The University Record, April 17, 2000

Lecture, workshop on healing and spirituality will be May 3–4

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Less than a decade ago, only three of the country’s medical schools listed a course on the interaction between prayer and the practice of medicine. Today, more than 60 medical schools offer courses on spirituality and healing.

Physician, author and lecturer Larry Dossey will supply part of the answer to the question of why the practice of medicine has begun to recognize that prayer may be a real factor in healing. Dossey will speak 7–8:30 p.m. May 3 in Rackham Auditorium and lead an all-day workshop for health professionals, clergy and social workers 8 a.m.–4 p.m. May 4, also in Rackham Auditorium. Barbara Dossey, registered nurse and pioneer in holistic nursing, also will speak at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on May 4.

Tickets for the evening presentation, “The Importance of Spirit in Healing and Health,” are $10 and are available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, (734) 763-7577; through Ticket Master, (248) 645-6666; or at the door. To register for the full-day professional workshop, “Reclaiming the Forgotten Spirit: The Role of Spirituality in Healing and Healthcare,” call (734) 763-5283. There is a $75 fee.

Dossey began to study causes and factors that contributed to patient recovery and healing when he was a physician in internal medicine and a battalion surgeon in Vietnam. His curiosity about why some patients did better than others—“miraculous” recoveries—led him to set up a scientific study to measure the potential benefits of prayer in the healing process.

“As a scientifically trained physician, I have enormous confidence that science and religion can come together in many fruitful ways, as suggested in a host of empirical studies,” writes Dossey. “But in spite of the powers of scientific investigation, I believe science will never erase all the mystery surrounding healing.”

In one such study a year ago, the U-M’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center, funded by the National Institutes of Health, collected data on heart attack victims who were the recipients of prayer and others who were not. That study also shows a difference in the healing of the two groups.

Dossey’s 15 years of research in spiritual and holistic healing have yielded eight books, the latest of which he will sign following the May 4 workshops. His writings explain the philosophy of the holistic approach to medicine, even surgery, as one that combines the mind, body and soul in treatment.

Even though empirical evidence for the power of prayer can be found in many scientific studies, Dossey maintains that there is a limit to what we can know, that some things simply cannot be known.

“One of the great discoveries of modern physics is the so-called Principle of Indeterminacy,” he writes. “According to this insight, when we observe an electron we can determine its position or its velocity, but we can never know both simultaneously. In science, as in healing, there are profound limits to what is knowable.”

The Dosseys’ visit is sponsored by Parish Partnerships of Washtenaw County, the Health System’s Education Services for Nursing, St. Joseph Mercy Health System’s McCauley Cancer Care Center, the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center and others.