Subtle Energies and the American Metaphysical Tradition

Robert Fuller

in Religion and Healing in America

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167962
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850150 | DOI:
Subtle Energies and the American Metaphysical Tradition

Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  4924 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.