Psychological Implications of Recent Revelations of Quantum Physics and Epigenetics and Proposed Application to Clinical Practice
This thesis explores and reviews literature regarding some unexplained aspects of psychological phenomena including the “mind-brain problem”, Jung’s “synchronicity” and other phenomena described within parapsychology, religion and spiritual practices. The underlying principles of Newtonian physics, Quantum physics, and Psychoenergetic science are discussed as they relate to what has been considered “unexplainable” or “impossible” and theories regarding monism and dualism are explored. Additionally, this thesis focuses on implications of revelations of scientific experiments involving epigenomic expression and full cellular involvement in consciousness and discusses how the integration of these ideas can provide a new perspective on consciousness, mental illness, and healing.
keywords: consciousness studies, synchronicity, Jung, mind-brain problem, psychoenergetic science, morphogenetics, energy psychology, energy therapies
There are unexplained aspects of consciousness within the scope of psychology that deal with “spiritual” and religious experiences and also abilities that have been defined in parapsychology. Also regarding the unexplained, traditional energetic and spiritual interventions are said to be used, quite effectively, to provide sometimes instant symptom relief for many conditions. Chronic mental health symptoms have been attributed to the human energetic infrastructure by Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Buddhism, Shamanism, and many other spiritual and religious practices for over 4000 years. Despite this, energy medicine is not commonly recognized or promoted in Western psychological practices. The Western scientific mind needs proof, facts, and peer reviewed data proving underlying physical theory for practices to be considered evidence-based. Human genetics studies, quantum physics and psychoenergetic science have very recently revealed new facts regarding the blueprint of the genome and possibly the functioning of human consciousness. This writer hypothesizes that a new understanding of the nature of consciousness, mystical experience, parapsychology, and energy treatments may have been revealed through these sciences. Further, with this new understanding, new psychological interventions may be used to eliminate symptoms of “pathology” in sufferers of mental illness as well as promote “peak” consciousness and abilities in those that are considered “well”.
The Mind Brain Problem
A challenging question in neuropsychology is how does consciousness, subjective thought, and emotion actually arise from the brain? How does neuron firing actually result in sentience and conscious experience? The many branches of neuropsychology attempt to answer this question through biological research. The traditional understanding taught in all neuropsychology courses is that the chemical synapses of neurons are primarily responsible for information processing and that consciousness occurs when neural networking is operating at a certain level of complexity. If one is to assume, however, that consciousness, thoughts, and feelings are a result of brain activity, where is the line drawn between what is conscious and what is not? Single-celled organisms lack neurons yet are able to learn, swim, find food, and multiply through the use of only the cell cytoskeleton. How is this possible without a brain? Further, if all functioning of consciousness is a result of neuronal processes, how does a human have the conscious experience of being the “experiencer”, the “perceiver” of the perceived? This unanswered question is commonly referred to as the “hard problem” of consciousness, the “mind-brain problem” or the “mind-body problem”. This problem has been debated historically but was formally identified by René Descartes in the 1600s. From this “hard problem” many theories of monism and dualism have been put forth. There has been great debate over whether a human is merely their physical makeup, or whether there is a separate and influencing “soul” part of consciousness that exists outside of space and time as we know it (Rozemond, 2002).
Beyond the history and nature of the “hard problem” of consciousness, there are other “impossible” or “unexplainable” aspects of psychology that relate to “numinous”, “spiritual”, “sacred”, “mystical”, or “religious” experiences. These experiences commonly involve perception and influence of an energy or power that is beyond what the biological aspects of the brain can explain. According to Otto (1958) the “numinous” experience has two aspects: “mysterium tremendum”, which means the experience, creates trembling and fear; and “mysterium fascinans” which means the experience attracts and fascinates. Maslow (1970) described the “numinous” experience in psychology with his definition of “peak experience”. Peak experience is a term used to describe euphoric and ecstatic states. These states regularly involve feelings of interconnection and harmonization. Individuals who experience these “peak states” describe the experience and the revelations imparted as having a spiritual, mystical or religious quality. Maslow (1970) describes how the peak experience tends to be uplifting and ego-transcending; it releases creative energies; it affirms the meaning and value of existence; it gives a sense of purpose to the individual; it gives a feeling of integration and it leaves a permanent mark on the individual, evidently changing them for the better. Peak experiences can be therapeutic in that they tend to increase the individual’s confidence, empathy and creativity. The highest peaks include “feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of great ecstasy and wonder and awe, and the loss of placing in time and space” (Maslow, 1970, p. 164).
Many different religious traditions have described spiritual experience in different ways that also have commonalities. Chassidic schools of Judaism describe experiences of absorption in God’s light. “Kaivalya” in some schools of Hinduism and “Jhana” in Buddhism describe experiences of separation from the world. “Moksha” in Sikhism, “Jainism” in Hinduism and “Nirvana” in Buddhism refer to an enlightened blissful and euphoric state. “Satori” in Buddhism and “Te” in Taoism describe the experience of complete connection to the world. “Henosis” in Neoplatonism, “Theosis” in Christianity, and “Brahma-Prapti” in Hinduism describe becoming one with God. “Irfan and fitra” in Islam describe intuited information or knowledge, while “Samadhi or “Svarupa-Avirbhava” in Hinduism describe experience of significant bliss and authenticity. (Otto, 1958; Corbett, 1996; Habel, 1993)
As observed in the descriptions above, the spiritual experience commonly has a personal quality to it in which the individual feels in union with a “higher power”. These types of experiences have been reported by many to influence significant changes on multiple levels for the individuals who experience them. The numinous experience has been said to lead, in many cases, to belief in a “higher power”, the supernatural, the sacred, the holy, and the transcendent nature of consciousness. Testimonials regarding numinous experiences and miraculous healings can be found throughout many different religious writings. A large database of testimonials can be found on the website for the Christian Broadcast Network (The 700 Club). Numinous experiences described in the CBN testimonials include those that are considered “near death” or involve “out-of-body” perception, those that involve union with a “higher power” resulting in testimonies of “salvation”, those that involve intuitive knowledge of previously unknown information, those that involve divine protection and miraculous survival, those that involve miraculous healing from physical, emotional, spiritual, and social ills, and many that involve general life transformation (CBN-700 Club, 2011). These are all experiences of the conscious “mind” that currently cannot be explained according to the concepts of neuropsychology.
Synchronicity and “Parapsychological” Experience
Jung was the first to introduce the concepts of numinous experience and “unexplainable” aspects of consciousness to the field of psychology through his writings about, what he termed, “synchronicity”. Synchronicity refers to intuition and basically all serendipitous, metaphysical, supernatural, paranormal, psychic, and spiritual experiences. According to Jung, experiences like these cannot be explained according to common neuropsychology. He said, “I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.” (Rose, 2010; Jung, 1972)
Jung called synchronicity the “acausal connecting principle” of mind and matter. The laws of causality describe two events in which the first event results in the second event. The law of cause and effect is the principle on which experimental, clinical, cognitive, and connection neuropsychology is currently based. Jung’s principle is commonly observed when coincidences occur that cannot be explained by causality. Synchronicities involve the ability of the mind to perceive information that coincides with external events. The external world, in this sense manifests or confirms the mental process. (Jung, 1972)
Jung described three different types of synchronicity. The first is when feelings and thoughts coincide with external events. This is commonly referred to as “telecognition” and “telekinesis” in parapsychology. Telecognition is a mental faculty that allows a perceiver to view objects, individuals, or events by means that do not involve the senses, while telekinesis involves the manipulation of objects by means that do not involve stimulation or observed interaction them. For example, with telecognition, an individual is said to be capable of projecting thoughts and emotions to another individual or to perceive another’s thoughts or emotions without verbal communication. An example of telekinesis is when an individual is able to move or manipulate an object, such as a glass or a spoon without actually touching the object. (Irwin, 2007; Jung 1972)
The second type of synchronicity described by Jung is a vision, premonition or dream regarding a future event. In parapsychology this is commonly referred to as “precognition”. The term in Latin is translated as “acquiring knowledge”. This is a mental faculty that allows a perceiver to access and acquire information about future events. The information is gained by means that our beyond senses or the laws of nature and physics. For example, an individual may get a thought or a feeling that the phone is going to ring or that a particular song will come on the radio and the thought or feeling is proven correct. (Irwin, 2007; Jung, 1972)
The third and final type of synchronicity described by Jung was when a perception, vision or dream and a distant event coincide. In parapsychology this is commonly referred to as remote viewing. Remote viewing is a mental faculty that allows an individual to describe details about a target object, location, individual or event that is not in the person’s immediate environment. The target may be distanced from the senses by space, time, or shielding. For example, a remote viewer may provide details about a far-away location that they have never been to; or a viewer may provide details about an event that happened in the past; or may provide details about an object sealed or removed from view; or provide details about a person or an activity; all without being given any information about the target. (Irwin, 2007; Jung, 1972)
Although experimental research on numinous and synchronistic experience is difficult to conduct because of the subjective nature, many research facilities, societies, associations, and institutions throughout the world have been attempting to do just that. The Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California has and continues to perform many experiments on mind-matter interaction (MMI). In one such experiment, Principal Investigator Radin (2008) investigated the effect of a distant observer on a quantum optics system.
“The question was whether this form of “psi observation” would cause a change in the photons’ quantum wave-functions. A Michelson interferometer was located inside a sealed, light-tight, double steel-walled shielded chamber, and participants sat quietly outside the chamber with eyes closed. Interference patterns were recorded by a cooled CCD camera once per second, and average illumination levels of these images were compared during counterbalanced “mental blocking” vs. non-blocking conditions. A lower overall level of illumination was predicted to occur during the blocking condition due to partial collapse of the quantum wave function.
