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Letters to the Editor Issue 223

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 223 - July 2015

Obituary and Tribute to Stephen Cooper: 1951-2015

It is with great sadness that we report that Stephen Cooper passed away on 26 April 2015.

Stephen trained with Peter Scott and Marjory Barlow and qualified as a teacher of the Alexander Technique in 1979. He founded the Bloomsbury Alexander Centre in London with Tessa Cawdron in 1986 which has since become a centre for a whole range of holistic therapies. Stephen was still involved with the Centre right up until his death from cancer.

Stephen with Philipa Rands
Stephen Cooper with Philipa Rands

In 1994 he began his own training course in the Alexander Technique becoming the Head of Training at the Oxford Alexander Training School. Stephen used various community halls particularly the Coach House which has always been a wonderful venue. Even after Stephen became too ill and had to close his training school, he continued to rent the hall on a Thursday morning to run a workshop for ex-students and other teachers. As well as running the training school at the wonderful venue Stephen had many private pupils of the Alexander Technique and also taught the clarinet and bassoon at home; something he continued to do until a couple of weeks before his death.

Stephen was born in 1951 within the sound of Bow Bells in Mile End Stepney to Tom and Muriel Cooper. Stephen was the eldest of four boys. At the age of two his family moved out of London to the suburbs of Farnborough, near Orpington in Kent. His love of music began at an early age when his mother taught him the piano and then as a pupil at St. Olaves Grammar school in Southwark he learnt the clarinet and was later persuaded to take up the bassoon on account of there being no bassoon in the school orchestra.

At the age of 18 he attained a place at the Royal College of Music spending two years on the performers’ course before converting to the graduate course.  It was during his time at the college that his bassoon teacher recommended that he have lessons in the Alexander Technique. It helped not only with his posture but also improved his playing. Whilst having lessons he decided he would like to train to teach the Alexander Technique and so he put his name down to train with Peter Scott and had to wait for a place to become available. 

He left the music college in 1974 and it was at a student party in the following year that he met his future wife Maureen who was in her final year of study at the Royal College. Maureen had already got a place on a post graduate teacher training course in Nottingham but they managed to see each other most weekends and during this time Stephen worked as a telephone operator so they had many free phone calls as a result!

Stephen joined Peter Scott’s training course in 1976 which was later taken over by Alexander’s niece Marjory Barlow after Peter Scott’s untimely death.  At the same time he worked for the London Borough of Bromley, for the ILEA and at Watford Grammar school as a peripatetic music teacher. Maureen and Stephen were married in the August of 1979 and moved into a rented flat near Baker Street. Stephen qualified as an Alexander Teacher in the December and started to build up a practice teaching the technique. They eventually bought a flat in Wembley Park where their first child, Margaret was born.

When Margaret was 17 months old Maureen and Stephen decided they needed a house with a garden and moved to Oxford so Stephen could remain in commuting distance of London.

Helen, their second daughter was born in 1984 and the following year Stephen began working as an assistant teacher on the Oxford Alexander Training Course and built up private practices both at home and in a medical practice on Beaumont Street. During this time Stephen continued as a peripatetic music teacher for Oxfordshire County Council and then taught in various Independent schools.

Three years later their youngest daughter Sarah was born and in the same year Stephen became co-founder of the Bloomsbury Alexander Centre in London.

As well as being respected as an Alexander teacher Stephen’s family was also very important to him and always came first in his life. He was a devoted husband and father and during the past ten years has been thoroughly involved in the lives of his grandchildren; the youngest being born only 2 months ago. Stephen shared his love of music with his daughters; teaching them all to play the recorder and Helen to play the clarinet. The whole family were able to play together in various ensembles. He delighted in listening to Maureen play the piano and hearing Margaret’s singing.  

Stephen had so many interests. He played bassoon in local orchestras, sang tenor with Headington Singers, completed a Java course, designed websites, played badminton, had ballroom dancing lessons with Maureen and only last year, in spite of his illness, took no persuading to fly as a passenger in a Microlight aircraft!

"I shall very much miss him and keep great memories of our wonderful partnership... I have a lot to remember and to be thankful to him for."

Natacha, Partner at Bloomsbury Alexander Centre, colleague and friend

"Stephen was a wonderful teacher - teaching Alexander's essential principles clearly and simply without any extras - which is not an easy thing to do. I have such fond memories."

