Tapping into the Field
‘The last century
was the atomic age, but this one could well turn
out to be the zero-point age.’
The Healing Field
Puthoff, Braud and the other scientists had been left with an
imponderable: the ultimate usefulness of the non-local effects they
Their studies suggested a number of elegant
metaphysical ideas about man and his relation to his world, but a
number of practical considerations had been left unanswered.
How powerful was intention as a force and exactly how ‘infectious’
was the coherence of individual consciousness?
Could we actually tap
into The Field to control our own health or even to heal others?
Could it cure really serious diseases like cancer?
Was the coherence
of human consciousness responsible for psychoneuroimmunology - the
healing effect of the mind on the body?
Braud’s studies in particular suggested that human intention could
be used as an extraordinarily potent healing force.
It appeared that
we could order the random fluctuations in the Zero Point Field and
use this to establish greater ‘order’ in another person. With this
type of capability, one person should be able to act as a healing
conduit, allowing The Field to realign another person’s structure.
Human consciousness could act as a reminder, as Fritz Popp believed,
to re-establish another person’s coherence.
If non-local effects
could be marshalled to heal someone, then a discipline like distant
healing ought to work.
What was clearly needed was a test of these ideas in real life with
a study so carefully designed that it would answer some of these
questions, once and for all. In the early 1990s the opportunity
arose with the perfect candidate - a scientist rather skeptical of
the remote healing with a group of patients who’d been given up for
Elisabeth Targ, an orthodox psychiatrist in her early 30s, was the
Russell Targ, Hal Puthoff ’s partner and successor in
the SRI remote-viewing experiments. Elisabeth was a curious hybrid,
drawn to the possibilities suggested by her father’s remote-viewing
work at SRI, but also shackled by the rigors of her scientific
At the time, she’d been invited to work as director of the
California Pacific Medical Center’s Complementary Research
Institute, as a result of the remote-viewing
work she’d done with her father. One of her tasks was to formally
study the treatments offered by the clinic, which consisted largely
of alternative medicine. Often she seemed to be teetering between
both camps - wanting science to embrace and study the miraculous,
and wanting alternative medicine to be more scientific.
A number of different strands in her life began to converge.
received a phone call from a friend of hers, Hella Hammid,
announcing that she had breast cancer. Hella had arrived in
Elisabeth’s life through her father, who’d inadvertently discovered
in Hella, a photographer, one of his most talented remote viewers.
Hella had called to ask if Elisabeth knew of any evidence that
alternative therapies such as distant healing - something not unlike
remote viewing - could help to cure breast cancer.
In the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic - a time when a
diagnosis of HIV was almost certainly a death sentence - Elisabeth
had chosen this specialty in San Francisco, the very epicenter of
the US epidemic. At the time of Hella’s phone call, the hottest
topic in medical circles in California was psychoneuroimmunology.
Patients had begun to crowd into special town-hall meetings given by
mind–body devotees such as Louise Hay or into workshops on
visualization and imagery.
Elisabeth herself had been dabbling in
her own studies of mind–body medicine, undoubtedly because she’d had
nothing much else to offer patients with advanced AIDS, even though
she was deeply skeptical of Hay’s approach. One of her own early
studies had shown that group therapy was as good as Prozac for
treating depression in AIDS patients.1
She’d also read of the work
of David Spiegel at Stanford Medical School, showing that group
therapy dramatically increased life expectancy for women with breast
In her sensible, pragmatic heart, Elisabeth suspected the effect was
a combination of hope and wishful thinking, and perhaps a bit of
confidence engendered by the support of the group. They may have
been psychologically better, but their T-cell counts certainly
weren’t improving. Still, she harbored a shred of doubt, possibly
derived from the years she’d spent observing her father’s work on
remote viewing at SRI.
His success strongly argued for the existence
of some sort of extrasensory connection between people and a field
that connected all things. Elisabeth herself had often wondered if
one could use the special ability observed in remote viewing for
something besides spying on the Soviets or predicting a horse race,
as she had once done.
Then in 1995, Elisabeth received a phone call from Fred Sicher.
was a psychologist, researcher and retired hospital administrator.
He’d been referred to her friend Marilyn Schlitz, Braud’s old
associate, who was now the director of the Institute of Noetic
Sciences, the Sausalito based organization that Edgar Mitchell had
set up many years before. Fred now at last had the time in his life
to investigate something that fascinated him.
