Reiki is believed to be an alternative medical practice. It is concerned with healing through “external energies”. According to the oxford dictionary “Reiki is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.” (Oxford english dictionary, 2017) The word Reiki is a combination of two Japanese words Rei and Ki. Rei means ‘a higher power’s wisdom’ and Ki which is considered to be ‘the
energy of life force’. The practice of Reiki was originally founded in Japan by Mikao Usui in the late 20th century. The practice of Reiki was further developed by Chujiro Hayashi. In the late 1930’s the practice of Reiki was introduced to America by an American named Hawayo Takata, who learned Reiki from Hayashi in Japan. Usually the people who have faith in spirits and ghosts are strong believers of Reiki. Some practitioners claim that the spirits help them in
producing the proper flow of energy. Reiki was mostly popular in the olden ages but has been gaining quite a lot of buzz in the recent years. It is an important topic to talk about, as it suffices all the necessary qualities to be deemed as an extraordinary belief. The practice has no credibility in the scientific world.
There are many reasons that point towards the fact that the practice of Reiki is nothing more than an extraordinary belief. Firstly, the scientific and medical societies have not accepted it as an effective therapy. It is not falsifiable, whenever a practitioner fails in any of his sessions, he avoids accusations by making claims about lack of connectivity with the spirits due to lack of faith. In addition, the practitioners claim that all things have a ‘universal life energy’ that helps
them channel their healings. Unfortunately, the ‘universal life energy’ phenomena, is unknown to natural science. The government has invested a lot of time and money to study the practice of Reiki, but the research has only led to one plausible conclusion, that it is a hoax. Reiki claims have been objected by the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
more than five times. On the other hand, the only reason that it is still a part of the alternative medical industry, is because the practitioners have successfully been able to manipulate people into believing this hoax. People all over the world have made claims about how Reiki treatment has changed their lives in a positive way. According to a survey in United States in 2007, Reiki has been tried by more than 1.2 million adults at least once in the year 2006. Even hospitals have
started getting on board with Reiki, by offering these services to their patients.
The five main cognitive processes that we know about are attention, perception, memory, learning and reasoning. As we discussed earlier in the blog people who believe in these kinds of hoax practices need to make a leap in faith. Blind faith as we all know does not take into consideration the five main cognitive processes. The people who believe in these practices have already invested so much time and money, that looking on the other side becomes really hard for them. They find the smallest of changes in their bodies or minds to be a result of the practice. As we had discussed in lecture this is due to fact that the belief might have held behavioral consequences, the person must have done something that is difficult to take back (in this case money), the world refutes the belief, the person recognizes that the event has truly taken place and lastly the person has social support. Due to the fact that Reiki is a practice of superior power from the spirits, researchers often fail to reject the null hypothesis. One of the main reasons why
people follow Reiki is because of the practitioners who are like minded people, like the believers, due to this they relate to what the practitioner puts forth. Confirmation bias is something that plays a large role in these kinds of beliefs. People tend to look for evidence that sustain their beliefs.
When we talk about the contributions due to which this belief prevails. We can only talk about faith. Faith is something that requires the banishment of doubt. Even if research proves otherwise, people choose not to give into it. Because at the end of the day the only thing that matters is faith. Faith is to humanity what food it to the homeless. It is faith which makes life worth living. It is faith that motivates humans to lead a positive life. Faith in the unknown is something people all over the world cherish.
In conclusion the only thing that makes sense in the scientific world is that, the practice of Reiki is a hoax, it isn’t supported by scientific evidence. It fails most of the scientific tests, it is an unfalsifiable claim, it’s a retreat to the supernatural. People believe in it as their conviction increases when faced by opposing evidence. Last but not the least, it is easy for people to give into faith as it is the driving force for most of the human beings.
Newman, T. (2017, September 06). Reiki: What is it and what are the benefits? Retrieved from
Barrett, S. (n.d.). Reiki Is Nonsense. Retrieved February 09, 2019, from
21 thoughts on “Reiki: The Healing Power”
I am really interested to know if anyone has experienced Reiki before. I would love to know someone’s personal experience with reiki. A family member, a relative, etc. Did you believe in them and their procedures.
Any faith or spiritual (or in this case, energy?) healing practices always fascinate me. I’d love to see data on the types of people who subscribe to this, chiefly because I’m curious as to how many of those are people who have chronic or terminal illnesses that don’t have a common or effective medically-accepted treatment. I would expect this to constitute a plurality of those pursuing this kind of alternative, extraordinary-belief treatment but, if they weren’t, that would prompt so many more questions.
Since you touched on this topic, I think it would interest you that many people have claimed that their terminal illnesses have been cured through Reiki. When I was doing my research on this topic I read many interviews, that said that these people tried every other medical posiblity before putting their faith in Reiki. This fact was fascinating to me.
Its crazy to me that Reiki has no scientific evidence to support it, but that hospitals have even started to offer these services! Do these people in the hospitals believe in Reiki, or are they offering it to appease patients who believe?
