• Upload

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)




    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 11



    My feast of joy is but a dish of pain .Chidiock Tichborne (note 1)


    hen my wife Barbara and I moved to north-ern New Mexico almost 10 years ago, I dis-c ov e red that t he chiles used in the localrest aurants were so hot they were actuallypainful, and I ate many a meal with a tear-

    ful grimace. Then, after a few months of masochistic culinaryexperiences, things began to change. I noticed that my aversionto hot chiles was diminishing and that I was actually beginningto enjoy the piquant tastes. My pain was gradually being trans-formed into pleasure. Barbara and I boldly began to seek outre st a urants with the hottest salsas and seasonings, arro g a n t l ydisdaining establishments that served milder concoctions. Webecame confirmed chile heads, as chile aficionados are calledin these parts. To this day, when on extended travels, we talkfondly of the fiery food we are missing back home and the chilew i t h d rawal symptoms we imagine we are experiencing. Onreturning we waste no time seeking out our favorite re staurantfor a chile fix.


    There was a faith-healer of DealWho said, Although pain isnt real,If I sit on a pinAnd it punctures my skin,I dislike what I fancy I feel.


    My experience with the punishing chiles of New Mexicoshows not only that one mans pain is another mans pleasure,but also that the same person can respond to the same experi-

    ence differently on different occasions.When we try to make pain an absolutewhen we say that a

    particular experience is always painful, or that another is invari-ably pleasantwe run into problems. In an attempt to explainhis ideas to the public, Einstein once said, Put your hand on ahot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pret-ty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. Thats relativity(note 2). Einsteins point was that our sense of time is re lat i ve

    and connected to whether we are experiencing pain or pleasure.But pleasure and pain, like time, also are relative. For example, ifE i n s t e i n s subject is fre ezing, or if he is extremely shy aro u n dwomen, he might find the hot stove to be a more pleasant experi-ence than the girl.

    Whether we find an experience painful or pleasant dependslargely on what it means to us. And meaning is shaped by 3major factors: (1) the entire previous life experience we bring to ap articular moment, (2) our expectations about what lies ahead,and (3) the particular contextin which an event takes place.

    For example, in the lore of hypnosis, it is well known thatwhen a hypnotized subject thinks he is being touched by a burningmatch, a blister will often erupt, even though he is being touchedwith an ice cube. The subject is responding to his past experienceswith matches and fire as well as to his expectation of being burned,all filtered through the context of the hypnotic state.

    To see how meaning and pain intersect, lets look at severaldifferent scenarios.


    The wish to hurt, the momentary intoxication with pain, is

    the loophole through which the pervert climbs into the minds ofordinary men.Jacob Bronowski2

    I confess that I have a perverse fascination with tortu re. Iam simply astonished at how, throughout re c o rded history,there have always been humans who have devoted their intelli-gence, energy, and creativity to the single-minded task of how tomake others feel pain. I have toured torture chambers in Europeand England and have explored at length the extensive literatureon this subject. But I can tolerate exposure to the lore of tortureonly in small doses. After an hour of reading Sw a i n s T h ePleasures of the Torture Chamber,3 Plaidys The Spanish Inquisition,4

    Ru t h v e n s To r t u re: The Grand Conspi ra cy ,5 or Mannixs T h eHi s t o ry of To rtu re,6 I invariably recoil as I consider how tort urehas so often been applied in the name of God, with pro f ess e dlove, for the victims own good. When I reflect on the fact thatit is humans who elevated torture to an art form and that tortureis rare in the nonhuman world, I begin to feel the stain of shamethat torture has left on our collective psyche. However, in spite ofthe revulsion I feel, I invariably return for another look, because



    12 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage

    I sense that in this despicable behavior there are lessons I need tolearn about myself and others.

    Of particular interest to me is how anyone survives suchh orre n dous ordeals. I do not believe sur v ival of torture is pri-marily due to physical hardiness, but to something more subtle.Some say that hatred or the desire for vengeance tow ard onestormentors carries the victim throughthe attitude ascribed toBen Hur when he was condemned as a Roman galley slave in the

    n ovel by General Lew Wall a ce .7 But the sense of meaning andpurposethe certainty that I mustsurvive for some good rea-sonseems to explain survival better than any other factor.

    During the Spanish Inquisition, William Lithgow, a Scot,found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time: Mlaga in16 2 0. He ca me to do bus iness in Spain but was arrested as aProtestant spy and subjected to tortu re. He somehow surv i vedhis ordeal and gave the following account6(pp64-65):

    I was stripped to the skin and mounted on the rack (thiswas a vertical rack upright against the wall) where I washung with two small cords. Thus being hoisted to theappointed height, my tormentor drew my legs through thetwo sides of the three-planked rack, tied a cord about each ofmy ankles and then drew the cords upwards, bending for-ward my two knees against the two planks until the sinewsof my hams burst asunder. So I hung for a large hour.

    Then the tormentor laying my right arm above the left,wrapped a cord over both arms seven times and then lyingdown on his back and bracing his feet in my belly, pulleduntil the seven several cords combined in one place on myarm cutting the sinews and flesh to the bare bones whichhas lamed me so still and will be forever.

    Now my eyes began to start, my mouth to foam andf roth, and my teeth to chatter like a dru m m e r s sticks. But

    notwithstanding my shivering lips, my groaning, theblood springing from my arms, broken sinews, hams andknees, still they struck me in the face with cudgels to stopmy scre a m s .

    This their incessant imploration: Confess, confess, con-fess in time for thine inevitable torments ensue. But all Icould say was I am innocent, O Jesus, have mercy on me!

    Then my trembling body was laid upon the face of a flatrack with my head dow n w a rd, inclosed within a circ l e dhole, my belly upmost, my arms and feet pinioned, for I wasto receive my main torments. Now ropes were passed overthe calf of my leg, the middle of my thigh, and the great ofmy arm, and these ropes fastened to pins. I received seven

    tortures, each torture consisting of three complete windingsof the pins.

    Then the tormentor got a pot full of water in the bottomof which was a small hole through which he poured thewater into my mouth. At first I gladly received it, such wasthe scorching drought of my tormenting pain and likewise Ihad drunk nothing for three days before. But when I saw hewas trying to force the water down me, I closed my lips.

    Then my teeth were set asunder with a pair of iron cadges.Soon my belly began waxing like a great drum, a suffocatingpain as my head was hanging dow n w a rds and the wat e rreingorging itself in my throat, it strangled and swallowedup my breath.

    I was six hours upon this rack and between each set oftortures I was questioned for half and hour, each half-hour ahell. By ten oclock that night, they had inflicted sixty sever-

    al t orments b ut still continued for another half-h o u ralthough my body was begored with blood, c ut thro u g hevery part, my bones crushed or bruised and I was roaring,howling, foaming, bellowing, and gnashing my teeth. Trueit is, it passeth the capacity of man to conceive the pain Iexperienced or my anxiety of mind.

    When they took me from the rack, the water gushed frommy mouth. They put irons on my broken legs and I was car-ried back to my dungeon. Every day I was threatened withfresh tortures if I did not confess and the Governor orderedthat all the vermin in the cell be swept up and piled on mynaked body and tormented me almost to death but theturnkey (a converted Moor) used to come secretely, removethe vermin and burn them in heaps with oil or doubtless Ihad been miserably eaten up and devoured by them.

    M i ra c u l o u s l y, Lithgow did not die. Reading between thelines, I suspect his religious faith and devotion sustained him. Ithelped him wear his Inquisitors down, and they let him go.

    The Inquisitors understood that the power of religious faithkept their victims alive, so they tried to shatter it. One way ofdoing this was to create confusion in the victims mind about thedistinctions between the divine and the demonic. TheDominicans, who supervised the Inquisition, were called theHounds of Godthe hellish in league with the heavenly. A par-

    ticularly terrifying tactic of the Inquisitors was to dress in darkhoods and drag their victims from their beds in the middle of thenightsatanic, nocturnal terrorists calling in the name of God.

    The strappado was one of their favorite tortures. This tech-nique involved tying the victims arms behind the back, thenhoisting him to the ceiling with a rope tied to the wrists and thenpassed through a pulley. If this did not elicit a confession, thevictim was dropped from the ceiling and stopped suddenly,which usually dislocated the arms from the shoulder joints.Another method was to strap 30-pound weights to the victimslegs as he was suspended. The weights were round and oftencarved to represent the face of an angel6(p78)again, the deliberateblurring of boundaries between the demonic and the divine.

    The Inquisitors concocted lurid descriptions of the eternal,hellish punishment that awaited the victims unless they con-fessed, of which the earthly tortures were only a mild foretaste. S a l vation c an c ome only through pain, ranted Conrad ofMarburg, Germanys most terrible torturer, whose reign of ter-ror from 1227 until 1233 was unequalled until Hitlers.6(p47)

    The Inquisitors were equal- o p p o rtunity tort u rers whodid not discriminate based on gender. A woman accused of



    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 13

    w i t c h c raft was delivered to a hangman in 16 31. Her punish-ments were re c o rded as follow s6 ( p p 7 8 -79 ):

    (1) The hangman binds the woman, who was pre gna nt,and places her on the rack. Then he racks her till her heartwould fain break. (2) When she did not confess, he pouredoil over her head and burned it. (3) He placed sulphur inher armpits and burned it. (4) Her hands were tied behind

    her and she was hauled up to the ceiling and suddenlydropped. (5) The hangman and his helpers went to lunch.(6) On returning, the master hangman placed a spikedboard on her back, pulled her up to the ceiling again, thendropped her on the floor. (7) Her toes were put in a thumb-screw and the screw tightened until blood squirted out ofher toes. (8) She was pinched with red-hot irons. (9) As shewould not confess, the hangman proceeded to an advancedg rade of tort ure. She was whipped and then put in a visewhich gradually closed on her for the next six hours. (1) Shewas hung up by her thumbs and flogged. This was all thatwas done on the first day.



