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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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oiy here we go again. i think i'll just stay in my Rowdy group. we all get along nicely there.
Lisa said:
oiy here we go again. i think i'll just stay in my Rowdy group. we all get along nicely there.

Here we go again - maybe, maybe not. In any case, thanks for taking a peek here. I want to see if this is a topic that some folks might be interested in. Maybe an independent thread is better than one nested in an energy worker's group.

It's possible to get along without having to agree, if folks want to.
Chris,
Thank you so much for putting this back up! I have my own opinions about energy work and am excited to hear what others might say. I will need to draft it and then post it here so keep an eye out for it. In the mean time. I think we can all voice our opinion and see where the balance of thought can be found.
(This is Rosemary's alter ego here coming out of lurkdom for a minute).

I don't do energy work, but I have "delved in the land of the woo woo" a little. I'm one of those peeps that some therapists feel sorry for since "I don't get it" with energy work. It's not that I don't believe that "there's nothing more than the body" (or the mind body complex), it's just that I find the claim that anyone has any power over the "energy" of another person as being egotistical (especially if they are self proclaimed "healers" - if there's anything that I find as time goes on it's a sense of humility). Also, I don't understand how the theory of energy be "generalized" and who came up with the theories in the first place? What was it based on? I have way too many "huh?"s to buy into most of it.

Healthy skepticism in general in life is a good thing. Everyone has it surely, to some degree, right?
But what you're hitting at here is something different. You're digging at people's core beliefs.
The thread that was deleted originally was one of the most incredible threads on this forum. It highlighted to me that people hold certain forms of energy work very close to their core. A defensive mode came up - which is understandable. It's nearly like someone attacking their religion in a way.

So, what's the reason why so many hold energy work close to their core? Is it because they see the results in their practice and if so are those results nothing more than a placebo effect? Is it because of their education and what they were taught in school? Is it because of what they feel in the session? Is it because they don't know how to interpret or read scientific studies? Is it because they feel that the RCTs that show that it doesn't work were poorly executed? Is it because they don't know the difference between a high tier journal over the low ones?

I have no idea, but one thing is for sure - their beliefs need to be respected.

Methinks you have a way of stirring things up and I know your intention is to get people to think and do some self-evaluation and self-analysis, but maybe it needs to happen in a different way?
www.nccam.nih.gov

What are the major types of complementary and alternative medicine?

NCCAM groups CAM practices into four domains, recognizing there can be some overlap. In addition, NCCAM studies CAM whole medical systems, which cut across all domains.
Whole Medical Systems

Whole medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of whole medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicineA whole medical system that originated in Europe. Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body's ability to heal itself by giving very small doses of highly diluted substances that in larger doses would produce illness or symptoms (an approach called "like cures like"). and naturopathic medicineA whole medical system that originated in Europe. Naturopathy aims to support the body's ability to heal itself through the use of dietary and lifestyle changes together with CAM therapies such as herbs, massage, and joint manipulation.. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional traditional Chinese medicineA whole medical system that originated in China. It is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of qi and imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Practices such as herbs, meditation, massage, and acupuncture seek to aid healing by restoring the yin-yang balance and the flow of qi. and AyurvedaA whole medical system that originated in India. It aims to integrate the body, mind, and spirit to prevent and treat disease. Therapies used include herbs, massage, and yoga..
Mind-Body Medicine

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other mind-body techniques are still considered CAM, including meditationA conscious mental process using certain techniques—such as focusing attention or maintaining a specific posture—to suspend the stream of thoughts and relax the body and mind., prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.
Biologically Based Practices

Biologically based practices in CAM use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements, herbal products, and the use of other so-called natural but as yet scientifically unproven therapies (for example, using shark cartilage to treat cancer).
Manipulative and Body-Based Practices

