The woo is everywhere and can have a strong influence on the weak-minded. The range of idiotic bullshit you can subject yourself to is almost endless, yet the Tong Ren technique, an “unholy alliance of acupuncture and voodoo”, remains among the more quaint of options. Yes. Tom Tam, its inventor, taps not on you, but on a voodoo doll representing you, and this tapping, along with “intent”, enables him to treat you of cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and other diseases, as well as emotional problems and weight loss. Actually, he even claims to be able to treat chemotherapy side effects, surgery side effects, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid disease, and you don’t even need to be present – like Pat Robertson, Tam can heal you over the telephone.
How does it work? Well, Tam claims that it is not faith healing, since he isn’t affiliated with a particular faith. It is allegedly not even mysterious. “My belief in Tong Ren healing is associated with the philosophy of the collective unconscious and the power of the mind. […] When a group comes together to form a collective unconscious, as in healing meditation, this collective mind can become healing power. […],” though that qualifies as “not mysterious” only to the extent that vapid, incoherent rubbish isn’t “mysterious”. “In Tong Ren Therapy we use a regular plastic acupuncture model to form the healing image. The acupuncture model becomes an energetic representation of the patient’s body. By placing the needles in the appropriate spots on the model and connecting the mind with our collective unconscious, the practitioner can give a patient a treatment. […] Just as light shining through a slide will display an image, the Chi directed to the patient is modified by the image of the acupuncture model with needles inserted at specific points.” In other words, it’s faith healing, pure and simple. But Eastern faith healing. And it is all about balancing the humeurs, just like medieval alchemists believed, but calling it a “means to balance the patient’s Chi,” makes it sound trendier.
And just to make sure his journey to the crackpot side is complete, he throws in the … quantum. That’s right. And no, he doesn’t understand quantum mechanics, but neither, presumably, does his audience, so to Tam, quantum energy just is an appeal to vibrating metaphysical spirits that can justify exactly what he wants to say. Then there is the claim “Western” doctors aren’t interested in Tong Ren because they can’t understand it or sell it and there’s “no economic benefit” to Tong Ren and “all medicine is political”, which should lead you to ask how Tam makes a living off of it. He also has testimonials.
But apparently the technique has gained some popularity. If you are ever in the Detroit area, for instance, you can drop by the De’Spa Elite (owned by one Carolyn Hopkins), and for just $75 for a 50 minute intervention, acupuncturist Linda Kent will give you a full Tong Ren procedure (apparently forgetting that there is “no economic benefit”). According to Kent, “energy medicine is the new medicine for this century,” which makes one wonder why it sounds like a combo of voodoo and exactly what mysticists believed and did in medieval times.
Diagnosis: Everything woo and shiny in one. And yes, it is religious fundamentalism – with a friendlier face, perhaps, but in a similar manner a threat to human well-being and civilized co-existence.