Respectful Insolence

Reiki in the ICU?

One of the recurrent themes of this blog is to point out, analyze, and discuss the creeping infiltration of pseudoscience into medicine. In particular, it irks me that so many physicians, who really should know better, so easily fall for the siren song of quackery for whatever reason, be it a misguided desire to be nonjudgmental, to give the patients what they want, or through an inadequate understanding and appreciation of the scientific method. Indeed, there are whole specialties dedicated to “integrating” woo with science-based medicine to the detriment of science-based medicine.

Still, there’s one place where, back in my old, innocent days, I would never have expected to see “alternative medicine,” “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or “integrated medicine” (IM). That place is the intensive care unit. Of course, it wasn’t too long before I was disabused of the notion that the ICU is no place for magical thinking, prescientific vitalism, or outright quackery. For example, it’s not for nothing that I refer to homeopathy as The One Quackery To Rule Them All. Yet that doesn’t stop it from being “integrated” into use in the ICU. It’s also not for nothing that I’ve referred to reiki as faith healing substituting Eastern mysticism for Christian beliefs. (In fact, I was interviewed by a reporter doing a story on reiki in hospitals yesterday and I used that very line.) Yet somehow reiki has found its way onto the trauma service and into the ICU of one of the premier trauma hospitals, while in the ICU and elsewhere the University of Maryland has morphed into the Hogwarts of medicine. Actually, that’s an insult to Hogwarts. In the world of Hogwarts, magic works. In the real world, not so much.

One thing about the world of the ICU is that it’s the world of the ICU nurse. A good ICU nurse is hard-ass and data-driven, knowing what all the monitor readings mean, able to manage multiple drips and devices, and unruffled by patients crashing, which allows them, to know what needs to be done to bring them back. Back in my days as a surgical resident and later, when I used to moonlight as a trauma surgeon, on several occasions I can remember a savvy ICU nurse helped me out or prevented me from making a bad mistake, particularly early on when I was an intern and later a junior resident.

All of which is why it was really depressing to see this article in the latest issue of Critical Care Nursing Quarterly entitled Reiki Therapy: A Nursing Intervention for Critical Care. It’s bad. How bad? Real bad. As credulous as it comes. So bad that it would more appropriately find a home in a dedicated alternative medicine journal. Don’t believe me? Then check out the opening paragraph:

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is not generally associated with the complexity and intensity of critical care. Complementary and alternative medicine is more often associated with slow, calming interventions that seem to be in direct contrast with the fast-paced, highly technical nature of critical care. However, patients in critical care often find themselves coping with the pain and stress of their illness exacerbated by the stress of the critical care environment. Florence Nightingale viewed the spirit and body as inseparable. When there is disruption in the body, the energy fields within and surrounding the body are also disrupted. Energy fields, though we cannot see them, are part of the body as well as the spirit. Although we, as nurses, may be primarily focused on the care of the body, we are also in a unique position to address the needs of the spirit through the use of complementary therapies. Reiki is a complementary therapy that addresses the needs of both the body and the spirit and could easily be integrated into critical care uniting the science of nursing with the art of nursing.

As I read this, I was astonished. I couldn’t believe I was reading such a thing in a critical care nursing journal. It’s nothing more than vitalism. Being ill supposedly means “disrupted energy fields,” and these fields are “part of the spirit.” It made me wonder whether I was reading a religious tract or a critical care nursing article. Of course, remembering that reiki is faith healing, I quickly realized that what I was reading was religion infiltrating itself into what should be an ostensibly scientific (or at least technical) article. Now, I have no doubt that reiki could easily be integrated into the critical care setting. After all, all it involves is the practitioner waving his or her hands over the patient in special symbols. The real question is: Should it be?

The answer, of course, is no, at least not by the nurse. A critical care nurse has far more important things to do when taking care of a critically ill patient than to waste time attempting to channel energy from the “universal source” into the patient to heal him. Think about it: You’re in the ICU after having survived a serious car crash, on the ventilator, with monitors and lines protruding from multiple places on your body. Do you want your nurse wasting time waving hands over your and wishing for the “universal source” to heal you? Or would you rather have the nurse be monitoring your vitals, your central venous pressure, your blood gases, your urine output, and whatever other measurements that need to be taken? Wouldn’t you rather have the nurse making sure that your drips are being administered at the correct rate, that you’re getting your medications on time, that the dressings on your wounds are being changed properly, that you are being repositioned regularly to avoid decubitus ulcers? I know I would. It’s a zero-sum game in the ICU; time taken to try to use magic to heal a patient is time taken away from actual useful interventions.

Robin Toms, the author of the article, then goes on to discuss the history or reiki. I see no need to repeat it, given how many times I’ve discussed the history of reiki right here on this very blog other than to reiterate a couple of points. First, reiki is not ancient. It was invented after a Jesus-like 21 day fast on a mountain by Dr. Mikao Usui in the 1920s and brought to Hawaii in the 1930s. Eventually it found its way to California in the early 1970s. However, as Toms acknowledges (sort of), reiki is a skillful repackaging of ancient concepts of “life energy” (also called qi or prana). In other words, Toms, whether she realizes it or not, has basically admitted that reiki is based on prescientific vitalism. That the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) acknowledges two types of “energy healing,” biofield therapies and bioelectromagnetic-based therapies, matters not at all regarding the validity or existence of such “biological energy fields.” Like all other CAM advocates, NCCAM’s never been able to produce compelling evidence that these fields even exist, much less that practitioners can manipulate them to therapeutic intent.

Hilariously (or sadly, depending on your point of view), here is the best evidence Toms can produce for the existence of these energy fields:

Attempts have been made to photograph the energy fields surrounding the body and plant life. Kirlian photography has been used to produce images of bioenergetic radiance emanating from and surrounding plants and the human body. Creath conducted a study to image biophoton emission from and between various plant parts. A highly sensitive camera was used to image self-generated biological chemiluminescence (biophotons) in a completely dark, light-tight chamber from plant parts. More light was found between adjacent plant parts than where there were no adjacent plant parts. Creath concluded that each biological object is a weak light source that interacts with adjacent biological objects and speculated that the self- and mutual fluorescence/luminescence effects were not exclusive to plants and are present in all biological systems that emit biophotons.

Kirlian photography? Seriously? Kirlian photography is nothing more than quackery that claims to visualize auras. Back in the 1930s, a Russian named Semyon Kirlian discovered by accident that if an object on a photographic plate is subjected to a high-voltage electric field, an image is created on the plate. Believers maintain that these halos represent a physical manifestation of spiritual auras or the “life force.” These days, Kirlian photography has been abandoned by all but the woo-iest of woo-meisters. Apparently that description applies to Toms. In any case, Toms also mentions biophoton methods of visualizing “life energy,” but these, as you might expect, are also quackery, as I’ve discussed before.

Then, I saw Toms use an argument so unbelievably stupid, so ignorant, so mind-numbingly, outrageously mangling of science, that I couldn’t believe it when I saw it; so I’ll quote it almost in full for you, given that most of you can’t access the full article:

We recognize that energy and energy production is a basic component of life itself. As nurses, we remember our study of the Kreb’s cycle and recall that the body derives energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate produced from the breakdown of glucose, which is necessary for survival of all cells in the body. The use of energy to treat illness is not a new concept. Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs), electrocardiograms, and magnetic resonance imagery are each familiar tools that use energy to diagnose and treat disease.

Stimulation with PEMFs has been found to be useful for enhancing bone repair and for exerting a chondroprotective effect on articular cartilage in patients with osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Giordana et al studied the effect of PEMFs on bone mineral density. His findings suggest that PEMFs may stimulate osteogenesis and possibly osteoblastic activity in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

[...]

Pulsed electromagnetic fields, electrocardiograms, magnetic resonance imaging, and the like each employ the use of devices to measure and transmit energy to humans. Reiki therapy does not employ devices and is simply the transmission of energy between humans. For some, it is less difficult to accept the transfer of energy from a machine to the human body than to accept the transmission of energy from one human to another.

See what I mean? Do I even have to spell out the difference between the Krebs Cycle, electrocardiograms, magnetic resonance imaging as compared to reiki? I suppose I do, at least for completeness’ sake. Here’s a hint: the Krebs Cycle, electrocardiograms, MRIs, pulsed electromagnetic fields, and all the other electricity, X-rays, magnetism, and other forms of energy fields used in medicine are well understood. They’re properties are well characterized scientifically through decades of observation and experimentation. We know how to produce these energy forms; we know how to measure them accurately. We know how the energy fields due to X-rays and the radiowaves and magnetism of MRI interact with the human body. They result in reproducible effects that can measure the effects. As for as chemical energy goes, we know how the Krebs Cycle works and how it produces ATP in cells. We’ve known it for several decades, biochemists having painstakingly worked out all the steps and chemical intermediates a long, long time ago. Contrast these forms of energy to reiki “energy.” Reiki energy can’t be measured. No one can even prove that it exists, that it interacts with biological systems, or that reiki practitioners can manipulate it, much less use it for therapeutic effect.

Tom’s argument in essence equates magical energy (i.e., reiki energy) that can’t be measured with well-characterized forms of energy that can not only be measured but whose interaction with human tissue can be used for diagnosis or therapy to measurable effect. It’s an utterly false comparison and boils down to a complete misunderstanding of what energy is (whether willful or not, I don’t know). To a physicist, energy is the ability of a physical system to perform work. To a woo-meister, energy is an imaginary, magical, mystical thing that doesn’t have to do any work the way real energy does. It exists only to explain quackery, much like the term “quantum.”

The rest of the article consists of a list of the usual cherry picked studies that allegedly demonstrate that reiki “works.” As usual, most are small, poorly randomized or blinded, and basically worthless. Even so, Tom is impressed enough to conclude:

The universal life force energy of Reiki is available to all, is cost-effective, can be quickly learned and easily incorporated into the general care of patients particularly in critical care where patient ratios are low and nurses spend more time in direct care and monitoring of patients. Nurses are uniquely positioned to care for the spirit as well as the body through the application of Reiki therapy.

