Distant Healing of Surgical Wounds


Marilyn Schlitz, Harriet W. Hopf, Loren Eskenazi, Cassandra Vieten, and Dean Radin, 
Explore, 2012; 8: 223-230

Background: Distant healing intention (DHI) is one of the most common complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) healing modalities, but clinical trials to date have provided ambivalent support for its efficacy. One possible reason is that DHI effects may involve variables that are sensitive to unknown, uncontrolled, or uncontrollable factors.

Objective: To examine 2 of those potential variables— expectation and belief—we explored the effects of DHI on objective and psychosocial measures associated with surgical wounds in 72 women undergoing plastic surgery.

Design: Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: blinded and receiving DHI (DH), blinded and not receiving DHI (control), and knowing that they were receiving DHI (expectancy). Outcome measures included collagen deposition in a surrogate wound and several self-report measures. DHI was provided by experienced distant healers. 

No differences in the main measures were observed across the three groups. Participants’ previous belief in the efficacy of DHI was negatively correlated with the status of their mental health at the end of the study (P = .04, 2-tailed), and healers’ perceptions of the quality of their  subjective “contact” with the participants were negatively correlated both with change in mood (P = .001) and with collagen deposition (P = .04). A post-hoc analysis found that among participants assigned to receive DHI under blinded conditions, those undergoing reconstructive surgery after breast cancer treatment reported significantly better change in mood than those who were undergoing purely elective cosmetic surgery (P = .004).

Conclusion: If future DHI experiments confirm the post-hoc observations, then some of the ambiguity observed in earlier DHI studies may be attributable to interactions among participants’ and healers’ beliefs, their expectations, and their motivations.

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Note: The first line in the Results paragraph above appears in the printed article as the last line in the Design paragraph. That line should be as shown here given that it is reporting results.  


Rick said…
Hi Dean,
I'm feeling a bit stupid-I don't really understand what the results mean. Are they saying there was no empirical effect of remote healing, thatit was in the minds of the subjects?
Rick said…
Hi Dean,
Does this mean that the benefits of remote healing were "just" because the patients knew someone was thinking of them?
Calculus said…
Off topic, sorry

With the mass killing in Colorado, have the random number generators spread around the world showed anything?
Dean Radin said…
Calculus: See


for the results of the "Batman" shooting. It appears that the GCP data did respond to the global attention brought to this tragic event.
Dean Radin said…
Rick: Did distant healing work? Not in this study. None of the main measures showed significant effects.

Other planned analyses suggested that expectations and motivations of both patients and healers may modulate distant healing effects in a positive or a negative way.
Calculus said…
More off topic, but the GCP project is too hot not to talk about.

About the results obtained with the RNGs, I dont understand a point, maybe I've read it too fast.
Dean, You wrote a suggested causal event(for example a train crash in India) will not necessarily trigger a response in a RNG also located in India, It could as well be anywhere around the world, suggesting that spatial distance is irrelevant, but once a generator responds to a causal event, the closest RNG have more chance to respond than the generators located in the antipods (you said 12000km), suggesting that spatial distance is indeed relevant.
Did I undestand that correctly? (probably not)
Dean Radin said…
There is a hint from the 911 data that distance to the event does matter, but this hasn't been studied in detail with enough other events to know for sure.

There is, however, other evidence of a spatially dependent effect in the RNG network. This is discussed in this article by Roger Nelson and Peter Bancel:

Klaus said…
(GCP discussion) If distance has something to do with it, I'd think it is because the emotions/reactions are stronger closer to the event, not because of the "paraphysical signals" getting weaker with distance.
The problems with studying the effectiveness of this is that there is no way to control for people outside of the experiment praying for the subject in a control group, sending them good thoughts, if you prefer or the subjects doing the same thing.

Of course, if the proposal is that God or some other supernatural entity is involved in enhanced healing, there isn't any way to ensure that they will cooperate with the testing procedure. There might be an agenda that contradicts the experimental design and no way to account for that. It's quite possible that healing does happen and that it's too rare and random to show up in statistical analysis that is designed to detect some kind of predictable regularity. If a question of possible intention enters into it, that could throw it all off. Just because quite often the answer to prayers would be "no" doesn't mean that sometimes, rarely, the answer could be "yes".
Testing individual claims to see if there is an alternative, natural, explaination might be the best that can be done with this kind of thing. And there's no way to know if any natural explanation might mask that kind of intention.

You might be able to test whether or not it's reasonable to depend on prayers being answered but it probably isn't possible to rule out the possibility that, in very rare cases, they are.
Dean Radin said…
> The problems with studying the effectiveness of this is that there is no way to control for people outside of the experiment praying for the subject in a control group, sending them good thoughts, if you prefer or the subjects doing the same thing.

True. The design assumes that the addition of "professional" distant healers would make enough of a difference to be detectable. So far there isn't persuasive evidence that this is the case. (This is why I prefer lab studies, where such variables can be controlled.)
anonymous said…
It would be interesting to see if the presence of someone spinning an Egely wheel affected a random number generator, particularly if there was a correlation between the rate of spin and the deviation from randomness.
Anonymous said…
Dr. Radin,

This is off topic but I thought you would enjoy it:

MickyD said…
Dean I really enjoyed this interview with yourself and Tom Campbell:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiVfXbBS3Bc. In it, you are pessimistic about significant changes in acceptance of psi in the next ten years or so, but in earlier blog posts you are optimistic about the status of the field in 5 years or so, thanks to breakthroughs in quantum biology. Why the shift towards pessimism?
Dean Radin said…
I'm optimistic on days with even numbers, and pessimistic on days with odd numbers. Maintains a nice balance.

I do think that the rise of quantum biology will begin to loosen past prejudices about psi, but realistically it takes a generation or two for truly radical ideas to take hold. So change is coming, just not immediately. I don't know if this is optimistic or pessimistic. Maybe a bit of both.

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