MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Last Sunday evening, the Syrian, Mohammad D., tried to enter an open air festival in Ansbach, Germany. As he had no ticket, he was barred from entering. Later he exploded his bomb in front of one of the entrances of the festival. It killed him and injured 15 others, 4 seriously.

According to a report published in German, the 27-year old suicide-bomber had been treated since about half a year in an institution in Lindau called ‘Exilio’ by alternative therapists (Heilpraktiker) who offer ‘holistic help’ for immigrants under the leadership of Gisela und Axel von Maltitz.

The German ‘Heilpraktiker’ is an oddity left over from the Third Reich. Today, a Heilpraktiker hardly needs any education or training at all. What is more, he/she can claim to practice psychotherapy without proper training in psychotherapy. The Heilpraktiker in charge of Exilio, Axel von Maltitz, for instance, calls himself ‘Primärtherapeut, Heilpraktiker, Traumatherapie and Psychotherapie.’ The debate in Germany about the usefulness or otherwise of the Heilpraktiker has recently been stimulated by the publication of a critical book on the subject and can be expected to get more intense after the events in Ansbach.

‘Exilio’ apparently has a dubious reputation in Lindau, and the local officials had stopped co-operating with this clinic already over a year ago. The therapeutic team of Exilio does not seem to include a single qualified doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

The treatments employed in ‘Exilio’ include such dubious methods as Rebirthing, a technique involving “specific breathing exercises which allow individuals to re-experience memories from the past and to release feelings and sentiments that are suppressed / contained within the emotional physical self.” I am not aware of good evidence to show that Rebirthing is effective for any condition.

It seems clear that the Syrian suicide-bomber was seriously disturbed; apparently he already had previously tried to commit suicide. Nobody will ever know whether the atrocity of last Sunday could have been prevented, if he had received proper psychiatric attention. With hindsight, however, it seems clear that the alternative therapies he did receive were not effective.

17 Responses to Ansbach suicide-bomber had alternative treatments for severe psychological trauma

  • Maybe it is vice versa. If you want to prevent deportation in Germany, You have to tell the authorities You are “traumatized” (find a “Heilpraktiker für Psychotherapie”, Naturopathy for Psychotherapy) and to be endangered by “suicide” (cuts & scratches on Your arm) is very helpful. If You are a wounded ISIS fighter from Aleppo, Bulgaria is a bad place for asylum-seekers. Mohammed Daleel needed medical care for a knee injury. Axel von Maltitz is not only Heilpraktiker, he is Ergotherapeut (certified Occupational Therapist) too.

    • as far as I know, Maltitz only spoke about the severe psychological trauma of M. D.; therefore I concluded that Maltitz treated his patient for this and not a knee injury (which probably would need treatment from practitioners other than occupational therapists).

    • “Maybe it is vice versa.”

      Maybe; but either way the quacks were manifestly unfit for purpose. If the guy was mentally ill, he needed real help from real medical professionals. If he was a faker, he didn’t need the cover of other fakers who are only too happy to indulge and reinforce lies and fraud for their own greater profit.

      “Axel von Maltitz is not only Heilpraktiker, he is Ergotherapeut (certified Occupational Therapist) too.”

      Maltitz is a quack, period. If anything, having a real degree means he should be able to tell the difference between real science-based medicine and AltMed scammery but is unable or deliberately chooses not to. Which is even worse than just being genuinely stupid and ignorant, because it means he’s either genuinely delusional himself or he’s deliberately employing a ton of [self-?]deception to maintain this lie too.

      BTW, I do hope you’re not trying to downplay or excuse these quacks’ role in this tragedy and/or attack in any way just to advance your own ideological agenda. The vast, vast number of Middle East refugees fleeing to Europe are absolutely genuine victims of global atrocity, and aiding them is the absolute least we should be doing – not only as atonement for a war and extremist movement that we in the West (US and UK in particular) helped to create in the first place, but as an act of basic human decency. If the occasional extremist sneaks through in their midst then dealing with that is a price we pay in order to do right by all the others; and awful as these attacks in France and Germany have been, it is still nothing compared to the daily stream of atrocities perpetrated on those still in Syria and Iraq.

      • @ has on Friday 29 July 2016 at 13:37

        “The vast, vast number of Middle East refugees fleeing to Europe are absolutely genuine victims of global atrocity, and aiding them is the absolute least we should be doing – not only as atonement for a war and extremist movement that we in the West (US and UK in particular) helped to create in the first place, but as an act of basic human decency. If the occasional extremist sneaks through in their midst then dealing with that is a price we pay in order to do right by all the others; and awful as these attacks in France and Germany have been, it is still nothing compared to the daily stream of atrocities perpetrated on those still in Syria and Iraq.”

