January 26, 2012

The (ultimate) Price for "Health"?

This morning, as I trolled CBC.ca for the latest in health news, I came across a disturbing article about a woman who died as a result of a "detox self-help" program.  According to CBC, the woman was a part of a group (who evidently paid through the nose) for the chance to wrap herself up in plastic wrap (after slathering on a thick layer of mud), sticking her head in a cardboard box, and sweating it out for over 8 hours in a heated room.....for the health of it. Now, the sheer physiology of this makes me wonder why anyone would do this - let alone pay someone to do this. Simply put, she baked herself, dying with a body temperature reaching 40 + degrees (the average body temp is around 35 I believe).

We are all guilty of searching for that Genie in a bottle. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a "Genie" (or in this case, "self help guru", "expert", "spiritual guide" or "counselor").  It still remains up to the buyer to beware.

It is a sad story, but again, it makes me wonder how these "self help gurus" get people to pay them for services so out of whack and are able to call it "self help" or "healthy".  Is it charisma? Certainly, a snake oil salesperson has to have a certain level of charisma to sell something like this.  But what about self responsibility? Where does that fit in? In this case, I would think it is an obvious fact that if you wrap your body in mud and cellophane and then place it in high heat (not allowing the body to dissipate heat through the skin) you will cook yourself. I'm amazed hers was the only death to be honest.

Another "self help guru", James Arthur Ray (of "The Secret" fame) was recently charged with manslaughter and (and given 6 years in jail).  He charged (and people paid) $9k to sit in a 400 square foot sweat lodge.  According to reports, he chided people for leaving as others were vomiting, burning themselves on the hot rocks, and lying lifeless on the ground. But hey...he was showcased on The Secret, he must know what he's talking about. Good luck to ya, Jim!

Is the search for "health" and "wellness" so intense that we are willing to shell out the big bucks and put our lives  in the hands of some self-proclaimed expert? Don't get me wrong, I understand the benefits of alternative medicine and feel the government's lack of sanction is ignorant in many ways...but there is a limit to what is "alternative". Sweating it out in a body condom for over 8 hours is certainly not "alternative" but "crazy"...dontcha think?

Another side of the coin there is the motivational speaker.  I was sitting in a presentation the other night where a women was paid money to give a talk on financial planning and women. Although she was educated and knowledgeable in the area and had her own personal experiences that many women could relate to, it was like watching a train wreck most of the time. The basic information presented was disjointed, hard to follow, and, by the look of the audience, nothing that held one's attention...yet people pay her to speak and participate in her workshops.  Another weekend workshop I attended recently (and blogged about) included the "presenter" disrespecting those who refused to hold hands and hug everyone. She charged 2k a pop and was probably the most inexperienced and inappropriate trainer I have ever witnessed in my 20+ years.

I often wonder what motivates a group or business to hire a particular speaker. Is it only because their fee is high enough to impress? I was inquiring about a speaker the other day (for the business network I belong to) and he was charging $5,000.00 an hour? I'm sorry.... what? Although he is interesting, funny, educated, and experienced....it wouldn't matter if you were a superhero with mind melding powers, charging 5k for one hour, in my opinion, is downright greed.  Please feel free to disagree. Maybe I'm totally out to lunch here.

As a professional speaker myself, no matter how "in demand" I could ever be (I can only dream of it), I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror if I charged 5k an hour. In my opinion, there is a balance between giving back and sharing expertise while making a decent living. I am able to offer the participant an enjoyable, entertaining experience while learning up-to-date information without charging an arm and a leg. Unfortunately, there is a belief that if you aren't expensive you aren't worth it.

....perhaps that is why people will pay 18k to join a program where you get to wrap yourself up and bake for 8 hours. If it is expensive it is worth every penny.

Go figure.


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