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Folks -

There previously was a discussion on this site in which a skeptical attitude toward energy work was being discussed, but that discussion eventually got deleted. The reason seems to be that it was judged not to belong in the location where it was taking place, which was inside one of the energy work groups.

I was the person who introduced the skepticism to the discussion. Some people did not appreciate that, but others did. Given how many participants there are on this site, and how many threads and groups are dedicated to discussing energy work with no skepticism, I thought maybe it was time to open a discussion where such skepticism is invited and welcomed.

I look forward to seeing how this discussion might develop. Is there interest?

-CM

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Just an update:
Out of a total of around 31 users giving input to this thread, about 8 or 9 are out-of-the-closet skeptics with energy work (there were about 4 that I couldn't tell if they were or not - that's not counting Chris).
Rick,
Who knows?
Here's another question. If it has been shown that endorphins can be produced in the body just from people being told something, what else can happen?
Chris,
Agreed again,
I would like to speak with you personally sometime if possible and learn from what you are studying in your lab environment if you have the time (and are willing) after this global weirding freeze abates. St Louis High temps are finally up to low 30 degree range.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Thanks Bert. Your participation is also appreciated. Even though we disagree, misunderstand each other, or both, I can tell that it isn't personal and that we respect each other.

I was thinking about our discussion on my short drive home today, and was wondering how it might be different if we were having it in person. I have a feeling it would go smoother and make some progress. I've got to believe that some of our failure to understand what the other saying is down to doing this in a text-based forum.
I am very sorry to hear that other MT researchers have found our discussions exasperating and did not want to contribute. I would have appreciated their input and listened with great interest.

I'm also glad to have been challenged in thinking about MT and energy work and appreciated everyone's input.

You know I'm interested in investigating whole systems of research and in how someone like yourself might critique my study; care to share?

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Emmanuel Bistas said:
Bert, I agree with that statement. I think the people who stumble across this discussion see that too.

Bert Davich said:
At this point I feel that if you are unwilling to explore other models of experimentation, it appears you are just pushing buttons to elicit a reaction.

Hi Emmanuel.

I'm sorry to hear that's how some folks are interpreting it. This thread has contained some good discussions, and several people have written me to tell me that they are glad I started it, and that the massage therapy profession needs its connection to energy work challenged.

I've also had several people who do massage therapy research tell me that they have been following this thread but won't participate in it because they find it exasperating. Notice that there are hardly any other researchers participating in this discussion.

Finally, I myself am not engaged in energy work research, unless one considers massage therapy research to be synonymous. If folks fear that my skepticism on the subject blinds me to the way it really should be researched, they have nothing to worry about, because I'm not researching it. Why am I not researching it? Because I think it would be a waste of time to do so. But that's just me. Other people are interested in researching it, and they can choose to do that. If they do choose to do that, they may be interested in knowing how someone like myself would critique their research. I, or someone like me, might end up as a reviewer of their study, after all.
Robin Byler Thomas said:
I am very sorry to hear that other MT researchers have found our discussions exasperating and did not want to contribute. I would have appreciated their input and listened with great interest.

I'm also glad to have been challenged in thinking about MT and energy work and appreciated everyone's input.

You know I'm interested in investigating whole systems of research and in how someone like yourself might critique my study; care to share?

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Emmanuel Bistas said:
Bert, I agree with that statement. I think the people who stumble across this discussion see that too.

Bert Davich said:
At this point I feel that if you are unwilling to explore other models of experimentation, it appears you are just pushing buttons to elicit a reaction.

Hi Emmanuel.

I'm sorry to hear that's how some folks are interpreting it. This thread has contained some good discussions, and several people have written me to tell me that they are glad I started it, and that the massage therapy profession needs its connection to energy work challenged.

I've also had several people who do massage therapy research tell me that they have been following this thread but won't participate in it because they find it exasperating. Notice that there are hardly any other researchers participating in this discussion.

Finally, I myself am not engaged in energy work research, unless one considers massage therapy research to be synonymous. If folks fear that my skepticism on the subject blinds me to the way it really should be researched, they have nothing to worry about, because I'm not researching it. Why am I not researching it? Because I think it would be a waste of time to do so. But that's just me. Other people are interested in researching it, and they can choose to do that. If they do choose to do that, they may be interested in knowing how someone like myself would critique their research. I, or someone like me, might end up as a reviewer of their study, after all.
OK Vlad,
You are injecting even more fun again!

