Subjective concepts of chronically ill patients using distant healing

Journal Article

By: C.; Anton Guthlin, A.; Kruse, J.; Harald Walach
Publication Name: Qual Health Res
Year: 2012

Distant healing procedures consist of benevolent intentions, often taking the form of prayers for a patient. Despite inconclusive evidence regarding distant healing, prayers are a widespread health-related technique. We studied subjective concepts of distant healing in 17 patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity who were given distant healing during a randomized controlled trial. We applied reconstructive interview analysis when analyzing the results. The overall theme was the tension between mainstream medicine and the immaterial healing procedure. Several components highlighted this tension: (a) patterns of legitimizing the use of distant healing, (b) distant healing and the social setting, (c) integrating distant healing into their belief system, and (d) reconstruction of effects by means of hindsight. The interviews showed that patients felt the need to legitimize having tried distant healing. They had to bear the full ambiguity of biomedicine being in competition with distant healing, though also experiencing distant healing as giving support.

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