    Sweet is pleasure after pain.John Dryden8

    Surgery during primitive times resembled tortu re. In bothinstances an individual was tied down, flesh was torn and hacked,bones were broken, limbs were severed, and people were bled.

    Be f o re the discov e ry of general anesthetics, surgery wasnasty, brutish, andif you were luckyshort, says ProfessorL. R. C. Agnew of the University of CaliforniaLos Angeles

    School of Medicine. He writes: Patients were held down orstrapped to the table; nowadays such grim proceedings seem tobe the stuff of nightmares rather than re ality. And if our adultforbears suffered grievously under the knife, for children the ter-rors must have been staggering.9

    Although tort u re a nd primitive surgery resembled oneanother, the meaning attributed to them by the victim or patientwas radically different. The purpose of torture was to inflict suf-fering; the purpose of surgery was to relieve it. As a result, theagony associated with primitive surgery was attenuated. On rareoccasions it was hardly felt at all, as in the following account ofan 18th-century amputation9(pp1074-1075):

    I have lately heard of such a pretty anecdote of a sweet lit-tle girl of 9 years old that I must give it you as I think it mayinterest your little ones.

    Lady Ss second daughter Laura had been for monthsconfined at Clifton with a white swelling in her knee. MrB aynton [probably the noted Bristol s urgeon ThomasB aynton (17 61-1820), who wrote D e s c r i p t i ve Account of a

    New Method of Treating Old Ulcers of the Legs] attended her,

    and a surgeon from London, when at length they pro-nounced it necessary to amputate her leg else she would[lose] her life. Lady [S] would not bear the thought of herchild suffering such and preferred to lose her; however aftersome days she made up her mind to consent to it and twomore surgeons from London were sent for. She said the dayb e f o re they were to arrive Laura was t o be told of it. MrBaynton told Lady S he could not break it to the dear child.

    Lady S said she would take it upon herself to do that andacc ordingly went into Lauras room; and after speaking toher most affectionately for some time, broke it to her. Thesweet child showed no agitation nor alarm when her moth-er said, My love, do you think me cruel to take this resolu-tion? No, Mamma, you could not h elp it. Would yo up refer dying, my love? Yes, Mama, for then I should beh a p py, but pausing added, that would be taking my fateinto my own hands and I could not expect that God wouldsupport me in dying; God demands my leg, not my life.

    This happy composure was not transitoryit lasted all thatday & night. She told her mother, Mamma, do you rememberthe day you stayed at home from church with me and talkedwith me about God; from that day I have thought much aboutHim, and loved Him, & it is [He] that now supports me, andwill support me during the operationpray for me. I will notask you to stay in the room; it would not be good for you, butperhaps Rose (the housekeeper) will be so good. The next day,Thursday in Passion week, the four surgeons arrived. Lady Swent into Lauras room to acquaint her. The child shed sometears upon hearing it was so near, but soon recovering herwonted composure said, Mamma, pray for me that I may glo-rify God by patience and that it may do good to Mr Bayntonto see what God can do. Laura was taken out of bed andplaced upon a table; when they went to cover her eyes, she

    said you need not do that. I will keep them shut but if you likeit, do. They bound on the handkerchief and began the opera-tion which the dear child bore without a word until the endwhen she gave one cry of Oh! when the great artery was takenup. To show how much she was supported even in body, a fewf l owers which she held between her fingers re m a i n e dunmoved during the operation.

    After it was over, Mr Baynton was expressing his aston-ishment at her composure and calmness. She said Thereshould not have been one Oh! Good God supported me;two texts comforted me during the operat i o n t h ro u g hmuch tribulation you must enter into the Kingdom ofHeaven and if we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him.

    Emily B saw her five days after the operation eating anorange in bed as if nothing had happened. Laura said shewould not change her situation or have back her leg. Shee x p ressed gre at delight to think it took place in Pa s s i o nweek, by suffering thus to be made like her Saviour.

    How did this 9-year-old girl sustain the amputation of a legon a kitchen table without apparent pain, with only a fresh



    14 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage

    bouquet to hold onto? The absence of postoperative infection isp a rticularly amazing. During this period surgeons operat e db a re -handed. Sterile technique and antibiotics were unknow n .

    No one had ever seen a bacterium, and a theory of infectious dis-ease did not exist.

    The religious and spiritual meaningLaura found in her suffer-ing might have been a major factor explaining her clinicalcourse. Its an old theme, really: the power of faith to help one

    endure pain and recover from illness. Religious faith throughoutthe ages has been associated consistently with immunity to dis-ease, as in the case of Blessed Angela of Foligno (c 1248-13 0 9),w h o, in an attempt to come closer to God, would drink withimpunity the putrid water with which she had just washed thes o res of a leper.10 But from a scientific perspective, theseinstances are unconvincing. Maybe the individual was just lucky.In any case, we hear mostly about those who survivedafter plac-ing their faith in a higher powernot those who died.

    But t he power of rel igious commitment is not mere l yan ec dotal. When examined in modern hospitals, religious faithcontinues to help the sick survive and recover, as it did 9-ye a r-old Laura .

    Thomas Oxman and his colleagues11 at Dartmouth MedicalSchool followed 232 elective heart surgery patients and analyzedthe factors contributing to their survival and recovery. The mostconsistent indicator of surv i val was the amount of strength orcomfort patients said they derived from their religious faith. Theresearchers concluded: Those without any strength or comfortfrom religion had almost three times the risk of death as thosewith at least some strength and comfort. In another study byPressman and colleagues12 of elderly women recovering from hipfractures, those who regarded God as a source of strength andc omfort and who attended religious services frequently experi-enced lower amounts of depression from their illness and were

    thus able to walk a greater distance upon discharge.How does it work? For the faithful, the answer is obv ious:we are witnessing divine intervention. But science has no way ofmetering the divine, so scientists search for more concrete expla-nations, the most popular of which is the power of belief, self-suggestion, and expectation: the placebo response. According tothis line of thinking, nothing mysterious is happening; we arewitnessing the flux of neuro t ransmitters, immune cells, andn e u ral d ischarges within the body, all kicked off by positivethinking, which somehow elicit a heightened healing response.

    Placebo-based explanations no doubt can help us to unravelsome of these clinical events. But we should hang on to our hats,because there is a neglected body of clinical phenomenadelib-

    e rately caused b odily damage (DCBD), in which individualsactually harm themselves with impunitythat cannot beexplained by known placebo mechanisms. These events dramati-cally illustrate the power of religious and spiritual meaning t oinfluence our bodies. Although DCBD has been stra n g e l yneglected by Western science, no analysis of the re l at i o n s h i pbetween pain, suffering, and healing can be complete withouttaking these bizarre phenomena into consideration.



    After great pain, a formal feeling comesThe Nerves sit ceremonious, like TombsThe stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

    Emily Dickinson13

    The belief that there is a connection between bodily damage,pain, and spirituality is ancient. Shamanism, whose roots extendthrough 50,000 years of human history, placed great importanceon suffering for the initiate. This often included horrific dre ams,during which, as Eliade14 says, his own body [is] dismembered bydemons; he watches them, for example, cutting off his head andtearing out his tongue. After the initiates body is dismemberedand stripped down to the bare bones, it is reconstructed so thathe emerges wiser and more powe rful than before, able now toheal himself and others. These experiences are exc e e d i n g l yvividso real that the initiate does not always survive them.


    If one believes that there is spiritual value in bodily damage,perhaps it is a short step from seeingones body mutilated in ini-ti ato ry dreams to causing d e l i b e rate physical damage to onesself. Indeed, history abounds with practices in which humanshave harmed their own bodies to curry favor with gods or spiritsor to achieve special states of ecstasy, holiness, or insight.15

    Priests devo ted to Cybele, th e gre at nat u re goddess o f AsiaMinor, castrated themselves to demonstrate their identificationwith Attis, who, having castrated himself, died and was res ur-rected. In the New Testament (Mat t h ew 19:12, KJV), we re a dabout eunuchs who castrated themselves for the kingdom of

    heavens sake. The desert fathers of Christianity punished theirbodies to gain redemption, and for centuries the Cat h o l i cChurch canonized as saints individuals who repeatedly mortifiedtheir flesh. Some Hindus pierce their bodies to render them-selves pleasing to the god Mu rugon. In ancient Mexico, theOlmecs, Aztecs, and Mayans anointed sacred idols with bloodfrom their penises as signs of devotion and penitence.15


    In the 13th century, self-flagellation was popular as a meansof atonement throughout European religious orders. The customalso was taken up by the Spanish royalty. The emperor Charles Vpassed his personal flail to his son Philip II, who bequeathed it to

    his heir. The sound of self-flagellation echoed for centuries notonly throughout Spain, but in its colonies as wellincludingnorthern New Mexico, where I live.

    This year is the 400th anniversary of the settlement ofnorthern New Mexico, and celebrations are planned. One pieceof history that probably will not be formally remembered is therole played by self-mutilation and self-inflicted pain since theearliest days of colonization.