Based on 18 experimental sessions, the outcome was significantly in accordance with the prediction (z = -2.82, p = 0.002). This result was primarily due to nine sessions involving experienced meditators (combined z = -4.28, p = 9.4 × 10-6); the other nine sessions with non or beginning meditators were not significant (combined z = 0.29, p = 0.61). The same protocol run immediately after each test session with no one present revealed no hardware or protocol artifacts that might have accounted for these results (combined z = 1.50, p = 0.93). Other conventional explanations were considered and judged to be implausible. This study supports the idea that psi is a direct means of gaining knowledge, because knowledge of which-path information in a quantum optics system will cause the wave function to collapse.” (Radin, 2008, p 1)
Radin (2006), with the assistance of co-investigators Emoto and Kizu, also experimented with the effects of distant intention on water crystal formation. According to Radin (2006),
“An experiment tested the hypothesis that water exposed to distant intentions affects the aesthetic rating of ice crystals formed from that water. Over three days, 1,900 people in Austria and Germany focused their intentions towards water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California. Water samples located near the target water, but unknown to the people providing intentions, acted as ‘‘proximal’’ controls. Other samples located outside the shielded room acted as distant controls. Ice drops formed from samples of water in the different treatment conditions were photographed by a technician, each image was assessed for aesthetic beauty by over 2,500 independent judges, and the resulting data were analyzed, all by individuals blind with respect to the underlying treatment conditions. Results suggested that crystal images in the intentionally treated condition were rated as aesthetically more beautiful than proximal control crystals (p <; 0.03, one-tailed). This outcome replicates the results of an earlier pilot test.” (Radin, 2006, p 1)
Finally, in Radin’s (2006) “Markov Chain” experiments,
“Three models of mind-matter interaction (MMI) with Random Number Generators (RNGs) were tested. One model assumes that MMI is a forward-time causal influence, a second assumes that MMI is due to present-time exploitation of precognitive influence, and a third assumes that MMI is a retrocausal influence. A pilot test and a planned replication study provided significant evidence for MMI, allowing the models to be tested. The outcomes suggest that MMI effects on RNGs are better accounted for by a backwards-in-time rather than a forward-in-time process. Whether this finding will generalize to other experimental designs and MMI phenomena is unknown, but it raises the possibility that teleological pulls from the future may sometimes influence present-time decisions and events. This raises questions about commonly used scientific methodologies and assumptions.” (Radin, 2006, p 1)
Another research department, the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland also has and continues to research this phenomena. For example, Luke (2011) experimented with the perception of “luck” and performance on tasks involving precognitive abilities. According to Luke (2011),
“Luck beliefs were measured using the Questionnaire of Beliefs about Luck (QBL). Previous literature indicates that luck might best be understood in terms of Stanford’s model of ‘psi-mediated instrumental response’ (PMIR), so 100 participants completed a PMIR-inspired non-intentional precognition experiment with static fractal images as targets, and, depending on success, experienced either a task involving erotic images (psi incentive) or a boring vigilance task (psi disincentive). The mean psi score over ten forced-choice trials was 2.85 (MCE = 2.5), which gives a significant overall precognition effect (t = 2.508, p = .014, r = .244). Furthermore, scores on the PPL and the Luck subscale of the QBL were found to correlate significantly with precognition performance (r = .263, p = .008 for both). However, only the Luck subscale was found to be a significant predictor variable of psi score (adjusted R2 = .06, t = 2.7, p = .008), indicating that beliefs about luck are more relevant to psi performance than PPL alone. Psi task performance was also related to belief in psi (rs= .236, p = .02) and suggestively with belief in the paranormal (rs=.194, p = .10), offering tentative support for the notion that psi ability drives belief initially. Precognition performance was also found to be suggestively higher amongst the erotically reactive than the erotically unreactive (t = 1.65, p = .10) offering indirect support for the experiment’s validity and the need-serving aspect of PMIR. A number of other exploratory hypotheses are discussed. The findings support the suggested relationship between luck and psi but further investigations should consider beliefs about luck not just perceived luckiness.” (Luke, 2011, p 1)
Luke followed up these experiments with two additional replication experiments that resulted in similar conclusions.
Princeton’s department of Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) in New Jersey is another research institution for numinous and synchronistic experiences. Researchers through PEAR have experimented with these phenomena as they relate to mind-matter interaction. For example, in Dunne and Jahn’s (1992) experiment,
“Several extensive experimental studies of human/machine interactions wherein the human operators and the target machines are separated by distances of up to several thousand miles yield anomalous results comparable in scale and character to those produced under conditions of physical proximity. The output distributions of random binary events produced by a variety of microelectronic random and pseudorandom generators, as well as by a macroscopic random mechanical cascade, display small but replicable and statistically significant mean shifts correlated with the remote operators’ pre-stated intentions, and feature cumulative achievement patterns similar to those of the corresponding local experiments. Individual operator effect sizes distribute normally, with the majority of participants contributing to the overall effect. Patterns of specific count populations are also similar to those found in the corresponding local experiments. The insensitivity of the size and details of these results to intervening distance and time adds credence to a large database of precognitive remote perception experiments, and suggests that these two forms of anomaly may draw from similar mechanisms of information exchange between human consciousness and random physical processes.” (Dunne, 1992, p 1)
Another experiment from PEAR was conducted by Ibison and Jeffers (1998). According to the research article,
“An experiment in which participants were asked to reduce the fringe contrast in a Young’s double-slit interference pattern has been conducted independently at two laboratories using the same apparatus. Participants at York University were explicitly invited to exert their intentionality either to direct the photon flux preferentially through one path or the other, or to obtain spatial information about the division of the flux. Participants at Princeton University were invited simply to reduce the fringe contrast by any strategy they wished. Results from both laboratories (Z =- 0.481 and Z = 1.654 respectively) described that the experiments conducted at York University did not show any evidence that the human operators tested could succeed in this task. The experiments conducted at Princeton University showed marginal evidence of an anomalous effect at a scale consistent with that of similar experiments with larger databases and corresponding larger effects.” (Ibison, 1998, p 1)
PEAR researchers have also experimented with “remote viewing” phenomena. Remote viewing was first researched in the early 1970s and the most commonly recognized experiment was the Stanford Experiment conducted by Puthoff and Targ (Dunne, 1979). Dunne (1979) discussed the Stanford Experiment stating,
“In these experiments the participant was closeted with an experimenter at Stanford Research Institute and, at an agreed upon time, attempted to describe the site which was being visited by a target team of experimenters know to the participant. The target sites were chosen randomly from a pool of over 100 targets within a 30-minute driving distance and were unknown to either the participant or the experimenters who remained with him. After allowing 30 minutes for travel time, the participant was asked to attempt to describe aloud into a tape recorder his impressions of the location where he thought the target team was and to draw a sketch of the location he was describing.
In the course of experimentation, one participant claimed to have received impressions of the targets before the trials began, and the descriptions turned out to be exceptionally accurate, even though the target locations had not been selected at the time these impressions were received.” (Dunne, 1979, p 1)
Dunne (1979), compelled by the Stanford Experiment conducted a replication experiment on precognitive remote viewing in the Chicago area. According to Dunne (1979),
“The ability of untrained individuals to describe a remote geographical site where an agent will be at a future time, before the target location has been determined, was investigated in eight separate trails using two volunteer percipients who had no claim to extraordinary psychic abilities. The transcripts of their descriptions were matched and ranked against the various target locations by eight independent judges who had no other connection with the experiment. The results of this matching indicated a degree of accuracy at the p<; .008 (one tailed) significance level.” (Dunne, 1979, p 2)
Many other replication studies on these phenomena have been conducted by PEAR researchers over the years with similar outcomes.
Since the late 17th century, much of the world has believed that reality can be viewed objectively, that the Universe is made up only of solid objects, and that the law of “cause and effect” is fixed to all aspects of existence. Recently revealed information in physical, biological and genetic science has shown however that the physical universe is just a multitude of possibilities associated with a giant unified energy field. Further, genetics studies reveal that chemical, electrical, musical, mental and emotional energies, as well as all other energies around us, may influence the expression of our genes resulting in a diverse spectrum of day-to-day biological experiences. These revelations appear to provide some scientific explanation for many numinous, synchronistic and “parapsychological” phenomena and a new lens through which to view potential psychological interventions.
The theory on which our earliest scientific understanding of reality was based is called Newtonian Physics. From the late 17th century, it was extended into the 19th century explaining that ‘atoms’ are the foundational elements of nature. Newtonian Physics described the universe as a machine-like system that has three dimensions and fixed, consistent, linear time. Further, it explains all phenomena is the result of physical processes of physical systems and is deterministic. Many aspects of the physical world were described by Newtonian Physics including the motions of solids, fluids, planets and machines. It was Newtonian Physics on which modern Western medical practices are based. (McEvoy, 2003)
It was because Newtonian Physics was so successful at explaining the activity of matter, that it was assumed to be fixed and absolute. The laws of Newtonian Physics however cannot explain numionous or “parapsychological” experiences and also cannot explain electricity, Field Theory or Nuclear Physics. Much of the world was able to embrace that an alternative theory (quantum mechanics) was needed to explain electricity and most are approving of Einstein’s “Special Relativity Theory” to explain Nuclear Physics, yet most have been resistant to accept that our understanding of the functioning of consciousness may also be governed by other laws.
Monism vs. Dualism
The philosopher Descartes was an early writer on the subject who explored the problems related to consciousness in the 1600s. His theory is known as Cartesian dualism. Descartes theorized that consciousness actually resides within a separate domain than matter. He referred to this domain as “res cogitans” or the realm of thought. The realm of matter he referred to as “res extensa” or realm of extension. He proposed that these realms interact in the brain, possibly in the pineal gland. (Kim, 2000)
Alternative perspectives to Descartes include dualist solutions and monist solutions. Dualist solutions hold to Decartes position that mind and matter exist on two distinct realms. The perceiver exists separately from the perceived. “Substance dualism” proposes that consciousness and mind are made up of a substance that is not governed by the laws of Newtonian physics and “property dualism” proposes that Newtonian laws are universally valid but will not explain the nature of the conscious mind. (Kim, 2000)
Monist solutions, on the other hand, propose that there is really only one realm of existence in which conscious mind and matter are aspects. The three main types of monism are physicalism, idealism, and neutral monism. Physicalism is a philosophy holding that the mind is matter only organized in a way that is not understood. Further, physicalism holds that physical forces, processes and structure as well as space, energy, time, information, and state are all aspects of the material universe. Idealism, on the other hand, is a philosophy that directly opposes physicalism holding that matter is a result of the mind; basically all material matter is simply an illusion. Neutral monism is a philosophy holding that mind and material are of the same essence; however this essence is identical to neither mind nor matter and is not governed by the laws of Newtonian physics. (Kim 2000)
Jung explored his thoughts on synchronicity with both Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli and concluded that parallels exist between synchronicity and aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics (Tarnas, 2006). Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics originally created to explore how quantum-sized particles, such as photons and electrons behave. Quantum physics has proposed that in observing quantum particles they are actually “transcendental” or “waves of potential possibilities”. Quantum physics has revealed that everything perceived as “solid” matter actually acts as a wave when viewed on a quantum level and, although particles can affect their surroundings, they actually exist outside space and time. Further, although most commonly perceived as separate, everything is actually connected. (McEvoy, 2003; Al-Khalili, 2003)
According to McEvoy (2003) all things, including cells, atoms, people, animals, and plants, is a part of a patterned web of existence and information. For example, quantum physics has revealed that when photons are separated, no matter the distance, a change to one creates an instant change to the other. This is also referred to as “non-locality”. (McEvoy, 2003) In relating to the challenging questions, the seamless interconnection between objects makes it easier to understand synchronicity, when cause and effect do not appear to apply. Quantum physics could also provide an answer for many synchronistic events with “action at a distance”. This refers to the ability of objects to instantly communicate with one another. These new scientific concepts allow for entertaining the possibility of telecognition, remote viewing and other “parapsychological” experiences.
