Friday, May 2, 2014

The Genius Behind CALMARE and CTTC: Meet Giuseppe "The Vulture" Marineo

I've not mentioned CALMARE in quite some time.  First, I had one of its ardent supporters ask me to please "leave me alone," and the whine rang through the writing such that I felt guilty for the poor man. Then, my disgust having reached such an acidic state, it was either fork over another $100 for stomach medication or ignore the scam, ignore the scammers, including poor Joey and his "leave me alone" [sniff, sniff].

Actually, what came first was an extraordinarily prayerful woman badgering me on YouTube -- so well known for the quality of its commentary -- when I did not praise her Lord and sign up for Calmare treatments immediately.  They cured one of her offspring, you see.  She repeated a bunch of FDA rubbish, then some VA rubbish, then plain rubbish.  Then she got personal.  Anyway.

I conducted myself with my usual bendy, bendy politeness, and watched as she moved on to praise her Lord in the comment section of other people suffering with CRPS.  It was almost as if she were paid to do it, or something.  Anyway.

CTTC is the corporate entity that markets CALMARE / Scrambler Therapy as a cure for various neuropathies, including CRPS, post-herpetic neuralgias, and the nerve pain that can be engendered by chemotherapies.  It's crucial that the public understand that CTTC does nothing but coopt the patents for various products.  CTTC sells its soul to sell, it does not have any real investment in the product, and in this case, the patients -- just in the public perception of the product, and how cheaply they can buy up patents.

In their fertilization of the advertising world with CALMARE and CALMARE-related pellets of untruth, CTTC peppers social media, patient support groups, and advertisements dressed up as pain management newsletters or health-related articles decorated as actual research.  Videos have been widely distributed, starring cured patients who tearfully recall their prior suffering state, while never documenting that state in the recordings.  The Testimonial approach to CALMARE / Scrambler Therapy duplicates the get-rich-quick late night infomercial -- in methodology as in message (tremendous, too good to believe results with no effort beyond prying loose a credit card from a tight wallet).

I have many favorite lines among the testimonialists.  Right now it's I-am-so-thankful-for-Calmare because (prepare to weep):

"I have an allergic reaction to all medications. I cannot even have chemotherapy with stage 4 cancer."

I am not without a tender heart, as I ponder all the people I have known whose bodies relished the poisons of their chemotherapies and who never had any distressing reaction to the harsh chemicals coursing through their systems, at all.

The Straight Dope message board, my source for straight dope messages, once briefly contemplated how these remarkable testimonials come to life:

User ARCHETYPE, a naive sort, starts the conversation:
Infomercial testimonials
How do they get people to so convincingly testify in those infomercials?
Some (especially the latest ab gadget or those get-rich-quick products) are scams and the thing that gets me most is how they get these people to so convincingly testify. Some infomercials even state that their testifiers are not compensated.
It boggles me in three levels:
1) You KNOW the product can never work as advertised.
Home-based businesses. After researching some of the home-based business on the net and discovering how their scams actually work and reading unfortunate purchasers' stories you know it is not as simple as "making $12,000 for a few hours of work in my spare time in my underwear."
The latest ab gadget. Losing weight involves diet and much more significant exercise, cardio, etc. than just crunching the damn machine 5 minutes a day.
2) This applies more to products that are brand new in the market (I can't think of any specific ones at this moment!). But how do they find the people who have used a certain product it for X amount of months or years when you know that this is the first time it is being advertised?
Now, I'm aware of such things as test markets but how do they market to those test markets? And how do they find people who had success with their products when it clearly cannot work and convince these people to testify for their product?
3) What's in it for these testifiers? Is it a lot of money? Aren't they afraid their friends and family might see their testimony?

So how do they get these testimonies? Are they all lying and/or are paid actors despite the disclaimers that they are not?

ARCHTYPE receives many thoughtful responses, but I think the essence of them all is best encapsulated by user T-BONHAM:

They lie. LIE.
After all, if you are ripping people off by selling them a product that does not work, why would you hesitate to lie about testimonials?
Think of the marketing of CALMARE / Scrambler Therapy as some sort of magic act.  Most such performances rely on distraction, sleight of hand, a spot light drawing the eye from the unlit area of ruse.