As a hospital
administrator, he’d always been something of a philanthropist. At
Schlitz’s suggestion, he approached Elisabeth about the possibility
of working with him on a study of distant healing. With her unique
background, Elisabeth was a natural choice to head up the study.
Prayer was not something Elisabeth had much experience of. She had
inherited from her father not only her melancholic Russian looks and
thick black tresses, lightly tinged with grey, but also her passion
for the microscope.
The only God in the Targ family home had been
the scientific method. Targ had imparted to his daughter a sense of
the thrill of science, with its capability of answering the big
questions. As he’d chosen to work out how the world works, so his
daughter had chosen to figure out the workings of the human mind. As
a 13-year-old, she’d even wangled a place working in Karl Pribram’s
brain research laboratory at Stanford University, examining
differences between left and right hemisphere activity, before
deciding on an orthodox course of study in psychiatry at Stanford.
Nevertheless, Elisabeth had been highly impressed by the Soviet
Academy of Science during a visit she’d made there with her father,
and the fact that laboratory study of parapsychology could be so
openly carried out by the establishment. In officially atheist
Russia, they had only two categories of belief: something was true
or not true.
In America, a third category existed: religion, which
placed some things strictly beyond the reach of scientific
Everything scientists couldn’t explain, everything
connected with healing, or prayer, or the paranormal - the territory
of her father’s work - seemed to fall into this third category. Once
it was placed there, it was officially declared out of bounds.
Her father had built his reputation on designing impeccable
experiments, and he had taught her respect for the importance of the
air-tight, well-controlled trial. She grew up believing that any
sort of effect could be quantified, so long as you designed the
experiment to control for variables. Indeed, Puthoff and Targ
between them had demonstrated that the well-designed experiment
could even prove the miraculous.
The outcome was gospel, regardless
of whether that outcome violated the researcher’s every expectation.
All good experiments ‘work’: the problem is simply that we may not
like the conclusions.
Even as Targ senior shifted his thinking to embrace certain
spiritual ideas, Elisabeth remained the cool rationalist. Still,
throughout what was an orthodox training in psychiatry, she’d never
forgotten her father’s lessons: received wisdom was the enemy of
good science. As a student she would seek out dusty psychiatric
writings of the nineteenth century, before the advent of modern
psychopharmacology, when psychiatrists lived in sanatoriums, writing
down the rantings of their patients in an attempt to gain further
understanding of their conditions.
Somewhere in the raw data, Targ
believed, separated out from the dogma of the times, lay the truth.
Elisabeth agreed to collaborate with Sicher, even though privately
she doubted it was ever going to work. She would put distant healing
to the purest test. She would try it out on her patients with
advanced AIDS, a group so certain to die that nothing other than
hope and prayer was open to them anymore. She would find out whether
prayer and distant intention could cure the ultimate hopeless case.
She began trawling through the evidence on healing.
seemed to fall into three broad categories: attempts to affect
isolated cells or enzymes; healing of animals, plants or microscopic
living systems; and studies of human beings. Included was all of Braud and Schlitz’s work, which showed that people could have an
influence on all types of living processes.
There was also some
interesting evidence showing the effects humans could have on plants
and animals. There’d even been some work showing that positive or
negative thoughts and feelings could somehow be transmitted to other
In the 1960s, biologist Dr Bernard Grad of McGill University in
Montreal, one of the earliest pioneers in the field, was interested
in determining whether psychic healers actually transmit energy to
patients. Rather than using live human patients, Grad had used
plants which he’d planned to make ‘ill’ by soaking their seeds in
salty water, which retards growth.
Before he soaked the seeds,
however, he had a healer lay hands on one container of salt water,
which was to be used for one batch of seeds.
The other container of
salt water, which had not been exposed to the healer, would hold the
remainder of seeds. After the seeds were soaked in the two
containers of salt water, the batch exposed to the water treated by
the healer grew taller than the other batch.
the healing field
Grad then hypothesized that the reverse might also happen - negative
feelings might have a negative effect on the growth of plants. In a
follow-up study, Grad had several psychiatric patients hold
containers of ordinary water which were to be used again to sprout
seeds. One patient, a man being treated for psychotic depression,
was noticeably more depressed than the others.