If by “caring for the spirit as well as the body,” Tom means faith healing, I suppose she has a point there.

As always, when I come across an article like this, I end up being depressed as hell. Bad science, bad theology, and bad arguments, all rolled up into an annoying little package of woo.

Critical care nurses, just like doctors, really should know better.

Comments

  1. #1 reasonablehank
    July 8, 2011

    Won’t be long and Mitchell and Webb will have been proven right. This hurts. A lot.

  2. #2 nybgrus
    July 8, 2011

    I actually skimmed through the article and was blown away:

    “Olson, Hanson, and Michaud 17 conducted a randomized controlled, but nonblinded trial evaluating the effects of Reiki upon pain among 24 patients with cancer.”

    A 24 patient non blinded study? There must be more right?

    “Potter 19 conducted a randomized pilot study to determine the feasibility of testing Reiki for reducing anxiety and depression associated with breast biopsy. The feasibility was not demonstrated within the pilot.”

    Oh, wait…

    “Vitale and O’Connor 22 conducted a quasi-experimental, randomized controlled pilot study to compare reports of pain and levels of state anxiety in 2 groups of women after abdominal hysterectomy. ”

    Well, if experimental is good, then quasi-experimental must be better right? Well, at least it is randomized….

    “Anecdotal reports continue to support the efficacy of Reiki; however, additional research with well-designed, randomized controlled studies and larger samples is clearly needed.”

    Ah, so the conclusion must be….

    “Research supports Reiki as an intervention to relieve pain and anxiety and reduce symptoms of stress such as elevated blood pressure and pulse rates, which are frequently encountered in critical care.”

    What?!? Anecdote is now “research [that] supports reiki as an intervention…”??

    So why use reiki?

    “The universal life force energy of Reiki is available to all, is cost-effective, can be quickly learned and easily incorporated into the general care of patients particularly in critical care where patient ratios are low and nurses spend more time in direct care and monitoring of patients. Nurses are uniquely positioned to care for the spirit as well as the body through the application of Reiki therapy.”

    Oh. Cuz it is free to tap into a non-existent energy source and wave your hands over someone. Cuz ICU nurses have so much free time on their hands that, well, why not right? What’s the harm?

  3. #3 Todd W.
    July 8, 2011

    That is rather depressing. I wonder if Toms would acknowledge that, if reiki is just another form of energy medicine akin to MRI, x-rays, etc. that there must be potential for negative effects, or if she’ll just use the ol’ “oh, reiki only has an effect if the patient needs it” canard.

    On a side note, it’s interesting that Kirlian photography should be mentioned. Just the other day, I discovered that the state of Massachusetts allows Kirlian photography as an acceptable means of diagnosis by acupuncturists (PDF).

  4. #4 Dunc
    July 8, 2011

    For some, it is less difficult to accept the transfer of energy from a machine to the human body than to accept the transmission of energy from one human to another.

    How many joules, dumbass?

  5. #5 Paul Morgan
    July 8, 2011

    It beggars belief that this sort of bullshit has been published anywhere outside of a woo journal. This journal is apparently peer reviewed. One wonders, therefore, how this sort of crap can pass the peer-review process. It is bad enough that this article was written in the first place, given how astonishingly unscientific it is. But to pass a peer-review process? Oh, please! I have no idea whether this journal has a good reputation or otherwise, but this article can only be damaging.

  6. #6 Jojo
    July 8, 2011

    Nurses are uniquely positioned to care for the spirit as well as the body through the application of Reiki therapy.

    In addition to all of the absurdity in this paper, how arrogant do you have to be to think that everyone wants a stranger caring for their spirit. If I actually believed that I had a spirit, I’d want to know something about the beliefs of the person administering care to it.

  7. #7 puppygod
    July 8, 2011
    For some, it is less difficult to accept the transfer of energy from a machine to the human body than to accept the transmission of energy from one human to another.

    How many joules, dumbass?

    In this case, I would advise around 300 – 400 applied directly to his face.

    Sigh.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people accept without questioning things that are obviously, demonstrably in opposition with known basic laws of physics.

  8. #8 Art
    July 8, 2011

    On the other hand it has to be noted that Reiki is both performance art and ego boosting for the patient. Having been on and worked on an ICU it is pretty obvious that the patient mostly gets lost in the mix of diagnostic machinery, focus on vital signs, diagnoses and treatment protocols. A good number of doctors, and even some nurses tend to refer to patients by their disease. The CABG, always referred to as ‘cabbage’, in bed three.

    The patients, typically doped up and disoriented so everything comes at you as a disjointed nightmare, and sleep deprived because of checks several times and hour and constant noise, are thrust into a world where their bodies are the center of attention but their conscious selves, ego and interactive human contact, get entirely neglected.

    I imagine that if a bright and friendly nurse walked in, ignored the machines and tubes, talked directly to me and spent time focused on the person behind the disease I would feel pretty good about it. Doesn’t really matter what she did. She could make balloon animals. That’s what your not getting. Reiki feels good because it feels good to have someone pay attention to you, as a person. A person who spends time unconnected to a bodily function, checklist, or protocol.

    Ideally the patent wouldn’t feel neglected. Wouldn’t be treated as their diagnosis and disease. Nurses wouldn’t view patents as a burden, wouldn’t unconsciously but systematically reward those who suffer in silence and punish those who are ‘high maintenance’. But they do.

    The simple fact that patients like Reiki, that there is any observable effect at all, subjective or not, shows that there is a hole in the way patients are treated. Plug that hole and Reiki, and most of the other CAM modalities that massage patient ego, become redundant. Fight over the physical mechanism, a mechanism that can’t work, but is entirely beside the point, and you fail to understand the patient and the experiential side of being human in an ICU.

  9. #9 Elaine Schattner, MD
    July 8, 2011

    You’re right about this paper, the BS writing, and the journal.

    But it could be the case that people in the ICU who have, say, someone holding their hand or stroking their shoulders and back, for no reason other than to make them feel better, as an end to itself, do better than those who have no human contact other than aides who take their vital signs and doctors who do procedures and talk about them in the third person as if they were dead.

  10. #10 Beamup
    July 8, 2011

    @ Elaine:

    Then have somebody whose job is comfort. Don’t claim you’re doing magic, and waste time doing so! Also, keep in mind that reiki doesn’t actually involve any touching so your argument doesn’t in fact apply at all.

  11. #11 Andrew Dodds
    July 8, 2011

    I know it’s not in the greatest of taste, but:

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/emergency-self%11help-books-dropped-on-ethiopia-201107084051/

    May give some light relief..

  12. #12 Mu
    July 8, 2011

    I wonder how they bill for the reiki treatment. As a patient I would sue if I find “magic hand weaving $1357″ (it’s ICU after all) on the statement.

  13. #13 MikeMa
    July 8, 2011

    From what little I’ve seen of emergency rooms, there is no place or space for people not working directly on real patient care.

    I sat in an emergency room waiting one Monday evening a few weeks ago with roughly 25 other sufferers and their families. If I knew that someone was employed holding hands rather than in triage or direct patient care while my cellulitis progressed up my leg, I’d be more than pissed. As it was, I was over 2 hours waiting for someone to even look at my leg and I wasn’t the most serious case there.

    I don’t suppose one extra person would have dented that mess but if a trauma case had come in ahead of me, my 2 days on intravenous antibiotics might have stretched to 3 or 4 or I might have died. Way to go reiki.

  14. #14 Orac
    July 8, 2011

    @Elaine Schattner, MD

    No one—and I do mean no one, least of all myself—is arguing that human contact, treating patients like human beings, and not treating them as diseases hooked up to machines are all good things. We should be doing a better job of that. I’ve worked with quite a few ICU nurses who were both hard-ass excellent technical nurses who knew how all the bells and whistles worked, knew how to recognize when a patient was doing well or going bad, and in whose hands I would feel safe if I were ever unfortunate enough to be sick enough to need to be in an ICU but who could also reassure the patient, make the patient feel as human as possible, and provide that human touch.

    The point of this post is that we do not need to abandon science for magical thinking and the promotion of superstitious mystical concepts in order to achieve that end.

  15. #15 Mojo
    July 8, 2011

    Florence Nightingale viewed the spirit and body as inseparable.

    And Florence might even have approved of reiki, had it been around in her day, but not for the reasons its proponents might assume.

  16. #16 stripey_cat
    July 8, 2011

    MikeMa, I was wondering what level of training would be needed to be a hand-holder. Surely you wouldn’t need more than some basic protocols drummed into you, the sort of thing that peer-counsellors get in schools and workplaces – mostly to keep your beliefs to yourself, keep up a professional front, and keep out of the way of the medical staff. In some areas at least you could probably recruit volunteer labour, even, so the only costs would be supervisory and training. Also, this was discussing ICU, not A&E; although I guess having people trained to be calming and sympathetic around could be useful in A&E too, and other departments (children’s wards, for instance). I think there’s already quite a lot of this sort of thing going on in end-of-life care situations – my grandfather was offered facial massages and aromatherapy (among other spa-type treatments) in the cancer hospice just to help him feel better.

  17. #17 Militant Agnostic
    July 8, 2011

    @3

    That is rather depressing. I wonder if Toms would acknowledge that, if reiki is just another form of energy medicine akin to MRI, x-rays, etc. that there must be potential for negative effects, or if she’ll just use the ol’ “oh, reiki only has an effect if the patient needs it” canard.

    Yup – I know rather more about Reiki than I would like to and one of their claims is that “Reiki Energy” knows where to go, so it doesn’t matter if neither the practitioner nor the patient know the cause of the problem, it will go where it is needed. Reiki is ultimately based on the narcissistic assumption that universe cares about us. Although its proponents claim it is not religion, it definitely is.