    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 15

    In the spring of 15 9 8, when Don Juan de Oate , NewM e x i c os gre at colonizer, was journeying nort h w a rd with hissmall band of settlers through the deserts of northern Mexico insearch of the Rio Grande, they paused on Holy Thursday to seekatonement. One of Oates soldiers, Captain P rez de Vil la gr,wrote later:

    [T]he night was one of prayer and penance for all. The

    soldiers, with cruel scourges, beat their backs unmercifullyuntil the camp ran crimson with their blood. The humbleFranciscan friars, barefoot and clothed in cruel thorny gir-dles, devoutly chanted their doleful hymns, praying forgive-ness for their sins. Don Juan, unknown to anyone exceptme, went to a secluded spot where he cruelly scourged him-self, mingling bitter tears with the blood which flowed fromhis many wounds.16(pp376-377)

    The custom of flagellation endured, even flourished. By16 2 7, processions of flagellants were commonplace along theriver lands of the u pper Rio Grande. In the 1690s, a bro t h e r-hood, The Third Order of Penitence, was established at Santa Feand Santa Cruz. Men of the Spanish villages flocked to join thefraternity to do bodily penance for their sins and for Jesus deathon the cross. They called themselves Penitent Brothers, or peni-tentes. They would meet in a morada or chapter house, a 1-room,w i n dowless, earthen stru c t u re that resembled an Indian kiva .Within the morada there was only the bare furniture of piety,says Pulitzer historian Paul Horgan.16(p377)

    [A]n alt ar, a wooden cross gre at enough for a man,lengths of chain, blood-sp attered whips bearing thongs ofleather studded with cactus thorns, locally made images ofsaints painted flat or carved and colored, and various repre-

    sentations of Christ, and a life-sized figure of death in a cart.Here the chapter met for business, in secre c y, and, as thecalendar demanded, in pain spiritual or pain physical.

    It was important that the cross be man-sized, for men werecrucified on it. On Good Friday, the Penitents sought to identifywith Christ and his suffering to the greatest extent possible. Theyelected one of their members for the role of Saviour. The chosenone, like any man, knew when his life was in danger, and itwas in danger now. Yet he was honored, and to face what wascoming he was empow e red by a sense of glory in his identitywith the Godhead.16(p380) Late in the morning on Good Friday, aprocession was formed, led by a group of flagellants. The Christ

    followed, bent under the cross he carried from the morada. Withvillage spectators kneeling and watching, the brothers pulled therough wooden cart carrying the carved image of Death. Theywalked up a mount, whose rocks and thorns tore their bare feetand flesh. At the summit, the Christ was tied onto the cross withbands of cotton cloth and raised against the horizon. At themoment of crucifixion, everyone fell to their knees, beat theirbreasts, and cried out in unison, I have sinned! I have sinned!

    As the Christs body hung from the bindings, it became oxygen-starved due to great difficulty in breathing in such a position.

    He was watched to detect the moment when he couldendure no more and must die. When they saw it his brotherslowered the cross and took him from it, bearing him away tothe morada to restore him if possible. If the village Christdied he was buried by his brotherhood in secrecy, and his

    shoes were put the next day on the doorstep of his house tonotify his family that he was dead. Grieved, they yet rejoiced,for they believed that in his ritual sacrifice he had gained forhimself and them direct entry into heaven. His cross was leftto stand all year on the summit of the hill. 16(p382)

    The first published medical article on self-mutilation has as trong religious tinge. Repo rted in 1846, it involved a 48-yea r-old, manic- d e p ressive widow who accused herself of being agreat sinner. After she had walked through the streets imploringvarious men to marry her, including her minister, she was hospi-talized. While there she developed the belief that her eyes weresinful. After reading the instruction in Matthews gospel to pluckout ones eye if it is offensive, she did just that, bilaterally enucle-ating herself. Now totally blind, she asked her doctor to cut offher legs and feet. Christ had shed his blood, and to becomesaintly she felt she must shed hers too.17


    Anecdotal accounts of DCBD have filtered from the East forcenturies, often through the reports of religious adventurers andspiritual seekers. An example is George Iva n ovitch Gurd j i e f f(1870-1949), one of the most remarkable spiritual teachers of the20th century. Born in the Caucasus near Mt Ararat, where Noahsark is said to have come to rest after the Flood, Gurdjieff passed

    his youth in an at m os phere of fairy tales, legends, and esotericreligious traditions. He spent many years exploring various sys-tems and seeking hidden wisdom about the nature of reality andthe meaning of life. He was attracted by the inner lore of shaman-ism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Het rekked through deserts and mountains to remote monasteriesand explored libraries and bazaars. He gathered fragments of wis-dom and pieced them together into a philosophy and method ofinstruction, which had great influence on the lives of his followersand continue to fascinate thousands who read his writings andthe accounts of those who knew him (note 3).

    Much about Gurdjieff s life will forever remain murky. P. D.Ouspensky,18 a Russian follower who wrote penetrating descrip-

    tions of the man and his methods, states that in all the storiesGurdjieff related about his life, a great deal was contradic t oryand hardly credible. There seems little doubt, however, that inhis travels Gurdjieff did encounter events that many would con-sider mind-boggling.

    G u rdjieff once lived in Istanbul in the Pe ra district (nowBeyoglu) near the famous Galata bridge, which spans the GoldenHorn. In their biogra p h y, Kathleen Riordan Speeth and Ira



    16 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage

    Fr i e d l a n d e r19 describe how Gurdjieff spent time with what hecalled dervish zealots and visited the Rufai O rder known as theHowling Dervishes, a name given by Westerners upon hearingtheir heavy breath repetitions. The Rufai sect was a deeply reli-gious Islamic group founded by Ahmet Rufai, nephew of theg re at Sufi master Abdul Qadir Jilani. Speeth and Fr i e d l a n d e rwrite of Gurdjieff s experience:

    In their dhikr circle he would have witnessed the sha ikhperform unbelievable feats of faith, such as licking a white-hot poker, piercing his cheek with sharp skewers, openinghis abdomen with a sharp knife, taking out his intestinesand resting them on a plate as he chanted and dancedaround the room while his dervishes cried out the name ofGod. At the conclusion of the ceremony he would rep lacehis intestines, push the skin of his stomach closed with hishands and show no marks on his body.

    Years later, one of Gurdjieff s most perceptive and scholarly fol-lowers, J. G. Bennett,2 0 wrote of viewing a similar event amongthe Rufai in his autobiography, Witness.

    Respected scholars have taken these accounts seriously.Annemarie Schimmel,21 p rofessor of Indo - Muslim Cu l t u re atHarvard University, reports that dervishes are notorious for per-forming strange miracles, like eating live snakes, cutting them-selves with swords and lances without being hurt, and taking outtheir eyes. She continues: The pious one becomes so transport-ed in his prayers or meditation that he feels no pain when one ofhis limbs is amputated, or he is so out of himself that he is oblivi-ous to the bites of scorpions or serpents.21(p209)

    These feats are not limited to the Middle East, but occur inother parts of the world where Islam has spread. In Malaysia a rit-ual known as the d a b bus c e remony is widespread. D a b bus i n

    Arabic means an iron awl; the ceremony carries this name becausean iron awl, in addition to swords, knives, and sometimes fire, isthe chief instrument used to inflict wounds upon the body duringthe ritual.22 The dabbus performance must be held under the lead-ership of a true spiritual successor of the Founder of the Order.This leader must have a license from his teacher authorizing himto conduct these otherwise dangerous exercises. By turning theirweapons upon themselves, these leaders give witness to the powerof Allah and the excellence of the Master of their Ord er. The con-clusion of the ceremony is typically a prayer of thanksgiving toAllah for bringing them safely through the exercise. Then a cloth isoften spread on the ground on which the spectators are invited tothrow any gifts or alms.

    Not all Muslims applaud such rituals. Although the partici-pants believe the act of inflicting wounds upon the body demon-strates the power of God and the holiness of the Master of theOrder, others consider them aberrations. Yet the public relationsaspect of these feats can hardly be denied. By giving public exhi-bitions of this mysterious ceremony, the order was able to attracta considerable following, especially among the young.22(p272)

    How do they do it? The common thread running through-

    out is that the dervish is in a state of ecstasy 22(p272) or becomes transported in his prayers or meditation.21(p209)

    Although these events may seem hopelessly exotic or ori-ental to the Western rationalist, they are not radically differentfrom Lauras case mentioned above. In both instances the sub-

    ject is so suffused with religious faith that the event pulsates withspiritual meaning. In this context pain and suffering fade, andthe known laws of physiology seem momentarily suspended.

    Many ethnographer s who have o b s e rved DCBD feat saround the world have focused almost exclusively on the absenceof pain experienced by the participants. This focus has led to aneglect of other equally re ma rkable feat u res of DCBD: lack ofbleeding, immunity to infection, and rapid healing. Investigatorshave also been obsessed with the idea that some sort of trance orautohypnotic spell accounts for DCBD. But, as we shall see, thereis little evidence that these strange phenomena can be explainedby radically altered states of consciousness.


    The abilities that are demonstrated in DCBD are far moreimportant and impressive than those known to have been mas-tered through meditation and other techniques.

    L. Fatoohi and J. Hussein23

    Dr Louay Fatoohi of the Physics Department of Du r h a mUn i v e r s i t y, England, and Dr Jamal N. Hussein, of Pa ra m a n nProgramme Laboratories, Amman, Jordan, are currently investi-gating DCBD phenomena (note 4).2 3 Although these rituals arebest known among Muslims, they are universal, performed bythe Chinese,24 Indians,25 Malaysians,26Native North Americans, 27

    Sri Lankans,2 8 and members of various other religious andshamanistic communities. Although there is a spectrum of these

    fe ats, the most common involve the insertion of sharp ob j ec t ssuch as skewers into the subjects body in a way that would ordi-narily cause severe pain, bleeding, tissue damage, and infection.Howev er, pain and bleeding are virtually absent, and when thesharp object is removed, the wound closes almost immediate lyand extremely rapid healing ensues, without infection and oftenwithout scarring.

