Robin Toms is an Associate Professor at Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing, where she researches “Reiki – Complementary Therapy, Leadership-Work-Life Balance, Online Education Outcomes.” Well, “research” might be a misnomer. She panders reiki. According to Toms “Illness results from blockages in the energy field,” and “Reiki balances the human biofield to unblock the energy”. Yes, it is faith healing based on traditional medieval vitalism under a new name, nothing more, and by “energy” Toms doesn’t mean energy, but magic spirit-stuff. She has, for instance, laid out her new age metaphysics in the article “Reiki Therapy: A Nursing Intervention for Critical Care,” published in Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, which some actually treat as a respectable source of information (not anymore, one hopes optimistically). In that article she justifies her position thusly: “Florence Nightingale viewed the spirit and body as inseparable. When there is disruption in the body, the energy fields within and surrounding the body are also disrupted. Energy fields, though we cannot see them, are part of the body as well as the spirit. Although we, as nurses, may be primarily focused on the care of the body, we are also in a unique position to address the needs of the spirit through the use of complementary therapies.” Yes, that’s the level at which it is pitched. What’s her evidence for this energy field? Wait for it: “Attempts have been made to photograph the energy fields surrounding the body and plant life. Kirlian photography has been used to produce images of bioenergetic radiance emanating from and surrounding plants and the human body.” Yes, the testimony of playfair crystal ball gazing techniques. The mind boggles, and the article is pertinently discussed here.
Diagnosis: Another religious fundamentalist newage crackpot, you’d think. But Toms is also an “associate professor” at an institution that ostensibly teaches nursing (I have no idea what its accredidation status is, but it’s not on Quackwatch’s list, though it probably should be by now).