Max Banfield’s research, theories and methods
My first website can be seen here.
Welcome to my second website. I hope you find it informative and useful.
My books and websites have been subject to copyright and I provided information which can be used for non-commercial purposes to enable individuals who have various ailments, particularly obscure illnesses, to find information which will help them to understand and manage them, and in that regard I have provided extensive alphabetical indexes and drop down menus to make specific information instantly available.
The sequence of ideas, experiments, and diagrams which led to the development of the world’s first standing computer desk.
Credibility is important
Like most people who produce original ideas I have more than my fair share of critics, but there have been major facts that reinforce their value.
For example, after writing a book about the health biograhies of Robert Louis Stevenson in 2001 I sent a copy to James S. Winegar, President of The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, International Offices, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. His letter of reply included the following words
“The Minister of Youth Sports and Culture in Samoa loves the book. We presented him with his own copy and he devoured it.” (end of quote).
Another example is where I spent eight years developing methods of treating chronic fatigue with exercise, and was then invited by Tony Sedgewick, the head of the Soutn Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training, to design a program for other patients, and, although my name isn’t mentioned, the guidelines which I produced can now be seen in most of the modern literature on that topic. See here.
I did 23 years of research before developing the standing computer posture, which is represented by the first diagram in the 10th edition of my book called The Posture Theory which was published in August 1999. Recently, in September or October 2013 John Coveney of Flinders University has been interviewed on television where he reported that he has been using and evaluating the beneficial effects of that idea for ten years, and discussing it with his colleagues and students internationally, He is Professor Discipline of Public Health Associate Dean, Prevention, Promotion and Primary Health Care cluster, School of Medicine
I have also survived for 20 years after being diagnosed with incurable cancer and given only 2 months to live 20 years ago, and have treated angina, during 1997, with a vegetarian diet, successfully.
I began sending essays to the British Medical Journal in October 2013. It is one of the top four medical research journals in the world, and they published more than 20 of my essays in the next 12 months, during which time, while describing my observations and ideas about the common ailment of lower-left sided chest pain, I actually discovered, and had published the main, and previously unknown cause, which is postural displacement of the eighth rib, (or by implication, the ninth and tenth), which leaves it loose and prone to slipping and impinging an intercostal nerve. That essay can be seen here.
My main areas of interest have been posture and health, and the chronic fatigue syndrome – it’s cause and treatment.
The Posture Theory was first published in June 1980 as an essay called “The Matter of Framework”, and as a book of 11 editions, between 1994 and 2000, and the first website began in about 1994 and can be seen here. My 1000 page book on that topic is now available as an eBook and can be seen here.
My research into chronic fatigue began in 1975, and I was invited to design and co-ordinate a research project to study chronic fatigue and exercise at the South Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training in 1982, where I scientifically proved the effectiveness of exercising at an appropriate level by 1983. See here.
I provide facts, evidence, and proof of my ideas from a wide variety of sources, including reliable and verifiable information from history, and from the best medical literature and research Journals in the world.
All information on this website is subject to my copyright. However, you are welcome to use it for non-commercial purposes as long as you acknowledge the source.
A brief introduction to my original ideas list . . .
1. 1976. identifying limits to exercise capacity in chronic fatigue, training within them, and safely and gradually improving the level. I also determined exercise testing as a means of diagnosing the problem, and later, that tilt table tests couid also be used in diagnosis
2. 1979. A method of preventing, treating, and relieving recurring bouts of fatigue
2a. 1979. A theory that fatigue is due to forward curvature of the upper spine which results in the air in the chest being compressed when leaning forwards at desks to read and write, where the process of Valsalva’s manoeuvre occurs, and the blood vessels in the chest are compressed, and the flow of blood is slowed between the feet and brain to cause temporary faintness and poor concentration, and ultimately, over a period of years or decades, the repetition of that process results in a weakening of the blood vessels and blood flow to cause chronic fatigue.
3. 1980. The Posture Theory in which I identified the major cause of undetectable symptoms and illnesses, involving postural pressure on the muscles, joints, and internal anatomy.
3a. 1980 I determined that the cause of severe itching was an allergy to grass or tree pollens which were getting into clothes and sheets which were put out to dry on the clothes line. I determined that those invisible pollens were floating in the air, and were being blown onto the clothes in the wind, and that the way to prevent the problem was to dry the clothes indoors. That method reduced the frequency of my itching considerably, and the severity by at least 50%. The complexity the cause required the evaluation of many inconsistencies such as the itching didn’t occur all the time. It was necessary to determine that it was seasonal, occurring mainly in spring, but it could also occur at any time of the year, depending on whether the clothes from storage cupboards had previously been washed that day, that week, or that winter, or the previous spring or summer. See my full report here.
