Deepak Chopra (born October 22, 1946) is an Indian-American author and alternative-medicine advocate. A prominent figure in the New Age movement, his books and videos have made him one of the best-known and wealthiest figures in alternative medicine.
Chopra studied medicine in India before emigrating in 1970 to the United States, where he completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology. As a licensed physician, in 1980 he became chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH). In 1985, he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and became involved in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. Shortly thereafter he resigned his position at NEMH to establish the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center. In 1993, Chopra gained a following after he was interviewed about his books on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He then left the TM movement to become the executive director of Sharp HealthCare’s Center for Mind-Body Medicine. In 1996, he co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.
Chopra believes that a person may attain “perfect health”, a condition “that is free from disease, that never feels pain”, and “that cannot age or die”. Seeing the human body as undergirded by a “quantum mechanical body” composed not of matter but of energy and information, he believes that “human aging is fluid and changeable; it can speed up, slow down, stop for a time, and even reverse itself,” as determined by one’s state of mind. He claims that his practices can also treat chronic disease.
The ideas Chopra promotes have regularly been criticized by medical and scientific professionals as pseudoscience. The criticism has been described as ranging “from the dismissive to… the damning”. Philosopher Robert Carroll writes that Chopra, to justify his teachings, attempts to integrate Ayurveda with quantum mechanics. Chopra says that what he calls “quantum healing” cures any manner of ailments, including cancer, through effects that he claims are literally based on the same principles as quantum mechanics. This has led physicists to object to his use of the term “quantum” in reference to medical conditions and the human body. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has said that Chopra uses “quantum jargon as plausible-sounding hocus pocus”. Chopra’s treatments generally elicit nothing but a placebo response and have drawn criticism that the unwarranted claims made for them may raise “false hope” and lure sick people away from legitimate medical treatments.
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