Later, when Grad
tried to sprout seeds using water of the patients, the water that
had been held by the depressed man suppressed growth.3 This may be
one good explanation why some people have green fingers and others
can get nothing living to grow.4
In later experiments, Grad chemically analyzed the water by infrared
spectroscopy and discovered that the water treated by the healer had
minor shifts in its molecular structure and decreased hydrogen
bonding between the molecules, similar to what happens when water is
exposed to magnets. A number of other scientists confirmed Grad’s
Grad moved on to mice, who’d been given skin wounds in the
laboratory. After controlling for a number of factors, even the
effect of warm hands, he found that the skin of his test mice healed
far more quickly when healers had treated them.6
Grad also showed
that healers could reduce the growth of cancerous tumors in
laboratory animals. Animals with tumors which were not healed died
more quickly.7 Other animal studies have shown that amyloidosis,
tumors and laboratory-induced goiter could be healed in laboratory
Other conducted scientific studies had shown that people could
influence yeast, fungi and even isolated cancer cells.9 In one of
them, a biologist named Carroll Nash at St Joseph’s University in
Philadelphia found that people could influence the growth rate of
bacteria just by willing it so.10
An ingenious trial by Gerald Solfvin showed that our ability to
‘hope for the best’ might actually affect the healing of other
beings. Solfvin created a series of complex and elaborate conditions
for his test. He injected a group of mice with a type of malaria,
which is usually fatal in rodents.
Solfvin got hold of three lab assistants and told them that only
half the mice had been injected with malaria. A psychic healer would
be attempting to heal one-half of the mice - not necessarily all
those with malaria - although the assistants would not know which
mice were to be the target of the healing. Neither statement was
All the assistants could do was to hope that the mice in their care
would recover, and that the psychic healer’s intervention would
However, one assistant was considerably more optimistic than his
colleagues, and it showed. At the end of the study the mice under
his care were less ill than those cared for by the other two
Like that of Grad’s healers, the Solfvin study was too small to be
definitive. But there had been earlier research by Rex Stanford in
1974. Stanford had showed that people could influence events just by
‘hoping’ everything would go well, even when they did not fully
understand exactly what they were supposed to be hoping for.12
Elisabeth was surprised to find that scores of studies - at least
150 human trials - had been done on healing.
These were instances in
which an intermediary would use one of a variety of methods to
attempt to send healing messages, through touch, prayer or some sort
of secular intention. With therapeutic touch, the patient is
supposed to relax and attempt to direct his or her attention inward
while the healer lays hands on the patient and intends the patient
A typical study involved ninety-six patients with high blood
pressure and a number of healers. Neither doctor nor patients were
told who was being given the mental healing treatments.
statistical analysis performed afterwards showed that the systolic
blood pressure (that is, the pressure of blood flow as it is being
pumped from the heart) of the group being treated by a healer was
significantly improved, compared with that of the controls. The
healers had employed a well-defined regime, which involved
relaxation, getting in touch with a Higher Power or Infinite Being,
using visualization or affirmation of the patients in a state of
perfect health, and giving thanks to the source, whether it was God
or some other spiritual power.
As a group, the healers demonstrated
overall success and, in certain individual instances, extraordinary
results. Four of the healers enjoyed a 92.3 per cent improvement
among their total group of patients.13
Perhaps the most impressive human study had been carried out by
physician Randolph Byrd in 1988. It had attempted to determine in a
randomized, double-blind trial whether remote prayer would have any
effect on patients in a coronary care unit.
Over 10 months, nearly
400 patients were divided into two groups, and only half
(unbeknownst to them) were prayed for by a Christian prayer group
outside the hospital.
All patients had been evaluated, and there was
no statistical difference in their condition before treatment.
However, after treatment, those who’d been prayed for had
significantly less severe symptoms and fewer instances of pneumonia and also required less assistance on a ventilator and fewer
antibiotics than patients who hadn’t been prayed for. 14
Although a large number of studies had been carried out, the problem
with many of them, as far as Elisabeth was concerned, was the
potential for sloppy protocol. The researchers hadn’t constructed
trials tightly enough to demonstrate that it was truly healing that
had produced the positive result. Any number of influences, rather
than any actual healing mechanism, might have been responsible.
In the blood-pressure-healing study, for instance, the authors
didn’t record or control whether the patients were taking
blood-pressure medication. Good as the results were, you couldn’t
really tell whether they were due to the healing or the drugs.
