"Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the object before us,
another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own mind."
  - William James 

(Investigator 152, 2013 September)

Therapeutic Touch (TT) is one of many forms of alternative therapies; a non-contact, form of treatment, described by Krieger (1986) as, "…a healing meditation;" (p. 35). She also claims it is a "natural human potential" which, "…elicits a generalized relaxation response, …" (Krieger, 1986, p. 16), that it reduces pain, (Krieger, 1993, p. 13), accelerates healing (pp. 13-14) and is helpful in alleviating psychosomatic disorders such as asthma, (p. 14).

While Wager (1996) and other followers of TT encourage its wider use, as, "… an adjunct to conventional medical care," (p. 3), there remains a great deal of uncertainty about alternative therapies amongst the more orthodox medical professionals. Many, as Maddocks (1985) indicated, are undecided whether to, "…reject it, ignore it, or employ it more often". (p. 547). In part, the hesitancy of orthodox practitioners is due to their general uneasiness concerning therapies that are based upon, "…numerous forms of energy alien to physics…" (Raso, 1995, p. 33) 

Most alternative therapies are remnants of a time before the appearance of scientifically based concepts of medicine; a time when, without understanding the actual causes of infection and illness, alternative theories, based upon religion, superstition and pseudo-science, offered the only explanations. While one would expect that, with the emergence of scientific medicine and an understanding of the causes of disease, such primitive theories would have been discarded, unfortunately this is not what has happened! Not only have these alternative, non-scientific therapies persisted, but regrettably, in our present era, they have become increasingly more popular; approximately 50% of Americans now consult alternative therapists for health problems, (Greenwald, 2001).

Even more disturbing is that, despite their lack of scientific validity, some forms of alternative therapy are now being taught at tertiary institutions, sadly, TT has infiltrated the nursing profession and is now so widely accepted, it is included in the teaching syllabus of many nursing colleges.

Given the widespread acceptance of TT It seems appropriate to examine the origins and basis of TT with the objectives of determining: -

1)    If the claims made about TT are valid?
2)    If the principles claimed to be the basis of TT are realistic and factually based; and
3)    Does TT meet the levels of objective criteria required of modern health therapies?

To better appreciate the fundamental principles that are the basis of TT one must first abandon all modern and orthodox scientific ideas in favour of a world-view where the fundamental forces driving the universe beliefs are metaphysical and vitalistic.

Most alternative therapies, including TT, are based upon vitalistic principles. An ancient, pre-scientific concept Vitalism attributed all "life" to a metaphysical origin, usually to a supernatural or divine force. A later Hellenic model proposed a spontaneously creative "life-force" that permeated the universe and had, by creating order out of the primeval chaos, began the process of "creation". Vitalism proposes that all living organisms in the cosmos, including humans, are a product of this, "… non-physical inner force or energy…" (Carroll, 2003, p.402)

TT claims that the human body is not really a physical organism, rather it is a collection of energy fields; it comprises, "… a localized dynamic interaction of several principal force fields that span a spectrum of vitality, life-force and creative living energies." (Krieger, 1997, p. 36) Furthermore, these "energies" it claims, are "celestial" in origin, "…the energies "out there" in the universe become a human being." (p. 49) Not only that, but these mysterious energies, "…are held together by the collective prana…" (p. 53)

An important aspect of vitalistic theories was that the individual life-process can only persist while this ethereal energy flows into, and throughout the body, and that health disorders were due to interference in this vital flow, an "internal blockages", which, if severe enough, could even cause death. Such ideas are fundamental components of TT which claims it is the "dynamic interaction" of these various energies which ensure that the organism maintains a healthy positive "balance"; occasionally however, if certain negative factors cause an energy imbalance,  "…the person becomes ill." (Krieger, 1993, p. 46), and, at such times, "…it becomes the healer's charge to rebalance the healee's energies."  (pp. 46-47)

Traditionally, vitalism claims that these animating energies generate a field of invisible light, known as the Aura or the human energy field (HEF). Paracelsus (1493-1541) described this as a luminous sphere of multicoloured lights and that brightly glowing colours in the HEF indicated good health, while dark colours, (which, it was claimed, were usually located directly over the affected area), indicated ill-health. It was claimed that not only could this energy field be "seen" by those with special abilities, but they could also use it to interpret the individual's state of health by examining these various colours within the HEF; this then is the basis of TT.

