Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The cumulative effect of points

It is good to understand the difficulty of assessing exactly what effect one point has rather than that of an accumulation of points added to the effect over time. A point might, in principle, I assume, prove its efficacy not immediately but after some time, as change can occur slowly. Since our patients on the whole continue their treatment with us from week to week, they will have further points needled which may have added to the effect of what we can call that original point, cancelled it or given it a completely different emphasis, so that it is no longer possible to assess exactly which point did what when. Certainly even if it were only the first point that has this future effect, we will never be able to isolate this for all the above reasons, so unless we are simply to needle one point once and await its effect, without adding any further points for a sufficiently long time to give us some certainty of whether it has had an effect or not, we can never know in absolute terms what the effect of that one point on that one patient at that one time is.

Does it matter? Well, yes, it does, but only if we are trying to assess the value of individual points in isolation and to test the accuracy of the information, all generally anecdotal and handed down, by word of mouth or hearsay, or from traditional sources which have grown up around that point and give it a weight and substance that we have no way at all of assessing. I am, however, emphasizing the cumulative importance of treatment rather than that of an individual point. The long-term effects of points used together, either in combination in the same treatment or in sequence as part of a pattern of treatment, will be observable over time and can thus be attributed, one can assume, to the cumulative effect of all the points that have been needled so far. We will never know whether it is indeed only one amongst many that has been effective, or whether it is the whole lot of them combined, or whether it is any combination of some of them, with some remaining ineffective, as another evidence of the dead wood I mentioned. But at least we can gain confirmation or not about the cumulative effect of the points we have so far needled.

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