Ken Pelletier

Air Date: January 21, 2010

Dr. Pelletier is a Clinical Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, at the University of Arizona School of Medicine; and, a Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco (UCSF). At the University of Arizona, he is Director of the Corporate Health Improvement Program (CHIP) which is a collaborative research program between CHIP and 15 of the Fortune 500 corporations.  Also, he is Chairman of the American Health Association and is a Vice President with Healthtrac Incorporat ed.
Prior to these positions, Dr. Pelletier served as Clinical Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine; was Director of the Stanford Corporate Health Program (SCHP); and, Director of the NIH funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program at Stanford (CAMPS). From 1974 until joining the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1990, Dr. Pelletier held a dual appointment as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco (UCSF).

In addition to his faculty positions, Dr Pelletier has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the California Wellness Foundation, Foundation Health Systems (FHS), Health Systems International (HSI), and the Social Venture Network. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, studied at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and has published over 300 professional journal articles in behavioral medicine, disease management, worksite interventions, and alternative/integrative medicine.

At the present time, Dr. Pelletier is a medical and business consultant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Business Group on Health, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and major corporations including IBM, American Airlines, Medtronic, Disney, Merck, Ford, NASA, Microsoft ENCARTA, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, United Healthcare, the Pasteur Institute of Lille, France, the Alpha Group of Mexico, and the Singapore Ministry of Health. He also serves on the boards of the Healthtrac Foundation, United Behavioral Health, American Institute of Stress, International Spa Association (ISPA) , American Journal of Health Promotion , and as a peer reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) , the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) , and Annals of Internal Medicine .

Dr. Pelletier is listed in Who’s Who in America and in Who’s Who in the World .  His research, clinical practice, and publications have been the subject of numerous national television programs including several appearances on the ABC World News , the Today program, Good Morning America , the CBS Evening News , 48 Hours , the McNeil-Lehrer Newshour, CNN, FOX News, CBS Sunday Morning,Hour Magazine , the Time/Life video series, the award winning BBC series The Long Search , and the five-part Blue Cross/Blue Shield sponsored PBS series Healthy People, Healthy Business .

Dr. Pelletier is the author of ten (10) major books including the international best seller Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer (New York: Delacorte and Delta, 1977; Revised in 1992); Holistic Medicine: From Stress to Optimum Health (New York: Delacorte and Delta, 1981; Revised in 1991); Healthy People in Unhealthy Places; Stress and Fitness at Work (New York: Delacorte, Delta, and Doubleday, 1984); Sound Mind – Sound Body: A New Model for Lifelong Health (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995); The Best Alternative Medicine: What Works?  What Does Not? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000); and Stress Free for Good: Ten Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness (New York: Harper Collins, 2005).

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Why Is Haiti Poor?

This morning’s show (Jan. 21, 2010) on KQED with Michael Krasny and Jared Diamond was a brilliant exploration and explication of the situation in Haiti.  As the world watches the devastation from the recent earthquake, Krasny and Diamond discuss how Haiti became so poor and so vulnerable to disaster.  Diamond compares Haiti to its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, to ask how two nations who share one island could develop so differently.

Sensitive attention is paid to the cruelty of the French enslavers, and to the successful slave revolt which forbade white investment, and set the stage for oppressive dictators.  Of special interest is the roll the United States played in helping to ensure that the government of Haiti would fail.  An absolutely fascinating show!

•   •   •   •

• FORUM is KQED’s live call-in program presents wide-ranging discussions of local, state, national and international issues, as well as in-depth interviews.

• Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at UCLA and author of “Guns, Germs and Steel,” “Collapse” and the forthcoming book “Natural Experiments of History” which contains an excellent chapter on Haiti! .

Is God Punishing Haitians for the Sins of Their Ancestors?

How to avoid feeling Compassion

We can turn away by simply avoiding the news and expanding the number of things we are in denial of. Our media pundits, through their comments and behavior, may give us some other clever ways to keep our hearts closed, while pretending they are open.

Going on the Offensive

Consider the approach taken by the putative leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh. Seems the tragedy is simply another opportunity to attack Mr. Obama: This is Rush avoiding cynicism.

And lest we think that the disrespect is demonstrated only by one side in the media wars, here is the counterattack by Keith Olberman:

Blaming the victim

And here is the Reverend Pat Robertson dipping into religious mythology helping us understand the roots of Haiti’s problem, the true story of the “Pact with Satan” signed by their ancestors.

My Challenge

These are extraordinary times indeed, and I find myself extraordinarily challenged by such comments as those recently uttered by Messrs. Robertson and Limbaugh. Like many others, I found the gut reaction to be dismay, disgust and anger. But I have long been aware of how important it is go beyond the apparent separation between myself and others: to go deeper, for I am aware that what I see must exist within myself as well. Or as the Bible says it:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye but

considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite,

cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see

clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

– The Holy Bible: Matthew 7:3

My challenge is to realize that these reactions are evidence that there is a part of me that wants to see them as “other,” just as they are doing to the “damned” Haitians. Can I dare to see that these men and their comments are merely the visible examples of the “us/them” paradigm that so thoroughly infects our media, our communities, our families . . . and most difficult of all, my own consciousness. My prayer is that their actions provide a
mirror to us all, that there is a “little” Pat Robertson in each of us (even if it is only in my condemnation of him), and that we come out of denial and do our dharma.

