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Of Mice, Men, and… Miracles?

by Dean Radin

Does hands-on "energy healing" really work or are outcomes attributed to such healing merely a matter of self-healing, as in the placebo effect? This is what sociologist (by day) and energy researcher (by night?) William Bengston set out to test, motivated by his own remarkable experience with an energy healer who cured his intractable back pain. To avoid the placebo effect, he used laboratory mice instead of human subjects. The mice were injected with a form of cancer that would normally cause fatal tumors within a few weeks. This mouse-model of cancer development is a standard, well-understood method of conducting cancer research, used in dozens of laboratories around the world. No mice ever spontaneously cured themselves of this cancer, and the best cancer drugs in the world only slow its progression. Bengston hoped that if an energy healer could slow the cancer growth in these mice even a little, as measured by a few more days of survival than expected, it would provide dramatic evidence that something big was going on. Bengston got his evidence…and then some. Here's a short excerpt from his new book:

About a week into the treatment, I was changing the litter in the cage when I observed lumps on two of the mice. One had a growth near its left hind leg while the other had one near its left front leg. Since Dave Krinsley* and I had anticipated that a successful treatment meant no cancer would occur, this was very depressing. And it got worse. Two more mice soon developed lumps, while those on the first two continued to grow bigger. When all five had tumors, I called Dave, ready to end the obviously failed experiment by putting the mice out of their misery. He urged me to continue until he had a chance to come to the storeroom to see for himself.

To say I now harbored doubts would be a gross understatement. By the time Dave arrived all the mice were misshapen with tumors. One had a third of its leg consumed by the growth. I was devastated.

Before his visit Dave had consulted with our biologist. Now he repeated to me what she told him. "This is a cancer that doesn’t spread. Instead, the mice get large external tumors which press against their internal organs, depriving them of nutrients and causing death through malnutrition.”

Now I felt worse. "These mice are obviously dying."

Dave wasn’t convinced. "They’re acting quite normally."

It was true. Even the mouse with the largest tumor continued to scuttle around the cage, occasionally fighting with the others. I had tried to calm them down, afraid they might injure one another – unconsciously, I suppose, I was wanting sick mice to act like sick mice. I also noticed that when I picked up the cage to begin a treatment, the mice would gravitate to my left palm, even laying their tumors against it. When I turned the cage so my left palm was on the other side, the mice shifted too.

During the next few days, Dave pressured me into keeping the experiment going. Odd blackened spots like pencil points had appeared on some, then all, of the tumors. I became increasingly depressed on behalf of the mice. Before I could convince Dave to terminate, we heard that two of the control mice had died on schedule and that the rest were in such poor condition they were expected to follow shortly.

Dave became even more optimistic about continuing. As he argued, “Perhaps the treatments are slowing down the cancer even if they can’t prevent it. There’s no record of a single mouse living past Day Twenty-Seven. Get one to live beyond twenty-eight days and we’ll have a world record.”

By Days Seventeen to Twenty-One, some of the tumors with their blackened spots had ulcerated. Though I assumed this to be the beginning of the end, the behavior of my mice had not changed. They were still cavorting as if nothing was wrong. This continued even after the ulcerations grew large, raw and red, as if holes had been burned into the mice.

By Day Twenty-Eight all five were still alive. I informed them, aloud, that they were making history. Privately, I wondered if the biologists would dismiss this as a fluke or even suspect fraud.

I noticed another change in three of my mice. The insides of their ulcerations had turned from red to white. Though I assumed this was infection, I found no pus or other discharge. Was it my imagination or were their tumors also shallower? During the next week the same whitening happened with the other two mice. More startling, I was now convinced the tumors were shrinking. As I watched day by day they completely disappeared and the mice’s fur regrew. My patients now looked the same as when we’d begun – little brown creatures of normal shape and size.

Dave and I were too stunned to jump to conclusions. Instead, he took the mice to the biologist for an expert opinion. We spent the evening together awaiting her report, reprising the emotions we’d experienced during the previous weeks – anxiety, disbelief, fear, foolishness, impatience, wonder, dread, frustration.

When the phone finally rang, I had to sit through a full repertoire of “yes’s,” “uh-huh’s,” and “oh-I-see’s” while waiting for Dave to finish. After he hung up, he walked right past me, mumbling something I couldn't understand and looking ill.

I ran after him. "What's wrong?"

“The mice are cancer-free. They’re cured!”

Excerpted from The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing (Sounds True, October 2010) by William Bengston, PhD, a professor of sociology at St. Joseph’s College in New York. In his early 20s, Bengston received hands-on healing ending his chronic back pain. A self-proclaimed skeptic, he began a 35-year scientific inquiry into the mystery and power of energy medicine. Hands-On Healing: A Training Course in the Energy Cure is a companion audio to the book. Visit

* Acknowledgements: David Krinsley, a friend and a geology profes­sor from Queens College of the City University of New York, set up and funded the initial cancer experiments reported here.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Upswing Oct 08, 2010

    Thanks for the excerpt, Dr. Radin!

