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Working as a Doctor and as a Healer

by Dr Daniel Benor(more info)

listed in mind body, originally published in issue 87 - April 2003

I started out a crass sceptic about spiritual healing. Being trained in psychology, medicine, psychiatry and research, I was certain that healing was no more than wishful thinking, fear of illnesses we could not control and denial of death (or even of the spectre of death that illness raises). As to the spiritual, I was certain that God was the creation of people who wanted a father figure or a reassurance that termination of all consciousness with death would not occur.

In 1980, I observed a healing that was medically impossible. A lump under the nipple of a 20-year-old college student was altered by a healer over the course of a 30 minute healing. It started out at 1 x 2 cm, rubbery, firm, more fixed (difficult to move within the tissues of the chest) and it was very tender. At the end of the healing during which there was a strong emotional release, it had shrunk by a centimetre, was soft, freely mobile and no longer tender.

This was a healing for my disbeliefs as well as a healing for this young man's lesion. I was glad that another physician was there with me, to confirm my assessments before and after the healing treatment. Otherwise I might have convinced myself that I must have made some error or misremembered my assessments – because such a change simply does not occur spontaneously or under non-invasive treatments in the course of half an hour.

I was fascinated by healing and studied it in every way I could – as the 'objective' scientist. I interviewed healers and healees, avidly collected and read all the literature I could find on healing, and spoke with the few scientists who were studying healing. It took me two years to realize that with all my knowledge about healing, I really didn't know what I was talking about – because much of the qualitative aspects of healing can only be known through experiencing them. Words are inaccurate and inadequate for describing them.

I studied Therapeutic Touch (developed by Dolores Krieger, RN, PhD, then Dean of the School of Nursing at New York University and Dora Kunz, a gifted healer and clairsentient), LeShan healing (developed by Lawrence LeShan, PhD, a brilliant psychologist) and Reiki (derived from Japanese traditions). The most helpful of all was practising with other healers, who could verify and validate the experiences I was having as I explored the laying-on of hands and distant healing.

After several years' study, I started introducing healing in my practice of psychotherapy. Healing facilitates and gentles the intensity of emotional releases. Psychotherapy clients were able to access and release traumatic memories and feelings they had buried many years earlier. The releases were less traumatic with the help of the healing. The psychotherapy also complemented the healing, helping clients to process the unconscious materials that were released by the healing.

For several years I remained sceptical about the spiritual aspects of healing. I found it too strange and dissonant to my belief system to accept that spirit guides, angels and God were very much alive and well and available to help in healing. It was from my clients as much as from other healers that I gradually learned about how real these aspects of healing could be. Gradually, as my practices of meditation and healing deepened, my personal sense of the spiritual was awakened.

Needless to say, I found myself distanced from most of my American medical colleagues. When I came to England in 1987, it was a great breath of fresh air to find a few healers and doctors working together. I invited them to a weekend seminar, which was the start of the Doctor-Healer Network, now thriving in many parts of the UK.

I have not abandoned my medical training and expertise. I still prescribe medications where they may be helpful. Medical diagnosis and research methodology remain firm pillars of my explorations of healing. In order to bridge the divide (within myself as well as between the conventional and spiritual healing professions) I wrote a book reviewing 191 scientific studies of healing.[1,2]

Doctors are largely unaware that spiritual healing is one of the better researched among all the complementary therapies. Two-thirds of these studies show significant effects. Though some of the studies are weakened by methodological flaws, there remain a core of sound studies that confirm effects of laying-on of hands and distant healing treatments. What is to many the most convincing evidence is that healing can bring about changes in animals, plants, and other living systems. There is no question that spiritual healing is more than a placebo.

I continue to work at bridging between these two worlds, offering lectures and experiential workshops for doctors (on developing their spiritual healing awareness and gifts) and healing caregivers who practise many different modalities (on deepening their healing through various approaches that help to clear the vessel through which healing flows).


1. Benor Daniel J. Healing Research: Volume I, Spiritual Healing: Scientific Validation of a Healing Revolution. Vision Publications. Southfield, MI. ISBN 1-886785-11-2. 2001.
Healers describe their work, research in parapsychology as a context for understanding healing, brief summaries of 191 randomized controlled studies, plus many pilot studies.
2. Benor Daniel J. Healing Research: Volume I, Professional Supplement. Vision Publications. Southfield, MI. ISBN 1-886785-12-0. 2001.

Only the 191 controlled studies plus the pilot studies – described in much greater detail, including statistical information.


Daniel J Benor, MD
P.O. Box 502, Medford, NJ 08055
Tel. 00 1 609-714-1885; 00 1 Fax 609-714-3553


Spiritual healing and psychotherapy
Psychotherapy and spiritual healing

Spiritual awareness and healing resources:
International Journal of Healing and Caring: (On line)
Michael Dibdin, Chairman of the Doctor-Healer Network, 27 Montefiore Court, Stamford Hill, London N16 5TY


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About Dr Daniel Benor

Daniel J. Benor, M.D. is a psychiatrist in New Jersey who blends wholistic, bodymind approaches, spiritual awareness and healing in his practice. He is the author of Healing Research, Volumes I-IV and many articles on wholistic, spiritual healing. He appears internationally on radio and TV. He is on the Advisory Council of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychotherapy (ACEP). He is editor and producer of the International Journal of Healing and Caring ­ On Line See more by and about Dr. Benor at:


    Professor Sheik Imam is a famous professional leading African Healer who works with powerful spirits

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