William Bengston, Ph.D., with Sylvia Fraser. 2010. The Energy Cure. Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing. Sounds True, Bolder CO. 288 pp.
A great alternative title to this book would have been, The Accidental Healer
, for the pivotal event of this incredible story—how the author in a laboratory study cured five out of six mice injected with a strain of mammary cancer which previously had been 100% fatal—happened by accident when the man who was originally slated to act as the “healer” withdrew. In the spirit of “the show must go on,” Bengston—a newly minted college professor and friend of the cantankerous psychic and healer—stepped in and applied the hands-on healing technique he had helped his friend develop over the previous five years. When Bengston cured all of the experimental mice (the one which died did so of causes unrelated to the injected cancer), he was so shaken that he refused to participate in a follow-up study. It didn’t matter, though—Bengston taught the technique to the two college professors and two students who were to act as healers in the second study—and they
healed seven out of the eight experimental mice in their study (with one mouse once again dying of causes unrelated to the injected cancer).
I first heard of Bengston when I read his article, Breakthrough: Clues to Healing with Intention
in the second issue of Edge Science
, the online, popularly-oriented magazine published by the Society of Scientific Exploration (see pp. 5 – 9 in http://www.scientificexploration.org/edgescience/edgescience_02.pdf
). Like anyone with a passing familiarity with popular culture, I had heard terms like “laying on of hands” and “therapeutic touch” for over a decade, but I was deeply skeptical of claims that living organisms could be cured of diseases by mental intention alone. However, a picture is worth a thousand words, and Bengston’s article in Edge Science
is accompanied by clear color photographs of one of the experimental mice developing a huge tumor from the injected cancer cells. The last photograph shows the tumor ulcerating, a process which reminds me of when demolition experts “implode” large buildings. What appears to be doing the imploding in these cases is the animal’s immune system, and the ulcerated tumor turns black, then red, and finally white as it begins to shrink. The tumor continues to shrink and the animal’s fur regrows. Finally, one is left with a healed, healthy mouse with the appearance, size, and shape it started with.The Energy Cure
is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It tells the story of how Bengston met Bennett (Ben) Mayrick while working as a lifeguard at a neighborhood swimming pool following his graduation from college. Mayrick lived in the apartment complex where the swimming pool was located. Although Mayrick had a college education, he had a strong disdain for convention, and he preferred to work as a jack-of-all-trades. When Bengston met him he was working as a house cleaner. Bengston introduced himself to Mayrick after Bengston heard from a fellow lifeguard that Mayrick had psychic abilities. Mayrick told Bengston that he had found out quite by accident that he had psychic abilities when he attended a recent party. The people giving the party had brought in a psychic to provide entertainment. The psychic gave a demonstration in the phenomenon of psychometry—she collected personal items from the guests and then tried to perceive information about the guests by handling the items. After doing this with a number of the objects she selected Mayrick at random and had him try it. To the surprise of everyone—most of all himself—Mayrick gave very accurate readings.
In the months after he met Mayrick, Bengston informally tested Mayrick’s abilities. Mayrick performed psychometry readings for Bengston and for his own, and for Bengston’s, friends. Gradually Mayrick started experimenting and found that the handling of items wasn’t necessary—he could perceive information about people and events in a more active process (what we would call remote viewing, today).
Just as Mayrick discovered his psychic-informational abilities in a gradual manner, so he discovered his ability to heal. One day he, Bengston, and several friends were hanging out in Mayrick’s apartment. One of the friends gave Mayrick a letter from his cousin in Dallas, Texas, requesting a long-distance reading. As soon as he picked up the letter and tried to zero-in on the individual in Texas, Mayrick developed a terrific headache. Mayrick then put the letter down, and the headache disappeared. When Mayrick picked up the letter, again, the pain returned. Mayrick told Bengston and the others that he was going to make the headache “go away,” and he headed off to his bedroom where he lay down for about 15 minutes, holding the letter. He then returned to his friends, boasting, “I made the pain go away!”
The friend who was the cousin to the individual in Texas then phoned her. Everyone was astonished to hear that the cousin had been suffering a migraine at the time Mayrick began his reading. She then reported that her migraine had just mysteriously ended.
