I am about to enter into a nursing program and so have been taking an introductory course on it.  For this course we had to attend presentations made by senior nursing majors that were essentially designs for research projects based on peer-reviewed articles but not actually carrying the research out in the real world.  This is the senior project and it places an emphasis on "evidence-based practice," which has been important in elevating nursing as a profession.

While looking at these presentations, I decided to go over to the one that talked about Therapeutic Touch (TT).  I thought at first that it was talking about the effects of a hands on approach to nursing that was examining the effects of touch on patients.

Nope.  It was actually about TT as a way to manipulate some sort of energy field that somehow extends beyond the human body yet isn't one of the fundamental physical forces or anything else that is recognized by science.  I held my tongue since his evaluator was listening at the time and the presenter noted that the evaluator knew all about it.  I was staring at them because it was so odd to see an open display of belief in something with, as far as I know, no evidence to support it (apart from religion).

I remember watching an episode of Penn & Teller Bullshit that dealt with new age medicine and such.  In the episode, they have a girl on who has/had the Guiness world record as the youngest person to have research published in a medical journal.  At age 9 she showed that 21 practitioners of TT did worse than chance at being able to blindly guess whether her hand was over their right or left hand.  They only guessed correctly 4.1/10 times on average.  That happened in '98.  Yet studies continue to be done on the effects of TT while still making the claim that practitioners can sense a universal human energy field or something and then make a patient better by manipulating it.

This seems like a horribly unscientific thing to do for a profession that is trying to back up its practices with evidence-based research.  It's false and gives patients false hope.  If the benefit of it is the placebo effect, then it should be taught in such a way that practitioners know this and understand how to use it without teaching a lie to a patient.  However, it appears that proponents of it are still making miracle claims.

So I suppose I'm nervous that I'm going to have to fight against bullshit like this while learning and while practicing.  I want to be able to call "bullshit" when I see something like this, but I think that it would ruffle to many feathers.

Does anyone here work in nursing (or medicine) and see anything like this?  What are your thoughts on TT or other "alternative" or "new age" "medicines"?  Have you ever dealt with nurses or doctors who insist on wasting your time with these things?

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If it's a treatment for patients, why doesn't it have to undergo clinical trials just like any other treatment? 

If it's real, then run double blind trials. Run clinical studies. Submit it to peer reviewed journals. 

But seriously. If it's a medical procedure, it has to meet standards of medical testing. If you don't know what you're manipulating, you don't know if you're manipulating it wrong. 

Can you imagine getting sued for malpractice for aura mishandling, or whatever? 

My brain is burning. It HURTS.

On that note, I'm going to go there. 

My dog requires human touch to be healthy and happy. 

Lots of social animals require social grooming. They suffer physical consequences if they don't receive it. 

I'll go out there and say, ok. Maybe there is something we don't fully understand about physical touch. There is a lot of the known universe we can't observe with current technology. So fine. I'm listening. Give me some evidence. 

If not, then suggest your patients get a light massage or have their hair washed or.. something. But if it's touch for the sake of compassion and companionship,  don't put a price-tag on it like it's physical therapy. 

In the eighties , a so called "psychic" had a brain CT performed at Temple University Hospital . She later claimed the scan caused the loss of her psychic abilities , and successfully sued the hospital , and was awarded $600,000 ( Haimes v. Temple University Hospital 1986 ).

To quote Doctor Detroit, "This is an outrage!"

To quote Pee Wee Herman, "I know you are, but what am I?"

What happened to the burden of proof that psychic ability is real in the first place? Was the judgment appealed? I would certainly expect it to be, and overturned as well.

I wish we could do this to obtain hyper-rationalism!

I think that you pointed out the important point that I get:  we are social animals and do seem to respond to touch and intimacy.  That is a likely source of the placebo effect that this has.  Even though there is no physical touch, there is attention paid to the person in an effort to relax them.  If people want to study this, I would be 100% behind a study examining the effects of touch on different physiological markers.

Society has already provided the entire range of social interactions. From a good chat with a councilor to a long session with your local prostitute, whatever "touching" your looking for can be had entirely woo free!

What about mental insults? Or logic crime?

I deal with a lot of new age "newage" (rhymes with "sewage") at my current job.  Just posted my first blog entry here this evening and I highlighted a sample from a Reiki Master's Guide that a local Master is peddling around my town.

Here's the bit from my post:

"We must restore the grids that broke when the meteors hit Russia. We need to restore the function and structure and activate the entrance and exit points of the gravitational fields within the new color codes and narrow charm resonances. If the merkaba vehicle requires to tunnel through discontinuities abruptly these entrances and exit points require optimum function so we are not put in danger or have our merkaba damaged."

Seriously... where do you even BEGIN with that paragraph? 

I'm tempted to buy her guide for amusing bathroom reading.

....incredible (in the very literal sense)

Well it could have a few uses in the bathroom at least

Hey, it's no laughing matter to have your merkaba damaged - sometimes you can't merk for weeks!


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