From Neo-Fascism To Neurophysiology: The Strange Story of the INPP

By Neuroskeptic | March 16, 2014 8:14 am

Will Mandy drew my attention to a worrying piece of neurosensationalism at BBC News:

Modern life damaging infant brains, charity warns

The charity is called Watch? and it seems fairly inoffensive, but one of the speakers at the Watch? conference (which prompted the article) is Sally Goodard Blythe from the ‘Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology’ (INPP) in Chester, England. This latter organisation has a rather remarkable history.

brain1The INPP’s About Us page says

The INPP was set up in 1975 by Psychologist Peter Blythe PhD*. to research into the effects of immaturity in the functioning of the central nervous system on learning outcomes, emotional functioning and behaviour.

That * leads us to a footnote which reads

INPP is an apolitical organization. It does not reflect or support any political, cultural, social or religious ideology or the personal views of its members or former members.

Well, that’s good to hear. Because if they did reflect the ideology of their members, let’s say, of their founder, then they would be a fascist organization. Quite literally. For, according to his Telegraph obituary, their late founder Peter Huxley-Blythe (his full name) was an active neo-fascist:

A vehement anti-communist who admired strong leadership, after WW2 Huxley-Blythe became involved in various extreme-Right groups. He became an associate of the American political thinker Francis Parker Yockey, founder of the European Liberation Front (ELF, a small neo-fascist group that split from Mosley’s British Union Movement in 1948), and of Guy Chesham and Baroness von Pflugl who helped to finance the publication of Yockey’s Imperium (1948), in which he argued for the creation of a fascist united Europe to defend Western culture.

The ELF’s “12-point plan” demanded “the immediate expulsion of all Jews and other parasitic aliens from the Soil of Europe” and the “cleansing of the Soul of Europe from the ethical syphilis of Hollywood”. Huxley-Blythe became the editor of Frontfighter, the ELF’s journal, and later on, in the 1950s, published the newsletter of a British-German group Natinform (Nationalist Information Bureau)…

In addition, with Roger Pearson, he helped to organise the Northern League, a neo-Nazi organisation dedicated to saving the “Nordic race” from the “annihilation of our kind” and to fighting for survival “against forces which would mongrelise our race and civilisation” (leading members included the former Nazi eugenicist Hans Günther)…

…Peter Huxley-Blythe is survived by his wife, Sally [Goddard Blythe, current director of INPP International].

Still, that was a long time ago. Perhaps we should instead judge the INPP by their current supporters. Unfortunately, there are a number of eyebrow-raising individuals associated with the INPP. In recent years, their conference has hosted speakers such as…

* Dr Richard Halvorsen, a British doctor who writes about vaccines causing autism.

* Dr Ursula Anderson, a writer on ‘energy medicine’ and spiritual issues: e.g.

If we are to allow the human soul to dwell within its connection to the creative mind of God, it is self evident that society must turn its attention to children because their energies are the most susceptible to change.

She also believes that Energy and Memory are what give stem cells their power:

In a sentence, the ability of stem cells to re-generate, re-engage and re-organize damaged structures of FORM and FUNCTION are directly dependant on the templates of Memories and the Energies that give life to and drive Body, Mind and Soul.

* “Dr.” Curtis T. Cripe, “PhD.” , or Mr. Cripe as the US Bankruptcy Appeals Court of the Ninth Circuit (judgement of 20th Feb 2014) more accurately calls him:

[In 2001] the Cripes [Mr. Cripe and his wife] represented … that Mr. Cripe held a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook Institute…

[however] although Mr. Cripe ultimately did obtain a Ph. D. in November 2003, that degree was from Barrington University, a non-accredited school. Mr. Cripe’s faculty advisor for his dissertation in psychology held degrees in Interior Design, not psychology. Mr. Cripe’s “attendance” was completely on-line.

When Cripe’s business partner found out about this, around 2008, she broke off relations with him. This set in motion a series of legal claims and counterclaims, the outcome of which was that Cripe filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011. Cripe spoke not once but twice at the INPP conference, in 2007 and in 2009. He’s also listed on some websites as a representative of the INPP franchise in the USA.