    These processes go beyond what we usually consider to bethe normal c apacities of the human body. Un raveling themwould be a great insight and could lead to extraordinary medicalad vances. It is therefore difficult to understand why these phe-nomena have been so thorou ghly neglect ed by We s t e r nresearchers.

    The scientific communitys avoidance of DCBD, howe v er,has not been total. Three groups of laborat o ry re s e a rc h e r slooked briefly at these events in the late 70s and early 80s.

    In 1978 Elmer and Alyce Green and their colleagues at theMenninger Fo un d ation in Topeka, Kan, studied a subject whohad the ability to skewer his biceps with a knitting needle,apparently with impunity (unpublished data, 1972).

    Continued on page 103



    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 103

    In an interesting aside to this demonstration, a skepticalphysician who witnessed the demonstration tried to drive thesame needle into the same region of his arm. He was unable todo so because of the pain and stopped with the knitting needleh a l f w ay through. At this point the gifted subject interv e n e d ,took hold of the needle, and pushed it the remaining distance

    through the physicians arm.29

    Pelletier and Peper 30 investigated 2 subjects: one who wasable to insert bicycle spokes through his cheeks and the sides ofhis body, and one who could do a similar feat through a fold inthe skin of his forearm. Pe lletier31 also studied the subject whohad been investigated at the Menninger Foundation.

    Larb ig an d associat e s3 2 , 3 3 of Tbi ngen Un i v e r s i t y,G e r m a n y, s tudied a yogi w ho was able to insert unster ilizedspikes into his tongue, neck, and abdomen.

    Although these 3 studies laid valuable gro u n d w o rk, theyw e re limited because they involved only a total of 4 subjects.Re s earch took an immense stride due to the recent laborato ryinvestigation by Fatoohi and Hussein of 28 subjects.

    Fatoohi and Hu s se in s interest in this area escalated whenthey encountered impressive performances of DCBD byd e rvishes of a S ufi school known as Tariqa Casnazaniyyah, anAra bi c- Kurdish name that means the way of the secret that isk n own to no one.3 4 This sect has followe rs in Iraq, Jord a n ,Sudan, India, and a few other countries. The dervishes believet h at their DCBD abilities are manifestations of spiritual powe r sof the Masters of Tariqa Casnazaniyya h p owers that eachmaster transfers to his successor and that are now possessed bythe prese nt mast er, Shai kh Muh amm ad al- C a s n a z a n i .Fo rt u n ately for re s e a rchers, dervishes of this school believetheir DCBD feats need not be confined to religious settings.

    Shaikh Muhammad al-Casnazani theref ore granted permissionto Fatoohi and Hussein to study 28 derv ishes in their laborat o-ry. The re se a rchers re p o rt the follow i ng2 3( p 16 ):

    Under laborat o ry controlled conditions, the derv i s h e sw e re able to demonstrate several impressive DCBD feat s .The dervishes insert skewers and spikes into various partsof their bodies. They use these instruments without steril-ization, and may also contaminate the instruments by rub-bing them on the ground before using them. The parts ofthe body that are involved in these feats include the cheeks,tongue, lower part of the mouth, lobule of the ear, neck,arms, muscles of the chest, and abdomen. The instruments

    used in these activities are usually metallic and of differentdiameters. How e ver, with some parts of the body, such asthe cheeks and lower part of the mouth, where normalmanual pressure is adequate to force sharp-ended woodensticks into the flesh without being broken, such instru-ments may replace the metallic skewers. Obviously, the tis-sue damage and pain that would normally be expected fromwooden sticks are gre ater than thos e caused by metallic

    i n s t rument s because the former are usual ly hand- m a d ewith rather rough surfaces and irregular diameters.Ad ditional ly, with the aid of hammers the dervishes drivedaggers into various sides of the skull bones as well as thec lavicle. The hammer is also used for inserting knives justbelow the eyes. They also chew and swallow glass and sharprazor blades. Obviously, these feats involve organs and tis-

    sues of the digestive tract.

    The dervishes also handle fire by wrapping cloth around oneend of a stick, dipping it in flammable fluid, and lighting it. Theflames from this torch are then applied to the face, arms, and legsfor 5 to 15 seconds. The dervishes also hold re d-hot iron plateswith their bare hands and even bite them.35-37 They handle snakesand scorpions and usually receive bites and stings on their handswhile doing so. Sometimes they intentionally expose their tonguesto the poisonous bites of snakes and the stings of scorpions,demonstrating immunity to the toxins; they may even eat thesecreatures live.35 They also expose themselves continuously for sev-eral minutes to electrical shocks of 220 V, again with impunity.35

    IS HYPNOSIS THE KEY?Larbig and associates suggested that their subject was using

    autohypnosis to control his bodily responses while being piercedby skewers. In contrast, Fatoohi and Hussein, who have studied7 times more subjects than all other re s e archers combined, donot believe that any special altered state of consciousness isinvolved. They measured several physiological parameters of the

    NOTES ON THE JOURNEYContinued from page 16

    Photo courtesy of Paramann Programme Labs



    104 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage

    dervishes before, during, and after their DCBD demonstrations.Such parameters include electro e n c e p h a l o g raphic (EEG) pat-terns, electrical conductance of the skin, skin temperature, andarterial blood pressure. They found no discernible physiologicalpattern that could characterize DCBD feats, thus contradictingwhat other researchers (using far fewer subjects) have claimed.According to Fatoohi and Hussein23(pp17-18 ):

    The dervishes do not engage in any psychological or psy-chophysiological practices that can be claimed to have beendesigned to give them the unusual immunities and instanta-neous healing. [Those] whom we have studied showed nosign of departure from their ordinary state of consciousnesseither during their DCBD performances or before or afterthat. Normal physiological measurements, and in particularthe normality of the EEG, support this observation.

    The dervishes have no experience or training in hypnosis,either on themselves or others. In fact, hypnosis is not at all popu-lar in the society wherein the dervishes of Tariqa Casnazaniyyahlive. Neither do they require any previous experience in meditationor guided imagery, which might be related to self-hypnosis, to per-form these feats. The dervishes appear in total control of their sens-es before, during, and after engaging in DCBD. They show noevidence of perceptual distortion, remain entirely alert, and areable to respond properly to all external stimuli from their enviro n-ment. Therefore, Fatoohi and Hussein37(p25) strongly dismiss auto-hypnosis, stating, To [this possibility] there is no supportingevidence whatsoever.

    Even if hypnosis were involved, itprobably could not account for the DCBDf e ats o f the dervishes. Although hyp-n o t h e rapists believe that approx i m at e l y

    80% of individuals can be hypnotized tosome degree, perhaps only 4% to 26% ofthe total population can achieve levelssufficient for anesthesia.38,3 9 And, amongthese, probably only a few would be capa-ble of the stupendous feats seen in DCBD.As Fatoohi and Hussein37(p26 ) note: Thereremains a very important question ofwhether hypnosis can or cannot produceDCBD abilities at all.

    Does the use of hypnosis duringmajor surg ery c ontradict t his view ?Although re s e a rchers have indeed used

    hypnosis on subjects during surgery, it isemployed mostly as an adjunct to facilitatep o s t o p e rative re c ov e ry.4 0 And althoughhypnosis has been used to reduce bleed-ing in minor and major surgeries and toothe x t ra c t i o n s ,41 these uses are indeed forreduction of bleeding and not for its totalelimination, as is the case with DCBD.

    Some of the most impressive reports on the use of hypnosisduring surgery originated in the 19th century. An example is thew o rk by the Scottish surgeon James Esdaile, who mesmerizedpatients for minor and major surgeries. Esdaile found that in mes-meric operations hemorrhage was less, and the course of recoverymore favorable, than in operations with chloroform or operationswith no anesthesia.42 But even if one generously grants hypnosispower over pain, totalcontrol of hemorrhage has not been estab-

    lished, and hypnotic control over infection and extremely rapidhealing are practically unheard of in the hypnosis literature.

    Other forms of mind-body interactionguided imagery,biofeedbac k, yoga, meditat i o n s h a re the same limitation s ashypnosis. Using these techniques, people have been able to mod-ify circ u l ation to various regions of t he body. But even in themost skillful hands, these approaches yield nothing comparableto the spectrum of accomplishments seen in DCBD. For exam-ple, the ability to re d i rect blood to the extremities and warmones hands, which is routinely learned in biofeedback trainingand quite valuable in Raynauds disease, seems a minor accom-plishment compared to the dervishs ability to do the following:skewer his liver, skull, or clavicle; eat glass, razor blades, snakes,and scorpions without ill effects; handle 220 V; or bathe his facein fireall without tissue damage, pain, bleeding, or infection,and with rapid healing.