Its funny how you noticed that. I know how absurd it sounds. When I first read this during my research I couldn’t believe it. But coming back to your question, hospitals have started accepting Reiki, as it is really cost-effective, when we talk about taking care of patients.And no, it is not done to appease patients, highly knowledgeable doctors and practitioners have also started believing in Reiki. I had read that some of the doctors like to attend sessions with their patients.
I remember we talked about the placebo effect in the class that our body heal itself. I think this helped people to build the idea of Reiki because they do not know this fact. It is surely unfalsifiable because all the ideas in Reiki are unobservable. I talked about the idea of Feng Shui in a recent blog that all the evidence and mechanisms supporting each other in a closed system. Our standard of science was not admitted to testify their beliefs.
I like that you brought up placebo effect because i was just thinking about that. I wonder if people just like to practice things like Reiki just because they find it comforting. I think this could hold true for a lot of other spiritual/therapeutic practices.
Well, that was the main reason why the hospitals started reiki treatment. It gave comfort to the patients.
Reiki is a prime example of how people think that just because a practice is ancient is the equivalent of the practice being effective. This argument is the same as claiming that alcohol was used as anesthesia in the past so it should be the same as using anesthesia now. Would Reiki overlap with holistic healing methods like cupping and aromatherapy?
I don’t think it would overlap, as we mostly consider it to be effected but he use of power that’s present in an object.
I think it’s an interesting question–many professional athletes rely on holistic healing methods like cupping, while others swear on the power of aromatherapy to quell things like headaches. Like this post mentioned, it all seems to fall onto faith and perhaps a favoring of more ‘natural’ practices over pharmaceuticals. I think these forms of therapy also give people a greater feeling of power and control over healing practices compared to a pill or drug.
Thats so true, it is specially effective for people who want to be right about themselves or this particular treatment. People who like to be right and in control certainly fall more into the category do people who trust this.
What’s really interesting to me about many of these alternative healing methods is that they’re usually rooted in a foreign culture, much like how Reiki is rooted in Japanese culture. Do you think that, at least in part, the obsession with these techniques is simply because they seem mysterious/interesting because they are foreign to our culture?
I came across your blog post and found this topic to be interesting. I find the idea of alternative medical practices to be interesting yet alarming. I think when people believe in these ideas, with no evidence, they can be beneficial because the placebo effect but also harmful if there are better ways to be treating illness. I think a lot of the homeopathic medicines have become popularized within pop culture and from my experience have seen a lot of people trying these kind of medical treatments. I think as well when people hear a medical practice is old they believe it is a sound belief and has worked for so many years. This is an interesting concept to me!!
I think reiki is kind like traditional Chinese medicine. In my country, many people believe they get sick because they get mass of the energy in their body and they need to eat the herb-medicine to help them to achieve the best physical conditioning. They use abstract words to describe how they cure. And if they fail to treat, they always let you ear more herb-medicine. I don’t know whether traditional Chinese medicine can treat the illness, but most of the medicine doesn’t have a scientific basis.
I just had a long discussion about this with my Chinese roomate. And she told me something really shocking. She said some people, when they are very ill, eat mud in hopes for them to get cured.
This practice sounds more of a placebo effect in the form of therapy for a patient. The therapist doesn’t take the blame if the patient gets worse, only if they get better and tries to convince people they’ll just be okay. It shouldn’t be considered an alternative medical treatment because it gives the same effect as when people practice CBT, gratitude, or meditation. The ”healing” powers Reiki claim to have are the same that come from being a positive person or choosing to see situations in a positive way.
I actually did my second blog post on this as well! The history of Reiki is so interesting especially on how Mikao Usui came to the conclusion of how Reiki was gifted to him from the universe and that this was his purpose in life to teach Reiki. I don’t think this belief is harmful since it can be helpful in the aspect of placebo effect. However, I think if people stop taking medication just to do this, it can be really bad for people or if people solely believe in this and recommend it to other. I think this can be dangerous especially as you mentioned in your blog how hospitals offer this as an actual medicine practice.
It’s really interesting to see your description of Reiki and how placebo effect plays a role in the whole belief. There’re a lot of other kind of treatment just like Reiki, like yoga or medication. Which always been portrayed as a miracle like healing practice, but actually don’t have sufficient statistic evidence to back up. Although the Reiki believe could be not that correctly, it still might help someone who really want to believe it.
It was actually quite recently when I first heard about Reiki healing. I was observing a PT, and a patient was discussing Reiki and how affective it was. I was relatively shocked when the PT I was observing seemed to agree with what she was saying, at least to some extent. It seemed sort of outlandish to me, but hey, the placebo effect holds great power. I would not be surprised if people support feeling better afterwards.
This was definitely an interesting post! Just like most scientific discoveries, the idea of being able to falsify any prompted data is crucial. On the surface, the practice of Reiki sounds like most other kinds of alternative healing practices such as acupuncture and healing by crystals. But without any empirical data to completely back up the utility of the practice, there just isn’t any urge to stick it in the, “medical mainstream” if you know what I mean. As we know, the placebo effect is very reliable when dealing with some ailments. For me personally, I think this is the reason for why most people relay that they have been cured when looking to alternative practices as a primary form of healing.
Comments are closed.