Healing Techniques for Sleep, & Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Studies

by Mike Sententia on April 4, 2015

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Exciting results with the healing technique I developed to help Lisa sleep. A client has had insomnia for 4 years, typically getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night. In January, I used that same healing technique, and a few weeks ago she sent me this:

OMG. Update on the healing front. Get ready for some all caps joy:

I AM SLEEPING GREAT LATELY. It is so awesome. <3 <3 <3
I sleep nearly 7 1/2 hours almost every night and I freaking LOVE IT.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This sparks a few thoughts:

  • This could help a lot of people. So many people sleep poorly these days.
  • This could be a great first offering for Healing Lab. More people suffer from poor sleep than from chronic joint pain or other conditions, and this is also different than what other healers offer, which is nice.
  • Could I publish a study on this technique?

That last question isn’t, “Could someone publish a study about this technique?” It’s, “Could I publish it?” Run a small study, publish online, then collaborate with researchers to reproduce the results for journal publication.

If I do, I’d want it to be a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. That’s the gold standard. It’s also, sadly, rare in biofield healing studies.

Let’s review those terms:

Placebo-controlled: What if the active ingredient isn’t your healing technique, but your discussion with the client? To rule that out, you have the same discussion and pretend to do a healing session for everyone in the control group. The only difference should be whether you actually move energy or not.

Double-blind: What if I say the same words to both groups, but I’m excited for the real-healing subjects and monotone for the pretend-healing ones? No good. To rule that out, even the practitioner shouldn’t know whether the subject will be receiving the real healing technique or not.

Placebo-controlled is simple enough, and according to a 2009 meta-study, around half of all biofield studies use placebo control. An acupuncturist punctures inaccurately, a Reiki healer waves their hands but doesn’t channel energy. These studies usually provide evidence that real healing is more effective than placebo.

But notice the problem: That acupuncturist knows whether they’re giving real acupuncture. The Reiki healer knows she’s just waving her hands. What if they had an unconscious confidence in the healing conditions that they lacked in the placebo conditions?

I’d like to rule that out. So here’s my plan:

  1. Meet with the subject, discuss the healing technique.
  2. After answering their questions, touch their head to create the connections.
  3. Go into the other room, and only then flip a coin to determine if they’re in the healing or placebo group.
  4. Using those connections, while remaining in the other room, either do the healing technique or don’t. Either way, don’t talk with or see the subject. An assistant (who doesn’t know the result of that coin flip) thanks them and shows them out.
  5. To follow up, send a single email to everyone, all at the same time (bcc’ed), asking them to complete a survey. No difference in communication between subject and control.

How do I get subjects? I know lots of free thinkers who love science, who would probably be excited to give 20 minutes of their time for a double-blind placebo-controlled study, and receive a free healing session on top of it. And after the study, I’d do the healing technique for everyone in the control group, too.

My consulting contract is up this fall. I’ll aim for late 2015 or early 2016 for this study.

Comments: Do you see a way to make this study more robust without dramatically increasing the work? Or a way to simplify the procedure while keeping the same robustness? Please share in the comments.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gavin April 4, 2015 at 4:40 PM

Hi Mike, How are you going to factor out the hypnotic effect of the whole procedure from the results?

Your plan above basically involves giving a ‘pre-talk’ to the subject, ‘suggesting’ how this technique will help with their insomnia, and ‘anchoring’ it in with a tap on the head. Coupled with the fact this is being set up as an experimental trial using scientific methodology, you are likely to end up with a group of subjects in various levels of waking hypnosis.

Whether they accept the suggestion into their subconscious that this process with help with their insomnia may depend on their perception of your credibility as a healer; this can be influenced by the effectiveness of your pre-talk in building rapport and allaying the fears and misconceptions they might have had about the process, and their underlying belief systems with regards to alternative medicine etc.

It might be worth getting the subjects to fill out a survey before the experiment to identify their views and previous experience on various forms of alternative medicine / healing / magick, with the results sent only to a third person who will attempt split them into two roughly even groups, and can then inform you which group each person is in after you have made the connection.

I’m also concerned about the suitability of just using direct magick on its own as a quick fix for insomnia, which could be a symptom of an underlying psychological trauma. How can you be sure that you’re not just masking a problem that will eventually resurface at a later date with more profound consequences?

Reply

Mike Sententia April 4, 2015 at 8:04 PM

On the power of suggestion: You do a wonderful job of explaining why we do double-blind placebo-controlled studies. They’re to control for precisely the kind of issues you sketch out. If you’re not familiar with them, I recommend wikipedia to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo-controlled_study

And I like the idea of a survey. Would be interesting to crunch those numbers.

Two thoughts on your last paragraph. First, no one is suggesting using Direct Magick on its own. I think Western medicine is wonderful, so much so that I want to do scientific studies to help biofield healing become more closely linked to Western medicine.

Second, the greatest challenge with this work is simply doing the work. I see so many talented people paralyzed by fear. Fear of harming someone, fear of spirits, fear of being too powerful. When I’ve used those excuses, I was (unconsciously) afraid of testing myself honestly, and my stated fear was a way of protecting my beliefs and my doubts. (More: https://magickofthought.com/2015/03/from-belief-to-knowledge-teaching-at-pantheacon/)

So I say this: Take reasonable precautions. Inform your clients. Direct anyone with serious medical conditions to a medical professional. But then get moving. Because no one benefits from inaction.

Reply

Ananael Qaa April 6, 2015 at 10:11 AM

This is a great idea, Mike. It’s a solid application of your direct method to get around the issue that healers generally know whether what they’re doing is part of the experimental group or the control.

Gavin raises the issue that you likely will need to control for the suggestibility of subjects, perhaps by doing some sort of initial assessment as part of your experimental procedure. This will give you another layer of data, so you could also test to see whether there’s a stronger correlation between positive results and being part of the experimental group than there is between positive results and being more suggestible.

Personally I don’t think “masking trauma” is something you need to worry about, because what researchers are rapidly finding out is that for the most part it doesn’t exist. Freud’s whole “repression” model is fundamentally flawed. But at the same time, I agree with you 100% that magical healing should never replace conventional medical care, but be used in a way that increases its effectiveness.

Let me know when you get around to doing this study. I’ll happily publicize your results over on Augoeides and give your work more exposure.

Reply

Mike Sententia April 13, 2015 at 6:55 PM

Thanks! That would be awesome. I’ll definitely keep you in the loop.

Reply

Cristian Papanaga April 13, 2015 at 1:45 PM

Sorry to be of bother, but I’m new to learning magick, and this website. Is the next chapter of your book currently being written, or has something occured that has stopped you from finishing it? I look forward to your reponse.

-Cristian

Reply

Mike Sententia April 13, 2015 at 6:54 PM

Hi Christian, welcome to my site.

I’m midway through a 1-year contract (for my computer consulting business). I’ll resume the book in October, when the contract wraps up.

I’m eager for the contract to end, but want to have enough savings to focus on Healing Lab for a couple of years, hopefully get it off the ground and support myself with magick research. So, I work until October.

Until then, I’m aiming for one post per week, to stay connected to everyone.

Reply

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