Alleged abuse by "healer" and "shaman"

A man who called himself a healer and psychic surgeon and promised to cure breast cancer has gotten into legal trouble in Australia.

Apparently this person claimed to be a shaman and that he would cure the client after she did not get relief from conventional medicine:

Weighing just 44 kilograms, her mind fogged by pain-killing medication, she handed over more than $2000 for nine sessions with him.

In some indigenous cultures, shamans are revered for their ability to treat illness by acting as an intermediary between human and spirit worlds.

But Thunder Eagle, who speaks with an American accent and now calls himself Shamir Shalom, is not a shaman. He's not even American, native Indian or otherwise. He is Peter de Angelis, a Melbourne-born former plumber who allegedly had sexual contact with up to six women who paid him for healing services....

While the majority of practitioners operate ethically, there is growing concern about the proliferation of ''healers'' making outlandish claims to cure everything from cancer to autism using methods such as energy balancing, vibrational therapy and aura cleansing.

Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews will now urge his counterparts to adopt a nationally consistent negative licensing system in which alternative practitioners would be bound by a code of ethics, and breaches dealt with by the Office of Public Prosecutions. A spokesman for the minister said it was hoped the legislation would be brought in next year.

Mr Andrews' call comes after a Victorian company last week received a written warning from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for peddling a $400 vibration treatment that it claimed could cure swine flu. Advertised as having a 100 per cent success rate, it was said to work even if the healer and client lived on opposite sides of the world.

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While well-established fields such as osteopathy and Chinese medicine are regulated by registration boards, anyone can set themselves up as a healer or counsellor without appropriate training or qualifications.

The Australian Medical Association and the Australian Psychological Society warn this could lead to people with psychological problems being exploited. The Consumers Health Forum has branded the situation a ''disaster waiting to happen''.

Victorian Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson, who led the call for negative licensing, said the conduct of some so-called healers was tantamount to ''brainwashing''.

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Ms Wilson last week won a Supreme Court battle to name Mr Shalom in State Parliament, on the grounds that he posed a danger to the public.

It followed a year-long investigation sparked by complaints from two women who allege he had inappropriate sexual contact with them during ''healing'' sessions. At least four other women have told the Health Services Commissioner of similar experiences. Some of the women said they were suffering from emotional problems at the time of the abuse. One woman has since suffered a mental breakdown and undergone psychiatric treatment.

The alleged sexual contact began during sessions which included smoking ceremonies, chanting, drumming and tantric dance.

Helen told The Sunday Age that in one ritual last year Mr Shalom - a former federal Labor Party candidate - pressed his body against hers to ''absorb the toxins'' but she stopped the session before things went further. ''The whole thing felt sexual,'' the mother-of-two said. ''… it would get quite intimate with him pressing so close, it's just not on. Not even my obstetrician would do that.''

There are also claims that Mr Shalom - who told Helen he loved her and that they had been husband and wife in past lives -asked clients to drink their own urine as part of a purification ritual and danced naked in front of them.

....... Healing powers

■Psychic surgery: Shamir Shalom masqueraded as an American Indian shaman, promising to cure a woman's breast cancer by sucking out the ''serpents''. He placed his hands on her ''chakra'' points to remove ''energy blockages''.

Quantum Bioenergetics: Non-intrusive form of vibratory medicine which ''enables the body to instigate and facilitate an appropriate healing for itself''. Supposedly treats cancer, depression, chronic fatigue, cerebral palsy and autism.

Virus-busting sessions: Victorian company Indu Alternative Healing promises to knock out most flu viruses within 48 hours. For $400, a hologram is ''placed in one's psyche''.

Aura drawing: The same company as above offers aura drawing by a Mayan high priestess, "Alaura". It says the drawing detects energy blockages.

Space clearing: The claim is that buildings that contain ''toxic energy'' can make people sick. Indu Alternative Healing offers ''very high frequency energy devices which clear all negative and stale energy from the nominated location''.

It is important to remember that, as the article points out, many people are practicing ethically; and also, that cases of abuse highlight the importance of ethics, clarity, and of meeting the many legal and regulatory obligations that apply to all providers of health care services, whether conventional or in the mind-body-spirit realm.


Michael H CohenMichael H Cohen
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The Los Angeles / San Francisco / Bay Area-based Michael H Cohen Law Group provides healthcare legal and FDA legal & regulatory counsel to health & wellness practices and ventures, including health technology companies (medical devices to wearable health and nanotech), healthcare facilities (from medical centers to medical spas), and healthcare service providers (from physicians to psychologists).Our legal team offers expertise in corporate & transactional, healthcare regulatory & compliance, and healthcare litigation and dispute resolution, in cutting-edge areas such as anti-aging and functional medicine, telemedicine and m-health, and concierge medicine.Our Founder, attorney Michael H. Cohen, is an author, speaker on healthcare law and FDA law, and internationally-recognized thought leader in the trillion-dollar health & wellness industry.