The next day Bengston prodded Mayrick to perform his first intentional healing. For years Bengston had been suffering from chronic lower back pain which first started when he was a competitive collegiate swimmer. On this particular day his back was hurting again. Remembering the incident with the letter from the previous day, Bengston asked Mayrick to try healing his back. Bengston bent over and had Mayrick place his hands on his back. Bengston felt an area about four inches in diameter grow warm, then hot. The area then grew numb. The numbness then disappeared, leaving his back pain-free. The effect was permanent—Bengston has never had problems with his back again.
Mayrick reported that during this process he felt “an energy pulsing down my arm.” He also told Bengston that this marked the beginning of a new phase of his life. Mayrick was going to become a professional healer.
Mayrick started off by treating friends and neighbors for minor complaints. He enjoyed early success, and his reputation spread by word-of-mouth. The number of people seeking help grew, and Mayrick slowly expanded the kinds of illnesses and conditions he would treat.
While all this was going on, Bengston moved on with his own life. He entered graduate school and earned his master's and doctoral degrees in sociology. He maintained his friendship with Mayrick, however, and even began trying his own hand at the healing process. Working alongside Mayrick he started to formalize the process, continually asking Mayrick how he did it—what was going on in his mind during the healing process, etc.
It was during this time that Bengston met David Krinsley, a geology professor from Queen’s College of the City University of New York City. Krinsley accompanied a friend who was seeking treatment for diabetes from Mayrick. Bengston and Krinsley became friends. They discovered they shared an interest in the scientific study of the paranormal. In discussing Mayrick they realized they both wanted Mayrick to move away from “the clinical model” to the “experimental model” utilizing animals whose genetics and environment could be controlled.
In the past, Krinsley had served as the interim provost at Queen’s College. Through this experience he had knowledge of the faculties and resources available at the school. He approached the chair of the biology department about performing a formal experiment to test Mayrick’s healing abilities. Though he wasn’t enthusiastic about it, the chairperson agreed.
They approached a professor in the department of biology to help them. They chose her because of her extensive experience in studying a particular form of mammary cancer in mice. She had been studying this particular cancer for over 20 years. She had a deep understanding of its biology and how it developed in the animal models she usually worked with.
The experiment was designed as follows. Twelve mice were to be injected with the mammary cancer cells. Six would then be given to Mayrick to treat, while the other six would stay with the associate professor as the controls. Unfortunately, there were several delays in the delivery of the mice, and Mayrick pulled out of the experiment. Over the preceding months his behavior had become increasingly erratic. He told Bengston that he interpreted the several delays in the delivery of the mice as a sign that he should not participate in the experiment.
This is how Bengston became the “accidental healer” I described at the beginning of this review. His friend David Krinsley persuaded him to act as the healer in Mayrick’s absence. Thus, for the next 30-plus days, Bengston spent an hour a day in a small storeroom where the experimental mice were kept. Bengston would sit on a stool, holding the small plastic cage containing the six mice. During this time he would practice the mental healing protocol he had developed with Mayrick over the proceeding years. This consisted of running a mental “film strip” through his mind containing images which represented the successful acquisition of desires on the part of the healer. These could be monetary, status, career, relationship, health or other kinds of goals. The purpose of this exercise was to occupy the conscious mind of the healer, letting the unconscious mind go about its healing duties.
No one knew what to expect during this experiment, and until the very end Bengston thought he was utterly failing to have an effect. About a week into the experiment, Bengston noticed lumps appearing in the coats of two of his mice. Soon, all of his mice developed these lumps. Bengston had Krinsley tell the biology professor, and she reported back that these were the beginning of the tumors which were characteristic of this particular cancer. The mice infected with this cancer invariably develop large external tumors which grow so large that they interfere with the functioning of their internal organs, killing them.
Bengston became horrified as the tumors grew larger and larger. He imagined that he was putting his mice through a painful ordeal, and he begged Krinsley to end the experiment and put the mice out of their misery.
Krinsley, however, wasn’t so certain. He pointed out that except for the presence of the tumors, the mice appeared to be healthy. They continued to scurry about their cage, and they even occasionally fought with each other. Krinsley became even more convinced to continue the experiment when he heard that two of the control mice had died from the cancer, and the rest were in such poor shape that they weren’t expected to live much longer.
Bengston, however, felt the experimental mice were getting worse. All of the tumors developed black spots which looked “like pencil points.” Krinsley urged him to keep going, pointing out that in all of the previous experiments, no mouse infected with this cancer had ever lived past 27 days. He suggested that if just one of the experimental mice lived to 28 days, it might be evidence of the healing having an effect in slowing down the cancer.