Quantum physics also holds that reality is based on potentials, not fixed existence. Particles and their interactions are not limited to the rules of causality or by time and space and can be influenced by the observer’s perception. (McEvoy, 2003; Al-Khalili, 2003) This theory would explain the many synchronistic events that occur in mind-matter interface experiments and also in placebo healing and psychoneuroimmunology experiments. Quantum physics further holds that time actually flows forward and backward symmetrically with no difference between past, present and future. (McEvoy, 2003; Al-Khalili, 2003) This can explain synchronistic experiences where a future event is viewed and experienced in the present.
Orchestrated Objective Reduction Theory
The underlying principles of the mind-brain problem, synchronicity, energy healing and metaphysical and spiritual experiences could begin to make sense when integrating principles of quantum physics. Could interdisciplinary exploration further reveal a new understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of consciousness? The Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch OR) theory is a neutral monistic perspective proposed by theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hamerof. Orch-OR approaches the mind-brain problem from a perspective that integrates mathematics, physics and anesthesia and is the combined approach of two theories. In 1982, Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist proposed that consciousness is not supported only by synaptic firing in networks of neurons but also involves communication with computational processes of cytoskeletal structures in each cell called “microtubules”. All cells, from a single-celled amoeba to the cells that make up neurons, are made up of dynamic systems called cytoskeletons which are majorly composed of microtubules. Microtubules are said to be cylindrical, hollow, and composed of combined proteins called tubulin. Microtubules are said to be responsible for cell movement, function, shape and multiplication. Microtubules in neurons act mechanically by extending dendrites and axons forming synaptic connections and are responsible for regulation of the activity in the synapses involved with cognitive functioning. Further, microtubules interact electrically by voltage fields and chemically by “second messenger” signals and ions. (Hameroff, 2007)
Although Hameroff’s theory regarding microtubules provides insight into the ability of the consciousness to process at the speed and capacity that it does, it provides no further insight into the nature of conscious experience, the “mind-brain” problem. In 1989, Penrose, a theoretical physicist proposed that the tubulins inside the microtubules, like other quantum particles, actually exist in a potential state, rotating between states of expression in nanoseconds. When expressions match up among tubulins in the microtubule, patterns emerge that interact and expand leading to new patterns. Research seems to indicate that this type of processing could support learning within neurons and information processing and transmission. (Hameroff, 2007)
How can Orch OR solve the mind-brain problem of conscious experience? With Penrose’s addition to Hameroff’s theory, what is described is a reality where consciousness exists only as a spectrum of potential moments. Penrose and Hameroff (2007) proposed that the potentials of conscious experiences are embedded in the web of all that makes up the universe. The theory, as claimed, is based on studies of quantum gravity and space-time geometry. Hameroff (2007) further proposes that this can account for synchronistic experience and other phenomena that involve access to wisdom beyond what is available to the senses. (Hameroff, 2007)
Another aspect of consciousness recently revealed in science involves the expression of the genes. The scientific and medical communities as well as the general public have widely accepted the notion that body types, personalities and disease susceptibility are predetermined by DNA. Further, the general understanding has been that genes code for intelligence level, psychiatric dysfunctions, and cognitive abilities. According to recent genome research, however, these well-accepted theories may actually be disproven. As stated by Watters (2006) in Discover Magazine, “Suddenly, for better or worse, we appear to have a measure of control over our genetic legacy.”
The first theory to propose that environmental influences can change human characteristics was “inheritance of acquired characteristics” by Lamark (1809). Charles Darwin (Liu, 2009) further expanded on Lamark’s theory and proposed his theory “pangenesis”. According to “pangenesis”, body particles are influenced by the environment during an individual’s lifetime and the changed particles travel by the blood stream to the cells of the reproductive system to be passed on to further generations. According to both these theories, an individual’s biological and psychological composition can modify within one generation given factors in the individual’s environment. These theories have long been criticized by the scientific community; however these principles are the foundation for the current study of epigenetics.
Although a great amount of individual human characteristics are determined by genetic code, the complicated “epigenome” is actually responsible for the genome’s functioning and is completely influenced by the environment. The new area of research developed from this revelation is the field of Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of alterations in gene activity that do not involve changes to the genetic code. Information revealed by the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 was that the ‘methyl’ expression, not coding, of an individual’s genes is responsible for the functioning of all body systems, characteristics, and experiences on an ongoing basis. Further, genetic expression through methylation is dynamic, changeable, and fully susceptible to influences in the environment. The epigenome involves a series of methyl groups, or cellular marks that sit above and outside the genome. These biochemical marks tell genes what amount of protein should be synthesized or expressed by a gene, when to activate or deactivate, and to what degree or magnitude to express themselves. It has been revealed that this involves a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms chemically binding to cytosine, one of the nucleotide bases in DNA. When a gene is deactivated by the epigenome, the DNA is “methylated” and the genetic response is silenced. Further, “master genes” have been identified that can influence the degree of expression for groups of genes. (Lipton, 2008, Church, 2009)
The second way the epigenome has been found susceptible to influence is through changes to histone proteins. Histone proteins are said to structure the DNA and are involved with organization of the DNA. The DNA in every cell is actually tightly wound around histone proteins. These proteins each have a tail that can pick up enzymes and use them to change amino acids in the histone. The result is that the histones can constrict the genetic information causing it to be inaccessible, or they can contract, allowing access to the information for the gene to be expressed. (Lipton, 2008, Church, 2009)
Revelations of epigenetics provide insight into the debate of nature vs. nurture. In understanding the epigenome as dynamic and changeable, this supports the position that nurture in fact has a very significant influence on the behavioral and psychological functioning of an individual and is perhaps of even greater influence than the genetic code. This also provides for a better understanding of individual difference in studies of identical twins that have completely different susceptibility to disease and different psychological and behavioral functioning. (Fraga, 2005)
A biologist at McGill University, Meaney (Weaver, 2004) explored how changes to the epigenome can occur after birth, specifically by studying the interactions between mother and baby. In his research, Meaney (Weaver, 2004) looked at two different types of mother rats, ones who licked their newborns and others that did not. Meaney (Weaver, 2004) found newborns that were licked were more calm and brave than the others. The newborns that were neglected grow up to be nervous and afraid of new environments. Meaney (Weaver, 2004) explored further and found that the licking from the mother resulted in greater development of the hippocampi and less release of the stress hormone cortisol. The underlying mechanisms were theorized to involve the release of serotonin. According to this theory, the licking activity triggers the serotonin receptors in the hippocampus. The receptors, as a result send protein messengers to activate the expression of a gene that silences the response to stress. Meaney (Weaver, 2004) has further studied epigenetic expression changes that result from the interaction of human newborns and their mothers. According to Meaney (Weaver, 2004), there are similarities within the human and rat genome in the stress areas that were silenced in the rat studies, wherefore he assumes to find a similar response in human newborns that are caressed by their mother. According to Meaney (Weaver, 2004), “The story is going to be more complex than with the rats because we’ll have to take into account more social influences, but I’m convinced we’re going to find a connection.” Meaney (McGowin, 2009) further explored the epigenetic differences between suicide deaths where the individual was abused as a child and where the individual was not. In the individuals who had experienced childhood abuse the genetic expression profile revealed methylation in many genes that are stress-related. (McGowin, 2009)
Recent neurobiological research has suggested that the functioning of the brain is controlled by the processes of the epigenome. Specifically the research revealed enzymes that influence DNA histone proteins and regulate signals between neurons that are involved with memory and learning. This process is the means by which information is transferred to the genetic expression for the long-term. According to mice studies, certain dysfunctions in the epigenome prevent permanent changes from being made to the gene expression in neuron cells. As a result of this, long-term memory is impaired. (Alarcón, 2004)
It is commonly recognized that sex cell genes can be damaged and mutated by nuclear radiation and other such substances so that further generations are altered. It is further recognized that the environment of a mother’s womb is a critical factor in a baby’s development. The question becomes, does lifestyle, including one’s behaviors, diet, and environment affect subsequent generations? For a long time after scientists came to understand epigenetic principles, there was a belief that methyl marks and histone changes were not passed on to further generations. Newborns, according to the belief, begin with blank genetic expression of the combined genetic codes. Whitelaw (2006), a biologist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia however states that “what we inherit from our parents are chromosomes, and chromosomes are only 50 percent DNA. The other 50 percent is made up of protein molecules, and these proteins carry the epigenetic marks and information.” Whitelaw’s (2006) studies on rats have revealed that changes to the epigenome result in cell memory that lasts through many generations of ancestors. (Whitelaw, 2006)
Sheldrake (2005) further describes the epigenetic system with focus on the individual as a wave-field body associated with a “morphogenetic” resonance. According to Sheldrake (2005) “morphogenetic fields” are “biological” or “positional” fields that work by inducing pattern into activity that is out of or without pattern. Sheldrake (2005) explains that an instinctual and collective memory is carried on the morphogenetic wave and each individual both draws upon and contributes to the collective memory of the species. This means that knowledge and patterns of behavior can spread instantaneously. Sheldrake (2005) has proposed that there is a connection between morphogenetic fields and individual memory and intelligence. He describes the process of forming memories and obtaining knowledge not as occurring in the brain, instead, just like a radio tuning into a station, the consciousness accesses certain relevant parts of the human collective morphogenetic field based on the perceiving of specific frequencies. Further, Sheldrake (2005) theorizes that knowledge obtained through personal experience would be more accessible than the knowledge of others because morphogenetic information is said to be passed via resonance. Frequency perceives ‘like’ frequency. According to Sheldrake (2005), theoretically the collective memories and knowledge of humanity would be accessible if the perceiver were able to intentionally ‘tune-in’ or become resonant with the frequencies.
A series of research experiments have been conducted on morphogenetic field theory. The first experiment was done in the 1920s by McDougall (Sheldrake, 2005) who experimented for 15 years sending rats through a maze. The results were that the last generation of rats only made 20 mistakes before learning the maze, while the first generation had made 200 mistakes. Subsequent follow-up studies in Australia revealed that rats of the same breed as the original studies made fewer mistakes from the start on the maze, even when they were not descendents of the other rats. In the 1960s, psychiatrists Ryzl and Raikoy (Sheldrake, 2005) hypnotized individuals to believe they were reincarnated historical figures. The result was that the individuals developed the talents of the historical figures very rapidly. Another experiment was conducted in 1983 by Sheldrake who tested a group on how easily they could solve a visual puzzle. He then broadcasted the puzzle and solution to millions of viewers on BBC. Subsequently, in testing individuals across the world the visual puzzle was quickly recognized at a statistically high level. Psychologist Mahlberg (Sheldrake, 2005) created a Morse code variation that should have been no more difficult to learn than the commonly used code. Results showed that the standard code was actually much faster learned than the new one.
The results of these studies could support the perspective that memories are not stored inside the brain and are instead part of a collective consciousness. Could it be that our primary state of consciousness actually resides outside of time and space? Does DNA act as a means of communication between the spirit, energetic self, and the physical body? These are all intriguing questions brought on by recent scientific revelations in quantum physics, genetics, and as theorized in Orch Or and Morphic Field Theory.
Treating the Consciousness
“All matter is energy.” Albert Einstein
“Diseases are to be diagnosed and prevented via energy field assessment.” George Crile, Sr., MD, Founder of the Cleveland Clinic.