Manipulative and body-based practices in CAM are based on manipulationThe application of controlled force to a joint, moving it beyond the normal range of motion in an effort to aid in restoring health. Manipulation may be performed as a part of other therapies or whole medical systems, including chiropractic medicine, massage, and naturopathy. and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Some examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulationA type of manipulation practiced by osteopathic physicians. It is combined with physical therapy and instruction in proper posture., and massagePressing, rubbing, and moving muscles and other soft tissues of the body, primarily by using the hands and fingers. The aim is to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the massaged area..
Energy Medicine

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types:

* Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body. The existence of such fields has not yet been scientifically proven. Some forms of energy therapy manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or manipulating the body by placing the hands in, or through, these fields. Examples include qi gongA component of traditional Chinese medicine that combines movement, meditation, and controlled breathing. The intent is to improve blood flow and the flow of qi., ReikiA therapy in which practitioners seek to transmit a universal energy to a person, either from a distance or by placing their hands on or near that person. The intent is to heal the spirit and thus the body., and Therapeutic TouchA therapy in which practitioners pass their hands over another person's body with the intent to use their own perceived healing energy to identify energy imbalances and promote health..
* Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating-current or direct-current fields.
For those interested in hearing some "medical opinions"....
I have a medical doctor who is a colleague. He left "Traditional" medicine after 30 years
and went into alternative health methods. He recently gave a lecture at a healing arts event in which
the majority of the audience were LMT's.

He is involved in energy medicine research and stated to all of us , that we as bodyworkers know more already and are more in tune to what the future of medicine will be - energy healing work!

We are energy beings and I have had some interesting and phenomenal insights, experiences and gifts throughout my career of witnessing energetic changes. So, I do believe! (and this comes from a skeptic)
Hi Paul.

Thanks for the interest in and enthusiasm for this topic. We'll all look forward to your thoughts.

I. Paul Dunsdon said:
Chris,
Thank you so much for putting this back up! I have my own opinions about energy work and am excited to hear what others might say. I will need to draft it and then post it here so keep an eye out for it. In the mean time. I think we can all voice our opinion and see where the balance of thought can be found.
what you're hitting at here is something different. You're digging at people's core beliefs.

Agreed - I have seen that. But I don't think there is anything wrong with that, especially now that people who would rather not have their core beliefs challenged can just avoid this thread.

The thread that was deleted originally was one of the most incredible threads on this forum. It highlighted to me that people hold certain forms of energy work very close to their core. A defensive mode came up - which is understandable. It's nearly like someone attacking their religion in a way.

I suppose that is true. (I'm no fan of religion, by the way, but that's another topic for another site, isn't it?) But this isn't actually religion, is it? Maybe we will get some people who are willing to test their beliefs, and change them. I'm willing to test and change my beliefs.

So, what's the reason why so many hold energy work close to their core? Is it because they see the results in their practice and if so are those results nothing more than a placebo effect? Is it because of their education and what they were taught in school? Is it because of what they feel in the session? Is it because they don't know how to interpret or read scientific studies? Is it because they feel that the RCTs that show that it doesn't work were poorly executed? Is it because they don't know the difference between a high tier journal over the low ones?

I think that's an excellent inventory of the likely explanations. It could be all of those. Lately, I've been thinking more about the difference between how therapists and patients think, versus how researchers think. To therapists and patients, the most important difference is pre vs. post. In other words, is the patient better after receiving treatment? If so, good - treatment probably worked. But researchers know that isn't necessarily the case - a difference between the pretreatment period and the posttreatment period could be the result of other processes than treatment.

I have no idea, but one thing is for sure - their beliefs need to be respected.

Some folks may find this shocking, but I disagree that beliefs need to be respected. I would agree that people need to be respected, but not beliefs. Demanding respect for beliefs is just a way to ensure that they are overly protected. I'm interested in challenging beliefs, including my own, to see if they can withstand the challenge. If they can, then they didn't need protection in the first place. If they can't, then I want to know about it.