By days 17 to 21, some of the tumors had ulcerated. Basically, it appeared as though the tumors had imploded. Though Bengston thought this was obviously the beginning of the end, the behavior of his mice hadn’t changed—they were still “cavorting” about their cage as if nothing were wrong with them. This continued even after the ulcerations “grew large, raw, and red, as if holes had been burned into the mice.”
“By day 28 all five were still alive. I informed them aloud that they were making history.”
Bengston continued to be alarmed at the progression of the tumors. The ulcerations went from black to red to white. Bengston assumed that meant they were infected, but there was no pus or other discharge. As the days passed, Bengston started wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. Were the tumors shrinking? It certainly appeared so.
Bengston’s horror gradually changed to astonishment as the ulcerated tumors continued to shrink. Eventually, they disappeared completely, and the mice’s fur regrew. Finally, “my patients now looked the same as when we had begun—little brown creatures of normal shape and size.”
Krinsley and Bengston were so stunned they didn’t know what to think. Krinsley then took the mice to the biologist for analysis. The evening they were to receive her report, Bengston states that they “were pacing like expectant fathers.” Then the phone rang, and they received the miraculous news: the mice were cured. They were completely cancer free.
Both Bengston and Krinsley were so shaken that they spent the next several weeks apart without discussing the experiment, letting their emotions calm down. When they did meet to discuss the results, they both agreed that a top priority was to replicate the experiment. But, Bengston insisted upon a major change—he didn’t want to act as “healer” in the second experiment. He was too emotionally drained from the first one. In addition, he wanted to avoid any kind of self-delusion. Finally, he wanted to see if others besides Mayrick and himself could heal.
Krinsley protested loudly when Bengston suggested that he should act as healer in the second experiment. Bengston continued to pressure him, and eventually he relented, but only after Bengston agreed to have four healers—Krinsley and another healer of Krinsley’s choosing, and two healers of Bengston’s choosing.
Krinsley chose the head of the biology department at Queen’s College—the one who had been unenthusiastic about the first experiment. Bengston chose two graduate students, going through a selection process to find the most skeptical students available.
Over the next two weeks, Bengston met with the four to teach them his hands-on healing technique. Then, the experiment began. Each of the four healers was issued two experimental mice. Eight other mice would function as controls. The two graduate students treated their mice in an unused laboratory at the college, while Krinsley and the departmental chair treated their mice at their own locations.
This experiment progressed almost exactly like the first. One of the experimental mice died very early in the process of a cause unrelated to the cancer. The remaining seven developed tumors which grew then ulcerated, turning black then red and finally, white. The tumors then shrank and disappeared. Eventually the cancer remitted in all seven.
The first three-quarters of The Energy Cure
is devoted to telling the story of how Bengston met Mayrick, their relationship developed, and how this led to the pivotal experiment in which Bengston cured the mice of cancer. The last quarter of the book begins to put these results in perspective. It tells how Bengston joined organizations such as the Society for Scientific Exploration and The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) where he met others conducting research in alternative healing, and the directions this is currently taking him. It includes several chapters in which Bengston presents his informed speculation as to the mechanism behind hands-on healing. There is a fascinating chapter in which Bengston presents a number of case studies of his healing of people suffering from a number of different ailments. In the next-to-last chapter, entitled Looking Back, Looking Forward
, Bengston lists the things he thinks he has learned about hands-on healing and the questions he would like to pursue in the future. The last chapter, entitled Touching the Source
, is a philosophical summation of the extraordinary journey Bengston has taken so far in exploring energy healing.
Had the book simply ended at this point, it would still be an incredible read, but the book includes an appendix which gives extremely detailed instructions on how to apply the Mayrick-Bengston hands-on healing method. This makes the book an invaluable resource.
I cannot recommend The Energy Cure
highly enough. It combines a highly compelling personal story along with results from current research into the fascinating phenomenon of “energy healing.” The book is extremely well written and is very easy to read, thanks to co-writer Sylvia Fraser’s skillful shaping of the text. Perhaps the highest praise I can give The Energy Cure
is to say the only other book I have ever read which so successfully merged a fascinating personal story with research results into an important “anomalous” phenomenon is Targ and Puthoff’s Mind-Reach