4. 1982-1983 I was invited to design and co-ordinate a research project at the South Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training, where I was able to scientifically prove my theories and the effectiveness of mild exercise for some chronic fatigue patients. I also solved the research problem of not being able to get patients to exercise for sufficient time to gain reliable information, by having several people train without problems for up to 24 weeks, where the principles can now be seen in most modern research and treatment protocols and guidelines
5. 1986-1988 I designed and published a one word a day calendar based on word origins to improve vocabulary which the public speakers organisation called Rostrum used as one of it’s products to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary.
6. 1993. A CAT scan showed that my body was riddled with cancer, and I was diagnosed with no hope of a cure and a life expectancy of two months, and started writing a book about The Posture Theory, and how similar symptoms were seen on other factors which compressed or affected the internal anatomy, such as tight waisted nineteenth century corsets.
7. 1997. I devised a modification of the Pritikin diet to gradually remove the build up of cholesterol and other deposits which were partially blocking my coronary arteries and causing angina chest pains.
8. 1998. Between 1993 and 1999 I experimented with various ways of adjusting the height and placement of writing papers and books to relieve the abdominal pain and other symptoms which were associated with spinal and chest abnormalities and leaning forward, and finally developed the stand up computer position with the screen at eye height, and the keyboard at waist height while typing with the arms parallel to the floor.
9. 2000 I completed the 12th edition of a book called The Posture Theory which reached 1000 pages. Also I had finished about two years or surgery and chemotherapy which returned, and was finally treated with a stem cell transplant.
10. 2002. I published a small book on the health of three people, Alexander Leeper, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Fanny Stevenson.
11. 2005. I gave a public talk on how I treated angina with a vegetarian diet, and published it as an audio CD, which include some information on my experience with cancer and chemotherapy.
12. 2011 or 12. I developed a concept of the cause of slipped discs in the neck, and how to treat it effectively.
13. 2013. I developed new ways of diagnosing and treating chronic fatigue symptoms.
14. 2014. While writing a series of essays about lower left-sided chest pain, a British Medical Journal correspondent L.Sam Lewis suggested I read a research paper by Leon G.Robb about the slipping rib syndrome which was described as having an obscure and uncertain origin. I was then able to recognise that the previously unknown cause was kyphotic (postural) compression of the rib cage which displaced the eigth, ninth, or tenth ribs making one of them loose and prone to slipping and impinging an intercostal nerve. I also identified that chest shape was involved, in particular a vertical sternum, and completed the solution to the mystery from cause, to diagnosis, treatment, and cure. The pain affects 2-4% of the population. See the BMJ essay here.
The major changes in world attitudes resulting from my research
Before I started and the change
Up until 1975 patients would go to their doctors to have their ailments diagnosed and treated. If nothing was evident on blood tests or x-rays they would be told that the cause was not known. If they continued to consult the doctor they would be provided with various medications, but if that didn’t help they may have been told that the symptoms were trivial, or even imaginary, or that they were just whinging to get sympathy, or that their symptoms were all in the mind, and they would be referred to psychiatrists where they would be diagnosed as hypochondriacs, hysterics, or neurotics.
However, as the result of my research I discovered that the major cause of manyt undetectable symptoms and illnesses was the long term biomechanical effects of compression of the internal anatomy of the chest and abdomen, particularly by poor posture, but also by the tight waisted corsets of the nineteenth century, and by similar influences.
1. The Posture Theory
See a brief summary in the 1 minute and 46 second illustrated YouTube video below
The major cause of undetectable illness is poor posture
I had many such symptoms in 1975, but because of the ineffectiveness of treatment, I decided to study them myself.
Within a few years I had observed and described the various factors which were associated with my symptoms in great detail, and was able to determine that the major cause was abnormalities in the shape of my spine and chest, which disposed me to what is generally known as poor posture, in combination with the fact that I did sedentary work, where I spent most of the day sitting at a desk, and repeatedly leaning forward to read or write.
That posture places the head and shoulders forward of the body and puts abnormal leveraged strain on the spinal bones and muscles, disposing, in the long term, to eventual neck and backaches, but in my case, in particular, it placed the weight of my head and shoulders down on all of the internal structures of my chest and abdomen.
