What I want, I thought, is a portfolio of quackery, alternative therapy mumbo-jumbo, so that I can exploit the placebo effect, and trusting, susceptible or needy people. My personality would entice and enrapture them, and their need to believe that the time and money they had spent had had a useful purpose would work in my favour. My words would be meaningless, but, By Jove, the money would roll in. Emotional Freedom Technique, there’s a brilliant name, vaguely irritating tapping on random parts of the body while intoning “Personal Growth” messages culled from Facebook. Cranio-sacral therapy, on the other hand, them’s latin words, them are, that sounds proper scientific. A bit of Reiki, a bit of Tarot. Shiatsu massage sounds rather fun. The training is more onerous, but perhaps the same thing works on me: having invested time and money in it, I have a strong interest in believing in it.
The trouble is, I have been brought up discounting feelings and relying too much on intellect, and just not understanding the alternative. I remember hearing about what a US Presidential candidate (possibly Mr Clinton) “felt” about an issue, and being deeply irritated by this: what should matter is what he thinks. And now I hear the same idea echoed in the film The Iron Lady. So I really do have the distaste that Richard Dawkins, say, would have for quacks and pseudo-therapists, and wonder whether, in some future crisis of confidence, I could decide that the placebo effect was enough, and forgive myself for dressing it up in theatrical flummery. With one alternative therapist whom I respect, when she mentioned astrology as if it might have some relevance to reality, I felt a check, a moment to question her perception. And when I read of Body talk, the claims of what is going on, against what the therapist may be observed to be doing, jar. It is placebo and a touch of NLP. I should do NLP undiluted rather than that, it would be more honest.
Rather than a Healer, I could see myself as an entertainer. I produce my flim-flam with a real sense of drama to it, we are going on a Shamanic journey, lie down between these candles while I Smudge you, and then I will evoke the archetypal animals. Private performances, one to one, must be worth £60 an hour. Or I could find profitable ways of getting oxytocin flowing in my “clients” to induce dependence.
I feel there is more to it than flim-flam, flummery, mumbo-jumbo, but then I do have an interest in feeling that. A pecuniary interest, if I move into Healing and make a go of it, a pecuniary interest which might make me more forgiving of Trusting the Unknowing than Professor Dawkins is. Those comforting untruths which seem to make life easier. My integrity is important to me, I say, as I underpin it with half-conscious lies.
It is such an evenly balanced dilemma for me. If I believed that alternative and complementary therapies were worthless, I would know what to do. If I believed that I had a calling to such creative and beautiful work, I would know what to do. The problem is that these beliefs are at war in me. My confidence being low, the doubt increases, but knowing that does not-
like a particularly strong indicator of the truth of the matter.