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THERAPEUTIC TOUCH (TT)

Opposition, books, etc.

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Sponsored link.


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Topics Covered in this Essay:

bulletOpposition by Conservative Christians
bulletDoes it Really Work?
bulletStatement of author bias
bulletBooks on TT

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Opposition to TT by Conservative Christians

Generally speaking, Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. The Gospels and other books in the Bible refer extensively to Satan, Satanic demons, and mental illness caused by indwelling demonic spirits. The cure is exorcism, as practiced by Jesus and some of his followers in the first century CE. Exorcism is still practiced today as a spiritual technique to drive demons from the body of a possessed individual. Many conservative Christians believe such entities were very real in 1st century Palestine, and also are extremely active in the world today. In essence, they have a concept of science and medicine which is pre-scientific, unaltered from 1st century CE beliefs.

Some Evangelical Christian leaders oppose the Occult, Gnosticism, Neopaganism, Native Spirituality,  and New Age beliefs on the basis that they are believed to be non-Christian or anti-Christian. They link a wide diversity of activities within the Occult: including Angel contact, Astrology, a Course in Miracles, the Masonic Order, Runes, Tarot card reading, Theosophy, Transcendental Meditation, Satanism, Shamanism, Wicca and other Neopagan religionsetc. They consider the New Age to also consist of a similar diversity of activities: acupuncture, channeling, color healing, crystal healing, dream work, guided imagery, homeopathy, hypnosis, mantra reciting, past life regression, pendulum work, psychic healing, therapeutic touch, etc. One source 1 warns against getting involved with any of 42 New Age activities which they consider to be dangerous, from acupressure to zone therapy.

Often, the Occult and New Age are seen to overlap. Some conservative Christians believe that even the act of having an occult or pagan symbol in one's house is sufficient to give Satan a "legal right" to attack the family and cause all types of mental and physical disease and misfortune. Dabbling in the Occult opens "doorways" through which demonic spirits are believed to invade the person.

Ankerberg and Weldon 2 write that meditation with crystals is used by New Age practitioners as a means of attracting demonic spirits who will "channel" information from the spirit world. The crystals can be later discarded and the spirits will remain. This process of channeling "is similar to that given for learning Therapeutic Touch..." The authors describe dowsing as associated with Paganism, the spirit world and the Occult. Dowsing is used by some TT healers as a diagnostic tool. They refer to Dora Kunz, former president of the Theosophical Society, as a co-developer of Therapeutic Touch. They refer to Dolores Krieger, also a cofounder, as a psychic. All New Age medicine, including TT, is seen as "a major vehicle for spreading the occult. Those [patients] treated with New Age health methods often become converts to New Age philosophy and practice...New age medicine is undergirded by a New Age worldview which is anti-Christian." In addition, "To think that the spirits would not be involved in that which promotes the moral and spiritual disintegration of society is to be ignorant of the mechanics of spiritual deception." They warn that anyone seeking Therapeutic Touch treatment may also be subjected to "Occult Meditation, Altered States of Consciousness, Radiesthesia/Rod and Pendulum Dowsing, Yoga, Psychic Energies and Psychic Diagnosis and Healing. "New Age medicine is dangerous spiritually...because occult philosophy is anti-Christian and amoral. Occult philosophy leads people away from salvation in Jesus Christ and justifies a variety of sinful behaviors...Studies in diverse fields relating to demonism such as missiology, cults and occult counseling reveal that occult practices harm people spiritually."

The Watchmen Fellowship Inc. is an Evangelical Christian counter-cult group, whose mission "is to present a readily accessible [conservative] Christian response to cults and new religious movements." 3 They warn that "Therapeutic Touch can best be categorized as an occult healing practice that is conceptually grounded in an eclectic mix of non-Christian religions and philosophies." 4 They link TT to:

bulletTheosophy which is a religion containing elements of "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, the Egyptian Hermetic traditions, Neoplatonism, Kabbalism (Jewish mysticism), Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and spiritualism."
bulletWicca, a reconstruction of ancient Celtic Pagan religion. They practice a "neopagan healing ritual...nearly identical to the Therapeutic Touch process described by Krieger"
bulletMesmerism, a healing technique from the 18th century founded by Anton Mesmer. He believed that a therapist's hands can control or expel "subtle fluid" from the body.

The Watchmen Fellowship demonstrated against the Pentagon-funded evaluation of TT in Alabama, described above.

Most mainline and liberal Christians believe that these criticisms of TT are without validity.

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Does it really work?