The HEF is an essential component of TT; it was described by the Theosophist Blavatsky, (1889) as a form of "psychic effluvium", produced by the intense energies radiating out from the body, and, that displayed within the HEF, are detectable patterns of both mental and physical energy! Kunz and Peper (1995) claim these patterns are reflections of our individual thoughts and emotions, while the patterns of physical energy reflect the function and operation of every body organ.

This then is the basis of TT; Krieger (1993) claims that TT involves, "…the knowledgeable use of the therapeutic functions of the human energy field" (p. 16) and that TT is, "…concerned with the mechanisms by which utilizable energy is generated, transferred and manipulated to do work in biological systems." (Krieger, 1997, p. 11)

She claims that therapeutic touch practitioners, (TTP) are not only able to use their special abilities to "perceive" signs within the invisible HEF that indicate whether the individual is healthy or not, but even more extraordinarily they are able to manipulate "…the human body's energy fields: the external etheric body or aura and the chain of internal energy centres or chakras" (Rubens, Gyurkovics and Hornacek, 1995, p. 1262) to restore the sick to good health! According to Krieger, when therapeutic touch practitioners (TTP) move their hands within the invisible HEF, (but without actually touching the body), they are able to detect and interpret the subtle energy patterns within the HEF. Autonomous, (balanced) patterns, indicate good health while "dysrhythmic" (out of balance) patterns, indicate the presence of illness. If they "perceive" signs which indicate the individual is unhealthy, then they are able to manipulate the HEF restoring balance and stability to the HEF, which produces a condition of good health in the patient!

Furthermore, if the patient is suffering a "depletion" in vital energy, the TTP can transfer some of their own life-force energy, (via their hand chakras), into the patient's HEF, boosting the patient's own healing system, and accelerating the speed of their recovery!

Although in the West the vitalistic energy had been principally perceived as a form of spiritual form of energy, from the 16th century onwards, especially after 1600 when William Gilbert published his De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure ("On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies, and on That Great Magnet the Earth"), this force was increasingly perceived to be a form of magnetism, or a magnetic fluid. Although the concept of the form of the energy changed, the essential  belief remained that human illness was due to either depletion or imbalance of this energy remained. Principal advocates of the magnetism theory were Jan van Helmont, (1580-1644) and Mesmer, (1734-1815), and their ideas that were to form the basis of the many "bioenergetic" theories that would emerge in the following centuries.

Helmont believed "dominant" individuals could "discharge" their own "magnetic fluid" into other, weaker individuals, overwhelming their will. Mesmer, who combined astrology, mysticism and vitalism with some of Helmont's ideas, claimed the universe was filled with a mysterious cosmic energy, a gravitas universalis, (Zweig 1932, p. 19). He called this substance ‘animal magnetism' and he believed that humans, were especially susceptible to the actions of the, "… earthly and celestial magnetic forces"  (Oldfield and Coghill, 1988, p. 45), and that, "…an imbalance of the universal fluid within the body produced illness."  (Wolberg, 1948, p. 2) He believed that magnetism could be used by healers to cure the sick and he began to use magnets, waving them over and around patients, believing this would restore the internal balance of their animal magnetism, and so would cure them. He "progressed" to having patients sit around tubs of "magnetized water" holding metal rods immersed in the water so as to receive the magnetic energy. Later, he adopted Helmont's practice of discharging his own "healthy" animal magnetism into patients by, "…passing his hands up and down the length of the patient's body without actually touching the surface." (Miller, 1997, p. 5) Later this technique came to be known as "magnetic" or "mesmeric passes".

Ultimately, hundreds of these alternative "therapies" including TT would follow the basic pseudo-scientific ideas of Helmont and Mesmer in claiming to be able to identify depletions or imbalances of the "vital" fluid and to be able to restore the normal flow and balance of the internal energy.

