Mod+ 252. BERNADETTE DORAN ON ENERGY HEALING

#21
Disclaimer: When I was taught spiritual healing we were told that it is not a substitute for mainstream medical treatment. It should be used in conjunction with mainstream medical treatment. If someone is sick they should see a doctor.
 
#22
Hey Alex,

I enjoyed this podcast. Thanks for publishing, and interested in reading more details in the book.

Just wanted to mention a quick correction; Semmelweis did not commit suicide. And I agree his story is indeed a fascinating one.
 
#23
252. BERNADETTE DORAN ON ENERGY HEALING
Interview with energy healing researcher and practitioner examines the Bengston Method of energy healing.
It is interesting that Bengston method is mentioned again. Recently, William Bengston’s highly successful skeptical healers (including himself), as well as his negative attitude towards any “spiritual” component of healing, gave me something to wonder about. We all know about the “sheep-goat effect”, don’t we? We know that skeptics are routinely having negative results in psi experiments. So, Bengston’s results seem to be against the decades of studies. Quite strange.

But, after reading his “Breakthrough: Clues to Healing with Intention”, published in Edge Science Number 2, January – March 2010, pp. 5 – 9, I think that his description of his astonishing results as “skeptical” and “non-spiritual” is unintentionally misleading. In fact, what he does – as, implicitly, what he says – are not so contradictory to the spiritual traditions as he probably likes to think.

Let’s look at the description of his healing attempt with mice, as described in the article:

For an hour a day I placed my hands around the cage of

six mice, wondering how in the world I had come to this. Here

I was, a skeptical researcher suddenly saddled with the task of

treating a cancer that is always fatal.

Since neither David nor I had any precedent in what we

were doing, we naively suspected that if the treatment was to

have any success then either the mice wouldn’t develop tumors

or the tumors would be slow to grow. To our initial consternation,

neither scenario occurred. Within a few days, palpable

tumors developed on the mice, and I was discouraged to say

the least. My initial reaction was to cancel the experiment,

put the mice out of their suffering, and call it a day.
David

urged otherwise, especially since he had gone to a great deal of

trouble to set up the experiment. And so I continued the daily

treatments even as the tumors grew larger.

Any remaining hope I had disappeared as the tumors developed

blackened areas on them. I saw this as the beginning

of the end. Then, the blackened areas ulcerated and the tumors

split open. Again I urged that we do the ethical thing and end

the experiment.
But the biology chair noticed that the mice

still had smooth coats and their eyes remained clear, and he

wondered why they were acting as though perfectly healthy.

Then, in the final stages, the mice tumors simply imploded

without any discharge or infection of any sort; it was a full

lifespan cure. We were stunned. Here was a skeptical healer

and a presumably non-believing group of mice that had gone

through a novel pattern of remission to full cure in a mouse

model without precedent of a cure.
As we clearly see, Bengston had a strong and sincere compassion towards suffering mice – compassion strong enough that he was ready to end his experiment and accept a failure. Such a decision is a hard one for any scientist. While, if being asked, scientists will agree that unsuccessful experiments and mistaken theories are also important, since their failures help the progress of science in general, that is obviously not what they desire. They want the be able and triumphant experimenters and theoreticians. They want to be praised, to achieve status and fame because of their work.

Bengston, however, was ready to give up all of his desires to end the torment of poor mice. His will to help them was stronger than the contradictory and confused mix of his skeptical intellectualizations, demands of the experimental work taught to him by his tutors and peer-pressure influence from his colleagues. His will – his true will – was to release the mice from their misery. The more his will was prevailing over his desires, the stronger healing intention arose – with the healing getting more and more intense.

Bengston himself wrote in the article:

Healing is effective to the extent that the ego is removed.
Well, this is exactly what was taught by mystics, magicians and spiritual philosophers since the times immemorial.

What differs Bengston’s method from the others is the absence of ceremonial and mythic elements. As Bengston wrote,

I also think that ritual (all

ritual, really) destroys the thing that it is trying to reproduce.