We suspect that the answer is both yes and no. Lori Wyzykowski, a nurse and TT therapist stated that some studies have proven that TT heals people. She said: "There was a double-blind study involving volunteers who got identical wounds in their deltoids (muscles). Some received non-contact therapeutic touch and some did not receive anything. Those that got the therapy healed faster." 5

Unfortunately, tests of this type often measure only a placebo effect. Many decades ago, researchers at General Electric attempted to determine the optimum brightness of room illumination in a factory. They measured the workers productivity before the test. Then they increased the brightness of the lights, and found that the productivity went up. Then they reduced the lighting intensity and found that the workers performed even better. They finally concluded that the workers were not responding to the amount of light; they were working better because they appreciated that someone cared about their working conditions. We expect that the study that Lori Wyzykowski refers to was similar. The patients appreciated the extra attention given to them by a TT practitioner. Also, they may have been convinced that TT actually works, and started to believe that they were going to get better, faster. Either way, they probably felt less stress and at least thought that they were going to heal faster. It is a well-known fact in medicine that a positive emotional state can improve a patient's response to treatments.

Therapeutic touch seems to be another form of treatment that has little or no scientific grounding, and yet is being practiced on an unsuspecting and trusting public. Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT), Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) /Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) are two other therapies which similarly are without a proven validity. Fortunately, TT appears benign, unlike RMT and MPD. In each case, professional associations have accepted experimental, unproven treatment methods without first inquiring whether they have any efficacy or adverse side effects.

We would urge that a study be made, comparing therapeutic touch with other forms of therapy. For example, persons with no specific academic education could be trained in empathic listening skills, and spend an equivalent amount of time with a patient as do TT practitioners. If the listening therapy is equal or superior to TT, then therapeutic touch could be abandoned and active listening substituted. Since some TT therapists charge $70 per hour, costs should be significantly reduced. The money saved could be channeled to other places in the health care system. In the U.S. there are approximately 40 million individuals who have no health care insurance coverage. In Canada, everyone has access to health care, but waiting lists are sometimes long. Freeing up money would help the health care system in both countries.

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Sponsored link:

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Statement of Author Bias:

The author of this essay, is a skeptic with regard to the healing efficacy of Therapeutic Touch. My tentative opinion is that any benefits to be gained from this form of therapy are due simply to the presence, empathy, confidence and caring of the therapist, and not to any detecting or balancing of energy fields. Being a physicist, I doubt the existence of a human energy field radiating from the body other than simple thermal radiation, and extremely low and undetectable levels of electromagnetic and acoustic energy.

That said, I had a remarkable experience about 15 years ago. I had suffered minor chronic pain in my left hip. I was a subject at a demonstration involving a massage therapist and 10 or so untrained students of something that appears to have been TT. The pain disappeared for the first time in many years. I suspect this to have been due to a placebo effect. The pain returned later, only to fade out over a period of years.

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Books on TT:

The following appear to be the most popular books currently in print. Their cost is typically in the range of $9 to $20:

Books that promote TT:

bullet"Annotated Bibliography of Published Therapeutic Touch™ Research," The Therapeutic Touch Network of Ontario. This is a 53 page booklet listing of all published and qualitative TT research done from 1975 to 2004-JUL. See: http://www.therapeutictouchnetwk.com
bulletDeborah Cowens & Tom Monte, "A Gift for Healing : How You Can Use Therapeutic Touch," Crown Publishers (1996). You can order this book from Amazon.com
bulletDorothea Hover-Kramer, "Healing Touch; a Resource for Health Care Professionals," (1995). About $30. Order this book
bulletDolores Krieger:
bullet"Therapeutic Touch: How to Use Your Hands to Help or to Heal," Simon & Schuster (1992) Order this book
bulletAccepting Your Power to Heal : The Personal Practice of Therapeutic Touch," Bear & Company, (1993) Order this book
bullet"Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook : Ventures in Transpersonal Healing," Bear & Company, (1996) Order this book
bulletJanet MacRae, "Therapeutic Touch : A Practical Guide," Knopf, (1988) Order this book
bulletJean Sayre-Adams, Stephen G. Wright, "The Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Touch," Churchill Livingstone, (1995). Order this book

Book skeptical of TT:

bulletBela Scheiber & Carla Selby, Eds, "Therapeutic Touch," Prometheus Books, (2000). From the inside flap: "How did this quasi-religious mystical belief get by the gatekeepers of medicine and science? This book answers these questions and more. It is the first and only critical evaluation of Therapeutic Touch -- the history, ethics, personalities, battles, and central experiments are all examined in this engrossing and comprehensive volume. A must read for anyone in the healthcare profession and for consumers confronted with healthcare decisions." Order this book This book appears to be the only one published that is skeptical of TT.

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References:

  1. Craig Branch, "Expositor Warning," at: http://www.watchman.org/
  2. J. Ankerberg & J. Weldon, "Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs," Harvest House, Eugene, OR, (1996)
  3. The "Watchman Fellowship Inc., Online," has a home page at: http://www.watchman.org/
  4. Sharon Fish, "Therapeutic Touch," at: http://www.watchman.org/
  5. Nancy McVicar, "9-year-old's therapy study lands in medical journal," Sun-Sentinel, South Florida, 1998-APR-1, at: http://www.seattletimes.com/

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics and conflicts > TT > here

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Copyright © 1998 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Essay originally written: 1998-MAR-4
Latest update; 2002-FEB-8
Author: Bruce A Robinson

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