Methinks you have a way of stirring things up and I know your intention is to get people to think and do some self-evaluation and self-analysis, but maybe it needs to happen in a different way?

You could be right. Do you have a different way that you suggest? The way that I know works well for some folks, but not for others. I don't know how successful I would be in using a different style, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter if you have them.

Thanks for a thoughtful reply.
Hi Gloria.

For those interested in hearing some "medical opinions"....
I have a medical doctor who is a colleague. He left "Traditional" medicine after 30 years
and went into alternative health methods. He recently gave a lecture at a healing arts event in which
the majority of the audience were LMT's.

He is involved in energy medicine research and stated to all of us , that we as bodyworkers know more already and are more in tune to what the future of medicine will be - energy healing work!


O.K., but this is one medical opinion, not "some" medical opinions.

We are energy beings

What does it mean to say we are "energy beings"? All kinds of things use energy, after all. I have a Honda parked in my garage, and everything that it does requires energy - is it an energy being? Are there any animals that aren't energy beings?

If we're going to use such a term meaningfully, we will need to carefully define it, don't you agree?

and I have had some interesting and phenomenal insights, experiences and gifts throughout my career of witnessing energetic changes. So, I do believe! (and this comes from a skeptic)

There are certainly many folks on this website who have had firsthand experiences with what seem to be energetic changes. But here is my question in response to that - can you think of any alternate explanations for those experiences?
Gloria, some MD from Asheville who also went to massage school has attended a couple of my classes and I'm going blank on his name. He told me after the last class he attended he was chucking it all and going to a Buddhist monastery in upstate NY. Is that the same guy?

Gloria Coppola said:
For those interested in hearing some "medical opinions"....
I have a medical doctor who is a colleague. He left "Traditional" medicine after 30 years
and went into alternative health methods. He recently gave a lecture at a healing arts event in which
the majority of the audience were LMT's.

He is involved in energy medicine research and stated to all of us , that we as bodyworkers know more already and are more in tune to what the future of medicine will be - energy healing work!

We are energy beings and I have had some interesting and phenomenal insights, experiences and gifts throughout my career of witnessing energetic changes. So, I do believe! (and this comes from a skeptic)
Chris,

I don't know if a skeptical discussion on energy work is helpful or not. BTW, I'm a skeptic.

I tried new-age spirituality on for size a few years back. That was when I made the career change from database systems developer to massage practitioner. I have since discovered the cold, hard truth that I am a skeptic at heart. Live and learn!

My point is that debate did not influence my beliefs either way. I drew my own conclusions based on life experience. When I was a believer in energy work, skeptical debate only solidified my beliefs that "surely something else is out there". Now that I'm a skeptic, discussions on energy work only solidify my beliefs in science. Isn't that human nature? Doesn't opposition only serve to polarize?

My question is, what is your goal in continuing a skeptical discussion on energy work? Who will benefit, and how? I foresee only us skeptics participating, smugly affirming our astute scientific observations of the world, while the energy workers lurk and snicker at our short sightedness... ;-)
Hi Stefanie.

Interesting observations.

You indicate that you transitioned from believer to skeptic. What contributed to that change?

I know that, in some cases at least, you are correct that "opposition only serve[s] to polarize". That's not my goal. But you do go on to ask what my goal is. The most honest answer is probably, "I don't know." I suppose I wanted to see if there are a reasonable number of skeptics out there (or, at least, on this website). I've always known that the massage therapy profession includes folks who are proponents of energy medicine and related practices, but it wasn't until I started following this website that I really got a sense of how prevalent this is. It surprised me.

In addition, I find myself wondering how the profession could be held back by being affiliated with such practices. What if massage therapy was just massage therapy, evidence based and as well-developed as it could possibly be? Are there other folks who have wondered that, and if so, how many?

I'm not sure how directly I am answering your questions, but there are the thoughts that occurred to me in response to your questions, so this is probably the best I can do.

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