Diana Devitt-Dawson, AT teacher

"Stephen and I worked here at the centre as colleagues after I qualified almost twenty  years ago and then later he invited me to come to his school in Oxford as a visiting teacher. In all that time and right up to the present I would describe him as good man, an honest man and a fair man.

“I am sure all the teachers and therapists here will also remember him with gratitude as the man who, along with Natacha, provided us with this quiet oasis in the centre of London where we could practise our various disciplines."

Alan Bignell, AT teacher at Bloomsbury Centre, London

"I had known Stephen as a colleague and I remember his dedication to the teaching of the technique. He will be missed by many."

Antonella Cavellone, AT teacher at Bloomsbury

 "I too will remember him with affection and gratitude. From the first time we met back in the early eighties he was very nice toward me, considerate and elegant in his quietness."

Pedro de Alcantara, AT teacher, and visiting teacher to Bloomsbury

“Some thoughts: apart from him being the most amazing teacher, a gentle man and a 'saboteur' - he described himself thus last time I was part of a Coach House discussion, one of the things I loved most about him was how he began to respond to our teasing. A combination of delight and disbelief”

Pat White, student at Oxford Alexander Training School

“I have had the real pleasure to have known Stephen for the past six years, three of them as his pupil and the following three as a disciple of the Alexander Technique he taught me. He had the perfect attributes for a teacher of the Alexander Technique: patience, non-judgmental, strength in his belief of this technique and gentleness. The quote by Pearl Buck reminds me of him: There is great strength in gentleness; there is great gentleness in real strength.

“Stephen demonstrated this in his work and in how he coped with the terrible disease that took him away from the many, many people he has taught and who loved his work. Stephen, you will be sorely missed but be assured your work will go on in all those you have ‘touched’.   

Chrissy Fraser, OATS


Cancer, Atherosclerosis and Sympathetic Dominance

by Carlos Monteiro

I have read with interest the article Hypothesis: Cancer causes and mechanisms by John Spottiswoode, published in Positive Health PH Online in Issue 110 - April 2005,[1] where he proposes the imbalance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as cause of cancer.

From his article I have learned about a study presented at the Third World Congress on Cancer held in 1997, showing an extremely high correlation to cancer developed in individuals having a high sympathetic nervous system activity.[2] He also has cited in his article, aside other studies whose authors had the same line of thought, a paper showing that major ANS dysfunction is extremely common in advanced cancer.[3]

Well, I think that John Spottiswoode is right in his assumption. Moreover taking in account the discovery that drugs with sympatholytic properties - directly by reduction of sympathetic nervous system activity or indirectly through the improvement of baroreceptor function or by strengthening the vagus nervous system, like digitalis (digoxin, digitoxin, etc…, at low dosages)[4] and Beta blockers,[5] are now considered as potential anticancer agents. Recently, a study found that intravenous Vitamin C Boosts Chemo's Cancer-Fighting Power.[6] Certainly the benefit of Vitamin C for cancer is resulted from its property by improvement of baroreceptor function or reducing the sympathetic activity.[7,8,9]

On the other hand it is well-known that cancer and atherosclerosis share many common risk factors, most of them leading to sympathetic dominance over the parasympathetic system.[10] Besides, it was long recognized the value of stress reduction programs like relaxation techniques for cancer and atherosclerotic disease.

Digitalis, Beta Blockers and vitamin C are also potential anti-atherosclerotic agents which are advocated through our acidity theory of atherosclerosis[11,12,13] where sympathetic dominance is the primary step in the cascade of events leading to the atherogenic process. It is particularly interesting to notice about the recent findings by researchers from Germany[14] and from US[15] showing there is an inverse association between cancer history and autopsy-proven atherosclerotic disease, differing in rates depending on types of cancer. These papers confirm the results of old studies like the one made by Wansher and colleagues in 1951 which, based on material from 1835 autopsies, have demonstrated that atherosclerotic lesions are less pronounced in patients suffering from carcinoma than among non-cancerous persons.[16]  The solution of the puzzle represented by the inverse relationship between cancer and atherosclerotic disease may take some time. In our view the autonomic nervous dysfunction and metabolic pathways are potential ways to solve the matter and should be prioritized by the investigators for this task. Meanwhile, millions and millions of people with cancer or atherosclerosis deserve immediate solution for their illnesses. Sympatholytic drugs and vitamin C, aside of stress reduction management, are very good alternative ways for that.

