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Number of posts : 281
Age : 60
Localisation : Florida
Registration date : 2006-10-10

PostSubject: NONLOCAL MIND, DISTANT HEALING, AND PRAYER   Thu Oct 26, 2006 2:26 pm

By Larry Dossey, M.D.

The idea that the human mind is infinite or nonlocal - that at some level it cannot be confined to specific points in space, such as the brain and body, or in time, such as the present, is ancient.

One of the most universal expressions of nonlocal mind is prayer and distant healing.
What is prayer? I define it arbitrarily and broadly as "communication with the Absolute."

Why should modern medicine concern itself with prayer and the nonlocal actions of human consciousness? Why should we be concerned about validating it and integrating these phenomena into healthcare? One might argue that such a phenomenon, even if it exists, ought to be set aside in favor of something less challenging
If distant effects of mental intentionality exist, we shall have to deal with them sooner or later, whether we like it or not. If we acknowledge them "up front," they may lend a comprehensiveness to our thinking about the dynamics of consciousness which otherwise would be sacrificed. Acknowledging these phenomena early on might spare us some suffering.

In asking whether or not prayer or mental intentions can bring about changes in distant individuals, let's ask six questions.

(1) Does an effect exist? Is it possible - in principle - for individuals to influence, at a distance, the physiological function of a living organism?

(a) Ten subjects tried to inhibit the growth of fungus cultures in the laboratory through conscious intent by concentrating on them for fifteen minutes from a distance of approximately 1.5 yards. The cultures were then incubated for several more hours. Of a total of 194 culture dishes, 151 showed retarded growth (Barry, 1968).

(b) In a replication of this study, one group of subjects demonstrated the same effect (inhibiting the growth of fungal cultures) in sixteen of sixteen trials, while stationed from one to fifteen miles away (Tedder and Monty, 1981).

(c) Sixty subjects not known to have such abilities were able both to impede and stimulate significantly the growth of cultures of bacteria (Nash, 1982).

(d) Sixty university volunteers were asked to alter the ability of a strain of the bacterium Escherichia coli to utilize lactose. This strain normally mutates from the inability to metabolize lactose ("lactose negative") to the ability to use it ("lactose positive") at a known rate. The subjects tried to influence nine test tubes of bacterial cultures - three for
increased mutation from lactose negative to lactose positive, three for decreased mutation of lactose negative to lactose positive, and three tubes uninfluenced as controls. The bacteria mutated in the directions desired by the subjects (Nash, 1984).

(e) Seven subjects - two spiritual healers, one physician who was interested in and believed in spiritual healing, and four students with neither experience nor interest in healing - were asked to increase the growth of yeast in test tubes "by the mental method of his choice." 240 test tubes were used -- 120 for the mental intent, 120 for controls.
The spiritual healers and the believing physician produced significant results (p<0.00014) and the indifferent students produced chance results (Haraldsson and Thorsteinsson, 1973).

(2) Can such an effect influence intact animals?

In twenty-one experiments conducted over a period of several years, healers tried to awaken mice more quickly from general anesthesia. These experiments were increasingly refined. In one variation, only the image of the experimental mouse was projected on a television monitor to the healer in a distant room, who tried to intervene
mentally via the image. Nineteen of the twenty-one studies showed highly significant results: earlier recovery from anesthesia in the mice to whom positive mental intent was extended (Watkins and Watkins, 1971; Watkins, Watkins, and Wells, 1973; Wells and Klein, 1972; Wells and Watkins, 1975).

In a controlled experiment, a noncontact form of "laying on of hands" was employed in an attempt to cure mice of transplanted mammary adenocarcinoma. Three replications were done. Overall, 29 of 33 experimental mice (87.9 percent) were cured of the cancer, compared to 18 of 26 control mice on site (69l2 percent) and 0 of 8 control mice
off site (0 percent). Later reinjection of tumor cells in treated, cured mice did not take (Bengston and Krinsley, 2000). Researchers injected 60 mice with a tumoral suspension. Half of the mice were treated with "negative PK" for 20 sessions and half were not, and the weight and volume of tumor growth was measured. The treated mice showed significantly less tumor growth than untreated mice (P <0.01) (Onetto and Elguin, 1966).