Could you explain what out-of-the-closet-skeptic means? Does that mean skeptic about the very concept of energy work, or skeptic about the definition of energy work?

And who the heck are you really? I think at this point I might pay to know your whole story, but please don't tell, the not knowing is part of the wonderment!

And for the record, I am skeptic about everything, especially the views of Skeptics and the logic they use to determine their conclusions.

Regards,
Bert

Vlad said:
Just an update:
Out of a total of around 31 users giving input to this thread, about 8 or 9 are out-of-the-closet skeptics with energy work (there were about 4 that I couldn't tell if they were or not - that's not counting Chris).
Hey man, I'm just trying to find out when Skeptic Pride day is this year.
I like parades.
You know, I could have done some statistical analysis on the input of this thread, but I didn't bother since I don't think anyone would be interested in it. Numbers are groovy (especially if it's base 16, but we'll not go there).

"Out of the closet" skeptic = someone who isn't afraid of showing their true thoughts on "not buying it". They may be judged by some, but hey, there's freedom in authenticity. Live 'n' let live 'n' all that. It's cool though since most MTs are live 'n' let live-ey - I think it says something the way no one got bent out of shape on this thread.

If you're skeptic of skeptics you are an uber-skeptic. You should be grand marshall of the parade.

As for who I am? I'm Morpheus and we're all in the Matrix...........
OK, so.......anyone following this thread and some others on this site might have noticed how some research articles get attached to posts. Some of these articles are pretty darn interesting. The thing is, sometimes they can get lost in a thread and sometimes they get passed over altogether.

I created a new little site that is dedicated for just commenting on these articles. You can add an article (either upload it or add a link - we need the whole article, not just the abstract), comment on an already existing article or post a question on the discussion board that is related to massage therapy research. This new site isn't a "community based" site - there aren't any "friend requests" (although I do admit to having pondered having "enemy requests" just for the fun of it, but the thought only lasted 2.65 seconds). It's stark compared to this one. It's not a ning site. It's not really all that groovy (although it may gain some level of grooviness as time goes on) and there might even be a bug or two on it, but I hope that people might start using it to ask questions on articles, comment on posted articles and hopefully learn some good info from it. I'm going to start digging into the articles already posted on there over the next few weeks since I think the whole WSR/Qual/Quant aspect of research is interesting - different angles of trying to "find stuff out" is just cool.

Robin and Chris know about it since they were my first guinea pigs since they were the main posters of the articles.

I need a few more guinea pigs before I let everyone and their dog know about it, so please go on there, play around and if you find a bug, let me know (use the internal contact us form):

www.mt-researchonline.com

Cheers!
Here is what I personally believe in response to your questions:

1. It's the innate ability we all possess to heal ourselves. It has nothing to do with an external, supernatural energy. Instead, the session creates conditions that are more ideal for the clients' bodies to heal themselves. Clients expect to be healed, are doing something active to promote it, and receive "permission" from us as therapists. Has anyone read about Barrett Dorko's Simple Contact? He's a physical therapist who believes simply placing your hands on clients and encouraging them to move in natural, healing ways creates slack in the nervous system and reduces pain. Nothing supernatural or energetic about it.

2. Yes, it absolutely does matter. If clients are actually tapping into their own innate healing abilities, they should be informed of what is really happening. They should have the option of practicing it on their own instead of forking out big bucks to practitioners. They should be educated and empowered to continue their own journey into self-healing, relying on their innate abilities to heal themselves, not some nebulous energy that exists outside of themselves.

3. You learned it works by simple observation. Of course it works, but no supernatural or energetic forces are at work. I learned this for myself and now practice progressive relaxation and natural (ideomotor) movements instead of relying on other practitioners to "channel energy" into me. I am in control of my own healing, and it's freeing!

My clients agree.

Rick Britton said:
Let's assume that Chris is 100% right and there is no energy involved in energy work....
so when I, or any other therapist, performs what we believe is energy work and our client experiences feelings, releases, changes and so on what is really happening if it is not energy? I treated a client the other day that had a heavy cold with all the symptoms - dry and inflammed mucus membranes, bunged up ears (eustachion tubes) with some loss of hearing, clammy skin, red nose and eyes, headache. I treated him for a few minutes, without touching him, and very quickly his symptoms abated considerably... and visibly too. He reported feeling his ears draining, improvement in hearing, easier breathing through the nasal passages and so on. He also reported feeling a physical force, which was relatively uncomfortable, similar to having someone pressing a finger in hard into the sinuses. I could give plenty of other examples too I know this is all anecdotal and i am not claiming anything... it's just I want to know 1) if it is not really energy at work - what the heck is it?

