Stories, Autobiographical, Interesting, Plaut, Asthma,
Forty years ago I enroll in a course in psychic healing. Everyone has heard of people with mystical powers. Some read minds, some read palms and others predict the future. Not my professor, Dr. Larry LeShan. He heals. That’s right he can cure people without laying a hand on them. A good skill for a doctor to have. I am determined to learn as much as possible in his four-hour course.
It is early in the 1970s. I am working as a pediatrician in the South Bronx. I care for about 2,000 children who live in a housing project. I see them in my office and the emergency room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center. As part of this job, I also supervise doctors-in-training in a new and unusual program. Called Social Medicine, it is an add-on to the standard pediatric curriculum. It invites experts in non-medical areas to give lectures and short courses on many topics, including economics, politics and organization of health care. As a preceptor, I am invited to attend.
I am drawn to a course on psychic healing. Two hours for two successive weeks, four hours in all. The instructor is Larry LeShan, a world-renowned expert in the field. Dr. LeShan is a psychologist, educator and author of thirteen books. He has taught for more than 50 years and conducted extensive research in the field of parapsychology.
Everyone has heard of people with mystical powers. Some read minds, some read palms and others predict the future. Not Professor Le Shan. He heals. That’s right, he can cure people without laying a hand on them. Obviously a good skill for a doctor to have. There are eight students in the group. We will hear how an experienced practitioner can treat pain, shrink tumors and obliterate infections.
I am eager to start learning. Professor LeShan is a quiet man who has spent years studying the healing process. He is serious. He starts the class with a warning. “I will teach you some basic aspects of psychic healing. However, this is a powerful tool that must be used with care. Because you are beginning students, I have to warn you: “Stay away from the brain and body cavities.”
One of our group, who is not sick, volunteers to receive a sham treatment. We watch as the professor places his flattened palms opposite each other about one inch from each side of the young doctor’s knee. He then closes his eyes and concentrates. After one minute the subject feels his knee get very warm. After that we practice on each other. Our results are the same. We feel moderate heat after one minute of concentration with our hands close to the knee.
Dr. LeShan describes examples from his research; they include telehealing (healing at a distance), and causing plants to grow at a rapid rate. I am eager to start learning this powerful skill. At the same time, I heed Dr. LeShan’s urging: “Take it slow. Practice on the simplest problems: a cut, a burn and later, a fracture. Under no circumstances should you attempt to treat a problem in the brain or a body cavity.”
The second session was much like the first except that we practiced on minor problems that our colleagues complained of: itchy skin, warts, bruises and abrasions. When we followed the prescribed routine carefully, our treatments were successful in a short period of time. Pain often disappeared within minutes.
It is Thanksgiving and we are finished eating. Sweet potatoes, snow peas, stuffing, the big bird and three kinds of pie. The dishwasher is loaded. The little children are in bed.
My cousin Betty is complaining. She has bursitis in her right shoulder. She stands about five feet tall and is very large.
“I can help you. I have studied psychic healing.”
“Does it work?”
“It works every time. But I don’t do body cavities or the brain.”
“My bursitis is here, in my right shoulder.”
I’m about to start when she lifts up both arms and starts to flail them like a two-propeller plane.
“What are you doing?”
“My bursitis does not hurt right now. I am trying to develop some pain so I can tell if the treatment works.”
“Betty, I can’t treat you if you don’t have pain. You have to have pain when I start..”
“Well, do Paul. He has pain all the time.”
Paul is her husband. He looks up from his newspaper and says, “You can do me. I have arthritis in my right knee.”
I am uneasy. People are talking. Healing is private.
“Come into the next room, Paul.”
We go to the next room. Paul sits down and asks, “What should I do?”
“Just sit quietly.”
I am about to start and he asks, “How will I know if it is working?”
“You will feel some heat and some tingling in just a few minutes.”
I put my hands one inch from either side of his knee and concentrate. Ten seconds pass.
“I don’t feel anything.”
I do not answer. After thirty seconds, I remove my hands. “Just sit quietly for thirty seconds.” He does.
“It didn’t work, Tom. Do you want to try again tomorrow?”
The next day, I analyze. I heal children with cuts, burns, rashes, a bruise and a fracture. I heal adults with arthritis and bursitis. I even heal a computer at the airport. I never fail. What is different? Then I remember. I did not want to heal Paul. He hadn’t asked me to heal him. I only did it because his wife asked me to. I can heal a willing patient. I can heal a child whose parent requests it. But psychic healing is serious and a casual attitude will block the process.
In 1989, I went up to Colrain to support the war tax refusers there. This was the third time that my affinity group from Amherst had taken over for a week. We had been there before in March and in June. Andrew drove up with me. We were going to spend the night in a ten by ten foot structure just outside Randy and Betsy’s house.