During the 18th-19th centuries the West was exposed to many Asian philosophies, and, in particular a number of Indian religious and philosophical ideas were widely promoted by the Theosophical movement. One particular concept concerned the vitalistic theory of the Etheric Body, (Aura) which came to represent an important component in many Western alternative health theories. As Guiley (1991) noted in 1845 Baron von Reichenbach claimed that this vital energy, ("Od" or the "Odic force) could be seen, "…by clairvoyants as luminous radiations similar to an aurora borealis, and can be sensed as hot or cold." (p. 629) 

Theosophist Leadbeater widely promoted the Etheric Body and a number of other Indian religious concepts, introducing to the West such esoteric concepts as prana, a cosmic life-giving energy, and chakras, (Leadbeater, 1927), body centres that, according to Feuerstein, (1987), collect and concentrate prana. A number of concepts that were later to become prominent features of TT were originally popularised in the West by Leadbeater; these were that: -

a)    The prana was manifested as an HEF;
b)    That, although the HEF was Invisible it could be "detected" by those who are specially trained, who could also detect subtle imbalances in the field;
c)    That the chakras were important components in that they could be used to transmit "healing" energy from healers into patients.

Many of Leadbeater's ideas appear to have been introduced into TT via Dora Kunz, a student and associate of Leadbeater, who was later to be the teacher and colleague of Krieger. Strangely, although Krieger incorporated many of the metaphysical teachings of Leadbeater into TT, virtually unchanged, their actual origins remain unacknowledged. While Krieger (1997) acknowledged she used material from Kunz, whom she described as "…an acknowledged contemporary authority on the clinical aspects of chakra dynamics" (p. 50), no mention is made of Leadbeater. Yet his ideas are constantly referred to, such as when Krieger (1997) emphasizes the role of the chakras, as being, "…of major importance at the supraphysical level, where they act as the principal agents for focusing energy to the physical body." (p. 58) Interestingly, Krieger initially referred to the vital energy component of TT as prana, (the term used by Leadbeater); however, according to Glickman (1987), after some criticism of her work, she "…dropped the prana explanation and embraced the human energy field (HEF) concept then being developed by Rogers."  (p. 15)

Claims by Krieger that TT is a new, scientific development are totally incorrect; TT is nothing more than a New Age update of a number of ancient forms of what Raso (1996) referred to as "touch therapy" or the "laying-on-of-hands". In particular, TT appears to have extensively purloined many ideas from Rei'ki and Pranic Healing, adding its own raggle-taggle collection of obscure non-scientific Eastern and Theosophical philosophies. Overall it appears to be primarily a synthesis of two principal metaphysical concepts, namely: -

1.    That there exists a mystical energy that can be utilized by  TTP's for healing purposes; and,
2.    That all humans possess certain latent psychic powers that, with proper psychic training, are capable of being greatly developed. (Oltramere, 1921) 

Yet, while TT must stand or fall on the validity of the existence of the metaphysical healing energy, and the claimed ability of TTP's to manipulate these energies, the supporters of TT are not only unable to provide any empirical evidence of the existence of these energies, but even more damaging, they are themselves, when properly tested, unable to detect the so-called energy flows, despite the claims by supporters of TT that the energy flow of the HEF is, "…fairly easy to feel." (Wager, 1996, p. 49)

Rosa, Rosa, Sarner and Barrett (1998) tested twenty-one TTP's in a situation whereby the TTP's were unable to see the subjects. Depending on the toss of a coin, the subjects would place their right hand directly above either the TTP's right or left hand. Required to identify which hand was being tested, the TTP's were correct in only 44% of the tests, a rate which as Rosa et al. (1998) observed, "…is close to what would be expected for random chance." (p. 1005), clearly suggesting the TTP's were unable to "feel" the HEF of the test subjects.

Overall, like many alternative therapies, TT appears to be little more than an elaborate charade; however, to be fair, it does seem that TT can actually produce relaxation, reduce pain, accelerate healing and is useful in treating psychosomatic disorders; however, while Krieger attributes these effects directly to the TT process, it appears that she has either little understanding of, or has chosen to overlook the fact that there are other well-known psychological principles that are capable of producing such physical responses in patients.