    These abilities are not confined to the spiritual elite. Anyperson who wants to jo in th e dervish order of Ta r i q a

    C a sn az aniyyah may declare his wish andthen part i c i p ate in a ritual that takesabout 2 or 3 minutes. Several individu-als may be initiated simultaneously. Inthis session the initiate is asked to put

    his right hand, handshake style, in theright hand of the c ali fa (a deputy of themaster) and recite a pledge of loyalty toTariqa Casnazaniyyah. The c ali fa make sa few comments about the beliefs andp ractices of Tariqa Ca snazaniyyah a nde n c o u rages the derv ishes to culti vat etheir knowledge by reading re l e vant l it-e rat u re, w hich is meant to educate thed e rvishes about their religious duties.Fo l l owing an invo c ation , the newd e rvishes are verbally granted permis-sion to perform DCBD feats a fter re c i t-

    ing certain oaths of loyalty to the masterof Tariqa Casnazaniyyah. They are notre q u i red to be involved in any physical or

    psychological training before perf o r m i n gDCBD feats. There appears, therefore, tobe no cult ivation of ski lls for thedervishes. If anything, the skills seem tobe tra n s f e r red from the c a l i f a to thePhoto courtesy of Paramann P rogramme Labs



    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 105

    t rue re g a rding shamans, who, like the dervishes above, oftenengage in bizarre practices for spir itual reasons. The o b s erva-tions of Mircea Eliade,43 the great ethnographer and historian ofreligions, also might apply to the dervishes:

    No shaman is, in everyday life, an abnormal individual,a neurotic, or a paranoiac; if he were, he would be classed asa lunatic, not respected as a priest. Nor finally can shaman-

    ism be corre l ated with incipient or latent abnormali ty; Ire c o rded no case of a shaman whose professional hysteriad e t e r i o rated into serious mental disorders. [M]edicinemen are expected to be, and usually are, perfectly healthyand normal. [S]hamans show proof of a more than nor-mal nervous constitution; they achieve a degree of concen-tration beyond the capacity of the profane.


    Not all those who engage in DCBD belong to religious ord ers.In May 1971, biofeedback researcher Erik Peper heard about a visit-ing man from Ecuador who practiced unusual control over painand bleeding, walked on fire, had himself hoisted by hooks in theback, and puncture dhis flesh with sharp-ened bicycle spokeswithout causing dam-age.3 0 The young managreed to spend a dayand a half demonstrat-ing these abilities in al a b o rat o ry at NewYork University.

    In an overcrowd-ed EEG laborat o ry

    in the psyc h o l o g yd e p a rtm ent, whilebystanders gaw k e dand jockeyed for agood vie w, Pe p e rrecorded the subjectsb rain waves, heartrate, and galva n i cskin resistance as theman performed thefollowing: chewed and swallowed pieces of an electric light bulb;pushed unsterilized, sharpened bicycle spokes through 1 cheek,th rough the center of his mouth, and out the other cheek; and

    pushed these spokes through the sides of his body. Peper notedt h at, although the man had per formed such punctures manytimes, he had few scars on his body, a phenomenon that hasoften been reported by DCBD observers around the world.

    The subject upon command rapidly entered a meditat i v estate of unfocused relaxation. As he punctured himself, his occipi-tal alpha activity increased. This finding was opposite Pepers pre-diction that the subjects EEG pattern would demonstrate a stress

    initiates, whose unquestioned loyalty to the sect seems to enablethem to carry the spiritual powers of the master to others.

    The lack of training is remarkable. In other religious tradi-tions, adepts struggle for years to develop skills in meditat io nand mind-body control to accomplish feats far less impressiv e .Even biofeedback trainingin which sophisticated, solid- s tat eelectronic instruments speed up the learning processes involvedin controlling autonomic functions such as heart rate, skin con-

    ductance, and dermal temperat u recannot compare to therapidity of learning by the dervishes.

    Pe rforming DCBD feats is optional and not among thed e rv i s h e s ob l i g ations. In fact, the dervishes are urged not toengage in these feats for any purpose other than to provide peo-ple living evidence of the spiritual power of Ta r i q aCa s n az ani yyah. Most dervishes, however, proceed to make useof DCBD powers for these purposes, though a few restrict them-selves to verbal preaching. The initiation appears exc e e d i n g l ydemocratic. The dervishes meet no criteria based on ethnic ori-gin, race, social standing, or education, though as far as I can tellthe privilege is limited to males, in accordance with Islamic prin-ciples. After they have taken their vow of loyalty, all dervishes areconsidered equal.

    I have often discussed DCBD phenomena with audiences inthe United States. In pointing out that these rituals are a manthing, the women in the audience always respond with light-h e arted comments such as Thank God! or Of course; we retoo smart! I have yet to encounter Western women who feelthat their religious freedom is being compromised because theyarent encouraged to skewer themselves like men.

    The physical differences between the dervishes do not affecttheir ability to perform DCBD feats. The potential seems toreside in all of them; even dervishes who are in bad health aregranted the right to participate and do so successfully.

    The dervishes of Tariqa Casnazaniyyah assert that they cansuccessfully perform DCBD feats anytime, anywhere. Thisincludes both in the field and in the labor atory, immediately andon cue, as Fatoohi and Hussein have established. These acts arenot restricted to temples, religious shrines, or special dates hav-ing religious significance.


    Some compare DCBD to the self-mutilation sometimes seenin psychosis, suggesting that DCBD is an expression of mentald e rangement. But this is a misinterpre t ation. The purpose ofDCBD is not to damage the body, but to demonstrate its capaci-ty for self-repair and attest to the spiritual power of the religious

    order and its leaders. Moreover, self-mutilation injuries inflictedby psychotics and other mentally unstable people show none ofthe characteristics of DCBD. Damage due to psychotic self-muti-lation is not painless, bloodless, or free of infection, and does notheal with extreme rapidity.

    The charge of mental illness often has been leveled byWestern investigators against people who engage in rituals thatthese investigators consider exotic. This has been parti c u l a r ly

    Photo courtesy of Paramann Programme Labs



    106 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage

    response. Peper, with his colleague Kenneth R. Pelletie r, who isc u r rently at Stanford University and an editorial adviser to

    Alternative Therapies, studied 2 additional subjects who could per-form similar feats. They were struck with how these adepts usedDCBD to demonstrate not just self-initiated healing, but personalgrowth as well.

    Later in 1972, Peper studied a 31-year-old karate expert whoplaced a sharpened spoke through a fold in the skin of his fore-

    arm and suspended a 25-pound bucket of water from it. Ratherthan detaching himself mentally from the experience of pain, asthe Ecuadoran did, this man focused totally on the sensation. Ashe put it, The concentrated mind can be applied to anything itdoes, and when it is applied, it no longer feels. The concentratedmind is the activity itself; it does not exist in the world.30(p66)

    Pelletier tested an other middle-aged man i n a week-l o n gsojourn in the laboratory.30 Under the observation of an attend-ing physician, this subject was able to push an unsterilized,sharpened knitting needle through his left bicep on 3 occasionswhile being monitored physiologically. He was able to contro lbleeding completely and his wounds healed within 24 hourswithout infection. His psychological strategy seemed to be one ofdetachment and dissociation. As he explained: Its very simple.I do it by changing a single word. I dont stick a needle in m yarm, I stick a needle through an arm. I move outside my bodyand look at the arm from a distance; with that detachment, itbecomes an object. It is as though I am sticking the needle intothe arm of a chair.30(p67)

    These 3 subjects did not belong to religious organizations asdid the Sufi dervishes. They developed these capacities alone, ontheir own, without formal instruction. Often during childhoodand early adolescence, these adepts would create challenging situ-ations before an audience in which they would demonstrate theirfoolish deeds. They gradually learned to master their fear of

    pain and failure and pushed their internal limits further and fur-th e r. This result ed in an increasing level of self- confidence anddaringwhat Pelletier and Peper call the chutzpah factor.

    In interviews, Pelletier and Peper found common personali-ty characteristics among their 3 subjects. The subjects wererewarded in childhood for performing unusual feats, such as theE c u a do ra n s hypnosis of his friends followed by the painlesssewing of buttons on their arms, and another subjects learningto lie on a bed of nails with someone standing on his stomach.Pelletier and Peper interpret these events as evidence of a uniquestate of self-awareness, rather than mere antisocial acts or ritualsof self-mutilation.

    An additional attribute of these 3 subjects was a willingness

    to accept what appears to be an impossible task or challenge.They deliberately placed themselves in situations in which theyfaced a demanding task they had never performed. Most of usstrive to avoidsuch situations; these men courted and actuallycreatedthem. For example, the Ecuadoran claimed he could walkthrough a wall of fire with flames 6 feet wide and 7 feet high, anddid so before a live audience of 100 people, which was shown onMontreal TV on February 10, 1969.30

    These individuals do not adhere to the socially acceptedvalues and have a capacity to inspire and kindle enthusiasm fori n novative views of social reality, note Pelletier and Peper.30(p71)

    Jungians might call such individuals extroverted intuitives: peo-ple who respond well to innovative and challenging situations.Again Pelletier and Peper30(pp71-72):

    Essentially, they are visionaries, and tend to express their

    vision in a convincing and charismatic manner. Since theyhave little patience for social convention or restraint, theymay be unjustly condemned as insensitive or sensationalis-tic, but this is mainly due to the fact that they value theirconviction and unique view of reality above all else. [T]heydo not convince themselves that something is impossiblebefore they have tried the task themselves.

    Its easy to see why these capacities are rare in Western cul-tures. Pelletier and Peper30(p72) continue:

    The educational system and childhood upbringing inhib-it and punish us for daring and chutzpah-inducing behav-i o r. Thus, when a child h as become an adult he or s heusually has become afraid to try or afraid to buck the sys-tem. Yet is is precisely these qualities if maintained whichallow these adepts to achieve their self-mastery. By daringto dream, imagine, and challenge these self-imposed limita-tions, we can learn to fulfill our human potential.


    One factor that stands out in DCBD is deliberatenessie, thedervish must want to wound himself. The impunity to pain, bleed-ing, and infection, and the ability to heal ra pid ly, do not occurunless the dervish wounds himself voluntarily and purposefully. If

    he is wounded accidentally, as in a traffic accident, his body doesnot demonstrate these abilities and he feels pain, bleeds, getsinfected, and heals at the same rate as do ordinary people.23

    All healing traditions urge individuals to cultivate thed e s i re for healing. But in DCBD, the dervish turns this injunc-tion upside down and develops a desire not for healing but fori n j u ry, whi ch para doxically leads to accelerated healing. T hisis one of the strangest facets of DCBD and is extremely wort h yof investigat i o n .


