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intuitive healer

An intuitive healer is someone who, allegedly, can heal and teach others to heal without the bother of evidence-based medicine. Intuitive healers use "insight" to diagnose illness and are also known as medical intuitives or psychic healers.

Some, like Rachel Kohler, claim that their abilities allow them to make accurate diagnoses over the telephone. "I am a professional, licensed and degreed spiritual visionary with a documented accuracy rate of 95-100%," according to her website. "My Code of Ethics is your assurance of my integrity."

Some, like Linda Salvin, prefer the radio or the Internet, for their healings. "Linda survived a commercial airliner crash in 1981," according to her website. "As she exited the plane...she heard reassuring voices that told her she would be unharmed. That was the beginning. A year later, she was struck by a fire truck and in 1984, another traumatic auto accident brought her to the brink, a near-death experience. Lastly, a surgery in 1991 proved to be another life-altering experience. With each of these experiences, her spiritual connection and psychic abilities began to grow."

Some, like Judith Orloff, claim they can diagnose mental illness intuitively. She calls her ability "second sight" and has written some books about it.

Some intuitive healers call their work "science" and name their chicanery after themselves, such as the Barbara Brennan Healing Science. Barbara claims she can do astral healing: psychic surgery on your aura.

Some, like Dr. Carolyn Myss—she has a doctorate from Greenwich Carolyn MyssUniversity in Intuition and Energy Medicine—have abandoned healing for less dangerous and more lucrative endeavors like giving lectures and workshops, and writing books. Greenwich University was shut down by the federal government of Australia in 2002; its branches in Hilo, Hawaii, and Mill Valley, California, were shut down in 2003. Myss's website says she's booked for the next two years.She's a bestselling author.

One thing intuitive healers seem to have in common—besides a nose for desperate and willing disciples—is an implicit awareness of the role confirmation bias, communal reinforcement and wishful thinking play in the construction of meaning and belief. Many intuitive healers have an explicit understanding of the placebo effect. But they and the people who follow them do not understand how easy it is to deceive ourselves about these things. They do not test their alleged abilities under clear and controlled conditions and their followers don't require this of them. What is worse, so-called intuitive healers seem to think they are able to use their intuition to understand such things as quantum mechanics and biochemistry. Others simply ignore science in favor of metaphysics. Some intuitive healers could be tested, since they claim to be able to diagnose real disorders such as cancer. Others could never be tested since they diagnose non-empirical causes such as aura imbalance, chi blockage, or some sort of "energy" disharmony or misalignment.

See also acupuncture, bioharmonics, "alternative" health practice, conditioning, chakra, crystal power, magnet therapy, reiki, therapeutic touch, and Energy Healing: Looking in All the Wrong Places by Robert Todd Carroll.

further reading

Why Bogus Therapies Often Seem to Work by Barry L. Beyerstein

Social and judgmental biases that make inert treatments seem to work by Barry L. Beyerstein (1999)

Bioenergetic Fields by Victor J. Stenger

Last updated 21-Jan-2014

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