Krieger (1993), claimed that the responses of TT patients are not, "…solely or overtly due to suggestion or persuasion."  (p. 11), and, that the process does not involve, "…a passive, trancelike, or hypnagogic state." (p. 13) However, the facts clearly contradict these claims. Indeed, when one examines the instructions given by Krieger, (1993, pp. 22-31), to enable the TTP to assess the HEF it is quite clearly a hypnotic induction combining both autohypnosis and heterohypnosis techniques, one that relies primarily upon the power of suggestion for both the TTP and the patient.

Kroger (1977) defined suggestion as "…the uncritical acceptance of an idea … the process by which sensory impressions are conveyed in a meaningful manner to evoke altered psychophysiologic responses." (p. 7). Suggestions can be verbal, nonverbal, direct or indirect, and can even involve such innocuous factors as the appearance, behaviour, gestures and facial expressions of others, especially the therapist. Suggestion is particularly powerful when specific social and cultural expectations of an individual are utilized. Thus, a witch doctor shaking his rattle and uttering magical spells, a Christian priest sprinkling holy water and praying, a magnetizer making "magnetic passes", or a TTP waving their hands around a subject are all creating powerful suggestions attuned to the particular beliefs and expectations of their subjects. 

Even if the subject is not a believer, there are still powerful underlying influences that can influence behaviour and produce a psychosomatic response in subject. As Hebb (1955) indicated, when an individual experiences a reduction in sensory input, or they are subjected to a monotonous or unchanging condition, the sensory system of the brain tends to shift its focus, and subjects can experience altered states of consciousness (ASC) which can be manifested as imaginary visual, auditory or kinetic sensations. Given that the TTP would likely have a strong belief in the effectiveness of the TT process, and their clients would probably have similar opinions, it should not come as a surprise to find that both the TTP and the subject would experience certain psychosomatic experiences.

While emphasizing the "metaphysical" aspects of TT, Krieger unintentionally revealed that, during the Centring Phase, the TTP enters, and remains in, an autohypnotic condition. This is evident from Krieger's own descriptions of Centring, she describes the process as, "…an act of self-searching, a going within to explore the deep levels of yourself" (Krieger, 1993, p. 17) and elsewhere as a, "…qualitatively different state of consciousness and quietude." (Krieger, 1995, p. 265) Such descriptions are clearly indicative of an ASC.

This fact that this "centered state of consciousness" must be maintained throughout the entire TT healing process (Krieger, 1986, p. 37; 1993, p. 18; 1995, p. 265) reinforces the impression that the TTP is actually in an ASC, and, in such a condition, would be particularly sensitive to any impressions, real or imaginary, that might occur to them during the time they are sweeping their hands around the patient.

Her claims that, during this time, TTP's are able to perceive "variations of energy" within the HEF, are easily explained, for if the hands and arms are held upright or waved around for a period of time, in the manner recommended for the TTP, definite physical sensations do appear in the arms, however, these feelings are nothing more than the sensation of muscle fatigue.  However, while only muscle fatigue, these feelings would have a powerful effect on someone expecting to receive definite "impressions" from the HEF, and would serve to reinforce their belief of anyone using this technique that they had actually experienced some form of  "metaphysical feedback".

Most importantly, the hand-waving process serves another purpose; to hypnotize the patient. As previously mentioned, the technique known as magnetic, mesmeric or hypnotic passes, was once used by Mesmer and his disciples, (Moss 1979), who erroneously believed it enabled them to transmit "magnetic energy" into their subjects.

Weitzenhoffer (1957) described the "passes" as, "…hand gestures made by the hypnotist over the subject's body with or without contact." (p. 295) Bernheim (1886), referred to this same technique in a report to the French Academy of Science in 1831, describing, "…certain movements called passes, which are made a short distance from the body…" (p. 107)

Moss (1979) and Weitzenhoffer (1957) provide descriptions of two different "magnetizing" techniques, both remarkably similar to the TT process. In Moss's version Jack, the hypnotist, "… would wave his hands a slight distance from the body, starting above the top of the head and gradually moving down around the arms and torso, all the way to the feet… "(p. 100). The method described by Weitzenhoffer was slightly different in that the hypnotist instructed the patient to become passive (to relax), then, after "fixating" them with his eyes, would touch the shoulders and run his hands down the patient's arms; then, placing his hands several inches above the patient's head would make downward passes until he reached the "pit of the stomach" then, after a short delay, the passes continued downwards from the stomach to the knees. To end the session, passes were made in front of the face and over the chest "… at a distance of three to four inches." (p. 280) While one might doubt the possible effectiveness of such a simple technique as Moss (1979) indicated he would test subject's who had been induced in this manner "by sticking a needle or pin a good half-inch into the flesh …and there would be no reaction…" (p. 100)