Oh dear. But then again, just because INPP are linked to some dubious people, that doesn’t mean that their ideas are wrong. Their idea is that many childhood problems (including ADHD, Asperger’s, difficulty riding bikes, and problems learning maths) can be caused by ‘neurodevelopmental delay’ (NDD), a failure of the maturing brain to appropriately inhibit the primitive motor reflexes, seen in babies, that are normally switched off later in life. INPP offer ‘interventions‘ (prices: by request only) to try to fix these imbalances.

I will leave it to others to evaluate these claims – perhaps neuroblogger and developmental psychologist Prof Dorothy Bishop, who wrote about Sally Goddard Blythe and her claims about parenting previously. Bishop wrote that…

Mrs Goddard Blythe is entitled to her views. My concern is with the blurring of the distinction between opinion and evidence. When a view about effects of parenting is widely promulgated on national media, and is expressed by someone who is described as a consultant in neurodevelopmental education and Director of an Institute, the natural assumption is made that (a) they are speaking from a position of authority, and (b) they have some hard evidence. In this case, neither appears to be true.

A link to that article appears, strangely, on the INPP’s website, and even more strangely it appears under the heading “Published articles by Sally Goddard Blythe”.

  • Bones and Behaviours

    Yes the INPP are linked to scientifically dubious people and seem pretty dubious themselves.
    But since ‘neo-fascism’ is neither a scientific or pseudoscientific position, Peter Blythe is not really one of them for that reason.

  • Dorothy Bishop

    Cripes! I’ve been plagiarised!

  • Dr Pete Etchells

    Just had a look at the Watch? conference in the original BBC article. One of the other speakers:

    “Dorothy Marlen – freelance Early Childhood Consultant, parent course leaders and parent/baby group facilitator with a background in Steiner Early Childhood Education and the Pikler approach.

    Title of presentation: “A Gentle Beginning” Innovative group support for parents and carers of infants based on Steiner pedagogy and the Pikler approach.”

    Andy Lewis has lots of stuff on Steiner schools: http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2012/11/what-every-parent-should-know-about-steiner-waldorf-schools.html

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/ Neuroskeptic

      Ah, Steiner – a pioneer of bees-in-the-founders-bonnet-based education.

      • Daniel Endicott

        Ah, Steiner – critic of Hitler, proponent of ethical banking and nurturing, if curious, education…

  • http://csl.ist.ucf.edu/ Stephen M. Fiore, Ph.D.

    Thanks for doing the detective work on this. I wonder if INPP has any connections to the author of this article published in HuffPo last week?

    10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12
    Cris Rowan
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/10-reasons-why-handheld-devices-should-be-banned_b_4899218.html

    • Matthew Slyfield

      “calling on parents, teachers and governments to ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years”

      This sentence is ambiguous. Are they just talking about electronic devices? That would make somewhat more sense (EM hypochondria?). After, all, a pencil, a piece of chalk or a fork could all be described as handheld devices.

    • http://www.flowerfairies.com/ Whirled Peas

      I looked … and did not see her name or organization mentioned even once.

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  • http://www.flowerfairies.com/ Whirled Peas

    But here’s the deal … Peter Huxley-Blythe did most of that neo-fascist stuff before his wife, Sally, was even born … so WHY are we holding HER accountable ???

    And, Peter Blythe DOES have a PhD in Psychosomatic Medicine from an American university (Northwestern offers this degree — did he get it there? We don’t know because most of this article makes it sound like his credentials are from a carnival or something). http://psychiatry.northwestern.edu/education/psychiatry-fellowships/psychosomatic/index.html

    The best evidence you have is that Dr. Cripes is still listed as a representative of INPP, but we are not sure that Ms Blythe is aware of his infractions (even his business partner was caught by surprise).

    And, in 2009, people weren’t as sure about the causes of autism — here is an article from 2010 outlining the evolution of theories on the subject. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908388/?log$..

    One might think a “skeptic” would do better than guilt by association …and insinuation.

    Professor Bishop’s claims are similarly on “thin ice” as she admits that she did not even read the book she was criticizing, but was instead was relying on a sensationalized article from the Guardian.

