by Brendan Mooney, Registered Psychologist BPsySci (Hons) AmusA, Australia
In recent weeks, there have been a number of articles written by the media in relation to women and Universal Medicine. These have contained misinformation and uninformed opinion. It is clear that little research was undertaken in their production. As a man reading these articles, the treatment of women has been no less than absolutely appalling.
Universal Medicine has been described as a ‘cult’ with ‘up to 1000, mainly female’ ‘brainwashed’ ‘devotees’. Although the term ‘cult’ is used, the articles do not provide any evidence to the claim. There are no interviews of the women themselves, or printing of their stories. Instead, the information contained in these articles comes from a very small number of disgruntled members of the public, mainly men. Is it possible that this is a smear campaign and these opinions do not represent the majority who have attended the courses presented by Universal Medicine?
Working as a Psychologist, the term ‘cult’ carries heavy stigma for those involved and this term should never be used carelessly or when there is no evidence to justify this claim. Can you imagine how you would feel if you were labeled a ‘brainwashed’ ‘devotee’ to a ‘cult’ without any evidence being offered? These types of unsubstantiated claims can have extensive negative ramifications not only for the women but for their families too. Many women have young children who will now go to school amidst accusations that their mothers (and fathers) are involved in a ‘cult’. The treatment of women by the media in this way is utterly irresponsible to the truth they are otherwise supposed to report, as outlined in their journalist Code of Ethics.
Most media journalists belong to the Australian Journalists Association (AJA), and members are required to follow the AJA Code of Ethics. This code states a ‘respect for truth’ outlining that ‘members engaged in journalism commit themselves to honesty, fairness, independence and respect for the rights of others’. Specifically, the code states ‘report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply’. The articles from the media have clearly breached this code, as fairness in the disclosure of all essential facts, namely information from the women themselves, has not been included. Even though it is a core responsibility of all journalists, a fair opportunity for reply has been rejected despite requests from the women themselves to be interviewed. As a result, what the reader receives is a completely distorted story denigrating women everywhere from all walks of life. Where is the common decency of the media here?
In attending a Universal Medicine event, an attendee enrols in a course and pays for it in the same way as other educational institutions. There are no recruiting methods used by Universal Medicine, no recurring fees, and no requirement to commit to attend all or even some of the events. However, none of this information has been reported in the media articles which would otherwise allow a reader to be more informed in making up their own mind.
If these women were interviewed and their stories told, society would have the opportunity to see how gentle, loving and deeply considerate these women are to themselves and others. These women honour what they truly feel and do not put up with abuse from others, whether within a relationship or in general. They go to bed early, exercise, eat a healthy diet and do not abuse their bodies with alcohol or drugs. You do not need any qualifications to know that going to bed early is good for you, and yet how many women in society actually do this consistently?
It is worth noting that some women who attend courses by Universal Medicine do not choose to change their lifestyle, and they are free to do so. Many women who attend courses are also well educated and successful in their respective chosen fields, including doctors, lawyers, school teachers, and allied health professionals. These women are intelligent and able to discern what naturally makes sense and what does not. In essence these women have decided for themselves to make loving choices in their lives to truly feel empowered and to support those around them. Is this not what we would encourage for all women? Rather than label these women as ‘devotees’ to a ‘cult’, we should be inspired by them as they have found a way to truly feel an inner strength and confidence within themselves. Women are naturally very nurturing and it would only be a blessing to society if we had more women living like this.
One of the questions we need to ask is ‘why do men feel uncomfortable when women start to truly honour themselves?’ In other words, when women start claiming what they feel is true, why do men feel threatened by this? This phenomenon needs to be honestly discussed in full, as the reaction that women are in a ‘cult’ may reflect more about men’s insecurities than having anything to do with the women. Are women to be accepted in society as long as they play by men’s rules? The fact is that we need more women like this because otherwise men would have no way of knowing just how far off they can be.
In the field of psychology and most other health disciplines, the majority of graduates are female. Do we label these women as ‘devotees’ of a ‘cult’ simply because most of the top jobs are employed by males? If the media were to print such opinions, there would be an enormous uproar from the public in response. And yet, when this occurs against a local business it is considered acceptable practice by the media. These types of unsubstantiated opinions are insulting to women across all societies, and demeaning to the general intelligence of women everywhere and their ability to make their own informed decisions.
In the scientific world, the coverage by the media in relation to women and Universal Medicine would be seen as biased and lacking in any credible evidence. It is absolutely shocking that journalists are free to claim whatever opinion they like without proof or needing to be accountable for their actions. To date there have been no media articles exploring the question of why so many intelligent, educated and well-respected women in society are attending courses run by Universal Medicine? Also why is Universal Medicine, a group with only about 2000 attendees, getting so much attention when there are many gurus or cults in society with tens of thousands of members? There are real stories to be told here by any journalist open to investigating these questions.
With the enormous rates of mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence in society, we need more women who are prepared to go against the trend and make loving choices for themselves. In doing so, it may be unconventional or even off-putting to some, but never should we denigrate or demean women in any society when they have simply found a way to live that allows them to feel well within themselves.