“Future medicine will be based on controlling energy in the body.” William Tiller, Nobel Prize Laureate.
“All living organisms emit an energy field.” Semyon D. Kirlian. U.S.S.R.
“The energy field starts it all.” Prof. Harold Burr, PhD, Yale University
“Treating humans without the concept of energy is treating dead matter.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, MD, Nobel Prize Laureate (1937), Hungary
“Body chemistry is governed by quantum cellular fields.” Prof. Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel Prize Laureate (1969), Stanford University
Energy’ is a term that has been used by many practitioners of alternative and spiritual medicine throughout history to describe various metaphysical phenomena. ‘Energy’ may be referred to as general ‘life force’, or more local to the body including “subtle” and “somatic” energies such as “chi”, “prana”, and “kunalini” of Eastern practices. ‘Energy’ is commonly associated with the breath. “Chi”, “prana”, and “spirit” for example, are the verb form of ‘breath’ in their respective languages. (Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Ross, 2009) According to the essential principles of energy medicine, the physical body is influenced by an infrastructure of electromagnetic and “subtle” energies. The body’s physical and mental health reflects the health of the energy infrastructure with regard to “balance” and “flow”. The body needs its energy infrastructure to move freely in patterns without restriction. Restriction can occur and energy may be blocked due to toxins, muscle tension, or other energies in the environment. Energies can become unbalanced due to extended stress and arousal of the “fight or flight” response. Energy disturbances that result in physical and mental health symptoms can be identified and treated with energy interventions. According to principles of TCM, “balance” and “flow” is restored to the energy infrastructure of the body through postures or exercises designed to move and stimulate energy, focused intention, manipulating energy points with needles, massaging, tapping and other forms of energetic touch. (Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Ross, 2009; Hecker, 2005)
How energy is experienced is reported differently depending on the treatment, practice or tradition. Some report somatic experiences such as movements or sensations in the body. Others report visual sensations such as seeing “fields”, “auras”, or “rays” or hearing and feeling vibrations. Energy treatments are regularly associated with feelings of wellbeing, and also pleasure and bliss. These states are described in some euphoric states of meditation, the “kundalini” experiences of ancient Eastern practices and even the experiences identified by early psychologists including Freud. (Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Ross, 2009; Bartlett, 2007; Gallo, 2005; Gordon, 1999)
‘Energy healing’ has occurred throughout human history with the most recognized forms being prayer and even “placebo” healing. Many groups of individuals in prayer, religious and spiritual masters, Swamis and Shaman throughout history have shown the power of healing energies. Additionally, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of medicine developed in China approximately 4000 years ago which is based in principles of energy healing. TCM promotes health and maintained wellbeing through regular practice of energy treatments, exercises, and use of herbs.
Comparing Eastern and Western medicine for health care, it’s said that, “Western medicine is a fire fighter; Chinese medicine is a housekeeper.” (Cheng, 2009) Preventative medicine is one of the general principles of TCM. A healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, good diet, and maintained emotional health is primary for preventing disease and illness. Further, the vital energies of the body must be strengthened in order to protect from invading pathogens. This could be understood as it relates to psychoneuroimmunology and the functioning of the immune response. Also, to relieve pain the meridians must be open. Blocked meridians restrict the flow of energy and cause pain and other deficiencies. The general principles of TCM state that balance of Ying and Yang is of great importance to maintenance of health. For example, women who experience hot flashes in menopause are considered to be deficient in Yin. In Western medicine, this would be recognized as due to decreasing estrogen levels. Cold intolerance associated with hyperthyroidism would be associated with Yang deficiency in Eastern medicine. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
With regard to mental disease, TCM primarily recognizes symptoms of imbalance or blocked flow. Further, healing symptoms of mental disease, according to TCM, requires restoring balance and flow in the body and life of the client. TCM does not recognize symptoms of mental disease as occurring in the mind or the brain, instead, these symptoms are considered a component of the spirit, known as “Shen”. Shen is believed to be located in the area of the heart, not the brain, and when it is troubled or problematic it is referred to as “Disturbed Shen”. All conditions and symptoms of mental disorder and disease (including brain chemistry imbalances) are believed to be a result of Disturbed Shen. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
Wilheim Reich (Totton, 2003) was the first psychologist to apply similar views to modern psychological practices. “Orgone” energy or ‘universal life force’ was a concept that Reich developed in the 1930s. Reich, following Freud’s libido concept focused on this biological energy and how to promote uninhibited flow. Reich theorized that many illnesses and diseases were caused by restrictions or deficits of flow of orgone energy. He created “orgone accumulators” which were believed to channel orgone energy from the environment into the patient. Reich created the Orgone Institute in the United States and continued publishing research for over 10 years before The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) barred the interstate distribution of orgone-related materials. Reich was jailed for violating the injunction and all his orgone-related literature and equipment were destroyed. Despite this, Reichian concepts are still prevalent in the field and are present in bioenergetic analysis, body psychotherapy, neo-Reichian massage and Vegetotherapy. (Totton, 2003).
Energy psychology protocols are being used with increasing frequency in the healthcare fields. Health Maintenance Organizations (Elder, 2007), disaster relief efforts (Feinstein, 2004) and Veteran’s Administration hospitals. Lynn Garland, a clinician with the Veterans’ Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts report that they are having significant results in relieving chronic symptoms of combat-related trauma (Feinstein, Eden, & Craig, 2005).
The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology was formed in the U.S. in 1999 and has created an ethics code and a certification program that is comprehensive. Energy Psychology is recognized in European countries including Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, with “Advanced Energy Psychology” accepted as a continuing education for clinicians. Feinstein, (2004) of the American Psychological Association (APA) states that Energy Psychology “integrates ancient Eastern practices with Western psychology [and provides a] valuable expansion of the traditional biopsychosocial model of psychology to include the dimension of energy.” Serlin (2005), a former APA division president, describes Energy Psychology as “a new discipline that has been receiving attention due to its speed and effectiveness with difficult cases”. Despite this, energy psychology is still not promoted or endorsed in the United States.
The Human Energy Infrastructure
According to TCM the human energy infrastructure includes the chakras, the meridians, the basic grid, the triple warmer, the radiant circuits, and the aura. According to TCM, Ayurveda, and Buddhism, the chakras are energy centers located at seven points in the body from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head. The chakras provide energy to organs and other areas of mental, emotional, and spiritual functioning, influencing the brain as well as the body chemicals and hormones. According to the ancient Eastern practices the chakras are imprinted recordings of emotions and memories. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
From a psychological perspective, assessing the status of the chakras could provide a great deal of information regarding mental health along with providing new options for interventions. This writer hypothesizes the chakras are a manifestation of the status of the individual’s epigenetic expression and to compare the associations of functions within the chakras could reveal new information regarding gene associations. One of the frustrating conclusions of the Human Genome Project was the finding that each single gene codes for a variety of different human characteristics and functions and utilizes the coding of many additional genes to determine individual character traits and to perform the duties of the body. This new knowledge has brought new challenges to genetic scientists. Electronic databases have been created to contain research results of associated genes to characteristics, functions, and diseases in order to create a genetic ‘bank’ of indicators to be used to assess the associations. This information is being gathered in order to utilize in future genetic mapping and counseling. The greatest challenge currently for those in the field is how to possibly identify the method by which the genes are related to and interact with one another. (Gibson, 2009, McCabe, 2008) This writer feels integration of energy medicine principles could reveal the answers.
Understanding the chakras reveals possible categorization for mental health conditions and symptoms. The first chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘stability’, ‘groundedness’, ‘security’, ‘centeredness’, ‘vitality’ and ‘strength’. An underactive first chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘weakness’, ‘tiredness’ ‘lack of motivation’, ‘avoidance’, ‘hopelessness’, ‘possessiveness’ and ‘manipulation’. An overactive first chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘aggressiveness’, ‘hyperactivity’, ‘paranoia’, ‘fearfulness’, ‘belligerence’, ‘impulsivity’, and ‘high sexualisation’. This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Root genes. Following the Eastern associations, Root genes would also be associated with the functioning of the legs, hips, lower back and sexual organs. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
The second chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘positive feeling’, ‘self-nurturance’, ‘intimacy with self and others’, ‘freedom’, and ‘confidence’. An underactive second chakra is associated with symptoms such as “mistrust”, ‘repressed emotions’, ‘repressed sexuality’, ‘isolation’, ‘self-neglect’, ‘perfectionism’, and ‘over-criticalness’. An overactive second chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘arrogance’, ‘irresponsibility’, ‘pleasure and power-seeking’, ‘lustfulness’, ‘selfishness’, and ‘narcissism’. This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Sacral genes. Following the Eastern associations, Sacral genes would also be associated with the functioning of the sexual organs, bladder, kidneys, and large intestine. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
The third chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘responsibility’, ‘pride’, ‘power’, ‘optimism’, ‘self control’, ‘awareness’, ‘will’, and ‘mental clarity’. An underactive third chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘isolation’, ‘over cautiousness’, ‘feeling deprived’, ‘immobile’, ‘lethargic’, and unable to focus on the present. An overactive third chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘nervousness’, ‘unrest’, ‘stubbornness’, ‘criticalness’, ‘egotism’, and ‘bullying’. This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Solar Plexus genes. Following the Eastern associations, Solar Plexus genes would also be associated with the functioning of the small intestine, stomach, pancreas, liver and gall bladder. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
The fourth chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘love’, ‘compassion’, ‘understanding’, ‘self-control’, ‘adaptability’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘generosity’, ‘renewal’ and ‘growth’. An underactive fourth chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘low self-esteem’, ‘insecurity’, ‘ jealousy ’,‘ self-doubting’, and ‘lamenting’. An overactive fourth chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘giving too much’ (“martyr syndrome”), ‘jealousy’, ‘stinginess’, ‘overconfidence’, ‘bitterness’, and ‘resentment’ . This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Heart genes. Following the Eastern associations, Heart genes would also be associated with the functioning of the heart and circulatory system, lungs, upper back and shoulders. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
The fifth chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘trust’, ‘wisdom’, ‘creativity’, ‘authentic expression’, ‘tactfulness’, ‘affection’, ‘loyalty’, and ‘peace’. An underactive fifth chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘inability to communicate thoughts and feelings’, ‘surrender’, ‘resistance to change’, ‘stubbornness’, and ‘confusion’. An overactive fifth chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘criticizing’, ‘domineering’, ‘hyperactivity’, ‘over-reactivity’, as well as ‘fanatical’, and ‘overwhelmed’. This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Throat genes. Following the Eastern associations, Throat genes would also be associated with the functioning of the throat and thyroid gland as well as the neck, ears and teeth. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
The sixth chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘intuition’, ‘self-realization’, ‘perception’, ‘understanding’, ‘insightfulness’, ‘flexibility’, and ‘self-actualization’. An underactive sixth chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘self-doubt’, ‘forgetfulness’, ‘fearfulness’, and ‘anxiety’. An overactive sixth chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘oversensitivity’, ‘dissociation’, ‘fear’, and ‘lack of patience”. This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Third Eye genes. Following the Eastern associations, Third Eye genes would also be associated with the functioning of the face, brain, endocrine and lymphatic systems. (Cheng, 2009; Jacobs, 2009; Judith, 2004; Hecker, 2005)
The seventh chakra, when balanced, is associated with characteristics and traits such as ‘wisdom’, ‘inspiration’, ‘awareness’, ‘connection to higher self’, ‘kindness’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘enlightenment’. An underactive seventh chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘disconnection’, ‘lack of inspiration’, ‘feeling misunderstood’, ‘shameful’, and ‘ungrounded’. An overactive seventh chakra is associated with symptoms such as ‘dissociation’, ‘impracticality’, being ‘unrealistic’, ‘over imaginative’, as well as ‘superiority’, ‘snobbishness’ and ‘arrogance’. This writer hypothesizes that genes associated with the expression of these characteristics, traits, and symptoms could be called Crown genes. (Jacobs, 2009, Judith, 2004, Ross, 2009, Hecker, 2005)
The Meridians on the other hand, run energy through the body, just as the veins run blood. In this way, the meridians are believed to regulate metabolism and cell division as well as move energy. There is believed to be at least one meridian feeding each organ and system of the human body. If energy is restricted from an organ or system, its functioning may be compromised. The meridians are composed of fourteen pathways for movement of energy. These pathways further connect to many small ‘acupuncture’ points on the skin that are believed to have less electromagnetic resistance than others. In energy treatments, these points are manipulated to release or move energy along the pathway of the meridian. (Jacobs, 2009, Judith, 2004, Ross, 2009, Hecker, 2005)
The basic grid, according Feinstein (2005) is the primary energy system on which the whole energetic infrastructure is supported. When this grid is damaged such as with psychological or emotional trauma, it does not repair instantly. Instead, the other energy systems may adjust to the broken grid causing dysfunctions in the systems. According to Feinstein (2005), repairing a client’s basic grid is one of the most intense and forms of energy work.