  18. #18 V. infernalis
    July 8, 2011
  19. #19 AndyD
    July 8, 2011

    Reiki is ultimately based on the narcissistic assumption that universe cares about us

    Which leaves me wondering why it needs someone to direct it to someone else in need? What if there’s no reiki master present – does the universe then ignore the sick and dying, like God does when no one prays?

  20. #20 MikeMa
    July 8, 2011

    @AndyD
    No master, no cash.

  21. #21 Mojo
    July 8, 2011

    @Elaine Schattner, MD

    But it could be the case that people in the ICU who have, say, someone holding their hand or stroking their shoulders and back, for no reason other than to make them feel better, as an end to itself, do better than those who have no human contact other than aides who take their vital signs and doctors who do procedures and talk about them in the third person as if they were dead.

    And, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, it could be the case that we can see that a garden is beautiful without believing that there are fairies at the bottom of it.

  22. #22 Mojo
    July 8, 2011

    @MikeMa:

    No master, no cash.

    That’s the basic principle of integrative medicine: some practitioners do something that actually benefits the patient, some do something that’s totally useless, but they all get paid.

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2011

    A few things:

    If reiki’s purpose is to calm patients and provide human contact, nurses already have the skills to do that without resorting to magical thinking or mystical labels for *simple* human communication. I can attest that ICU/CCU nurses did wonders for my father over the years just by *talking* to him: that’s the real “magic”. I wonder if- in some cases- proselytisers for reiki use it as a way to feel less helpless *themselves*- wouldn’t it be nice if we could just wave our hands and make everything better? Thus, it may be *self* calming but shouldn’t the patient’s needs come first?

    Again, reiki is another instance of time and money wasting. Reviewing alt med I often marvel at how much money is actually spent on useless diagnostic tools, treatments, and paraphernelia. Commercially marketting the placebo effect is big business but precisely *who* does it really benefit?
    Customers may report a lift from going to a “healer”- while this may be the same feeling they would get from a massage or spa treatment- it is presented as something more than sybaritic: something purer, even spiritual. And it is often mis-represented as being curative for some condition.

    CAM providers secure additional benefits beyond the monetary: the obvious one is prestige. If you set yourself up as an “alt med” healer, what are you *really* telling others? A hint I glean from reading and listening to their propaganda is that they believe that *know* better than doctors and other professionals and are superior spiritually as well ( see NaturalNews.com/ Mercola.com). Their “skills” are not derived from study and training in the real world but from weekend seminars and fly-by-night institutes of higher learning that “give away doctorates as if they were candy”( Lee-Phillips.org).

    I argue that the chief benefit woo-meisters derive from alt med is not money: it involves self-aggrandisement via spurious titles ( awarded without the recipient doing the really hard work of medical or graduate school/ training), a fictional CV, and the consequent adoring worship by those entranced by a message that is too good to be true.

    Exactly how do you think people like Mike Adams or Gary Null would be making a living if they weren’t selling their devotees on alt med?

  24. #24 Sastra
    July 8, 2011

    Energy fields, though we cannot see them, are part of the body as well as the spirit. Although we, as nurses, may be primarily focused on the care of the body, we are also in a unique position to address the needs of the spirit through the use of complementary therapies.

    And of course we know the spirit exists, though we can’t see it, don’t we? That’s just one of those things that’s a given. Who will dare to say it’s not okay to just grant that the spirit exists? We’re only trying then to proceed quite naturally and logically from that common starting point …

    I think this infiltration of magic into areas of science will continue to happen as long as the double-standard given to religious claims is embedded in a culture. We can’t see, or measure, or test, or examine, or prove spirit — or God — but that’s just fine because we’re not supposed to! We don’t have to. We can “know” it’s real — even realer than real — by a sort of epistemic osmosis. Personal experiences are actually the gold standard. If it happened to YOU, then you can be sure.

    It makes no sense to believe that there are two different kinds of ‘facts,’ both of them supported by mounds of sufficient evidence: those that are objectively true and we can work with them in public — and those that are objectively true but we’re only supposed to work with them in private. Why? Why the arbitrary dividing line between religious truths and all the other empirical truths? Why not allow our knowledge of spiritual facts to work alongside our search for what works in medicine, politics, economics, and so forth? Religious belief even comes along with the wonderful asset of being immune to criticism. You don’t have to rigorously prove or demonstrate anything. It’s perfect!

    We need to get rid of that double standard. Get people to question it, or at least acknowledge that it’s open to question. Otherwise, I think there are going to be a lot more people trying to integrate all their “facts” holistically.

  25. #25 Sastra
    July 8, 2011

    Denice Walter #23 wrote:

    I argue that the chief benefit woo-meisters derive from alt med is not money: it involves self-aggrandisement via spurious titles ( awarded without the recipient doing the really hard work of medical or graduate school/ training), a fictional CV, and the consequent adoring worship by those entranced by a message that is too good to be true.

    I think you’re right, and that a big part of the self-aggrandisement consists of the enhanced self-esteem of self contemplating self. You are a healer who has access to ancient wisdom because of your sensitivity. You care more about helping others than you care about coldly trying to do things “by the book.” It’s a very modest position.

    Of course, the money certainly doesn’t hurt. But I daresay they can convince themselves that what they offer would be cheap at twice the price … because it is so priceless.

  26. #26 Yojimbo
    July 8, 2011

    @Dunc

    How many joules, dumbass?

    You can’t us joules to measure that kind of energy. I propose using the pastor as the basic unit, defined as the energy of one believer praying for one patient. Of course, patients in an ICU must would need kilopastor – or even megapastor – power levels.

    I like the idea of nurses blasting away like Sith Lords…

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2011

    @ Sastra: Agreed.

    For me, the spiritual and supernatural only have one place in science which is when psychologists realistically study how beliefs affect attitudes and then examine how subjects relying upon these notions negotiate the vicissitudes of the *real* world.

  28. #28 mcb
    July 8, 2011

    Perhaps critical care nurses don’t bother reading JAMA. If they did they’d know that the concept of energy healing (in the form of Therapeutic Touch) was repudiated in 1998, by a 6th grader… http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/279/13/1005.full

  29. #29 Nadya
    July 8, 2011

    Re your comment: “Of course, remembering that reiki is faith healing, …”
    Is it?

    My personal favorite experience, in 20 years of offering Reiki sessions & 18 years teaching others, was when a fellow Massage Therapist & I were invited to Christmas dinner at his friends’ home. When we entered, their two Corgies were going wild (& quickly kenneled) while the big Golden Retriever was napping on the kitchen floor. We walked into the kitchen, & I bent down to pet the Golden, who stirred slightly, but was pretty sleepy.
    Our hostess relayed the dogs had gotten into the Christmas cookies while she was outside getting more wood for their fire the evening before, & the Golden was still sleeping off his coma, as he was diabetic. Having longer legs, he’d gotten most of the cookies! She’d given him his insulin, & been in touch with his vet, so wasn’t worried about him.

    I stopped petting him, & put my hands over his back (kidneys) & stomach/pancreas area, as well as I could determine them on a dog. I sat with him, offering Reiki, for 15 or so minutes, & then went and sat on the living room couch. He lumbered up, & came over to the couch, lifted himself up beside me & sat with his front legs on either side of his chest as if to say “LADY! You’re not done yet! Would you put your hands BACK ON MY BELLY??” OK then. We sat there for about 15-20 minutes more, & he put his feet down (he was a BIG dog!) & lumbered off the couch, over to his water bowl, which he drained, & then proceeded to act more normal – over to the oven to sniff the turkey, over to the Christmas tree, back to the couch “Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!” … to the door to greet new arrivals (calmly, he was a Golden), back to the water bowl, which had been refilled. (I wish my human clients were as compliant with my suggestion to ‘be sure to drink more water!’)

    I have often been asked if one needs to ‘believe’ in Reiki (faith healing), to have it be effective. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have ‘FAITH’ in your practitioner, whether they be an MD, ND, Osteopath, Psychiatrist, Massage Therapist, Physical Therapist, Nutritional consultant, Reiki Practitioner, Dentist, ….
    In my experience, all healing is self-healing, & we the ‘helpers’ each have tools in our kit that we try to fit to the patient’s situation. And each patient/client needs to be treated with respect, which includes respecting their ability to observe what therapies work best for them.

    In the case of the Golden Retriever, he had the ‘science’ of his shot of insulin, but he gladly accepted ‘faith healing’ as well!

  30. #30 Finn
    July 8, 2011

    Aside from its Japanese origin, how is reiki any different from “therapeutic touch,” another bit of hand-waving that’s supposed to heal by manipulating these imaginary “energy fields”–and that was thoroughly debunked by a 9-year-old whose study was published in JAMA?

    I’m just glad no one offered me any magical hand-waving after my TAH & BSO, because I’d've popped a few surgical staples kicking them out of my room.

  31. #31 Jolo5309
    July 8, 2011

    I was in a car accident last year (rear-ended on the highway, I rolled about 6-8 times in the ditch) and I (and my brother in law) went to the hospital. I had nurses coming to check on me in the emergency room and they would ask questions and check my general status (I was not badly hurt) but they used science and compassion. I felt like I was being taken care of as well as time constraints could (Saturday night in the emergency room).

    My BIL was badly hurt (three broken vertabrae, broken wrist, loss of half his ear) and he was in severe pain until his wife mentioned his GERD medicine which was countering the effects of his pain medicine. Once they coped with that, he fell asleep. I would love to see Reiki or any form of homeopathic medicine deal with that!

  32. #32 Kelly T
    July 8, 2011

    Most people that provide reiki treatments in hospitals are unpaid volunteers.

    Has the author ever had a professional reiki treatment?

  33. #33 Sastra
    July 8, 2011

    Nadya #29 wrote:

    In the case of the Golden Retriever, he had the ‘science’ of his shot of insulin, but he gladly accepted ‘faith healing’ as well!

