Thursday, April 3, 2014

Miracle healing

Recently a reader asked me to comment on a miracle chi-healer from Indonesia. A quick research showed that, as with many other claims on miracle healing, there are netizen comments that said It is possible and other comments that said the guy is a crook.  Healing here means healing of the body instead of the soul.

Miracle healing by definition means that a purported healing has not yet been supported by rational or scientific means. To demonstrate his ability, the healer usually did some spectacular acts. The Indonesian guy was, for example, seen to light up a light bulb with his fingers and his touch could send electricity-like shock to people. The specular acts served as proof that the guy has miracle power, which would, as patients were made to believe, that he has magical healing power. In short, the miracle acts is marketing, the supposed healing effects is the product offered.

These miracle acts have not be proved to be staged show (otherwise they will not be called miracles). The point is however, as in this case, nobody will be interested in asking the master to perform such extraordinary acts per se, like generating electricity to light up a bulb. Rather his purported power is the reason for believing in his healing power.  The scenario can only be one of the below: You believe in his miracle power and you might also believe in his healing power. Or you believe in his miracle but you don't believe he has healing power. Or you believe in neither. He hoped that you will take the first option.

From the above analysis, we can see that a discussion on individual miracle healer cannot generate conclusive or interesting results.

A more interesting question: Has miracle healing  been only practised by alternative healers?

When people are in desperation, some seek miracles. In Hong Kong, major illness like cancers are treated in Government hospitals with good facilities at HK$100 for residents, all inclusive per day of hospital stay, and free for those on Welfare. Doctors are professionals and would recommend needed treatments. To cover cases outside Western medical professions, some public hospitals also have their Chinese medicine departments. In addition to physiotherapy treatments, public hospitals also offer tai chi and chi kung courses for certain discharged patients. All additional services are with reasonable charges.

Yet some people still seek miracle healing, whether buying over-the-counter miracle potions or seeking a miracle healer in person. The rich might choose to go to places like Thailand, Taiwan or Indonesia where more services are on offer, besides, mountain ranges do offer more hope for miracle power which the concrete jungles in Hong Kong failed to inspire.

The use of "miracle healing" in mainstream medical practice is less well publicized. Typical cases are the recommendation of remotely relevant surgical procedures and prescription drugs. One can imagine, this happens in private practices rather than Government clinics or hospitals. But what are the spectacular acts that can induce unquestioning belief? Typically of their credentials, like a (former) professor of a prestigious University - such credential is equivalent to, and as good as, lighting up a light bulb with one's fingers. The miracle believers will follow his recommendations without asking for additional professional opinion or advice, or still follow his advice despite contrary advice from other medical professionals - "Other doctors can't but our professor can! That's why he is the best in his profession!"

When desperate people seeking for miracles, miracles will always come, irrespective of whether it is Indonesia or Hong Kong. Perhaps unfair to practitioners of alternative medicine, mainstream miracle healers usually can get away from the sanction of our law court easier, because they can argue more scientifically in court and our society has more trust on them in general. Not all cases go wrong and indeed there have been "reported" cases of good healing effects. However, if anything goes wrong, the lost will be upon money, physical injuries and/or sex. Now and then one such healers will be put behind bar in Hong Kong.


Healing of the body by miracle


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