Is medicine saving us- or killing us? Are doctors helping you- or harming you? Are you improving your health by taking prescription drugs- or are you decreasing your life expectancy?  Are you getting the medicine you really need? Do you even know what kind of medicine that is?

These are the questions I answer in my third TEDx talk, which I delivered live at TEDxFargo, which was organized by Fargo community leader and Whole Health Medicine Institute physician Dr. Susan Mathison.

I had a meltdown on the plane on my way to Fargo because I knew what I would be discussing has the potential to be wildly controversial, and I wanted to ensure that my message was not misinterpreted by the very people I seek to serve- doctors and patients.  I reached out to one of my mentors, Brené Brown, and she talked me off the ledge with an email that guided me with exactly the advice I needed. I wound up rewriting my speech on the plane only one day before I gave the talk.

It is with a stomach full of butterflies and a wee bit of uneasiness I’m announcing this video today. Please tell me if you think I succeeded in gently but clearly illuminating what I think is a GINORMOUS blind spot for both the medical establishment and the majority of patients who seek medical attention, without blaming or shaming either patients or doctors.

Since TED’s motto is “Ideas worth sharing,” I ask that if this video resonates with you, please share it with anyone you know who you think might benefit from this message.


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  1. Andrea Coulter

    Honestly, kudos to you for stepping out of the paradigm and having the courage to ask for change in, yes a very diseased system.

    From my own journey of over 25 years into true healing and curing, I have come to agree that there are certain aspects of conventional medicine that are amazing and awesome. But the daily suppression of our chronic health problems is not the answer. As you so wonderfully state in this video!

    Did you know, however, that there actually is a true system of medicine that has been around for hundreds of years? That is slowly growing and evolving to be the modern medicine of the future? If not I would be happy to illuminate it for you. I know that by your vivacity and desire to help the world in a big way, you will find the science of it intriguing.

    Again I agree whole heartily with you, and I commend you on your strength and determination! I hope that all your hopes and dreams unfold in this life time.

    in health,

  2. Paul DB

    Lissa, you are literally my hero! I’m not trying to be corny. Your dream has become mine. Reading your book changed my life, and while the universe had moved on from subtle calls for attention on to the point of screaming at me to make drastic changes, my perspective evolved from mourning my losses into celebrating my freedom to live my life as I should have done from the beginning.

    As I put myself in the shoes of both healers and patience, I never took umbrage to the ideas you presented in this talk. What I heard from both perspectives was a calling for all to listen to your message and work for serious change in our “health” care system. I can’t thank you enough, and I wish you continued health and happiness.

  3. honjii

    I’m finding it hard to believe that you re-wrote your speech over night
    since I had already heard you say and write these same things just
    about everywhere you speak and write including your 40 days of wellness
    class for which I paid (and the info is out there, free, on everything
    you touch). It’s unfortunate because your message is a good one but you should really come up with some new material and try harder to fake sincerity.

    • playcrane

      She didn’t rewrite her whole speech. Probably just part of it.

  4. Louise

    I enjoyed your talk Lissa, and agree that all practitioners, not just GP’s, need to be thinking in a more holistic and whole way – there are so many facets of our lives that can affect our health. Good on you for getting out there and being a spokesperson for it. Much love xx

  5. Rhana

    One of the more stressful events in many lives is going to the doctor. The fear that they will find something wrong can be overwhelming. I recently applied to another health insurance company and they said I would need a complete physical. My friend said; “You are over 50…they will find something wrong!” Never mind that I haven’t had a claim in 18 years.

    Our system has devolved into a test, diagnosis, and prescribe system. The average American who watches prime time television sees over 1,000 pharmaceutical advertisements in a year. That is 16 hours a year! It is no wonder people ask for drugs. That is the programming.

    When I went in to my mother’s cardiologist office last week 20+ elderly patients were seated in a row recieving radioisotope testing! That is $1,000 per patient. My mom is 82 she had this three times and is always reported as “fine”. She refuses to do it again. At her age, she needs to be enjoying life as much as possible!

    The system is almost completely fear based siloed. You are brave Lissa! Wishing you all the best on this journey!

    We have a little system for creating positive habits here: http://www.QSELFCARE.com

  6. playcrane

    I know that this is a big question Lissa (which I’d love you to answer in a blogpost): how can medicine and healthcare change when it is in bed with a patriarchal, economic system that makes money on keeping us sick?

    BTW, I’m getting closer and closer to take a big risk which should change my own personal stress.


    • Lissa_Rankin

      I just posted this on my Facebook page in response to this article:

      Since many of you are asking me what I think about TED’s declaration about screening out “pseudoscience,” here are my thoughts. I think the intention of TED is pure. There are a lot of charlatans out there who are married to their agendas (often with self-interested financial motives). And they tend to use bad science, which real scientists can discredit in a heartbeat, but which the lay public may get seduced by. Especially when this kind of pseudoscience is used to back up agendas that might lead people to make crucial choices about their health, I’m sure TED wants to ensure that their highly respected brand isn’t being manipulated to push someone else’s dogmatic agenda. And rightfully so. You want to be able to trust that anything you learn on a TED or TEDx stage is trustworthy.

      That said, here’s what concerns me. In a letter sent from TED to TEDx organizers, TED warned to screen out speakers who address the following issues, among others:

      -“Healing,” including reiki, energy fields, alternative health and placebos, crystals, pyramid power

      -The neuroscience of [fill in the blank] — not saying this will all be non-legitimate, but that it’s a field where a lot of goofballs are right now
      -The fusion of science and spirituality. Be especially careful of anyone trying to prove the validity of their religious beliefs and practices by using science

      -Food as medicine, especially to treat a specific condition: Autism and ADHD, especially causes of and cures for autism

      To screen out people who are curious about these fields of scientific inquiry seems misguidedly narrow minded. For example, how in the world is a talk about placebos pseudoscience? Mind Over Medicine is full of real, legitimate science published in journals like the New England Journal of Medicine proving that the placebo effect is real.

      And what about things like energy medicine? I don’t understand energy medicine as a scientist, but I’m curious about it and am currently researching it. Should a genuinely curious scientist researching energy medicine in search of scientific truths, someone who isn’t fueled by an agenda, be kept off a TED stage?

      If you look back at the history of science, most radical scientific breakthroughs flew in the face of scientific dogma, and those on the cutting edge were initially dismissed by the scientific community as quacks and crazies. But science must remain objective. The minute we start censoring anything that threatens our world view, we fall into dogma and lose the opportunity to be real scientists who seek only truth and are happy to be proven wrong.

      For me, that’s the marker of a real scientist. I’ve told doctors who challenge the data in Mind Over Medicine that I’m happy to be proven wrong, and if the argument I made is false, I will publicly recant. I have no attachment to whether or not the case I made for self-healing is true. I just want to illuminate truth. The truth can never be discredited, because it’s just true.

      When people show up with agendas, you can tell, because they defend their agendas. They’re not willing to hear evidence that they might be wrong. But this kind of limiting dogma can show up on both sides of science- the real science and the pseudoscience. There are things we simply don’t know yet, so finding real proof for our theories is tough. When theories can’t be proven, they often turn out not to be true. But sometimes science just has not yet developed the technology to prove what we suspect is true. Years later, those who theorized something are proven right.

      I think it would be a mistake for TED to screen out genuinely curious scientists who are on the cutting edge of things for which there might be questionable evidence. But screening out dogmatically agenda-driven pseudoscientists with financial motives and poor credentials seems wise.
      What do YOU think?


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