From Abracadabra to Zombies
In a nutshell: Therapeutic touch is a kind of energy medicine. Those who do therapeutic touch wave their hands over a patient's body to fix their subtle energy. The science says there is no such subtle energy.
Therapeutic touch is a kind of energy healing. Some people believe that health and sickness are caused by some sort of magical energy being blocked or out of whack in some way. There is no scientific support for this magical energy. It can't be measured by any of our very high tech machines. Yet, many people swear it exists and that they can move it around or transfer some of their energy into another person.
Energy healers say they can "feel" the energy going through or around a person's body. This is odd because the human hand is not a very sensitive instrument compared to some of the million-dollar machines we have these days to measure very small particles or packets of energy.
Therapeutic touch healers wave their hands over the body of a sick person. The healer thinks she is moving energy around and that this somehow helps the healing.
Nine-year-old Emily Rosa tested twenty-one therapeutic touch healers to see if they could feel the energy in one of her hands when they could not see if a hand was actually placed under theirs. She placed a screen with a hole in it for the healer's arm to go through. Emily sat on the other side of the screen and placed her hand or didn't place her hand under the healers hand for each test. The healers had a 50% chance of being right in each test, yet they correctly located Emily's hand only 123 times in 280 tests. Wild guessing would have got about 140 correct answers. The test was very simple and seems to clearly indicate that the subjects could not feel the energy of Emily’s hands when placed near theirs. If they can’t feel the energy, how can they move or transfer it? What are they feeling? Most likely they are feeling what has been suggested to them by those who taught them this practice. Their feelings of energy appear to be created in their own minds.
How does energy healing work?
The science doesn't support the idea of an energy flowing through our bodies that makes us healthy or unhealthy. The science doesn't support the idea that energy healers actually can feel any magical energy. Even so, there are many satisfied customers of energy healers. Why is that?
The fact is that many people feel better after a session with an energy healer. There are many reasons for this, even though there is little reason to believe that energy is even involved.
Some go to an energy healer as a last resort. They are at their wit's end. Nothing's worked and they've tried everything else! After the visit to the energy healer they feel better. They give credit to the energy healer. She may have had nothing to do with the patient's feeling better, but she still gets the credit. It's possible that whatever ailed the patient went away on its own. Most of our aches and pains do eventually go away. Very few of our aches and pains kill us or last forever. If the patient's pain hadn't gone away after she visited the energy healer, she might have gone to an acupuncturist. And if the pain went away after her visit to the acupuncturist, she would have given credit to acupuncture for her relief. Once our ache or pain goes away, we stop looking for help and we give credit to the last thing we tried.
It's also possible that the patient got therapeutic touch along with treatment by a medical doctor. The medical treatment might be the real reason the patient got better, but the patient might give all or some of the credit to the therapeutic touch.
On the other hand, maybe the healer really did help the patient by giving the patient hope for relief. The healer might fill the patient with confidence that there is a method that will work where all others have failed. This hope can relax the patient and reduce her stress and anxiety. Being in a better mood can help a person heal better from some ailments.
It's also possible that some earlier treatment the patient received didn't achieve its full benefit until the time she went to the energy healer. The energy healer then gets credit for what some other treatment actually brought about.
Also, it's possible that the patient may feel better, but not really be cured or healed. You might mistake a change in mood for a change in condition, but you may be just as sick as ever. Sometimes feeling better is only temporary, but because we've bragged so much about how great the healer was, we are ashamed to admit that it didn't last.
Finally, a patient may just really like the healer and mistake affection (and the good feelings that go along with affection) for effectiveness of the healing technique.