The Tangled Web of (Alternative) Healthcare Exotica
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
The following are supernaturalistic methods I became aware of after I finished my
second book, "Alternative" Healthcare: A Comprehensive Guide
(Prometheus Books, 1994). All have been promoted within the last five years. Often, it is
difficult or impossible to determine where one method ends and another begins. The
small-fry and mom-and-pop methods of the alternative-medicine marketplace vastly outnumber
the showstoppers. To brush them off is a folly, for their collective effect is widespread
- Acu-point therapy
- Mode of counseling psychology based partly on acupuncture theory and promoted by
Mitchell J. Rabin, M.A.
- Advanced energy healing
- Alleged "journey" into "higher realms" of understanding whereby one
supposedly connects with one's "divine self." Taught by Robert T. Jaffe, M.D.,
the method involves meditation and, for "physical healing," the awareness
- Agartha personal life-balancing program (Agartha program)
- Thirty-five-day audio-tape program for reducing stress and promoting "complete
health." Each of the seven "harmonic" tapes combines sounds purportedly
"developed" to alter "energy currents" within specific
program's creator, author Meredith Lady Young, allegedly has a "non-physical"
teacher called "Mentor." In The Agartha Program I Use Guide: A Personal
Life Balancing Program (Stillpoint Publishing, 1986), Young states the premise of
her program: " [All physical matter is really a composite of light waves and sound
frequencies." The booklet claims: "The sound vibrations produced by the music
gently massage the energy center or 'chakra' thereby reducing distress and improving the
flow of life force through the body. The resulting benefit is to allow you to use
your full potential, in every aspect of your life."
- Alpha calm therapy
- Combination of guided imagery and Ericksonian hypnotherapy (a "non-directive"
form of hypnotism).
- Amplified energy therapy
- Form of "energy healing" promoted by Richard Gordon. Its premise is that
people can learn to maneuver their "life-force energy" toward following the
body's "innate intelligence."
- BioEssence therapy
- System developed by Paul Pitchford. It includes BioEssence bodywork (based on Zen
shiatsu), BioEssence "release work" (which involves stylized breathing), diet,
herbalism, Qigong, tai chi, and traditional Chinese "diagnostic" methods.
- Chakra and cellular memory healing
- System promoted by author and "reiki master" Dr. Ojela Frank. It involves
affirmations, "conscious breathing" (probably rebirthing), counseling,
"emotional healing," "energy self-assessment," and guided imagery, and
occasionally "regression work." "Regression work" probably refers to
past-life therapy (also called regression therapy), whose crux is past-life regression.
- Connective tissue therapy (CTT)
- "Spiritual" mode of bodywork developed by Paul and Nancy Marcus. It allegedly
helps to free "stagnant energy." ("Bodywork" is a generic term for
manual or physical-exercise related "healing.")
- Contact reflex analysis (sm) (CRA)
- Variant of applied kinesiology (AK) cofounded by chiropractor Dick A. Versendaal (of
Holland, Michigan), who is its chief proponent. According to CRA theory, the surface of
the human body has about 75 "reflex" points that serve as windows to numerous
conditions. The practitioner pulls downward on the patient's out-stretched arm while he
keeps part of his hand on a "reflex" point. Versendaal claims that the back of
the hand is electronegative, the palm is positive, and the fingers are neutral. Arm
weakness supposedly indicates an incipient or full-blown health problem corresponding to
the "reflex" point. Practitioners prescribe nutritional supplements for the
alleged problems they thus "discover." A massage therapist's ad in the May/June
1994 issue of Newlife claimed that CRA can help most health problems, including cardiac
problems and viral infections. AK is an elaborate system of pseudodiagnosis and treatment
centering on "muscle testing."
Detroit chiropractor George J.
introduced applied kinesiology as a diagnostic method in 1964. He theorized that muscle
groups share "energy pathways" with internal organs and that, therefore, every
organ dysfunction is discoverable in a related muscle. Testing muscles for relative
strength and tone supposedly taps the body's "innate intelligence" and enables
practitioners to detect specific dysfunctions.
