We have numerous questions from both patients and health care providers about the use of energy massage techniques such as Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, Hands of Light, Reiki, etc. in hospitals and hospice care. Are these practices New Age; if so, why are they so prevalent in health care facilities?
These practices are 100 percent New Age and they have become so prevalent in the health care field because proponents in high places used their influence to get these bogus therapies into hospitals.
First, it’s important to note that all of the above referenced modalities – Therapeutic Touch, Hands of Light, Healing Touch, Reiki – are based in a belief in a subtle energy force known in the New Age – as well as in Eastern pantheistic religions – by a variety of names such as chi, qi, prana, universal life force, bioenergy, etc. In the Pontifical document, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Light, the authors refer to this subtle energy – known in scientific terms as “putative” energy – as “the New Age god.”
Practitioners of these types of therapies typically use either light touch or hold the hands palm down about two to six inches from a patient, moving them over the subject and supposedly discerning the location of harmful energy. The practitioner then “rechannels” the energy to other areas which allegedly results in improvement in the patient’s physical or spiritual problems.
To date, there is no objective scientific support for either the existence of this energy or its therapeutic effects.
In spite of this lack of scientific evidence, however, the use of these techniques has taken the nursing field by storm. As I explain in my book, The Learn to Discern Compendium, this is largely due to the work of Dolores Krieger, R.N., Ph.D., the influential and former head of the Nursing Department at New York University’s School of Medicine. She is the founder of a technique known as Therapeutic Touch which uses light or near-body touch “to help clear, balance and energize the human energy system, thus promoting healing for the mind, body and/or spirit.”
Kreiger was influential enough to successfully promote her new therapy into the nursing profession, even though the concept came from the work of a 1960’s faith healer known as Oskar Estabany, who claimed he could manipulate the healing energies of Jesus Christ. Krieger became impressed with Estabany after claiming she could feel the “energetic intensity” left over in rooms where he had been healing. She was further awed by the fact that he had been able to accelerate the wound healing in mice and speed the growth of barley seeds by the mere laying on of hands.
Krieger eventually concluded that healing by the laying on of hands is based not on the power of God but in the Sanskrit concept of a human life energy known as prana, with illness being a deficiency in prana. The healer merely transfers their excess healing energy to the sick person.
“While modern Therapeutic Touch originated with Krieger, the movement and its supporting ideas have a remarkably long and complex history,” writes Dr. Patrick Guinan of the Catholic Medical Association.
“Its immediate antecedents are the theosophical mysticism and psychic healing popularized by the medium Madame Blavatsky with her book The Secret Doctrine. Blavatsky’s philosophy was a gemish of oriental pantheism, nineteenth century science and occult magic, that is, in great part, the basis of contemporary ‘New Age’ beliefs.”
Krieger’s was able to get around this association with the religion of theosophy by using her position at NYU her to promote Therapeutic Touch as a healing technique rather than as a religious experience.
“She secularized and gave scientific cover to a faith healing practice,” Guinan writes.
The practice received its imprimatur in 1994 when the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association added the diagnosis of “energy field disturbance” to its list of accepted nursing diagnoses. Therapeutic Touch is now promoted by the American Nursing Association, the National League of Nursing, the Nurse Healers and Professional Associates Cooperative and the American Holistic Nursing Association. It is also taught in over 100 universities and many schools of nursing.
Therapeutic Touch has since morphed into a wide variety of similar techniques that go by names such as “healing touch,” “hands of light,” “gentle touch.” Most or all rely on the use of spirit guides to channel energy during therapy.
According to the author of this article, entitled, “Healing Touch and Therapeutic Touch for Anxiety,” who is a supporter of energy medicine, as of 2018, none of these practices has garnered sufficient evidence – other than anecdotal – to prove the efficacy of its use.
The bottom line is that energy massage is based in a pantheistic belief system that is not compatible with Christianity and has never scientifically proven itself to be effective for the treatment of any condition.
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