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.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The view from the ground -- explaining the "Commentary"

Recently I found out that one of our former "energy" patients had just passed away. He was our second pancreatic cancer patient, and anyone with any kind of medical education or any kind of experience with pancreatic cancer will appreciate the length of his survival from the time of his terminal diagnosis in late July of 2008 to the end of March 2010 (around 20 months). It was in July 2008 that he was told by his doctors, who meant to do a Whipple procedure on him but aborted it when they discovered that his recently discovered cancer had already spread to his liver, that nothing could be done except palliative chemotherapy, "when the time came". Based on the location of his cancer he was expected to die in 7 or 8 months, and to become quickly debilitated by his disease.

He came to see us in August 2008, and we treated him until July 2009, first 5 days a week, up until November, then 2 to 3 times a week when the winter snows set in. Then in the springtime there were sometimes gaps of a week or more when we didn't see him at all because he had been called in to work. I note that in the springtime he was still able to do stints of real work, and to take walks, and to complete jobs around the house. In July 2009, a year after his terminal diagnosis, he took a two-week holiday that involved active outdoor pursuits in a national park. Then when he returned he told us that he had decided to terminate his treatment.

Why? It seems that part of the reason was that he felt that what we were doing wasn't really working for him. No one with medical authority seems to have told him how astonishing it was that he was still walking around, let alone able to do the stuff that he was doing. His doctor was looking at his labtest results, seeing the numbers going up, and saying that it might be time to try palliative chemotherapy. From what we heard it seemed the chief purpose of the chemotherapy would have been to "get the numbers down".

Our patient was hoping for a full cure, basing this hope on the astonishing remission rates of Dr. Bengston's mice and the apparent reproduction of those remissions by the "skeptical volunteers" trained by him. He held on to the hope even though he knew that the treatment was meant to be "experimental" and had not yet been tested in laboratory studies involving people. When the magical results did not materialize, and instead all we could deliver was the more subtle daily magic of keeping him alive and relatively active while the numbers on his labtests inexorably continued moving up -- apparently slowed down but not fully halted or reversed -- he was quietly disappointed in us.

This is what I meant in my previous posts by "partial" transmission and "partial" results. I do not know what would have happened if we had kept on treating him, but the direction of the numbers in his bloodwork seemed to suggest that we were mostly slowing the cancer down while keeping him relatively symptom free.

I should add that our patient was a robust man and that his strong constitution might have contributed to his lengthy survival. Even so, he lived much longer and much more actively than his physicians had expected him to.

A friend of mine who has medical training and reacts with intense scepticism to "woo-woo" stuff like energy healing has pointed out to me that instead of focusing on full cures I should be looking at the value of the added time we have been giving people. An extra year of relatively symptom-free life is an appreciable gift for someone living with an aggressive cancer -- though unquestionably a full cure would be better.

The sad irony is that if our patient had not expected a full cure and had allowed us to continue to treat him, he would have likely lived longer with an improved quality of life. Instead he had chemotherapy, which he said "really kicked his butt"; then after chemotherapy was stopped because it was clearly not helping him, he quickly declined. From the time we stopped treatment to the time he died 7 months elapsed: the exact prognosis he had been given by the medical establishment 20 months before.

Postscript: In answer to those who might say "but that could have been the normal progression of his disease", I note that we have now seen this pattern of longer survival with improved quality of life on several occasions, so this case cannot be so easily dismissed as a fluke. It would seem that energy healing in general, and this method in particular, do have beneficial effects for cancer patients.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to teach energy healing "properly"

It could be argued that no one really knows how to teach energy healing "properly". It's too new, too revolutionary for our Western mindsets, and there are too few signposts in our culture on how it could be taught. "Properly" implies acquisition: we know how to teach children how to read so they can read a book and surgeons how to operate so they can reliably remove an appendix or a gallbladder, but how do we teach people to heal?

In an earlier posting I suggested that the way most energy healing modalities likely come into being is through someone who develops the ability spontaneously, most often by accident. Next someone else comes along and says "that's a cool thing that you do. Can you teach me?" and then the two of them put their heads together to figure out how the healing is produced.

The problem is that the method thus developed is, of necessity, only a conscious approximation of what the teacher does unconsciously -- or rather, an attempt to replicate what the teacher doesn't do, in the sense that doing implies conscious action, and nothing is really being "done" here.

This means the method isn't quite it, but it's arguably the next best thing to it -- whatever it is -- and likely better than nothing at all.

Elsewhere I have also suggested that transmission forms a significant part of the teaching. The teacher stands as a gateway for the healing ability, and students can access the ability by being in the teacher's presence. Sometimes, as in Reiki, the teacher does something special to activate the transmission. Sometimes, as in Buddhism, it is sufficient for the teacher and student just to look at one another.

In my opinion it is most likely that method and transmission work together to allow the student to acquire the ability to heal. It would be interesting to know which one is more important and whether one will work in the absence of the other. My best guess is that the method is a means for facilitating the transmission and then acts as an "anchor" (in the NLP sense of the word) to allow the student to access the memory of the transmission.

Yet a third issue I have raised is that the effectiveness of the method decreases as it moves away from the original teacher, as each successive imperfectly taught generation also imperfectly teaches the next. And this is how we go from the original version of, let's say, Reiki, which was reputed to be able to cure serious conditions, to some current Reiki practitioners only being able to generate "a little warmth" and and a sense of well-being through their treatments, but not much more.

At the moment no method of energy healing has a perfect record of teaching students to heal. Students of most methods acquire different ranges of ability depending on a variety of unknown factors. This is as true of Bill Bengston's method as of all the others. But what Bill Bengston has on all the others is that he is the one best situated to tease out through scientific means how the teaching of energy healing works and how it could be made more effective. Given adequate time and resources, and provided that he possesses the will to do so, he is uniquely placed to figure out how to take energy healing into the mainstream and how to make it work.