- Core zero balancing (zero balancing)
- Variant of acupressure that posits "bone energy," chakras, and an "energy
body." "Acupressure" refers to any treatment involving the surface
stimulation of acupuncture points either with the hands alone or with hand-held tools. The
word may also refer specifically to shiatsu (see "Whole health shiatsu," below).
- Creative concentration (tm)
- Program involving "energy work" and meditation promoted by Miriam
- Crystal therapeutics(sm)
- System based on the books Crystal Therapeutics and Advanced Crystal
Therapeutics, both by Ojela Frank (see "Chakra and cellular memory
healing," above). It involves "energy assessment," crystal healing, energy
balancing, guided imagery, and counseling. (The November December 1989 issue of Newlife
carried an ad for a seven-level training program in crystal therapeutics. In the ad, the
title "Rev." preceded Frank's name.)
- Divine will healing
- Method promoted by Ram Smith, a staff member at the Poconos retreat of the Ananda Church
of Self Realization. It derives from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952).
Its main postulate is that people can transmit or project "divine healing light"
by aligning their will with "divine will."
- Dr. Lynch's holistic self-health program
- Three-month path to "total well-being" developed by chiropractor James
Lynch, author of the book of the same name. The cornerstone of the program and lifestyle
is a teaching tool Lynch calls the "holistic triangle," which consists of:
Lynch postulates that everyone possesses "innate powers" that are usable for
self-healing. A flyer I received in August 1994 from Lynch's office included acupressure
and "chiropractic adjustments" in a list titled "Physical," and
homeopathy and macrobiotics in a list titled "Chemical." It states: "Love
is the most powerful healing force!" Drawing inspiration from the Old Testament story
of David v. Goliath, it depicts chiropractors, faith healers, the health food industry,
naturopaths, and "nutritionalists" as loving, God-trusting wielders of truth.
- a mental/spiritual "base" of education, motivation, and self love;
- a physical "side," which focuses on exercise and physical treatment; and
- a chemical "side," which involves "detoxification"
("cleansing") through diet.
- Ecstasy breathing (r)
- Process created by Valnn Dayne involving music and breath regenesis, a variant of
rebirthing. Its alleged purpose is "reconnection" with a "Power of
Life" that is greater than one's self. Rebirthing is a mode of bodywork in which
practitioners induce clients to hyperventilate and encourage them to reenact the
birth process. It is the crux of primal therapy -- the subject of the 1970 book The
- Etheric touch
- Variant of contact healing (the laying on of hands) and chakra healing expounded by
hypnotist Ted Andrews in The Healer's Manual: A Beginner's Guide to Vibrational
Therapies (1993). Its basic premise is that, through the hands, humans can sense
"energy imbalances and project "vibrations" (augmentable with "divine
force") that boost self-healing. The method does not entail physical contact.
- Feng shui (pronounced "foong shway" or "fung schnay")
- Ancient Chinese art of situating or orienting material structures and towns. Its
purported objective is to "rebalance" and unblock "stagnant" chi. This
allegedly enables stability of health.
- Going Home(tm)
- Derivative of Hemi-Sync introduced in 1994 by The Monroe Institute, in Virginia. The
institute's introductory postcard stated that this 12-audiotape system offers
"extraordinary opportunities" to people who want to overcome their fear of
death. Hemi-Sync is an audiotape system that allegedly can control pain, increase
strength, lower blood pressure, reduce appetite, weaken addictive behavior, hasten
recovery from illness or surgery, enhance recovery of speech and motor skills after a
stroke, and control the metabolism of food by either maximizing or minimizing "the
caloric value retained." A 1993 institute bulletin stated that Hemi-Sync 2000 -- an
"intensive", residential form -- involves "training in manipulation of
subtle energy fields that directly effect [sic] the physical body." (My advice: stay
- Heartwood massage
- "Holistic" system promoted by the Heartwood Institute, Ltd., in Garberville,
California. It involves Swedish massage, hypnotherapy, and polarity energy balancing.
