Regulation, Religious experience, and Epilepsy

Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies include chiropractic, acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine, massage therapy, and herbal remedies; mind-body therapies (such as meditative practices and visualization); and folk practices and religious healing. Of these, modalities based on spiritual healing create a number of conundrums for the clinician, including legal, regulatory, and ethical issues. Further, the historic relationship between the study of epilepsy and religious experience suggests particular, potential associations between CAM therapies (and especially spiritual healing) and care for epileptic patients. There are at least two dimensions to this exploration: first, the widespread use of spiritual healing for treatment of epilepsy; and second, the hypothesized connection between epileptic seizures and mystical states. A number of legal rules help address potential abuse of authority by health care professionals, and include: (1) medical licensure; (2) scope of practice; (3) professional discipline; (4) malpractice; and (5) fraud. The longer article offers a preliminary resource for clinicians interested in these topics. Cohen MH, Regulation, religious experience, and epilepsy: a lens on complementary therapies. Epilepsy Behav 2003;4:6:602-606.