(3) Can such an effect influence biochemical processes in humans?

Blood platelets isolated from healthy human volunteers were treated by a healer, who tried to influence the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO activity was measured before and after the mental intent in both intact and disrupted cells. The overall effect was to increase the variability of MAO activity relative to untreated
control samples (p<0.001) (Rein, 1985).

(4) Can such an effect influence human tissue?

Thirty-two subjects mentally attempted to prevent the hemolysis of human red blood cells (RBCs) in test tubes containing a hypotonic saline solution, as measured by standard spectrophotometric techniques. Significant differences were found between the "prevent" and control tubes (p<1.91x10-5) (Braud, 1988).

(5) Can such an effect influence intact humans ?

Scores of controlled studies have demonstrated the correlation of positive mental intent with physiological effects in distant human beings. This material has been the subject of several reviews (Benor, 1990, 1993; Dossey, 1993; Solfvin, 1984). Among the studies:

(a) In a double-blind experiment involving 393 persons admitted to a coronary care unit, intercessory prayer was offered from a distance to roughly half the subjects. Significantly fewer patients in the prayer group required intubation/mechanical ventilation (p<0.002) or antibiotics (p<0.005), had cardiopulmonary arrests (p<0.02), developed pneumonia (p<0.03), or required diuretics (p<0.005). Subjects in the prayer group had a significantly
lower "severity score" based on their hospital course following admission (p<0.01) (Byrd, 1988).

(b) In a double-blind experiment involving 990 consecutive patients who were admitted to the coronary care unit (CCU), patients were randomized to receive remote, intercessory prayer or not. The first names of patients in the prayer group were given to a team of outside intercessors who prayed for them daily for 4 weeks. Patients were unaware they were being prayed for, and the intercessors did not know and never met the patients. The medical course from hospital admission to discharge was summarized in a CCU course score derived from blinded, retrospective chart review. The prayed-for group had about a 10 percent advantage compared to the usual-care group (P = .04) (Harris et al, 1999).

(c) In a double-blind experiment involving 40 patients with advanced AIDS, subjects were randomly assigned to a "distant healing" (DH) group or to a control group. Both groups were treated with conventional medications, but the DH group received distant healing for 10 weeks from healers located throughout the United States. Subjects and healers never met. At 6 months, blind chart review found that DH subjects acquired significantly fewer new AIDS-defining illnesses (P = 0.04), had lower illness severity (P = 0.03), and required significantly fewer doctor visits (P = 0.01), fewer hospitalizations (P 0.04), and fewer days of hospitalization (P =0.04). DH subjects also showed significantly improved mood compared with controls (P = 0.02) (Sicher et al, 1998).

(d) In thirteen experiments, the ability of sixty-two people to influence the physiology of 271 distant subjects was studied (Braud and Schlitz, 1983,1988,1989). These studies suggested that

So the distant effects of mental imagery compare favorably with the magnitude of effects of one's individual thoughts, feelings, and emotions on one's own

The ability to use positive imagery to achieve distant effects is apparently widespread in the human population;

These effects can occur at distances up to twenty meters (greater distances were not tested);

Subjects with a greater need to be influenced by positive mental intent - i.e., those for whom the influence would be beneficial -- seem more susceptible;

The distant effects of intentionality can occur without the recipient's knowledge; (6) those participating in the studies saw harmful effects.

The distant effects of mental intentionality are variable; knowing subjects appear capable of preventing the effect if it is unwanted.

Animals: Are these effects limited to human intentionality, or are they widespread in nature?

Claims that humans can achieve distant effects through mental intention is often met with skepticism and derision. These objections might be tempered if it can be shown that this ability is present in nonhuman species as well. Although we do not know what animals think and whether or not they are really intending, there nonetheless is
evidence suggesting that "animal consciousness," however it may be defined, is capable of manifesting at a distance in ways not unlike those seen in humans.

