When They Don’t Want You Anymore — Wait, What?

I try not to read Acupuncture Today, because usually it makes me sputter, and then I have to clean off my laptop. Gross. But comrade Jenny Corbin piqued my interest with a post on Facebook about a particular AT article, and I succumbed. Actually I'm kind of glad, because I think this particular article needs some serious discussion. I didn't sputter. I felt sort of stricken, actually, and I'm wondering how the rest of you are going to feel about it.

Go read it, you guys, I'll wait. I need to pet the dog for a while anyway, after reading that. (*rubs golden retriever tummy*) Here's the link again if you need it.

Are you back?

Holy shit, right?

There's a ton of stuff in here I could rant about, but I don't even want to. For anybody who missed it, I ranted spectacularly at Felice Dunas for a while back in 2007, for this article — meaning, I went so far as to have my patients read it and then I collected all the angry comments and mailed them to her. Now I'm sorry about that because this lady clearly doesn't need, has never needed, any more grief in her life.

This latest article blew my mind, particularly the last 2 paragraphs:

“Have you ever wished your patients understood your commitment and what it took from you to help get them well? Have you felt their rejection or lack of recognition for your devotion to the subtleties of their care that makes all the difference? Whether they know it or not, you put in those late nights studying for them. You sweat and fret for them. To be continually growing for the good of all concerned you stretch your values, education and perspectives, while expanding tolerance and Buddha-like acceptance of the choices patients make.

If it comes to pass that you feel unrecognized for your value, if you are rejected as part of a bad memory, remember this article. Remember my story and bear in mind that others feel what you feel. All your colleagues know the dark places. Ultimately, in the sacred pain of this professional path, you are not alone.”

Oh my God, no. No! Reading this is like listening to somebody tell you that driving a car inevitably hurts SO MUCH because of how you have to keep slamming your fingers in the door whenever you get in or get out. No no no, you don't have to do it that way.

Caring about your patients is not supposed to hurt you, not like that. Being leaned on heavily by someone you are treating, when they are going through a very dark time, is a privilege and an honor and it's supposed to make you feel uplifted — no matter what happens afterward. If it doesn't, something is seriously out of whack.

So of course I'm thinking, it's the structure, because that's what I always think. It's the structure summed up in this phrase: ” I wholeheartedly devote myself to creating the customized path that combines my work and a patient's needs”. It's too much specialness, in the practitioner and the patient and the combination of the two, in a setting that costs way more money than it should. It's the downside of selling intimacy. It's the problem with doing acupuncture anywhere else than a room full of other people.

I can't remember the last time I felt unappreciated by a patient. Ditto unrecognized or rejected. Not every patient I treat likes me, of course; I know perfectly well there are times that I treat somebody and it's just because of a scheduling issue — they'd rather be treated by Shauna or Moses or any of my other stellar coworkers. They might even say so! Or I put a lot of energy into treating somebody and they never come back and I never hear from them. Or I run into them in the grocery store and they look the other way. But that doesn't hurt. It's not supposed to cause pain, sacred pain or any other kind. And those things don't even happen that much. What I feel much more often is embarrassed and awkward because I can't respond adequately to the love and appreciation that patients are pouring over me. That happens at least once a week. Not because I'm any great shakes as an acupuncturist, but because patients are, in my experience, spectacularly appreciative.

So you guys, what do you think? Is this article a covert ad for community acupuncture? A cautionary tale for boutiquers? An illustration of what's wrong with the profession? Or just really, really sad?

Author: lisafer

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The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


  1. “If it comes to pass that you feel unrecognized for your value, if you are rejected as part of a bad memory, remember this article. Remember my story and bear in mind that others feel what you feel. All your colleagues know the dark places. Ultimately, in the sacred pain of this professional path, you are not alone.”

    That last paragraph sounds like the sad lament of “the lonely individual”, the worst result of the professional middle class.

    Though, through her choice of words and way of phrasing she makes it sound like professional middle class boutique acupuncturists including herself are being violated in some way by their patients for not showing proper appreciation and obedience and staying in their care forever. There is this dual sense of abuse and abandonment that comes out toward the end there. It’s definitely sad to think that anyone would relate to the people that come into their clinics the way she does. It seems masochistic to me that anyone would subject themselves to “sacred pain” and “dark places” for 40+ years.

  2. Yeah, there’s this too: “Very few people continue to see an acupuncturist when they are healthy, even though, historically, treatments were administered continually throughout life. Because we live in a “help me when I am sick” culture, patients move on to other pursuits when they feel well enough to avoid spending any more time and money on medical care.”

    Sounds so wistful — and as if the cost of treatment had NOTHING to do with it.

  3. I think it is just really sad. I am going to go rub my kitty’s tummy. If I did not love what I do so much, I would never be able to admit that I am an acupuncturist. I can’t believe they would publish this. Skip said it all.

    here kitty kitty…

  4. I think you all are being way too kind and this article sums up to me everything that is wrong with our profession.

    It’s hard to believe that a voice that says things like:

    Perhaps your work is fiscally undervalued. Many acupuncturists charge less than is comfortable, working long hours to survive financially.

