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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 06 Aug 2003

Iridology QUESTION from Michelle May 6, 1999 Is there anything wrong with consulting an iridologist for health reasons? Some members of my family have seen one. In a book written by a priest regarding the New Age Movement, he lists iridology as being part of that movement but he does not explain why it is part of it.
Any clarification on this subject would be appreciated.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on May 9, 1999 Dear Miss Michelle:
Iridology is based upon the notion that an trained person can diagnose and predict disease merely by examining the iris of the eye.
The idea of iridology was conceived by Hungarian doctor, Ignatz Von Peczely. The story of this man, as reported by Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld in his book, Guide of Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What’s Right for You, is that when Peczely was twelve years old he was walking through a very dense wood, so dense that the light from the sun was blocked. In the semi-darkness he saw two glowing eyes staring at him. He soon found himself under attack from this creature. The creature had grabbed his arm with a fierce grip. The creature turned out to be an owl. The boy had come too close to the owl’s nest.
Unfortunately, to get loose from the owl’s grip Peczely had to break the owl’s leg. When he did this he noticed a black line appearing in the bird’s eyes. The boy took the owl home and nursed it back to health. When the bird recovered Peczely noticed that the black line had turned white.
Later, after Peczely had become a doctor he noticed a similar occurrence in his patient’s eyes. From this observation and the memory of the owl, he concluded that there must be a reflex relationship between the interior organs of the body and the iris of the eye. He went about documenting this alleged relationship with complicate charts that are still used today – though the charts have bee updated by a noted iridologist, Bernard Jensen.
The first thing that comes to mind in this story is the FIRST maxim of observation: Correlatoin does NOT equal causation. Even if a correlation between illness and the iris can be documented, that does NOT mean that one causes the other, or that one can predict illness as a result. This is a FAR logical reach.
The clue to the New Age connections is that iridologist usually do not claim to diagnose specific diseases, but to identify underlying toxicity and inflammation in the connective tissues of the body. Allegedly these things lead to physical and emotional problems.
This is VERY close to the Chinese spiritual worldview of Ying and Yang that involves energy flows in the body that can be blocked by disease or illness causing toxicity and imbalance with the universe. If one can locate the blockages, one can diagnose. Then through acupuncture, message, and other techniques (I used to practice Acupressure, which is a non-needle form of acupuncture, when I was a New Age Health Practitioner), the blockages can be cleared the toxicity cleaned and the body placed back in harmony with the pantheistic universe. Such notions, intimately tied to the Chinese spiritual theology, is totally inconsistent with Catholicism.
The bottom line medically, is that NOT ONE SINGLE CLAIM of iridologists has EVER been scientifically substantiated. Not one. Other techniques used by New Agers, like acupuncture do have scientifically verifiable, but very limited, effects (though not for the spiritual reasons the New Agers think). But iridology cannot even say that. Iridology, is in my opinion, medical quackery.
From a spiritual point of view, iridologist working as they do in the hazy world of science fiction have opened themselves to ideas and notions to support their theories that comes from the Chinese spiritualism and philosophic universalism and pantheism that cannot be made consistent with Catholicism or Christianity.
Since Iridology is so closely associated with New Age notions inconsistent with Christianity and since the claims of Iridology have absolute no substantiation from science even in the smallest degree, and since the whole notion of Iridology stems from the fanciful and unscientific observations and illogic of its founder, my opinion is that I would recommend that no one, Christian or not, seek the services of a so-called Iridologist.
Hopefully this gives you at least a little better picture of the issue.
God Bless.
P.S. Dr. Rosenfeld’s book in which he gives honest appraisal of various alternative medicine techniques and lets you know which have any verifiable effect and how much effect, if any, can be purchased through through our online bookstore. I recommend the book. The url to purchase the book is below. (Note: this url MUST be used for us to get credit for your purchase. Thanks).
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