    Here's an interesting interview with William Bengston -- he's funny, irreverent (subverts some of the New Age canon), rigorous --

    (Oct 2, 2010, the second hour)

    Does anyone know of any Bengston-trained practitioner in the San Francisco Bay Area?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Upswing Oct 10, 2010

    Here's another really interesting interview with Tami Simon from Sounds True --

    He says "energy" healing may not involve energy, but rather information. Also suggests that healing may be closer to "an autonomic response to need" than to conscious intention. Also describes the image cycling technique, which sounds so incredibly rapid that it is reminiscent of the life review that happens in some NDEs.

    Thanks to Judith of the bioenergyandcancer blog for the two interviews.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Susano Oct 15, 2010

    This is such an exciting article. I am an energy healer and have witnessed the shrinking of tumors in animals and people. I have seen the results of energy work but it is still not recognized. When I work the client is also doing other therapies..and I am part of the program. I know about the doctors but they don't know about me....and so when there are benefits, it seems as though the medicine is working. I have taken a spiritual approach to this...but I think we would be a lot better off is the medical establishment knew the benefits of a combined approach to healing. Nurses don't have the time for a full out hands-on healing session. They are more clued in than the doctors about this, because some have had the training and they get a read out on their instruments. Animals are easier, because they don't get in the way...they just respond to the energy. I am going on, but I am very excited by this experiment and I think it should be news.

  • Anonymous Icon

    mildsevenlight Oct 22, 2010

    Faith is 1 thing, it doesn't account for anything and is not permanent but based on "I believe so because..."Any newer belief or theory can topple it. Indeed , everyday observations seem to confirm (strong emotions and thoughts are very often readable in a way, so called "hex" by simply sayinmg the wrong thing at the wrong moment, strong confidence in seeminglt impossible tasks that then succeed , etc. et al.) Alas! as logic as it sounds it must still be proven scientifically that thought functions like other quantum particles . Scientifically means find a way to repeatedly reproduce an experiment showing same results : thought = particle.
    Schroedingers cat and the Heisenberg principle are also very founded theories based on very similar assumptions but equally hard to prove so far. Selfemanent because the action itself already changes it's course. The same principle might very well apply here but until proven scientifically it has little value and is based on belief. We have had that system for several thousand years already with little to show for it except the willingness to shut our eyes and have faith that the sky is green.
    There is no way to measure dark matter so far either but there will be if it exists. Good luck, it would make sense and would fit into this universe better than divine beings as romantic as they sometimes appear. Provided you prove this, then I wonder what questions come after. Interesting.

  • Marian Condon Nov 06, 2010

    I've purchased the Bengston book and the companion CD and am attempting to learn Dr. Bengston's method. I've studied a number of healing techniques but none has ever "grabbed" me the way his does because empirical evidence was lacking. I've put in hours of practice and believe I've mastered "cycling", which is a major component of the Bengston method. I've begun to practice the method on friends and colleagues who have minor ailments and had them report improvement in their conditions, but of course, I can never be sure it was the healing that made the difference. Happily, I am a Professor of Nursing at a mid-sized college that has a robust biology department. As soon as I feel a bit more confident, I may well look into the possibility of trying to replicate some of Bengston's work. I would not have known of Bengston had it not been for IONs. I am most grateful for the wonderful work it does. Marian Condon, RN, D.Ed.

  • Anonymous Icon

    everyman1 Jan 08, 2011

    I just wanted to say what a wonderful sight this is! I'm a new member and I found my way here through Dan Browns website. This work is very interesting, and I'm not too sure how we'd be able to isolate all of the emperical evidence of how this works - exactly! There are so many variables involved (energetically) beyond what we can see or even begin to know. We know that every Loving action or intention (which moves energy from within us and around us and between us) creates a positive response on every single level of who we are - All at once. So, how would we be able to "tell" if the healing between "us" works - but from within one given - point - or source? It's amazing to "think" about ALL of this, but maybe we can agree that anything that we can do here (in any way) that is Good for us...Could only help to keep transmitting those good vibrations that help us to stay here - happy and healthy...Is doing exactly what it needs to do, and all that we can do is to - keep that going along?!
    I look forward to learning and sharing here, with you! My background is in Nursing and Health Psychology...In Nursing School these ideas were part of the foundation of Health and Well being...So, its amazing to me to hear that so many healers and scientists have so many different opinions - about this! We're all made-up of energy and we effect it all the time (24/7) so maybe someone could help me to understand what the "debate" here - is really all about! Thank You!

  • Anonymous Icon

    samvado Apr 06, 2012

    @Marian Condon : Hi there, I 've been doing Bengston since a year now, only one "failure" so far ona benign tumor which isnt supposed to work anyway. Did you get aroound duplicating the mouse experiments?


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