    To be good at this medicine you must strive for their sake, and perhaps, more importantly, for your own.

    You ponder, you worry, and you genuinely care.

    Your authenticity makes it all the harder when they leave you.

    is upheld as some sort of model for other practitioners.

    This sounds like the rantings of a megalomanic narcissist to me.
    I’m someone who regularly hugs my patients, runs into them in all kinds of places in public, etc. This woman sounds like she was practically stalking her patient.

    How about that:
    She went into debt to give herself the room and time to heal.

    Shouldn’t an ethical practitioner try to avoid being part of a patient incurring more stress? Why didn’t Felice just refer her patient to an affordable community acupuncture clinic?

  5. Honestly, and I may regret saying this on a public forum, I think there is some really deep well of personal pain going on in the author (Felice Dumas). The whole article sounds totally removed from any functional, healthy relationship with patients. I have no idea why she practices if this is how she exists. Again, being honest, I have to say that as a community acupuncturist I pretty much never feel the way she describes – because it’s not my job to heal anyone. I just smile and put needles in and make sure the bathroom’s clean and the phone is answered. My part is easy and generally very happy.

  6. I just went back and re-read Money Is Qi Is Money and my head is spinning with the irony that this is the same column that suggested that *we* have a problem with our self-esteem:

    “My suggestions include that you charge more than anybody you know. It inspires confidence in those who work with you. Surely you wouldn’t be so foolish as to overcharge if you aren’t any good, right? Your inferiority complex about your value as a practitioner is not your patients’ business. They are more likely to comply if your recommendations cost them an arm and a leg. We all have some degree of shame about our worth. Feel it, if you need to therapize it and heal it, but raise your prices anyway.”

    As Annie Lennox said, “Money can’t buy it, baby.”

  7. Holy smokes! It IS really sad. But, it’s more than sad. It’s gross and wrong and bad medicine. There are some frighteningly fuzzy emotional boundaries being displayed here if you ask me. SO much wanted by the practitioner from the patient, or is it not even about the patient? Is it that thing you’ve/we’ve talked about, Lisa – the Experience? Although, we’ve usually talked about the extraordinary Experience as something being purchased by many boutique clinic patients, not something that the practitioner, herself, is desperate for, at some level.
    My mouth is still hanging open. I won’t say more at this point.
    Except that I think I’ll take the article to the Code of Ethics discussion as a veritable essay on some issues for us to address.

  8. To me this: “It’s the downside of selling intimacy.” is a key sentence in your post, Lisa.
    I pretty much have to agree with Cris. I think this article inadvertently illustrates the deeply rooted issue with what acupuncturists are missing in their training and professional culture. It is also, in my opinion, a good example of the dangerous results of the isolation where many acupuncturists exist when they set up their little boutique practices and put themselves at the center of those dysfunctional little universes. It also confirms what many of us have been saying for years – acupuncture schools often attract deeply self-centered lost individuals who are hoping to enhance their own specialness through the practice of this medicine, who are there for themselves, not there in order to acquire skills to relieve unbelievable suffering all around them at the cost of their own needs and wants. This woman is supposedly some kind of an elder in the profession, and her boundaries and understanding of what her job is are so messed up!
    Ok, now I want to cry and I need my cat. Or two cats. And a chicken.

  9. I’m with all of you here. There are serious boundary issues at play here and a desperate longing to be needed and appreciated by her patients.

    I am not knocking her desire to help her patients, nor her efforts to become a better healer as she struggled to find special diet or point prescriptions, rather, I am knocking the over-investment in out come.

    Caring intensely about how a patient should feel about us, and how things ‘should’ turn out is a problem for all medical practitioners and leads to burnout no matter what profession one is in. We have no control over outcomes, we can only show up, do our best work, and then let nature and our patients take over from there. If a patient appreciates us great, if not great.

    Instead of bemoaning how ‘rude’ this ex-patient was, she should have been overflowing with happiness at what a thriving, healthy, and happy person this patient had become.

  10. This is quite disturbing and sad…this lady has HUGE boundary and codependency issues. Calling someone to find out why they didn’t call you back?… totally unethical. Even more disturbing is the fact that AT saw it fit to publish – speak volumes.

  11. OK, ready for the positive spin? How lucky are we that we found a place that is not…that. That we found a way of doing something that has many, many (many) problems, dramas, unforeseen circumstances, but we go home at the end of the day knowing that our home isn’t that removed from our day and that yes, we helped an individual, but we also helped a community. I’m happy for the patient in this cautionary tale, and my heart goes to the practitioner, but it doesn’t sound like the reality I know and I’m thankful for that.

  12. From the qi is money article: “Patients love shopping, so sell big expensive stuff. Support heart yin everywhere by providing retail therapy.”

    Just wow at how sorry I feel for this individual.

