MLN Vol.8.No.3

Massage Law Newsletter

Vol. 8, No . 3                                   ISSN 1073-5461                                      March 1999   

OUR COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO CONTRAINDICATIONS

AND STATE REGULATION OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS

Albert Schatz and Mary Brewster

The philosophy of the jester is a philosophy which in every epoch denounces as doubtful what appears to be unshakable; it points out the contradictions in what seems evident and in-contestible. Leszaek Kolakowski

__________________

This present report summarizes our common sense approach to contraindications and state regulation.

Our rationale -

how and what we think

We focus on actual harm (which is harm that has actually occurred) because the risk of harm is determined by harm that has actually occurred. Risk is not determined by potential harm which may or may not occur.

Potential harm is the common denominator of state regulation and contraindications because contraindications are potentially harmful and state regulation is allegedly needed to protect the public from that potential harm.

However, a clear understanding of the difference between potential harm and actual harm ineluctably leads to these conclusions:

1. If regulation  is to have any practical significance, it must be based on the risk of harm which is determined by harm that has actually occurred.

2. It is  therefore inappropriate to allege that  state regulation is needed to protect the public from potential harm.

3. State regulation is not needed to protect the public from harm because there's no harm, that has actually  occurred, from which the public needed to be protected

To intelligently discuss whether state regulation is needed to protect the public from harm by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists, it is necessary to have the following well-documented information, which potential harm does not and cannot provide:

1. How much harm has actually occurred in people with and without contraindications, the nature of the injuries, and how serious they were  - in states which do and do not regulate massage therapists.

2. The amount and kind of training and the  years of experience of the massage therapists who  caused the harm.

Without this well-documented information about harm that has actually occurred, there neither is nor can there be any well-documented evidence that:

1. State regulation protects the public from harm.

2. State regulation is needed to protect the public from harm

3. State regulation could provide that pro- tection if it were needed.

4. Contraindications are an important factor in harm caused by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists.

5. Some massage therapists are inadequately trained; and, because of their inadequate training, have harmed people.

6. The "authorities" know what training is adequate in the sense that it will prevent harm.

7. National certification, school accreditation, and continuing education are needed to protect the public from harm.

Our research reflects

our rationale

Without well-documented evidence that significant harm HAS actually occurred, we have to rely on the following well-documented evidence that such harm HAS NOT actually occurred.

1.  So many massage therapists with so many kinds of training in so many states (which do not regulate massage) have been massaging so many people with so many contraindications, so many times for so many years, with so many well-documented reports of so many benefits, but with so few if any well-documented reports of harm.

2. The following well-documented reports about government agencies that have done their own research, found no harm, and have therefore not regulated massage therapists.

In the Canadian Province of Quebec, the Office of Professions, a governmental agency, conducted a comprehensive two year research project (1990-1991) which revealed that massage therapists, regardless of their training, had not harmed anybody.  As a result, Quebec did not regulate massage therapists.

Georgia legislators did not fall  into the potential harm trap. In 1997, the Georgia Occupational Review Council concluded, as a result of research which Georgia legislators had done:

1. There is no documented evidence of actual harm to the public."

2. "The potential for harm to the public appears to be remote and would not be alleviated by licensing."

If there's no harm in Quebec and Georgia, which do not regulate massage, why should there be harm anywhere else?

From this and other well-documented evidence that there's no harm, we conclude:

Massage therapists should be deregulated by states which now regulate them because there's no well-documented evidence that regulation is  needed to protect the public from harm by massage therapists, regardless of their training.

 Verbum satis sapienti.

A word to the wise is sufficient.

Logic requires that our conclusions, which are based on well-documented evidence, should be seriously considered until they are disproved. Those, who disagree with us, should  report their research, their well-documented evidence, and their conclusions.

Our research has not located sufficient well-documented evidence that massage therapists, who are allegedly inadequately trained, have actually caused enough harm and enough serious harm to justify the alleged need for state regulation to protect the public from that alleged harm.

The fact that contraindications  are potentially harmful is NOT well-documented evidence that disproves our conclusions because our research has NOT been concerned with potential harm, which may or may not occur, but with actual harm which is harm that has actually occurred.

The fact that contraindications are potentially harmful is irrelevant to the alleged need for state regulation to protect the public from harm - unless there is well-documented evidence that contraindications have been associated with a sufficient amount of sufficiently serious harm to justify the alleged need for state regulation to protect the public from that harm.

State regulation

 is iatrogenic

So many human problems begin with someone saving someone else from something from which he hasn't been asked to be saved. - Glen Doman

 State regulation is iatrogenic because it has caused the following serious economic harm:

1. State regulation requires massage therapists, who want to stay in business, to pay considerable amounts of money annually to meet state regulatory requirements for which there is no well-documented justification.

2. State regulation prohibits many people from earning a living by doing massage (even though they have not harmed anybody) because they are unable to meet state requirements for financial or other reasons.

3. State regulation adversely affects the public because the cost of massage therapists' complying with state regulatory requirements is passed on to their clients. 

Consumer protection agencies should oppose state regulation in order to protect the public from incurring the unnecessary costs that massage therapists have when they comply with state regulatory requirements which are not needed to protect the public from harm. 

Live and let live

There are two general categories of massage therapy. One induces relaxation for stress reduction. A judge in British Columbia concluded that this kind of massage requires only about four hours of training. The other is symptom-directed, medically oriented treatment for pain and dysfunction; i.e., impaired mobility.

Massage therapists, who treat people for stress reduction, should not have to comply with state regulatory requirements and take the same National Certification Examination that are required for massage therapists who provide symptom-directed, medically-oriented treatment for people with pain and dysfunction.

If some massage therapists, who consider themselves adequately trained,  want state regulation to protect the public from harm which they may cause, why don't they get themselves regulated for that purpose, and let other massage therapists, who don't want regulation, live and work in peace.

It is inappropriate to allege that some massage therapists are inadequately trained unless there is well-documented evidence that those massage therapists are inadequately trained because they have actually harmed people.

It is inappropriate to allege that regulation is needed to protect the public from being harmed by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists unless there is well-documented evidence that those allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists have actually caused enough serious harm to justify the alleged need to regulate them to protect the pubic from that harm.

Conclusions 

Creating a hullabaloo and brouhaha - with   tautology, pleonasm, and echolalia - to promote state regulation is no substitute for well-documented evidence that state regulation is needed to protect the public from harm which has actually occurred.

Alleging that some massage therapists are inadequately trained is no substitute for providing well-documented evidence that they have actually harmed people.

You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. - J. P. Barnum

If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through, it will blow up everything in its way. - Emile Zola

Suggested reading

Douglas, W. O. Points of Rebellion. Vintage Books. NY. 1969.

Gross, B. Friendly Fascism. The New face of Power in America. M. Evans and Company. NY. 1980.

Herman, E. S., and Chomsky.  Manufacturing Consent. The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Books. NY, 1988.

Martin. B. Suppression Stories. Fund for Intellectual Dissent. Box U129. Wollongong University. Wollongong NSW 2500. Australia. 1997. The contents of this book included the following: Introduction, Suppression is everywhere. Power against dissent. It's defamatory. "Proper channels" just don't work. The media against suppression. Up against the gatekeepers. Opponents of suppression. Taking action.

Pei. M. Double Speak in America. Hawthorne Books, In. NY. 1973.

Zinn, H. Failure to Quit. Reflections of an Optimistic Historian. Common Courage Press. Monroe, Maine. 1993.

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