Healing: why nothing applies

Lynne McTaggart

Lately, with all the comment on these pages about energy medicine, and how one form of energy medicine might be superior to another form, it started me meditating on the nature of healing itself.

Lately, with all the comment on these pages about energy medicine, and how one form of energy medicine might be superior to another form, it started me meditating on the nature of healing itself.

Healing of whatever variety through whatever means is an alchemical process – nothing less than a mystical bond between healer and healee.


And the most important aspect of it is that . . . nothing universally applies. While many old and new forms of healing work fantastically well, as any healer will tell you, nothing is 100 per cent.


No one can say with any certainty how you will respond to your illness or guarantee the success of a given treatment, and no one modality can work for everyone. What works for me may not work for you.


Herbs work well for my husband Bryan, but not for me; I do best with energy medicine, old and new. I never get jet lag, thanks to a homeopathic combination remedy; Bryan always does, even after taking the remedy. The trick is to find the system of medicine that will work for you. And a key component is the fact that you believe that it is going to work.


University of Arizona psychologist Gary Schwartz and his fellow researchers once carried out 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 worse 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.


I see this with a friend of mine, who has had advanced disseminated breast cancer for about 12 years.  She is a staunch believer in conventional medicine and during the entire course of her illness has had nine courses of chemotherapy – far more than her even her doctors believe any person should be able to withstand.  Nevertheless, it is precisely that strong belief in her doctors and their medicine that has kept her alive for years past every medical prediction, and is likely to see her through to her children’s majority.


The practitioner may act as an energetic metronome to remind the healee what it is to be well, and his own state of health may be an essential factor in his ability to heal. Schwartz did other studies examining how effective Reiki healers were in healing heat-shocked bacteria, and discovered on days when the healers felt really well in themselves, they had a beneficial effect, but on days when they did not feel so well, they actually killed off more bacteria than naturally died in the controls.


The other vital component is the connection between healer and healee. The late psychologist Jeanne Achterberg of the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology in California carried out a study, using highly experienced distant healers, whose ‘patient,’ placed in an isolated room, was a person with whom they had a special connection.  At random intervals, the healers sent healing intentions to their patients, using their own traditional healing practices, and via MRI scanners Achterberg discovered significant brain activation in the same portions of the brains of all the patients during times healing energy was being ‘sent’. When the same regime was tried out on people the healers did not know, they had no effect on the patients’ brain activity. 


What all this means is that healing ultimately is a mystery just as birth itself is a mystery – placing oneself in a trusted place with a trusted midwife and giving oneself permission to allow in the entry of a new life. Hence why, to my mind, there is no one ‘best’ approach for everyone, no ‘superior’ new energy technique over another. Nothing universally applies. No one can predict with any certainty how a given patient till respond to the challenge of illness or say with certainty who will live and who will die.

The best we can do is carry out undoctored research on the tools we have to hand, catalogue the best outc
omes, present patients with a host of the best possibilities, and allow them to design their own mystery.


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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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