  13. I kept waiting for the paragraph where she talked about this being her first patient when she was a confused and naive student, and her clinic supervisor knocked some sense into her and told her to never approach a patient in public because you’re kind of violating confidentiality and outting them as a patient. That was too much to hope for, apparently. It makes no sense to me, this interest in being a guru that some boutiquers seem to have – the craving for devotion from people that come to see them, and this martyrdom of enduring some kind of “sacred pain” – ick! To not realize that you’re looking for a narcissistic supply line from your patients, whether through their wallets or their devotion to you (or both) is nothing short of disturbing to read about.

  14. I think like Lisa said there’s this whole consumerist idea to patients. As if patients were here to please the acupuncturist. Worship them. And sing their praises.

    As Lisa mentioned before,I think Community Acupuncture is all about reprogramming and learning to open your space and heart to everyone. You don’t have to love/like all of your patients and they don’t have to love/like you. Your space, your systems hold the healing for the patients. Not your personality. Not everyone is going to be your best friend, or even a friend. But it’s the gruff ones that don’t buy into the voodoo stuff that get better that are the best examples of what a difference community acupuncture makes <3

  15. Why would you want to take credit for all of the hard work that your patient did? She acts like seeing her in a restaurant with a man is all her own doing. What a creepy weirdo.

  16. Thank God for Community Acupuncture which encourages healthy boundaries naturally as part of the business model! Again, such a win-win in so many ways.

    What a relief not to engage in this – Private acupuncture can be a real petri dish for mind-games,I know- but this sounds like personal boundary problems– it’s one thing to have them but to trumpet them like this–whew where’s my dog

  17. Cris, I think you nailed it with narcissistic personality disorder (https://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx36.htm).

    Felice seems to regard the act of “going into debt to heal” as admirable. I think it’s unhealthy, it will only create a different kind of stress, really a kind of imprisonment, for the patient.

    I think they publish dreck like this to get US to read it. I never read AT unless someone here blogs about it.

  18. You guys have pretty much said it all- but I also remember from my recent NCCAOM online ethics course that it is our responsibility to act in a way that represents the goals and ethics of our entire profession. We may have differences in the style of practice we use, but I don’t know any private-treatment practitioners who would think that this article represents them either. It is a public display of crossing boundaries that should not be crossed as a “professional” and I’ve definitely seen print copies of this in acupuncture offices for general patient perusal- how would any acupuncturist like patients to read this? How on earth was it ever deemed publishable?!

  19. I am somewhat thankful for the article as an example of what once I feared my fate and job would include.
    (Insert photo for an article on acupuncture: a blonde woman in a black leotad doing a yoga pose.)

    I further support “POCATech-Now” comment

  20. Ditto Gazilla & Cris’ take: Ms Dunas has major boundary issues & narsissitic personality–she’s also a power-tripper. No wonder her former patient ran from her! I can feel the tentacles of needy-ness reaching through the page as I read the article.
    She’s overly-invested in the power of an intimate relationship where the patient was vulnerable & she was the all powerful, “deliverer of goodness”.

    Unfortunately, I’ve found ALL healthcare professions seem to attract loads of folks with boundary issues (Ms Dunas has the extra twist of power-tripping, tho), but acupuncture schools especially, don’t teach appropriate “therapuetic relationship” skills very well. To me, it is particularly scary that 1) she is teaching others, and 2) AT is recklessly encouraging this sick model of practitioner-patient relationship by publishing the article.

    A huge part of why I am attracted to CA as a patient & acupunk student is the model for holding space for patients to heal–in whatever manner, timeframe or not at all, that is best for the PATIENT. It’s not about me. I am the conduit, the facilitator for something bigger than my little ego. The power dynamics remain with the patient to ultimately heal themselves, I just get to go along for the awesome ride.

  21. Cris posted about this article in the forums at just about the same time, and my response was also: Holy shit!

    Let’s take that car-driving analogy a little further. Let’s say that you were told in order to drive a car, not only would you need to slam your hand in the door every time you got in, you would also need to set up an altar for your map 24 hours in advance of going somewhere to pray for the right alignment of energies to get to your destination. You’d have to change the oil each and every time you turned on the ignition. You’d have to rinse the car daily in apple-cider-vinegar baths with just a few drops of lavender oil. You’d have to dust out the inside of the car using hand-collected free-range heritage breed chicken feathers that you gathered into a bundle under the light of the harvest moon. If you didn’t do everything EXACTLY as prescribed, you’d NEVER get to your destination.

    Honestly: that’s my impression of the level of UTTER BULLSHIT that practitioners like her cram down people’s throats in the guise of “using my expertise to heal.” Sorry but no. This kind of healthcare is not that complicated. Needle, rest, repeat. Key, ignition, drive.

    This article made me sick. I keep deleting very rude language here, so I’ll just stop now.

  22. I <3 Love love CA because over the 3 years of practicing CA and hanging out with awesome people. I've learned to develop proper boundaries in my professional life which has extended to my personal life and just in general made my life much BETTER.