    What you are calling “faith healing” looks to me like “affection.” Seriously, do you think Reiki had any effect here which just petting the dog wouldn’t have had as well?

    I don’t see the point of your anecdote.

    I also think that, in order to respect your patients, you ought to make sure that reiki energy actually exists. That there is such a thing. You can’t do this by trying it out and seeing what happens: there are too many confounding factors which can confuse the issue. Instead, figure out a clean and clear way to test whether you can tell if a person’s energy is there or not under well-blinded, carefully controlled conditions. Consider the link at #28, for example.

    Consider the possibility that, if you are not told in advance, you could not tell a living arm apart from empty air. That might be a serious problem. Seriously.

    Question for you: if it turns out that there is no such thing as “reiki energy” and all the apparent ‘success’ you’ve had has been due to extraneous other factors — would you still choose to be a reiki practitioner? How important is honesty to you?

  34. #34 Finn
    July 8, 2011

    @Nadya (#29), your post is a classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc, attributing the dog’s improvement to your woo because the dog perked up after it, when in fact the dog had already been treated with insulin to bring its blood sugar level down.

    But I’m sure he liked being patted and having his belly rubbed.

  35. #35 Dangerous Bacon
    July 8, 2011

    I have personally induced bliss states in a number of retrievers through “hands-on” procedures. I can attest that these animals respond to manual stimulation of the belly, chest and base of tail region and that the kinetic energies/magnetism/life forces are highly effective in promoting well-being.

    In fact, I credit such attentions to the recovery of my current Labrador after she experienced small intestinal blockage due to swallowing a sock.

    Well, that and the abdominal surgery with enterotomy to remove the sock.

  36. #36 Sastra
    July 8, 2011

    Kelly T #32 wrote:

    Has the author ever had a professional reiki treatment?

    That shouldn’t matter: personal experience is too likely to bias someone regardless of outcome. Objectivity requires more distance, and more data.

    If Orac had a professional reiki treatment and it didn’t seem to work, should that one instance be sufficient to convince him that it doesn’t work? No.

  37. #37 Nadya
    July 8, 2011

    Re: Reiki & TT. The Nurse who was my massage mentor (a VERY practical, no nonsense gal!) had been trained in Therapeutic Touch during her nursing training, & offered a bit of TT during my classes with her 28 years ago. I haven’t studied it beyond that. I know TT was developed by nurses for hospital use, & as folks say, in these rushed times, it is often difficult to get basic care in many hospitals.

    At OHSU, one of my clients was offered Reiki & Massage by an outside practitioner after surgery to remove a lung Carcinoid, & was tickled, as she receives monthly Massage/Reiki session. When she returned home, the first sessions (in her home) were 80% Reiki, with less massage. Later we increased the amount of massage, esp on the scar tissue. I include more or less Reiki in sessions as she requests it. She is very proactive, & has successfully integrated work with MDs, NDs, & massage, as well as strict attention to nutrition & avoidance of chemicals in anything she eats & her surroundings.

    Reiki has roots in Japan, as you say. Takata (who brought Reiki to us in the West) stressed spending about 2/3 of the treatment time with the hands resting lightly on the body over the organs (the ‘engines’ of the body), & recommended doing a whole treatment when possible. She often taught the family members of critically ill patients Reiki, so they could offer more frequent treatment. Acute injuries heal more quickly than chronic illnesses.
    Takata’s own ‘health problems’ included a uterine tumor, gallstones & Appendecitis’ which all healed after 6 months of Reiki treatment. (daily the first few weeks). Her childhood asthma was also a thing of the past, & her desire to learn Reiki for herself very strong.

    When I’ve been injured, say a finger that was smashed in a door, I’ve felt a ‘buzz’ of energy in that finger when I do Reiki on a client. I was taking a Qigong class (Soaring Crane) at the time of that injury, & would feel the same buzz when I did some of the hand movements. My finger healed completely, though a friend with a similar injury the year BEFORE mine still had residual pain long after mine had healed.

    Intriguingly, Chen,Hui-xian, who brought Soaring Crane to the west (teaching at OCOM for several years) had a very similar history to Takata’s – at 49 she was diagnosed with late stage, metastasized Breast Cancer, & was undergoing treatment (Radiation) “& even after radical surgery was given no chance of surviving’ when she was introduced to Soaring Crane by a fellow patient in the clinic.
    She subsequently went to a park in Bejing (her teacher HAD been in a wheel chair following a stroke), learned Soaring Crane, & “was restored to health. She later learned to teach the form, & worked with Master Zhao, the originator of the form.

    I see many connections between Reiki & Qigong healing, tho I have only studied the physical exercise form of Qigong.

  38. #38 rob
    July 8, 2011

    the golden retriever was actually a mutant space alien that had taken residence in some unsupecting humans abode. they live by feeding off the biomagneticnuclularphotonenergyemissions from people who touch them. he wasn’t coming back to thank the reiki schmuck. he was coming back to finish his meal.

  39. #39 Todd W.
    July 8, 2011

    @Nadya

    He lumbered up, & came over to the couch, lifted himself up beside me & sat with his front legs on either side of his chest as if to say “LADY! You’re not done yet! Would you put your hands BACK ON MY BELLY??”

    This is typical dog behavior. Dogs like having their bellies rubbed. Your account says more about the common behaviors of dogs than it says about reiki.

  40. #40 Nadya
    July 8, 2011

    Just to clarify – with the Golden R., when his owner told us about the cookies, I switched from gentle petting to still hands. Reiki, while it can be combined with massage, is in itself still hands, held over organs for several minutes before moving on. (& yes, it can be done off the body, which is more helpful in the case of recent burns, etc)

    Yes, I’ve had SO so many personal experiences with Reiki that I’m happy to include it in my ‘tool kit’ of offerings. Reiki works well in combination with other modalities, & there are few counter-indications. Part of my person experience includes sensations in my hands that are different from other times, say doing simple massage. When working off the body (a similar treatment form) I often feel as if small bubbles were rising through my hands (especially over burns).

    I was addressing the ‘faith healing’ aspect – did the dog need faith?? & if he just wanted to be petted, why didn’t he sit beside one of the other people in the room, who would have been happy to oblige? & if he just wanted to be petted, why didn’t he lay down beside me on the couch, (which certainly would have been much easier for him) rather than going out of his way to expose his belly to my STILL hands?

  41. #41 dt
    July 8, 2011

    @Nadya #29

    A diabetic dog was drowsy from hyperglycemia, and his owner gave him an insulin injection to correct this.
    You petted and stroked him for about 15 minutes while he was recovering. Once the insulin had taken full effect, and he was a bit livelier, he was showed you a bit of reciprocal affection/attention.

    You call this your “favourite” reiki anecdote?

    God, I’d really, really hate to hear your other ones.

  42. #42 JayK
    July 8, 2011

    Well at least people like Nadya aren’t going to get shocked during defibrillation of a patient, they’ll just be in the damn way making funny squinty faces, like they’re concentrating really hard.

    Then afterwards they can high five all the useful people helping the patient.

  43. #43 Beamup
    July 8, 2011

    You’ve still not provided any reason whatsoever to believe that your “reiki” did anything at all normal petting wouldn’t have. This is quite natural, because it didn’t.

    You do know that if you can actually do what you claim, you can win a million dollars from the JREF, right? So why haven’t you collected that easy money?

  44. @Nadya

    If that’s the best support you can provide for the effectiveness of Reiki, what you have is nada, Nadya.

    What do you think would have happened to the dog if you had not been there or had not used your reiki skills on the dog?

    Do you believe the dog would have stayed sleeping on the floor forever or until it died? How do you think things would have gone differently?

    A dog was given insulin and attention after suffering a diabetic incident, and it gradually recovered and started acting normally, exactly as would be expected without reiki intervention.

    You seem to be under the impression that only the target subject is capable of bias that leads to a perception of clinical effectiveness (placebo response) where none exists. There is a reason why researchers do their best to double blind an experiment. Researcher/observer bias is very real phenomenon.

    “I have often been asked if one needs to ‘believe’ in Reiki (faith healing), to have it be effective.”

    Well, it helps to have at least ONE of the parties involved believe in the effectiveness for one of them to perceive it to be effective, but the recipient certainly does not have to believe for the practitioner to perceive effectiveness.

    -Karl Withakay

  45. #45 blog.cordialdeconstruction.com
    July 8, 2011

    “…if he just wanted to be petted, why didn’t he sit beside one of the other people in the room, who would have been happy to oblige? & if he just wanted to be petted, why didn’t he lay down beside me on the couch, (which certainly would have been much easier for him) rather than going out of his way to expose his belly to my STILL hands?”

    Parsimony: You showed the dog attention while others were content to leave it sleep on the floor. It didn’t get up until it was showed attention. When that attention was withdrawn, it sought out the person most likely to show it more attention. Dog like to be petted and touched. Some dogs PREFER just being touched to being petted. Ever had a dog as a pet before? This is not amazing, astounding, or unusual behavior. Invoking the effectiveness of reiki is unnecessary to explain normal dog behavior.

  46. #46 Nadya
    July 8, 2011

    Reiki, in chronic illness, is ‘process’ healing – more than one session, over a length of time with chronic problems. Acute problems heal more rapidly.

    One of my students, when at a rustic retreat center, did daily Reiki on a staff member who had slipped on a ladder & hurt his foot. (he quietly held the mans foot, no massage or ‘rubbing’)
    The following week several of the staff went into town, & the hurt foot was X-rayed, & he was told it was broken, the MD berated the head of the retreat center for ‘not bringing him in earlier!’
    As they tried to explain that it just happened the week prior, the MD told them No, it had to have happened 4-6 weeks before, as there was too much healing for the break to be that recent (the staff member hadn’t had any injury in the months prior) ….
    After the session with the Doctor, the head of the retreat center (who stopped trying to convince him the incident happened less than a week prior) invited my friend to feel free to offer Reiki to any other staff members who requested it. That summer, several other Reiki practitioners reported similar experiences, usually ~ 1/2 the expected time for the bones to heal.

