Expanding the Paradigm in DMILS/HI Research: a Proposal in Four Phases

James Lake


Future investigations into direct mental interactions with living systems (DMILS) including studies on “healing intention (HI)” will ideally take place in the context of a collaborative longitudinal research program employing field methods used in anthropology together with advanced brain imaging techniques to permit rigorous examination of “healing” in both naturalistic settings and controlled laboratory conditions. The multidisciplinary research program outlined in this proposal addresses important unresolved conceptual and methodological problems in DMILS/HI research with the goal of clarifying the roles of socio-cultural, psychological, biological, spiritual and “energetic” factors in “healing.” As envisioned, a series of field and laboratory studies in four phases will examine “healing” in relationship to select traditional healing approaches as practiced in naturalistic settings; traits, attitudes and beliefs of healers, patients and researchers; relationship factors influencing outcomes in researcher-healer-subject teams including distance, duration, time displacement (eg, healing “intention” in past or future), differences in attitudes, numbers of healers, patients and researchers; environmental factors conducive of (or interfering with) responses to HI; quantitative or qualitative methodologies that permit replication of “healing” claims and clarify underlying mechanisms associated with healing in both field and laboratory conditions.

The proposed research program will yield improved methodologies for future field and laboratory studies on “healing,” contribute to an integral theory of “healing,” help scientifically validate the rigorous interdisciplinary practice of “healing” that can be integrated into conventional allopathic medicine and alternative medical practices. Research findings will also lead to improved understanding of environmental factors and healer-patient dynamics associated with optimal “healing” outcomes, and examine efficacy claims of specific “healing” techniques used to treat medical and psychiatric disorders, investigate whether healing techniques used in the context of unique cultural settings, traditional healing systems or spiritual beliefs generalize to a human capacity for “healing” across cultures or in controlled laboratory settings. Finally, the proposed research program will ask whether humans can be trained as “more effective” healers and “more successful” patients.


healing, healing intention, distant healing intention, theory of healing, culture

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