Feinstein (2005) further discussed the ‘triple warmer’. The ‘triple warmer’ is the meridian that activates the body’s fight, flight, or freeze and immune responses. Its energies can be associated with the work of the hypothalamus and the sympathetic nervous system mobilizing the inner army to survive a perceived threat or protect from an invader. The radiant circuits, on the other hand, are not confined to specific pathways, organs, or systems. Radiant circuits are energy fields that respond to where they are most needed. If the triple warmer is associated with the sympathetic nervous system, the radiant circuits would be associated with the parasympathetic nervous system promoting rest, healing, and rejuvenation.
The aura, or ‘biofield’, is believed to be a multi-layered radiation of energy from the body that influences and is influenced by energies in the environment. When functioning correctly, the aura is believed to draw in needed energies and filter out harmful ones. The aura may be seen to act as an outward manifestation of the status of the chakras and acts to transmit energies between the chakras and the environment. A study conducted by a neurophysiologist at UCLA’s Energy Fields Laboratory found that auras seen by eight practitioners not only were consistent with one another; they also corresponded to patterns of waves that were observed by electrodes on the skin (Hunt, 1996).
Using the Numinous Experience
Between the mid 1500s and the end of the 1900s, much of society was residing within an age where there was a perceived difference between “faith” based and “science” based practices. During this age, all matters of “spirit” or numinous were under the responsibility of the church and religious institutions. Because of this, all aspects of the “spiritual” and “peak” experiences tend to be communicated about only within the religious practices and belief systems. Disciplines based in “scientific” principles, until recently, had no foundation on which to form understanding about the numinous experience or spiritual practice. It is because of this that despite the fact that spiritual experience has been found to have life-changing effects to those that experience them; they are not highly promoted or utilized in psychological treatment. Sheldrake (Nautis, 2009) describes how many individuals across the world have spiritual or “peak” experiences, however many do not openly share about the experiences, even within the therapeutic relationship, because they are concerned about being labeled as experiencing “hallucinations” or “delusions”. It is a fact that many of the “peak” experiences and abilities described herein could very well be diagnosed as delusional or of a hallucinatory nature as described in the DSM. A shift from this perspective, however could lead to the use of the numinous experience for healing traumas, promoting change, and improving functioning.
“Peak” states of consciousness have been a pursuit of individuals throughout history. They have been pursued via natural and chemical means and through approaches that have been extremely beneficial, as well as very harmful. One of the earliest methods that humans have explored for changing states of consciousness was fasting. Fasting has been a traditional practice for shamans and is discussed in Eastern and Western religions. Fasting very quickly produces an altered state of consciousness through physical stress, commonly the method in shamanic practices. There is no doubt that fasting can be dangerous. The choice to observe a fast must be made on the grounds that the benefits outweigh the risks. It can be risky to participate it other methods for achieving peak experiences as well. It can be dangerous to do a wilderness retreat alone, to participate in a sweat lodge, to dance to exhaustion or to otherwise chemically alter one’s own consciousness. Many natural and chemical substances have been utilized throughout history in attempt to have “peak” consciousness states. This writer hypothesizes that many individuals who become addicted to chemicals that induce “peak experiences” do so because of the drive to live in those states. Perhaps, human consciousness actually ‘tuned’ to the full potential (with regard to genetic expression) could result in consistent “peak” states, experiences, and abilities. Perhaps, the human genome as exists today actually has many experiences and abilities turned ‘off’. Many researchers have believed this to be true. It has been difficult, however, for research into peak experience to maintain support as the pandemic of substance abuse and dependence runs high and the general push is to discourage the pursuit of states of euphoria and altered perception, particularly through chemical means.
Natural peak experiences have also been found to induce deep euphoric and spiritual states. Natural methods include but are not limited to eating raw foods, meditation, group singing, and chanting, dancing and other movement, drumming, and breathing exercises. These methods usually have no negative side effects and are currently legal.
The Triune Consciousness
Beyond using the numinous experience in treatment, approaches known as “energy therapies” vary widely in origin, and philosophy. Ways in which energy is manipulated, modified, and used is different amongst healing practices as well. Neo-Reichian therapies that aim to release emotional tension from the body include Body Psychotherapy and Somatic psychology. To understand neo-Reichian approaches, it is important to explore the nature of the triune consciousness. The triune-nature of the human consciousness has been identified by such theorists as Sigmund Freud (1949), with the “id”, “ego” and “superego” states of Psychoanalysis, Berne (1975), with the “child”, “parent”, and “adult” states of Transactional Analysis and, more recently, Paul MacLean (1990), with the “Triune Brain” theory. MacLean’s (1990) theory drew from neuroanatomical work done by Crosby and Herrick (1918) comparing animal and human brain structures. MacLean (1990) theorized that the human brain is made up three separate but connected brains. According to MacLean (1990), each brain distributes neurochemicals differently, is responsible for different states of consciousness and is related to an evolutionary development of the species. He named the three brains Reptile (or R-complex), Limbic and Neocortex.
MacLean (1990) theorized that the Reptilian brain, also known as the R-complex, was composed of the knob-shaped group of structures on top of the spinal cord, including the upper part of the spinal cord, the basal ganglia and the diencephalon. This brain is wired for survival and relies on senses and instincts. It is responsible for aggression, ritual and territorial behavior as well as desire for dominance. MacLean (1990) believed this brain to be shared between all mammals and reptiles.
The Limbic brain was theorized to have developed as reptiles evolved into mammals. This was said to be the time when significant changes took place in the structure of the brain. The Limbic brain was believed to be composed of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the amygdala, the pineal gland, the hippocampus, the basal ganglia and the thalamus. The hippocampus and amygdala are connected to the Reptilian brain by millions of neuropathways. This brain is wired for feelings, but is less controlled by instinct. It is responsible for attachments to others, social awareness and caring, as well as anger, fear, and the responses associated with “fight or flight”. MacLean (1990) believed this brain to be shared by all early and late mammals.
The Neocortex was believed to be the most evolved brain and was theorized to be composed of the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. This brain is wired for logic and reasoning and is responsible for higher thinking skills, speech, imagination and intuition as well as music and mathematical intelligences. MacLean (1990) believed this to be shared by all late mammals.
Additionally, Dr. Grant McFetridge (2009), creator of the Whole Hearted Healing (WHH) method, and Luis Diaz (2008), creator of the Cellular Memory Release (CMR) method, hypothesize that the three brains are in fact, not composed entirely of neuron cells in the head, and instead are present in “brain-type” cells in other places in the body including around the heart and stomach. It is not clear, however, how McFetridge (2009) or Diaz (2008) formed their theories. McFetridge (2009) reported that individuals with “peak abilities” are able to perceive primary cells and make changes to their structures. According to McFetridge (2009), the three brains “awarenessess” are actually separate and compete for control. One brain has its awareness in the head, one has “its awareness in the belly button…and the other in the spinal area centered in the upper trunk of the body, running from the center of the back to the front of the chest.”(McFetridge, 2009, Winn, 2009)
From a critical perspective, neuroanatomical research in the 1980s disproved the comparative work by Crosby and Herrick (1918), the research on which the Triune Brain theory is based; however, psychotherapists and researchers have had continued interest in this theory. Despite the comparative neuroanatomical inaccuracies, the Triune Brain identifies recognizable differences between reptiles, mammals and humans that also correspond to major evolutionary development periods of the human brain. From the development of each new set of brain structures, new ways of adapting and solving problems emerged. The reptilian, mammal and neocortex brains categorize survival behaviors, social behaviors, and advanced cognition respectively, or put simply “reptiles eat their young; mammals feed their young; and creatures with large neocortices take their young on vacations to Disneyworld that they have planned a year in advance” (Wikipedia, 2010). Finally, the triune brain model continues to be valuable because it explains brain processes in a way that “parallels recurring themes in popular culture” (Wikipedia, 2010). For example, it is common to hear someone ‘go with their gut’ (Reptilian), ‘listen to their heart’ (Limbic) or ‘use their head’ (Neocortex). This model allows very abstract concepts to be understood simply by providing a method of organization. (Winn, 2009)
Current research using Triune Brain theory focuses primarily on trauma healing and on the studies of peak experiences, states, and abilities. Levine (1997) (Berger, 2010), Rothschild (2000), McFetridge (2009) and other trauma researchers have hypothesized that it is a dysfunction, with regard to triune nature of the human brain, that causes altered states of consciousness and impaired functioning after traumatic events. According to Levine (1997) (Berger, 2010), when a human experiences a traumatic event, the logical (Neocortex) brain may “override” the instinctual and impulsive (Reptile) brain. This is regularly done to benefit the individual through the relief of escape, however this “freezing”, “Medusa Complex” (Levine, 2007, Berger, 2010), “tonic immobility”, “dissociation” (Rothschild, 2000), or “brain shutdown state” (McFetridge, 2009) results in the symptoms of trauma. The symptoms are believed to be “frozen” energy in the HPA axis (Rothschild, 2000 Levine, 1997), and cell memory (McFetridge, 2009, Diaz, 2008) that cause significant problems in the nervous system and body unless they are “resolved” and “discharged”. Failure to discharge this energy is associated with symptoms of PTSD as well as “anxiety, depression, psychosomatic and behavioral problems”. (Levine, 1997, Berger, 2010, Rothschild, McFetridge, 2009, Diaz, 2008, Winn, 2009)
Based on animal studies analyzing brain activation during traumatic events, Levine (1997) (Berger, 2010) reports that humans, unlike animals, struggle to discharge energy after a “fight or flight” neurological response. Rothschild (2000) and Levine (1997) further stated that the response can go beyond the HPA axis and also involve behaviors, thoughts, and sensations that need to be discharged in order to resolve the trauma. Levine (1997) (Berger, 2010) believes the reason the “freezing” occurs is due to the uncertainty of whether to fight or flee, as humans have existed for thousands of years as both predator and prey. Rothschild (2000), however hypothesizes that it is the Neocortex’s perception that death is imminent and inescapable that causes “tonic immobility”. Regardless of the cause, it is believed that “genetic memory” continues to exist within our nervous systems, brains, and even possibly body cells.