Although Byrd’s prayer study was well designed, one obvious omission
was any data concerning the psychological state of the patients when
they’d started the study. As it is known that psychological issues
can affect recovery after a number of illnesses, notably cardiac
surgery, it may have been that a disproportionate number of patients
with a positive mental outlook had landed in the healing group.
To demonstrate that healing was what had actually made patients
better, it was vital to separate out any effects that might have
been due to other causes.
Even human expectation could skew the
results. You needed to control for the effects of hope or such
factors as relaxation on the outcome of trials. Cuddling animals, or
even handling the contents of Petri dishes, could potentially bias
the results, as could the act of traveling to a healer or even a
warm pair of hands.
In any scientific trial, when you are trying to test the
effectiveness of some form of intervention, you need to make sure
that the only difference between your treatment group and control
group is that one gets the treatment and the other doesn’t. This
means matching the two groups as closely as you can in terms of
health, age, socioeconomic status and any other relative factors. If
the patients are ill, you need to make sure that one group isn’t
more ill than the other.
However, in the studies Elisabeth read
about, few attempts had been made to make sure the populations were
You also have to make sure that participation in a study and all the
attention associated with it doesn’t itself cause improvement, so
that you have the same results among those who have been treated and
those who haven’t.
In one such study, a six-week distant healing study of patients
suffering from clinical depression, the test was unsuccessful - all
the patients improved, even the control group who hadn’t been
subject to healing. But all patients, those receiving healing and
those with no healing, may have had a psychological boost from the
session, which might have overwhelmed any actual effect of
All these considerations represented a tremendous challenge to
Elisabeth in putting together a trial. The study would have to be so
tightly constructed that none of these variables affected the
results. Even the presence of a healer at certain times and not
others might tend to influence the outcome. Though a laying on of
hands might aid in the healing process, to control properly in a
scientific sense meant that patients should not know whether they
were being touched or healed.
Targ and Sicher spent months designing their trial.
Of course, it
had to be double-blind, so that neither patients nor doctors could
know who was being healed. The patient population had to be
homogeneous, so they selected advanced AIDS patients of Elisabeth’s
with the same degree of illness - the same T-cell counts, the same
number of AIDS-defining illnesses. It was important to eliminate any
element of the healing mechanism that might confound the results,
such as meeting the healer or being touched.
This meant, they
decided, that all healing should be done remotely. Because they were
testing healing itself, and not the power of a particular form of
it, such as Christian prayer, their healers should be from diverse
backgrounds and between them cover the whole array of approaches.
They would screen out anyone who appeared overly egotistical, only
in it for the money or fraudulent.
They’d also have to be dedicated,
as they’d receive no pay and no individual glory. Each patient was
to be treated by at least ten different healers.
After four months of searching, Fred and Elisabeth had their healers
- an eclectic assortment of forty religious and spiritual healers
all across America, many highly respected in their fields. Only a
small minority described themselves as conventionally religious and
carried out their work by praying to God or using a rosary: several
Christian healers, a handful of evangelicals, one Jewish kabbalist
healer and a few Buddhists.
A number of others were trained in
non-religious healing schools, such as the Barbara Brennan School of
Healing Light, or worked with complex energy fields, attempting to
change colors or vibrations in a patient’s aura. Some used
contemplative healing or visualizations; others worked with tones
and planned to sing or ring bells on behalf of the patient, the purpose of which, they claimed, was to reattune their chakras, or
A few worked with crystals. One healer, who’d been
trained as a Lakota Sioux shaman, intended to use the Native
American pipe ceremony.
Drumming and chanting would enable him to go
into a trance during which he would contact spirits on the patient’s
behalf. They also enlisted a Qigong master from China, who said that
he would be sending harmonizing qi energy to the patients.
criterion, Targ and Sicher maintained, was that the healers believed
that what they were using was going to work.
They had one other common element: success in treating hopeless
cases. Collectively, the healers had an average of 17 years of
experience in healing and reported an average of 117 distant
Targ and Sicher then divided their group of twenty patients in half.
The plan was that both groups would receive the usual orthodox
treatment, but only one of the two groups would also receive distant
healing. Neither doctors nor patients were going to know who was
being healed and who wasn’t.
All information about each patient was to be kept in sealed
envelopes and handled individually through each step of the study.
One of the researchers would gather up each patient’s name,
photograph and health details into a numbered folder. This would
then be given to another researcher, who would then renumber the
folders at random.