This same process was widely used in the past as an effective form of anaesthesia. During the 1840's, English surgeon James Esdaile, who worked for the East India Company, had his Indian assistants relax company labourers with a combination of mesmeric passes and by gently breathing upon them while he operated. Using this as the sole form of anaesthesia he successfully conducted hundreds of "painless" operations, including more than 200 major operations involving the removal of scrotal tumours.

Esdaile believed that this technique, based as it was upon mesmerism, was a relatively new process, but later, as Edmonston (1981) noted, he discovered that a similar method, known as jar-phoonk (from the Hindu Jarna – "to stroke" and phoonka – "to breathe"), had been widely used by Indian conjurors and holy-men for hundreds of years.

In the past it was widely believed that during mesmerism passes, "…a vital force or fluid…passed from the operator to the patient, affecting the latter's nervous system." (Edmonston, 1981, p. 12) This erroneous belief persists, not only in many primitive cultures, but also amongst many advocates of alternative therapies. Thus Kurtz, Alcock, Frazier, Karr et al. (1988), found similar claims being made about the abilities of Chinese Qigong Masters, who, like TTP's, claim to be able to project healing energy into patients, but over much greater distances. However, in tests, with the QM hidden from view, it was found that the patient reacted even when the QM was not transmitting "energy", clearly revealing that the primary agent involved was simply suggestion.

There are a number of other common correlations between TT and hypnosis:

1.    Krieger (1995) indicated that during TT patients may, "…become less reactive to the external environment" (p. 266),  while also experiencing heightened sensory perceptions, feelings of peace, relaxation, heat, cold, tingling sensations, (Krieger, 1986, pp. 25 and 44); they lose their perception of time, or else time simply becomes unimportant, (Macrae, 1995, p. 280). These experiences, all common aspects of ASC, particularly hypnotic trances. They were observed in subjects in the very earliest investigation of mesmerism, conducted  by Benjamin Franklin and a scientific committee appointed by Louis XVI in 1784, (McConkey and Barnier, 1991, p. 80);

2.    Wager (1996) reported evidence of "…high amplitude alpha waves," (p. 68), during TT, such waves are commonly associated with relaxation, and are a common aspect of most forms of hypnosis;

3.    Krieger (1993) mentioned that TT is extremely effective in producing, "…a rather profound, generalized relaxation response…" (Krieger, 1986, p. 17) and that this process can contribute to the, "…amelioration or eradication of pain." (p. 20) She indicated this effect was most useful before such procedures as, "…spinal taps or the administration of intravenous fluids or other infusions. " (Krieger, 1993, p. 83) Significantly, hypnosis is also widely recognized as a most effective drug-free methods of producing relaxation, and has been successfully used as an effective anaesthetic in a wide range of surgical procedures;

4.    Claims by Krieger (1993) that TT accelerates healing is similar to the findings of Margolis, Domangue, Ehleben, and Schrier, (1983), Golan (1986) and Barber (1978) who all noted that hypnosis could increase blood flow throughout the body, helping to repair tissue and speeding up overall recovery. Similarly, Hart (1980), Enqvist, von Konow, and Bystedt (1995), reported that hypnosis reduced blood loss and improved blood pressure, not only during surgery, but also during the post-surgical recovery phase, factors that generally assisted the overall healing process reducing the recovery period. Haskins (2001) noted that hypnosis improved, "…patient outcomes and…overall patient satisfaction." (p. 160). Hypnotic relaxation is also extremely effective in reducing post-surgical recovery time, post-operational pain, reducing levels of patient distress and anxiety. Finkelstein (1991) and Kessler and Dane (1996) noted its effectiveness as a "preparation strategy" reducing premedication levels; anaesthetics; post-surgical pain; post-operative medication; and that it decreased the period of recuperation by an average of 2.4 days.