    Yes, I’ve been present at a few failed attempts to revive someone – I’ve let the medical professionals do their jobs, & stayed out of the way. One was a fatal asthma attack (brought on by ‘adrenal exhaustion’ (per examining MD), or ‘low kidney chi’ (per LAc) & the other drug related. In the case of my Asthmatic friend, another Reiki practitioner & I held his feet as others worked to recessitate him. He had been using an inhaler for years, & the LAc, who examined him a week before his death, had been shocked he had enough ‘kidney chi’ to be mobile.

    I have also used Reiki in Hospice settings, where the goal is providing comfort, rather than life expectancy.

  47. #47 Jojo
    July 8, 2011

    Wait, Nadya’s “Pet ma belly!” story wasn’t a poe? Really? Amazing.

  48. #48 Dangerous Bacon
    July 8, 2011

    “Yes, I’ve been present at a few failed attempts to revive someone – I’ve let the medical professionals do their jobs, & stayed out of the way. One was a fatal asthma attack (brought on by ‘adrenal exhaustion’ (per examining MD), or ‘low kidney chi’ (per LAc)”

    Poll: which of the preceding (alleged) explanations for the fatal asthma attack is dumber, and would reiki enable either practitioner to reason effectively?

  49. #49 Lawrence
    July 8, 2011

    “Kidney Chi?” really? What the hell is that supposed to be?

  50. #50 Lynxreign
    July 8, 2011

    One was a fatal asthma attack…another Reiki practitioner & I held his feet as others worked to recessitate him.

    This person would be fine and alive today were it not for the application of Reiki! As you can see from this anecdote, Reiki kills!

    At least, that’s just as reasonable a conclusion as the idea that it ever helps anyone. Much more realistic to conclude it doesn’t actually do anything at all.

  51. #51 Sastra
    July 8, 2011

    Nadya #45 wrote:

    As they tried to explain that it just happened the week prior, the MD told them No, it had to have happened 4-6 weeks before, as there was too much healing for the break to be that recent (the staff member hadn’t had any injury in the months prior) ….

    Uh huh. All these details are 100% correct with every conversation exactly as recorded and all in proper order (because your memory is perfect and you and everyone else involved including the staff member makes no mistakes when retelling old stories), there is absolutely NO difference or variation in how people heal, NO doctor ever makes an error or speaks hastily, and unconfirmed anecdotal evidence given by convinced advocates about bones healing in “half the expected time” is completely rigorous and reliable.

    Why, a skeptic would have to be crazy to doubt the weight of such evidence, provided as it is by some anonymous stranger on the internet.

    There go the known laws of physics! I’m sold.

    Yes, I know. You are just “sharing” your experience and “offering” another perspective. You’re not trying to convince anyone! It’s not in your nature! Take what we need, and leave the rest. We all need to choose what’s best for ourselves. All you know is what you’ve seen work for yourself and others. We don’t have to believe you. It’s okay.

    You don’t need to test anything, because you’re not making any claims. You’re just working magical healing powers in the ICU, is all. Why are we so upset?

  52. #52 Beamup
    July 8, 2011

    Again I ask – so why exactly haven’t you claimed your free-for-the-taking million bucks?

  53. #53 Todd W.
    July 8, 2011

    @Nadya

    Rather than providing stories that no one can verify and which are prone to many, many confounding variables, why don’t we do this:

    Nadya, if you can demonstrate, under controlled conditions (i.e., confounding variables are minimized) that you can perform as you claim, you will get $1 million dollars. You can keep this and use it yourself or donate it to a charity. Perhaps you’d like to use it to start a reiki school. If you are truly confident in your reiki abilities, then I expect that you will do this and use the money to do good. For more information on this, please pay a visit to this site.

    If you manage to pass the challenge, I will happily support you and will back you up when others challenge you.

  54. #54 Rich Woods
    July 8, 2011

    Nadya, may I add my anecdote to yours?

    For the last few years my father (who is in his seventies) has had various treatments for cancer and, while those have been successful, he has had a pretty rough time. In particular he suffers from a spinal injury (exacerbated by the cancer) which requires long-term treatment. For the record, this has been underway for a year and is looking positive.

    Last Easter he told me that he had attended a Reiki practitioner, simply because one was available, had been mentioned by one of the physios he sees, and he was curious. I should say that my father is quite a level-headed and practical person, and had had a successful 35-year career working in a hospital theatre (an operating room, for anyone unfamiliar with the Brit term).

    He told me how the Reiki practitioner had made him welcome, helped him to lie down on a couch, had dimmed the lights and switched on some comforting ambient music. She talked with him for a while, explaining how Reiki worked and what she was going to do. She then held her hands over his head, and over the course of ten minutes or so, proceeded to move her hands from place to place around his body. He said he felt remarkably relaxed during the entire process, and indeed continued to feel so for the rest of the day. His back pain was, he reported, reduced for much of the day.

    Obviously my father could see my face while he was telling me this. He said “I can see what you think of this, and normally I would think the same, but it didn’t happen to you and you didn’t feel what I felt.” I had to bite my tongue and change the subject, because as much as I would have liked to explain about the placebo effect or the unscientific basis claimed for Reiki, to do so wouldn’t have helped him. It’s more important to me that he feels better, even for short periods. That, I think, is one way by which so much woo manages to survive.

    I should add that the ‘treatment’ was effectively paid for by the NHS (don’t ask me for the details; all I know is that it’s some sort of outpatient/post-treatment arrangement). Because every British taxpayer — myself included — is contributing a fraction of a penny to my father’s continuing quality of life, I’m going to leave it at that. However if it were the case that some woo merchant had suckered him into paying for whalesong and candlelight out of his pension, I (hopefully accompanied by my brother) would be round there applying several hundred joules to the situation.

    I know that little of that is a rational response, but it’s all I can do to make the best of a bad situation.

  55. #55 Alison
    July 8, 2011

    What timing, Orac! I just spent the Fourth of July in the company of friends, one of whom is on a path to self-destruction in good part due to her faith in Reiki. She quit an SSRI cold turkey (I told her not to, but she assured me she knew what she was doing. . .) which hasn’t helped, either. Not only has she spent more money on reiki classes, Bach flower essences and classes, Ayurvedic “treatments” and books and magazines on woo than I have on all my meds and doctor visits, but she’s still suffering through all the issues that science helped me resolve years and years ago.

    Denice Walter hit the nail right on the head. The primary function of these “healing modalities” is to give the person who feels depressed, marginalized, or even just “normal” a sense of somehow being not just in control, but somehow more special.

    She’s not depressed, she’s picking up on the emotional energy of strangers around her. Her “treatments” aren’t failing, she is in the process of understanding the messages the universe is trying to communicate to her. Menopause symptoms are part of your goddess-nature, and can’t be tampered with. She’s teary and fragile because her reiki practice has made her so attuned to herself that subtle energy changes have more effect on her than they do on other people.

    I can’t keep my own blog anonymous enough to say these things, so I’m deeply grateful to you for doing it!

  56. #56 Rich Woods
    July 8, 2011

    @Alison #54:

    You have my heartfelt sympathies. I wish I were able to recommend a line you might take to help your friend further.

  57. #57 Krebiozen
    July 8, 2011

    If one of my loved ones died of an acute asthma attack while someone held onto their feet trying to heal them with magic, and one of their doctors claimed that their asthma was caused by “adrenal exhaustion” I would not be at all happy. In fact I would be seeking legal advice.

    Sadly there are many people like Nadya who sincerely believe that magic like reiki really works and that “kidney chi” is as real as electricity. It often takes a while for them to understand that some of us believe that reiki has no more effect than a chat over a cup of coffee, that they are deceiving themselves and their clients and that “kidney chi” doesn’t exist any more than the Tooth Fairy does.

  58. From the website of Nadya, AKA Ladyharp w/o further comment:

    “Nadya is also an LMT, licensed in Oregon since 1983, a Reiki Master, & Flower Essence Practitioner.”

    “I utilize several forms of healing which transmit energy over distance, & find harmonious sound a delightful vehicle for this transference. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive, as ‘Song Medicine’ offers gentle pain relief, peace of mind, & comfort, without the stress sometimes associated with more ‘physical’ healing forms.”

  59. #59 Rich Woods
    July 8, 2011

    @blog.cordialdeconstruction.com #57

    From the website of Nadya, AKA Ladyharp w/o further comment:

    Then let me add the further comment: she’s completely off her fucking trolley.

  60. #60 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2011

    @ Alison: Many activites can make you *feel better* without actually making you *get* better. I used to talk about this with people who had a serious medical diagnosis to handle: they need to be able differentiate what “feels good” from what has a *significant effect* on physical and/or emotional health ( which is where science comes in: RCTs. Effective treatments may *not* feel good). Alt med often confounds the two. SSRIs are targetted by the alt med crowd as anathema to natural living and as *dangerous* drugs; the stigma of psychiatric diagnosis is involved here as well, as is compliance.

    I compare alt med “treatments” to effective self-care ( as mothers and grandmothers used to teach ) or spa services. But drinking hot tea when you have a cold or getting a massage when you feel stressed is not medical care or therapeutic beyond the extreme short term. People are willing to pay because of the initial feeling of well-being. It doesn’t last if there are underlying problems based in physiology.

  61. #61 Sastra
    July 8, 2011

    Can’t these people stick to art and leave science and medicine alone?

    I have a friend who sometimes plays piano at a hospice. The patients there find it soothing and enjoyable, and that makes them feel better. No ludicrous assertions about “healing energy” or smug claims to know things scientists cannot or implausible allegations regarding dubious powers and abilities. And thus, no demands for evidence or experiment. Art is subjective and “works” if you like it. Fine. No problem.

    Reiki Masters want to be judged by the standards of art when they cover themselves in testable specifics — and get called on it.

