The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Why nothing applies 100 per cent"

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a blog post by Lynne McTaggart on the subject of the variability of results in alternative medicine. Lynne McTaggart points out that, in essence, nothing works 100 per cent. Things that work for some people do not make one whit of difference for others, and the big mystery is why. She comes to the heart of the issue in describing some relevant research on energy healing carried out by University of Arizona psychologist Gary Schwartz and colleagues involving a double-blind study of distant Johrei healing on cardiac patients:
After three days, the patients were asked if they had believed that they had received Johrei healing. In both the treatment and control groups, certain patients strongly believed that they had received the treatment and others had a strong feeling they’d been excluded.

When Schwartz tabulated the results, he discovered the best outcomes were among those who had received Johrei and believed they had received it. The wors[t] outcomes were those who had not received Johrei and were convinced they had not had it. The other two groups – those who had received it but did not believe it and those who had not received it but believed they had – fell somewhere in the middle.

This result tended to contradict the idea that a positive outcome is entirely down to a placebo response; those who wrongly believed they received the healing did not do as well as those who rightly believed they had received it.

Schwartz’s studies uncovered something fundamental about the nature of healing: not simply the energy and intention of the healing itself but also the patient’s belief that he or she had received healing and belief in the particular treatment itself promoted the actual healing.
This is the reason why it is so difficult to prove to skeptics that energy healing works. They come to you with their arms crossed and their minds closed, and say, "prove it to me". Then, when their prejudice is confirmed, they say "I told you so. It's all just placebo". Well, Gary Schwartz's research seems to suggest that while it's all not "just" placebo, the recipient's expectations do play a significant part in the outcome.

Many of the modalities I learned, including Reiki, shamanism and the Bengston Method, stress that the energy healer is nothing but a conduit, a kind of telephone line between the client and the Universe. The way shamanism puts it is especially poetic: the shaman is supposed to be a "hollow reed" or a "hollow bone", through whom the Universe can act and do what is needed. My experience with healing has been that the more a practitioner is able to get out of the way, the more effective he or she can be. The same is true of the patient. Disbelief, negativity, contempt masquerading as skepticism (but not true skepticism, which is open minded) all just get in the way.

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