5.    Just as Krieger (1993) claimed TT alleviates psychosomatic disorders, so too there are extensive reports on the effectiveness of hypnosis in treating psychosomatic disorders; indeed, it is widely acknowledged that, "Hypnotic conditioning…modifies or ameliorates organic conditions having a large psychogenic component;" (Kroger, 1977, p. 191)

6.    Reflecting the claimed effectiveness of TT in treating asthma, (Krieger, 1986), it is widely acknowledged that hypnosis is a most effective treatment for many examples of asthma. As Gardner and Olness (1981) observed, hypnotherapy is an extremely effective treatment for some types of asthma, especially the intrinsic variety, which is primarily psychosomatic in origin, (p. 19).

The overwhelming evidence from TT literature is that the entire process is really nothing more than a form of hypnotic induction involving a light trance level in both the subject, and the TTP.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon; many "alternative therapies" employ light hypnosis to produce various forms of ASC. For subjects, usually unaware of the true nature of the hypnotic process, entering into an ASC can often appear to be a rather mysterious, other-worldly experience. At the same time the TTP, with their own specific behavioural expectations, appear to erroneously interpret the physical sensations they experience, (along with the responses of patients), as evidence supporting their own beliefs, a combination which further reinforces their beliefs and expectations.

One particular "problem" with hypnosis is that it can be easily produced, even by inexperienced operators who are unaware of what they are doing!

Contrary to common belief, hypnosis does not require a complex induction process or a deep level of trance to be effective. In reality, most induction techniques are extremely subtle and produce only light trance levels, nevertheless these can still be extremely effective in triggering suggestions. Hilgard and Tart (1966) even demonstrated that subtle hypnotic techniques used on wide-awake subjects were just as effective in producing high levels of response to suggestions as were techniques using deep trance inductions, (p.207). These facts help to explain why it is that so many alternative therapists, who are generally totally ignorant that their treatments involve hypnotic techniques, can often inadvertently produce hypnotic conditions in their patients.

Examination of the TT process suggests that it is neither new nor original, and merely presents such well-established psychological strategies as relaxation and suggestion in the form of a fanciful, pseudo-scientific charade.

Given the fact that the basis of TT is the detection and transmission of certain mysterious life energies which, as previously mentioned,  Wager  (1996) claimed were easily detected, (p. 49), one would expect a willingness on the part of advocates of TT to demonstrate; however, the situation is quite the opposite. Since Rosa, et al  (1998) revealed that, when properly tested, TTP's were completely unable to detect the so-called energy fields, the proponents of TT have retreated and absolutely refuse to be tested. As a result, as Glickman (1997) observed, the current situation is that, "…no one has as yet been able to prove the most basic tenet of TT: Can anyone actually feel a field?"(p. 19)

 Overall the entire TT process appears to be established upon rather imprecise, non-scientific foundations: -

•    The first step in the TT process, assessing the HEF, is based upon rather imprecise principles; rather than empirical observations the TTP is encouraged to make a diagnosis on the basis of,  "…vague hunches, passing impressions, flights of fancy… " (Krieger, 1993, p. 29); they are encouraged to, "Accept whatever impressions arise…" (p. 29). Krieger claims that impressions simply "pop" into her head, "…thoughts about patient's conditions … They come seemingly from nowhere –"(Krieger, 1995, p. 268).

•    Strangely while possessing a legitimate scientific background, when it comes to glorifying TT, she uses irrational logic, admitting that her belief in the existence of the various components of TT are based entirely upon faith; "Although until this day I do not "see" either the human energy fields of the personal self or the chakras embedded within them, I believe…"  (Krieger, 1997, p. 44).