A third researcher would then randomly divide the
folders into two groups, after which they were placed in locked
filing cabinets. Copies in five sealed packets would be sent to each
healer, with information about the five patients and a start date
specifying the days to begin treatment on each person. The only
participants in the study who were going to know who was being
healed were the healers themselves.
The healers would have no
contact with their patients - indeed, would never even meet. All
they’d been given to work with was a photo, a name and a T-cell
Each of the healers was asked to hold an intention for the health
and well-being of the patient for an hour a day, six days each week,
for ten weeks, with alternate weeks off for rest. It was an
unprecedented treatment protocol, where every patient in the
treatment group would be treated by every healer in turn. To remove
any individual biases, healers had a weekly rotation, so that they
were assigned a new patient each week.
This would enable all of the
healers to be distributed throughout the patient population, so that
healing itself, not any particular variety of it, would be studied.
The healers were to keep a log of their healing sessions with
information about their healing methods and their impressions of
their patients’ health.
By the end of the study, each of the treated
patients would have had ten healers, and each of the healers, five
Elisabeth was open-minded about it, but the conservative in her kept
surfacing. Try as she might, her training and her own predilections
kept surfacing. She remained fairly convinced that Native American
pipe smoking and chakra chanting had nothing to do with curing a
group of men with an illness so serious and so advanced that they
were virtually certain to die.
And then she saw her patients with end-stage AIDS getting better.
During the six months of the trial period, 40 per cent of the
control population died. But all ten of the patients in the healing
group were not only still alive but had become healthier, on the
basis of their own reports and medical evaluations.
At the end of the study, the patients had been examined by a team of
scientists, and their condition had yielded one inescapable
conclusion: the treatment was working.
Targ almost didn’t believe her own results. She and Sicher had to
make certain that it was healing that had been responsible. They
checked and rechecked their protocol. Was there anything about the
treatment group that had been different? Had the medication been
different, the doctor different, their diets different? Their T-cell
counts had been the same, they had not been HIV positive for longer.
After re-examining the data, Elisabeth discovered one difference
they’d overlooked: the control patients had been slightly older, a
median age of 45, compared with 35 in the treatment group. It didn’t
represent a vast difference - just a ten-year age gap - but that
could have been factor in why more of them had died. Elisabeth
followed up the patients after the study, and found that those who’d
been healed were surviving better, regardless of age.
she knew they were dealing with a controversial field and an effect
that is, on its face, extremely unlikely, so science dictates that
you have to assume the effect isn’t real unless you are really sure. Occum’s razor. Select the simplest hypothesis when confronted with
Elisabeth and Sicher decided to repeat the experiment, but this time
to make it larger and to control for age and any other factors
they’d overlooked. The forty patients chosen to participate were now
perfectly matched for age, degree of illness and many other
variables, even down to
their personal habits.
The amount they smoked, or exercise they
took, their religious beliefs, even their use of recreational drugs
were now equivalent. In scientific terms, this was a batch of men
who were as close as you could get to a perfect match.
By this time protease inhibitors, the great white hope drug of AIDS
treatment, had been discovered. All of the patients were told to
take standard triple therapy for AIDS (protease inhibitors plus two
anti-retroviral drugs such as AZT) but to continue their medical
treatment in every other regard.
Because the triple therapy appeared to be making a profound
difference on mortality rates in AIDS patients, Elisabeth assumed
that, this time, no one in either group would actually die. This
meant she needed to change the result she was aiming for. In the new
study, she was looking for whether distant healing could slow down
the progression of AIDS.
Could it result in fewer AIDS-defining
illnesses, improved T-cell levels, less medical intervention,
improved psychological well-being?
Elisabeth’s caution finally paid off. After six months, the treated
group were healthier on every parameter - significantly fewer doctor
visits, fewer hospitalizations, fewer days in hospital, fewer new
AIDS-defining illnesses and significantly lower severity of disease.
Only two of those in the treatment group had developed any new
AIDS-defining illnesses, while twelve of the control group had, and
only three of the treated group had been hospitalized, compared with
twelve of those in the control group. The treated group also
registered significant improved mood on psychological tests. On six
of the eleven medical outcome measures, the group treated with
healing had significantly better outcomes.
Even the power of positive thinking among the patients had been
controlled for. Midway through the study, all the participants were
asked if they thought they were being treated. In both the treatment
and the control groups, half thought they were, half thought not.
