Therapeutic (?) Touch
By Michael J. Katin, MD
Much has already been written about the science fair project by 9-year-old Emily Rosa regarding the detection
of energy fields by practitioners of "Therapeutic Touch." Often news stories have a different significance
to people of different backgrounds, and I detected that there were ramifications of this story that affected practitioners
of "Therapeutic Radiology." This also allowed generation of the April, 1998, column.
The webmaster and I would like to take this opportunity to call attention to the continuity of contributions
to this website and, of course, to note that many other websites lie abandoned and rotting, and we will not be
gauche enough to mention any names.
For the few that may not have heard about Miss Rosa's project, this was designed to determine whether practitioners
of "Therapeutic Touch" could detect energy fields, which was pertinent since the basis of this technique
is manipulating energy fields of a sick patient to bring the fields into balance. This may be too simple a description,
but the point was that at least these persons should be able to detect the existence of a fields even if manipulating
them was speculative. The tested subject placed both hands through holes in a barrier and was asked to sense which
hand was approached by Miss Rosa's hand. The results matched those that would be achieved by chance alone, with
no evidence that any of these practitioners could sense an energy field.
This raises several observations. First, we are ourselves involved in the
manipulation of invisible fields, with the main difference being that 1.
they exist, and 2. they can be detected by expensive electronic equipment.
It is still frustrating, however, that we cannot actually see the beam at
work and neither can the patients. I always thought it would be good to
set up a light field that intensifies during the time of the treatment,
possibly even like a strobe light, and preferably colored as well. This
could potentially backfire, since even when the beam is invisible patients
(and referring physicians) attribute amazing qualities to the beam, such
as affecting the other end of the body (e.g., constipation resulting from
irradiation of the larynx) and perhaps making the treatment more dramatic
might be counter-productive. Similarly, having a radiation detector beeping
or flashing during the treatment would be disconcerting. If people are willing
to accept that Therapeutic Touch practitioners can work with an invisible
beam, we should be more satisfied with ours.
Second, in many states Therapeutic Touch is recognized as a valid medical technique and can be reimbursed. While
we in Therapeutic Radiology are begging and scraping to get paid for what we do, it is certainly discouraging to
think that money that could be spent on hyperthermia, bolus material, support devices, and other necessities is
being funnelled away to pay for Therapeutic Touch.
Third, it is hoped that Therapeutic Touch is under the same scrutiny as other forms of medical care, with JCAHO
inspections, outcome analysis, clinical pathways, and board examinations (written, oral, and tactile).
I think it is more likely that politically correct forces will prevail, and that Emily Rosa's project will be
purged from the data banks and that we can work with Therapeutic Touch as we do with other modalities. I am looking
forward to protocols with combined modality treatments, probably best supervised by the RTTTOG (Radiation Therapy
and Therapeutic Touch Oncology Group). Please direct other suggestions to Dr. Pettter Blitttzer, incoming presidenttt