• Elmer E. Green, PhD
  • Peter A. Parks, M.S.
  • Paul M. Guyer, B.A.
  • Steven L. Fahrion, PhD
  • Lolafaye Coyne, PhD


A Tibetan meditation system reported in 1882 suggested a way to facilitate self-awareness by isolating students from electrical ground while they sat beneath a bar magnet and looked at their image in a polished copper wall. The research question: Does an electrostatic charge build up on electrically-isolated meditators?

This question was tested with 10 "regular" subjects (typical meditators) and 9 "exceptional" subjects (experienced Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch (NCTT) therapists) in a Copper Wall Lab designed to isolate the subject from ground and also isolate, individually, four surrounding copper walls. front, back, up. and down. For detection of electrostatic potential, the subject's body and the four walls were individually "floated" on single-ended electrometer inputs. A pair of video cameras guarded against body-motion artifact.

In 45-minute meditation sessions with the 10 regular meditators. no body-potential surges reached 4 [I. In comparison, in comparable meditation sessions with the NCTT meditators, many bodypotential surges greater than 4 v were found. Surges appearing in the records of NCTT meditators ranged from 4 v to 221 v (median = 8.3 v). with surge duration ranging from 0.5 s to 12.5 s (median = 3.6 s).

During NCTT therapy sessions with patients, NCTT therapists produced body-potential surges ranging from 4 v to 190 v. The majority of surges were of negative polarity. Though there is a long tradition of Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch in both folklore and in religion, there are as yet no known psychophysiologic or biophysical explanations for such large-magnitude electrical phenomena, 103 times greater than large psychophysiologic skin-potential (GSP) changes related to emotional responses, 105 larger than EKG voltages, and 106 larger than EEG voltages. Since focus-of-attention by NCTT therapists is often a correlate factor in this anomalous phenomenon, results suggest the presence 0 previously-unmeasured human potential, as well as body potential.

Various schemes are discussed for analysis of body-potential surge data, with an eye to determining body mechanisms that might be capable 0 generating electrostatic charge.

KEYWORDS: Anomalous, electrostatic, fields, therapeutic touch, "healer," Tibetan, meditation

Author Biographies

Elmer E. Green, PhD

Peter A. Parks, M.S.

Paul M. Guyer, B.A.

Steven L. Fahrion, PhD

Lolafaye Coyne, PhD


A T. Barker, Editor, The Mahatma Lettm to A. P. Sinnett, 2nd haitian (P. 455, Letter No. CXXVlI, 13 August 1882). Rider and Co., London (1948, 1st edition 1923).

A related double blind experiment with non-contact therapeutic touch therapists was reported by D. Wirth, Subtle Energies 1 (1989), pp. 1-20. Other related materials include studies on (a) the effects of pulsed magnetic and electromagnetic fields on animals and on humans [see M. A. Persinger, Neuroscience Letter 88 (1988), pp. 271274; L. Y. Michaud and M. A. Persinger, Perception and Motor Skills 60 (1985), pp. 416-418)]' (b) studies on the biological and psychological effects of geomagnetic fluctuation, and artificial geomagnetic-like fluctuation (see L. A. Runan, M. A. Persinger, and

S. Koren, Journal for Bioelectricity 9 (1990), pp. 33-54; C. Tart, Journal ofAmerican Society for Psychical Research 82 (1988), pp. 193-216], (c) the use of Faraday cages during parapsychological research [see C. Tart, Journal ofAmerican Society for Psychical Research 82 (1988), pp. 129-146)], (d) clinical references on the use of magnetic fields for amelioration of human ailments '7. H. Philpot(, Biomagnetic Handbook, EnviroTech Publisher, Choctaw, OK (1990)], and (e) discussions of electrical, electromagnetic, and magnetic hazards and uses [see R. O. Becker, Cross Currents deremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, 1990)].

An electrophysiologic measure is the voltage difference between two electrodes on the body. Pb is the voltage difference between earth ground and one electrode on the body.

E. Green, P. Parks, S. Fahrion & L. Coyne, Subtle Energies (under publication). Also, in three in-house reports by S. Fahrion, L. Coyne, E. Green, and P. Parks, Copper Wall Research, Technical Notes 24, 25, and 26 (The Menninger Clinic, Box 829, Topeka, Kansas 66601, 1992).

In order to participate in copper wall research, all subjects signed standard informedconsent forms after reading both the Tibetan ins[£uctions and the research protocol.