McFetridge (2009) hypothesizes that certain “dysfunctional states” are caused by the full or partial “shut off” of the triune brains. Depending on which brain is experiencing shut down, certain brain abilities are lost. For example, “mind [Neocortex] shutdown” causes problems with judgement and choices while “heart [Limbic] shutdown” causes problems with feeling emotions or empathy. According to McFetridge (2009), “heart [Limbic] shutdown” is “probably a major cause of sociopathic/psychopathic behaviour” Individuals in these “shutdown” states are reported to actually feel more calm and peaceful than “average consciousness” provided they are able to accept the loss of functioning. (McFetridge, 2009)
“Fortunately, the same immense energies that create the symptoms of trauma, when properly engaged and mobilized, can transform the trauma and propel us into new heights of healing, mastery, and even wisdom. Trauma resolved is a great gift, returning us to the natural world of ebb and flow, harmony, love and compassion (Levine, 1997)”.
With regard to treating trauma and “frozen” states, Rothschild (2000), noted the concept of “implicit” and “explicit” memories. Implicit memories are “unconscious”, “emotional”, “body”, “sensory”, “automatic”, “from birth” and “speechless”. Explicit memories are “conscious”, “cognitive”, “mind”, “verbal”, and “narrative”. Implicit memories are associated with the functioning of the amygdala, while explicit memories are associated with the functioning of the hippocampus. These structures are part of the limbic brain and both structures’ functioning has been found to be influenced by trauma. Wherefore, trauma memories become frozen in the mind, emotions, and body though images, feelings, behaviors, and sensations.
The SIBAM model created by Levine (1997) describes an approach to identifying each of these memories as well as identifying meaning. The S, of the SIBAM acronym representing “sensations”, which include auditory memories, as well as memories related to smells, tastes, and tactile sensations, the I, representing “images”, the B, representing “behaviors”, the A, representing affect, and the M, representing “meaning”. An individual may need to explore and resolve one, some, or all types of memories in order to fully resolve the memory and heal the trauma. (Rothschild, 2000)
With regard to Somatic memory, Rothschild (2000) identified the concepts of “exteroceptive” and “interoceptive” systems. The exteroceptive system “includes the sensory nerves that respond to stimuli emanating from outside of the body, that is, the external environment, via the basic five senses” while the interoceptive system includes sensory nerves that respond to internal stimuli. The interoceptive system is further divided into 3 types of senses including “kinesthetic sense”, “internal sense” and “vestibular sense”. According to Rothschild (2000), “the kinesthetic sense is central to implicit, procedural memory. It helps one learn and then remember how to do something. It keeps track of where to put and how to move hands, fingers, feet” in order to accomplish, what becomes, unconscious activities such as tying a shoe, “walking, bike riding, skiing, typing, handwriting, or dancing” (Rothschild, 2000). Internal sense refers to the experience as it is manifested through the inner awareness of the individual. The counselor may observe this externally, which is referred to as the individual’s “affect”, while the internal experience of this sense is referred to as “feeling”. Finally, the vestibular sense “indicates when one is in an upright position in relationship to earth’s gravity” and it is “centered in the inner ear” and causes “bouts of dizziness or vertigo, motion sickness, or loss of balance” if disturbed. (Rothschild, 2000)
With regard to behavioral memories, Rothschild (2000) described this as it relates to the Behavioral Theory (Pavlov, 1960), classical conditioning, and “state-dependent recall”. It is stated that an individual may feel they have resolved a traumatic experience, as they do not regularly experience intrusion or arousal, however a particular behavior, or body position may trigger a body memory that causes distress. This, according to Rothschild (2000), would indicate that the individual had yet to resolve the behavioral memory of the traumatic experience. This is further discussed by Rothschild (2000) as it relates to accidents, falls, rape, and other traumatic experiences involving body postures, positions and behaviors.
Emotional memories of trauma manifest as many negative feelings including anger/rage, anxiety, shame and guilt. According to Rothschild (2000), “anger is an emotion of self-protection” and “may involve an effort to prevent injury or specify a boundary”. Anger can occur as a result of being scared, threatened, or hurt and may be directed at the responsible person. Chronic anger can result in problems with interpersonal relationships, on the job, at home, and with family and friends. Anxieties, and fear, on the other hand, are alerts of impending danger, while terror, being the most extreme, results in the arousal of the HPA axis. LeDoux (1996) described the difference between anxiety and fear is anxiety is stimulated internally, while fear is stimulated by the external environment. Fear can be a valuable emotion as it can protect the individual from harm. An individual with PTSD, however, may have “internal alarm systems [that are] so overloaded that they have become disabled. One result of trauma therapy is the reestablishment of the protective function of fear”. (Rothschild, 2000) Shame is also a very prominent emotion associated with trauma, in cases of rape and sexual abuse and surprisingly many other traumas. Rothschild (2000) reports, however, that shame is not an emotion that discharges like other emotions. “Acceptance and contact appear to be keys to relieving shame. Though it seems not to discharge, it does seem to dissipate under very special circumstances-the nonjudgmental, accepting, contact of another human being.” (Rothschild, 2000) Finally, grief is a significant emotion in the treatment of trauma, as to grieve means one has accepted the reality of the trauma and has put the memory in the past. “In this context…[it] is a sign that healing is taking place” (Rothschild, 2000) when the individual begins to work their way through the grieving process.
Further with regard to resolution of emotion memories, Rothschild (2000) identified the concepts of “catharsis” and “abreaction”. Catharsis refers to the “cleansing power of emotions when disturbing emotions are brought forth into consciousness” (Rothschild, 2000) and abreaction is the discharge of emotion that typically follows catharsis. There is debate in the field about whether catharsis and abreaction are primarily beneficial or harmful and whether they should be encouraged. Rothschild (2000) further discussed this as a place for further research, differentiating between “integrating or disintegrating abreaction”.
Treatments based on the current trauma theories attempt to integrate the narrative of the trauma to all the of the sense, image, behavior, and affect memories. Approaches used for resolving traumatic memories and discharging emotions include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (Shapiro, 1995), Emotional Freedom Technique (Rowe, 2005), Somatic Experiencing (Levine, 1997), Whole Hearted Healing Technique (McFetridge, 2009), Cellular Memory Release (Diaz, 2008) as well as other “meridian”, “power” or “energy” therapies.
Energy therapies are used as complement or alternative to traditional psychotherapy. According to Carol Boulware (2006), “these exciting, leading-edge techniques make rapid diagnosis and short-term, even immediate, therapeutic results a reality for a wide range of trauma-related and psychological problems” (Boulware, 2006). Included in the categories of “energy therapies” are EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), TFT (Thought Field Therapy) (Trubo, 2001), and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
Whole-Hearted Healing (WHH) is a process in which negative emotional states and many somatic manifestations of trauma are said to be resolved very quickly. Whole-Hearted Healing is a “regression” method for discharging energy from “core” traumatic events that affect the individual physically and emotionally. The individual does not need any special training or abilities to use this method and does not need to be hypnotized. The treatment is said to bring about a sense of peace and calm where previously existed an emotional or physical disturbance (McFetridge, 2009).
Cellular Memory Release (CMR) is a method for resolving “unconscious strategies” which are “manifested in a way to match the energetic field of repressed fears, traumas ad wounds that are stored in cellular memory.” This method seeks to heal the cell memory through a process of identifying unconscious belief patterns, kinesiology to determine repressed cell memories, emotional discharge techniques, corrections, and finally “special activities and life changes” (Diaz, 2008).
Somatic therapies include Levine’s (1997) Somatic Experiencing (SE) method which is considered a body-awareness approach to treating trauma. In this method, the SE practitioner uses a hands-on technique to “listen” to the body and to move and renegotiate energy in order to promote healing. Levine (1997) (Berger, 2009) has used this method with people with chronic pain and victims of auto accidents as well as Holocaust survivors, rape survivors and veterans.
Rothschild (2000) also discussed somatic experiences as they relate to resolving trauma. Somatic techniques detailed by Rothschild (2000) include “dual awareness”, which is when the client is encouraged to become mindful of the difference between the “observing self and experiencing self”. Further, body awareness is encouraged through mindfulness training for awareness of sensations and emotions. Also, mindful contraction and relaxation of muscles can encourage the client to become aware of the benefits and disadvantages of muscle tension. According to Rothschild (2000), “one consequence of PTSD is body sensations that are very unpleasant…Muscle tensing has helped many reduce these unpleasant sensations, even to the point of enabling sleep.”
Rothschild (2000) detailed further regarding the practice of trauma treatment discussing issues related to evaluation, assessment and going down the “wrong road” regarding false perceptions and memories of trauma. Rothschild (2000) also detailed the best practices for trauma treatment with the goal to “do no harm”. The therapeutic relationship was identified as important for the client’s safety, as well the concepts of “resources”, “defense mechanisms”, “braking”, and “grounding”. Rothschild (2000) further discussed the dangers of going down the “wrong road” regarding false perceptions of reality and false memories. This is a situation that is said to have “dire consequences” for the client’s life. A client’s “memories” can only be validated by “corroborative records, witnesses, or evidence (Rothschild, 2000).” If there is no corroboration, there is no way to know if the “memory” is accurate. Sometimes there will be no way of knowing for sure of the accuracy of the client’s memory. A problem occurs however, if therapist or client then “credit” the “memory” “true” or “false”, also known as “reflective belief”. (Van der Hart, 1999) Rothschild (2000) advises against this stating “the risks of false negatives or false positives is high” and “will greatly influence the direction of therapy and the client’s life”. (Rothschild, 2000) It is advised that judgement be restrained, despite the difficulty for client and therapist, because the potential result is decompensation.