Researchers tested the possible influence of 80 groups of 15 chicks on a randomly moving robot carrying a lighted candle in an otherwise darkened room. Baby chicks prefer to be in the presence of light; could this preference somehow influence the movement of the candle-carrying robot? In 71% of the cases, the robot spent
excessive time in the vicinity of the chicks. In the absence of the chicks, the robot followed random trajectories. The overall results were statistically significant (p<0.01) (Peoc'h, 1988,1995).

Researchers collected fifty-four accounts of animals who returned to their owners, sometimes over colossal distances. These instances were unexplainable by sensory cues or by homing instincts; the animals often traveled to places they had never been. These instances suggest some form of extended awareness.


The distant effects of intentionality suggested can't easily be explained by placebo-type influences such as suggestion and expectation. These studies are generally double-blind in design. Moreover, most of the studies in this field examine the distant effects of intentionality not on other humans but on lower organisms. These organisms are assumed to be immune to the effects of suggestion and expectation, and they presumably do not think positively (Dossey, 1993).

* Suggestions that consciousness is spatiotemporally extended are not new within science.

* A host of distant manifestations of consciousness have arisen in other fields of research, not mentioned here, which also require a nonlocal model of consciousness for their explanation (Jahn and Dunne, 1987; Radin and Nelson, 1989; Radin, 1997a).

* Nonlocal events have repeatedly been demonstrated experimentally within quantum physics, our most accurate science, for over two decades (Herbert ,1987, 1993).

Those who consider the distant effects of prayer to be implausible might be reminded that the origins of consciousness and its relationship to the brain and body are a mystery. Several outstanding scholars have emphasized our appalling ignorance about these matters. John Searle, one of the most distinguished philosophers in the field of consciousness, has said, "At our present state of the investigation of consciousness, we don't know how it works and we need to try all kinds of different ideas" (Searle, 1995). Philosopher Jerry A. Fodor has observed, "Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness" (Fodor, 1992). Recently Sir John Maddox, former editor of Nature, soberly stated, "The catalogue of our ignorance must...include the understanding of the human brain.... What consciousness consists of...is...a puzzle. Despite the marvelous success of neuroscience in the past century..., we seem as far away from
understanding...as we were a century ago....The most important discoveries of the next 50 years are likely to be ones of which we cannot now even conceive" (Maddox, 1999). If these observers are anywhere near the truth, we should be hesitant in declaring emphatically what the mind can and cannot do.

One offers proposals such as these with hesitation, realizing in advance their extraordinary capacity to evoke widespread cynicism. However, the question is really not whether our current model of the mind-brain-body relationship will change, but what the new model will be. The prediction from this quarter is that future visions of consciousness will be nonlocal in nature and will transform modern healthcare (Dossey, 1999). Nonlocal models will not do away with local formulations. They will subsume, not exclude, them, just as the more comprehensive quantum-relativistic views in physics did not eradicate Newtonian concepts, which remain extraordinarily useful. We should acknowledge, however, that nonlocality is not an "explanation" for the distant effects of intentionality. No one, including physicists, understands how nonlocal events take place, although many suggestions have been put forward. These are often based in information theory (Rubik, 1995). A novel hypothesis that relies on the quantum vacuum and zero point fields has recently been advanced by systems theorist Ervin Laszlo (Laszlo, 1995).

Some insist that we delay combining prayer with the use of drugs and surgical procedures in our hospitals and clinics until we have more evidence of prayer's effectiveness. Certainly further investigation of intercessory prayer is warranted, but we need not wait until all the answers are in before employing prayer adjunctively. This view is represented by Lancet editor Richard Horton in his "Precautionary Principle" (Horton, 1998). Horton states, "We must act on facts and on the most accurate interpretation of them, using the best information. That does not mean that we must sit back until we have 100 percent evidence about everything. When the...health of the individual is at
stake...we should be prepared to take action to diminish those risks even when the scientific knowledge is not conclusive."
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