    An equally puzzling facet of DCBD is the derv ishes asser-tion that they can perform these feats not only on their own bod-

    ies, but also on the bodies of oth er peoplewho are notd e rvisheswith similar re s u l t s .4 4 Onlookers of these eventsappear to become convinced that they, too, can have their bodiespierced with impunity. The dervish may even use the bodies ofchildren in his performance. These abilities do not become per-manent features of the bodies of these people, however, and theyare not able to perform DCBD feats later without the interv en-tion of a gifted dervish.23



    Is this transferability due to the power of belief, suggestion,and positive thinking on the part of the onlookers? According toFatoohi and Hussein23(pp18-19):

    To invoke the role of belief when attempting to explainthe derv i s h e s success in demonst rating the unusua limmunities to pain, bleeding, and infection, as well asinstant healing i n others bodies, is hard to justify. Fi r s t ,

    t h e re is the problem of proving that belief can indeed beresponsible for DCBD unusual abilities. Second, for what-ever definition is given of belief and whatever criteria area dopted for differe n t i ating the believers from the non-believers, it would be highly speculative to suppose thatall those whose bodies were successfully pierced were realbelievers. In the case of children at least this assumptiondoes not apply.


    The trans f e rence of the DCBD a bility from one individualto another challenges the traditional assumption that all healingis intrapersonal, controlled by the events taking place solely inour individual minds and bodies. Fatoohi and Hu ssein23(p19) u s ethe term o t h e r s -healing to designate phenomena in whichsomeones mind exerts healing effects on another biological sys-tem, which can be the body of another human. When adervish transfers to another person (sometimes a young child)the ability to speed up and suppress pain, bleeding, and infec-tion, this begins to resemble what has been called distant inten-tionality, or psychic, spiritual, nonlocal healing.45-53


    One of the advantages of studying DCBD is that it offersre s e a rchers a re p e atable type of experim ent. Fatoohi and


    state that

    DCBD feats could offer what has long been sought for, producible healing effects. [They] are rep e atable phe-nomena which beautifully lend themselves to contro l l e dex p e rim entation. In fact, DCBD phenomena cannot butbe repe atable. I f they were not a hundred per cent re p ro-ducible then one would not find them in the first place,because, unlike the failure in ESP [extrasensory perception]and PK [psychokinesis or mind over matter] experiments, afailure in any DCBD feat would mean a serious injury whichcan sometimes be fatal. In our experiments on the dervishesnone of the subjects had an instance of failure, and we do

    not know of any case of failure that has happened in thedervishes community.

    ENLARGING THE PICTUREThere are variations in how the dervishes practice DCBD. In

    Malaysia, for example, Hindu devotees who intend to engage inpiercing feats in the Thaipusam religious festival usually spend aweek or so practicing self-discipline exercises, and may spend up

    to a month in special programs of dietary restriction and sleepdep rivation, as well as abstention from many normal personaland social activities. In Sri Lanka, some DCBD pra c t i t i o n e r srestrict their activities to special dates.44

    In fact, most DCBD practitioners around the world, such asIndian mediums who perform only during possession sessions,appear not to perform on cue like the Casnazaniyyah dervishes.And some DCBD practitioners limit their body piercing to cert ain

    areas. This includes the Sun Dancers of the Plains tribes of NorthAmerica, who insert skewers into the skin of the chest above thenipples, and the Sri Lankans, who skewer their cheeks and armsonly and who practice hanging from hooks that pierce the skin.From field reports around the world, it appears that piercing theabdomen is extremely rare. The Casnazaniyyah dervish communityalso differs from other DCBD-oriented communities worldwide interms of the percentage of devotees who practice these feats. All thedervishes of Tariqa Casnazaniyyah are granted permission to prac-tice DCBD, and those who opt to engage in these feats outnumberthose who dont. This contrasts with the South Asian religious andshamanic communities where, out of millions of adherents, thereare only a few hundred practitioners of DCBD.36


    T h e re are several practices in contempora ry society thatm ay be re l ated to DCBDrituals whose original purpose haslargely been forgotten, the impulse for which still courses in therecesses of the unconscious mind.

    Body Piercing

    Body piercing emerged as a social phenomenon in the late1980s, stimulated by the success of the pictorially graphic bookModern Primitives by Vale and Juno.54 A particular genre calledperformance art has emerged in which artists pierce, brand, or

    cut themselves or other willing performers before an audience.55

    When today s teenagers (and adults) pierce their lips,tongues, noses, ears, nipples, abdomens, brows, and genitalswith metallic objects, are they merely being stylish, or are theyhearkening to an ancestral urge that erupts full-blown in thedervishes? The practice of body piercing is ancient. It has beenused in cultures worldwide to indicate a permanent change in sta-tus, such as emerging into sexual maturity, or to signal onesmembership in a clan or tribe. 56

    Among the psychiatric community, however, there is a ten-dency to pathologize these activities. One of the foremost author-ities on self-mutilation, psychiatrist Armando R. Favazza55(p261) ofthe University of MissouriColumbia, states:

    The overwhelming majority of persons who engage in [tat-toos, branding, and piercing of various body parts] do so toappear attractive, to gain attention, and to be provocative.Although I have not made a formal study it is my impre ssionthat, as a group, persons who have elaborate tattoos and pierc-ings (other than single earlobe) exhibit more psychopatholo-gy than would a suitable control group. The determination of

    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 107



    psychopathology in individuals, however, cannot be inferredsimply because they engage in these practices.

    Some contempora ry practitioners re g a rd body piercing asa spiritually transcendent and healing experience. In a casere p o rted i n 19 9 6, a woman who had bee n raped said, Im get-ting pierced to reclaim my body. Ive been used and abused.My body was taken by another without my consent. Now, by

    this ritual of piercing, I claim my body back as my own. I healmy wounds.5 7


    Tattooing, like body piercing, is another type of DCBD thatis making a comeback (note 5). Sociologist Clinton R. Sanders, 58

    of the University of Connecticut, has extensively examined thispractice in his book Customizing the Body: The Art and Culture ofTattooing. Tattoos may seem merely to reflect the whims of fash-ion, but they often are acquired ritually to express membershipin a group. Consider the famous yakuza, the Japanese equivalentof the Mafia. They frequently cover their bodies with tattoos thatare often outrageously artistic. The tattoos bind theyakuza to thelarger group and mark them as members of an inner circle towhich they swear total allegiance, not unlike the purpose servedby DCBD among the dervishes.

    DCBD in the form of tattooing is believed by some histori-ans to have had a place in early Christianity. Harvard theologianand professor of history Morton Smith5 9 s t ates that Pa u lclaimed to be tattooed or branded with the marks of Jesus, Gal.6 : 17most likely, the same marks that Jesus had carried. Ins u p p o rt of this interpre t ation, Smith5 9 ( p 15 0 ) cites the ra b b i n i creport that in Egypt Jesus was tattooed with magic spells.

    When the Romans invaded Britain they encountered thePicts, who were named for the iron implements they used to cre-

    ate tattoos; indeed, the term Briton is derived from a termmeaning painted in various colors. 60 Tattooing was adopted bythe occupying Roman soldiers and spread in the military untilbanned by the Christian emperor Constantine, who claimed thatthe practi ce violated Gods h andiwork .5 8 In spite of the ban,members of the Anglo-Saxon nobility continued to use tat t oost hat had both religious and personal significance. Tattoos hadpractical value for soldiers. Following the Battle of Hastings in10 6 6, King Haro l d s mutilated body was identifiable onlybecause he had Edith tattooed over his heart.58

    From the 8th through the 10th centuries, how e v e r, theChurch again banned tattooing as demonic and because it disfig-ured the body, which they believed was created in Gods image.

    The prohibition was only partially successful. When theCrusaders tried to reclaim the Holy land from the Muslims, tat-tooing again became a frequent practice. The soldiers often hadthemselves marked with a crucifix or other religious symbol toe n s u re a Christian burial should they die in a for eign l and.Tattooists in Jerusalem enjoyed a booming business among pil-grims who wanted to commemorate their journey and indicatetheir devotion to God, a practice that continues to this day.58

    Mingling of Blood

    Cutting or puncturing the flesh and then mixing blood withanother has always been a common way of becoming a bloodbrother, at least in the pre-AIDS era.

    Stigmata and FlagellationS t i g m ata are bodily marks resembl ing the cru c i f i x i o n

    wounds of Jesus. They are said to appear spontaneously on

    devout persons who, in a state of intense religious fervor, are socompletely identified with Jesus suffering that their bodiesbegin to resemble his. Like the dervishes who deliberately injurethemselves for a spiritual purpose, stigmatics often consider it ablessing to be marked by wounds resembling those of Jesus, suchas bleeding holes in the hands, feet, or side.

    But here the resemblance to the DCBD phenomena weveexamined ends. Stigmata bleed and often become raw, perma-nent lesions. In addition, the states of awareness associated withstigmata appear to differ drastically from those of DCBD partici-pants. Ac c o rding to writer Ian Wi l s o n61 in his book S t i g m a t a,stigmatics often experience trances, hysterical catalepsies, lossof sensation in parts of the body, blindness, loss of hearing,p a ralysis seeing visions, hearing voices and receiving otherh a l l u c i n at ory impressions. It cannot be emphasized enoughthat these visions are not incidental to the stigmatic phenomena,they are integral to it.