In order to perform the safest trauma therapy possible, Rothschild (2000) advises identifying and “reacquainting the client’s internal and external resources prior to starting trauma work. Classes of resources include interpersonal, psychological, functional, physical, and spiritual. Rothschild (2000) further described “defense mechanisms” as being valuable resources. They are, however, “one-sided, therefore limiting”. Rothschild (2000) encourages the clinician to pursue client awareness of the defense mechanism’s benefits and disadvantages, while also encouraging the experimentation of the opposite actions.
The structure of the exploration was described by Rothschild (2000) as important regarding the comfort level of the process. There are 3 stages to every traumatic experience, before, during and after. It is reported to be beneficial for the client to discuss the events following the trauma first. In doing so, the client can resolve memories and discharge emotions regarding the quality of care they received afterward, This is many times perceived as even more traumatic than the event itself. Additionally, it is said that “one of the wisdoms of addressing the circumstances that ame after the trauma first is that it reduces the load considerably when addressing the actual incident. Afterward, when approaching the actual event, there is only that to contend with.” (Rothschild, 2000)
Rothschild (2000) discussed that the body can act as a gauge during the therapy process to ensure client safety. The therapist and client are suggested to be mindful of autonomic system arousal for flags as to when to put on the “brakes”. A traumatic experience, once perceived, causes the sensory cortex of the brain to send a message through the hypothalamus to the brainstem which triggers adrenaline. The first sign of arousal is alertness and attentiveness which may be followed by impulsive behaviors. Further exposure and arousal leads to the triggering of the HPA axis. As a result, the autonomic nervous response increases the heart and respiratory rate, the client may experience flushing or paling (could alternate), gastrointestinal discomfort, blood vessel and muscle constriction and dilation, increased tear production, pupil dilation, relaxation of the bladder, hearing loss, tunnel vision, shaking, and increased instantaneous reflexes. (Bracha, 2004, Sternberg, 2001) If the therapist or client recognizes the manifestation of any of these symptoms, it is advised to apply the “brakes”.
“Braking” is a form of “grounding” or “time-out” from the experience of recalling the trauma. The concept of “braking” would be discussed with the client ahead of time and mindfulness activities and other tools such as “oases”, “anchors”, or “safe place” may be utilized as grounding methods. Oases, as described by Rothschild (2000) are activities that have not become automatic, therefore require mindfulness. These could include activities such as coloring, gardening, computers, or car repair. Anchors, on the other hand, as introduced by neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) (Bandler, 1979) have positive memories and emotions associated with them and may be a family member, friend, pet, place, or activity. The “safe place” is an anchor that is “specialized”. “A safe place is a current or remembered site of protection”. (Rothschild, 2000)
Energy interventions and approaches currently used in the field of psychology also have roots in Eastern practices based on the functioning of the meridians. The most popular and researched technique is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) with Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Tapas Acupressure Treatment (TAT) providing similar or adapted versions of this technique.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is said to be an easy and quick method for relieving stress that underlies mental disease. EFT has been extensively scientifically researched and has regularly proven beneficial. It is said to influence many issues related to performance and mental health, even in those that had been previously resistant to other treatments. It is a treatment that can be taught and applied quickly. One of the primary principles in EFT is that negative emotions are the result of disruption in the body’s energy infrastructure. EFT uses a level of exposure therapy, however utilizes tools designed to minimize pain such as Tearless Trauma or The Movie technique. Further, EFT encourages specific phrasing, reframing for cognitive shifts, getting to “core issues” and “chasing the pain” as it moves to different locations. For each specific life event, the individual processes the thoughts, emotions and sensations while tapping on bilateral acupressure points. This is said to remove blocked energies related to the specific life event and can “generalize” across other issues clearing energies from other life events that were similar. (Gallo, 2005)
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is a tapping procedure similar to EFT that Dr. Roger Callahan discovered. According to Callahan (1985) TFT provides a code to nature’s healing system. When this system is applied to issues it addresses their underlying causes, providing balance for the energy system. In doing so, TFT is said to provide relief to fears and most negative feelings almost immediately. Additionally, Tapas Acupressure Treatment (TAT) is another similar method. Tapas Fleming, a Licensed Acupuncturist began specializing in the treatment of allergies in 1987. She developed TAT in 1993 and found that in addition to providing symptom relief for allergies, TAT relieved symptoms from past stresses and traumas.
Additional interventions that would be considered ‘energy medicine’, yet could be integrated with psychotherapy, are based on quantum physics and Psychoenergetic Science. According to Tiller (2007) “For the last four hundred years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call “physical reality.” Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today’s world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct. We humans are much more than we think we are and Psychoenergetic Science continues to expand the proof of it.” Tiller (2007). Healing practices utilizing this theory include Matrix Energetics and Quantum Touch practices. (Tiller, 2007)
Matrix Energetics is said to be based on the concepts of morphogenetic resonance. In looking at morphogenetics, environmental energies influence personal energy systems and genes. For example, everything (person, animal, plant, object, belief, idea, diagnosis, expectation etc) in the environment has its own morphic field, wherefore all fields a person comes in contact with have the ability to influence their personal energy systems. A thought-provoking example: A client presents with racing heart and sweaty palms and is labeled with anxiety. As a result of accepting the label the individual absorbs the morphic field that is anxiety. This field is not only composed of the client’s beliefs and understanding of anxiety, but of those symptoms experienced collectively by all humanity. As a result, subsequent visits reveal decompensation and additional symptoms such as sweating, shortness of breath and headaches. The diagnosis is confirmed. This, Bartlett (2007) argues, is the reason focusing on the problem set is actually not beneficial to the client. (Bartlett, 2007)
Instead, principles of Matrix include “noticing what you notice” and letting go of expectations. A ‘two-point’ touch method is used to ‘measure’ and observe the status of the total human condition and focused intention is used to influence, balance and reset the energetic systems. Bartlett (2007) states that every person is capable of manifesting the changes, the ability lies primarily in the practitioner’s confidence in the intervention. Basically, if you believe that there is power in your intention, there is. When Bartlett does these techniques, patients literally appear to ‘reset’ as they lose consciousness and collapse. This presentation has been similar in patients receiving treatment from Swamis and some other spiritual masters. Could it be that simply believing, having faith, could activate “healer genes” that would allow anyone to perform ‘miracles’? This writer feels that epigenetics and quantum physics say this is completely possible.
Quantum Touch principles also integrate the energy-systems approach of Eastern practices with the belief in the power of intention identified by quantum physics focusing on the vibrational energy of human consciousness. Quantum touch theory assumes everyone has the natural ability to heal and healing is a skill that can be taught and becomes stronger with practice. Primary to the theory is that energy follows thought. Intention is used by the Quantum Touch practitioner to raise their energy field. Once the practitioner has high vibrational energy, they surround the patient in their energy, relying on ‘resonance’, and ‘entrainment’ to promote higher energy vibration in the patient and subsequent healing. Like Barlett’s (2007) approach, Quantum Touch relies on the importance in “trusting the process” and like EFT it utilizes the approach of “chasing the pain”. (Gordon, 1999)
Since there is so much controversy over the research pertaining to Energy Psychology, it is obviously important to review the fundamental aspects of research that have been done in the field of energy. According to Oschman (2000) results of research studies indicate the presence of electromagnetic fields and energies in the body. According to studies by Harold Saxton Bur in the 1930s, “the timing of ovulation in women could be determined by daily measurements of the electric field between one finger from each hand.” (Oschman, 2000) Further, in 1924 Einthoven won the Nobel Prize for discovering that the electricity of the heart could be recorded using a galvanometer. This led to the electroencephalogram and electrocardiogram now being regularly used in medical diagnosis. Additionally, in 1963, Baule and McFee were able to measure the strong electromagnetic field produced by the heart, from in front and behind the body, from up to 15 feet away and by the 1970s, brain fields became measurable with the SQUID magnetometer. According to Oschman (2000),“every muscle in the body produces magnetic pulses when it contracts, … any movement of any part of the body is ‘broadcast’ into the space around the body as a precise ‘biomagnetic signature’ of that movement.” (Oschman, 2000)
With regard to research done on the ‘healers’, Cohen produced a study where “qi gong” practitioners were monitored for electrical conductivity in a copper room. Results found that the practitioners of energy work had frequent electrical surges from 4 volts to 221 volts. These electrical surges were 10,000 times stronger than EKG voltages produced by a heart. (Oschman, 2000) Further, in 1980’s, Dr. John Zimmerman used the SQUID magnetometer to study fields produced by an energy medicine practitioner during a treatment in a room that was magnetically shielded. A biomagnetic field was emitted from the practitioner’s hand, pulsing at a frequency ranging from .3 to 30 Hz, with most of the activity primarily ranging from 7-8 Hz. Finally, a study by Seto in Japan confirmed the results of Zimmerman’s study measuring with a magnetometer and finding the fields emitted from the hands of practitioners of yoga, meditation, “qi gong” and other martial arts pulsed at a frequency centered around 8 to 10 Hz. (Oschman, 2000). Robert Beck used EEG recordings to observed brain waves in ‘healing’ practitioners including faith healers, Shaman, psychics, Hawaiian kahunas etc. All practitioners, when healing, showed brain wave patterns averaging 7.8-8.0Hz. Beck produced subsequent studies showing that some healing practitioners were found to sync with the earth’s frequency, or the Schumann resonance when healing. (Oschman, 2000)
One of the most commonly reported experiences of individuals receiving energy treatments is increased heat. In 1988, Ogawa used a ‘color thermograph’ to assess skin temperature of two qi gong practitioners and energy treatment recipients. The study found that practitioner and recipients skin temperatures increased within 3-4 minutes after the practitioners began. The temperatures raised as much as 4º C. On occasion, the temperature of the recipients’ palm became higher than that of the practitioners. (Benor, 2005) The question became then how the temperature was being manipulated. Pavek (2006) wanted to prove that the change of temperature effects in SHEN therapy were not due to heat transfer, so he created an experiment in which sensors were placed at four points, with foam padding 3” thick between the practitioner and recipient. Ultimately, the finds were that despite the padding, the sensors corresponding to the areas being worked on responded by increasing in temperature. (Pavek, 2006)
Further, controlled experiments on energy healing have been conducted by Benor (2005) and associates. According to Benor (2005), “Out of 191 controlled experiments on healing, 83 (43.4%) demonstrate effects at statistically significant levels that could occur by chance only one time in a hundred or less (p<;.01); and another 41 (21.5 percent) at levels that could occur between two and five times out of a hundred (p <; .02 – .05). In other words, close to two thirds (64.9%) of all the experiments demonstrate significant effects.” (Benor, 2005)
According to Gallo (2005), “four therapies for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were presented at the “Active Ingredients in Efficient Treatments of PTSD” Conference at Florida State University in 1995…The therapeutic methods investigated were eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) (Shapiro, 1995), visual/kinesthetic dissociation (V/KD) (Bandler and Grinder, 1979), traumatic incident reduction (TIR) (Gerbode, 1989), and thought field therapy (TFT) (Callahan, 1985). The results of the study found that all methods were effective in “reducing distress associated with trauma, including nightmare, intrusive recollections, phobic responses, and so on” (Gallo, 2005)