2) if it's not really energy but the patient improved anyway - does it really matter?

3) if in fact it really is some form of placebo effect, hypnotic suggestion or other method how did I learn to do it by giving 1000s of massages?
Here are some articles Barrett has written on the subject:

http://www.barrettdorko.com/desk.htm

"The Analgesia of Movement" is a good article that describes how societal pressures force isotonic contractions that natural movement which creates mechanical deformity, then pain. Ideomotion (I call it natural movement) as a therapy reduces pain.

"Body Counseling" is the best article to get a brief overview. It's a little further down the page. It states "the patient already knows precisely what to do, and that all you have to do is provide a safe place for them to do it."

The technique may look a lot like energy work, but it's based on scientific principles and draws on the client's own natural healing processes, not energy. The scientific research he draws from and his conclusions make the most sense to me.
Wow, this thread has grown! I haven't posted as much as I would have otherwise liked but I'm enjoying my few weeks of vacation home with family and friends and consequently trying to spend as little time on the computer as possible. Back to the grind (aka school) next week! However, I have caught up in reading everything and can't remember exactly who said what anymore so I'll just address a couple of things I have seen to no one in particular when appropriate.

First, I have seen a couple people post things to the tune of "who cares how energy work works if I and my clients see results?"

How can that not be interesting? Why would you not want to know exactly what is going on? No one is claiming you are not seeing results (at least not that I've seen) or even getting results. But don't you have that childhood (turned adult lol) curiosity to want to know why and how? It could reshape how you look at it, how you use it, and heck, determine what exactly "it" is! I think that's fascinating. I am not threatened if someone studies something I've believed for a long time and finds out that something I hadn't previously considered turns out to be at play and not what I originally believed.

Here's a different why/how question I'm currently interested in- we all know massage reduces anxiety, but no one really knows why or how. If we could figure out what exactly is acting on a person to reduce anxiety, and beyond the "well massage is relaxing" theory, imagine how that information could be used?? So, I don't buy the "who cares how it works" cop-out.

I saw the disagreement between Bert and Chris (maybe others?) about the type of research design appropriate for studying energy work, and I just wanted to add my 2 cents in on that. In order to have a true experiment, where you determine real cause and effect, you need to have randomly assigned groups with appropriate controls- otherwise known as a RCT (randomized controlled trial). There are other research designs that can identify relationships between factors, but without controlling for confounding variables and randomizing group assignment to create more or less equal and unbiased groups, you cannot say A caused B. Bert, you are correct that there are limitations to this. However, I think that with careful planning and multuple "arms" (groups), it would be possible to do an RCT that would show whether energy work is effective due to energy or some other factor. I found a nice short article on RCT's here http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/316/7126/201.

Rosemary- I'm going to check out that site you made now, it's a great idea!
I think it's been a great thread, but I see how one may want to stay away from it as emotions, miscommunication, and generalizations can get in the way.

The articles have been great, and you, Robin, Bert, Vlad an couple others have made some really good points about research (including the article on Affective Massage Therapy which got me hooked on this thread).


Christopher A. Moyer said:
Emmanuel Bistas said:
Bert, I agree with that statement. I think the people who stumble across this discussion see that too.

Bert Davich said:
At this point I feel that if you are unwilling to explore other models of experimentation, it appears you are just pushing buttons to elicit a reaction.

Hi Emmanuel.

I'm sorry to hear that's how some folks are interpreting it. This thread has contained some good discussions, and several people have written me to tell me that they are glad I started it, and that the massage therapy profession needs its connection to energy work challenged.

I've also had several people who do massage therapy research tell me that they have been following this thread but won't participate in it because they find it exasperating. Notice that there are hardly any other researchers participating in this discussion.

Finally, I myself am not engaged in energy work research, unless one considers massage therapy research to be synonymous. If folks fear that my skepticism on the subject blinds me to the way it really should be researched, they have nothing to worry about, because I'm not researching it. Why am I not researching it? Because I think it would be a waste of time to do so. But that's just me. Other people are interested in researching it, and they can choose to do that. If they do choose to do that, they may be interested in knowing how someone like myself would critique their research. I, or someone like me, might end up as a reviewer of their study, after all.

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