    An example is Padre Pio, the famous Italian priest born in1887, who first manifested stigmata while in deep, contemplativeprayer before a statue of the crucifixion. He suddenly screamedand fell unconscious while blood poured from wounds in hishands, feet, and the left side of his chest. Padre Pios wounds neverhealed for the remaining 50 years of his life. They would scab overand bleed repeatedly, in spite of every attempt to cure them.61

    Another religious practice related to DCBD is flagellatio n ,

    in which religious devotees deliberately whip, scourge, or beatthemselves, sometimes producing grievous, bleeding wounds.Again, al though the motivation of the f lagellant may be re l i-gious, as it is for the dervishes, flagellation wounds do notbehave like those of the DCBD practitioners weve examined.

    Body Sculpting

    Body sculpting is the attempt to reshape the body toachieve the criteria of beauty that predominate in a society.58

    These practices enjoy a long history. For centuries, the feetof Chinese girls were bound to create the lotus foot, the ideal ofwhich was 3 inches long, just the size to fit in a mans palm. Thefeet were considered an erogenous zone and were fondled and

    licked by the ardent lover. As Sanders58(p 7) notes: Connoisseurswere even sexually stimulated by the odor of putrefaction causedby restricted circulation in the properly bound foot. Unbound,normal-sized feet meant ostracism and significantly reduced thechance for marriage.

    Body sculpting was popularized in the West in the mid- tolate 1800s in the form of corsets and the practice of tight-lacing,the goal of which was to create the famous wasp waist. In his

    108 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage



    bookFashion and Fetishism, David Kunzle 62 asserts that this cus-tom was a symbolic protest against the constraints and expecta-tions inherent in the conventional female role. Tight-lacers werev i ewed as deviant and were ridicul ed in t he popu lar me diabecause their altered physique was unwomanly and madethem unfit for childbearing.

    To d ay, people are still willing to endure considerable dis-comfort, risk, and expense to set themselves apart aesthetically

    from others. Plastic surgery is the dominant form of permanentbody sculpting currently practiced in Western societies for aes-thetic purposes. Approximately 5% of the American population(some 200,000 individuals each year) have submitted t o c o s-metic reconstructions of the body to erase signs of aging, removeunwanted fatty tissue, increase or decrease breast size, or other-wise move the recipient into the currently approved range ofphysical beauty.58(p7)

    Plastic surgery can be seen as a form of DCBD, whose pur-pose is to set ones self apart as one of the beautiful people, justas the dervishes engage in DCBD to cultivate a kind of inner spir-itual beauty and denote their membership in an elite group.


    The deliberate production of dermal scars is practiced inc u l t u res worldwide as bodily decoration or as an indicator ofones position in a social structure. This custom has been partic-ularly common among African tribal groups, perhaps becauseon dark-skinned peoples tattooing would be less evident. Amongthese people, the basic technique of scarification involves liftingand cutting the skin, followed by the application of an irritantt h at inhibits healing and promotes the formation of a ra i s e dkeloid scar. Because this pro c e d u re is painful, it is commonlyused in rituals associated with rites of passage, in which the dis-play of courage and endurance is important.58

    In 19th-century Germany, this form of DCBDthe acquisi-tion of a scar that would indicate special statuserupted amonguniversity students in the practice of dueling. This custom offerssome insight into the value placed on bodily scars and the riskspeople will take to acquire them.

    The chief purpose of these [dueling] encounters was, andstill is, to receive cuts on the face, these being left open to formduelling scars w hich were re g a rded as marks of courage a ndhonor, writes Robert Baldick63 in his fascinating work, The Duel:

    A Histo ry. Because the combatants were so heavily swathed, itmight reasonably be argued that these student combats were notreally duels at all, but elaborate ritualistic facial operat i o n s , Baldick63(p149) reports.

    Sometime s, how e v e r, a student would be killed, where-upon his adversary would be advised to leave the university. Ifhe killed a second time, he would be barred from all Germanu n i v er si ti e s.

    A special weapon was developed for the aesthetic purposesof German students dueling: the Schlger, a sword with a blade312 feet long and triangular like a bayonet. The students neverthrust with this weapon, but raised it above waist level, well in

    front of the head, and brought the blade down diagonally in frontof the body by a movement of the wrist. In this way the studentstood the best chance of acquiring a pleasing scar on his face.

    How e v e r, at the university in Jena, Germany, a differe n tpractice was employed. Jena was where theology students cameto study in great numbers; and, because any theologian with asword-cut on his face was not admitted to the ministry, the stu-dent code at Jena was modified to permit students to settle their

    disputes by running one another through the body.63

    All these practicestattooing, body piercing, body sculpt-ing, and scarification proclaim publicly ones attachment to aminority group and to an unconventional set of beliefs andb e h aviors. People engaging in these rituals want to stand outf rom the pre vailing norms. T hey want to proclaim their ow nuniqueness or uniqueness of the group to which they belong, likethe DCBD practitioners above.


    Not surprisingly, so-called skeptics have drawn a bead onclaims of DCBD (note 6). One such gro u p, the Tampa B aySkeptics (TBS), received a letter from Dr Jamal N. Hussein, who,as described above, is conducting re s e a rch on DCBD atEn g lands Durham Un i ver sity.6 4 In his letter, which was sent tomany scientific groups throughout the United States, Hu s s ei nstates, We hope that our Programme will be of interest to you sothat we can conduct joint research in fields of mutual interest.G a ry P. Po s n e r, a physician and avowed foe of para psyc ho l ogyand spiritual healing, writes:

    [A]fter sharing Dr. Hu ss e in s letter with the TBS mem-bers attending our meeting, I replied on behalf of TBS.Noting our standing $1,000 Challenge for verifiable proofof any paranormal phenomenon, I informed Hussein that

    if he could demonstrate to us that the claims in his letterw ere true, that would suffice. I continued: If you wouldlike to visit the United States, specifically sunny Florida, wewould love to test your claim, and would be agreeable toi n c rease our aw a rd to $10,000 if you w ere to exhibi t nosigns of pain or injury as we passed a knife through yo u rbody. Of course, we would have the police present to verifythat we were doing this at your request. And, despite yourclaimed 100% success rate, as a physician I would be ableto properly dress your wounds.

    Dr Louay J. Fatoohi, Dr Husseins collaborator in the inves-tig ation of DCBD, responded for Dr Hussein, asking TBS how

    they could arrange the meeting. TBS responded, [I]t is hard tobelie ve th at your colleagu e is pre p a red t o be stabbed withknives. Nevertheless, TBS is prepared to put him to the test.Hussein and Fatoohi then sent TBS copies of papers detailingtheir research, along with photographs of subjects undergoingDCB D. How eve r, the proposed t est did not take pla ce becauseHusseins visit to the United States was canceled due to person-al circumstances.

    Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 109



    In another letter, TBS implied that Dr Hussein canceled themeeting because he was afraid of being exposed as a fraud, con-clud ing: Un f o rt u n at e l y, despi te our best effort s, and our$ 10,000 offer, the Tampa Bay Skeptics [were] de nied a uniqueopportunity to test these techniques on Dr Hussein himself.

    This is a typical response from such groups. Skepticssanctimoniously lament that they have doggedly looked for datas u p p o rting the anomalous claims, bending over backward to

    give claimants the opportunity to prove their bizarre assertionsand even to pay thembut simply come up empty-handed everytime. This assertion conceals the fact that skeptics are oftenpoorly informed about the actual data in the field, are often notscientists at all, andeven when they arealmost never dirt ytheir hands doing original research in the field they condemn.65

    Dr Hussein displayed excellent judgment in declining toplay ball with TBS for several reasons.

    Skeptical groups are fond of issuing blustery c h a l l e n g e sp ropped up with bucks to people they consider fra u d s . When theindividual declines to accept, this is interpreted as evidence thathe or she is bogus. This is a peculiar way to do science. Thestaged demonstrations and challenges promoted by skepticalgroups embody a circus atmosphere that most re searchers findinimical or fatal to their work. Careful scientific investigat i onsare best done without ballyhoo, outside the public eye.

    There is not the slightest hint that the TBSers are familiar withprior research in this field. They appear completely ignorant of theabove experiments of Pelletier, Peper, the Larbig group, and theMenninger re s e a rchers. Ig n o rant of earlier studies, they cloakthemselves as trailblazers who are trying to lure data into theopen by waving their cash flag.

    Like many people obsessed with exposing frauds and quacks,the TBSers are appallingly insensitive to the role of context in cer-tai n typ es of re s e a rc h . Context may not be important for

    machines, but it must always be taken into account in humans.The failure to do so can distort experimental outcomes.Consider re s e a rch dealing with the human sexual re s p o n s e .Most people prefer to make love in privacy; when this is inva d-ed by spectators and bright lights (or if they are forced to makel ove in front of cynics who believe that all lovemaking is fra u d-ulent), their performance will likely be inhibited. There ares u rely laborat o ry situations t hat are equally hostile for pra ct i-tioners of DCBDfor example, labs that are so dedicated todebunking these feats that the investigators dont realize thatDCBD is an exe rcise in sacredness, re v e rence, and respect forthe ideals of a religious ord e r.