In healing, ritual blocks the “flow” of healing. People get very

mad at me when I say this. And so in speculative hindsight, I

unintentionally may have loaded the deck in my experiments

by working only with non-believing clean slates.
His position here appears to be incompatible with nearly all spiritual healing schools. But I have an unusual interpretation which can make it compatible with them, even in a rather paradoxical way.

I think that the deliberate and demonstrative absence of ritual is itself a form of ritual – a ritual of the mental pacifying and control for non-spiritual people. The purpose of magickal ceremony is an achievement of an exalted (read, altered) state of consciousness with the invoking of archetypal imagery and narrative in a deliberately self-suggestive way. It is likely to work as long as the person accept the spiritual culture and open for mental influence. Both these conditions is not present in the case of devout skeptics: they deride and ridicule the culture and symbolism of the spiritual, and they will quickly get anxious and enraged if presented with the perspective of temporary turning-off of their critical and rational intelligence, which is necessary for the performance of the ceremony. One can, and should, analyze the events critically and rationally later, after the act of magick has been performed; but during the ceremony you should give up your inner resistance for the awe and beauty of the ritual. And giving up resistance is not the skeptics’ style of doing things – especially if they have to do something which they deride.

So, if given the task of an obviously spiritual healing, skeptics probably won’t perform well. Their anxiety and mental discomfort would be strong enough to counteract the compassion to the patient and (unconscious) will to heal. But, in the symbolic environment will be science-like and, therefore, mentally acceptable to them – all is “procedural”, no ceremonies and metaphors – they may relax enough to let the compassion prevail over the debunking attitude, and the healing intent manifest itself. So, the presumably “non-spiritual” setting of healing works as a covert magickal ceremony, allowing the skeptics to achieve the state of mind necessary for the work: the state of reducing the mental noise of superficial wishes and fears to the level low enough to open the way to the fulfillment of the deep healing intention.

I also think that the absence of someone to pity and heal – or, to speak more generally, of the actual strong necessity for a psychic manifestation – is the reason why skeptics usually have negative results in common parapsychological experiments like Ganzfeld. There is no strong need, and therefore there is no counter-balance to the skeptic’s desire to affirm his or her belief in the non-existence of psi.

Well, this is my opinion on the strange results of Bengston’s method. What is your position?
 
#24
@Vortex Bengston's method involves quite a lot of preparation exercises, so even if he says that there's no ritual in actuality the ritual is absolutely there, and it is repeated every time as any ritual would require :) The whole "image cycling" technique that he teaches takes quite some time to be learned and practiced to the point that it becomes second nature.

I am not sure if he came up with this technique before those experiments with mice, it doesn't seem so, otherwise he would have mentioned it in his descriptions of those tests, I suppose. He probably created those exercises later to help other healers empty their minds and don't get anxious or too attached about the outcome of their treatments.
 
#25
@Vortex Bengston's method involves quite a lot of preparation exercises, so even if he says that there's no ritual in actuality the ritual is absolutely there, and it is repeated every time as any ritual would require :) The whole "image cycling" technique that he teaches takes quite some time to be learned and practiced to the point that it becomes second nature.

I am not sure if he came up with this technique before those experiments with mice, it doesn't seem so, otherwise he would have mentioned it in his descriptions of those tests, I suppose. He probably created those exercises later to help other healers empty their minds and don't get anxious or too attached about the outcome of their treatments.
With my high respect and sympathy to Bengston, I suspect that his verbal rejection of ceremonial aspects of healing (with the actual usage of them) is his way to escape cognitive dissonance (or, as he himself calls it, "Boggle Factor"). I don't blame him for it. After decades of education and work in academia, the common mantra "everything spiritual is nonsense", forced on the young academicians, became so internalized that it requires some really deep personal change to escape its grip fully.
 
#26
With my high respect and sympathy to Bengston, I suspect that his verbal rejection of ceremonial aspects of healing (with the actual usage of them) is his way to escape cognitive dissonance (or, as he himself calls it, "Boggle Factor"). I don't blame him for it. After decades of education and work in academia, the common mantra "everything spiritual is nonsense", forced on the young academicians, became so internalized that it requires some really deep personal change to escape its grip fully.
Maybe he's also a bit of a tactical skeptic?
 