Sound Wave Healing
Another form of “energy medicine” involves the use of sound and light waves for healing and “peak experiences”. Vibrational medicine theory is that on which current sound wave therapy is primarily based and the concepts of resonance and entrainment are of particular focus. Concepts of vibrational medicine support that everything is in a state of vibration and although the body is meant to vibrate in a range of different natural frequencies, it regularly vibrates in resonance with a toxic environment. Further, the concept of resonance is that every atom in the body is vibrating at a certain frequency and there is space between the atoms. When other atoms vibrating at different frequencies enter the environment, they have the ability to synchronize with the body’s atoms which results in changes to the vibrational frequency. (Gerber, 2004)
Resonance is sometimes use interchangeably with the concept of entrainment. Musically, entrainment involves the brain and body synchronizing to or merging with, the music’s frequency, beat, or pulse. Additionally, entrainment is important as it relates to brainwaves. With brainwave entrainment, binaural, monaural beats, and isochronic tones are administered, at different frequency in each ear. The theory behind brainwave entrainment is that the brain responds to the intervention by entraining to the necessary frequency to make up the difference between frequencies playing in each ear, thereby synchronizing the brain to awake, alert, beta (13-30 Hz), relaxed, focused, alpha (7-13 Hz), meditative theta (3 to 7 Hz) and dream-state delta (0-3 Hz) frequencies as desired. (Millay, 2000)
Pythagoras of Samos conducted the first experiments in the research of sound, specifically in string vibrations and harmonics. Pythagoras noted that a string could be made to vibrate a different frequencies, or harmonics, and that a string 1/2 the length would vibrate at twice the frequency. Researcher, Barbara Hero, an artist, composer, mathematician and writer created the Pythagorean Lambdoma Harmonic Keyboard based on Pythagoras’s research which Cornell University is currently studying. (Cornell University, 2007, Hero, nd)
Modern day research into sound healing has continued around the world. Tomatis (2004) studied in the field from the 1940s to the 1990s and adapted his Electronic Ear apparatus, designed for improving hearing in the impaired, to address diverse disorders including attention deficit disorders, autism, depression, and severe schizophrenia. (Tomatis, 2004) Anne-Marie Peché (1975) examined the effect of ‘audio-psycho-phonology’ on anxiety, and found decreased “hypochondriac and neurotic behaviours” and increased problem objectivity. Wynand du Plessis (1982) also conducted a study of the effect of ‘audio-psycho-phonology’ on anxiety. Research participants were assigned to either an experimental or control group. Findings were the level of anxiety of the participants in the experimental group decreased significantly. Results were reportedly maintained at a 14-month follow-up. Finally, a great deal of research has been done on the use of the Alpha-Stim device for Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES), a method for brainwave entrainment and symptom reduction. Researchers of CES include Shultz (2010), Mellen (2009, 2008), Tan (2006), Winick (1999) and many others (Alpha-Stim.com, 2010). In one controlled experiment by Mellen (2009), a sample of 21 volunteers from a sheriff’s staff including “jail security, patrol officers, investigators, and administrators were assigned to the experimental or control groups. Results found statistically significant results…on both measures of depression (BDI, p<;.05 and BSI, p<;.01), and a Sign test demonstrated a very strong trend (p. <;01) toward a reduction in other BSI symptoms (Mellen, 2009).” Further, the Sign test “demonstrated a strong trend toward reductions in all symptoms but two, BSI Phobia and BAI (Mellen, 2009).” (For full critique of this study, please see attached literature review.) Case studies on the healing power of sound and music are further explored in the written works of Kay Gardner (1997), Michael Hutchison (1996), Don Campbell (2007), James D’Angelo (2005), Fabian Maman (1992), and Leonard Horowitz (2009, 1999).
The healing effects of Ancient Solfeggio frequencies, or the “lost” musical scale recognized in Gregorian Chants, are identified in the literature by Horowitz (2009) and others to be of great significance. Sound frequencies, as they relate to balancing of the chakra energies, have also been explored by Horowitz (2009) and others including Maman (1992), Gardner (1997) and D’Angelo (2005). Horowitz (2009) identified the “Perfect Circle of Sound” tuning for healing and chakra balancing. This tuning method is based around the 528 Hz frequency. This frequency, 528, is said to be “central to Pi, PHI, the Fibonacci series, sacred geometry, the electromagnetic sound and light spectrums, and the heart” and Horowitz (2009) stated, “bioenergetic (or “biospiritual”) therapies for wholistic healing would best begin using this foundational frequency (Horowitz, 2009).”
Another interesting aspect of using sound waves to influence biological systems has been revealed through the exploration of Cymatics. Cymatics is the study of visible sound and vibration. Exploration of cymatics has revealed that when the surface of a plate, diaphragm, or membrane, covered with sand or other medium is vibrated by sound wave frequencies, regions of maximum and minimum displacement are made visible and sacred geometrical patterns emerge.
Sacred geometry refers to the uniform laws of Platonic Solids, all forms in nature that branch, flower, or spiral. Sacred geometry basically is the rudimentary construction of organic life. Knowledge of sacred geometrical symbols cannot be attributed to any specific era, researcher or culture. Depictions of sacred geometrical symbols have been found in very ancient structures including the Osirian temple at Abydos, Egypt. Sacred geometrical symbols have also been found in ancient structures in Masada Israel, Mount Sinai, and many temples in Japan and China (Jenny, 2001) To understand sacred geometry we can explore the division of cells. In sacred geometry, two circles intersecting are called “Vesica Pisces”. This is also the 2 dimensional depiction of a divided cell. Sacred geometry depicts the process by which all things in Nature continue to divide, multiply and form. Additional sacred geometrical shapes have been named, “the egg of life”, “the seed of life”, “the flower of life”, “the fruit of life”, and “metatron’s cube”.
Fibonnaci realized that the natural branching, flowering, and spiraling forms in Nature followed the same uniform laws found in musical scales and mathematically predicted all of the intervals that comprise the chords of music. The angles of the five sides of a Pentagram are at a ratio of exactly 1.618 — the Golden Mean ratio, known mathematically as phi. The fifth is the interval found in most sacred music, and is said to have a powerful harmonizing effect on the human energy system (Jenny, 2001).
According to Simon (2008), in gathering the essays to write “Measuring the Immeasurable”, he heard from some experts in the field that writing a book, making similar implications as those made herein, was “premature” and that further studies need to be completed before scientific claims about the benefits of spirituality and energy medicine can be made. Simon (2008) responded however, stating, “This is indeed a fledgling field, but one that, in my opinion, calls for the active, creative engagement of the general public right now. We need to understand the research that currently exists so that we can encourage and fund additional research into the directions that are most meaningful to us and will yield results with practical implications for our troubled world.” (Simon, 2008 pg xi) Individuals who experience the numinous and participate in energy treatments are said to commonly increase in creativity, enthusiasm, faith, sense of purpose, compassion and empathy. These values could be very beneficial for dealing with the crisis the world is in today. When we look for the causes of the world crises we commonly find human aggression and isolation factors. Societal decisions are commonly based on human desires, needs, and priorities that are regularly driven by greed, fear, and self-centeredness. According to Simon (2008), “it is clear that the crisis is, at its root, a crisis of consciousness…What is the most effective way of promoting such shifts in consciousness? The evidence points to spiritual and energetic experience.” (Simon, 2008 pg 11)
The world today does seem to be very troubled. The most significant issues seem to relate to spiritual and social problems. Until recently, disciplines based in science’s Newtonian’s causality principles had no foundation on which to form understanding about the numinous experience or spiritual practice. The firm reliance on the absolute nature of Newtonian physics resulted in a divide between knowledge and practices considered “faith” based and those that were “science” based, as both were seen to be mutually exclusive. Individuals that considered their beliefs influenced by “proof” that could be recorded with the senses and replicated, therefore, regularly denied themselves the benefits of spiritual practice. On the other hand, individuals that considered their beliefs influenced by faith in a particular doctrine were commonly closed to accepting many amazing revelations of the science world. These perspectives, although changing gradually, are still very prevalent in the world today.
Additionally, a psychological theory explored at the Jean Baker Miller Institute (2012) called “Relational Cultural Theory” is based around the idea of social connection. Although the term “connection” is used commonly to refer to any kind of relationship, Relational Cultural Theory defines connection as a voluntary “interaction between two or more people that is mutually empathic and mutually empowering. It involves emotional accessibility and leads to the “five good things” (zest, worth, productivity, clarity, and desire for more connection).” Individuals are said to operate at their most efficient when they are connected to others in a healthy way. It is proposed, however, that much of the world is living in states of “chronic disconnection” and “condemned isolation”. Aggression and power struggles regularly interfere with the ability of individuals to connect to one another leaving a sense of loneliness and isolation. With this said, many current systems of the world seem to be based around the concepts of power and aggression. Many of the world’s operations and interactions are primarily based in practices of coercion, force, fraud, extortion, and violence. The world’s aggressive operations and interactions do not appear to be influencing any powerful positive movement and instead seem to promote further aggression, violence, force and fraud (Jean Baker Miller Institute, 2012)
In resolution, imagine if the influence of the collective consciousness, as described in morphogenetics, could actually cause a shift in the operations of society as we know it. Imagine if change could occur voluntarily and intentionally through simply an acceptance that society’s health and ultimate fate is in our hands.
Many individuals have already begun planning for their desired future. This can be observed in the 2800+ “intentional communities” established and forming across the world. “Intentional Community is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a common vision”. (ic.org) These communities regularly attempt to meet the collective needs of the community by alternative means than those in place with the current systems. Intentional communities regularly involve voluntary sharing of resources, creating family-oriented neighborhoods and living ecologically sustainable lifestyles.
Further, participants in movements such as the “Free State Project” in New Hampshire advocate for the transition from current systems that involve aggressive acts such as coercion, force, fraud, extortion, and violence to peaceful, voluntary alternative options. “Free State Project” advocates additionally propose that an individual and groups of individuals, such as communities, current “states” and territories should, by unanimous consent, secede from all systems not founded upon voluntary consent. This is proposed to be accomplished by voluntarily and intentionally withdrawing from participation in, and diverting resources away from, centralized, monopolistic, coercive systems. To accomplish this, they advocate for development of peaceful, voluntary, sustainable alternatives to the current systems. (Fellowship for Intentional Community, 2012, Free State Project, nd)
Perhaps it is possible, with a new perspective on the nature of consciousness, for the world to change for the better. Perhaps the interactions between people, and interactions with the natural world could become more peaceful and sustainable by seeing the connections in everything. It seems that the Newtonian way of looking at existence caused personal doubt, social division, and isolation, allowing for learned powerlessness to dominate the collective consciousness. Perhaps a new perspective allows people to have faith in the power of a consciousness that actually changes the world. That is what could await us in the future. If not a future of peace, sustainable relationships, and personal freedom, what is the alternative? As said so eloquently by Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
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