Tag Archives: Healing

What if There Were Live Music at the Doctor’s Office?

There was a really interesting study published earlier this year that had live music in a medical waiting room. The aim of the study was to learn more about the staff’s perceptions of this live music, but as you might expect, the live music had an effect on patients, too:

One of the unanticipated results of the music program was that patients often play the piano in the clinic waiting room. This code emerged frequently in the transcriptions and seemed to enhance staff abilities to initiate non-medical discussions with patients, potentially increasing rapport, trust, and therapeutic alliance.

That second sentence seems important. Allowing the patients to play the piano, it made for a more natural way for a staff member to initiate a conversation with them. I found the next sentence of particular interest:

Another unanticipated result of the music program was that patients often remained in the clinic after their appointments to enjoy the live music.

If someone asked you the probability that you’d voluntarily remain at the doctor’s office after your appointment, I bet almost 100% of people would say that there’s a 100% chance that they’re leaving ASAP.

~

In thinking about this study, the one thing that I find *possibly* concerning is the novelty of the situation. That is, yes, having live music in the doctor’s office would be a new (and enjoyable) experience for many, but I wonder if patients (or staff) would habituate to there being a live musician in the waiting room. And as a result of this habituation, would the positive benefits ‘wear off?’ I suppose given how infrequently we go to the doctor’s office in a calendar year, instead of habituating to the experience, maybe it’s something we look forward to doing. Can you imagine your teenager saying to you, “Yes, I hurt my arm, we get to go to the doctor’s office!”

OK, that probably wouldn’t happen, but I really like this idea of having live musicians in the waiting room. The marriage between live music and waiting rooms seems obvious, especially given the healing qualities of live music. This could also be a great opportunity for younger musicians who have a hard time cracking the lineup at some venues. Instead of playing on street corners or in the subway, they could share their music within the medical community.

ResearchBlogging.orgSilverman, M., & Hallberg, J. (2015). Staff perceptions of live classical music in an urban medical clinic: A qualitative investigation Musicae Scientiae, 19 (2), 135-146 DOI: 10.1177/1029864915583375

The “Real” Purpose of TV (& Movies): Education, Inspiration, and Storytelling, Part 2

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the purpose of TV and I think I sold it (TV) short. That is, in that post, I essentially decried TV:

Watching TV is a mechanism that allows people to stay at jobs that they are otherwise less pleased about. Being able to tune into a created reality (or sometimes an actual reality) of a situation that they envy or can vicariously live through is something that I think allows people to feel better about themselves and by extension their life. Feeling better about one’s life makes one less likely to reflect on the things that aren’t going as well as they would have planned in life. So, like I said, I don’t proclaim to know the real purpose of TV, but I think that it can be argued that a fair majority of television is meant to entertain, allow for escapism, and sustain employment.

While I still think that there’s some truth to what I wrote over 4 years ago, as I indicated earlier, I think I’ve sold TV short. And while we’re at it, movies, too. Maybe there’s more to TV and film than entertainment, escapism, and employment. Well, of course there is, but let’s get into it.

Maybe there’s also an element of education to it. Remember my post from the other week on fictional presidents and the sunk cost trap? If the the script were written differently, that could have shown viewers the more optimal choice.

Or what about the idea that watching a TV show or a movie can inspire us? Last year, Reese Witherspoon starred (and was rightfully nominated for an Oscar!) in the movie Wild. The movie was based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir regarding her trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. Importantly, the movie didn’t give viewers misconceptions about hiking 2,500 miles. It’s hard. With that being said, consider this:

“People are definitely worried about the ‘Wild’ effect, though we can’t really figure out what it is yet,” said Dan Moe, a baker from Portland, Oregon who’s hiking this year.

He said while he thinks there are more hikers on the trail this year, he hasn’t yet met anyone who’s out there because of the book or film.

“At least they don’t admit it,” he said.

To add to that:

Before the book was published, about 300 people would take out permits to attempt the full hike, which usually takes four to five months. It’s not yet known how many will try this year, but estimates range from 1,600 to 3,000 — 10 times the number who tried before the book came out.

So, while we may be wrong to infer causality here, there certainly appears to be a correlation worth noting.

