The Perils of Electropollution
The promise of Electromedicine
by Robert Becker
“If the healer phenomenon is real, we do not know
whether it operates via the placebo effect or whether any
energy flow is involved, either from the healer to the patient
or vice versa. Part of the problem lies in the deeply ingrained
rejection of the entire concept by both scientific medicine
and the physical and biological sciences. Nothing will produce
more of an uproar at a medical meeting than asking, "What
about the healer phenomenon?"
If the healer actually evokes the placebo effect, we should
be able to find evidence for this in the common practices
of well-known healers. The placebo effect can be activated
only by two distinctly different techniques: the teacher,
used by practitioners of minimalist techniques of energy
medicine, and the authoritarian, practiced by physicians
using known ineffective drugs.
In my contacts with healers over the past twenty years,
I have found that the genuine ones adopt a businesslike
attitude toward their practice. Each patient is treated,
not taught. No true healers present themselves as authoritarian
figures or as persons possessed of mystical powers. If the
placebo effect is operating, it must be on the basis of
preconditioned patients, not on any actions of the healer.
While there are undoubtedly some such preconditioned patients,
I have found them to be in the minority. Finally, Chinese
healers also work quite successfully with animals —
where there can be no placebo effect.
Yet healing works. I have seen remarkable results obtained
in a number of life-threatening circumstances. Most authentic
healers actually do not know what they do; they know only
that they have the "gift" of healing. They do
not question how it is accomplished. Most healers are ordinary
people who hold regular jobs and who do their healing treatments
in their spare time.
The late Olga Worrall was one such person. "Auntie"
Olga viewed her gift in a matter-of-fact fashion. In her
later years, she conducted one healing session a week, in
the basement of a neighborhood church. Each patient was
given the necessary time, which was generally less than
Olga presented the appearance of nothing more than a kindly
grandmother, an ordinary personate her patients reported
experiencing a feeling of great calm and contentment and
a sensation of having received "something." Olga
told me that the healing seemed to take something out of
her; as she grew older, she had to limit her treatments
because of her increasing fatigue. Something other than
the simple placebo effect seemed to be occurring.
Since we know that the body uses electrical control systems
to regulate many basic functions and that the flow of these
electrical currents produces externally measurable magnetic
fields, it does not require a great leap of faith to postulate
that the healer's gift is an ability to use his or her own
electrical control systems to produce external electromagnetic
energy fields that interact with those of the patient. The
interaction could be one that "restores" balance
in the internal forces or that reinforces the electrical
systems so that the body returns toward a normal condition.
In the past, we had only anecdotal evidence to support this
concept. One "experiment" involved the healer
placing his hands on the outside of a cloud chamber, a device
originally used to detect the passage of high-energy atomic
and subatomic particles. Strange things were said to occur
within the chamber, but they were poorly characterized.
This was further confused by a later experiment in which
the healer, located many miles away, simply thought of the
cloud chamber, and the strange events were said to recur.
This experiment, while interesting and worthy of duplication,
was uncontrolled, and the results have done little to clarify
Unfortunately, the intellectual bias against the phenomenon
of the healer is so great that it has been extremely difficult,
if not impossible, to get reputable scientists with the
necessary equipment to become involved in valid studies.
This condition is now changing. The healer phenomenon has
become accepted by much of the public, and some forward-looking
physicians are beginning to think that this technique, as
well as the other techniques of energy medicine, should
be scientifically studied.
At this most appropriate time, a young healer named Mietek
Wirkus has come to the United States from Poland, where
the situation for healers is much different. There, the
healer is accepted as a valid medical therapist and is subject
to licensing by the government.
Wirkus is convinced that his treatment involves the flow
of energy from him to the patient, and that the energy involved
is electromagnetic. This is particularly important because
he, in contrast to Olga Worrall, does not touch the patient.
Therefore, any energy involved must be of a type that is
transmissible across space. Of the forces available, only
I first met the Wirkuse's early in 1988 and had the opportunity
to ask Mietek a number of questions that I considered important
from the energy — transfer point of view. In particular,
I felt that if his ability involved a major level of control
over his internal electrical control systems, then in addition
to being able to "project" an external field,
he should also be able to sense the disturbed electrical
fields within the patients at the site of disease. In that
sense, he should be able to make a diagnosis, not of a specific
disease, but of the site of the disease.
In making this prediction, I drew on both theoretical science
and my own experiences as a practicing physician and surgeon
for many years. I have become convinced that some of us
make a final diagnosis based not only on the physical examination
and laboratory tests, but also on a "gut feeling"
or intuition of some sort. It takes time to do this —
time to talk with the patient in addition to conducting
the physical examination.
The best example I can think of to show this in action involves
the differential diagnosis between acute appendicitis and
acute mesenteric adenitis. These two conditions have practically
identical laboratory findings and physical signs on examination,
yet the former must be treated surgically, while the latter
will resolve itself without surgery. The modern physician
will, more often than not, opt for the diagnosis of mesenteric
adenitis and not operate, so that the stigma of doing an
appendectomy when there is no appendicitis may be avoided.