  23. It is clear that this article has no place in a professional rag.

    I do feel bad for this woman and clear that she has really not been very busy with her practice if she has time to spend mooning after her patients. Ditto others mention of ethical practices in regards to patients.

    It’s funny how one can gain the perception that they are in charge of the health of another. It sounded like psychotherapy to me, not acupuncture.

    How can AT have published this article?

    Hopefully she is winding down her practice and spending time with other pursuits. It is clear she has expended her energy on a path of severe burnout.

    The article itself can serve as a moral lesson for us all, akin to my favorite stories by the famed Ethiopian, Aesop. “on your way to pleasing only yourself, you may end by pleasing no one at all.”

  24. “GREAT article, as always appreciate your depth of understanding, wisdom and experience…Thanks for writing this. Although we love our profession, it has some unusual quirks that’s for sure.”
    wow- this was one of 3 comments on the article- I guess I was wrong.

  25. jencorbin, where in the world did you find these comments? Aaaacck! (That’s me barfing).

    According to her AT bio, she teaches & does the CEU circuit. As was pointed out by many–this is scary. Not POCA-Tech instructor material, thank goodness! 🙂

  26. AT is basically an ad paper, and a great many articles that appear in it are from people who have bought advertising space in the publication. It’s not really a professional journal at all. Advertising trades on people’s insecurities – if only i had this gadget, took that course, got that degree, i’d be successful. It comes as no surprise to me that they’d publish something like this. Equally unsurprising is that they 86’d Lisa as a columnist years back.

  27. So admittedly, I haven’t read the entire Felice article yet… Just Lisa’s blog about it. And the quotes that Lisa put in of Felice’s made me laugh out loud as I was walking my dogs in the middle of the night last night reading my iphone (bad).
    Did anyone at AT actually read the article? Of course AT is ridiculous, but the fact that they would allow something so personally vulnerable and embarrassing and sad and creepy really interests me as they are always trying to put such a posi spin on things and the profession.
    All I could think was thank goddess I’m not her or her patients, and wow I am so lucky to have the complete opposite of that experience, and I get more than enough gratitude every single day to last me a lifetime.
    Am I/we lucky, or is she just incredibly unlucky as she digs her own pathetic grave?
    Can she see this?
    Wow is right.

  28. wow and o.m.g indeed…embarassed to admit that i started clicking through this woman’s archived AT articles here at 12.53 in the morning…and pretty much the first thing i came across, written by felice dunas, is this: “No matter how much you enjoy a patient’s personality, it is not your job to become a friend…If an acupuncturist feels dependent in any way that would allow them to fudge on their boundaries, their standing is lowered in the practitioner/patient relationship. When we are forced to set clear boundaries, we are reminded of their importance. (https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32509)
    words words words…

  29. Wow– the complaining/smells bad/ patient who lacks gratitude and devotion … versus the complaining/smells bad patient who is too effusively thankful….what’s worse?

    I can’t believe this was written by the same person earlier this year…

    how bizarre, how disconcerting.

  30. I can’t stop checking back to read all of your comments. I tried to link this page to the AT Comments section with a comment “for more discussion on this article go this page.” Not acceptable to post by AT standards. They can’t even attempt to look fair and balanced.

    Jean-Paul, I am glad your comment is still there.

  31. Once I cleared the barf bag stage (Thanks, Cris, for the oh so appropriate image), the primary feeling that abides as I read all this is, of course, sadness, but more importantly, a very deep gratitude. We may as well be on another planet from AT and all the rest of this stuff, and there aren’t enough words to say how thankful that makes me. There’s a reason this movement is building its own structures. Everything Lisa and all the rest of you are pointing out in this thread just acts as screamingly obvious proof of how badly those new structures are needed.


  32. Thanks for the great comments, everyone.

    Another thing that struck me about the article was the line, “The moment of first connecting with my star patient of the year before was awkward, stilted and confusing.” Star patient? Right, because she changed her habits and her diet and her friends just like her acupuncturist told her to do, and went into debt besides. “Stellar compliance.”

    I agree, the acupuncturist who wrote this article clearly has some personal issues and all of Melodie Beatty’s books on codependency are strongly indicated. But personal stuff aside, the acu-profession’s conviction of believing that acupuncturists are supposed to do SO MUCH MORE than just put in needles — on some level, that belief will always condemn some acupuncturists to life in Sacred Painland. This mess here is where that particular road ends. I can’t believe any human being could stand up for years to the pressure of thinking that to be good at your job, you have to change somebody else’s lifestyle, and not go crazy like this to one degree or another. You would have to be the Superhero of Boundaries not to.

    I am grateful that all my “star patients” have to do is to plunk their butts down in a recliner. Look, they’re all stars! And they are, they really are.

  33. POCA, you need to be better than this.
    If you aim to be the future educators of health care professionals and to organise real change in health care and society in your country (and beyond) then you need to be the best of us, not the worst. Any association or group is only as appealing (relevant?) as it’s worst impression in the minds of the public.

