Kræftpatienters brug af reiki-healing som magisk praksis

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Almost half of the Danish cancer patients are involved in alternative or complementary treatments while receiving conventional cancer treatment. Reiki-healing is one of the alternative treatments they often seek out. It is a treatment that has a spiritual and holistic approach to both the person and the illness, claiming to transmit energy from the hands of the healer to the one wishing to be healed. This creates a contradiction with the concurrent use of conventional treatment, that rests on a biomedical understanding of cause and effect. In this context, the use of Reiki-healing can be viewed as a kind of magical practice by cancer patients, who might not necessarily share the same underlying worldview as the Reiki-healer.

The background for this article is a qualitative study called ‘Reiki-healing as Experienced by Cancer Patients’, undertaken at the University of Copenhagen, financed by the Danish Cancer Foundation. Here the cancer patients reported their experiences during Reiki-healing and were asked to describe how they understood the treatment and what effects it had for them. Most of them referred to the healer as a gifted person who has the power to influence their minds and bodies or the way they conceive of themselves. These statements support the interpretation of Reiki-healing as a magical practice, which is characterized by the placement of a magical agency as one of the components of a ritual; in this case the healer.

If the cancer patient shares the same holistic approach as the healer, the use of Reiki-healing can turn out to be a spiritual or religious coping strategy, which helps the person to find meaning and support in times of crisis. In both examples, Reiki-healing is used as a magical practise because of the opportunity it offers to have an influence on the illness and life situation, which otherwise would be out of reach from the standpoint of conventional medicine.



Original languageDanish
JournalTidsskriftet Antropologi
Issue number61
Pages (from-to)79-95
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ID: 21611705