Note: The chronic sympathetic dominance leads to raised catecholamine (stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline) release, accelerating glycolysis metabolism, therefore increasing lactic acid/lactate concentration in blood and tissues worsening cancer and atherosclerotic disease among other clinical conditions [17].

Finally, it is important to mention a study published in 2013 at Science Journal, where the authors say in their conclusion:[18] “These results suggest that the formation of new nerve fibers within and around prostate tumours can alter tumour behavior. The autonomic nervous system appears to exert dual functions in prostate cancer: Sympathetic neonerves promote early stages of tumorigenesis, whereas parasympathetic nerve fibers promote cancer dissemination. Conceivably, drugs targeting both branches of the autonomic nervous system could provide therapeutic benefit.”

Carlos Monteiro

President, Infarct Combat Project  


  1. Hypothesis: Cancer causes and mechanisms by John Spottiswoode, published in Positive Health PH Online in issue 110 - April 2005 at
  2. Danev Sv, Svetoslavov S and Datzov E. A Chronic Decrease of Heart Rate Variability Can Precede Some Cases of Cancer. 3rd World Congress on Cancer. Darwin National Centre of Hygiene. Sofia. April 25-27, 1997 at  
  3. Walsh D and Nelson KA. Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction in Advanced Cancer. Support Care Cancer, 2002; 10: 523-528 at  
  4. Carlos Monteiro. 'Digitalis: the insulin for cancer" published in 2006 at  
  5. Shahid Akbar, Mansour Saleh Alsharidah. Are Beta Blockers New Potential Anticancer Agents? Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol 15, 2014 at 8&key=2014.15.22.9567
  6. IV Vitamin C Boosts Chemo's Cancer-Fighting Power?
  7. Kevin D. Monahan et al, Ascorbic acid increases cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity in healthy older men. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 286: H2113–H2117, 2004.
  8. Gianfranco Piccirillo et al., Influence of Vitamin C on Baroreflex Sensitivity in Chronic Heart Failure. Hypertension. 2003; 41:1240-1245.
  9. Bruno RM et al. Effect of acute administration of vitamin C on muscle sympathetic activity, cardiac sympathovagal balance, and baroreflex sensitivity in hypertensive patients. Am J Clin Nutr August 2012 vol. 96 no. 2 302-308. Full free text at   
  10. Carlos Monteiro. Acidity Theory of Atherosclerosis presentation in the Fourth International Conference of Advanced Cardiac Sciences - The King of Organs Conference, 2012 at  
  11. Book Acidity Theory of Atherosclerosis - New Evidences, 2012 - Chapter ‘The potential positive effect of improvement in baroreflex function on prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis’,  at  
  12. Jagielska, Gustavo Salguero, Bernhard Schieffer, Udo Bavendiek. Digitoxin elicits antiinflammatory and vasoprotective properties in endothelial cells: Therapeutic implications for the treatment of atherosclerosis?, at  
  13. Kolkhof P et al. Cardiac glycosides potently inhibits C-reactive protein synthesis in human hepatocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Mar 26;394(1): 233-9 at  
  14. Budczies J et al. Comprehensive analysis of clinico-pathological data reveals heterogeneous relations between atherosclerosis and cancer. J Clin Pathol 2014 Jun;67(6): 482-90 at  
  15. Mathew Li, Michael J Cima and Danny A Milner Jr. If it’s not one thing, it’s another: An inverse relationship of malignance and atherosclerotic disease. PLOS ONE, May 22, 2015 at  
  16. O Wanscher et al. Negative Correlation between atherosclerosis and carcinoma, 1951 at  
  17. Carlos Monteiro. Stress as Cause of Heart Attacks – The Myogenic Theory originally published in the Wise Traditions Journal (Fall edition, 2014) from Weston A. Price Foundation. Reproduced in Positive Health Online (Issue 222, May 2015), at
  18. Claire Magnon , Simon J. Hall, et al. Autonomic Nerve Development Contributes to Prostate Cancer Progression. Science Vol. 341 no. 6142. 12 July 2013 at

How do you Solve a Problem like Maria?

by Lynne McTaggart

Thank you all for those lovely statements of support after I wrote that our Intention Experiment website - a website devoted to healing the world’s ills through group prayer - got hacked into and threats on me, my family, my business, even my car were put in its place.

