FMBR Editorial: Nov, 2012
Breakthrough: Clues to Healing with Intention
William F. Bengston
A very long time ago, soon after I graduated with a B.A. in sociology from Niagara University, I met a man who claimed he had only recently discovered his own psychic abilities. At the time, in 1971, Bennett Mayrick was a house cleaner. He had held a variety of jobs before I met him, including floor installer, professional singer, etc. Basically, he was a jack-of-all trades. Since I don't naturally default to belief, I asked him if I could test his claim. He not only agreed but also actually welcomed the opportunity as he proclaimed himself a skeptic. And so a partnership was born.
I began in the usual way, by giving him objects that belonged to various people and had him describe their character, surroundings, and events in their lives. I admit to having been impressed by his readings, even as I wondered if there might be an element of self-delusion in all of it. And so I dragged him around to people who claimed to be experts in such matters. We went to the American Society for Psychical Research in Manhattan, to the dream lab at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, and such. I found these experiences to be quite frustrating, as the experts didn't seem to have their methodological acts in order. And so I, a fledgling researcher in the early stages of graduate training, began to design double blind tests that were far more rigorous than anything the "experts" had prepared for us. In short, Bennett passed these tests with flying colors, and I wondered what to do next.
That problem didn't last long, as one day while we sat in a kitchen talking about this and that, I had a flair up of chronic lower back pain that had made me give up a swimming scholarship. Off the cuff, I asked him to put his hands on my back and take away the pain. He thought I was crazy but tried anyway. About ten minutes after he put his hands on me, the pain went away. And decades later, it still hasn't returned. If this was hysterical suppression of symptoms, I'll take it!
All of this was before the "new age" boom, when alternative-healing practices became widespread even if not accepted by the medical community. I watched Bennett put his hands on person after person and saw much that I myself would never believe had I not witnessed it. Some ailments responded poorly or not at all. Warts, for instance. There was no effect at all on warts, and to this day I consider that to be a clue even as I continue to be flummoxed by what it means. On the other hand, cancer responded almost immediately, and the more aggressive the cancer the faster it seemed to respond. The only failures with cancer were with those who had had radiation or chemotherapy. I suspect this is another clue, which might mean that healing does not mix well with therapies that kill.
After watching many dozens of healings, I began to get frustrated. Sure, the cures were amazing, but the complexities involved in clinical cases made them too fuzzy for my sensibilities. Did a cure result from the hands-on treatment, the extra vitamin C that the patient took, their personality type, or something else? I needed to know.
And so with a friend named David Krinsley, we decided to take the healing phenomenon into the lab. At the time David was chair of the geology department at Queens College of the City University of New York, and I was a fledgling instructor at St. Joseph's College in New York, doing graduate work in sociology, specializing in criminology, the sociology of religion, and statistical modeling. David was in a position to call in some favors so he solicited the head of the biology department to devise a test that would be airtight. One of the chair's department members had been doing mice studies on a particular form of mammary adenocarcinoma that is 100 percent fatal within 27 days of injection. The model itself was so well understood that statistical studies of lifespan were routinely done, even as no mouse had ever lived past 27 days. If we could even get our mice to live closer to the 27 day mark, that would be strong evidence of a healing effect. If a mouse were to live to day 28, well, then we'd own the world record.
Our original intent was to have Bennett do the treatments, but circumstance had him back out at the last minute. We were then left with cancer-infected mice and no healer. Rather than cancel the experiment, David convinced me to act as substitute healer. By that time I had spent a great deal of time watching, testing, and also assisting Bennett in some healing cases. And so, seeing no alternative, I reluctantly (and without much confidence) agreed.
A Skeptic as Healer
I used healing techniques that Bennett and I developed through introspection, trial and error, and simple intuition. The techniques are completely belief-free and involve a process of extremely fast visualization of a series of personal images done in conjunction with the laying-on of hands, in which the person tries, with as little effort as possible, to feel an energy flowing out from the palms of his or her hands. The images each person uses are generated by a personal list, prepared prior to the experiment, of 20 outcomes wanted in his or her life, specific goals that involve their own health, ideal jobs, material aspirations, or other people. Each item on the list is translated into an image that represents the achievement of that particular goal. These personal images are then memorized and the prospective healer practices cycling through them in a kind of mental filmstrip loop. This technique, rather than slowing down brain activity through some sort of meditative technique, actually speeds up brain functioning and activity through the rapid visualization. At the same time the handson technique is done in a very detached manner on the assumption that focus or belief would only get in the way. We can carry on normal conversations and even read while doing the hands-on techniques.
For an hour a day I placed my hands around the cage of six mice, wondering how in the world I had come to this. Here I was, a skeptical researcher suddenly saddled with the task of treating a cancer that is always fatal.
Since neither David nor I had any precedent in what we were doing, we naively suspected that if the treatment was to have any success then either the mice wouldn't develop tumors or the tumors would be slow to grow. To our initial consternation, neither scenario occurred. Within a few days, palpable tumors developed on the mice, and I was discouraged to say the least. My initial reaction was to cancel the experiment, put the mice out of their suffering, and call it a day. David urged otherwise, especially since he had gone to a great deal of trouble to set up the experiment. And so I continued the daily treatments even as the tumors grew larger.
Any remaining hope I had disappeared as the tumors developed blackened areas on them. I saw this as the beginning of the end. Then, the blackened areas ulcerated and the tumors split open. Again I urged that we do the ethical thing and end the experiment. But the biology chair noticed that the mice still had smooth coats and their eyes remained clear, and he wondered why they were acting as though perfectly healthy.
Then, in the final stages, the mice tumors simply imploded without any discharge or infection of any sort; it was a full lifespan cure. We were stunned. Here was a skeptical healer and a presumably non-believing group of mice that had gone through a novel pattern of remission to full cure in a mouse model without precedent of a cure.
Used with permission.
This is an edited version of an article originally found in Edge Science #2, Jan-Mar 2010, the magazine of the Society for Scientific Exploration.