5. Dr. Ed,

    I think that these verses from our bible speak to what we are talking about:

    But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. ~ James 1:14-15

    To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. ~ Rom 8:6

    What do you think?

    Chad Anderson

    • Hi Chad,

      So I think we have to define the question before we can discuss it.

      There is no question about whether we were born into sin or whether it is because of sin that we all suffer from sickness and ultimately, physical and spiritual death.

      So the question is “Are toxic/bad thoughts sinful?” This is dependent on what we define as ’toxic’ or ‘bad’ thoughts.

      In James 1, the verses you quote are in the context of James discussing the source of temptations that all people face. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:12-15

      In the scripture you quoted, the key word is ‘desire’, which the KJV translated as ‘lust’. It’s the Greek word ἐπιθυμία epithymía, “a longing (especially for what is forbidden):—concupiscence, desire, lust (after)”.

      Paul uses the same word in Romans 7:7-8, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust (epithymia), except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (epithymia). For without the law sin was dead.”

      So sin causes causes the lustful desire of the forbidden, but according to Romans 7:9-11, sin caused us to die.

      Now, I’m not a theologian, and I think there’s a lot of subtlety and nuance when it comes to sin – there are different ways in which the words ‘sin’ is used, and someone who is theologically trained would probably be able to give you a much better explanation of this. But from my basic interpretation of scripture, it isn’t bad thoughts are sinful and then cause death, but instead, sin causes bad thoughts and death.

      In regard to Romans 8:6, the phrase “carnally minded” is “literally, ‘the mind’ or ‘minding of the flesh’; that is, the pursuit of fleshly ends.” The verse doesn’t refer to single thoughts of an individual, but “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires.” (Romans 8:5)

      It’s interesting to note that the spirit of Christ in us doesn’t negate the death of our physical bodies, “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness.”

      So that’s a round-about way of saying that I don’t think there is clear evidence that our individual ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’ thoughts count as sin, and aren’t the cause of our physical illnesses. Sin causes our lustful desires, and is responsible for our physical and spiritual death.

      My disclaimer here is that I am not theologically trained, so if you want a better spiritual answer, it may be better to talk to a trusted pastor. I’m happy to argue the question from a scientific perspective.

      Thanks for the question. Take care.

  6. I appreciate your honesty. Because there are many other scriptures that would have to be reconciled for me to believe what you believe. When I try to determine what I believe, I first go to the Word of God. By looking at more of your website it does seem that your answers do almost always seem to come from a scientific perspective first rather than a biblical one. Dr C Edward Pitt in this life that you live do you first consider yourself a Christian or a Scientist? The reason that I ask is because when your physical body dies and you move on into the spiritual realm for eternity, I know that you will not be a scientist. I think that our answers to things should come forth out who we are and what we stand for the most. Edward, I want you to be way more of a Christian than you are a scientist. Because being a Christian is who you permanently are. You are not really a scientist. You being a scientist is nothing more than a vapor. I love you, bro! Night!

    • Hi Chad,

      I understand and support where you’re coming from. I am both a scientist and a Christian. As such, believe in the truth of the Bible and the truth of science. I also believe that God gave us high intelligence so that we can reveal the glory of God’s creation, and understand his Word.

      In regards to this blog, I come from a scientific viewpoint most often because 1. I am trained in science but not theology, and 2. Dr Leaf, a common topic on this blog, claims to have scientific backing for her teaching.

      I agree with you when you say, “I think that our answers to things should come forth out who we are and what we stand for the most.” I stand for truth – God’s truth and scientific truth. They’re not mutually exclusive.

      Don’t worry, I love God, and I want to see God honoured in every way. Thanks for wanting the best for me. I certainly won’t mind if you can spare a prayer for me every now and then.

      Take care.

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