•    In his early days Mesmer, "…magnetized water and caused his patients to bathe therein, and to drink of it; he magnetized porcelain cups and plates, clothes, beds and mirrors," (Zweig, 1932, p. 22); he even "magnetized" cats, dogs and trees. Ridiculous as these actions appear in hindsight, we find a similar incredible process being used as part of TT. Krieger (1986) mentions how Oskar Estebany, "…a world renowned healer." (p. 4) "magnetized" cotton batting, and, later, she herself describes how to "energize" pieces of absorbent cotton. (pp. 27-28)

Although Krieger is a health professional, her metaphysical mind-set appears to have led her into the "dark-side" of health-therapy. Her writings are filled with pseudo-scientific jargon, and, in her attempts to legitimize her theories and beliefs, she invokes numerous obscure Theosophical and Eastern vitalistic concepts such as: -
•    Chakras, (Krieger, 1997, Chapters 3-4, 37-72), "The chakras are centers of consciousness" (1997, p. 50); they are, "…of major importance at the supraphysical level, where they act as the principal agents for focusing energy to the physical body." (p. 58)

•    Prana, (Krieger, 1997, Chapter 5, 73-94), "The vital-energy field is therefore the interactive medium for the body's access to prana, which actually activates and vitalizes it."  (1997, p. 57)

•    Energy flows (Krieger, 1986, p. 49); overflows (1995, p. 263); and universal forces, all of which she identifies as key factors of TT, and herself she
 perceives as "a healer of universal mind-energy" (Krieger, 1995, p. 267).

Such concepts have no place in legitimate scientific research! It is most unfortunate that Krieger has allowed her beliefs in bogus energies to overwhelm her legitimate medical training. In adopting such arcane ideas, she has totally ignored the possibility that there might be other explanations for the phenomena associated with the TT process. Her attempts to present TT as a legitimate, alternative form of "healing" is largely reminiscent of the practice of Mesmerism in its earliest stage; as Bowers (1976) observed,  "Until the psychological character of mesmerism was fully recognized, it was widely believed that Mesmer and his followers had special (and secret) magnetic powers." (p. 61)

The popularity of TT within the nursing profession appears to be an example of "collective wish-fulfillment" to possess what Bartholomew, (1997) referred to as, "Transcendence and magical or supernatural powers…" (p. 32). TT provides its users with special status as practitioners of an acceptable, alternative form of "medical" intervention, and accentuates the role of women as the carers and "healers". In past ages it was the "wise-women" who were revered and respected by villagers, partly for their supposed relationship to the natural world and for their arcane wisdom, but principally for their role as the principal healers of the common folk. Eventually, they were usurped by university trained physicians, and they became outmoded relics of an archaic past, overlooked and forgotten, accused of being witches.

Now, however, at least in the field of male dominated secular medicine, it may be that TT provides women with an opportunity to regain some of their former status as the natural, mystical healers. Driven predominantly by professional female nursing acolytes, TT utilizes a body of quasi-medical wisdom that not only fulfils certain psychological and spiritual needs, but provides women with a degree of authority and power.

Despite serving these socio-political needs, TT lacks any credible scientific evidence to support its fanciful claims. Based as it is upon subjective, non-scientific metaphysical and philosophical belief systems, rather than solid empirical evidence, TT fails to meet the objective criteria required of modern health therapies.