  62. #62 Terrie
    July 8, 2011

    @Nadaya – What I’m mostly getting out of your story is that you don’t spend much time around dogs. Golden retrievers are generally high energy dogs — they were originally bred as hunting dogs (hence the “retriever” part of the name). Your emphasis on how “calm” the dog was suggests that he was NOT fully recovered and still quite tired.

    @Alison So sorry to hear about your friend. I’m kinda hoping she takes Prozac. Because it is slowly processed by the body, it’s much safer than other SSRIs to stop cold turkey.

  63. #63 The Crack Emcee
    July 8, 2011

    Cultism in nursing? I hate to say I told you so but, as usual, I told you so – a long time ago. Say it ain’t so!!!!!

    As usual, you’re so late it’s laughable: http://www.sonoma.edu/users/n/nolan/n400/raskin.htm

    They own you now, like a real-life “Rosemary’s Baby.”

    I love you, man, but damn. You know not what you do.

  64. #64 Hamstur
    July 8, 2011

    By the way, Sastra, did you know piano playing works well in combination with other modalities, & there are few counter-indications?*

    Ugh. And the wonderful sciencey-sounding phrases…

    (*With appropriate nods to posts #39 and #61)

  65. #65 Tina S
    July 8, 2011

    This is disturbing. I don’t want this whatever it is used on me in a hospital. Nurses do just fine: eye contact, maybe a touch on the hair or hand, answering questions. I want science, not magic.

  66. #66 Rich Woods
    July 8, 2011

    @Tina S #64:

    I want science, not magic.

    I think I want that on a t-shirt!

  67. I want science, not magic.

    What about people who want both?

    1. If they aren’t doing it to the unwilling,
    2. If they aren’t charging a ruinous amount for it,
    3. If they aren’t discouraging people from getting conventional treatment,

    where’s the problem?

    I’d rather have someone wave their hands over me for free than have some doctor I never saw before poke his head in for twenty seconds and charge me $75 for it.

  68. I want science, not magic.

    What about people who want both?

    1. If they aren’t doing it to the unwilling,
    2. If they aren’t charging a ruinous amount for it,
    3. If they aren’t discouraging people from getting conventional treatment,

    where’s the problem?

    I’d rather have someone wave their hands over me for free than have some doctor I never saw before poke his head in for twenty seconds and charge me $75 for it.

  69. I want science, not magic.

    What about people who want both?

    1. If they aren’t doing it to the unwilling,
    2. If they aren’t charging a ruinous amount for it,
    3. If they aren’t discouraging people from getting conventional treatment,

    where’s the problem?

    I’d rather have someone wave their hands over me for free than have some doctor I never saw before poke his head in for twenty seconds and charge me $75 for it.

  70. #70 Alison
    July 8, 2011

    @Denice – I like your comparison. It’s quite true, as anyone who’s gone through any kind of painful treatment can tell you – the relief often lasts longer than a treatment that just eases the pain. One of the angles that alt-med advocates take is the “empowerment” of the patient, and that, too, fits in. Finding out the scientific basis for your condition and researching what treatments or preventive measures are most likely to be effective is really hard work, and doesn’t usually yield definitive answers. Alt-med, though, insists that it’s right, explains nothing, and makes you feel good right away because you’re in touch with something those soulless intellectuals will never understand.

    Rich and Terrie, this is something that’s gone on for so long. . .she was on Prozac, but it’s still not completely harmless to quit. She took it for many years, prescribed by a DO, and I knew right off that it wasn’t going to cut it. She pronounced herself cured after four sessions with a therapist. She believed that Prozac worked like a benzo, and would pop an extra every once in a while when she felt stressed, certain that it was why she felt better 10-15 minutes later. I’ve spent enough time researching and sharing my medical and psychotherapeutic experiences with others that it’s clear that it’s just not going to end well as long as she’s “healing” herself. What’s actually the worst is that I’ve had conversations with her, she’s even asked my specific advice, only to be dismissed, so I gave up. The result is that now I’m considered by several of our mutual friends to be uncaring and unsupportive. If it weren’t for the mutual friends, I’d be even worse, because I’d take myself out of the picture entirely.

    ‘Cause I’m one of those soulless intellectuals, dontchaknow!

  71. #71 DLC
    July 8, 2011

    Reiki is no better than good old fashioned Witch-Doctoring.
    put on a mask, jump out of the curtains and shout, waving your arms around. Throw magic voodoo dust on the fire. You may as well. The two are functionally the same. They are not better than placebo. I’ve been in the care of nurses before, ones who did not (to the best of my knowledge) use any magic healing woo, just science-based medicine. Post-op the nurse didn’t wave her hands at me or jab pins in a voodoo doll, she gave me ice chips and morphine.

  72. #72 Heliantus
    July 8, 2011

    @ Anthony McCarthy

    I want science, not magic.

    What about people who want both?

    That depends. If they want working magic, I have a wand of cure light wounds I could spare.
    Oh, it’s only working in a game. Never mind.

    I believe we don’t agree on the meaning of some words. Let’s review them together, shall we?

    1. If they aren’t doing it to the unwilling,

    Define “unwilling”.
    Asking someone to submit to a treatment, which, contrary to your claims, has not been proved to work is biasing the patient’s decision. Informed consent and all that. How someone could be rightfully willing if he/she didn’t get the real facts?

    2. If they aren’t charging a ruinous amount for it,

    Define “ruinous”. Is getting nothing for something a good deal? Moreover, is getting nothing for nothing a good deal, when you are expecting something?

    3. If they aren’t discouraging people from getting conventional treatment,

    Define “discouraging”.
    Isn’t pretending that your healing touch (or whatever) saved the patient, along or in lieu of the conventional treatment, going to discourage people to use the conventional treatment, since yours is better/faster/more natural/cheaper/whatever?

    I’d rather have someone wave their hands over me for free than have some doctor I never saw before poke his head in for twenty seconds and charge me $75 for it

    Fine, it’s your life. Just have it done home, don’t come to the ICU. Your hand-waver will get in the way.

  73. #73 CrankyProfessor
    July 8, 2011

    Omigosh – having just spent a couple of weeks on Elderly Parent Patrol and having repelled a few hovering specialists (“NO! He doesn’t NEED a neurologist!) the idea of having to beat back Reikians from my father’s bedside because he might not be able to reach his cane quickly enough….

  74. #74 crankyProfessor
    July 8, 2011

    Oh – and I”m an art historian with a specialty in late antiquity and the middle ages. I always figured that if I didn’t get tenure I’d move to Ithaca (45 miles down the road and full of the credulous) and open a Galenic medicine practice. I could never decide if I should wear a suit and tie or my academical robes (Emory – nice blue color).

  75. #75 Militant Agnostic
    July 9, 2011

    I’d rather have someone wave their hands over me for free than have some doctor I never saw before poke his head in for twenty seconds and charge me $75 for it.

    Would you rather have the nurse looking after you in the ICU spend the time it took to learn magical hand waving bullshit spend that time learning about harmful drug interactions instead?

    Would you rather have your last line of defense against a medical error be a gullible fuzzy headed new age chuzzlewit or a hard headed critical thinker?

    People may want both science and magic, but when magic seeps into the ICU or the ER it will inevitably begin to displace science.

    If we say it it is OK to believe things that contradict reality if they make the believer feel good we enable AGW denialism along with Reiki.

  76. #76 Militant Agnostic
    July 9, 2011

    Sastra

    And of course we know the spirit exists, though we can’t see it, don’t we? That’s just one of those things that’s a given. Who will dare to say it’s not okay to just grant that the spirit exists? We’re only trying then to proceed quite naturally and logically from that common starting point …

    My wife is a Reiki master and this is exactly how she thinks – there just has to be a “life force” or else there couldn’t be life. Her mind is closed to the possibility that it could just be chemical reactions.

  77. #77 Krebiozen
    July 9, 2011

    Jakaranda,

    How did you know what the therapist was doing, or if she was doing anything at all, since you had your eyes closed? What did the therapist say before you closed your eyes? Did she suggest you might feel something? If so, did she tell you where to expect a sensation? Did you see her demonstrate what she was doing on someone else first? Did you tell her what you were feeling, and then she said it was her doing something? Are you sure she didn’t touch you or gently pull on your clothing to unbalance you? Are you quite sure things happened the way you remember?

    Suggestion can be very powerful and our memories can be unreliable. Also, most of us don’t expect people to be dishonest or deceptive, so we tend not to notice when they are. I was conned out of some money in India by two men, and I still don’t quite understand how, but I’m sure nothing supernatural was involved.

  78. #78 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    July 9, 2011

    Jakaranda,
    I just tried standing straight, arms at my side, eyes closed. After a few seconds, I could feel myself wobbling from the myriad natural muscular adjustments to maintain balance. Given a little suggestion, it wouldn’t be hard to attribute that wobble to mystic forces.

  79. #79 Todd W.
    July 9, 2011

    @Jakaranda

    What you describe is very similar to something I saw years ago on a Japanese program called “Koko ga hen da yo, nihonjin,” hosted by Beat Takeshi.

    A martial arts master, IIRC, was a guest, claiming that he could use “ki” to knock people over. He demonstrated with some of his students, then had a couple audience members up who dutifully closed their eyes and stood, hands at their sides and feet together while the martial arts guy waved his hands around in front of them, matching his movements to their wobbles. Each one eventually fell off balance, saying that they felt some sort of force.

    Takeshi then came down and asked the guy to do the trick on him, but refused to close his eyes, saying, quite reasonably, that closing one’s eyes greatly decreases balance, so of course the person is going to fall. Takeshi also pointed out how suggestion played a role in people “feeling” a sensation, as well as how the martial arts guy moved his hands to match the wobbles of the volunteers, rather than his hand movements preceding corresponding wobbles.