Of course, if the patient really has acute appendicitis,
the appendix will rupture, and it can be treated (sometimes)
with surgery and antibiotics. In contrast, I have seen older
surgeons go into a patient's room, spend an hour, and emerge
with a diagnosis. They were right far more often than they
were wrong. I would suggest that the best surgeons thus
make their diagnoses by some intuitive method that we do
not yet understand.
When I spoke with Wirkus, he assured me that he could
determine the presence of a disease and determine where
it was located in each patient. In fact, even when he is
first provided with a definite diagnosis, in treating any
patient he first "scans" the total body, holding
his hands a few centimeters away from the body surface,
looking for other pathology. He was not sure exactly how
he did this, but he felt that he sensed energy coming from
the area of disease. He was also certain that when he treated
a patient, some energy passed from him to the patient. He
told me that it took much more energy from him to treat
cancer or schizophrenia than to treat arthritis, skin conditions,
insomnia, or neuroses.
I was able to watch Wirkus treat patients, and I also had
the opportunity to have him work on me. The process appears
simple: the fully clothed patient stands erect, and Wirkus
moves about the patient, keeping his hands a few centimeters
away from the body surface. He appears to be almost in a
trance state; his eyes are open but appear unfocused, and
he has a peculiar respiratory pattern of short, audible,
regular breathing. The process takes less than ten minutes.
When I was the patient, I shut my eyes so that I would not
know where Wirkuse's hands were. I wanted to determine whether
I would experience any sensations during the procedure in
any particular area of my body, without being influenced
by my knowing where he was working. On several occasions
I noted distinct feelings of warmth and tingling. Each time,
on opening my eyes I found that the sensations were located
near the position of Wirkuse's hands. Immediately following
the procedure, I felt his hands. They were distinctly cool
and did not produce a feeling of warmth on my skin.
Wirkus had no knowledge of any of the diseases that I had.
I have minor arthritis in my right hip joint, a mild spastic
colitis, and rather severe glaucoma (with loss of almost
70 percent of the visual field in my right eye). On examining
me, he diagnosed mild arthritis in the right hip, stated
that I had some problems with my colon, and told me that
the energy level on the back of my head was very low. While
he found no problem with my right eye, the visual images
from that eye go to the visual cortex at the back of the
In the same session, he diagnosed several other individuals
with similar precision. Following my experience, we discussed
the possible energetic aspects of his practice. He then
described a singular event that reinforced the likelihood
of such aspects. Before coming to the United States, Wirkus
and his wife had given demonstrations of healing at various
cities in Poland. One evening they were in a small city,
using the stage of the local theater. The patient sat on
a chair on the stage, with Wirkus standing next to him.
Mrs. Wirkus was seated at a table, also on stage, about
fifteen feet away. She had a microphone with which to explain
to the audience what her husband was doing. The stage lights
were located on the ceiling over the first row of seats,
with the control box located in a cabinet at the side of
the stage. The first three patients had simple depressive
neuroses, which were easily treated, but the fourth case
was a patient with cancer.
Because it was evening, the stage lights were on, but those
in the rest of the theater were off. About fifteen minutes
after treatment of the fourth case had begun, Mrs. Wirkus
noted that the lights appeared to be slowly pulsing, and
that this seemed to be producing waves of light over the
front row of seats and the stage. The pulsing increased
in intensity and frequency, and it was noted by the audience
as well. The microphone then began to pulse at the same
frequency, and Mrs. Wirkus pushed it away from her. The
stir in the audience and his wife's movements caused Wirkus
to stop the treatment, and the lights and sounds suddenly
returned to normal. The theater electrician, who had been
in the audience, came rushing up, asking, "What have
you done to my lights?" This was the only time such
an unusual event had occurred during a treatment, and the
only time those particular stage lights had behaved in such
a fashion in that theater.
Using a frequency generator and a speaker, I was able to
have Wirkus and his wife determine the frequencies involved.
They both felt that the oscillations had begun at about
one per second (I Hz), increasing in strength and frequency
to about four or five per second (4-5 Hz), at which time
Mrs. Wirkus pushed the microphone away and the session terminated.
It is, of course, impossible to determine exactly what happened,
since all of this occurred several years ago and many miles
away. However, we can speculate, using a knowledge of how
stage lighting was done some years ago. The main requirement
for stage lighting is that it be smoothly dimmed to full
darkness and able to be "brought up" to full brilliance
in the same fashion. In those days, this could not be done
with the standard AC power system, and stage lights used
a DC supply that could be slowly dimmed. If the theater
had had such a system for stage lighting, it's possible
that Wirkus gave off a slowly varying electromagnetic field
that was strong enough to produce a "modulation"
of the DC supply to the lights. From a physics and engineering
point of view, this is the only tenable possibility, and
this observation lends some support to the theory that the
healer phenomenon directly involves electromagnetic energy.