Most recently, I came upon a much-marketed CTTC/CALMARE/Scrambler Therapy saleswoman who has done her bit with a series of videos, and for the cream and cherry on top, she has a blog.  What's fascinating is that her blog, with scant entries over the years, never mentions her intense suffering from a "pain condition," until CALMARE enters the textual scene.  And, then, she does not mention CRPS! It's as if she and her corporate backers are afraid of being too specific.  She gives a semi-accurate description of CRPS but doesn't want to worry her readers or cause friends and family to fret by saying exactly what horrid "pain condition" is beleaguering those poor legs of hers... Good thing that her bogus treatments worked wonders, though she adds that indelible soupçon of believability by mentioning that she may have to have "booster" treatments.

Her name was Amanda, Amanda Something.  For some sick reason, whenever I look up her name, Phil Ochs' song "Miranda" * jumps my brain, and I find myself humming along with my sober researching. 

In the beginning, much was made of the inventor and original patent holder, Giuseppe Marineo.  He was called, falsely, "doctor" and "professor."  As he became more of an embarrassment, he received more in the way of money and CTTC got more in the way of "ownership" of the miracle device, so the marketing geniuses could begin to fashion the background into which he might fade.

As various gynecologists and chiropractors, stethoscopes slung rakishly about their necks, receptionists shadowing them in short white coats, took over the public face of CALMARE / Scrambler Therapy -- along with some of the strangest testimonial-givers on the planet -- the "scientist" behind the earth-shattering souped-up TENS unit was cast into oblivion.

No one bothered to answer questions relating to his claims and intentions.  

How did this machine come to be a treatment specific for intractable neuropathic pain when it began as Giuseppe Marineo's personal brand of woo, wrapped in a fake curriculum vitae, protected and obscured by Delta R&D, his "bioengineering research centre with a unique history."  Marineo's goal was apparently the creation of a device in the tradition of the Fountain of Youth, a modulated electric buzz that would retard aging at the cellular level.

Woo, woo. A quick woo primer:

Woo generally contains most of the following characteristics:

  • A simple idea that purports to be the one answer to many problems (often including diseases)
  • A "scientific-sounding" reason for how it works, but little to no actual science behind it; for example, quote mines of studies that if bent enough could be described in such a way to support it, outright misapplication of studies, or words that sound scientific but make no sense in the context they are used in
  • It involves the supernatural and paranormal (not necessarily)
  • A claim of persecution, usually perpetrated by the government or the pharmaceutical, medical, or scientific community
  • An invocation of a scientific authority
  • Prefers to use abundant testimonials over actual scientific research
  • A claim that scientists are blind to the discovery, despite attempts to alert them
  • A disdain for objective, randomized experimental controls, especially double-blind testing (which are kind of what makes epidemiology actually, y'know, work)
  • And, usually, an offer to share the knowledge for a price.
Oh, the woo you are about to muddle through!

Put on your waders, and unpack this introduction to how Marineo went from a one-man show to an incorporated one-man show with a tenuous connection to a research university.
[Delta R & D] was born out of individual research work begun in 1983 by Giuseppe Marineo, a researcher and bioengineer, who advanced theories to reformulate the concept of disease (and the corresponding treatment) from a biophysical rather than biochemical point of view. The idea was to restructure the known features of both according to the principles of thermodynamics by means of an analysis and the detailed specification of the relations between entropy, disease, repair processes and ageing.

This new approach to the interpretation of the traditional aspects of medical science makes it possible to go from a highly heuristic system to an extremely conceptual and rationalized system, which can create models of disease and treatment so sophisticated as to render the experimental results highly predictable. If the latter are in line with the predictions they automatically validate the development model.  
Furthermore, the very name of the theoretical system developed entails a natural transition from reductionist methods to systems theory which, in the present research, takes the form of a powerful working tool capable of providing adequate support for the development of therapies of practical utility.

In practice Marineo introduced into medical science the research and development criteria typical of engineering, in which the thoroughness of the preliminary theoretical work fully determines the expectations of the experimental verification of the method used. In 1987 the basic research was already sufficiently well structured to be supported by a technology capable of translating the theoretical system into a truly useful therapy.

The first experimental verifications fully confirmed the validity of the theoretical models developed and opened up concrete future prospects for the safe and non-invasive treatment of pathologies for which conventional methods had proved ineffective.
In 1998 the Italian scientific community, which had been constantly informed of all research developments, deemed the product of 15 years research to be scientifically valid, the theoretical principles and experimental data to have been clearly demonstrated and the bioethical principles regarding the respect and protection of the patient to have been respected.