    In your description, you were primed with suggestion to “feel” something when she supposedly walked toward you. Your eyes were closed, so you couldn’t be absolutely certain whether she moved at all. That simple technique is enough to make you start paying attention to little sensations that you might otherwise have ignored. You’re standing with your eyes closed, making it difficult to balance. You wobble. Eventually, you feel something that coincides with a backward wobble, where you know she stood. You both attribute it to her “powers,” when the more likely explanation is that it was you all along. Nothing magical, just simple physical processes: muscles twitching, nerves firing and a brain interpreting things within a primed context. In short, you fooled yourself.

    I’ve experienced similar things before. It is very, very easy to believe that the sensations came from outside. For me, the most difficult part was acknowledging that I had fooled myself, that I was gullible. It’s an ego blow, and it takes courage to admit when you’re wrong.

  80. #80 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2011

    @ Jakaranda: there are many interesting visual and sensory illusions** that charlatans can manipulate to impress the public. A powerful physical effect is *induced movement*- if you’re sitting in a stationary car and the vehicle next to you backs up ( if it is your main visual frame of reference), you will feel strong movement although you are standing still. Similarly, a single stationary light in an otherwise dark environment will appear to move about. I venture that the “pull” was a masterful combination of a few of these sensory illusions after she had first affected your balance. Having your “eyes open” -( in both senses of the term) or moving them about- negates many of the effects.

    Where does the con come in, as the treatment was free? Even the websites whose primary function is selling nutrients don’t rely upon substances alone but offer “educational” and “informational” services as well. Many forms of pseudo-science can be “studied” at “institutes” or through “seminars” ( nutrition, homeopathy, et al): reiki is “taught” at weekend seminars by level of expertise at quite exorbitant rates: unfortunately, I don’t have one of my “Inner Realm” weeklies ( really, the Woo Ad Pages) handy or I’d quote you- I vaguely recall 300 USD or so for the entry level.

    Perhaps, after “convincing” you of her puissance ( as well as herself), she was trying to recruit you? Of course, she wants to spread the good news about reiki- word of mouth as they say. After several weekends spent learning the arcane wisdom of hand waving, you too can “pull goo”!

    To be totally serious: in the aftermath of the Great Recession, I observe that “classes” for “careers” are being heavily advertised in pages such as those mentioned above ( as well as by web woo-meisters promoting “home businesses”): giving false hope to the unemployed or the financially strapped as well as those seeking health solutions. We may see hoardes of massage therapists or herbalists without a clientele able to afford their services.

    ** studied scientifically as “perception”.

  81. #81 Tina S
    July 9, 2011

    @Anthony McCarthy the thought criminal: Sounds like you need to find a new doctor. I would find reiki treatment as offensive as being prayed over against my wishes. It does not belong in a hospital. It should not be offered by nurses. If a patient wants this they can bring in their therapist from the outside. Hospitals are for medical science, not magic and mysticism.

    When I was six years old surgeons removed pieces of bone from my brain during one surgery and then put a plate over the resulting hole in my skull in a second surgery, which is still there 37 years later. They saved my life. What would reiki have done for me? “it doesn’t do any harm.” Bull. The harm is that people take it seriously and truly think it helps.

  82. #82 Krebiozen
    July 9, 2011

    Will we ever see a reiki master waving their hands about at a shuttle launch (if we ever have any more), or at the test flight of a new aircraft? Or will this trend towards superstitious nonsense restrict itself to medicine? I’m just wondering where this is going, and where it will end.

  83. #83 Ken
    July 9, 2011

    OK, folks, obviously the only way to settle this is with a test. I need 50 volunteers. Each will be subjected to injury simulating a major car accident. 25 will be treated through an ER/ICU, and 25 will be treated through reiki. We will then compare outcomes.

    To remove a possible confounding element, all volunteers should believe in the effectiveness or reiki. This will prevent their disbelief from harshing the mojo.

  84. #84 gwen
    July 9, 2011

    Orac, I have long been by poor quality and high bullshit factor of the the Nursing CEUs offered to nurses nowadays. Woo is pervasive in the conferences to the point where it is difficult to find an uncontaminated conference (which cost BTW ~$400-500). My co-workers absorb the bullshit uncritically. As if, if were presented at a CONFERENCE it must then be scientific.

  85. #85 LindaRosaRN
    July 9, 2011

    Egads, is everyone pixielated over at at *Critical Care Nursing Quarterly*?

    A systematic review of Reiki by Ezard Ernst (2008) concluded, after throwing out 196 of 205 identified studies:

    “[T] he evidence is insufficient to suggest that reiki is an effective treatment for any condition. Therefore the value of reiki remains unproven.”

    The rise of Reiki in nursing is directly due to the vacuum created by Emily Rosa’s experiment on Therapeutic Touch which was published in JAMA (someone cited it above). TT, long the rising star in nursing CAM, took a big PR hit by a little girl who was just curious and did some basic research on the “human energy field.” But there was something else. The JAMA paper, after going through the most rigorous of reviews, concluded:

    “To our knowledge, no other objective, quantitative study involving more than a few TT practitioners has been published, and no well-designed study demonstrates any health benefit from TT. These facts, together with our experimental findings, suggest that TT claims are groundless and that further use of TT by health professionals is unjustified.”

    I take this to mean that the practice of TT is legally indefensible.

    Since Reiki and TT don’t have a spit of difference between them, this should hold for Reiki, as well.

  86. #86 Sian Morton
    July 9, 2011

    My registered nurse daughter, now training to be a midwife, was outraged at recently spending 60 minutes of her valuable life at an inservice on reflexology. There is really no place for these sorts of nonsense therapies in evidence based practice. It reflects badly on those who consider they even have a place in the curriculum.

  87. #87 Marry Me, Mindy
    July 9, 2011

    What would reiki have done for me? “it doesn’t do any harm.” Bull. The harm is that people take it seriously and truly think it helps.

    If the ICU is offering reiki to patients, it is either because

    1) They think it works, in which case they are
    a) at best, ignorant, or alternatively
    b) woo-loons, or
    2) They know it doesn’t work, but have no qualms about lying to patients telling them it does work

    I know that if my wife or other loved-one were in critical condition and needed intensive care, I would not consider ignorance, idiocy, or dishonesty to be among the traits I would want in their caregiver. It’s absolutely indefensible.

  88. #88 Militant Agnostic
    July 10, 2011

    LindaRosaRN @87

    Since Reiki and TT don’t have a spit of difference between them, this should hold for Reiki, as well.

    You are obviously unaware of the major distinction between Reiki and TT. Reiki practitioners have their chakras attuned by Reiki masters. The TT practitioners failed Emily Rosa’s test because they did not have these attunements. Reiki practitioners would have passed the test since they all have been attuned by masters who were attuned by other masters going all the way back to Usui who was attuned by …. Oh – never mind ;)

  89. #89 Militant Agnostic
    July 10, 2011

    Jakaranda

    1 don’t buy the explanation that I necessarily somehow failed at perception?

    If you think you can’t be fooled, you are setting yourself up to be fooled. If you are human, your perceptions can mislead you.

    I’ve seen similar things on late night martial arts documentaries and such like.

    And on YouTube I’ve seen these martial artists who knock their students over with “ki” get their asses kicked when they go up against someone who doesn’t believe their “bullshido”.

  90. #90 LindaRosaRN
    July 10, 2011

    Dear Militant Agnostic,

    You claim: “Reiki practitioners would have passed [Emily Rosa's] test since they all have been attuned by masters…”

    Well, wonderful, let’s set the time and place for Reiki practitioners to show their stuff!

    Please contact me to make arrangements (comments@scienceinmedicine.org).

    Or contact the James Randi Educational Foundation if you want to win the JREF prize.

    Sincerely,
    Linda Rosa

    It is my understanding that Reiki proponents also claim, like TT practitioners, that Reiki is an innate ability.

  91. #91 Denice Walter
    July 10, 2011

    @ Jakaranda: You didn’t “somehow fail at perception”- it’s how perception *works*. Another example: if you look at the moon at the horizon, it looks gigantic although when it’s at zenith it appears much smaller. It didn’t change size over the course of a few hours, did it? It remained the same size on your retina. It is a perceptual illusion that all people experience called ( wittily) the “moon illusion”.

    I don’t know exactly what the “pull” and the “goo” were but I venture that is wasn’t any unleashing of “chi”, “motion at a distance” or the universal life force made corporeal. I too studied martial arts/ yoga** (for exercise)and play tennis. Our bodies create many intriguing sensations and impressions, some of them illusory. I occasionally feel as though I can fly: I can’t. I attribute the feelings to adrenaline, endorphin, and other neuro-transmitter activity, not “prana”.

    @ Militant Agnostic ( @ 77):

    I stand in awe of you and cannot fathom how you manage on a daily basis (“married to a Reiki master”). Opposites attract, they tell us. Love makes the world go round.

    ** thus I well acquainted with their world view and system of explanations via real world experience. Advocates sell classes and seminars using the raw material of pleasant sensations, increased flexibility, and mobility: which is *honest* if you stick to those characteristics but dishonest if you talk about mystical benefits, like “immortality”- which I’ve heard.

  92. #92 Militant Agnostic
    July 10, 2011

    LindaRosaRN@93

    Apparently you missed this at the end of my post

    Usui who was attuned by …. Oh – never mind ;)

    One of the key features of Reiki is the need for attunements from a master. If it were completely innate, the Reiki master would have a hard time recouping the cost of their training. Since the “big money” is in teaching Reiki rather than practicing it this results in something that grows exponentially similar to an MLM scheme. I suspect that most people who receive a Reiki treatment leave thinking “WTF – is that all there is to it” and don’t come back. As a result many Level IIs proceed on to the Master level where they train more masters and so it goes.

    Do TT practitioners make the same outrageous* claims (it works over the phone or even at just at a distance)as do Reiki practitioners?

    *as in even more outrageous than the claim that it works at all.