    This is a blog – open to the general public. While I agree that it’s good to have open discussions promoting healthcare service over a healthcare industry where you can involve anyone who wants; I have to say that openly ganging up on someone reveals a different kind of class, and a general lack thereof.

    If you’re angry at something promote your own views, or if you need to attack another person and her views, please try to do it without resorting to judgements about her character and mental health.

    There is an interesting blog by Aaron Swartz “Fix the Machine, Not the Person” (just google it, I can’t do links) which serves as a good lesson for me about this issue of POCAs, it’s also much more articulate than most of my better thoughts.

    Basically POCA has a great idea and a lot of passionate people working for the people in their communities and beyond. Why not let it work? Just put the needles in and let it cook. You don’t need to write angry “open letters” to people with different opinions to change hearts and minds. You don’t need to ridicule people and accuse them of having personality disorders. You just have to do what you believe.

  34. Clayton, I’m sorry to tell you, this is about as good as I’m capable of being. I’m not going to get better than this. I’ve never given you any indication I’m interested in self-improvement, and I’m pretty sure that POCA hasn’t, either. To quote the Princess Bride: get used to disappointment.

  35. Clayton, your points are valid. And I always like what you bring to the table. In this particular case I have to say My deprogramming from all of that acu-crap was painful. Personally, I think we do need to be more public about saying “putting this shit out there is not okay.”

    it’s not that hard for me to think back to when I was in school reading acupuncture today. My classmates and I sitting around the intern clinic that patients would often not return for follow up appointments or they would just one day disappear after a decent course of treatments.

    Acu students need to learn how to communicate and offer acupuncture proficiently enough and then give space for their patients to decide what they need and when they need it, not create a subservient following of devotees.

  36. I agree with Roppie. Student read that thing and think that they are being given useful information. Besides and Jean Paul’s comment on the article on AT, this blog is actually the one good thing that will hopefully come out of that sad article. She is not expressing any philosophical views, she is publicly bitching about her patient. If she did not want to be scrutinized for her personal issues as they relate to her ability to do her job well, she should not have put her personal issues into that article, accessible to everyone.

  37. I think the things that most affected me in that article were:

    * It was a public article posted on a supposedly professional website designed to promote acupuncture.

    This article does NOT put my profession in a good light, and gives a terrible impression of the people who practice acupuncture.

    * The article writer admitted to having extremely poor professional boundaries, but gussied it up into a “we all go through this, don’t we?” thing.

    No we do NOT all go through this. Some of us actually love it when people ‘fire’ us as their practitioners, because they have gotten better! Of course it’s always a little bitter sweet, but I am tickled pink when people say “I don’t need to see you anymore for this issue.”

    That this woman is a PhD who is on the CEU circuit (charging thousands and thousands of dollars, by her own admission) is espousing such piss poor ethics to impressionable acupuncture students makes me very upset.

    * The comments below the article, saying things like “GREAT article, as always appreciate your depth of understanding, wisdom and experience…”

    Gag me, please. To allow this article and these comments go without offering a rebuttal makes me culpable in propagating these so-called values, and lack of boundaries. I therefore had to comment.

    Clayton, she published an article in a public forum. She is entitled to do this, just as we are entitled rebut, and offer another perspective. AT is read by many students, and we would be doing a disservice to them by letting such an article be published without saying something against it.

  38. ugh Lisa- I just read the article that you blasted her on in 2007. Now I understand why you were planning on avoiding the current article. Does she pick up the pen whenever she does something that her conscience tells her isn’t right so that she can justify it as leading the way or sharing her wisdom?

  39. Clayton said:

    “I have to say that openly ganging up on someone reveals a different kind of class, and a general lack thereof.

    If you’re angry at something promote your own views, or if you need to attack another person and her views, please try to do it without resorting to judgements about her character and mental health. ”

    I disagree that this is some kind of “attack” or that POCA people are “ganging up on” Ms. Dunas. Everyone here is simply expressing opinions, there isn’t any overtly hateful talk here, just some strong opinions about someone who puts herself out there as an expert at running a successful acupuncture practice. When you put yourself out there as a type of “adviser” to the rest of your profession, particularly when that advise is so openly focused on creating the practitioner as wealthy, highly-paid, expensive, and exclusive (and promoting that as an ideal paradigm), you should be prepared for some strong criticism, including comparisons of the tone and content of your advise to known personality disorders, particularly when the advise is laden with weird stories about approaching former patients in public to find out why they don’t continue to worship you.

    What professions benefit from an excess of bloated egos? Does allopathic medicine? Chiropractic, etc? I don’t think so, and I don’t think Acupuncture will either.

    And FYI, we do indeed have “class” here, just not the same kind as Ms. Dunas’s (thankfully).

  40. Clayton, your choice to offer suggestions to the commentors here in their reaction to this insufferably embarrassing article reads like you are blaming the victim.

    I’m sure you aren’t excusing the many moral and intellectual short-comings of Ms. Dunas’s article, nor AT’s decision to print it….but it sure sounds like it.

