Results of the first Healing Intention Experiment

Lynne McTaggart

On April 26, 2014, we ran our first Healing Intention Experiment, which randomly chose one of two patients suffering from extreme anxiety.


This time we worked with Dr. Jeffrey Fannin, director of the Center for Cognitive Enhancement.  Dr. Fannin holds a Ph.D in psychology, has been involved in neuroscience for many years and has a good deal of experience in ‘brain mapping’ states of mental disorder such as anxiety, depression or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 


On April 26, 2014, we ran our first Healing Intention Experiment, which randomly chose one of two patients suffering from extreme anxiety.


This time we worked with Dr. Jeffrey Fannin, director of the Center for Cognitive Enhancement.  Dr. Fannin holds a Ph.D in psychology, has been involved in neuroscience for many years and has a good deal of experience in ‘brain mapping’ states of mental disorder such as anxiety, depression or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 


Two patients of Dr. Fannin suffering from anxiety generously offered to donate their time, and allowed themselves essentially to be experimented upon using what is, by any regard, a most unusual therapy: the power of strangers’ thoughts. One was to be chosen as the target, and the other would be the control.


Dr. Fannin hooked up both patients to an EEG (electroencephalograph) machine in order to continuously monitor their brain waves. He also attached an EEG to Mario, our  ‘intender’sitting in another room, who would participate with us in sending intention to the chosen target.


I had placed the names of both patients in a top hat and pulled one out at random. It turned out I’d chosen Todd Voss, a Gulf and Afghanistan war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Kathy Martin, the other patient, was to act as our control.


As we were broadcasting on web television through Quantum World TV, we were able to make use of a split screen, enabling the audience to see me, Dr. Fannin, the patients and their brain waves all in real time. We broadcast a video of Todd telling his story, then asked our audience to attempt to calm down Todd by at least 25 per cent and also to focus on increasing the alpha waves of his brain (the brain waves associated with greater calm and peace). 


Human brain waves come in different frequencies, from the very slowest, which are delta and theta, associated with deep meditation and sleep, to alpha (a calm, meditative state) to beta (everyday cognitive tasks) and gamma (extreme focus).  Dr. Fannin’s work entails translating the results of EEG readings into a tomography, or QEEG, showing difference frequencies of a person’s brain waves and comparing them to ‘normal’ brain waves.


With brain mapping, a person’s entire brain frequency activity is depicted as a ‘map’ of 30 little ‘heads’ in different colours, each representing certain frequencies of brain waves. Green depicts wave frequencies that correspond most to ‘normal; and a rainbow of colours are used to show how much a person’s brain waves deviate from normal (red, for instance, shows several deviations more than normal; b
lue, several deviations lower than normal).


Dr. Fannin carried out brain maps on both Todd and Kathy before the experiment, during the experiment, after the experiment and then a few weeks later, on May 13.


Bands of turquoise

The Intention Experiment was incredibly captivating; we could actually see the bands of turquoise, representing the alpha waves, stretch out and become more prominent.


Brain mapping done before the experiment had showed certain areas of Todd’s brain with a frequency ‘signature’ characteristic of PTSD. Various brain maps made during the Intention Experiment show that Todd’s alpha waves increased to three standard deviations above normal. Furthermore, the area of the brain that is most representative of PTSD was almost completely normal during the experiment.


Other analysis demonstrated that coherence within the brain – the ability of the brain waves to work better together and stay working together – also had improved.


Finally, Dr. Fannin worked out what is called an independent t-Test to determine the statistical significance of the experiment. He discovered less than a 1 per cent probability that these results occurred through chance.


The same effects were not evident in the brain maps of either Kathy Martin or Mario,

our intender.  He had virtually no change in his alpha waves, and Kathy was affected minimally by the experiment as well. This appears to rule out the possibility that the changed outcome might be the result of the placebo effect.


So, our results showed. . .