I was fascinated to see that among those offering support that the perpetrators get caught was Maria MacLachlan. Maria and her husband Alan Henness are effectively the Nightingale Collaboration, a tiny organization that was given seed money by Sense About Science in order to spend a prodigious amount of time reporting advertisers and practitioners of alternative medicine to the UK’s The Advertising Standards Authority. And many of the ads they've tried to stop are the ones that appear in the pages of our magazine What Doctors Don't Tell You.

As Henness writes, “the Nightingale Collaboration was set up to enable my wife, Maria MacLachlan, and I to share our knowledge and experience in challenging misleading claims in healthcare advertising and to encourage anyone who is concerned at protecting the public from misinformation in healthcare promotion to join us in challenging it.”

What knowledge this is is not immediately apparent as the couple appear to have no background in evaluating or studying medicine or alternative medicine (Henness reports his former employment as R&D manager for Honeywell Security and Customer Electronics).

The fact that Maria spoke up interests me a great deal, as Maria happens to be the Community Services Officer of the British Humanist Society, which campaigns “for an open society and a secular state with no religious privilege or discrimination based on religion or belief,” according to its website. (Alan was former Convenor for the Humanist Society.)

On the website Think Humanism (, Maria wrote a short précis of what it means to be a humanist: “Humanists embrace the moral principle known as the Golden Rule. This means we believe that people should aim to treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves - with tolerance, consideration and compassion.”

That is a fine definition and one I would agree with. In fact, it’s the basis of my book The Bond. But the problem with prettily turned phrases like those is that they have meaning only when applied to real life.

From now on, I'm going to call this kind of 'do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do' activity 'the Maria Problem.'

Simon Singh has also got a Maria Problem.  He has styled himself as the champion of free speech in science, but has been busy for nearly three years encouraging 'book burning' in the form of pressurizing and campaigning for stores and distributors to stop stocking What Doctors Don't Tell You.

Our experience with the Nightingale Collaboration, and indeed any of the skeptical individuals or organizations writing about us, is that there is nothing about their work that creates a climate of tolerance. All of the actions taken by every skeptical organization have fomented a climate of hatred, which in turn creates an atmosphere that condones actions against the target that easily escalate over time. This has nothing to do with free speech. They are free not to like my magazine and to publicly say so. But that is a far cry from encouraging people to interfere with our free trade or sending cyber-attack dogs to abuse me online. That kind of activity is a threat to freedom and to a free, multi-cultural society.

There have been, first staged campaigns to hide our magazines from the shelves. Note this screen capture:

Twitter Cover Up WDDTY

There have been instructions to followers about how to minimize our Google search engine optimization

WDDTY Search Engine Blocking

There have been ‘Master Lists’ kept by husband and wife combo Michael and Laura Thomason, writing as blogger ‘Josephine Jones’ (he a database developer, she a coffee shop supervisor) and passed around from skeptic to skeptic as though we are engaged in behaviour that must be monitored, blow by blow.

There have been ‘calls to action’ to engage in phony letter writing campaigns targeting specific stores like Tesco, pretending to be customers of store chains offended by the magazine; articles in the Times entirely quoting skeptics (all from Sense About Science) claiming that ‘doctors’ were demanding that our magazine be removed from the shelves; and after we chose to monitor the abusive comments on our Facebook, Twitter and blog pages, a ‘drone’ set up that automatically sends constant replies to all our blogs.

And through it all, there have been the hundreds of abusive comments, largely directed at me, many of them sexist and some of them threatening.

University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron, author of Hate Threats on the Internet, has a novel way of dealing with these kinds of cybercrimes against women. She argues that online abuse of this nature constitutes “discrimination in women’s employment opportunities” as covered by title VII of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This ground-breaking American law outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, or gender, and it was used to out white-hooded Ku Klux Klan members, who’d harassed and intimidated African Americans from voting and getting work. Citron argues that anonymous online threats and harassment similarly discourage women from “writing and earning a living online”.

“It interferes with their professional lives,” she writes. “It raises their vulnerability to offline sexual violence. It brands them as incompetent workers and inferior sexual objects. The harassment causes considerable emotional distress.”

Encouraging the kinds of targeted bullying that have been directed against me and WDDTY is exactly how things do escalate and finally get out of hand. It's how ordinary, law-abiding Germans were finally incited  to go on a rampage, smashing windows and looting the property of Jewish shopkeepers during Kristallnacht. 

The only way to stop a lynch mob is to stop creating targets of hate.  Which goes back to the Golden Rule, being tolerant of people whose beliefs are different from yours.

And that is how you solve this cyber-bullying problem, Maria



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