This random division of positive and negative views about healing
meant that any involvement of positive mental attitude would not
have affected the results. When analyzed, the beliefs of the
participants about whether they were getting healing treatment did
not correlate with anything.
Only at the end of the study period did
the subjects tend to guess correctly that they’d been in the healing
Just to be sure, Elisabeth conducted fifty statistical tests to
eliminate whether any other variables in the patients might have
contributed to the
results. This time, there were no more than chance.
The results were inescapable. No matter which type of healing they
used, no matter what their view of a higher being, the healers were
dramatically contributing to the physical and psychological
well-being of their patients.16
Targ and Sicher’s results were vindicated a year later, when a study
entitled MAHI (Mid-America Heart Institute) of the effect of remote
intercessory prayer for hospitalized cardiac patients over 12 months
showed patients had fewer adverse events and a shorter hospital stay
if they were prayed for. In this study, however, the ‘intercessors’
were not gifted healers; to qualify to take part, they simply needed
to believe in God and the fact that he responds when you pray to Him
to heal someone who is ill.
In this instance, all the participants
were using some form of standard prayer and most were
Christian–Protestant, Roman Catholic or nondenominational. Each was
given a particular patient to pray for.
After a month, symptoms in the prayer group had been reduced by more
than 10 per cent compared with those receiving standard care,
according to a special scoring system developed by three experienced
cardiologists from the Mid-America Heart Institute, which rates a
patient’s progress from excellent to catastrophic.
healing didn’t shorten their hospital stay, the patients being
prayed for were definitely better off in every other regard.17
More studies are now under way in several universities. Elisabeth
herself began a trial (which, at the time of writing in 2001, is
still going on) comparing the effects of distant healers with
nurses, a group of health professionals whose caring attitude toward
their patients might also act as a healing mechanism.18
The MAHI study offered several important improvements over Randolf
Byrd’s study. Whereas all the medical staff in Byrd’s study had been
aware that a study was being carried out, the medical staff in the
MAHI study had no idea.
The MAHI patients also didn’t know they were participating in a
study, so there would not have been any possible psychological
effects. In Byrd’s study, of the 450 patients, nearly an eighth had
refused to be involved. This meant that only those who were
receptive to, or at least didn’t object to the idea of, being prayed
for would have agreed to be included.
Finally, in Byrd’s study,
those doing the praying had been given a great deal of information
about their patients, whereas in the MAHI study, the
Christians had virtually no information about the people they were
praying for. They were told to pray for 28 days, and that was it.
They had no feedback about whether their prayers had worked.
Neither the Targ nor the MAHI study demonstrated that God Himself
answers prayers or even that He exists. As the MAHI study was quick
to point out:
‘All we have observed is that when individuals outside
of the hospital speak (or think) the first names of hospitalized
patients with an attitude of prayer, the latter appeared to have a
“better” CCU experience.’19
In fact, in Elisabeth’s study, it didn’t seem to matter what method
you used, so long as you held an intention for a patient to heal.
Calling on Spider Woman, a healing grandmother star figure common in
the Native American culture, was every bit as successful as calling
on Jesus. Elisabeth began to analyze which healers had the most
success. Their techniques had been profoundly different.
alignment’ practitioner based in Pittsburgh felt, after attempting
work with several of the patients, that there was a common energy
field in all of them, which she came to think of as an ‘AIDS energy
signature’, and she would work on getting in touch with their
healthy immune system and ignore the ‘bad energy’. With another it
was more a case of working on psychic surgery, spiritually removing
the virus from their bodies.
Another, a Christian in Santa Fe, who
carried out the healing in front of her own altar with pictures of
the Virgin and saints and many lit candles, claimed to have summoned
up spirit doctors, angels and guides. Others, like the kabbalistic
healer, simply focused on energy patterns.20
But what they all seemed to have in common was an ability to get out
of the way. It seemed to Elisabeth that most of them claimed to have
put out their intention and then stepped back and surrendered to
some other kind of healing force, as though they were opening a door
and allowing something greater in.
Many of the more effective ones
had asked for help - from the spirit world or from the collective consciousness, or
even from a religious figure such as Jesus. It was not an egoistic
healing on their part, more like a request: ‘please may this person
be healed’. Much of their imagery had to do with relaxing, releasing
or allowing the spirit, light or love in.
