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Religion and Healing in America$
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Linda L. Barnes and Susan S. Sered

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167962.001.0001

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Subtle Energies and the American Metaphysical Tradition

Subtle Energies and the American Metaphysical Tradition

(p.375) 23 Subtle Energies and the American Metaphysical Tradition
Religion and Healing in America

Robert Fuller

Oxford University Press

The influence of secularization has been greater in the field of medicine than in most any other area of modern cultural life. It is for this reason that contemporary fascination with alternative healing systems that postulate the power of “subtle energies” is of particular interest to the cultural historian. Practitioners of therapeutic touch, acupuncture, traditional chiropractic, and various other forms of “energy medicine” all espouse belief in healing powers recognized by neither the religious nor the scientific traditions that have historically dominated Western cultural thought. The popularity of contemporary “energy medicine” testifies to how fully the American metaphysical tradition has filtered into the vocabulary with which middle-class Americans interpret their lives. The beliefs (doctrines) and practices (rituals) that constitute alternative healing systems enable persons to establish an interior connection with sacred powers that go well beyond the conceptual worlds of either orthodox science or orthodox religion. This chapter also discusses chiropractic medicine, the holistic health movement, and New Age energy healing.

Keywords:   alternative healing systems, subtle energies, chiropractic medicine, energy medicine, energy healing, New Age, metaphysical tradition, holistic health movement, acupuncture

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