Perhaps the essence of all this is best expressed by Tchich Naht Hanh in my favorite poem of his, one which has provided me with wise guidance for decades:


Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second to be a bud on a spring branch,
To be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, learning to sing in my new nest,
To be a caterpillar in the heart of flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, in order to fear and to hope,
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
And I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond,
And I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence, feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, My legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the 12-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,Who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people,
Dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills up the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
So I can hear all my cries and all my laughs at once,
So I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up,
And so the door of my heart can be left open,
The door of compassion.

by Thich Nhat Hanh

May Love and Compassion Guide You,


•   •   •   •

Further explorations of the Principle of Compassion can be found in the following two articles by Dr. Miller:

• A Compassion Meditation

• Why Bother Feeling Compassion? Compassion is Hard

A Compassion Meditation – Rebooting Compassion Podcast

Pema Chodrun pointed out the paradoxical truth that “Being able to tolerate a broken heart is the medicine for the pain of existence.” Yet, with all the images that will be flooding our tv and internet screens, it is wise to strike a balance. We will almost certainly be treated to 24 hours of a long string of secondary disasters ranging from starvation and water-borne epidemics to violence and even deeper poverty. So it is wise to make sure you don’t overdo it.

I have offered some suggestions in the Rebooting Compassion audio clip.  The key is to stay in touch with your heart, and your potential for the acceptance of the truth . . . as the Buddha pointed out, the cause of all suffering is wanting things to be different than they are, right now! This acceptance provides the inner peace that can allow us to see deeper, through the pain to the potential.

One sign that you may have the right balance when, in spite of the pain you feel by empathizing, there will arise a deep sense of connection to these people, an awareness of what you can do to help, and a greater understanding of what needs to be done in the world to prevent even more of these “Katrina-like” disasters.

“The evil in this world is not done only by those who commit it, but by those who stand back and watch it happening.”
–Albert Einstein

•   •   •   •

Further explorations of the Principle of Compassion can be found in the following two articles by Dr. Miller:

•Why Bother Feeling Compassion? Compassion is Hard.

• Is God Punishing Haitians for the Sins of Their Ancestors?

Why Bother Feeling Compassion? Compassion Is Not Easy!

As we read of the tens of thousands who have died and the many more who are suffering at this moment, is natural to ask, “How can there be a positive side to a catastrophe such as this?”

Well, there is the cheap thrill of feeling generous by choosing to forgo a few lattes and squeeze 10 dollars through our cell phones by texting the word Haiti to 90999 to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Beyond this, it offers us an opportunity to confront to grow as human beings. Our predilection for denial has led to one disaster after another, and an opportunity to learn how to face the challenges in our lives in a different way, in a way that gives us the courage to confront and change what we can change, while accepting what cannot be changed. And, especially, it is only by seeing the truth of what is that we can find the wisdom to know the difference.

We might also take this as an opportunity to grow spiritually. If we look deeply enough to see that, although no one could have prevented the earthquake, the poverty that has rendered the inhabitants totally helpless may be something that we could have helped prevent. Without much difficulty we can then begin to see the imbalances in our lives and in our world that are simply catastrophes waiting to happen, and begin to participate in a proactive way to start to transform this little planet while we still can.

So Why Bother to Feel Compassion

Why should we bother to feel compassion anyway? After all, as Pema Chodrun points out: true compassion is not very much fun, “It is very, very painful.  Compassion isn’t about seeing cute, dirty children in Latin America on a television commercial and then sending a check to a rip-off pseudo-charity.  It’s about actually imagining what the experience of a suffering person is like.  So to learn compassion one visualizes the American Indian dying of small pox, the Jew in the crematorium shower full of gas, the Tibetan Buddhist nun as she is being raped.”

Why bother? It is easier to identify with the aggressor, with the detatched privileged group who are free to pretend that “it’s not my problem.”

Or perhaps to retreat into the “victim” stance. “Gosh, I don’t have much power, what can I do. I’ve felt compassion before, and it hurt – real bad. Why would I want to touch a hot stove again?”

I Can Think Of Three Reasons Offhand:

1. Because to not do so would be to fail in our duty to the deepest part of ourselves (dharma)

The hardening of our hearts towards others must inevitably close even further the door of our heart that leads to our deeper spiritual selves. To the degree that we see ourselves as separate from those who have not been so gifted by fortune as ourselves takes us further from the deeper truth that we are all connected, and that what goes around comes around.