Bartholomew, R. (1997). Collective Delusions: A Skeptic's Guide. Skeptical Inquirer, 21(3): 29-33.
Barber, T.X.  (1978). Hypnosis, suggestion and psychosomatic phenomena. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 21, 13-27.
Bernheim, H. (1886). Suggestive Therapeutics: A Treatise on the Nature and Uses of Hypnotism. London: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Blavatsky, H.P. (1889). The Key to Theosophy. Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House.
Bowers, K.S. (1976). Hypnosis for the seriously curious. New York, NY: W.W.Norton & Company.
Carroll, R.T., (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Edmonston, W.E.  (1981). Hypnosis and Relaxation: Modern Verification of an Old Equation. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Enqvist, B., von Konow, L. and  Bystedt, H. (1995). Pre- and perioperative suggestion in maxillofacial surgery: effects on blood loss and recovery. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 43, 284-294.
Feuerstein, G. (1987). Prana. In, Encyclopedia of Religion, Eliade, M., Editor in Chief, New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, volume 11, 483-484.
Finkelstein, S. (1991). Hypnotically assisted preparation of the anxious patient for medical and dental treatment.   American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 33, 187-191.
Gardner and Olness, (1981). Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy With Children. New York, NY: Grune & Stratton.
Glickman, R. (1997). Touch of Mysticism.  Swift, 1 (2), 1, 15-19.
Golan, H.P. (1986). Using hypnotic phenomena for physiological change. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 28, 157-162.
Greenwald, J. (2001). A new breed of healers. Time, April 16: 61-67.
Guiley, R.E. (1991). Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. Edison NJ: Castle Books.
Hart, R.R. (1980).  The influence of a taped hypnotic induction treatment procedure on the recovery of surgery patients. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 28, 324-332.
Haskins, C. (2001). Blepharoplasty under hypnosis: A personal experience.  Plastic Surgery Nursing, 21:3, 143-145 + 160
Hebb, D.O. (1955). The mammal and his environment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 8:2, 826-831.
Hilgard, E.R. and Tart, C.T. (1966). Responsiveness to suggestion following waking and imagination instructions and following induction of hypnosis: Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 71 (3), 196-208.
Kessler, R. and Dane, J.R.  (1996). Psychological and hypnotic preparation for anesthesia and surgery: An individual differences perspective. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 44,189-207.
Krieger, D. (1986). The Therapeutic Touch: How to Use Your Hands to Help or to Heal. New York, NY: Prentice Hall Press.
Krieger, D. (1993). Accepting Your Power to Heal: The Personal Practice of Therapeutic Touch. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear & Company Publishing.
Krieger, D. (1995). High-order emergence of the self during Therapeutic Touch. In, Spiritual Healing. Kunz, D., compiler. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books – Theosophical Publishing House, 262-271.
Krieger, D. (1997).  Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook: Ventures in Transpersonal Healing. Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company.
Kroger, W.S. (1977). Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in Medicine, Dentistry, and Psychology. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.
Kunz, D. and Peper, E. (1995). Fields and their clinical implications. In, Spiritual Healing, Kunz, D., compiler. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books – Theosophical Publishing House.  213- 261.
Kurtz, P., Alcock, J., Frazier, K., Karr, B., Klass, P.J., and  Randi, J. (1988). Testing PSI Claims in China: Visit by a CSICOP Delegation. Skeptical Inquirer, 12:4, 364-375.
Leadbeater, C.W. (1927). The Chakras. Wheaton, Illinois: The Theological Publishing House, (1987 edition).
McConkey, K. M. and Barnier, A.J. (1991). The Benjamin Franklin Report on Animal Magnetism: A Summary Comment, Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 19,  77-86.
Macrae, J. (1995). Therapeutic Touch as meditation. In, Spiritual Healing. Dora Kunz, compiler. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books – Theosophical Publishing House, 272-288.
Maddocks, I. (1985). Alternative medicine. The Medical Journal of Australia, 142: May 13, 547-551.
Margolis, C.G., Domangue, B.B., Ehleben, M.S. and Schrier, L. (1983). Hypnosis in the early treatment of burns: A pilot study. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 26, 9-15.
Miller, J (1997). Going Unconscious. In, Hidden Histories of Science. Silvers, R.B. editor, London: Granta Books.
Moss, T. (1979). The Body Electric.  Los Angeles, California: J.P. Torcher, Inc.
Oldfield, H. and Coghill, R. (1988). The Dark Side of the Brain. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books Ltd.
Oltramare, P. (1921). Theosophy. In, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. Hastings, J. editor, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clarke; volume 12, 304-315.
Raso, J. (1995). Mystical Medical Alternativism. Skeptical Inquirer, 19:5, 33-37.
Raso, J. (1996). The Dictionary of Metaphysical Healthcare. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
Rosa, L., Rosa, E., Sarner, L. and Barrett, S. (1998).  A close look at Therapeutic Touch. Journal of the American Medical Association, 279, 1005-1010.
Rubens, D., Gyurkovics, D. and Hornacek, K. (1995). The cultural production of Bioterpia: psychic healing and the natural medicine movement in Slovakia. Social Science and Medicine, 41(90, 1261-1271.
Wager, S. (1996). A Doctor's Guide to Therapeutic Touch. New York, NY: Berkley Publishing.
Weitzenhoffer, A. M. (1957). General Techniques of Hypnotism. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc.
Wolberg, L.R. (1948). Medical Hypnosis. New York: Grune & Stratton.
Zweig, S. (1932). Mental Healers. New York, NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.

From: Eddie, L. 2008 A Skeptical Look At Alternative Therapies And Beliefs, Digital Publications