  93. #93 Ann The Mad
    July 10, 2011

    It seems to me that there’s already a place in the health-care systems (especially in hospitals) for faith-based practices that don’t fit into the scientific, evidence-based model.

    It’s pastoral care.

    I can’t see any rational objections to Reiki practitioners offering their services through the hospital chaplaincy. That’s where it belongs.

  94. #94 The Crack Emcee
    July 10, 2011

    My registered nurse daughter, now training to be a midwife, was outraged at recently spending 60 minutes of her valuable life at an inservice on reflexology.

    They’re spreading the cult right under your noses and all you guys can do is argue with them over whether it’s real – though you already know it isn’t.

    You should be destroying the networks – identifying who’s in it, who O.K.’d it for medical use, etc – but hey, what do I know?

    Nobody’s waving their hands around in my workplace.

  95. #95 Ken
    July 10, 2011

    Ann @96: Good idea, but I see two shortcomings.

    For chaplains, this will be more competition for the reserved parking spaces.

    For the reiki practitioners, they will have to follow the rules for hospital pastoral care, which usually means they can’t charge for the services. (Personally I would think that requiring payment would create emotional barriers and restrict the flow of healing qi, but I might be wrong; after all, I don’t make this stuff up for a living.)

  96. #96 marcia
    July 10, 2011

    When you have Johnson and Johnson giving Reiki scholarships, as an RN, I can only throw up my hands, or maybe just throw up.

    http://www.urbanzen.org/news/johnson-johnsons-campaign-nursings-future-uzit-scholarship-opportunity/

  97. #97 Militant Agnostic
    July 10, 2011

    Ken @98

    Personally I would think that requiring payment would create emotional barriers and restrict the flow of healing qi, but I might be wrong; after all, I don’t make this stuff up for a living.

    You would be wrong – an “exchange” is an important part of the Reiki process. It is, as always, all about the benjamins. Someone doing Reiki for free is a heretic.

    @99 the “nursings-future” part of the URL you posted scares the hell out of me.

  98. #98 reality1
    July 10, 2011

    Thank you. Reiki is the most bogus thing out there. And, I have been trained in this stupid doo doo. Yes, I have a certificate stating I am a 2nd degree Usui Reiki practitioner (some certs state the holder is trained “in the real right and true Usui Reiki tradition.” Only a fool wouldn’t be laughing out loud.

    The teachers and practitioners are usually bodywork wannabes who do not want to exercise the discipline and dollars to actually LEARN anything about anatomy/physiology/myofascial systems, etc. AND after 3 weekends and $1000 (I stopped after the 2nd class and this was years ago, so the ripoff wasn’t too bad on my pocket) and they are suddenly “Master Energy experts.” AND they charge all get out for this Kool Aid. I even have a certificate in “QUantum Healing,” trademarked by Kwan Yin. I wasn’t aware that a disembodied entity could be trademarked. Oh well. That was years ago that I ventured into that land of ridiculous woo woo and I keep those certificates as a joke. Unfortunately, most morons, upon hearing that I am certified in Quantum Healing (which I introduce as a joke, but which they don’t get) really start to OOOOHHH and AAHHH over my “accomplishment.” Of course, I’m no sadist and always quickly inform them of my intended sarcasm.

    Now, there really IS energy called chi and there are traditions 18,000 years old that in fact channel that chi. Those would be the taoist martial, meditative and medicinal arts. I do not use conventional allopathic doctors. EVER. Theirs is the province of the primitive, neanderthal “slash, burn and poison” camp, which is very, very damaging to the human body. Chinese medicine did more for me through illness and injury over many decades than any conventional doctor ever has or could.

    However, I was very happy to read someone clearly and succinctly state out loud that Reiki is a load of junk. Because it is. You will find lots these snake oil saleswomen and men also with those fake, downloadable “pastoral/spiritual/esoteric counseling” documents they wave in your face and charge lots of money for sessions. Pedophiles can download those things . . . Consumers really need to wake up and ask all the questions you should before submitting to anyone’s “healing” practices.

  99. #99 Sastra
    July 10, 2011

    reality1 wrote:

    Now, there really IS energy called chi and there are traditions 18,000 years old that in fact channel that chi. Those would be the taoist martial, meditative and medicinal arts. I do not use conventional allopathic doctors. EVER… However, I was very happy to read someone clearly and succinctly state out loud that Reiki is a load of junk.

    Are you trying to give us whiplash?

    I think that if you read it again you’ll discover that the clear and succinct criticisms of reiki were also clear and succinct criticisms of chi energy.

    I’m curious here. Can you list any other “energies” which cannot be measured by any scientific instruments?

  100. #100 Denice Walter
    July 10, 2011

    @ reality1 : what the ancients call “chi” is physical-i.e. sensations from a physical nervous system ( not a mystical energy, flowing along fictional meridians) subject to the laws of physics,etc., as *interpretted* by us – the sensations are real, the traditional explanation is not. As I’ve said, I sometimes feel as if I can fly- “as if” being the key phrase. Metaphor and reality were easier to mix up in a pre-scientific world.

    @ Jakaranda: Freud wrote “Psychological reality is the only reality”. I have no idea what the “goo” is or how you were “set up” but the explanation has to conform to the laws of nature *plus* how the situation is *interpretted* by a person. Of course she believed in her “powers”: she already put the money down and probably would like being able to help others. Who wouldn’t! The laws of nature include topics psychologists study like learning, perception, cognition, illusions, emotions, motivation. Woo powers may be “effective” psychologically but that doesn’t make them “real” beyond that- if you want to know about real magic, study attention, memory, and thinking.

  101. #101 Militant Agnostic
    July 10, 2011

    there are traditions 18,000 years old that in fact channel that chi.

    This isn’t the argument from ancient wisdom fallacy, it is the argument from prehistoric wisdom. Good luck with finding evidence that hte conept chi is 18000 years old.

    I too steer clear of “conventional allopathic doctors”. If any doctor were to attempt to bleed me, talked about balancing humors or prescribed toxic doses of metals (I am not afraid of a tiny amount of exthyl mercury or alum), I would be out of there like a shot.

    Sastra

    I think that if you read it again you’ll discover that the clear and succinct criticisms of reiki were also clear and succinct criticisms of chi energy.

    Especially since “ki” (as in Reiki) and “chi” are just different pronunciations of the same word.

  102. #102 Sastra
    July 10, 2011

    Jakaranda:

    Before you had this sense of being pulled, were you absolutely ignorant of what reiki was? Never heard of chi, hadn’t read anything about ‘chakras,’ totally unacquainted with Eastern religions, didn’t know there would be forces, had zero idea that reiki involved any sensations, never saw anyone have spiritual healing, didn’t occur to you that mysterious powers could be at work, couldn’t even form in your mind any expectation that any feelings involving pulling, pushing, warmth, tingling, or creeping might, just might, be part of the experience of a reiki healing? You walked in off the street thinking maybe you were getting a henna tattoo?

    No, wait, you signed up for “free energy work” at a yoga center where you were studying to become an instructor. Somehow, I think you may have had just the beginnings of an inkling of suspicion of the possibility that you just might maybe feel “the pull of goo.” The pull of goo didn’t come out of the blue, so to speak.

    The reiki practitioner probably was very sincere — but you were probably “primed” before you walked in. The danger of considering yourself a cynic is that you’re less prepared for the experience of common perceptual illusions like the ideomotor effect: you think you can’t have them if you don’t “believe” in them. Nothing makes a person more vulnerable than the assumption that they’re more skeptical than most, and so it’s harder to fool them.

  103. #103 Dangerous Bacon
    July 10, 2011

    “The pull of goo didn’t come out of the blue…”

    Cole Porter? Is that you?

  104. #104 LW
    July 11, 2011

    I’m still trying to figure out what the “pull of goo” would feel like. My experience with anything I would describe as goo is that it kind of oozes and drips and if you tried to pull on it, you just get it on your fingers.

  105. #105 Sastra
    July 11, 2011

    If you place your hands palm to palm and start moving them back and forth while concentrating, you can sometimes start to feel as if there was an invisible elastic band connecting them and being ‘pulled’ back and forth. This sensation is enhanced if surrounded by a lot of bells and whistles such as suggestion, expectation, or attention. I don’t think your experience is particularly bizarre or outside of natural explanation. Technically, we don’t feel with our hands or our feet or our backs: we feel with our brain.

  106. #106 Dangerous Bacon
    July 11, 2011

    Instead of R-E-I-K-I in the I.C.U., give me R-O-C-K in the U.S.A.

  107. #107 Erin
    July 12, 2011

    Do the doctors write on the back of the nurses plan for the day “2 hours of intense reiki” alongside “start noradrenaline”? I mean how is this even incorporated into a busy ICU? I am an ICU nurse in the paediatric unit and in NZ we are also the respiratory technicians… so that does not allow a blip of time for pseudoscience to rear its ugly head when caring for a critically ill patient. To be honest, if I came across an RN performing that on my gravely ill child I would report them. Since when did we trash evidence based practice?

  108. #108 Ken
    July 12, 2011

    Adding to Sastra @112, see http://www.cracked.com/article_17103_5-ways-your-brain-messing-with-your-head.html.* It turns out to be easy to induce some really weird perceptions by actions as simple as repetitive stroking, or having them close their eyes for a few moments. Sometimes you don’t even have to have them close their eyes – follow the links in the “Change Blindness” section for some really weird stuff.

    * I get all my science from Cracked, but they link to the original research.

  109. #109 Yoga Teacher Training
    July 28, 2011

    Science and faith doesn’t mix. A debate based on these two factors cannot be ever won to the satisfaction of both sides. You have a point, and it is excellent. Yet, there are benefits to giving a person hope and the will to keep on fighting. Aside from Reiki and other similar methods, calling a priest or a pastor has shown that the patient will have less stress and it strengthens their faith. Other resources such as this might have been used to fill a certain need. I am not saying that it is right or wrong – people just sometimes do things to try to help.