“In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . .
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

- Pastor about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power

2. Because this would be to trade short term gain (denial) for long term pain.

As I have explored at length in Our Culture on the Couch , it is the Old Paradigm habit of dividing the world into the fiction of “Us” and “Them” that lies close to the central etiology of most if not all of our suffering – as individuals as well as as a global community. The healing we all need must come from a shift to the New Paradigm kind of thought, the integrative, “Both/And” approach instead of the “Either/Or” that is leading our planet to the brink of destruction.

In America we hardly noticed the near-genocide against the natives living on this continent. We were too busy to pay attention as the fruit of the African continent was rounded up and shipped off to the New World, where they would be kept as slaves, and denied the ability to better themselves or to be treated as equals. We managed to sustain an enormous amount of denial as the Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals were shipped off to the Nazi death camps. It all seemed so far away.

Now however the world has grown a lot smaller. Sept 11, 2001 has begun to awaken us. Then there was Katrina, then the Economic Meltdown. It’s a lot easier to ignore the homeless when they are black, and hundreds and thousands of miles away than when we have to step over them to get into the grocery store. Or when we are one of them.

All these issues stem from our inability to see the deeper connection we all have, and the responsibility to step beyond the superficial differences and acknowledge the Oneness that lies beneath.

3. Because it creates personal health at the mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional level.

Recent studies have shown that your compassion is not only good for the person(s) to whom it is directed, it also improves your health as well. Those who are high in measures of compassion show an increased antibody response when exposed to the flu, for example.

Stay Tuned

The story of Haiti is just unfolding. Stay awake and aware, and remember that we created all this, and we can change it. What will the outcome be? Are we willing to see and respond (response-ability) to the truth of the situation, or will we find a way to turn away and disengage? Stay tuned!

•   •   •   •

Further explorations of the Principle of Compassion can be found in the following two articles by Dr. Miller:

• A Compassion Meditation

• Is God Punishing Haitians for the Sins of Their Ancestors?

Dr. Miller Interviews Dr. Saputo: Healing Times Radio REBROADCAST

Due to technical difficulties last week, Healing Times with Dr. Miller didn’t air at it’s regularly scheduled time but you still have a chance to hear Dr. Miller interviewing Dr. Len Saputo as the show is airing this Thursday at 11am!

January 14th, 2010 at 11 AM(PST) or

About Len Saputo, M.D.
Len Saputo, MD, a 1965 graduate of Duke University Medical School, is board certified in internal medicine and was in private practice in affiliation with John Muir Medical Center in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 30 years. After his awakening to the deep flaws in conventional medicine which culminated in the early 1990s, Saputo began a quest to develop a new approach to healing now known as integral-health medicine —the emergent medical care model that is integrative, holistic, person-centered, and preventive.

In order to further this mission, Dr. Saputo founded the Health Medicine Forum in 1994 and was its director until 2008. The Forum ( is a nonprofit educational foundation that has sponsored hundreds of public and professional events in the San Francisco Bay Area—including monthly presentations, workshops, and conferences—focused on integrative medicine, the nature of healing, and the politics of health care. In 2001, Saputo cofounded what is now called the Health Medicine Center , in Walnut Creek, California—one of the first clinics to bring the new model of integral-health medicine into practice. In the course of disseminating his unique vision for the new medicine, Saputo has given more than 100 presentations to hospitals, medical schools, universities, and community organizations.

Dr. Saputo is the coauthor of Boosting Immunity: Creating Wellness Naturally (New World Library, 2002); has edited six books, including Beating the Years and Boosting Your Digestive Health ; and has authored book chapters on numerous medical and health subjects. He has contributed dozens of articles on a wide range of topics in both mainstream and complementary and alternative medicine to such journals as California Pharmacist , Alternative Medicine , and Townsend Letter . He is also actively engaged in clinical research related to the use of near-infrared light therapy in pain management.

Active in public and professional education over the past decade, Dr. Saputo produces and hosts the Prescriptions for Health show on KEST-AM, aired in the San Francisco Bay Area every weekday morning, with his wife, Vicki, who is a registered nurse. Saputo has been a strong advocate of fitness and athletics all of his life. In 1996 and again in 2001, he won the International Tennis Federation’s Senior World Individual Championship in his age group and was ranked number one in the world in 1996 (in the 55-year-old division) by the ITF. With never-ending support from his wife, Saputo is committed to his life’s purpose of changing the health care system in America from a disease care model to a genuine health care model based on the principles of the new medicine, as well as broad-ranging reform of the manner in which care is financed and delivered.

Len Saputo ‘s contact info:

About Healing Times Radio

Healing Times Radio with Dr. Emmett Miller explores Mind/Body/Spirit health and how to reclaim our inherent personal wisdom integrating scientific knowledge and techniques of modern medicine, Dr. Millr’s mission is to help us heal ourselves so that we can, in turn, heal our planet.

A New Year’s Resolution Message