  • Todd’s ‘alpha’ brain waves increased to 3-standard deviations (SD) above normal during the Intention Experiment.


  • The red spots on 12 Hz – the brain-wave pattern representative of Todd’s PTSD –  turned almost completely normal during the experiment.


  • More of his alpha waves started working together and stayed that way (they became 'coherent').


  • Independent t-Test measuring statistical significance shows less than 1 per cent probability results are by chance.


  • The contrast with Kathy and with Mario would appear to rule out the possibility that the changed outcome was the result of the placebo effect.


These results were initially very encouraging, but there are other issues with the study that must be addressed.


Limitations of the study

One difficulty with a study of this type that attempts a highly novel medical intervention is finding willing volunteers and creating such an experiment at reasonable cost.  (The human studies necessary to get a drug onto the market run to about $140 million, for instance.)


Dr. Fannin, who generously offered to c
arry out this experiment on a completely pro bono basis, was limited to those willing to undergo such an experiment among his own patient base, most of whom have already had treatment with him. 


After the experiment was completed I discovered that Todd Voss had previously undergone two kinds of brain training, one with Dr. Fannin. Part of this training involves teaching techniques to increase a person’s alpha brain waves. 


Todd had been asked to make two testimonial videos nearly a year ago, one for Dr. Fannin, in which he described that he has learned how to control his brain waves, among other techniques, and was consequently improved.


When Todd’s symptoms returned (as described on his video he made for us), Dr. Fannin regarded him as a deserving candidate for our experiment.


Todd’s recent brain maps and new claimed clinical improvement are compelling, and we are extremely pleased that he reports feeling better, and will continue to intend well for him.


All parties worked many long hours to carry out this experiment, and I am confident that all intended to provide a study of integrity.  My thanks to all for their tireless work to put this together.  I believe everyone acted in good faith.


Nevertheless, because Todd was previously taught techniques that purport to achieve the exact effect that we were attempting to achieve by intention, it is impossible to declare categorically, without doubt, that we’ve demonstrated that any changes in his brain were due to intention, rather than his own brain training.


I do wish to emphasize that Todd Voss is blameless; this is simply a problem of study design and the probable result of running a trial under many constraints.


Feelings of unity

The conclusions of this experiment may not be claimed as scientific, but it does not invalidate two important results: Todd is feeling better, much better.  And many of our participants had a profound experience, a deep connection with Todd and are feeling better too.


Once again, we recorded an overwhelming number of feelings of unity and personal transformation:


‘At the onset of the 10 minutes I felt overwhelmed by love and was almost sobbing.’

For a good 5 minutes couldn't stop the tears,’ wrote Melissa. ‘Very connected to Todd.’


‘I was completely overwhelmed by so much love,’ wrote Karin. ‘I felt immense gratitude and tears just kept flowing. The energy kept flowing for hours and afterward I also slept peacefully. I felt deeply connected and at peace.’


 ‘Todd Voss, I hear the name constantly in my mind,’ wrote Chris. ‘It's as if he has become part of me.’


And we’ve discovered numerous people claiming their own kind of healing:


 ‘My carpal tunnel injury improved,’ wrote Joan, ‘and I felt very relaxed.  Even slept  better.’


‘I suffered with my knee for almost three years,’ wrote another participant. ‘After this experiment all the pain I used to have was gone, completely.’


‘My life – everything about it – my health, relationships, outlook, energy level, happiness, openness, etc. just keep improving; I've plainly shifted.’


At the end of our May 24 broadcast, we sent intention to our other patient, Kathy Martin, who was wired up with her EEG as well, and we will be reporting on that in a future broadcast and e-letter.


A provocative question

This experiment should be regarded as posing many provocative questions. As always with the Intention Experiment, I continue to ask the most outlandish question of all: can a simple thought heal the world?  I will continue to be unafraid to ask that question, whatever the answer, with every future experiment. And with every answer – no matter what that is – we will continue learning and so will you. 

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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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