There are two more things I want to address. The first, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” This is the motto of a movie/documentary of which I’ve written about many times before: Miss Representation. There has certainly been a lot of progress (at least there appears to have been) since that movie came out, with regard to women having more prominent roles, but similar to the anecdote from above, I’d caution on inferring causality. However, I will say that I’m glad to hear that it appears that there’s this concerted effort arising. For instance, did you know that there’s going to be female Thor? Or that they’re bringing back Macgyver as a female?

Lastly, there’s the idea that TV is a mechanism for storytelling. While that may seem obvious, consider the time before movies, TV, and radio, when we’d have to sit around the fire and tell stories to each other. This was the way that many things were passed on from generation to generation and now we have things like the Internet where we don’t even need to hear the story from someone — we can read all about it (and the blatant hyperbole contained within).

There was a great article on Vox a couple weeks back with the main thesis that the recent string of superhero movies have been an attempt to rewrite the images of 9/11. It’s really a very interesting read and I encourage you to check it out, but I think this adds to the idea that TV (and movies) are and can be much more to us than a place to escape. They can also be a place where we heal. That may seem somewhat ironic given that the average American spends 3 hours a day watching TV (and, in a sense, accelerates their ageing/death because of sedentariness), but maybe it’s time we have a bit more compassion for those among us who would rather go to the movies or binge-watch a season of Star Trek.

Conclusion: A Brief Overview of Shamanism, Part 4

In yesterday’s post, we explored the numerous roles of the shaman. I can remember that when I was first writing this paper about shamanism, I had a vague sense that shamans were responsible for many things within the community, but when I started listing them, I was still a bit surprised at just how many roles there were. In today’s post, we’ll conclude the paper. I’ve also included the list of references I used. Enjoy!

~

Conclusion

In this paper, we have learned that there is evidence to support that shamanism has existed for 20,000 years or more. We have learned that the word shaman originated from a Siberian – the Tungus. We have learned that shamanism has a broad range of definitions that begin with an altered state of consciousness and can be as a specific as identifying the kind of altered state, prototypical experiences, and the shaman’s goal. We have also learned that some shamans do not like to call themselves shamans nor do they like to call their ‘religion’ shamanism. We have looked at the process involved in becoming a shaman and understood it to include the following: ‘schizophrenic’-like symptoms in adolescence, altered states of consciousness, dismemberment/reassembly of one’s body, and an ability to display one’s skills in communicating with the spirits to obtain information to heal people within their community. We had a dialogue around the possibility that people diagnosed with schizophrenia in America being candidates for shamans. We learned about the various roles that a shaman could undertake: medicine man, medium, master of spirits, ritualist, keeper of cultural myths, storyteller, weather forecaster, performing artist, and healer (psychotherapist/physician). We looked at some of the different types of shamans among the Cuna Indians of Panama. We learned about how shamans originally assumed many roles and then subsequently relinquished many roles. We also looked at some possible reasons as to why shamanic journeying was not undertaken by one of the many ‘specialists’ that emerged from shaman’s roles. Overall, the goal of this paper was to give a brief overview of shamanism. Given the vast array of literature and the fact that shamanism has been around for at least 10,000 years, it is clear that much more could and probably will be written about shamanism and the various practices associated with it.

References

Grosman, L., Munro, N. D., & Belfer-Cohen, A. (2008). A 12,000-year-old Shaman burial from the southern Levant (Israel). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(46), 17665-17669.

Harner, M. (1982). The way of the shaman. New York: Bantam.

Krippner, S. (2000). The epistemology and technologies of shamanic states of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7(11), 93-118.

Krippner, S. C. (2002). Conflicting perspectives on shamans and shamanism: Points and counterpoints. American Psychologist, 57(11), 962-977.

Krycka, K. (2000). Shamanic practices and the treatment of life-threatening medical conditions. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 32(1), 69-87.

Larson, P. C. (2002). Teaching history and systems from a clinical perspective. History of Psychology, 5(3), 249-263.

Merchant, J. (2006). The developmental/emergent model of archetype, its implications and its applications to shamanism. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 51(1), 125-144.

Metzner, R. (1998). The unfolding self: Varieties of transformative experience. Novato, CA: Origin Press.

Peters, L. G. (1989). Shamanism: Phenomenology of a spiritual discipline. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 21(2), 115-137.