In other words, the research carried out by a private individual was accepted and supported by the public authorities. It was consequently possible to begin official university and hospital studies, at the conclusion of which the first international publications were produced.

In order to support these changes, in May 1998 Delta R&D was set up, thus marking the beginning of the mature stage of this individual research endeavour. Although the original philosophy was retained, a logistical structure was now available to satisfy the new phases of development and to maintain and expand relations with the international scientific community. 

I dare you to unpack this into meaningful language reflective of actual science, or even good business.
Or this, from a website now removed, written by the great Marineo, himself:

The assumed pre-coding capacity is a more logical explanation than stochastic fluctuation (which in this case must be re-interpreted as a consistent modification of the information content per stimulus/time) the different discharge time characteristic used by the receptor for the same stimulus if this occurs in sufficiently short time intervals. In this perspective, to return to our model, the comparator?? Is the arbitrary module that sorts the information, compares it with a short-term memory and if it recognizes a stimulus similar to the preceding one, modifies the gain data and the information property which it passes on to the amplifier/attenuator (synapsis), a vital element that controls the passage/non passage of the “decoded” information stripped of spurious signals, associating it with the correct degree of intensity. Again with reference to the model, the noise and stochastic variations are separated since, in my analysis, at least some of these fluctuations actually consist of sub-information capable of modifying the learning capacity and sensitivity to the stimulus if repeated over short time intervals. If the data are reinterpreted in this sense, frequency modulated discharge sequences immediately took on a different significance when combined with the “pseudo-noise” modulation accompanying them and which became an essential element of the “primary” information. At this stage I considered that I had all the elements required to materially construct a pain scrambler (technically an information mixer), that is, a system capable of “masking” the pain signal.

Here's another, still extant (if badly translated by Google -- I apologize for my lack of skill in Italian) version of the the birth of the great regenerative process, the Scrambler Therapy.  Marineo simply MUST have a genetic link with the superb Ponce de Leon.  This comes in an English version... already cited.  It was fascinating to pick my way through the Italian, which bears little to no relation to its bastard English cousin.

In the mid 80s I completed the development of a theoretical model that interpreted on the basis of biophysical dynamics of chronic-degenerative disease processes, and more generally of an aging workforce. On the basis of this theoretical model I have subsequently developed a technology (Systems Entropy Variation Delta-S) in accordance with these principles that was potentially able to reactivate regenerative processes of tissues and organs without the use of stem cells.
In 2003, this research has received European approval for use in ambulatory and hospital liver cirrhosis. The results of phase II studies have been published in the Annals of the Academy of Sciences in New York and in other publications indexed. Despite this initial success, for reasons related to the lack of industrial sponsors, I found myself in substantial economic impossibility of progression in phase III clinical trials.
This research dissemination in the scientific community was so overcome by what I later developed the chronic pain, now known as the Scrambler Therapy ®. Contrary to what many believe, the "Scrambler Therapy ®" was born almost accidentally and indirectly from my studies on regeneration, although initially considered (sbagliandomi) only support the latter.
In particular in the field of regeneration in the late 80s I developed two lines of experimentation leading to verify if the theoretical assumptions that I had assumed were actually used in the clinic even humans. The first line of research related to cirrhosis of the liver, where the chances of success were predictably higher for most hepatic regenerative capacity of the organ.
The second line of research instead on the regeneration of nerve fibers, almost a complete utopia in those days, even if Rita Levi Montalcini had just got the Nobel (December 1986) for the discovery of 'NGF, the growth factor of nerve fibers . Inevitably occupandomi nerve injury I got in touch with what is, by definition, considered the worst form of chronic pain that is known in medicine, neuropathic, which essentially prevented the possibility to study the possibilities of regenerative nerve damage. Initially I sought the help of specialists in pain, but when I spoke of neuropathic pain were more discouraged me.
For a long time I turned to all sorts of pain specialist, seeking solutions also in acupuncture and hypnosis clinic, but the pain seemed to resist any attempt at treatment. I was about to resign myself to this situation by deciding to continue my research only on cirrhosis of the liver, where although always of limited series, I had already obtained preliminary results very encouraging, and free of the problems related to chronic pain that I met in nerve damage.
Just a few days as I was maturing this decision, an 'association of ill asked me to attend one of their meetings. I accepted, and put it back in the face of so much suffering and hopes of these people, I decided that if there was still no effective treatment for these types of pain, this does not necessarily meant that it was impossible to do so.
My knowledge of neurophysiology were already quite wide and deep, I was not so difficult to integrate with the specialized knowledge of the pathophysiology of chronic pain. Just as approfondivo this knowledge met the Gate Control theory, that is the dominant model and commonly accepted understanding of the mechanisms of pain perception. With some surprise I immediately realized that this theory was applicable only in acute pain. Conversely, I could not find at all its logical application in chronic pain, although conventionally accepted in the scientific community.
I understood that my assessment was practically heresy given the importance of this theory, the weight of scientific authors, endorsements obtained from its inception, and subsequent to the full consecration obtained after the seminal article published in Science in 1965. Then Thinking that he had missed something, I continued to deepen my studies, but most did this, the more my belief dell'inapplicabilità of this theory to chronic pain (especially neuropathic) prevailed.
I can say that it is exactly at this moment that comes Scrambler Therapy ®, because by identifying what I thought an error, I also found the way to a possible solution, which is now a clinical reality no longer experimental
About had enough?  Take a break from this thick, smarmy scientific writing and read something uplifting.