  41. things arise and he lets them come,
    things disappear and he lets them go
    he has but doesnt possess,
    acts but doesnt expect
    when his work is done he forgets it
    that is why it last forever

    i have yet to find a situation where the tao te ching is not simply poignant. thanks lao tzu

  42. Sheesh, what a load of verbal vomit, and doesn’t she teach some kind of sexuality CEU course? That ought to be REALLY cool.

    Trumping you all by petting 5 dogs at once and vowing, once again, not to read AT.

  43. Well, I’m glad to hear that the pets of the POCAverse are at least benefiting from this discussion.

    @jencorbin, yeah, it’s interesting. After the Money Is Qi Is Money dustup, I actually had a few phone conversations with Felice. And I wouldn’t be completely surprised if she were reading these comments. This is maybe a longer conversation…she was one of the early acu-establishment folks who saw great entrepreneurial potential in community acupuncture. I’m pretty sure if you asked her directly, she would still say she thinks what we’re doing is great and she’s fully supportive of it. She would probably add that she doesn’t understand why we have to be so hostile and why we can’t all prosper and thrive together, embracing our differences.

    The reason I brought this article up — just like I did with Money Is Qi Is Money — is not because I have it in for Felice personally. I don’t. It’s because she articulates the values of the overall profession very clearly, and whether deliberately or not, she’s often much more honest than most acupuncturists about the values and the emotional dynamics that make up the foundation of the profession.

    As Jean Paul said, “To allow this article and these comments go without offering a rebuttal makes me culpable in propagating these so-called values, and lack of boundaries.” Having this discussion is part of how we figure out our ethics, and I’m happy that Korben from the ethics committee zeroed in on it so fast.

    If we didn’t have conversations like this, community acupuncture would long ago have become so diluted by the influences that Felice is articulating that there would be nothing left for us who are serious to work with. There is so much bullshit in the acu-profession. If we never called it out, if we just tried to treat people and keep our mouths shut as Clayton would have us do, there would be nothing left of us by now. Everything we do would long ago have been totally and utterly co-opted, and maybe it would be a “community acupuncturist” writing a column in AT about stalking her insufficiently grateful patients. The acu-establishment would be alternately applauding us and treating us like a lovable mascot — if there were any “us” left, that is. I know I wouldn’t still be here, I’d be too demoralized.

    So I don’t know why Felice writes what she does, but sometimes I’m kind of grateful. She can make some things crystal-clear.

  44. Ah, hints of Martin Niemoller – “First they came for the…” I’m so happy I’ve been lumped in with the apathetic and the collaborators. Well, I don’t believe I said that silence is that answer. In a case where someone, and a publication, is displaying their own unprofessional conduct I think that there are ways of saying this without calling her sad, pathetic or a creepy weirdo. This space and time would have been nothing short of perfect to present a companion piece in response to the original article. An educational and informative group of opinions that I would be proud to point my patients, co-workers and friends towards so they could see how community acupuncture is different.

    Maybe I’m just overreacting because of a recent local suicide related to online bullying, but I’ve also just had enough of it. Maybe keeping some things silent but still getting a message across might lead to more community acupuncturists and fewer acupunks, but that might also be a good thing. It’s too bad that POCA needs to rely on the zealous and evangelical to sustain it, because it’s also what’s chased a few of us away from an organisation with such awesome ideals at it’s heart.

    The thing is I’m not nearly as passionate as all of you are, and while I really don’t see that as a good or bad thing, it makes me a better suited to be an acupuncturist than an activist. Not all of us want to be tungsten; how about phosphorous for the rest of us? Still making light, just a bit more of a glow. Community acupuncture is a big world and there has to be room for both quietly passionate as well as the boisterous.

    I understand the need for POCA to act as a political wing, this is a massive undertaking beyond any of my understanding and I give you all tons of respect for your work over many years to communicate that core belief of people working on people. There has been a lot of work and change in POCA since CAN, and even before that; it’s evolved and grown to fill a variety of new needs and situations. Maybe some of us just fit better into different times of POCAs growth. All the best guys.

  45. OK then, Phosphorus, show me what you got.

    “It’s too bad POCA needs to rely on the zealous and evangelical to sustain it” — that’s a very interesting statement. You’ve probably noticed that the zealous, evangelical, passionate and boisterous are also the only ones that make anything happen. You get to be Phosphorus (quietly, virtuously, passively glowing) because Tungsten did all the work. We broke the barriers and took the heat; you’re gently twinkling under our shelter, if you hadn’t noticed. How nice for you. You’re using our systems (to whatever degree you’re using them), posting on our forums, and talking about how great it would be if this conversation — that you didn’t start — did a better job of meeting your needs. If you wanted a companion piece to the original article, why didn’t you write it? For that matter, why don’t you do it now? If you want something you can be proud of, why don’t you make it?