According to "polarity" theory, the top and right side of the body have a
positive charge, and the feet and left side have a negative charge. Thus, practitioners
place their right hand (+) on "negatively charged" parts of the client's body,
and their left hand (-) on "positively charged" parts.
- Herbal crystallization analysis (HCA, herbal identification, herbal tracer test)
- Pseudodiagnostic method developed by George Benner, a "Master
Apparently, Benner's primary inspiration was a method of botanical identification
developed by occultist Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Steiner's method involved
crystallizing the sap of botanical specimens with a solution of copper sulfate. The result
was a crystalline fingerprint of the herb. Benner similarly processed saliva. He decided
that resultant salivary configurations correlated with the configurations of folkloric
botanical prescriptions for the donors' health problems. The number of specimens of a
single herb that match a saliva specimen is allegedly a barometer of the donor's need for
that herb: the more matches, the greater the need.
- Light energy implantations
- One of Ojela Frank's offerings (see "Chakra and cellular memory healing,' above).
It is an adjunct to chakra healing in which chakras are the objects of
- Love-powered diet
- "Revolutionary" system concocted by Victoria Moran and based on the Twelve
Steps. Twelve-Step programs purportedly advance recovery from various addictions and
compulsive behaviors. They oblige participants to foster a connection with God or an
alleged transpersonal "spiritual energy" or superhuman "power."
Organizations that use the Twelve Steps include Alcoholics Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Fundamentalists
Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous. In The Love-Powered Diet:
When Willpower Is Not Enough (1992), Moran uses the terms God, Goddess, Higher
Power, Higher Self; Love, Nature, and Spirit interchangeably. The first principles of her
system add up to: People with eating-related problems (e.g., bingeing) cannot resolve them
on their own; with their permission, however, a "Higher Power" will "work
some wonders" in their lives. Moran advises writing, praying, and talking casually to
God and provides anthroposophical, Christian, Hindu, Native American, and Sikh prayers.
- Magical aromatherapy
- Vitalistic offshoot of aromatherapy (also called conventional or holistic aromatherapy)
expounded by author Scott Cunningham. Generic aromatherapy is the use of essential oils
from plants, flowers, or wood resins to affect mood or promote health. Treatments include
sniffing, ingestion, and application to the skin (usually with massage). The following
attributes distinguish magical aromatherapy.
- Self-administration is preferable.
- Its aims (e.g., love and money) need not relate to health.
- Visualization of a needed change accompanies inhalation of a scent.
- "Bio-electrical energy," which Cunningham describes as
"non-physical" and "natural," merges with the scent and is
programmable by visualization.
- Neo-Reichian massage
- System based on theories developed by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), the
"discoverer" of orgone (a variant of the "vital force"). Practitioners
purport to locate and dissolve "holding patterns" ("body armoring").
Reich postulated that obstructions to orgone cause neuroses and most physical disorders.
Muscular contractions ("body armor") in various parts of the body supposedly
manifest such "blockages."
- N.I.A. technique
- Form of exercise that allegedly 'integrates body, mind, and spirit and "opens"
the heart and mind. "N.I.A." stands for "neural inter-muscular
- Nutrition Kinesiology (NK)
- Alleged means of identifying:
NK involves "muscle testing a la applied kinesiology (sec "Contact reflex
analysis," above) and "acupoint tests."
- health-impairing (e.g., allergenic) foods and other substances and
- "corrective" nutrients.
- Modular home-study program developed by Dr. Gerard V. Sunner, a psychiatrist, hypnotist,
and reputed world-renowned expert in "Eastern medicine." The program involves
self-hypnosis and acupressure. It supposedly enables followers to "recharge"
their "energy," "liberate" their alleged sixth sense and possibly
their "seventh," and direct "healing energy" to any part of the body.