It is getting to be about nine o’clock. We are sitting by the stove and I mention that I had cured several kids who had suffered burns and cuts recently. Andrew wants to know where I learned that skill. “New York,” I say. “I was working with some young doctors down there in the late seventies. They were getting all the usual training, but they had special seminars every so often. I decided to take one in psychic healing. The two two-hour sessions were run by Larry LeShan. He has been in the psychic healing business for many years and is known nationwide.”
“About eight of us met with him. He told us stories of healing and said you could even make plants grow faster if you knew how to do it. We practiced that first night, but only on the arms and legs. Dr. LeShan did not want us stirring up any body cavities, or the brain either”.
The next week I came back and practiced some more. I could feel the warmth and the tingling start to come on about twenty seconds after I placed my hands an inch from either side of a fellow student’s elbow. I knew this would work and was anxious to get started for real. I do remember the last thing Dr. LeShan said to us. ‘You have gained a new power. Use it wisely. And stay away from body cavities and the brain.’
“Well, about three weeks later, a child came into my office with a deep cut on the arm. I washed it and sewed it up. Then I asked the mother for permission to use my new power to make that cut heal faster. ‘All right,’ she said, ‘it can’t hurt.’ So I placed my hands one inch from either side of the arm and I concentrated. In a few seconds I felt the warmth and the tingle of the healing process. That cut healed faster than you would believe.
Over the next ten years, I healed rashes, burns, cuts and a sprained ankle or two.
Then we moved to Amherst, Massachusetts. A short time later, I told Johanna that I had seen the perfect child for some psychic healing. This six-year-old had a fracture of the right arm–no big deal–but I could get it to heal faster.
Well, my wife got upset. Her voice started to shake. ‘Tom,’ she said, ‘you work hard. You’re a good doctor. But we just moved here and people don’t know you. They might think you are crazy.’
I did not do any psychic healing for the next ten years. Then one night we were visiting friends for dinner and their ten-year-old daughter was having knee pain. She had fallen and hurt her knee real bad. I couldn’t resist. I offered to heal her. She accepted. Her father, a professor of psychology, also accepted.
“Five minutes later, she had no more pain and was running around the room.” Andrew points to his knee. “I have arthritis and it hurts real bad,” he says.
“If you want, I can heal it, Andrew.”
“Actually,” he says, “both of my knees hurt, but the right one hurts more.”
I get him to move his chair opposite mine. Then I place my hands to each side of his right knee and start to concentrate. “Tell me when you feel something.”
In 30 seconds, he says he feels heat and some tingling.
I concentrate hard about half a minute longer. Then I wait for the healing to settle in. “How is it, Andrew?”
“Fine. Would you do my other knee, too?”
“No, not tonight. I want you to appreciate what I did for your right knee.”
I healed his left knee a week later.
This day is not going well for US Air or for me. My flight to Washington was cancelled yesterday because of a strike. US Air rescheduled me. I know the flight will be full, so I arrive in plenty of time. I walk into the terminal and up to the ticket counter. There is a long line of people twisted back on itself a couple of times. Well, I’m early. I am thinking the line is pretty long, but I’m staying calm. I will get to Washington on time. The line moves a little and stops, moves a little and stops, moves a little and stops. Then I pick up my bags, go to the head of the line and plunk them down at the counter. I am not crowding in front of other people. I am just tired of carrying my bags one step at a time. I go back to my place in line. After waiting a long time, I check one bag. Then I put my other bag on a conveyor belt and go through the security doorframe and walk to the gate.
I walk down the passageway and see another line. This one is at the gate check-in counter. There are four people working at the counter. Two men are wearing red, white and blue ties that are exactly alike, and two women are wearing smaller but similar ties. Two of them are handling my flight. One of them is working, then leaves, returns, and then leaves again. The man handling my flight to Washington is busy with his computer.
The gate is crowded because of the strike. People’s faces are not smiling. I am number seven in a line that is not moving. There are fifteen people behind me, all anxious to fly on Flight 7012. Well, our airline person cannot get his computer to work. He pokes at the keyboard and waits. He pokes and he waits. He talks on the phone. He pokes again. Then he leaves. This is probably a US Air policy. Do not poke more than three times without taking a break.
He comes back, pokes, and seems to be swearing softly. We have been waiting now for twenty minutes. It is time for the plane to leave. I hope it will not go without us. Our airline person is not making progress. I step up to the counter and say, “Would you like me to fix your computer?”
He looks up and says nothing.
“I do it all the time.”
He says, “Yes.”
I ask him to just step back a little. I lean over the counter and check out the keyboard. I position my right hand about four inches above the far end. Then I close my eyes and slowly move my hand to the other end. When I’m done, I open my eyes and say, “Wait thirty seconds and then you can use it.”
He waits. Then he moves up to the computer. He pokes at the keyboard and it starts printing out boarding passes. People head for the gate.