    The thing is, we haven’t chased you away, not successfully anyway, because here you are, standing on the sidelines, heckling us in the name of idealism. I have zero patience for this kind of thing. People who want a different kind of community than POCA should go roll up their sleeves and build that community. For years there have been people who don’t like our tone, for years people have been bemoaning the lack of a kinder, gentler, more inclusive community acupuncture organization. You notice how nobody has actually built that organization? You think that’s a coincidence? I don’t.

    Time to put up or shut up, Phosphorus.

  46. P.S. I promise to start taking everybody’s complaints about what’s wrong with POCA very, very seriously, the minute that somebody builds something that works better than it does.

  47. This response needs to be re-posted in the forums anywhere there’s a call for volunteers. Very effective- I mean, I’ve just realized I’m totally being a phosphorus. crap. >:p Time to volunteer again!

  48. Clayton, don’t go away. I’ve often felt the same way over the years, and i’ve made no secret of it. Some things have happened to me, personally and professionally, to gradually but radically shift that view over the last year. I’m not into personal attacks, but i think there are many structures which are considered normative in the acupuncture and acu-school profession that are IMO seriously dysfunctional and there is a kind of collective delusion which is fed by AT and many of the people who write for it (as well as many others who do not). I’ve seen the negative impacts on students and graduates as well as patients. I think these things need to be examined and critiqued, and if you too take issue with them, you’re welcome to critique them in whatever manner you find appropriate.

    For me, i decided that correcting the injustices in the status quo is far and away a greater concern than managing POCA’s public relations, if you know what i mean. And i am part of POCA too, and if i want the organization to look more like i’d like it to, then i need to put more of myself into it.

  49. Robert, I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate it. I also understand what you’re saying, Clayton. I just want to remind us of a few contextual things:

    Felice published an incredibly personal (I would say self-absorbed) article, that revealed actions we might each reasonably place along a continuum from regrettable to pitiful to unprofessional and unethical. So, it’s a little hard to critique that *publicly available article* without it potentially seeming like a personal attack. Critiquing a self-styled leader in the field for things she’s said in print is not cyber-bullying, and she’s not a teenager that needs protecting. She’s a grownup, with a forum in which she can defend herself.

    This same publication cancelled [censored] Lisa’s column (way back in the day – 2005?), which to my way of thinking was much less controversial, and without which there may never have been a CAN and therefore a POCA, on the basis that it was too dangerous (I forget the exact words, but I think “dangerous” was one of them).

    Nobody says you have to be loud and aggressive to be an acupunk; your passion can totally be all quiet and glowy. But I do think you have to have passion to do this work – or at least, that POCA has to have passion. I am actually a pretty nice person in real life, and I’m trying to make it this month’s spiritual practice to weed contempt and name-calling out of my relating to people. But I will not pretend to like things that I don’t, I will not pretend I’m not angry when I am, and I am willing to be a real bitch to anyone who tries tone-policing on Lisa or anyone else here. We have a right to our tone, our anger, our passion, our quiet moments and our more boisterous ones…and we have a right to call bullshit when we smell it. No one is publishing our passion in Acupuncture Today; I won’t apologize for it showing here, in this messy space we create together.

  50. Very well said Nora. It’s good to remember that we have a right to own our reaction to something that was made public. This is also a public blog, and people who are challenged on opinion or statement here have always to my knowledge given a reply or deeper explanation or SOMETHING.. It seems very strange to me to read something so personal- that seems so assuming that lots of other people experience the same thing.. followed by lots of comments challenging the author (ONLY from punks?).. followed by nothing. Either nobody but us read the article, or everyone else agrees and actually shares her feelings (which I highly doubt), or nobody wants to bother to engage in any discussion over it- including the author! Where is the life in that? I think our messy space is so much more productive. Echoing other people in feeling so grateful to be a part of POCA!

  51. I know I’m chiming into this conversation kind of late, but after sleeping on it, I return to lovingly challenge a couple of other things that you say, Clayton – not to personally attack you ;^) but just in case there are others who agree with what you’re saying – and I’m sure there are.

    First of all, I want to say (again – seems like we have to do this every few months, which I guess it is what it is) that there would be no Community Acupuncture if it weren’t for Lisa and the rest of us actively not being nice. So to say things like “Community acupuncture is a big world” without remembering how that world came into being – and how its momentum is sustained – is disingenuous. You’ve been around long enough to know better, so I won’t belabor the point – especially since Lisa said the same thing so well/not nicely above.

    Second, I want to challenge whatever your vision of “activist” looks like. There are a lot of stereotypes about activists, most of which don’t apply to the activists I know, and the real, often quiet, sometimes tedious work most activists are doing. There are lots of ways to “do” activism – sometimes it’s just going into a space that is, for you, disabling, and asking for help getting your cup of coffee to the table. https://pocacoop.com/forums/viewthread/5474/ I think our work (and I do mean the acupuncture part: the way we structure the delivery of it, and for whom, and why) is inherently activist, in the sense that it challenges the status quo. So, yeah, Clayton: I’m calling you an activist. Get used to it, comrade.