#27
Great interview, Alex, thanks for that. Bill Bengston's work is of special interest to me but I find it difficult to get much up to date information - just occasional crumbs. One reason I took his workshop was to learn more about ongoing work. I did get some clarifications at the time (October 2013) but I haven't really managed to get my toe in the door on an ongoing basis. This podcast was a good contribution to the sparse pool of information available to the public. Who knows, it may even save a life.
 
#28
I think that the deliberate and demonstrative absence of ritual is itself a form of ritual – a ritual of the mental pacifying and control for non-spiritual people.
At first this seemed to me to be a quite reasonable interpretation of Bengston's approach, but then I looked up definitions of 'ritual' and found things like 'a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order' and 'a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.' Bengston specifically eschews solemnity and invariability.

In the workshop I attended (and presumably in the book - I don't recall) he said things like "be playful" and "make this your own - be better than me." In fact, to hammer it home he passed out a 'manual' which was a business card with 'Avoid Ritual' printed on one side and 'Be Playful' on the other. I think, rather than ritual, he might be more comfortable calling his method a mental algorithm to be personalized and modified as desired based on experience.:)

BTW, Bill also encourages you (the practitioner) to not think about what you're doing during a treatment, but rather "form a fleeting intention to heal and then let it go, step out of the way, and let the universe take care of it." While healing, he said, carry on a conversation, have an argument, watch TV, do anything you like except think about healing. None of this is really consistent with the usual meaning of ritual.
 
#29
... every third beat missing ...
Hi Michael - long time no see!;)

I imagine you're aware (but I'll mention it anyway) that the beat most likely isn't missing, but rather comes prematurely when there is so little available blood to push that you don't feel any pulse. Thus it feels like the next beat is delayed or that a beat is skipped. This condition is common and generally considered benign. That's how it was explained to me, for what it's worth.:eek:
 
#30
@Vortex ... I am not sure if he came up with this technique before those experiments with mice, it doesn't seem so, otherwise he would have mentioned it in his descriptions of those tests, I suppose. He probably created those exercises later to help other healers empty their minds and don't get anxious or too attached about the outcome of their treatments.
How the "Bengston method" evolved is a great story and I recommend Bengston's book as a fascinating - and, I think, important - read. Seriously, what book can possibly be more important than one that apparently opens the door to healing grave diseases quickly and easily? (Please let me know - I definitely want to read that book too!)

The extremely short version of the story goes like this (my apologies to Bill and the reader for any inaccuracies, here or elsewhere in the thread; I have no affiliation with Bill or Equilibrium-E3). At the age of 21 (he's in his sixties now), Bill graduated with a degree in sociology and shortly thereafter met a middle-aged man who claimed to be a psychic. Actually, claimed is too strong a word because the man was rather dour and didn't seem to care if people believed him or not - he seemed to barely believe it himself.

Bill introduced himself to the man, one Bennett Mayrick (Ben), and learned that he had only become aware of his weird abilities within the past year. As Alex mentioned in the interview, one thing led to another and Bill decided to test Ben until he broke - but he never broke (I think that was how Alex put it).

At the time Ben had a one-man house cleaning service and Bill went to work with him, giving him the opportunity to investigate Ben's abilities in some depth. Ben began to notice he could tell if people were sick and identify what was wrong with them. Then, he found that he could affect their illnesses or injuries in powerful but incomprehensible ways. Bill challenged Ben to heal his (Bill's) chronic back pain that had ended his competitive swimming career; some ten minutes later, Bill was pain free and says he has had no further back problems.

The healing procedure that today is known as the Bengston Energy Healing Method (Bill is actually not convinced energy is involved) was developed in its earliest form by Ben and Bill working together (as an aside, the mouse experiments came many years later - Bill took time off to earn a PhD, establish a career, get married, raise a family, and become tenured before that phase began.) In these joint efforts, while cleaning houses, Bill provided the prodding and analytical reasoning and Ben provided the native psychic ability and impressions about what was going on. Bill would ask probing questions and Ben would provide responses that he himself didn't necessarily understand and had no idea from whence they came. Their (particularly Bill's) eventual goal became to come up with a way for other people to replicate Ben's results. The so-called image cycling technique that emerged from that effort was intended to simulate what was going on in Ben's mind as closely as possible.