Over a period of many years that eventually resulted in a wide variety of chest pains, and then kidney aches, and then stomach and abdominal pains, and then breathlessness, faintness, and fatigue etc.
While I was looking for clues to the cause of those symptoms, and evidence to support the ideas I found a book by Paul Wood from 1956 which contained a painting of the typical thin and stooped physique of patients who had that set of symptoms, and it was exactly the same as my general build. It was painted by Ian Tillard, and had been on display in the Museum of the Post-Graduate Medical School of London. The author of the book noted that physique and suggested that faulty posture may have been the cause of the symptoms, but he favored the idea that psychological factors were responsible.
As I drew my conclusions about the cause, I also began developing ways of improving my posture and avoiding repeatedly leaning forward, and was eventually able to prevent or reduce all of those symptoms by standing at a computer with the keyboard at waist height, and the screen at eye height.
In the meantime I also found that nineteenth century women who wore tight waisted whalebone corsets had exactly the same range of symptoms, but they were much more severe. Many women laced their corsets so tightly that waist measurements of 13 inches in diameter were common, and some were even narrower. Those health problems were due to the extreme pressure on the internal anatomy of the chest and abdomen, and the women of that era were widely known to become breathless, faint, and easily exhausted by the slightest heat or exertion. Many of the health problems became permanent or chronic, but the most commonly recognised symptoms of breathlessness and faintness were typically relieved by unlacing the corset.
I also found that a variety of other mechanical factors produced the same range of symptoms.
I had established that posture related factors (or bio-mechanical factors) were the major cause of undetectable illness, and not psychological factors.
2. The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
My research into the symptoms related to chronic fatigue
Another attitude which was generally accepted prior to 1975 was that patients who complained about chronic fatigue were just excessively worried about the normal tiredness that ordinary patients would’t even bother to mention. They were also complaining about the abnormal response to exercise, but that was attributed to excessive concern about the normal symptoms of exercise, fear, or emotion, and that all the person had to do was ignore the symptoms, think positive, and exercise regardless. However patients were dropping out of exercise classes and being called “therapeutic failures”.
I had those symptoms as well, but was not aware of any of such medical opinions, so, as a person who had been involved in a lot of sport as a teenager, I decided that it may be possible to regain my health by joining an exercise program. I then learned about an organization called the South Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training which conducted exercise classes for members of the general public, so I enrolled.
I soon found that I was unable to do the exercise at the same level as other healthy people, so I decided to continue training at my own rate, which was much lower than normal. The idea was to exercise at a level which did not cause the types of symptoms which made continuing impractical, and that by regularly exercising at a low level my fitness would very gradually improve.
In that process . . .
1. I was having my aerobic capacity scientifically measured at the start, and at three monthly intervals, and . . .
2. I was able to scientifically prove that the fatigue was a physical, and not a mental problem, and . . .
3. that regular exercise at a low level did improve my fitness, and . . .
4. that I had chronic physical limitations, and . . .
5. which leveled out below the normal level.
That method has since been rewritten in different words by other researchers and given various interpretations and labels of “Graded Exercise Therapy”, and the results of studies since then have re-verified, and re-confirmed what I had already discovered, described, defined, and scientifically proven between 1976 and 1983.
I also found that I was having problems with fatigue in other aspects of my life, so I decided to change my daily and weekly routine to ensure that I had rest when required, so that the fatigue did not accumulate and get to unmanageable levels.
That method has since been written in different words by other researchers and given the label of “Pacing”.
I also had problems with occasional pains in the lower left side of my chest which often occurred for no apparent reason. However, I learned that some other patients were worried about the possibility that the chest pain was due to heart disease. Consequently doctors were reassuring them that it was not due to their heart, but the patients continued to worry anyway, and their symptoms were attributed to the fear of disease.
I therefore researched that symptom myself and concluded that it was due to my faulty posture and pressure on my chest, and later found evidence that it is due to inflammation and tenderness between the ribs on that side of the chest. I also found a book which described the evidence that injecting a pain killing drug into the skin in that area would not relieve the pain, but that injecting the novacaine about 1cm deeper caused the pain to stop, proving that it was a physical pain, and not an imaginary or mental pain. I also found that other researchers had previously suggested that faulty posture might be the cause.