Rock, A. J., Abbott, G. R., Childargushi, H., & Kiehne, M. L. (2008). The effect of shamanic-like stimulus conditions and the cognitive-perceptual factor of schizotypy on phenomenology. North American Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 79-98.

Rosano, M. J. (2006). The religious mind and the evolution of religion. Review of General Psychology, 10(4), 346-364.

Smoley, R. & Kinney, J. (2006). Hidden wisdom: A guide to the Western inner traditions. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.

Stone, D. (2008). Wounded healing: Exploring the circle of compassion in the helping relationship. The Humanistic Psychologist, 36(1), 45-51.

Voss, R. W., Douville, V., Solider, A. L., & Twiss, G. (1999). Tribal and shamanic-based social work practice: A Lakota perspective. Social Work, 44(3), 228-241.

Walsh, R. (1989). What is a shaman? Definition, origin, and distribution. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 21(1), 1-11.

Walsh, R. (1996). Shamanism and healing. In B. W. Scotton, A. B. Chinen, & J. R. Battista, (Eds.). Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology (pp. 344-354). New York: Basic Books.

Walsh, R. (2001). Shamanic experiences: A developmental analysis. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41(3), 31-52.

Winkleman, M. (1989). A cross-cultural study of shamanistic healers. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 21(1), 17-24.

Wiseman, B. (1999). Portrait of a therapist as a shaman. The European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counseling, & Health, 2(1), 41-53.

~

If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.

Complementary and Preventive Medicine: Healthcare & American Public Policy, Part 5

: Economics
: Campaign Finance & Elections
: Education
: Food

On March 23, 2010, you may have seen many Facebook profiles switch over to the picture on the right. This is a picture of President Obama signing the into law. Most of the people of these Facebook profiles who displayed this picture would be supporters of the movement to improve healthcare in the United States. In fact, the bill that President Obama signed into law was intended to do just that.

Truth be told, I haven’t read the entire bill, but . While you can never ‘absolutely’ trust Wikipedia, it is still good for gaining an overview. In skimming over the Wikipedia article for this bill, we learn a number of things that this bill has done that could be perceived as steps in the right direction for American Healthcare:

  • Medicaid eligibility is expanded to include all individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the poverty level.
  • Improved benefits for Medicare prescription drug coverage are to be implemented.
  • Changes are enacted which allow a restructuring of Medicare reimbursement from “fee-for-service” to “bundled payments.”
  • Low income persons and families above the Medicaid level and up to 400% of the poverty level will receive subsidies on a sliding scale if they choose to purchase insurance via an exchange (persons at 150% of the poverty level would be subsidized such that their premium cost would be of 2% of income or $50 a month for a family of 4).
  • Additional support is provided for medical research and the National Institutes of Health.
  • The law will introduce minimum standards for health insurance policies and remove all annual and lifetime coverage caps.
  • The law mandates that some health care insurance benefits will be “essential” coverage for which there will be no co-pays.

These are only some of the things that the bill changes with regard to healthcare law, not to say that this isn’t already a huge number of changes all by themselves. Michael Moore did a documentary on healthcare in the United States a few years back. The movie was called . While some of the things that Moore is lambasting have changed as a result of this legislation, I’m pretty sure that this bill doesn’t address all of the concerns that Moore raised in his movie.

~

The one thing I would have liked to have seen more of in the bill that President Obama signed into law over a year ago, is more . Being a in what could be classified as CAM, I’ve seen the benefits of this important part of healthcare. And the modality that is not nearly as much of a household name as say, , , or (which includes ). In 2002, 36% of adults said that they had used some form of CAM in the last 12 months. .  That’s nearly 4 in 10 Americans who use CAM. [All of these statistics are from the , which is one of the many centers that make up the (a government agency).]

For comparison’s sake, in 2006, 54% of Canadians reported having used CAM within the last 12 months, which was up 4% (from 50%) in 1997 (). In looking closer at the profiles of  and as rated by the World Health Organization (WHO), I wasn’t completely surprised to find differences. There was one major statistic that stood out to me: obesity. Some argue as to whether or not , but as it stands, . In the WHO health profiles of Canada and the US, Canada’s obesity percentage is significantly lower than the US. The percentage of adults 20+ years of age, in 2008, that were classified as obese by the WHO: . Holding all variables the same (20+, 2008), but for Americans: . I’m not necessarily trying to say that Canadians are healthier because they are more likely to use CAM, but the correlation does seem to be there. Of course, to truly measure this, we’d need to do a study of health measures (before and after) of CAM users (and non-CAM users).

