Andrea Axt is a study in contradictions.
The Belgian-born 76-year-old Holocaust survivor boasts a PhD in chemistry from the University of Warsaw, is cited in European scientific journals, teaches every year in Warsaw and/or Israel, has studied child psychology extensively and has a deep and abiding love for children.
She has also spent a lot of time scientifically researching the role she feels the human pineal gland may play in autism, Down syndrome, and other disorders.
In addition, she has participated in many conferences, among them an autism conference at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
But the scientific side of Axt stands in contrast with the Andrea Axt who, for the last 35 years, has used “polarity” and craniosacral therapies, both of which are alternative medicine, homeopathic techniques that incorporate massage and the mind to unleash “energy” in the human body and make people feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Axt has used these techniques to treat a number of conditions, including childhood autism and depression.
Critics dismiss such “therapies” as pseudo-science and bunk.
But not necessarily everybody. Even the Autism Canada Foundation lists craniosacral massage and homeopathy as therapies used to treat autism, regardless of their scientific bona fides.
Serious influencers of Axt’s work have included analytical psychology founder Carl Jung and child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. And Axt, for her part, sees no contradiction between her scientific background and her sincere faith in “alternative” therapies.
“There is nothing wrong with seeking alternatives,” Axt said. “I have always had a leaning towards spiritual things, and I have been doing these things – researching, teaching, therapy – successfully for many years.”
Axt’s website, www.securenet.net/members/aaxt, for example, clearly shows how she considers homeopathic medicine just as legitimate as any other.
In the case of the cause of autism, though, Axt has been more scientific in her approach, looking at the condition from a neuro-chemical perspective
It is Axt’s theory, as it is described on her website, that autism is a “reversible disorder involving aspects of the body, mind and spirit.
“It is influenced by genetic susceptibility, but is not a genetically determined, unchangeable brain disorder. By systematically addressing all the factors that create disordered functioning in an individual’s body-mind-spirit, autism can be reversed.”
Axt puts a special emphasis on the brain’s pineal gland, the first gland that forms in a developing embryo, and “which affects all the systems of our body.”
Axt contends that her research into autism has revealed lower levels of melatonin, the main neuro-hormone produced in the pineal gland.
“Problems in autism stem from malfunction of the pineal gland and a disturbed melatonin pathway,” Axt wrote in a 2011 PowerPoint presentation she gave in Israel.
Whether the science world will end up supporting her theory is another matter, since that would require a large amount of funding and proof on a large scale.
Meanwhile, Axt continues her work, training, teaching and researching.
“I survived [the Holocaust] to help the children of the world,” she said. “That is why I do what I do.”