The actual being, whether
it was Jesus or Spider Woman, appeared irrelevant.
The success of the MAHI study suggested that healing through
intention is available to ordinary people, although the healers may
be more experienced or naturally talented in tapping into The Field.
In the Copper Wall Project in Topeka, Kansas, a researcher named
Elmer Green has shown that experienced healers have abnormally high
electric field patterns during healing sessions.
In his test, Green
enclosed his participants in isolated rooms made with walls
constructed entirely of copper, which would block electricity from
any other sources.
Although ordinary participants had expected
electrical readings related to breathing or heartbeat, the healers
were generating electrical surges higher than 60 volts during
healing sessions, as measured by electrometers placed on the healers
themselves and on all four walls. Video recordings of the healers
showed these voltage surges had nothing to do with physical
Studies of the nature of the healing energy of Chinese
Qigong masters have provided evidence of the presence of photon
emission and electromagnetic fields during healing sessions.22
sudden surges of energy may be physical evidence of a healer’s
greater coherence - his ability to marshall his own quantum energy
and transfer it to the less organized recipient.
Elisabeth’s study and the work of William Braud raised a number of
profound implications on the nature of illness and healing. It
suggested that intention on its own heals, but that healing is also
a collective force. The manner in which Targ’s healers worked would
suggest that there may be a collective memory of healing spirit,
which could be gathered as a medicinal force. In this model, illness
can be healed through a type of collective memory.
The Field helps to keep the living healthy. It might even be that
health and illness of individuals is, in a sense, collective.
Certain epidemics might grip societies as a physical manifestation
of a type of energetic hysteria.
If intention creates health - that is, improved order - in another
person, it would suggest that illness is a disturbance in the
quantum fluctuations of an individual. Healing, as Popp’s work
suggests, might be a matter of reprogramming individual quantum
fluctuations to operate more coherently. Healing may also be seen as
providing information to return the system to stability.
Any one of
a number of biological processes requires an exquisite cascade of
processes, which would be sensitive to the tiny effects observed in
the PEAR research.23
It could also be that illness is isolation: a lack of connection
with the collective health of The Field and the community. Indeed,
the healing field
study, Deb Schnitta, the flow alignment practitioner from
Pittsburgh, found that the AIDS virus seemed to feed on fear - the
type of fear that might be experienced by anyone shunned by the
community, as many homosexuals were during the beginning of the AIDS
epidemic. Several studies of heart patients have shown that
isolation - from oneself, one’s community and one’s spirituality -
rather than physical conditions, such as a high cholesterol count,
is one of the greatest contributors to disease.24
In studies of
longevity, those people who live longest are often not only those
who believe in a higher spiritual being, but also those who have the
strongest sense of belonging to a community.25
It might mean that the intention of the healer was as important as
his or her medicine. The frantic doctor who wishes his patient could
cancel so he could have his lunch; the junior doctor who has stayed
up for three nights straight; the doctor who doesn’t like a
particular patient - all may have a deleterious effect. It might
also mean that the most important treatment any doctor can give is
to hope for the health and well being of his or her patient.
Elisabeth began to examine what was present in her consciousness
just before she went in to see her patients, to make sure that she
was sending out positive intentions. She also began to study
healing. If it could work for Christians who didn’t know the
patients they were praying for, she thought, it could also work for
The modus operandi of her healers suggested the most outlandish idea
of all: that individual consciousness doesn’t die.
Indeed, one of
the first serious laboratory studies of a group of mediums by the
University of Arizona seems to validate the idea that
may live on after we die. In studies carefully controlled to
eliminate cheating or fraud, the mediums typically were able to
produce more than eighty pieces of information about deceased
relatives, from names and personal oddities to the actual and
detailed nature of their deaths.
Overall, the mediums achieved an
accuracy rate of 83 per cent - and one had even been right 93 per
cent of the time. A control group of non-mediums were only right, on
average, 36 per cent of the time. In one case, a medium was able to
recite the prayer a deceased mother used to recite for one of the
sitters as a child.
As Professor Gary Schwarz, who led the team,
‘The most parsimonious explanation is that the mediums are in
direct communication with the deceased.’26
As Fritz-Albert Popp described it, when we die we experience a
‘decoupling’ of our frequency from the matter of our cells.
may be merely a matter of going home or, more precisely, staying
behind - returning to The Field.
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