~

I’ve given you some statistics about CAM, but haven’t yet explained it completely:

as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. Conventional medicine (also called Western or allopathic medicine) is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) and D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine;) degrees and by allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. The boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine are not absolute, and specific CAM practices may, over time, become widely accepted.

There’s one other bit of information that I want to cite from a :

This report demonstrates that there is significant underuse of effective preventive care in the United States, resulting in lost lives, unnecessary poor health, and inefficient use of health care dollars. All of the services examined in this report are extremely cost effective: they all provide an excellent return on investment. It is a national imperative to make these and other cost-effective preventive services affordable and accessible for all Americans. [emphasis added]

Much has been written in the past few months about America’s “.” As of 2008, the those of other countries relative to their [the healthcare costs in the US are nearly 16% of the total GDP, which is nearly 5% more than the “second place” country, Switzerland. For comparison’s sake, Canada is at 10%.] It takes a bit of foresight, but as the study above describes, it is imperative that the US (and other countries) significantly incorporate the effective use of preventive care into healthcare. Moreover, I think the diligent use of CAM (in conjunction with conventional medicine), paired with the idea of preventive care would dramatically reduce healthcare costs (for the government) and for its citizens.

The Scientific Evidence for Distant Healing: Psi Phenomena, Part 5

: The Scientific Evidence for Telepathy
: The Scientific Evidence for Clairvoyance
: The Scientific Evidence for Precognition
: The Scientific Evidence for Psychokinesis

Finally, we’ve reached the last of the “.” Today’s post will be about the scientific evidence for distant healing. I struggled with what to title this post. Within the context of the “Big 5” as coined by , he refers to this psi phenomenon as “.” I think the word psychic can be a bit of a misnomer sometimes, confuse people, or even conjure up images of a psychic (who aren’t necessarily doing the healing at a distance [that is, “regular” people can do it, too]). I think this is a disservice to the phenomenon as there’s nothing “spooky” about it. Others refer to it as “.” While this is completely accurate (nonlocal meaning that the healing is taking place because of something that isn’t “present”), it could be considered too science-y and may not be as accessible as possible. This is why I’ve settled on distant healing.

The has a great . I like it so much that I’m going to use their explanation for :

Distant healing encompasses a broad range of healing practices, many of which are based in ancient spiritual traditions. Virtually all major religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, endorse and encourage the use of distant healing among their adherents.

Two of the most common distant healing practices are offering prayers for those who are ill and using forms of meditation where the practitioner holds a compassionate intention to relieve the suffering of another. Some practices focus on curing a very specific disease state while others emphasize creating a compassionate environment that can have a healing effect. Virtually all distant healing practices are concerned with alleviating the suffering and increasing the well being of others.

As part of my master’s program, I read many of the studies (on healing prayer) that this quotation is referring to. In preparing to write this post, I was initially going to cite a number of them individually, until I found an , that reviews all of the studies that I had known about (and then some). It isn’t a meta-analysis per se, like I had been able to find for some of the other posts in this , but it’s the next best thing (an aggregation).

The first two studies that Benor addresses are what he calls the ‘two best studies’ that address distant healing for human physical problems. The first is a study that was conducted to .The concluding sentence of the abstract: “These data suggest that intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU [coronary care unit].” The second study that Benor addresses is a follow-up the first study called: “.” The concluding sentence from that summary: “Remote, intercessory prayer was associated with lower CCU course scores. This result suggests that prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care.”

Both of these studies are more than 10 years old, but one of my favorites on this subject that is just as old comes from the of famous scientist . Elisabeth did a study in conjunction with 3 others to tests the . The conclusion: “These data support the possibility of a DH [distant healing] effect in AIDS and suggest the value of further research.”