A mailing I received in July, 1994 from the program's publisher, Pierre Pasteur, claims
that, with consistent use of OMNI-FORCE, one will meet dangerous situations calmly and
"do exactly what's necessary to get out of the situation without any bad
consequences." It further claims that, through OMNI FORCE, one "will eat exactly
the same quantity that [one's] body needs, without wanting to eat more."
- One Brain(tm)
- Variant of applied kinesiology (AK) whose premise is that the human body retains the
dischargeable "energy" of "negative" experiences and beliefs.
Proponents recommend One Brain for addictions, anxiety, compulsions, depression, dyslexia
and other learning disabilities, low self-esteem, and phobias.
- Planetary herbology (planetary herbalism)
- Integrative system of medical herbalism forked by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D.,
(respectively, "certified acupuncturist," "doctor of naturopathy," and
"doctor of oriental medicine"). Tierra dedicated Planetary Herbology
(Lotus Press, 1988) to "all green, growing, flowering ones of this beautiful planet,
who embody the universal creative healing energy." Therein, he describes herbs partly
in terms of "energetics" and the "acupuncture meridian pathways" which
the herbs are supposed to affect. "Energetics" is based on the concepts of
energies"; e.g., "heating," "cooling," "slightly warm,"
and "neutral" -- and "flavors" ("tastes") e.g., bland
(mildly sweet) and salty. These concepts stem from traditional Chinese medicine and
ayurveda (specifically tridosha), respectively.
- Polarity energy balancing massage
- System based on the work of Randolph Stone (1890-1982), a chiropractor and naturopath.
It has four branches:
- energy balancing bodywork technique,
- polarity yoga,
- diet, and
- "body/mind/spiritual" psychology.
- Polarity psychotherapy
- "Subspecialty" of pranic healing, which is a set of methods compiled by Dr.
Choa Kok Sui. Pranic healing posits acupoints, chakras, meridians ("bioplasmic
channels"), and a three-layered "energy body." Pranic psychotherapy
includes four "healing techniques" in addition to those of pranic healing:
Sui, who is nothing if not imaginative, expounds Pranic Psychotherapy in
his book of the same name (Samuel Weiser, 1993).
- a "cleansing techniques for the removal and disintegration of "traumatic
psychic energy" and such;
- an "advanced form of energizing" for the disintegration of "etheric
parasites" and the repair of external "etheric webs" that lie in a
one-to-one relation behind chakras;
- activation and inhibition of chakras; and
- creation of a "positive thought entity" for the patient.
- Pseudodiagnostic method promoted by Gayatri Rein Reich. It posits decipherable patterns
of "psychological DNA" that are "inherited" by fetuses.
- Reich blood test
- Pseudodiagnostic component of orgonomic medicine, the brainchild of psychoanalyst
Wilhelm Reich (see "Neo-Reichian massage," above). Reich coined the word
"orgone" to refer to his hypothetical fundamental, omnipresent, life-sustaining,
intelligent radiation. The Reich blood test is a purported means of ascertaining overall
"energetic health." Its premise is that the morphology of erythrocytes indicates
the "energetic state" of an organism at the time of their removal. Supposedly,
red blood cells with "bions" (which resemble blue beads) at their center are
abnormal. Proponents characterize bions as semi-living, bacterium-sized, vesicular
manifestations of orgone and as the building blocks of cells.
activities of medical orgonomists include administering "orgone charged" water
and applying the following devices. The orgone field meter and the vacor tube contribute
to pseudodiagnosis. The meter allegedly shows the extent and strength of the patient's
"orgone energy field." The vacor tube is an "orgone charged" glass
vacuum tube that supposedly glows under the influence of the patient's "orgone energy
field." The "medical dor-buster purportedly siphons a toxic form of
orgone-"dor" (an acronym for "deadly orgone")- from the patient's
- Seven keys meditation program
- System based on seven so-called spiritual keys "revealed" to David Wheeler.
