Sweat Lodge Death Trial Begins

06 Mar

“You will feel as if you are going to die. I guarantee that.”

“You will have to get to a point where you surrender, where it’s OK to die.”

In an earlier post I talked about the hyperthermic deaths that occurred during the self-discovery sessions led by self-help guru James Ray. His sweat lodge ordeal ended in the death of three and hospital visits by nearly two dozen others. It appears that his trial is about to begin in Arizona.

I bet he now regrets the above words. Bet he’s sweating as if he were in his own sweat lodge.

The defense? Well, the participants were adults. They signed wavers. I wonder if those wavers mentioned the temperature and lack of ventilation and jam-packed conditions inside the lodge? Or that there would be no on site medical facility or personnel? Or that their 36 hour fast ended by a single meal just might leave the participants a bit dehydrated even before they entered the jerky factory. Brains, hearts, and kidneys don’t tolerate such conditions well.

Common sense, or as we say in the South “walking around sense,” seems to have flown the coop in this deal.

This one will be interesting to watch.


3 responses to “Sweat Lodge Death Trial Begins

  1. Doc o the Bay

    April 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

    No one, even the prosecution, has pointed out that the usual homilies about autonomous judgment and personal responsibility don’t apply when the person is in extremis, especially neurologically.

    MD, California


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      April 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      I think that’s one of the major points of this case. First of all I’m not sure the folks truly understood the danger when they consented to entire this harsh environment and secondly once they developed the cognitive deficits that go along with dehydration and hyperthermia they were no longer able to respond to the danger properly. Safety dictated a bit of caution and a lot of monitoring. Not sure either was operative here.


  2. iriserlings

    January 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Common sense is uncommon among the New Age and pseudoscience crowd…



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