Date of Award

2013

First Advisor

Paul Naamon

Second Advisor

Nancy Bonvillain

Abstract

Today the dominant medical treatments are of allopathic medicine. However, recently, much attention has been paid to the so-called “alternative medicine.” People are becoming more familiar with acupuncture, massage, and naturopathic treatments. Nevertheless, one form of alternative medicine that is not well-studied is energy healing. Contrary to its “mystical” appearance, energy healing can be approached both scientifically and culturally. Different understandings of energy in the East and West have led to many explanations of the phenomena. While energy in the Western context is considered an important part of physiological processes, energy in the East is perceived to be essentially integral to the sustenance of life. Consequently, instead of treating the body as a physiological unit, energy healing aims at balancing the energy and/or the spiritual components of the body. The basis of energy healing lies in Asian traditional religious conceptions of the human body. Within this framework, the body is seen as a holistic entity. Practitioners of energy healing need to be aware of such cultural perspectives. Drawing from scientific studies, interviews, and personal experiences, this thesis examines energy healing from scientific and cultural standpoints. It also speculates on the future of energy healing in both Western and Eastern contexts.

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