According to Bill, the image cycling method is analogous to what Ben did naturally, but not the same. For me, that is an under-appreciated aspect of this phenomenon - that these two men were able to come up with an absurd mental algorithm that apparently achieves the powerful healing results that Ben apparently achieved naturally, in a way that is analogous but not the same as how Ben was doing it, all without having a clue as to what was going on! (I say apparently twice in that sentence because, although the healing is well documented in controlled animal experiments, nobody really knows where it's coming from).

Clearly, we're not in Materialism Land any more. This is the kind of thing that causes me to empathize with astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who at one point remarked about the universe, “It looks like a put-up job.” Amen, Professor Hoyle.:D
 
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#31
Image cycling is probably unnecessary and is just "superstition". Bengston has not done controlled experiments to study which parts of his healing technique produce an effect. There are many other energy healing techniques, discovered serendipitously as Bengston discovered his technique, and none of them use image cycling.
 
#32
Hi Michael - long time no see!;)

I imagine you're aware (but I'll mention it anyway) that the beat most likely isn't missing, but rather comes prematurely when there is so little available blood to push that you don't feel any pulse. Thus it feels like the next beat is delayed or that a beat is skipped. This condition is common and generally considered benign. That's how it was explained to me, for what it's worth.:eek:
Thanks for the info: I wasn't aware of that. It's true that cardiologists (in the UK at any rate) aren't concerned about "missing" beats, but there are very unpleasant feelings associated with them, especially if they last for extended periods. If there are in effect two beats where there should be three, that means less blood is being pumped through the body in a given time. That can affect all sorts of things, including mental sharpness and digestion. One can feel decidedly unwell.
 
#33
I believe that if one had found such a method of cure, capable of curing cancer (!), without side effects (!!) and that could be done at distance (!!!), one would do all it could to transmit this method to as much people as possible FOR FREE, obviously. I believe such a gift does not belong to a few privileged (and wealthy) individuals.

However Bernadette Doran and Dr. William Bengston, who allegedly found such a gift, choose to sell it for hundreds of dollars and to place it under a protective registered mark. The cheapest version of the THE BENGSTON ENERGY HEALING METHOD® costs $525. To me, this says a lot about the motivation behind these allegations.

I do not share the current scientific materialistic world-view mindset. I have nothing against alternative medicines that cannot be explained by current scientific knowledge. I do not agree with or accept the judgment of what qualifies as "scientific data" based on how it fits into the established models while ignoring everything else. So I don't think I came to listen to this interview with preconceived objections.

If someone said to me that such a fantastic method of cure exists and that it can prove it to me, I would say ok, prove it. I want this to be true, I really do. I bet hundreds or thousands of people suffering from all kinds of illnesses also want this to be true and couldn't care less about the scientific establishment if this method of cure was available to them.

But hey, guess what, the cure is not available to them, the proof is not available to me either. The cure and the proof are only available for those willing to pay to find out if this is anything better than the placebo effect.

And there's a bonus, the danger of sick people skipping valid medical treatments in favour of possibly fraudulent, possibly fake, cures. This is very serious.
 
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#34
I believe that if one had found such a method of cure, capable of curing cancer (!), without side effects (!!) and that could be done at distance (!!!), one would do all it could to transmit this method to as much people as possible FOR FREE, obviously. I believe such a gift does not belong to a few privileged (and wealthy) individuals.
Mainstream medicine is not capable of curing all diseases and not all patients respond in the same way to a given mainstream medical treatment. Energy healing has the same limitations but for some reason people have higher expectations of energy healing and hold it to a higher standard than mainstream medicine.
However Bernadette Doran and Dr. William Bengston, who allegedly found such a gift, choose to sell it for hundreds of dollars and to place it under a protective registered mark. The cheapest version of the THE BENGSTON ENERGY HEALING METHOD® costs $525. To me, this says a lot about the motivation behind these allegations.
I agree 100%. Anyone can learn to do energy healing free of charge: http://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/spiritual_healing
I do not share the current scientific materialistic world-view mindset. I have nothing against alternative medicines that cannot be explained by current scientific knowledge. I do not agree with or accept the judgment of what qualifies as "scientific data" based on how it fits into the established models while ignoring everything else. So I don't think I came to listen to this interview with preconceived objections.

