How does faith healing work? Are some of us genuinely able to heal others by touch or through prayer? When I was a young man I recall a time when my girl friend's 5-year-old son developed a very high threatening fever, I wrapped myself around his shaking body in a fetal position and focused all of my intent on reducing his body temperature, drawing down his fever. After an hour or so of direct contact with Dylan, focusing on coolness and restoring his health, his fever broke and he was back to his playful, happy self again by morning. In another instance, when I was very crippled at age 26 from an acute reaction to a Lyme bacterial infection, a group of five young people laid hands upon me, speaking a prayer in a dialect I could not recognize, enabling me to walk immediately thereafter without pain when minutes before I could not even stand without faltering.
Time and again throughout my life, I have either witnessed or read about how some people have a seemingly innate ability to effect healing in others. Faith healers have been around from time immemorial. The Christian faith, along with most mystical traditions, has story after remarkable story of healers from Jesus to a great number of saints and shamans who have performed focused acts of intent that have been interpreted as miracles. But are they really miracles, or is this ability something all of us can do with a little bit of skill, a bit of faith, and a whole lot of love? Is there a particular disposition that makes some of us better healers than others?
It is said that most healers seem to lose a sense of their own identity as they engage in a healing practice, tending to perceive themselves as becoming one with the person they are interacting with. I certainly felt this in my experience with Dylan. For a time, I sensed no boundary between us, existing in a sort of joint consciousness, wherein something impersonal beyond each of us carried out the actual healing, which, of course, could be interpreted in any number of ways.
Dr. Stanley Krippner is an American psychologist and parapsychologist who has researched and written extensively on the unlimited nature of human possibility, and is considered one of the leading theorists on the topics of altered states of consciousness, dream telepathy, hypnosis, and shamanism. In Krippner's scientific experience, some human personalities are better suited for healing than others. People with healing abilities tend to be people who are sensitive, vulnerable, and creative, tend to get involved in relationships quickly, experience altered states, and easily flit between reality and fantasy. Krippner classified healers generally as those with “thin boundaries”. Upon being administered a test called the Hartmann Boundary Questionnaire, developed at Tufts University by psychiatrist Ernest Hartmann, thin boundaried people tend to be open, unguarded, and undefended.
On the other end of the gradient for this testing that reflects a person's psychological armament are well-armored “thick boundary” people, who tend to be defensive, though well organized and dependable. These are people with a steady sense of self that remains locked around them at all times; not the healer type. This kind of inflexible sense of reality seemed to block these individuals from perceiving or acknowledging intuitive information. They are also not likely to have psychic experiences or be susceptible to hypnosis.
Those with thin boundaries generally don't repress uncomfortable thoughts or separate feelings from thoughts. They tend to be more comfortable than thick-boundaried people with the use of intention to control or change the things around them. In addition to healers, those who are artists, musicians, or otherwise creatively engaged tend to score on the thin-boundaried end of the scale. Such creative types readily lose themselves in their passions as if under hypnotic trance, and all seem more than ready to accept alternative perspectives of reality.
It is quite easy to categorize those that we know well into one or the other of these classifications. Krippner's findings would certainly seem to substantiate my own personal experiences. I took a Hartmann Boundary Questionnaire just for kicks and scored a 52. If you're curious where you stand, try it yourself at this link.