There’s a very interesting article in the current issue of E-Skeptic by Larry Sarner on Emily Rosa’s seminal therapeutic touch (TT) experiment that was published in the JAMA in 1998 of a study she conducted at age 9, making her the youngest person ever to publish in a peer reviewed medical journal.
Sarner addresses many of the misconceptions people have about this study and he lists the postulates (assumptions) that TT is based on, most of which also hold for the newer energy psychology therapies such as TFT and EFT. Emily Rosa’s experiment addressed postulate #3, although many people, even some skeptics, misunderstood it as addressing #1, which it was not designed to do. He makes an excellent point that many skeptics focus on #1, whether the HEF exists at all. If any of these postulates are falsified, however, the entire theory collapses. These postulates were induced and deduced from the TT literature since the TT proponents themselves seem to have resisted making any clear statements in this regard.
- THE EXISTENCE POSTULATE. TT is a widespread (primarily nursing) practice predicated upon a belief in the existence of a “human energy field.” This field may be too esoteric or “subtle” to be capable of measurement or detection by conventional technology.
- THE ETIOLOGICAL POSTULATE. The HEF is postulated as a physical reality that permeates a human body and extends beyond it. Disease, illness, injury, or discomfort are manifest in the HEF as “differences” (disturbances, imbalances, congestion, or the like). Also, the elimination of such differences in the HEF either returns the body itself to health or removes impediments to the body’s own healing processes.
- THE PERCEPTIBILITY POSTULATE. Each person’s HEF is perceptible by any other person, especially with the intention to do so, though it may be necessary in individual instances for the other person to be trained to recognize the perceptions as HEF-related. In particular, differences in an HEF can be perceived, thereby detecting the presence (and with refinement, the locale) of disease, illness, injury, or discomfort.
- THE MANIPULABILITY POSTULATE. One person can effect changes in another person’s HEF. Those changes can be controlled by the changer’s intentions, though training may be necessary to allow selection of the proper intentionality for accomplishing desired ends, such as the elimination of differences.
- THE MANUAL POSTULATE. A practitioner’s hand alone is an effective and reliable means for the perception and manipulation of the HEF of another person. Coupled with the proper intentionality, healing can occur through manual intervention in the HEF.
I have found this to be a useful framework for a critical examination of the assumptions between TFT/EFT. The only one that would not necessarily hold true for TFT/EFT is #3, which is the one that Emily’s experiment focused on, very important to TT but not so much, for TFT/EFT. With TFT/EFT, people finger tap on specified points on the body and so it would not be necessary for them to actually be able to feel the HEF. In other words, they can do #4 without having to do #3. All they have to do is know where and (for TFT) in what sequence to tap. My published experiment addressed and falsified the notion that sequence of tapping points mattered (the basis for Callahan’s $100,000 VT) and Waite and Holder’s experiment falsified the notion that the points mattered, since they had control conditions of sham points and tapping on a doll. Both studies were published in the peer reviewed journal, The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice.
Also, #5 is only partially applicable to TFT, although many of its proponents do hold that assumption, in full. TFT’s inventor, Roger Callahan has strenuously objected to the idea that intention had anything to do with his claimed results. His claim is that all a person has to do is to tap on specified points in specified sequences and results will occur. The person being treated must be thinking about the problem being treated, so in that sense, intention is important, but the intention of the practitioner to heal, presumably has nothing to do with it. However, many EFT/TFT proponents disagree and see intention as critically important to both successes and failures and that, of course, can be used as a way to explain away failure.
Sarner’s article covers a great deal of ground, addressing TT’s basic assumptions, correcting misconceptions about Emily Rosa’s experiment and issuing a point by point rebuttal to the criticism of that experiment. The article is well worth the read and available on the E-Skeptic website.