Medical Misinformation

Helping patients deal with medical misinformation can be quite frustrating, especially when it causes them to act in ways that are dangerous. Here is a metaphor that helps me avoid getting into arguments and do something helpful.

Imagine that you have fallen off a sheer cliff. You have managed to grab hold of a tree limb that has grown out of the cliff face. If you look up you see nothing but sheer rock. If you look down you see a dense cloud concealing everything below your knees. Your legs vanish into that cloud, and no matter how far you extend your legs, all you can feel under your toes  is empty space.

You hear a voice telling you, “The ground is only a few inches below your feet. Just let go.” What would it take for you to trust that voice? What would you feel as you loosened your fingers?

A patient who clings to medical misinformation is in the same position, whether the misinformation is about vaccines, pain medications, food, etc. . In order for us to help them change, we don’t need to prove that we are right, that we know more, or that we are so smart. We need to prove that we will be there to catch them

Letter About Drones

I send email messages to my congressional representative and senators. After the news I saw today I am making this one public.


I was horrified to read that the drone strike in Afghanistan that was supposed to stop a terrorist attack actually killed an innocent family, an aid worker no less. 

Drone strikes that kill innocent people are immoral. The feeble justification that we thought we were blowing up people who were terrorists is unacceptable. Americans would have issues with a police department that bombed a house because they mistakenly thought a suspect was hiding in it. For a nation that claims to be “under God” I’m sure God has some strong, and negative, opinions about the use of such weapons.

Aside from the immorality has anyone thought about the blowback from killing innocent people? Americans felt justified in retaliating with force when innocent Americans were killed. Well, don’t other nationals? That strike probably recruited ten times as many people for Al Queda or whoever is over there. Any incident like this fuels a hatred of our country that outweighs any military benefit. 

Drone warfare against terrorists is immoral and stupid. I don’t want my tax dollars used for it so I am requesting that you and other Congresspeople find a way to cut the funding for such programs.

Thank you,

Joseph Arpaia, MD


A number of people have expressed worries about waning COVID vaccine effectiveness. I have reassured them that the vaccines were never meant to stop COVID  infection, but rather keep the infection from causing more than mild illness. They are remarkably effective at that and that effectiveness shows no significant waning.

The following article from the Atlantic does an excellent job of explaining this.

Waning Immunity is Not a Crisis Right Now

The “Have Done” List

For about 20 years I have been telling my patients to use a “have done” list, instead of a “to-do” list. Sometime during the day, usually near the end, they are to write down any tasks they completed or made progress on. The feedback has been extremely positive. People feel more hopeful and more energized from their “have done” list, and knowing what they have done helps orient them to what to do next. Its much less stressful than staring at a “to-do” list.

Apparently there is now some research support for this. The authors of the following article use a more structured process than I do. I simply ask people to write down what they have done, without planning to do something first. But I imagine their version may work too.


I had the privilege of meeting Alexi a few years ago and she sent me a copy of her book, Bravey. This is an unvarnished, touching, and amazing story of courage and hope by an even more amazing woman.

Speeding in School Zones

Angry Driver: What did you pull me over for?

Police Officer: You were going 50 mph.

Angry Driver: So …

Police Officer: You were in a school zone. The speed limit is 20 mph.

Angry Driver: Its my constitutional right to drive as fast as I want. You have no right to restrict my freedom.

Police Officer: Driving 50 mph in a school zone is dangerous.

Angry Driver: I was in an SUV! There is no way I was in any danger!

Police Officer: It’s not about you. You were endangering the children  who were playing there. You are under arrest for reckless driving.


Mask protect OTHER people. Wear a mask.

Review and Redo

The “review” and “redo” techniques are powerful ways of training helpful habits. I received a request for instructions on these techniques from a participant in an online course on resilience that I am co-facilitating.

The instructions are adapted from a presentation I gave in Helsinki in Jan 2019 to health care professionals who worked on rapid resuscitation teams in hospitals.

For those who want to download a pdf of the instructions you can find that here:

Outline for Review and Redo

Continue reading Review and Redo

Contemplation Health Performance Relationships Spirituality