Psychic healing & mediumship

looking into the explinations of Psychic healing & mediumship

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Support for Psychic healing (AO1)

Psychic healing - AKA mental healing, spiritual healing, faith healing, divine healing, miracle healing, laying on of hands or therapeutic touch (TT). It is claimed that these healers can sense a 'aura' to attempt to cure people, they may lightly touch the patient of now touch them at all. The healers claim to be able to replace the 'bad' aura/energy with good aura/energy.

Wirth (1990) gathered some patients with wounds, covered their eyes and had therapeutic touch (TT) preformed on some, and not on others. By covering their eyes the placebo effect was removed. Those who received TT healed faster than those who hadn't.

Cha et al (2001) found infertile women who received prayer from strangers were twice as likely to get pregnant.

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Psychic healing (AO2)

Wirth's been criticized as he failed to replicate his own study and some scientists who wanted to discuss his study with him have been unable to contact him (e.g. Solfvin et al (2005)).

Flamm (2004) has also criticized the power of prayer, as a author withdrew his name, so he was no longer involved with the study. Wirth has also been convicted of criminal fraud and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Cha has also been convicted of plagerism.

Rosa et al's experiment was published in the reputable journal of the American Medical Association. The publication shows that it went through a a long peer review process and was found to be reliable by many psychologists of the field.

TT only seems to be effective in believers. There is not information on relapse rates and no support to show TT has any long lasting effect, suggesting the initial'improvement' is part of the placebo effect.

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Criticism of Psychic healing (AO1)

Lyvers et al (2006) had 20 volunteers with chronic back pain and split them into 2 groups, a treatment group and control group. The treatment group had a psychic focus on a picture of them, to try and reduce the pain, the control group were told the same thing, but the control group didn't actually have anyone 'healing' them. The level of pain before and after the healing was recorded using McGill's pain questionnaire and there was no overall reduction in pain in either group. There is a positive correlation between belief in psychic healing and pain reduction, showing belief plays a key role in the pain reduction and evidence for the placebo effect.

Rosa et al, a 9 year old girl designed a experiment that was involved a number of TT healers, requiring them to detect if she had her hand under the left or right of the TT healers hand without looking (they should be albe to detect the 'aura' from her hand). The TT healers put their hand through a cardboard box and under a towel so they couldn't see. Many volunteered, and they preformed worse than chance.

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Psychic mediumship

Psychic mediumship - The claim to be able to communicate with the dead.

Survival hypothesis - The claim that we survive after death and can communicate with the living.

Skeptical hypothesis - The theory that mediums' messages are general and can be applied to anyone.

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Support for psychic mediumship (AO1)

Schwartz et al (2001) had 5 mediums do readings on 2 women (one of the women had 2 readings, the other 3 readings). Both women were over 40 and had experienced a number of deaths recently (unknown to the mediums). When the readings were being done the mediums did not see the women and the women could only answer yes or no. The women judged the statements as 83% and 77% accurate. Undergraduates judged the statements as 36% accurate. The mediums preformed well above chance. this supports the survival hypothesis.

Robertson and Roy (2001) 44 receptients received readings from 10 mediums, 407 didn't receive readings. The 407 non-recipients were given the readings to rate if the readings could be applied to them. A system was developed based mathematical probability (Robertson-Roy protocol) to see how many readings were accurate. The hit rate of the recipients were significantly higher than the non-recipient group, supporting the survival hypothesis.

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Criticism of psychic mediumship (AO2)

O'Keefe and Wiseman (2005) - Had 5 mediums and 5 sitters, each medium did 5 readings (1 for each sitter). the 5 sitters were given all 25 readings and were asked to rate the accuracy of the readings. The readings specific to the sitter was rated with the lowest accuracy, supporting the skeptical hypothesis.

There is also evidence that mediums can pick up information from the sitter, by their tone of voice and reply given to questions. The medium always starts with a general statement about the person and slowly draw out information. Students rate the statements as less accurate because the statements are usually aimed at older women.

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