        You are straying into areas of ideology where many might disagree, as do I.

        Many women in Cologne, and in Europe generally, are less safe because of the influx of young Muslim men who make up about 65% of the alleged refugees. Sweden has a problem, both with a large increase in sexual assaults and the disproportion of men to women in the teen ages, due to “refugees.

        Let us not forget what is responsible for the atrocities; it is a brutal political ideology that has 1,400 years of history to illustrate its propensity for barbarity. As Hitchens and Dawkins have said repeatedly, Islam makes special claims; it is the final and utter word of god, it is unchangeable, and the endpoint is a worldwide caliphate, a global theocracy under Sharia law.

        Many of the refugees are still happy to retain the faith which is destroying their own country and willingly export their religious demands, such as halal (a brutal method of slaughter which should be banned in any civilised country).

        The ‘west” didn’t create these problems, they just don’t know how to deal with it and have made many bad past decisions. Now, instead of wanting to stay in their country of birth where their families have lived for millennia, they want to escape the madness they accepted while there and did little to want to control. What happens to Belgium or Holland in 40 years when they have a Muslim majority and make more demands? Will the Dutch and Belgians want to flee their native countries?

        Best to avoid political ideologies in this forum, I suggest.

        • “Best to avoid political ideologies in this forum, I suggest.”
          WHY DO YOU DEWLL ON IT SO HEAVILY THEN?

          • @ Edzard on Saturday 30 July 2016 at 06:05

            “Best to avoid political ideologies in this forum, I suggest.”
            WHY DO YOU DEWLL ON IT SO HEAVILY THEN?

            Prof,
            Because a political view was expressed, with which I don’t agree. I gave reasoned argument for my disagreement. The reason for the length of my post was to illustrate why it should be avoided.

  • Former naturopathic doctor Britt-Marie Hermes has bravely exposed the deplorable reality of naturopathic schooling in the US. I guess the German variety of naturopathic “edumacation” is not much different?

    One of the better known and popular alternative practicians in my home country informs that she studied in Germany “…where ‘nature medicine’ is taught in respected academies”.
    Reportedly, most of her customers are diagnosed with a machine that has blinking lights. (I am not sure whether it “goes ping” 🙂 )
    Everyone seems to get similar advice about improvements to the diet.
    She says she studied in Hamburg for 3,5 years to become a licensed ‘Heilpraktiker’ 16 years ago.
    Does anyone know if there is reliable information or examples somewhere to be found on the contents and nature of the schooling in these “respected academies”?

  • Here is the relevant bit as reported by the Mail today (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3714006/Fervent-jihadist-suicidal-refugee-faces-Bavarian-bomber.html?ito=social-twitter_mailonline)
    von Maltitz said she had seen no indication of any link to radical Islamist ideology, or religion at all.

    ‘A connection to Islam doesn’t match the picture I had of him at all,’ said the therapist, who added she had 40 sessions with Daleel between May 2015 and January this year. ‘He never made any kind of comment in that direction at all, about Islam or any other religion.’

    ‘He had been badly tortured in Syria,’ she said. ‘His wife and small child had been killed in Syria when a building collapsed on them after an explosion. In Bulgaria he was in prison and maltreated,’ she added. ‘We’re certain that the information he supplied was truthful.’

    Von Maltitz, who said Daleel’s death had freed her from patient confidentiality obligations, had scheduled further appointments with him for this week but he had postponed them until Aug. 1.

    The therapist said she repeatedly intervened with authorities not to deport him. ‘He was suicidal,’ she said, adding that the prospect of deportation to Bulgaria ‘scared him horribly’.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3714006/Fervent-jihadist-suicidal-refugee-faces-Bavarian-bomber.html#ixzz4FnL0fvUM
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • and here is an interesting comment [in German] about Axel Maltitz ( https://www.facebook.com/kordewiner/posts/10210651539148089):

    Die ganze Welt rätselt über die ‪#‎Expressradikalisierung‬ von Mohammed ‪#‎Daleel‬, dem ‪#‎ISIS‬-‪#‎Rucksackbomber‬ von ‪#‎Ansbach‬. Vielleicht ist sein “Psychotherapeutischer ‪#‎Heilpraktiker‬” (lol) und “‪#‎Folter‬”-Fachmann (siehe unten?) Axel von ‪#‎Maltitz‬ der Schlüssel zu vielen Fragen. Dessen Verein ‪#‎Exilio‬ e.V. (31 Mitglieder) lässt nämlich nicht nur Kritiker per Gerichtsbeschluss mundtod machen, er steht laut BR – Bayerischer Rundfunk auch im Verdacht, “‪#‎Gefälligkeitsgutachten‬” für abgelehnte ‪#‎Asylbewerber‬ zu erstellen, mit denen ‪#‎Verwaltungsgerichte‬ betrogen werden.

