Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The healing myth of mesmerism (vs chi-kung)

In the West, any practice that proclaims to cure or heal can be called alternative medicine or (alternative) healing. Recently I read about a practice called mesmerism (the English word "mesmerize" originated from this word) introduced to me through a New-age practitioner who is now currently into hypnosis. Since people share the same psychology, issues in the West oftentimes have (had) their counterparts in the East. Here, people not feeling well seeking for healing.

A healing practice is as good as its problem definition (or conception of the cause of the problem) and its healing method. The gist of mesmerism's problem definition is similar to TCM: an illness is caused by blockage of our internal channels (and by definition, those illnesses (e.g. a broken bone) that are not caused by a blockage cannot be cured by the method). And similarly, energy or vital energy is needed to open such blockages. In TCM, it is called "chi", in mesmerism, it is called "animal magnetism".

Although the healing methods of TCM and mesmerism are very different (and that the former has been part of mainstream culture in particular where Chinese culture flourishes whereas the latter still considered to be occult by most people), practitioners in both try to tackle similar problem (as defined similarly). As a student of chi-kung, I find the following description (from Wikipedia) of a certain healing method of mesmerism very interesting. The healer was like trying to help his patient to generate chi in his body. I shall refrain from commenting its efficacy, though I am amazed by his ingenious effort in trying to deliver the results, i.e. trying his best to generate chi in his patient's body:

"Mesmer treated patients both individually and in groups. With individuals he would sit in front of his patient with his knees touching the patient's knees, pressing the patient's thumbs in his hands, looking fixedly into the patient's eyes. Mesmer made "passes", moving his hands from patients' shoulders down along their arms. He then pressed his fingers on the patient's hypochondrium region (the area below the diaphragm), sometimes holding his hands there for hours. Many patients felt peculiar sensations or had convulsions that were regarded as crises and supposed to bring about the cure."

Healing by Mesmerism

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