Doman method

Stephen Black sblack at UBISHOPS.CA
Thu Oct 31 13:18:53 EST 1996

On Thu, 31 Oct 1996, Andreas Knobel wrote:

> I have a friend with a severely handicapped CP child. He intends to try
> the Doman method on the boy. He is currently gathering information, and 
> is
> particularly interested in hearing about the experiences of families 
> and volunteers who have used this method, doctors' views, and so on.
> He would also like to hear about alternative training methods.

The Doman-Delacato ("patterning") treatment is quackery, extraordinarily
expensive in both time and money. As long ago as 1982 the American Academy
of Pediatrics issued a warning statement on this supposed "treatment".
They concluded: 

"The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential differ 
substantially from other groups treating developmental problems in 1) the 
excessive nature of their poorly documented claims for cure and (2) the 
major demands placed on parents in unswervingly carrying out an unproven 
technique to the smallest detail...Based on past and current analyses, 
studies, and reports, we must conclude that patterning treatment offers 
no special merit, that the claims of its advocates are unproven, and that 
the demands on families are so great that in some cases there may be harm 
in its use."

Spitz (1986), in referring specifically to the Doman method, noted "mental
handicap attracts not only the dedicated and the caring, but also the
self-deluded and the unscrupulous who are quick to make outrageous claims
and who profit from the gullibility that is fostered by wishful thinking
(p. 183)...The Institutes for The Achievement of Human Potential..must
take its place in the long list of pseudoscientific, impressive sounding
remedies sold by self-righteous advocates who feed on human anguish."(p. 

I suggest your friend stay away from it--it can bring only grief. As an 
alternative training method, I recommend consulting knowledgeable experts in 
the field of behavior modification or behavior therapy. University 
psychology departments may be able to provide the names of practitioners.

Some references:

---- (1982). Policy statement: the Doman-Delacato treatment of 
   neurologically handicapped children. Pediatrics, 70, 810--812.

Spitz, H. (1986). The raising of intelligence. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Cummins, R. (1988). The neurologically impaired child: Doman-Delacato 
  techniques reappraised. London: Croom Helm

[There is a review of this book in Contemporary Psychology, 1991, vol. 
36, p. 61 in which the reviewer, Jane Healy notes "This theory has long 
been discredited by most professionals in the United States".]

Stephen Black, Ph.D.                      tel: (819) 822-9600 ext 2470
Department of Psychology                  fax: (819) 822-9661
Bishop's University                    e-mail: sblack at
Lennoxville, Quebec               
J1M 1Z7                             

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