    Das hier sagt in http://goo.gl/5O6kUL der Versand für ‪#‎Grenzwissenschaften‬ Christian Czech, Zeissring 46, Holzminden:

    Axel v. Maltitz geboren 1953; 1974 Abitur; 1976 Gesellenprüfung im ‪#‎Schreinerhandwerk‬; 1977-81 Selbsterfahrung in Primärtherapie und ‪#‎Rebirthing‬ (Atemtherapie), sowie Ausbildung zum ‪#‎Rebirther‬ im Center Ottobrunn; 1979 Abschluß der Höheren Fachschule für Arbeits- und Beschäftigungstherapie; 1979-81 Studium der Psychologie (4 Semester) an der Universität ‪#‎München‬; 1983-85 Ausbildung zum Primärtherapeuten am Institut für humanistische und transpersonale Psychologie / Seibraz, Bad Wurzach; 1985 Anerkennung zum Diplomierten Primärtherapeuten; 1988 Amtsärztliche Überprüfung zum Heilpraktiker. 6 Jahre Arbeits- und Beschäftigungstherapeut im Iberg-Sanatorium, psychiatrisches Alten- und Pflegeheim; 2 Jahre freier Mitarbeiter am Institut in Bad Wurzach, seit 1989 freier praktizierender ‪#‎Psychotherapeut‬.

    — snip —
    Dieses Buch ist ein Bericht aus jener Welt, die im Inneren eines jeden Menschen liegt. Gleich einem Reisetagebuch gibt es die stückweise Erforschung der verborgenen Erinnerungen an frühere Leben des Autors wieder. Es folgt dem Faden der Zeit rückwärts durch Vorleben und frühere Jahrhunderte. Aber es stellt auch die Frage nach den Zusammenhängen all dieser Leben, nach dem Sinn und den dahinterliegenden Gesetzmäßigkeiten. Mit Spannung kann der Leser nachvollziehen, wie sich die Bedingungen eines Lebens aus den Erfahrungen des Davorliegenden ergeben, wobei ein besonderes Gewicht auf den Leiden und Entscheidungen, die kurz vor dem Tod erfahren bzw. getroffen wurden, liegt.

    Endlich – Unendlich: Reisetagebuch in die Tiefen früherer Leben

    Endlich – Unendlich: Reisetagebuch in die Tiefen früherer Leben

    amazon.de

  • The Germanwings crash: Co-pilot responsible:

    The newly revealed email also suggests Lubitz was suffering from depression and this, combined with his supposedly failing eyesight, made him fearful of losing his job.

    It reportedly said he was taking the highest dose of Mirtazapine, an anti-depressant also used as a drug to induce sleep, which Lubitz admitted was making him restless.

  • I can understand why you would make the link between this suicide bomber and treattment with alternative therapies. But when you go this route then the same argument can be made for western medical treatments for psychological issues based on the case of the german pilot that crashed a Germanwings airplane last year, killing 150 people. He was known to have severe depression and was treated for that.

    • @ Nico Veenkamp on Friday 29 July 2016 at 21:38

      It could also be argued that the Germanwings case revealed a lack of control mechanisms to ensure the pilots were physically and psychologically fit.

  • It’s not just the Germanwings pilot either. The German-Iranian teenager who recently killed ten in Munich (including himself) joins a long list of mass murderers who were receiving mainstream psychiatric treatment at the time. This might be because such treatments can cause violent outbursts, perhaps via drug-induced akathisia, or just because those struggling with violent ideation are more likely to seek psychiatric help – whether mainstream or alternative. I’m aware of no well designed studies that shed light on that question.

    I have no problems with a vigorous critique of the alt.health quackery that’s widely flogged as medicine. It’s something I often do myself. But using tragic anecdotes in this way is not criticism, just smearing. And implying that allopathic psychiatric treatments are, by definition, ‘proper’ is intellectually lazy and dangerous.

    • “But using tragic anecdotes in this way is not criticism, just smearing. And implying that allopathic psychiatric treatments are, by definition, ‘proper’ is intellectually lazy and dangerous.”

      WELL SAID. Is Dr. Edzard Ernst MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd listening and UNDERSTANDING?

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