THERAPEUTIC TOUCH (TT)
Opposition, books, etc.
Topics Covered in this Essay:
Generally speaking, Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. The Gospels and other books in the Bible
refer extensively to Satan, Satanic demons, and mental illness caused by indwelling
demonic spirits. The cure is exorcism, as practiced by Jesus and some of his followers in
the first century CE. Exorcism is still practiced today as a spiritual technique to drive
demons from the body of a possessed individual. Many conservative Christians believe such
entities were very real in 1st century Palestine, and also are extremely active in the
world today. In essence, they have a concept of science and medicine which is
pre-scientific, unaltered from 1st century CE beliefs.
Some Evangelical Christian leaders oppose the Occult, Gnosticism, Neopaganism, Native Spirituality, and New Age
beliefs on the basis that they are believed to be non-Christian or anti-Christian.
They link a wide diversity of activities within the Occult: including Angel contact,
Astrology, a Course in Miracles, the Masonic Order, Runes, Tarot card reading, Theosophy,
Transcendental Meditation, Satanism, Shamanism, Wicca and other Neopagan religions, etc.
They consider the New Age to also consist of a similar diversity of activities: acupuncture,
channeling, color healing, crystal healing, dream work, guided imagery, homeopathy,
hypnosis, mantra reciting, past life regression, pendulum work, psychic healing,
therapeutic touch, etc. One source 1 warns against
getting involved with any of 42 New Age activities which they consider to be dangerous,
from acupressure to zone therapy.
Often, the Occult and New Age are seen to overlap. Some conservative Christians believe
that even the act of having an occult or pagan symbol in one's house is sufficient to
give Satan a "legal right" to attack the family and cause all types of
mental and physical disease and misfortune. Dabbling in the Occult opens "doorways"
through which demonic spirits are believed to invade the person.
Ankerberg and Weldon 2 write that meditation with crystals
is used by New Age practitioners as a means of attracting demonic spirits who will "channel"
information from the spirit world. The crystals can be later discarded and the spirits
will remain. This process of channeling "is similar to that given for learning
Therapeutic Touch..." The authors describe dowsing as associated with Paganism,
the spirit world and the Occult. Dowsing is used by some TT healers as a diagnostic tool.
They refer to Dora Kunz, former president of the Theosophical Society, as a co-developer
of Therapeutic Touch. They refer to Dolores Krieger, also a cofounder, as a psychic. All
New Age medicine, including TT, is seen as "a major vehicle for spreading the
occult. Those [patients] treated with New Age health methods often become converts to New
Age philosophy and practice...New age medicine is undergirded by a New Age worldview which
is anti-Christian." In addition, "To think that the spirits would not
be involved in that which promotes the moral and spiritual disintegration of society is to
be ignorant of the mechanics of spiritual deception." They warn that anyone
seeking Therapeutic Touch treatment may also be subjected to "Occult Meditation,
Altered States of Consciousness, Radiesthesia/Rod and Pendulum Dowsing, Yoga, Psychic
Energies and Psychic Diagnosis and Healing. "New Age medicine is
dangerous spiritually...because occult philosophy is anti-Christian and amoral. Occult
philosophy leads people away from salvation in Jesus Christ and justifies a variety of
sinful behaviors...Studies in diverse fields relating to demonism such as missiology, cults and occult counseling reveal that occult practices harm people
The Watchmen Fellowship Inc. is an Evangelical Christian counter-cult
group, whose mission "is to present a readily accessible [conservative]
Christian response to cults and new religious movements."
They warn that "Therapeutic Touch can best be categorized as an occult healing
practice that is conceptually grounded in an eclectic mix of non-Christian religions and
philosophies." 4 They link TT to:
||Theosophy which is a religion containing elements of "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, the Egyptian Hermetic traditions, Neoplatonism, Kabbalism
(Jewish mysticism), Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and spiritualism."
||Wicca, a reconstruction of ancient Celtic
Pagan religion. They practice a "neopagan healing ritual...nearly identical to
the Therapeutic Touch process described by Krieger"
||Mesmerism, a healing technique from the 18th century founded by Anton
Mesmer. He believed that a therapist's hands can control or expel "subtle fluid"
from the body.
The Watchmen Fellowship demonstrated against the Pentagon-funded evaluation of TT in
Alabama, described above.
Most mainline and liberal Christians believe that these criticisms of TT are without
We suspect that the answer is both yes and no. Lori Wyzykowski, a nurse and TT
therapist stated that some studies have proven that TT heals people. She said: "There
was a double-blind study involving volunteers who got identical wounds in their deltoids
(muscles). Some received non-contact therapeutic touch and some did not receive anything.