I therefore concluded that when doctors were telling patients that their pain was not due to their hearts, they were not removing the fear, because the pain was still there, and that all they were doing was making the patient doubt the doctor, and that would make them worry more. Consequently I recommended that the patient be told the real cause of the pain, and that then they would be much less likely to worry about their hearts.
That method, of telling patients the facts about the cause of their pain, instead of just reassuring them that there was nothing wrong with their hearts, is what I called “Cognitive Behavior Therapy”. That label had been around before, and more generally referred to the process of educating the patient about the facts to change the way they thought.
Since then other researchers have rewritten my method in different words, and elaborated on it, and use the same label.
I also became aware that the difference between normal and abnormal tiredness, and the normal and abnormal response to exercise had never been studied closely before. I therefore decided to describe those differences in great detail to make it clear that there were major differences, so that doctors would recognise and understand the nature of the problem in future. I continued to study and describe the ailments in letters, essays, and books, and from 1994 onwards, on my website.
In 1982 I attended a meeting with the head of the South Australian Institute for Research and Training where I asked him if his researchers could train other fatigued patients with the methods which I had developed. He said that they were too busy and asked me to design and co-ordinate the program myself. It was successful and reported in South Australian and interstate newspapers between August 1982 and August 1983.
Since then the label of the “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” has been used all around the world to describe the ailment.
Nowadays “Graded exercise therapy”, “Pacing”, and “Cognitive behaviour therapy” are recognized internationally as the primary and most effective methods of treating the “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, but very few people know that I am the author of those ideas and methods, and the first person to scientifically establish and prove their effectiveness.
In addition to determining the cause and methods of treatment I have also considered how to diagnose the ailment by using exercise measurements, and at one stage I had kidney stones and was placed on an x-ray bed called a tilt table which was rotated and tilted at various angles to get multiple views of the flow of fluid through the kidneys. Each time the table was tilted I felt extremely faint.
I came to the conclusion that it was due to the fact that the flow of blood through my arteries and veins was weak, and that it was moving in the direction of the tilt, therefore temporarily reducing the flow of blood to my brain, to create the sense of faintness.
I therefore recommended the use of tilt table tests to measure the flow of blood in chronic fatigue patients as a way of diagnosing chronic fatigue.
Nowadays tilt table tests are used to diagnose the symptom.
3. Chronic Abdominal pain
My method of treating it effectively which took 23 years to determine
I may have incurred an upper abdominal injury in about 1973, but nothing was evident on x-rays. However, within a few years I would start getting mild abdominal pain within about half an hour of starting work as a clerk, and it would get gradually worse throughout the day or week.
None of the treatments were having any lasting effect, so I began attempting to study and treat it myself in 1975.
It was evident to me that the pain was infuenced by leaning toward a desk to read and write, so I would read one word in a medical dictionary, and then spend most of the remaining day laying on my back and thinking about what I learned.
I was able to determine that leaning forward was the cause, but it was obscure. For example it didn’t happen if I leaned forward once or twice, but would generally take several minutes, or even hours of bending for the pain to start, and then get worse.
Nevertheless there were many examples where a single instance of bending to tie up my shoe laces, or to clean low windows etc would cause the pain. Stretching up, or to the side would also aggravate it, so treating it wasn’t as simple as just sitting up straight or avoiding bending.
As a result of that problems I tended to write small essays, or letters to the editor of newspapers which were usually only 100 words long, and I published a one word a day calendar for a public speakers organisation as part of their Australian BiCentennial celebrations in 1988.
I also wrote a book, but instead of it being a continuous story it was a collection of facts, evidence, clues, sentences, paragraphs, diagrams, an d essays until, after about 8 years it became a 1000 page book.
In about 1984 I started experimenting by putting a six inch high platform on my desk, and later another, and I tried standing at a high bench, and writing angled platforms with some mild success. However, I eventually learned to type, and then to use a computer, and began experimenting on ways of doing that without getting pain.
In 1998 i placed the computer screen at roughly eye height, and the keyboard at waist height so that my forearms were parallel with the ground, and the pain was reduced by 90% and hasn’t been a serious or lasting problem since.
It took 23 years of pain and experimentation to develop that effective method, was described with text and diagrams in the 10th edition of my book which was published in August 1999.
Since then many individuals and organisations have used that idea, but have not consulted me, or asked my permission to use the standing computer posture as a method of treating the health problems of sedentary workers which were previously believed to be caused by mental factors such as psychological stress, and treated with psychotherapy.