Recently, there has been firmer substantiation of this theory
through some experiments done in mainland China. The healer
technique in China is called Chi Gong (or Qi Gong, depending
on the district in China that is involved). The method is
more spectacular than that used by Wirkus. The Chi Gong
"master" stands several feet away from the patient,
makes certain classical, formalized movements of his body
and arms, and then points his outstretched arm at the patient.
The Chinese believe that the master acquires chi energy
by means of these movements, and that he then projects that
energy toward the patient, who is considered to be deficient
in chi or else has the two components of chi imbalanced.
While to Westerners this may sound like nonsense, this therapy
has, along with acupuncture, persisted for many thousands
of years in China. Chi Gong practitioners are also often
called upon to treat animals, apparently with considerable
Given the details of the treatment, the only defensible
possibility is that there is a transfer of electromagnetic
energy from the Chi Gong master to the patient. In this
case, what is the purpose of the stylized movements that
are considered so important to the therapy? Dr. Jame Ma,
professor of physics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong,
has made an interesting suggestion. He postulates that these
bodily movements are in the specific frequency range at
which the proton, the nucleus of the hydrogen atom that
is so common in water molecules of the body, will absorb
energy from the Earth's natural magnetic field by means
of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). (Because the concept
of electronic resonance is so important to the understanding
of the relationship between living organisms and electromagnetic
fields, it will be discussed in detail later in this book,
in chapter 10.) To explore the relationship between electromagnetism
and the Chi Gong phenomenon, doctors at the Huazhong Normal
University in Wuhan, China, used NMR in an attempt to determine
whether Chi Gong masters give off any electromagnetic radiation.
They studied the effect of Chi Gong "treatment"
on the complex, bioactive, organic, phosphorus-containing
chemical o-n-propyl-o-allylthiophosphoramide. This particular
chemical was chosen because it produced a well-characterized
NMR spectrum in its normal state. However, if exposed to
a low-strength electromagnetic field, the chemical would
absorb the energy, and certain atomic "bonds"
in its structure would be altered. This change would result
in a specific recordable change in the NMR spectrum. The
extent of the change in the NMR spectrum indicated the amount
and the site of structural change in the chemical molecule.
This changed molecular structure would persist for several
hours after exposure of the chemical to the electromagnetic
field. In the experiments, the chemical substance was enclosed
in a sealed glass container, and Chi Gong masters were asked
to "treat" it, holding their hands a certain distance
away from the container. The NMR spectrum was recorded before
the treatment and found to be normal. Following the treatment,
the NMR spectrum changed significantly; the extent of the
alteration in the NMR spectrum could be increased by repeating
the Chi Gong exposure.
Similar studies are ongoing in the United States at this
time; however, only preliminary results have been obtained.
These studies are models of the type of rigorous, objective,
scientific investigation that should be done in regard not
only to the healer phenomenon, but to many of the other
techniques of energy medicine as well. The conclusion that
may be reached from the Chinese studies is that the healer
phenomenon has a basis in physical reality, and that some
form of electromagnetic energy is unquestionably involved.
The results indicate that the healer gives off electromagnetic
energy from his hands during the treatment process.
It is essential that we determine the strength and the frequencies
of the field produced by the healer. An extremely useful
device for this would be the SQUID magnetometer, the very
sensitive magnetic field detector that made it possible
to discover the magnetoencephalogram. While it is possible
that the extreme sensitivity of the SQUID is not required,
its accuracy and ability to measure both DC and time-varying
magnetic fields makes it the best available. Unfortunately,
the price of a good SQUID is about $75,000, and this does
not include costs of normal upkeep. Since there are a number
of such devices in use at various academic institutions
around the country, it could be expected that in the interest
of science, one of these devices would be made available
for the few weeks necessary to complete this type of study.
Unfortunately, this has not yet been done, despite a number
It also might be fruitful to determine those frequencies
of the magnetic field to which healers are particularly
sensitive. It may be possible to produce a "spectrum"
of sensitivity that might indicate that different disease
processes produce specific frequencies, and that these are
sensed by the healer when he makes the diagnosis. If this
should prove to be so, one could use this finding as a basis
for designing diagnostic devices that would support, or
even bypass, the healer for diagnosis. Wirkus may thus be
cooperating in the ultimate demise of his technique —
but, knowing him, I believe he would think it well worth
The minimal-energy techniques, which are based upon activation
of the body's innate internal control systems, work. As
an orthodox trained physician and board-certified orthopedic
surgeon, I have absolutely no hesitancy in recommending
that patients with life-threatening conditions follow this
route after they have been given a careful and full disclosure
of all the therapeutic possibilities open to them.
In my opinion, the use of these techniques only as a "last
resort" — after orthodox treatments have reduced
or destroyed the patient's own resistance systems —
is probably much less effective. I try to follow one primary
rule: make sure that the patient knows all there is to know
about the illness and the therapeutic possibilities, both
orthodox and unorthodox. Then, the patient must make his
or her own decisions.
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