Psychic healing is the process of curing another person’s illness by concentrating one’s thoughts on the disorder. Some parapsychologists believe that psychic healing involves the use of psychokinesis (PK)— that is, the mind’s ability to influence the physical environment—to alter the unhealthy aspects of the sick person’s body, thereby effecting the cure. Other researchers believe that this same cure is effected by the patient’s own mind. Indeed, there is ample evidence that individuals can alter their own heart rate, blood pressure, and immune systems using techniques such as meditation. There is also ample evidence that symptoms of illness disappear if patients believe themselves to be well. Consequently, even sceptics admit that psychic healing can, in some cases, benefit a patient, but they believe that these benefits are being caused by the patient rather than by the “healer.”
Given that patients’ beliefs can affect the course of an illness, some scientists have decided that tests of psychic healing are only reliable if they are carried out using animal subjects instead of humans. In one animal study, two groups of mice with tumours of identical size were placed in separate cages. Ten times per week for several weeks, a psychic healer concentrated on slowing tumour growth in just one of the groups. The results appeared to support the idea that psychic healing can have an effect: By the end of the study, the group “treated” by the psychic healer had significantly smaller tumours.
Scientists have also studied psychic healing using Kirlian photography, a process that seems to produce a picture of an electrical field, or aura, emanating from an object that touches an electrically charged photographic plate. Some people believe that auras look different depending on how healthy a person is, and indeed, researchers discovered that auras appeared more vibrant and distinct—a sign, believers in auras say, of good health—whenever test subjects were being treated by psychic healers. These tests led some researchers to wonder whether psychics’ auras also changed during the process of psychic healing, and ultimately they determined that this seems to be the case. As an example of such a test, Professor Douglas Dean, a New York electrophysiologist and parapsychologist, used Kirlian photography to view the energy field of psychic healer Ethel DeLoach.
First he photographed her index finger while she was in a resting state, and then he photographed it while she was thinking about healing. During her projection of healing thoughts, her finger’s energy field, which had a few minor flares emanating outward, began to enlarge and the flares increased in size and number. Sceptics dismiss such results as nonsense, rejecting the existence of auras and saying that Kirlian photography therefore cannot be producing images of them.
- Kirlian Photography
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning