Mod+ Science and Psychic Healing: Bill Bengston Nails It

From my most recent blog post:

Of all the forms of psychic ability, including precognition, telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis, none is quite as ubiquitous, well known or well documented as psychic healing, a.k.a. the placebo effect, miracle healing, hands on healing, Reiki, etc.

The fact is, psychic healing is quite ordinary and literally anybody can do it with a bit of training. People have done it with no training at all. The hard part of psychic healing is typically measuring it. The problem is that if we compare people who are receiving psychic healing for, let’s say breast cancer, we have all types of variables and ethical situations to contend with. First of all, there are different types of breast cancer, people have their cancer discovered at different stages and they have differences in immunity, genetics and overall health. People will often do a wide variety of things to improve their chances at healing. And this is something that no one has any control over in a medical study.

You can’t have a control group in medicine to find out how fast people die without any treatment. You can’t stop people from changing their diets, their work and home lives, their intake of supplements and anti-oxidants or any number of other factors that might change the outcome of the study. Some people will try anything and everything; the study results are of secondary importance to a research subject’s desire to survive. So it’s hard to know whether someone improved because of psychic healing or because of other treatments that they sought. To make things more complicated, the people who are most likely to be open to psychic healing will also be the most likely to seek other treatments. They are the most pro-active of all test subjects.

In a world in which the mainstream medical community looks for any excuse at all to dismiss test results as “something else” this is a problem. Traditional scientists don’t understand the mechanism, so they don’t understand the results, so they don’t acknowledge them. This doesn’t mean that the results don’t exist or that they aren’t convincing. Reiki in particular, is supported by too many medical studies to list. (You will need to register, but you can find them here.)

Enter Bill Bengston. (Author of The Energy Cure)
Continued on my blog. See link at top.
Hi Craig,

I figured I'd come here to Skeptiko to comment about Bill's lecture tonight on the Evolver Learning Lab's "Everybody's Psychic" presentation. Then I saw that you just made this post about Bengston, so I figured I'd just tack onto your post.

So, for everyone else (Craig already knows I asked this because he was participating in the lab) I asked Bill if he thought he had received an "attunement" from Bennett Mayrick, which was what allowed him to perform the healings he has done. I wanted to know if he thought it was possible for those of us who haven't met him in person to really pick up his method and do healings without having met him. Unfortunately due to technological difficulties with the software it was hard to completely understand his answer, but Bill seemed to think this was still an open question.

I did a little snooping around on the internet and found this interesting page with a number of posts regarding attunement, including a post in relation to the Bengston Method:

I'll quote some here:
Bill Bengston and I had many conversations last year about the tendency of energy healing methods to become diluted over time and with distance from the originator. Many modalities show this pattern. Reiki in its original incarnation was very powerful: Mrs. Takata, who brought it North America in the 1930s, was reputed to have been cured of cancer and gall stones at a Reiki clinic in Japan, which is why she decided to learn Reiki and disseminate it. Now Reiki seldom produces such cures, despite Mrs. Takata's best efforts, and many practitioners are hardly able to generate more than a "little warmth" and a feeling of well-being (appreciated, to be sure, but hardly earth-shaking) in their patients.

Bob Rasmusson, from whose spontaneous ability to heal Quantum Touch was born, was able to push vertebrae around with a gentle touch of his finger, and thus align mis-shapen spines. His student Richard Gordon describes in his book miraculously straightening out the spine of a severely arthritic woman with QT, but it took him an hour and a half of hard work. I know one of Richard Gordon's original students who occasionally does brilliant healings with QT, but when I saw him treat a scoliosis, it remained completely unaffected by his efforts. There is clearly a progression (regression?) here. What was effortless for the master took quite a bit of work for his first student, and seemed a lot less possible for someone of the second generation.

Same with Matrix Energetics. Richard Bartlett can do mind-blowing things. It took him a while (years!) to train his first student, Mark Dunn, who finally mastered the technique after a dramatic "attunement" episode that is well worth reading about (see Richard Bartlett's book). But if you go on the Matrix discussion board now, you will find a great many questions from trainees and not much healing going on.

Which takes us to Bill Bengston's method. Bill in some ways is not the originator, but the first student. His mentor, Bennett Mayrick, developed the spontaneous ability to heal alongside a number of other "psychic" abilities. Judging by Bill's stories of him, Ben's ability to heal was prodigious. He was able to heal a deep cut on the spot, so that the skin was perfectly healed, as if the cut had never happened. He was able to heal very aggressive cancers in only a few treatments. On one occasion he cured a young woman, in a matter of a few hours, of incurable metastatic cancer that had spread to all her major organs (if I remember the story correctly). I do not know how Bill's ability to heal compares to Ben's, but I do know that those of us in the second generation, learning the method from Bill, so far have not been able to duplicate Bill's accomplishments in healing. A very few of us are able to approximate it, but duplicate it, no.

As I look at the pattern what comes to me is that in all cases the first student had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time apprenticing with the originator. I don't know how long Richard Gordon spent with Bob Rasmusson, but both Bill Bengston and Mark Dunn spent years apprenticing with their teachers. In contrast, more recent students are being taught in weekend workshops. As clearly even several weekend workshops do not duplicate years of apprenticeship experience, it makes sense that the second generation is less able to produce healing results. And going down the line, it would be from this imperfectly taught second generation that future teachers would come, so the dilution in the effectiveness of the original method is pretty much inevitable.

What about "cycling"?

There is also the question of how the method is taught. The originator develops the healing ability spontaneously. He doesn't sit down and think to himself: "I want to learn to heal. Now how do I go about this? What's step one? What's step two?" He just wakes up one day and is able to do it. Then when student number one comes along, the question arises: "how do I teach this?" The two of them together then pick apart what the master does and try to come up with a reasonable approximation. But keep in mind that the master doesn't really do anything -- what he does happens spontaneously without his conscious input. So the method that is developed is essentially an imperfect approximation of what the originator doesn't do to make the healing happen.

Bill Bengston teaches healing through a technique called "cycling." But his mentor Bennett Mayrick did not consciously need to go through the steps of this technique to become a healer in the first place. Bill questioned him extensively on what was happening in his mind while he was healing, and "cycling" was originally developed from this as a useful means of keeping the chattering mind/ego/left brain of the patient busy during treatment so it didn't interfere with the healing. Bill then used the "cycling" technique to teach his "skeptical volunteers" in the mouse experiments and since the volunteers then apparently healed the mice (or at least most of them did), he initially concluded that the "cycling" technique was sufficient to teach healing, but expressed some misgivings later in his paper "Can Healing Be Taught?" (for a discussion, see my earlier post "Resonance vs. Technique", toying with the idea that there might have been other factors at play in the success of the experiments, beyond the simple learning of a particular set of instructions).

"Cycling" in the workshops in my opinion allows Bill to transmit the essence of his healing ability. No one who has attended the workshops will question that something significant happens during the teaching, and no one to date has told me that they were dissatisfied with the experience. To the contrary, most of the people I've asked said that they would happily take another workshop with Bill. But after a year and a half of workshops we have yet to produce the full cancer cures inherent in the promise (and premise) of the mouse experiments. And it is not without significance that those of us who have come the closest, to my knowledge, are the ones who have had more than the workshop experience, including some one-on-one time "apprenticing" with Bill. Dilution happens when time with the teacher is supplanted by rote technique in an effort to streamline the teaching.
So it would seem that the original means of transmission laid down by the founders of the methods is still the best means of teaching healing. Weekend workshops are great to introduce the method to large numbers of people, but if we want it to be fully effective an apprenticeship program will be needed, along with a "school" where it can be implemented. This particular method of energy healing is too valuable to lose through dilution.
I had some of the same thoughts while reading Bill's book and listening to his audio course - if Mayrick didn't have to do "cycling" (Bengston's method) to perform healings, then why do we?

Anyway, any thoughts would be appreciated. I plan on dusting off Bill's materials and doing his method in a few months when I get some extended free time.

Yeah, those technical difficulties sucked. I talked to my wife about it because she's an expert in these things. Bill is loud and I think his computer is older. When he moved close to the screen he forced the processor to deal with a lot of new video information and also may have hit the limit of the audio to cope with the loud noise. It may have overwhelmed his system. When he sat back and didn't move much, there wasn't a problem.

I'm going to see if he'll come to this thread and answer a question or two.