    This is not a subtle point. Even in hard science, context

    is critical. Biochemists who work with enzymes realize thatthe a cidity or pH of the medium must b e correct, otherw i s ethe enzymes wont catalyze the organic reactions for whichthey are intended. In the same way, the spiritual pH must bec o r rect if religious devotees are t o give t he best demonstra-tions of their practice. Un f o rt u n at e l y, many skeptics are ob l i v-ious to spiritual pH as a crucial factor affecting the outcomeof a religiously based experiment. They seem bent on cre at i n g

    a conte xt th at is as ir re v e rent and host ile as possible forexample, demanding that the DCBD practitioner perform inf ront of th e p o l i c e . Until these approaches change, the ham-fisted sk eptics will forever in terf e re wit h the outcome oftheir e x p e r i m e n t s .

    The silliest demand of the TBSers is that Dr Hussein submit personally to being stabbed by them. Requiring Hussein, ani n v e s t i g ative scientist, to prove these phenomena on himself is

    like requiring the legendary heart surgeon Michael DeBakeyto submit personally to c oro n a ry art e ry bypass s urgery by ac l u m s y, doubting surgeon to prove that the pro c e d u re re a l l yw o rks. Would any sane individual allow himself to be st abbedby people who believe he is a fraud, and who there f o re prob a-bly have a hidden agenda of making him bleed and hurt? InDCBD rituals the subjects are never stabbed by anyone hostileto them. Consider also the demand by TBS that the subjectexhibit no signs of pain or injury as w e pass a knife thro u g hyour body [emphasis added]. Even if no injury resulted fro mthe TBS stabbers, they could always claim that they saw signsof pain (its their call)a bead of sweat, a wrinkling of theb row, a disturbed lookthat, accor ding to their cr iteria,would indicate failure.

    Such flamboyant challenges are irrational and a mockery ofthe accepted standards of scientific investigation.


    Meaninghas the power to drastically modify our experienceof pain. It also can dramatically affect our health, both positivelyand negativelya phenomenon I explored previously in this col-u m n .66 Spiritualmeanings may be the most pow e rful forms ofmeaning, because they can provoke healing responses thatappear miraculous, such as in DCBD.

    DCBD bridges medicine, neuroscience, religion, and

    anthropology. Consequently, it is rega rded as too sprawling byscientists who prefer to work in a confined, limited area. DCBDalso carries the stigma of being weird and foreign. So it isntsurprising that re s e a rchers have given it a wide berth over theyears. At long last, however, this attitude is changing, and a fewbrave investigators are coming forward.

    In my imagination I see DCBD as a territory marked bybold signs: ATTENTION PROSPECTIVE NOBEL PRIZE WIN-NERS: LOOK HERE!

    Is anybody out there up to the challenge?

    Larry Dossey, MDExecutive Editor

    110 ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, SEPTEMBER 1998, VOL. 4, NO. 5 Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage



    Notes1. Chidiock Tichborne was a young English Roman Catholic conspirator. The quo-tation is from his Elegy, written in the Tower of London prior to his execution in1586 while in his late 20s. Cited in: Angela Partington, ed. The Oxford Dictionary ofQuotations (New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1996:698).2. This s eems to be the most common version. See als o Jamie Saye n sE i n s t e i nin Am er i c a (New Yo rk, NY: Crown; 19 8 5 : 130), in which this version appears:An hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but aminute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour. This was Einsteins explana-tion of re lativity given to his secretary, Helen Dukas, to rel ay to rep o rters and

    other layp er s o n s .3. For a fascinating look at Gurdjieffs science of idiotism, his unconventionalteaching methods, and the interesting individuals who gat hered around him, see

    J. G. Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett,Idiots in Paris: Diaries of J. G. Bennett andElizabeth Bennett 1949 (Glos, England: Coombe Springs Press; 1980).4. Dr Louay Fatoohi may be contacted at Durham University, Physics Department,Durham, England DHI 3IE, UK. Dr Jamal N. Hussein may be reached at Pa ramannProgramme Laboratories, POB 310087, Al-Mahatta, Amman 11131, Jordan.5. The term tatt o o, from the Tahitian ta-tu or t a t a u, meaning to strike or tomark, was introduced by Captain James Cook, who encountered the practice inthe South Pacific in July 176 9. See Sanders, Customizing the Body: The Art andCulture of Tattooing(Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press; 1989:14).6. True skepticism requires keeping an open mind until the facts are in. Many so-called skeptics do not do so; their minds appear to be made up in advance of thefacts. See my comments in The Right Man Syndrome ( Altern Ther Health Med.1998;4[3]:12-19, 108-115).

    References1. The week-end book. Cited in: Partington A, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

    New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1996:18.2. Bronowski J. The face of violence. Cited in: Partington A, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of

    Quotations. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1996:142.3 . Sw ain J. The Pleasures of the Torture Chamber. New York, NY: Dorset Press; 1995.4. P laidy J . The Spanish Inquisition. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble; 1994.5. Ruthven M. Torture: The Grand Conspiracy. London, England: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1978.6. Mannix DP. The History of Torture. New York, NY: Dell; 1964.7. Wallace L.Ben Hur.New York, NY: Buccaneer Books; 1996.8. Dryden J. Alexanders feast. Cited in: Partington A, ed. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of

    Quotations. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1994:127.9. Agnew LRC. An 18th century amputation.Lancet. November 5, 1983:1074-1075.

    10. Guarnieri R. Preface. In: Lachance P, trans.Angela of Foligno: Complete Works. Mahwah,NJ: Paulist Press; 19 93:8.

    11. Oxman TE, Freeman DH, Manheimer ED. Lack of social partici p ation or re l igi ouss t rength or c omfort as risk factors for death after card iac surgery i n the elderly.

    Psychosom Med. 1995;57:5-15.

    12. Pressman P, Lyons JS, Larson DB, Strain JS. Religious belief, depression, and ambula-tion status in elderly women with broken hips.Am J Psychiatry. 1990;147:758-760.

    13. Dickinson E. Quoted in: Partington A, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. NewYork, NY: Oxford University Press; 1996:244.

    14. El iade M.Rites and Symbols of Initiation. New York, NY: Harper and Row; 1975.15. Favazza AR. The coming of age of self-mutilation.J Nerv Ment Dis. 1998;186(5):259-268.16. Horgan P. Great River: The Rio Grande in N orth American Hi story. London, England:

    Wesleyan University Press; 1984:376.17. Bergmann GH. Ein fall von religioser monomanie.Algemeine Z Psychiatrie.1846;3:365-380.18. Ouspensky PD.In Search of the Miraculous. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich;

    1949:36.19. Speeth KR, Friedlander I. Gurdjieff: Seeker of Truth. New York, NY: Harper Colophon

    Books; 1980:96-98.20. Bennett JG. Witness. Cited in: Speeth KR. Gu rdjieff: Seeker of Truth. New York, NY:

    Harper Colophon Books; 1980:98.21. Sc himm el A. Mystical Dimen sions of Is l a m . Chapel Hill, N C: Universit y of No rt h

    Carolina Press; 1985:248.22. Nasr SH, ed. Islamic Spirituality. New York, NY: Crossroad; 1997:273.

    23. Fatoohi L, Hussein J. The deliberately caused bodily damage phenomenon as excep-tional human experience.J Religious Psychical Res. 1998:21(1):14-21.24. Barclay G.Mind Over Matter: Beyond the Bounds of Nature . New York, NY: Barker; 1973.25. Chandrashekar CRC. Possession syndrome in India. In: Ward CA, ed.Altered States of

    Consciousness and Mental Health: A Cross-Cultural Perspec tive. Thousand Oaks, Calif:Sage; 1989:79-95.

    26. Lee RLM. Self-presentation in Malaysian spirit seances: a dramaturgical perspective onaltered states of consciousness in h ealing ceremonies. In: Ward CA, ed. Altered States ofConsciousness and Mental Health: A Cross-Cultural Pe rspective. Thousand Oaks, Calif:Sage; 1989:251-266.

    27. Jilek WG. Altered states of consciousness in No rth American Indian cere m o nial s .Ethos. 1982;10(4):326-343.

    28. McClenon J. Firewalking in Sri Lanka.Psi Res. 1983;2:99-101.29. Green E, Green A.Beyond Biofeedback. New York, NY: Delta Books; 1978:234.30. Pelletier KR, Peper E. The chutzpah factor in altered states of consciousness. J Hum

    Psychol. 1977;17(1):63-73.31. Pelletier KR. Ne u rological, psychophysiological, and clinical differe n t iation of the

    alpha and theta altered states of consciousness. Unpublished doct oral dissert at i o n.Cited in: Zimbardo PG, Ruch FL. Ps y c h o l o gy and Life. Gl e n v iew, Ill: Scott, Fore s m a n& Co; 19 75.

    32. Larbig W. Schmerz and Schmerzbehandlung. Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer; 1982.33. Larbig W, Elbert T, Lutzenberger W, Rockstroh B, Schnerr G, Birbaumer N. EEG and

    s l ow br ain p otentials during anticipation a nd control of painful stimulat i o n .Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1982;53:298-309.

    34. Hussein JN, Fatoohi LJ, Hall H, Al-Dargazelli S. Deliberately caused bodily damagephenomena.J Soc Psychical Res. 1997;62(849):97-113.

    35. Hussein JN, Fatoohi LJ, Al-Dargazelli S, Almuchtar N. The deliberately caused bodilydamage phenomena: mind, body, energy or what? Part 1.Int J Altern Complement Med.1994;12(9):9-11.

    36. Hussein JN, Fatoohi LJ, Al-Dargazelli S, Almuchtar N. The deliberately caused bodilydamage phenomena: mind, body, energy or what? Part 2.Int J Altern Complement Med.1994;12(10):21-23.

    37. Hussein JN, Fatoohi LJ, Al-Dargazelli S, Almuchtar N. The deliberately caused bodilydamage phenomena: mind, body, energy or what? Part 3.Int J Altern Complement Med.1994;12(11)