21 November 2011

Ian Gawler Blog: Random facts of kindness

This blog, two issues that demand attention. The first concerns us all and exposes how industrial animal farming is putting us all at risk – even if you are a vegetarian! There is a real need to be selective in how we produce our food and what we as consumers buy and eat. Then there is an issue for the therapists who read this blog and are concerned about mental health.

The new 'outbreak' film Contagion raises real concerns

Microbes are finally getting the attention they deserve: albeit through the glossy veneer of a Hollywood ‘outbreak film', Contagion. The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne and is loosely based on research by Nathan Wolfe whose new book, Viral Storm: the dawn of a new pandemic age, tells why modern life has made us more vulnerable, not less, to the threat of a global pandemic.

In the film, the origin of a deadly global virus is linked back to a nesting bat whose home is destroyed by forest clearing from a mining company. The homeless bat then infects a pig, which is slaughtered and the chef, who carries the pig blood on his hands, passes it on to an unsuspecting first victim (played by Gwyneth Paltrow).

Reproduced here with permission, is part of an article in The Ecologist that reports on the book which goes into detail, linking the threat of global disease pandemics and industrial animal farming.

Being a veterinarian myself, this issue is one I have been aware of and deeply concerned about for decades. When will my profession, the Government, the meat industry and the public act on this major health problem?

The fact is that cramped and stressed conditions in factory farms require the use of low level antibiotics to protect the animals. These drugs are euphemistically called “growth promotants” and they directly contribute to antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat human as well as animal diseases. Eighty per cent of all antibiotics sold in 2009 were used on livestock and poultry, meaning that just 20 per cent were used for human illnesses. Seventy-five per cent of antibiotics are not absorbed by animals and are excreted in their waste, posing another serious risk to public health.

Wolfe has done his own research on factory farming, stating that more than half of the livestock produced globally now originate in industrial farm settings. The numbers of livestock boggle the mind: over one billion cattle, one billion pigs and over twenty billion chickens live on our planet.

Industrial farms can be more than settings to grow meat; they can be ‘incubators' for infectious agents that could move into human populations, he writes.

The Ecologist has reported widely on the growing threat of deadly antibiotic-resistant infections from animals to humans.

Yet the calls so far for the reduction of the use of antibiotics have gone largely ignored, primarily because factory farming would not be possible without them. For options and to read the full Ecologist article by Matilda Lee, click here. 

DSM 5 petition reflects concerns with the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of mental health conditions.

The DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.

A new edition, planned for publication in 2013, is attracting a good deal of controversy as the early drafts reveal significant changes from the current DSM 4.

An online petition against the new version, which began on October 22, is reported to have attracted 3,514 signatures by Nov 3 and over 6,000 by Nov 15.

The criticisms include the reduction in the number of criteria necessary to diagnose ADHD and the lowering of the diagnostic threshold for generalised anxiety disorder.

The DSM-5 taskforce’s consideration of several “unsubstantiated and questionable disorder categories” such as apathy syndrome, internet addiction disorder and parental alienation syndrome is also condemned.

One Australian signatory is Dr Godfrey Barrett-Lennard, an honorary fellow in the school of psychology at WA’s Murdoch University, who writes:

“The whole approach of rendering varieties of human distress under the heading of illnesses or pathologies is in my considered view... on the wrong track and seriously and even harmfully misleading.”

To read what Psychiatry Update (from Australian Doctor) has to comment on this matter click here, or to see the petition, signatories and comments, or to sign: click here.


MINDBODY MASTERY, the new downloadable meditation program, continues to near completion!

Due to the thoroughness of the ongoing support package that will come with the base 8 week program, there is a good deal of IT detail to establish and ensure that it is working well. This is nearly done and I hope to be able to announce the release date in a week, and that it will be around another week on from then.  For more details, click here.


  1. I can't help but ask, "What next?" It seems we can now just label anything as a "disorder" or "syndrome".
    Hopefully then I suffer from an incurable affliction, "Mindfulness Syndrome" that will only progress as I move through life, rendering me completley unable to react to anything in particular but instead residing in a permanent state of peaceful contentment.