Those that got the therapy healed faster." 5
Unfortunately, tests of this type often measure only a placebo effect. Many decades
ago, researchers at General Electric attempted to determine the optimum brightness of room
illumination in a factory. They measured the workers productivity before the test. Then
they increased the brightness of the lights, and found that the productivity went up. Then
they reduced the lighting intensity and found that the workers performed even better. They
finally concluded that the workers were not responding to the amount of light; they were
working better because they appreciated that someone cared about their working conditions.
We expect that the study that Lori Wyzykowski refers to was similar. The patients
appreciated the extra attention given to them by a TT practitioner. Also, they
may have been convinced that TT actually works, and started to believe that they
were going to get better, faster. Either way, they probably felt less stress and
at least thought that they were going to heal faster. It is a well-known fact in
medicine that a positive emotional state can improve a patient's response to
Therapeutic touch seems to be another form of treatment that has little or no
scientific grounding, and yet is being practiced on an unsuspecting and trusting public. Recovered Memory Therapy
Personality Disorder (MPD) /Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) are two other
therapies which similarly are without a proven validity. Fortunately, TT appears benign,
unlike RMT and MPD. In each case, professional associations have accepted experimental,
unproven treatment methods without first inquiring whether they have any efficacy or
adverse side effects.
We would urge that a study be made, comparing therapeutic touch with other forms of
therapy. For example, persons with no specific academic education could be trained in
empathic listening skills, and spend an equivalent amount of time with a patient as do TT
practitioners. If the listening therapy is equal or superior to TT, then therapeutic touch
could be abandoned and active listening substituted. Since some TT therapists charge $70
per hour, costs should be significantly reduced. The money saved could be channeled to
other places in the health care system. In the U.S. there are approximately 40 million
individuals who have no health care insurance coverage. In Canada, everyone has access to
health care, but waiting lists are sometimes long. Freeing up money would help the health
care system in both countries.
The author of this essay, is a skeptic with regard to the healing efficacy of
Therapeutic Touch. My tentative opinion is that any benefits to be gained from this form
of therapy are due simply to the presence, empathy, confidence and caring of the
therapist, and not to any detecting or balancing of energy fields. Being a physicist, I
doubt the existence of a human energy field radiating from the body other than simple
thermal radiation, and extremely low and undetectable levels of electromagnetic and
That said, I had a remarkable experience about 15 years ago. I had suffered minor
chronic pain in my left hip. I was a subject at a demonstration involving a massage
therapist and 10 or so untrained students of something that appears to have been
pain disappeared for the first time in many years. I suspect this to have been
due to a placebo effect.
The pain returned later, only to fade out over a period of years.
The following appear to be the most popular books currently in print. Their cost is
the range of $9 to $20:
Books that promote TT:
||"Annotated Bibliography of Published Therapeutic Touch Research,"
The Therapeutic Touch Network of Ontario. This is a 53 page booklet
listing of all published and qualitative TT research done from 1975 to
||Deborah Cowens & Tom Monte, "A Gift for Healing : How You Can Use
Therapeutic Touch," Crown Publishers (1996). You can order
this book from Amazon.com|
||Dorothea Hover-Kramer, "Healing Touch; a Resource for Health Care Professionals,"
(1995). About $30. Order this
||"Therapeutic Touch: How to Use Your Hands to
or to Heal," Simon & Schuster (1992)
||Accepting Your Power to Heal : The Personal Practice of
Therapeutic Touch," Bear & Company, (1993)
||"Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook : Ventures in Transpersonal
Healing," Bear & Company, (1996)
||Janet MacRae, "Therapeutic Touch : A Practical Guide," Knopf, (1988) Order this
||Jean Sayre-Adams, Stephen G. Wright, "The Theory and Practice of Therapeutic
Touch," Churchill Livingstone, (1995). Order this
Book skeptical of TT:
||Bela Scheiber & Carla Selby, Eds, "Therapeutic Touch,"
Prometheus Books, (2000). From the inside flap: "How did this
quasi-religious mystical belief get by the gatekeepers of medicine and
science? This book answers these questions and more. It is the first and
only critical evaluation of Therapeutic Touch -- the history, ethics,
personalities, battles, and central experiments are all examined in this
engrossing and comprehensive volume. A must read for anyone in the
healthcare profession and for consumers confronted with healthcare
decisions." Order this
book This book appears to be the only one published that is skeptical of
Craig Branch, "Expositor Warning," at: http://www.watchman.org/
J. Ankerberg & J. Weldon, "Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs,"
Harvest House, Eugene, OR, (1996)
The "Watchman Fellowship Inc., Online," has a home page at: http://www.watchman.org/
Sharon Fish, "Therapeutic Touch," at: http://www.watchman.org/
Nancy McVicar, "9-year-old's therapy study lands in
medical journal," Sun-Sentinel, South Florida, 1998-APR-1,
Copyright © 1998 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on
Essay originally written: 1998-MAR-4
Latest update; 2002-FEB-8
Author: Bruce A Robinson