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September 21, 2005

Acupuncturists squabble over book's authenticity

Few people can get themselves all worked up than Acupuncturist's who think one style, or theory of Acupuncture is authentic or "original." I remember having and seeing a hundred arguments at school over which style was more authentic or true to the 'classics.'

There is a soon to be heated discussion over the new Five Element textbook from the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in Britain. It's impossible to make a Five Element book without comparing it to Worsley and his work. Some think it's nothing like Worsley, others think it doesn't make enough references to him, and so on.

Don't know if the book's a fun read or not, but the back and forth in the Amazon reviews certainly are: Link

Update: Even on ye good olde TCM Student Message Boards do we have a more light hearted but still slight discussion on the meaning of classical Acupuncture going on: Link

Posted by Admin at September 21, 2005 07:08 PM


I think you're right in that the "arguments" occur because people think one way is "right" or "pure." Most 5e practitioners I have experience with and who studied with JR Worsley or Judy Worsley do not feel their style is superior to others. In fact, JR and Judy both have said that their style isn't superior, just different, and they wanted to keep what they learned taught in its original form since its the style they know best and the style that they practice. I have taken some 5e classes myself from Worsely-based schools and found that the approach is not critical of TCM or other styles, but rather they acknowledge the benefits all different styles of acupuncture may have. Of course they are partial to the type they learned and practiced the most and saw succeses with!

The folks who critique Hicks' book for deviating from Worsley's style are being in my opinion, well, anal. The authors acknowledge that they deviate from Worsley's teachings and explain the areas in which they do and why. I believe they also give due respect to Worsely and in no way try to say that everything in the book is what he taught.

Anyway, the whole argument against blending styles is silly since Worsely himself studied with so many teachers and took away what was most beneficial. There is no PURE teaching. Everything changes and grows with time and place, and anyone who denies this is in for extinction. Most 5e or Worsely practitioners do not hold this absolute purist attitude, and none of them think 5e is superior, so I feel they're badly represented by the vocal loyalists who can't lighten up and go with the flow...like the Dao recommends.

Good medicine stands the tests of time.

Interesting topic!

Posted by: Ana at September 21, 2005 07:40 PM

Well put Ana, I agree completely.

For those of you who didn't have the pleasure of going to a school that taught multiple styles of Acupuncture, what you lost in knowledge, was countered by a more peaceful school environment. Though NESA only taught 2 major schools of thought, TCM and Japanese Meridian Therapy, the debates were heated to the point of nerdy Acupuncturist's throwing copies of the Nei Jing at each other.

The problem is that Oriental Medicine is fluid and dynamic. It has changed tremendously everywhere it is practiced, if by no other force than by its own practitioner's clinical experience. This is not to mention the cultural revolution in China, the unearthing of the Ma Wang Dui tomb, or let us not forget, the invention of the filiform needle.

To me, give me whatever works. I don't care if your theory is based in pure fiction, if the point combo does the job I'll use it.

As for all those who claim to practice the most "original" or "classical" form of Acupuncture, I expect to see bian stones and a whole lot of bleeding going on. If you don't know what bian stones even are, don't even talk to me.

Posted by: Steve at September 21, 2005 09:51 PM

Check out the comments on this book:

I like how the 3rd one talks about "the closed-minded aberrance of French acupuncture" crazy, never heard of that before...

Posted by: jbtcm at September 26, 2005 06:22 AM

That was good old Brian Benjamin Carter, who you can read monthly at Acupuncture Today. He used to run a website called The Pulse of Oriental Medicine that at one point was really cool. Then he tried to become this media mogul of Acupuncture ala Deepak Chopra and turned the site into this monstrosity of links and ways to make money.

I actually quite enjoyed Morant's book and its interesting take on the Nan Jing chapters. Crazily, a lot of my professors taught by it and claimed that the Acupuncture that the french practice is the most "classic" form (of course). Their reasoning was that the French visited China back pre-Yuan dynasty and took Acupuncture from them and have been practicing that style ever since.

Unfortunately, I have never read a book citing this anywhere.

Posted by: Steve at September 27, 2005 07:52 PM