If someone said to me that such a fantastic method of cure exists and that it can prove it to me, I would say ok, prove it. I want this to be true, I really do. I bet hundreds or thousands of people suffering from all kinds of illnesses also want this to be true and couldn't care less about the scientific establishment if this method of cure was available to them.
You are extrapolating from an experimental model of disease used in Bengston's research: a certain lineage of cancer cells injected into a strain of genetically identical mice. In real life human cancers, each cancer is different and each person is different. It is not realistic to expect the same results in humans as they get in the lab testing on mice.
But hey, guess what, the cure is not available to them, the proof is not available to me either. The cure and the proof are only available for those willing to pay to find out if this is anything better than the placebo effect.
Spiritual healing is available free (or for what you put in the collection basket) at most Spiritualist churches during their services and during healing classes.
And there's a bonus, the danger of sick people skipping valid medical treatments in favour of possibly fraudulent, possibly fake, cures. This is very serious.
I agree 100%. When I was taught spiritual healing at a Spiritualist church, I was told that spiritual healing is not a substitute for mainstream medical treatments and anyone who is ill should be advised to see a doctor. There are responsible practitioners of energy healing who don't extort money from their customers and who encourage their customers to obtain mainstream medical care. However it is hard for the general public to find reliable information on the subject because reliable information is drowned in the ocean of misinformation that exists on the subject.
 
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#35
However Bernadette Doran and Dr. William Bengston, who allegedly found such a gift, choose to sell it for hundreds of dollars and to place it under a protective registered mark. The cheapest version of the THE BENGSTON ENERGY HEALING METHOD® costs $525. To me, this says a lot about the motivation behind these allegations.
Isn't that the cost for healer courses?

As regards costs, while I understand your concerns I think it doesn't make sense that people able to cure (some form of) cancer should give away their time for free. For starters healers need to learn the techniques (whatever that is) which involves investing time and money. They then need to allocate time for each treatment session, possibly many a day which makes it a job like any other. Given the amount of people in need of health care how would these healers survive? Keep in mind, I am not even questioning the real efficacy of the treatment, that's an entirely different story.

I believe that if one had found such a method of cure, capable of curing cancer (!), without side effects (!!) and that could be done at distance (!!!), one would do all it could to transmit this method to as much people as possible FOR FREE, obviously. I believe such a gift does not belong to a few privileged (and wealthy) individuals.
Why would you require an energy healer to work for free and not a comedian, for example. A comedian has the gift to make people laugh and feel better, so hey... give it away for free :)
Of course, it shouldn't become a treatment for the wealthy and exclude people who can't afford it, especially given the life threatening situation. At the same time I think most people should be able to pay a fair price for their treatment, just like they can spend 6-700 bucks for a smartphone or a short holiday.

I would prefer a system where the healer is remunerated enough for his time and where patients are in dire economic situation, they prices should be cut accordingly.

And there's a bonus, the danger of sick people skipping valid medical treatments in favour of possibly fraudulent, possibly fake, cures. This is very serious.
It is no doubt. But if it's an informed decision who are we to judge?
The possibility of fraud is not removed from mainstream medicine as well. Read a book like Ben Goldacre's "Bad Pharma" and you'll have plenty to ponder over.
 
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#36
Thanks for the info: I wasn't aware of that. It's true that cardiologists (in the UK at any rate) aren't concerned about "missing" beats, but there are very unpleasant feelings associated with them, especially if they last for extended periods. If there are in effect two beats where there should be three, that means less blood is being pumped through the body in a given time. That can affect all sorts of things, including mental sharpness and digestion. One can feel decidedly unwell.
I had this problem for a bit after a change in the type of my BP tablets. At first, it scared the pants off me - I was on a walk on my own in the countryside and I imagined just collapsing and being found much later! Although I had an ECG, I was given no treatment, and the problem subsided more or less. I still get the problem occasionally, but I guess I have got used to it - so it doesn't worry me. Some women get palpitations as part of the menopause, so it is, I think, a fairly common problem.

