Crystal healing all in the mind

Scotsman/March 29, 2001
By John Woodcock and Jennifer Hill

Princess Diana swore by the healing power of crystals, while Cherie Blair always wears hers as a pendant round her neck to ward off harmful rays from computers and mobile phones.

But that faith, shared by a host of other celebrities, was yesterday exposed as a myth by a new study.

Scientists addressing the first day of the British Psychological Society's centenary conference in Glasgow compared the reactions of a group who were told to meditate while clutching real crystals bought from "new Age" shops, with others who were unknowingly given fakes made from paste. While those with the genuine article reported an uplifting increased in concentration powers, heightened energy levels and better spiritual well-being, exactly the same feelings were reported by those who held the fakes.

Dr Christopher French, at Goldsmiths College, London, who led the research, said: "The power of suggestion, either explicit or implicit, seems to be the not so mysterious power that may convince many that crystals have the potential to work miracles."

His colleague Dr Chris Wiseman, from Hertfordshire University, said: "The suggestion is that the power of crystals is in the mind rather than in the crystals themselves."

All 80 volunteers took part in the project reported at least moderate effects from holding the crystal they held, whether it was real or not. Several claimed it had balanced their emotions, improved their sense of well-being, relaxed them, or increased their level of consciousness. But Dr Wiseman said the most common factors, an increase in heat in the hand and increased mental concentration, could be easily explained.

He said: "Obviously, if you grip something in your hand for a degree of time, whether it is a crystal or a pebble, it is going to warm up.

"Similarly, we were telling people to meditate with their crystal, so it is unsurprising that they thought their powers of concentration increased."

But the scientists stressed that crystals may be effective as a placebo. Dr Wiseman said: "Clearly, there is an effect here - people did react to having a crystal in their hand, whether it was real or not.

"Our advice would be for someone to buy a friend a fake crystal for a couple of quid but tell them they paid £300.

"That way, you will get all the psychological effect for a fraction of the price."

People who described themselves as believers in the paranormal were far more likely to report significant effects from holding a crystal, whether real or fake, the researchers found.

"We discovered that those who are more suggestible or want to believe are more likely to think they had benefited from the experience," Dr Wiseman said. Yet despite the evidence, crystal healers were last night firmly sticking to their guns.

Jack Turner, a Surrey-based alternative healer whose celebrity clients have included Princess Diana, Jerry Hall, Sarah Ferguson and Mrs Blair, insisted the scientists must have used the wrong type of stones.

He said: "Whatever experiment they undertook, their conclusions are way off-beam.

"The human conscious and sub-conscious can be benefited by crystals, but it has to be specific.

"We have to select a crystal appropriate for the individual and whatever purpose you want it to do in the human body.

"I have 110 crystals here but only one might be of use. These people are experimenting with people without any real understanding of crystals and their powers, even though their heads are full of PhDs."

Mrs Blair's crystal pendant is reported to have cost £239. She was first spotted wearing it at a movie premiere in 1998.

The Prime Minister's wife has never spoken publicly about the pendant, which was later dismissed by Downing Street as "just a piece of jewellery".

But according to its inventor, Dr Charles Brown, it is a magical configuration which can prevent harmful rays from electrical appliances such as hairdryers and computers.

Costing up to £750, the necklace is also worn by the actress Shirley MacLaine and pop star Ricky Martin is also known to wear one. Mr Temple has situated his clinic in a bungalow next to a "Neolithic stone circle" imported from Wales.

He claimed Sarah Ferguson requested healing crystals to relieve her swollen back and "the poison that still lingers in her past". The Duchess of York herself was full of praise for his treatment.

"That man works miracles," she has said. "I've been through a great deal of stress and I am here and well and strong."

Jerry Hall, the former model, has called her sessions with Mr Temple a life-enhancing experience and increased the frequency to combat the stress of her divorce from Mick Jagger.

Mr Temple, 84, said he gave Diana an amethyst crystal to help her mentally and physically after he treated her for lead-poisoning, apparently caused when she pierced her right cheek with a sharp pencil as a school girl.

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