|Couples Anxiety Symposium 2012 Brain Science Men in Therapy Challenging Cases Future of Psychotherapy Clinical Mastery The Future of Psychotherapy Linda Bacon Alan Sroufe Attachment Diets Mind/Body Narcissistic Clients Mindfulness Wendy Behary Community of Excellence Etienne Wenger Clinical Excellence David Schnarch Couples Therapy Ethics Trauma Attachment Theory William Doherty Mary Jo Barrett CE Comments Gender Issues Great Attachment Debate|
|The Case for Energy Psychology - Page 2|
A Personal Paradigm Shift
In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that my involvement in Energy Psychology is largely attributable to a woman I met 33 years ago and eventually married, Donna Eden. Now a well-known natural healer and the author of Energy Medicine (the standard text in hundreds of energy healing classes, available in 15 languages), Donna has continually beckoned me off the beaten path. From the time I first met her, she claimed to be able to see energies that are invisible to most people just as vividly as my dog could hear frequencies that are inaudible to humans. From her viewpoint, blocked or stagnant energies were signs of disease or precursors of illness. The people seeking her services ranged from those who were generally healthy and wanted help with pain or physical limitations to individuals with life-threatening conditions, such as cancer or heart disease.
While the husband in me was proud to have a partner with so much charisma, caring, and passion for her work, the scientist in me attributed much of her success to those same qualities. I'd frequently observed in my Hopkins study that a professional healer's ability to convey personal caring, combined with a fervent belief in the transformative power of a particular approach, could generate strong enthusiasm among followers that was in itself healing. It was another example of a phenomenon long known in medicine and psychotherapy: caring, expectation, and other "nonspecific" factors that have nothing to do with the actual intervention being used can bring about therapeutic gain.
For her part, Donna was confident in her methods and didn't even try to back them up with research support. When hard-pressed, she might cite an occasional quote by an authority, such as Nobel Laureate in Medicine Albert Szent-Gyšrgyi's observation that, "In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy."
"What energy," I'd ask. "Electrical energy? Not in any studies I've seen! Kinetic, thermal, magnetic, chemical, nuclear?" Donna responded by talking about the "subtle energies" of meridians and chakras. I was unconvinced. You can imagine the dinner-table discussions.
I held on to my skepticism, even as Donna's popularity grew and I was regularly confronted with the empirical fact that her work accounted for a significant chunk of the family income. It was only as Donna's students, who didn't exude anything approaching her confidence or charisma, began demonstrating impressive results that I started taking a closer look at the actual practices of Energy Medicine, such as using one's hands to trace energy pathways or exerting pressure on trigger points to correct problems in the body's "energy flows and balances." Although I continued to be mystified, I consistently saw clients improve, even those with such serious medical conditions as multiple sclerosis or diabetes. The results weren't instantaneous—this wasn't Lourdes—but gradual, clear, verifiable cures happened often enough that I took notice.
When Donna asked me to help her with a book about her approach in the mid-1990s, I dutifully began a literature search on "energy fields." I didn't expect to find much; actually I expected the book to be more of a memoir. But I was stunned by the amount of scientific evidence that supported what she'd been saying all those years. For example, I learned of UCLA's Human Energy Fields Laboratory, run by Valerie Hunt, a professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences. Hunt's lab had found that the areas of the skin associated with the chakras spoken of by yogis, and described by Donna in terms of colors, emit electrical oscillations of a far higher frequency than had been detected on the human body ever before. Hunt also found that some healers could accurately identify when changes in these measured frequencies occurred just by observing a person's energies, because they could see changes in the chakra colors. This was directly relevant to Donna's work.
I read with growing fascination Vibrational Healing, by physician and medical researcher Richard Gerber, which cited hundreds of scientific studies that lay a coherent theoretical foundation for the study of healing practices based on subtle energies. I learned about the work of Robert Becker, an orthopedic surgeon and Nobel Prize nominee whose studies of the body's electromagnetic currents informed his successful efforts to regenerate severed frog limbs and pioneering work on the use of electric currents to help heal bone fractures.
Impressed by the converging streams of research that backed Donna's approach, I began asking more penetrating questions to try to get a better sense—as one who doesn't see subtle energies—of her experience. I began to realize that her approach, though seemingly intuitive, was far more systematic and empirically based than I'd imagined. But it was only after her book was published that I began to see a connection between her work as an energy healer and my own as a psychologist.