Whatever Alex had must have been more severe.

David
 
#38
Hey Alex,

I enjoyed this podcast. Thanks for publishing, and interested in reading more details in the book.

Just wanted to mention a quick correction; Semmelweis did not commit suicide. And I agree his story is indeed a fascinating one.
Well, he didn't commit suicide but the consequences of the rejection of his work generated a bad state of depression and anger which spiraled down pretty quickly with the help of alcohol abuse. He was forced into a mental asylum where he didn't receive a very friendly treatment, he was beaten and died very shortly thereafter, possibly for the consequences of the beating.

I don't know if that's any better than suicide... :(

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis#Breakdown.2C_death_and_oblivion
 
#39
Well, he didn't commit suicide but the consequences of the rejection of his work generated a bad state of depression and anger which spiraled down pretty quickly with the help of alcohol abuse. He was forced into a mental asylum where he didn't receive a very friendly treatment, he was beaten and died very shortly thereafter, possibly for the consequences of the beating.

I don't know if that's any better than suicide... :(

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis#Breakdown.2C_death_and_oblivion
It's not any better, certainly. But her information was wrong. One shouldn't claim that a person committed suicide when it it's factually incorrect. Also, the source she referenced in the podcast is incorrect on other details of his life. These things matter, do they not?
 
#40
I believe that if one had found such a method of cure, capable of curing cancer (!), without side effects (!!) and that could be done at distance (!!!), one would do all it could to transmit this method to as much people as possible FOR FREE, obviously. I believe such a gift does not belong to a few privileged (and wealthy) individuals.

However Bernadette Doran and Dr. William Bengston, who allegedly found such a gift, choose to sell it for hundreds of dollars and to place it under a protective registered mark. The cheapest version of the THE BENGSTON ENERGY HEALING METHOD® costs $525. To me, this says a lot about the motivation behind these allegations.
Bengston has published his method on a set of six CDs available now from Amazon for $45, a bargain by any reasonable standard. The CDs contain his entire protocol - nothing is held back. Bill says he doesn't take a penny for personal gain from the workshops - if you meet him you'll see he obviously doesn't care about money. As to what Bernadette might do with any share that may come to her, I don't know; I gather she's trying to make a living at this, and I wish her the very best of luck.

After working through the CD set I went ahead and took Bill's workshop because I was unclear on a few points (surprisingly few - the CDs are thorough) and I also wanted more information about his research. I paid more for two nights in the rather seedy hotel where the workshop was held than I did for the workshop itself. (BTW, I have published the clarifying information that I learned in the workshop - you can check my review of Bill's book or CD set on Amazon under sundog for that information. If you still have questions after working through the CD course and reading that clarifying information, contact me.)

When you attend a workshop, somebody has to have paid to pay to put it on. Just renting a large meeting space in a major metropolitan area is quite costly, plus many other expenses. Who is going to foot the bill if not the participants?

Finally, for perspective, how much would it cost to become an oncologist? I'd guess at least several hundred thousand dollars and seven or eight years of your life. And what would your cure rate be when you started practicing? Actually it would be somewhere around zero for complete cures because the cure often does grave harm to the patient that is itself incurable, up to and including death. That may be why it turned out my practice partner in the workshop was a medical oncologist in his fifties. He'd witnessed the carnage of industrial cancer treatment first-hand and it looked very much as if he wanted a glimmer of hope for a future less grim.

I bet hundreds or thousands of people suffering from all kinds of illnesses also want this to be true and couldn't care less about the scientific establishment if this method of cure was available to them.

But hey, guess what, the cure is not available to them, the proof is not available to me either.
The evidence (as the adage goes, science doesn't deal in proof - that's left to mathematicians and whiskey) is available in peer reviewed published papers if you but look. It would be great if there were more evidence in the public domain - hundreds or thousands of pages would suit me fine, but all that documentation takes time away from the research itself (remember, Bill has a day job which has nothing to do with any of this this) so a balance must be struck.

The treatment is available for less than a thousand dollars from Equilibrium-e3 and others. Most people in America who are not destitute and homeless can come up with a thousand dollars if they look at their priorities hard enough. They may have to downgrade to basic cable for a year, of course.
 
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