Construction data for the single-wall lab are in W. Spencer and E. Green, Copper Wall Research, Technical Note 3 (Menninger Clinic, Box 829, Topeka, KS 66601, 1991). The copper wall room, located in the basement of the Gardner Murphy Research Building, Menninger Clinic, is entirely below ground. It measures 2.74 m (north-south) by 5.79 m (east-west). The control room of the lab is located across a hallway. All interior walls are constructed of clay tile cores, expanded metal lath, concrete and plaster. Grounded conduit carries AC and DC power, and metal ductwork serves heating and air conditioning. The lab has its own temperature and humidity comrol system, separate from the rest of the building. Standard roofing copper 0.61 mm thick was chosen as the wall's surface material. Three 91 cm x 2.13 m sheets mounted vertically on side-by-side frames (made of wood and other non-ferrous materials), bonded together with copper strips, gave a single copper surface 2.13 m high by 2.74 m wide. For electrical reference, the back of the supporting framework was covered wirh

10 mm aluminum sheets, also bonded together, giving a matching aluminum wall

2 em from the copper. The copper-and-aluminum structure was isolated from ground with glass construction blocks and the subject's chair was electrically isolated by mounting it on a plywood base having glass blocks adhesively bonded below each corner. Comparative electrical behavior of the pair of insulated metal walls, which were wired into the differential inputs of a Beckman Electrometer Coupler (input impedance

ohms), was recorded on multiple Beckman-polygraph channels with sensitivities

ranging from 2 mv/cm to 500 mv/cm. This Beckman electrometer is no longer


Construction data for the four-wall lab are in W. Spencer and E. Green, Copper Wall Research. Technical Note 4 (The Menninger Clinic, Box 829, Topeka, KS 66601, 1991).

Using only the center copper panel of each wall increased the sensitivity of the singleended electrometer circuits by reducing wall-body electrical capacity. All 12 copper panels of the 4-wall system are backed by matching aluminum panels (8.25 cm away), but only the center aluminum panel is grounded (through its electrometer ground). Resistances to ground (± 5%) of the four center copper panels, in gigohms (109 ohms) were; front, 700; back, 680; up, 640; down, 350. Capacitances including electrometer cables, in nanofarads (10-9 farads) were: front, 0.505; back, 0.520; up, 0.528; down,

570. Thus, RC time constants, in minutes and seconds, were: front, 5:54; back, 5:50; up, 5:37; and down, 3:20. Typical resistance-to-ground and capacitance of a subject wired for physiologic telemetering were: 40 gigohms and 1.1 nanofarads, with a resultant time constant of 44 seconds. The important point of these vety long time constants of the walls. is that wall-voltage shifts induced by Pb shifts closely follow the body's electrical behavior, without significant distortion due to bleed-off of charge.

Physiologic signals include left and right occiput EEG, EKG, thorax and abdominal breathing (from belt harnesses), galvanic skin potential (between an ear lobe and a finger), and temperature of the right index finger pad. Subjects wear a "psychophysiologic jacket" in which sewn-in shielded wires, originating at a 50-pin connector at the hem, terminate at 6-pin left-and-right collar sockets and 8-pin left-and-right cuff sockets. Subjects are wired up in an adjoining room and, until going to the copper wall room, are free to walk about. This arrangement reduces the "electric-chair effects" of physiologic recording. By the time the plug on the hem of the;acket is connected to the socket of the multi-channel electrophysiologic system, subjects are thinking of meditating, rather than wiring. Output of the self-contained banety-powered psychophysiologic system is optically telemetered to polygraphs and digitizers via multichannel light-emitting diode transmitters and receivers.

E. Green. Correspondence between Stevens' terminal brightness function and the discriminability law. Science, 138 (1962), pp. 1274-1275.

Subject 14 was the first of the sensitives, and based on experience with regular subjects, we set the Pb electrometer scale too low and only 1 surge was within its range. What we now recognize as high-voltage surges, was then thought to be electrometer malfunction. On examining digital wall-voltage records two years later, however, typicalamplitude surge data were found, from which it was infirred that in the first four NCTT sessions, Subject 14 had 45 Pb surges over 4 volts.

To delineate characteristics of body mechanisms which might be involved in these anomalous voltage surges, physicist William Tiller of Stanford University is analyzing Pb and wall responses (with the collaboration of physicist Elizabeth Rauscher of MagTech Inc.), for correspondence with dipole and quadrapole theoty.

Deconvolution of surges was obtained with a SpectraCalc software program marketed by Galactic Industries, modified to altow visual best-fit of gaussian curves.

For eight years of support of this research we are grateful to the late John E. Fetzer of the Fetzer Foundation, Kalamazoo, MI, and we thank the present Fetzer Institute for funding an additional one and one-half years, providing time to conduct Experiment 4, analyze data, and write reports. We also thank Robert Becker, M.D. and engineer

James Beal for comments and advice since 1983; Rex Hartzell and Wendell Spencer of the Menninger Biomedical Engineering Lab for construction of the copper-wall lab;

Stacy Anderson for continuous assistance in operations and data handling; Kaye Norris

for help in conducting Experiment 1: Gay Hoefer, Duane Callies, and Earl Campbell

for help with data reduction; and Robert Shellenberger and Judith Green for reading

and commenting on drafts of this report.

Finally, researchers and clinicians interested in this technology and the results described above are invited to examine the copper wall laboratory and the data in person. Appointments can be made by phoning Elmer Green or Peter Parks at The Menninger Clinic, 913-273-7500, Ext. 5375.