The "Keys" purportedly can "unlock" one's maximum potential for
"transformation" and healing. During "Initiation," students receive
the "Keys" and allegedly access the "Universal Energy' or "Divine
Energy" inside them. Supposedly, this "energy" is transmittable.
- Shamanic psychotherapy
- Mode of "spiritual "healing" based on shamanism and the doctrine of
reincarnation. It posits "missing soul parts."
- Somatic dialogue
- Mode of bodywork promoted by Chuck Ruland. It is a combination of hakomi body-centered
psychotherapy, postural integration, and core zero balancing (see above). Hakomi is a
spin-off of Reichian therapy (see "Neo-Reichian massage" and "Reich blood
test," both above). Postural integration is a vitalistic form of bodywork. Somatic
dialogue posits physical, emotional, and "energetic" bodies. Treatment
supposedly results in the "discharge" of "imprints of the past."
- Somatic emotional therapy
- "Synthesis" of bioenergetics, rebirthing (See "Ecstasy breathing,'
above), and "somatic therapy forged by certified social worker Jerry
Bioenergetics is an off-shoot of Reichian therapy developed by psychiatrist Alexander
Lowen, who rejected Wilhelm Reich's orgone theory but posited a "life energy,"
which he termed "bioenergy" (See "Neo-Reichian massage" and
"Reich blood test," both above.)
- Song channeling
- Adjunct to rebirthing (see "Ecstasy breathing," above) promoted by music
therapist Scott Kalechstein. It supposedly helps clients "open deeply to
healing". Channeling is the purported transmission of information or energy from a
non-physical source through human beings.
- Soul amplification
- Series of eleven "healing" sessions proffered by Ojela Frank (see "Chakra
and cellular memory healing," above). It involves energy balancing, rebirthing,
"energy activations," "advanccd spiritual initiations," "soul
bonding," meditation, and channeling.
- Vitalistic "self-help" program created by author Dr. Robert
includes "syntonic food combining." (The term "food combining" refers
to any dietary practice based on the notion that a meal's healthfulness depends
considerably on the compatibility of its macroscopic components and/or the sequence of
ingestion. Chief among the systems that include food combining are ayurveda, macrobiotics,
and Natural Hygiene.)
- Variant of reiki that does not entail physical contact. Both reiki and taido are forms
of energy field work. "Energy field work" refers to any method or combination of
methods involving aura analysis and aura balancing, with or without touch. Taido was
developed in Japan in the 1980s.
- "Technology" for chi enhancement and "optimal health" promoted by
Dr. Yung Chia, who advocates the integration of spirituality, science, and technology.
- Tatwa meditation
- Cornerstone of a nameless "holistic" system of "self-healing"
involving astrology. "Spiritual teacher" Emahmn of Crestone, Colorado,
"discovered" the system. Tatwas, which supposedly have "healing
powers," are Hindu mandalas -- designs that symbolize the unity of the soul with the
- Vitality fasting and rejuvenation
- Program promoted by Edward Bauman and purportedly designed to "cleanse" the
body, mind, and spirit. It involves fasting with juices and broth, "emotional
release," and meditation.
- Whole health shiatsu
- Combination of shiatsu and dietary treatment expounded by co-authors Shizuko Yamamoto
and Patrick McCarty. Shiatsu is a threefold form of massage whose purported goal is to
promote health by increasing the flow of ki in the body. "Ki" is a Japanese word
that signifies both breath and attention ("mental force"). It refers to an
alleged original, fundamental, supernatural, governable, creative "energy of
being" concentrated in the abdomen.
Notes and Conclusion
In my view, the meta-manifestations of alternative healthcare are: "spiritual
healing" (e.g., yoga and ayurveda), "natural healing" (e.g., naturopathy
and homeopathy), and "hands-on healing" (e.g., acupressure and reflexology). By
"meta-manifestations," I mean broadest aspects, or thematic forms. These
meta-manifestations create a mirage of a multisystem that is "spiritual" (a
buzzword for "supportive of religious beliefs"), "natural" (read
"safe and not altogether unpleasant"), and "hands-on" (read