Extending the Non-Contact Healing Paradigm to Explore Distant Mental Interaction Effects of Pagan Healing Spells

  • Charmaine Sonnex

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Paganism is a burgeoning belief system in the UK, which has received little attention from psychological researchers. Healing is a key aspect of modern Pagan practice, yet it too receives little attention from those investigating distance healing practices. Given the growth of Paganism in recent years these omissions from the literature should be addressed by researchers. This thesis investigates the healing practices of modern Paganism using a mixed methods approach across three phases. The first phase is a meta-analysis of existing non-contact healing research. There has been much research investigating the efficacy of various forms of non-contact healing which has resulted in reviews and meta-analysis which suggest that non-contact practices can have some positive effect upon the recipient’s wellbeing; however they also raise the issue of low study quality in this area. The most recent comprehensive review of this subject area was published in 2000; much more research has been published since then and the legitimacy of some previously published research has since been questioned. Also, such reviews focus on ‘whole’ human participants who might be susceptible to expectancy effects or benefit from the healing intentions of friends, family or their own religious groups. To address these issues an up to date, comprehensive meta-analysis was conducted that included healing studies that involved biological systems other than ‘whole’ humans (e.g., studies of plants or cell cultures) that were less susceptible to placebo-like effects and investigated the impact of study quality. Phase two employed interviews with practising Pagans regarding their spell casting practices. Eight Pagans from a variety of traditions were interviewed using semi structured interviews and the data were analysed using thematic analysis. Six major themes and 16 subthemes were extracted from the data and used to inform the design of phase three. Phase three is a randomised controlled trial of Pagan healing spells. The trial utilised a delayed intervention design. Various aspects of the trial design were informed by phase two interviews, such as the choice of outcome measure, the use of spell request forms, participant pictures and items, and scepticism measures.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorE Roxburgh (Supervisor) & C Roe (Supervisor)

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