    What Sally Goddard Blythe said was that some modern parenting practices, and some of the equipment being sold to parents, are not, in fact, best for a child’s development. For example, infant seats that snap into car seats, that snap into strollers — can keep a child at a constant 45 degree angle, and restrict their freedom of movement — so leaving your child in “containers” for long extended periods of time is not best practice during critical stages of development. To caution parents is not the same as to “blame” them.

    http://www.teamaroundthechild.com/images/stories/journal-pdfs/Reflexes.pdf

    Her book The Well Balanced Child is very accessible to parents, and helps them understand that movement is important during childhood. That is really not a very controversial claim. Studies in the UK show that the area child is allowed to explore on their own has decreased by 90% in ONE generation. More parents should be aware that we are really in new territory, and understand that we might need to pay closer attention to our children’s developmental needs … in the same way that many adults have added “going to the gym” to offset the effects of their modern sedentary lifestyles.

    Seriously, this feels like a witch hunt.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/ Neuroskeptic

      Well:

      – The INPP was “set up by Peter Huxley-Blythe” by their own account. I never said his wife was responsible for Peter’s political activities, but the fact that Peter created the organization is relevant to the organization.

      – I never said Peter Huxley-Blythe had no PhD…? I never discussed his qualifications at all. Are you confusing him with Curtis Cripe?

      – The point about Mr Cripe is that he was considered as trustworthy (and as a scientific authority – he spoke at the conference) by the INPP, and turned out not to be, which is evidence of a failure of judgement.

      – Also evidence of a failure of judgement is the invitation of Halvorsen and, especially, Ursula Andersen (whose inclusion on my list of “eyebrow-raisers”, I notice you didn’t dispute…)

      – 2009 was not that long ago, views on the causation of autism haven’t changed much since then. The vaccine theory was scarcely more scientifically respectable then, than it is today. In the 2010 paper you linked to, the vast majority of the research discussed is from pre-2008 and the paper concludes that

      “Twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism. These studies have been performed in several countries by many different investigators who have employed a multitude of epidemiologic and statistical methods. The large size of the studied populations has afforded a level of statistical power sufficient to detect even rare associations. These studies, in concert with the biological implausibility that vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, have effectively dismissed the notion that vaccines cause autism.”

      • http://www.flowerfairies.com/ Whirled Peas

        >>I never said his wife was responsible for Peter’s

        political activities

        I actually used the word “accountable” which is different, as she it the person who is “taking the heat” and this article is turning up the temperature. Did you raise questions before Peter’s death in 2013 when he could have answered and faced the charges? Does Sally agree with her husband’s early political views and activities? Did Peter continue to hold those views later in his life? We don’t know.

        >>I never discussed his qualifications at all.

        That was my point. The omission of data has implications. While I certainly do not agree with his early political views, the question is whether or not the research he did meets or exceeds the standards on the topics they cover? It seems their work has been peer reviewed, scrutinized, and held in high esteem for decades. Their politicals, the flavor of ice cream they like, and everything else …is irrelevant by comparison.

        >> 2009 was not that long ago

        It may not seem long ago chronologially, but we know that due to advances in technology, our information is doubling every few years. It wasn’t until 2010 that the NIH article could make the claim that the notion of vaccines causing autism could be effectively dismissed. In 2009, the jury was still out.

        >> The point about Mr Cripe is that he was considered as trustworthy

        I admitted that Mr. Cripe’s current standing in the organization shows a lack of judgment (or at least a lack awareness or rigorous policies in keeping standards up to date). I questioned whether or not Ms Blythe was aware of Mr Cripe’s troubles in 2007 and 2009 (before he was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2011). I don’t think its right to expect Ms Blythe to be aware of his problems before his business partner even found out in 2008.

        >> Halvorsen … Ursula Andersen …”eyebrow-raisers”

        from the link you provided on Dr. Anderson, she has held a number of prestigious positions http://www.drursulaanderson.com/professional.php

        On Halvorsen – he says in an interview in 2011 that while “he’s not opposed to vaccinations, he does believe that vaccine efficacy claims are overdone and side effects are not being recognized” and ““Indeed I run an immunisation clinic which offers a wide range of vaccines as a protection against various diseases. But I am increasingly disturbed by the lack of any debate either about long-term vaccine safety or about the excessive influence of commercial interests.”

        Personally, I don’t find questioning the role of commercial interests in influencing our medical protocols, or pointing out a scarcity in long-term research, very “eyebrow raising”.

        What I see is a woman whose husband has recently died, and who is now being attacked for the slightest of infractions because of things her husband did before she was even born. When he started INPP in 1975, she was a 20-year-old college student. A lot has changed since then.

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No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.

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