Yefim Gregorievich Shubentsov was a recognized portrait artist in the U.S.S.R. A few years ago he was drafted into the Soviet army and was seriously injured in a helicopter crash. A malignant tumor developed at the point of the injury in his leg, and a friend suggested that he go to a "special" clinic the friend knew of. Shubentsov walked in the door and the researchers and their electronic equipment went berserk. It was a special government project on bioenergetics. Shubentsov's "energy field" was among the strongest the researchers had ever seen. He not only cured himself, but became head of the project.
American research, he says, is "kindergarten" compared to what the Soviets have discovered about the healing energy that lies within every human. In fact, Shubentsov said yesterday, "within five or 10 years we will all be healing each other . . ."
Yefim Shubentsov, who pretended to have lost his healing powers in order to get Soviet permission to leave, was the final speaker in the conference on "Healing in Our Time," which has been going nonstop since Thursday morning at the Shoreham Hotel. Most of the more than 2,000 delegates had gone by yesterday morning, but not before receiving a powerful message from scientists, spiritual healers, spiritual teachers, parapsychologists, a doctor and a nurse:
That there does exist a healing energy that can be measured electronically, photographed, demonstrated in scientific laboratory studies -- whether it emanates from the hands of an energetically endowed healer or from the stimulation of an electronic prod. Moreover, it is available to almost anyone, and almost anyone can be taught to use it to a greater or lesser degree.
Dolores Krieger is a feisty, no-nonsense, vigorous woman of 60. She is a full professor of nursing (with tenure, she notes proudly) at New York University. What's more, she has a grant. And that was something virtually every other speaker at the conference suggested was more elusive than the Kirlian photographers' phantom leaves.
Krieger, you might say, has taken the faith out of faith healing. She is more spirited than spiritual. Nevertheless, she is a healer. She teaches courses, some at the master's level, in the laying on of hands as a healing therapy. She calls it the "therapeutic touch." (Indeed, the "laying on" is something of a misnomer. Neither Krieger nor Shubentsov actually touched their subjects' corporeal bodies -- only their electrical fields.)
Krieger's book on the subject ("The Therapeutic Touch") is a text in perhaps 50 university-level courses around the country and at endless workshops. She estimates that there have been 6,000 nurses trained by her or by a number of prote'ge's she has trained.
Orthopedic surgeon Robert Becker spent much of the weekend discussing the importance of following through on his pioneering work in using electricity to stimulate regeneration in lower animals. His work, and later, that of others, has led to the successful use of electricity in healing fractures in humans, fractures that, for various reasons, fail to heal during a period when the body is itself generating an electrical current, the so-called "current of injury."
Becker is not altogether comfortable with all of the speakers at the conference, but he is something of a maverick himself and is more than passingly disillusioned with establishment medicine in this country.
His work with regeneration and electricity has convinced him that "there are mechanisms that are accessible to electronic manipulation that do control growth. Therefore," he said, "these should be looked at from the point of view of accelerating growth in a rational fashion and controlling growth as needed.
"For example," he said quietly, "there have been experiments over and over that demonstrate that when you implant cancers into an area that is regenerating, the cancer cells de-differentiate that is, revert to a primitive, undefined state and are incorporated as normal cells into the regeneration process.
"We have the opportunity now," Becker said, "to demonstrate that there is a certain kind of electrical potential field . . . that is the mechanism whereby you could produce this kind of biological control of a malignant tumor.
"Unfortunately," he said drily, "you can't get funding for something simple. It won't make money for the drug companies. At present, cancer is treated like a bacterial disease -- as though it came from outside the body, and so the only way to treat it is to kill it. The concept of chemotherapy for cancer is a continuation of the use of antibiotics against infection -- viewing the cancer as an invader . . . But, damn it all, it came from us to start with. They are our cells, just not working right.
"You know," he said, as much in anger as in sorrow, "$100,000 is nothing to the NIH budget. But the fact is, you can't get nickel one."
Krieger devised the therapeutic touch after years-long studies of Eastern religions and her own scientific knowledge -- bringing her professional life and personal search together.
She told an audience (which was hanging on her every word) that she learned that neither a religious context nor faith in the healer on the part of the patient were prerequisites for healing.
The healer "is a human support system . . . who uses his or her own state of health as a model to help the patient lift the energy levels of his or her own well-being to be in resonance with yours."
The therapeutic touch is a diagnostic as well as a therapeutic tool and works best, said Krieger, "in things involved with the autonomic nervous system disorders where there is a psychosomatic element , in reduction of pain and in facilitating the healing of fractures, muscle spasms and torn muscles."
It is also useful in some endocrinal problems, she said.
Her grant is to use therapeutic touch by teaching it to the significant others of a selected and controlled group of pregnant women undergoing Lamaze classes. It will begin about the first of the year.
Two young women, both nurses at Memorial Sloan Kettering, the prestigious cancer research and clinical center in New York, came to the conference especially to hear Dolores Krieger. One of them will take Krieger's master's level course next semester.
Do they practice therapeutic touch at Sloan Kettering, they are asked.
"Well," one of them says, and grins, "there are some grad students there who do it. But on the Q.T. . . .