Calmare for Nobel Prize: Calmare Inventor Giuseppe Marineo is recieving some groundswell of support for a Nobel Prize this year, in the Physics, Chemistry, and Medical categories (he can only win one category) due to his invention of the Calmare medical device which cures pain without the side effects of narcotics.

Damn the limitation that keeps Giuseppe from winning in every category.  It makes a mockery of the man's work.

Or you can slog on, maybe picking up a copy of the story of his AIDS cure, available on eBay at the moment:  Dall' Altra Parte (The Other Side) for a mere 9 Euros.  There are other stories, besides his own tale, of his electromagnetic cure, notable at the time as it was being "tested" on poet Dario Belleza, and resulted in a charge of practicing medicine without a license and vaguely familiar charges of "totally inconclusive data."

Denying he had AIDS, commonplace enough for the times, Belleza told interviewers:

"The treatment was reserved for a group of five people," concludes Dario Bellezza "because the machine was not powerful enough. No one was tied to the bed, as it was written, it only used electrodes and patches to apply them."  

The electromagnetic machine, which worked through patched electrodes... WAIT!  That sounds VAGUELY familiar!  Could it have been, GASP, just an earlier version of the scrambling pain-hexer, the miraculous Calmare, now being snake-oil-marketed by Calmare?

It was further described in the press as witchcraft and charlatanism

Granted, what Marineo and the dead poet brought up in a war fought in the courts as well as the press, that people have the right to "diversity" of treatment, and to treatment considered "alternative," is a valid argument.

It's just painful to watch a vulture move from one corpse to the next, one hopeless illness to another, reaping, reaping, hopping away, with strips of flailed skin flapping from its beak, feeding itself... and divesting its prey of all humanity.

Is that over the top?  
Is it, really?

* Miranda lyrics, so that you, too, may hum along:

Do you have a problem,
Would you like someone to solve them,
Would you like someone to share in your misery?
Now, I don't know the answer, but I know a flamenco dancer
Who will dance for you if you will dance for me

Her name's Miranda
She's a Rudolph Valentino fan
And she doesn't claim to understand
She bakes brownies for the boys in the band.

Early Sunday morning
When the sermon lines are forming
And Saturday night is the memories that it gave.
She's busy in the pantry, far away from Elmer Gantry
Who is busy baking souls that he may save.
Everybody's soul but Miranda (Chorus)
The dice of death are calling
While the truck of time is falling
By the thumb stuck out on the highway of the years.
The tollgate at the turnpike is ignored by those who hitch-hike
And the Howard Johnson food is made of fear
But not Miranda 


The sun burnt skin is peeling
On the doctors who are healing
And the license plates are laughing on the car.
The pain is so exciting
And everyone's inviting
You to look upon their operation scars.
But not Miranda 


The condiments are clashing
While commercial planes are crashing
And the music of the evening is so sweet
Now fully in agreement
Oh, their feet have found the cement
And they all believe the signs are on the street
Her name's Miranda 


In the bar we're gin and scotching
While the FBI is watching
They are tape recording every other word
The bartender is bleeding
Pardon me, I just was leaving
as another clever voice repeats absurd
But not Miranda 

(repeat first verse)

© 2013 L. Ryan

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