    Third, I think that you, Clayton, ARE passionate. I think that glow you describe is actually passion. Own it, mon frere! Without it, you and other occasionally quiet, occasionally complaining members would have gone away by now. But something keeps you hanging around, coming back to the well. The well is filled with our passion, yours and mine and ours, and the way some of us fill the well is a way that makes YOU uncomfortable: but that way is the way that built the damn well. So come slake your thirst, but (to paraphrase what Lisa says above) it’s not cool to complain to the well-digger about their digging technique unless you’ve got a shovel in your hand.

  52. I like it when we call out bullshit and also when we disagree with each other. It is more interesting then a group of people who are all agreeing with each other. More than that though, this is when we really start to dig deep and get clear on what is what!

    POCA has clear goals and passionate folks who are willing to volunteer their “extra” time and resources to make those goals a reality. POCA is indeed big enough for all of us but it is not always pretty. We are family after all and that means taking the good with the bad.

    To expand on the put up or shut up meme a bit… (this has come up before). We are bootstrapping this whole thing. That means that all we really have are our words and our work. There are plenty of people who want to contribute words and not many who are willing to put in the work. Without the work the words are hard to take very seriously. POCA needs people who can offer both.

    Nora- great comments 😀

  53. It’s been noted many times before, by people a lot more articulate than I am, that as soon you start speaking critically about issues of class, (OR race, OR gender, OR…you get the picture) someone always wants you to speak in a softer, gentler more moderate tone. I am deeply suspicious of anyone who says: “If you were nicer, more people would like you and therefore be open to your challenge to the status quo.”

    Great comments Nora.

  54. I was gonna say the same thing as Nora about C. being passionate. As a fellow man I say we’re all passionate, but we’ve been told we’re not and it’s hard not to believe it after a while. Shit, I see my naturally brilliant and passionate 3 yr old start believing it. Heart breaking. But, the point is, like Nora said, unless we try to own it, the passion spills; and the spill is usually made of sexism, where we think we’re just being smart and stable and someone else is being passionate and probably irrational. And, to this point, nothing can be said more clearly than Lisa’s response about the tungsten clearing space for the glow to make comments and critiques.

  55. Mr. Willoughby: Oh no, man.

    “Maybe keeping some things silent but still getting a message across might lead to more community acupuncturists and fewer acupunks, but that might also be a good thing. It’s too bad that POCA needs to rely on the zealous and evangelical to sustain it, because it’s also what’s chased a few of us away from an organisation with such awesome ideals at it’s heart.”

    Whoa. “Maybe keeping some things silent . . .”

    These people aren’t bottling up the conventional messages about “being good girls and boys” anymore, Sir. And they ARE empowering each other, AND their fellow POCA members (including patients, staff, supporters, communities, etc) to remove the layers of oppression and allow their truth to come out. And you must know that without those layers, the seeds germinate, the sun filters through, the rain penetrates, and – well, you get the picture. In the presence of these zealots, their clients, families, friends gather the strength to remember additional paths to healing through authenticity and transparency. Besides the fact that these evangelicals that treat thousands of peeps (most of them not offended by their attitudes) throw some freaking unbelievable needles by now. I hope, since I have seen your commentary pop up on CAN and now POCA for years, that since you don’t go away, maybe secretly you are hoping that one day some of what they’ve got rubs off on you. It definitely got on me.

    And by the way, as non-acupunk folk, I can assure you that you needn’t worry about what many of us are going to “think” about witnessing our punks be real. They have inspired so many of us in so many, many ways. And since their rants are usually traceable to issues of justice, fairness and community-building, rather than “poor me, nobody recognizes how wonderful I am or pays me enough for how hard I work, or tries not to hurt my feelings, or makes me worry about my class-perception, etc, etc,) , I find them particularly lovable to boot.

    I love to read what they write, I love to read the “shame on you” (or worse) responses they sometimes get, and I love to see their sparks fly as they get feisty, dig in, and roar like lions; with gigantic, messy, sloppy hearts.

    Maybe when they ask you to put up or shut up, you should. We wanna read it.

  56. Let’s face it-We’ve all encountered the weirdness that can only be encountered at acupuncture school. I know I’m some of that weirdness. Low self esteem? You betcha. Regretful that I undertook the pursuit of acupuncture as a career? You betcha!
    Not to judge Ms. Dunas but I find her approaching her ex-patient when she is clearly having a somewhat intimate yet public engagement is a bit off from a professional standpoint. What if that patient doesn’t want her fiance to know that she was ill or seeing an acupuncturist for that matter? If the ex patient were to make contact then it would be ok, but not so cool to approach her. I think the lack of boundaries in our profession makes it very difficult and confusing for all of us. I am also troubled that someone would use their ‘expertise’ to get someone to make such radical changes in their life like quitting their job, moving into a smaller apartment, going into deep debt. I would never want that on my conscious as a practitioner. I want an acupuncturist to treat me, not micromanage my life.