There’s no doubt that the sheer volume of studies that have been conducted on this topic should be enough to warrant more and more research. Even the studies that demonstrate the power of our words (on or on ) could be seen as support for distant healing. , along with [two of the more prominent names in the public dissemination of information on this topic], have curated a nearly 20 pages long! (It’s nearly 30 pages, if you include their introduction and answers to some questions about the research. IONS has also compiled a that’s over 10 pages. Daniel Benor has also published a that have compiled a number of resources on this topic.

One more quote I want to share from the Benor article I mentioned earlier in this post. I think it’s a very important point and I will expand upon this when I address healthcare in my . I really implore you to take some time to ponder the implications of this quote:

One would hope that the benefits of such an inexpensive intervention would appeal to those who are concerned over the high costs of medical care.

~

If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.

Your Words and Thoughts Affect Others – Believe It!

A week ago, I did a post on how our and mentioned that I would be doing a post about how our words not only affect our reality, but the reality of others. In pulling together some outside resources for this post, I was quickly overwhelmed. There is an abundance of material that supports the fact that our words have contribute to the lives of those around us.

In 1993, came out with a book called “.” In it, Dossey explains prayer and healing, describes factors that influence the efficacy of prayer, and cites evidence that support the conclusions.

In 1998, Elisabeth Targ, daughter of famous American physicist, author, and ESP Researcher, , was part of a research team that did a study called: “.” The conclusion of the study:

These data support the possibility of a DH effect in AIDS and suggest the value of further research.

In 2000, researchers conducted a systematic review of the available data on the efficacy of all forms of distant healing in the . The article was called: “.” The conclusion of the study:

Given that approximately 57% of trials showed a positive treatment effect, the evidence thus far merits further study.

In 2003, researches from the published an article in called: “.” The conclusion of the article [emphasis added]:

Previous laboratory research in this domain suggests that DHI [Distant Healing Intention] effects warrant serious study, but most scientists and funding agencies are unaware of the evidence or the relevant literature. By following these evolving guidelines, researchers’ designs and their ultimate publications will conform more closely to the quality of standards expected by scientific journals, and such publications will in turn attract the attention of a broader range of scientists. This seems especially important for alternative healing research in general and for distant healing in particular;  both realms enjoy broad public support but have largely eluded serious attention by mainstream science.

There are even books that have been published that claim to teach the reader . One more study I wanted to mention was one done by the on the to work at a distance.

This pilot study shows that healing intent can be directed at distance, and suggests that healing by prayer is measurable.

Each year, more and more evidence is published to support the effect that our words and thoughts have on those around us. The is a good place to keep an eye on, especially their yearly conferences. Researchers come from all over the globe to talk about their findings with their colleagues. The that I mentioned earlier always has fascinating research that is relevant in this arena. These particular studies are focused on the effect that our words and thoughts have on the healing of others (at a distance). However, in the book I mentioned by Dossey, there’s a chapter called: “When Prayer Hurts: An Inquiry into ‘Black Prayer.'”

To close, I’ll share a first-person experience I had that demonstrates exactly what I’m talking about. During some sort of group bonding or orientation process, the facilitator had us all stand in a circle. He told us we were going to do a little experiment. He picked the smallest girl and put her in the middle of the circle and picked me (one of the stronger males of the group) to go outside and wait in the hall. While I was gone, he told the group that he was going to bring me back into the room and have me try and lift the girl in the middle of the circle and that they were to send positive thoughts and energy towards me. After a few minutes, he called me back in and asked me to lift the girl in the middle of the circle — swoosh! I lifted her with ease! It felt like I could have lifted her with one hand and swung her around like a rag doll.

The facilitator then said that was enough and asked me to put her down and go back out into the hall. While I was there, he asked the group to now send me negative thoughts and energy, while I was trying to lift the girl. He called me back into the room and I went to lift her. Nothing. I thought maybe I was just a little tired from lifting her before, so I steeled myself and got set… lift… and nothing. I couldn’t even get her heels off of the ground. The facilitator then went on to explain what had just happened. He explained to us the power of our thoughts and energy on those around us and more importantly, the power of a group of thoughts on one individual (or to extrapolate, on other groups).

Your thoughts and words have an impact on your life and your thoughts and words have an impact on the lives of those around you. Next time you catch yourself thinking something negative, will you replace it with a positive thought?