Bruce MacManaway


Bruce MacManaway

Index & Introduction


It would be impossible for me adequately to acknowledge all those who have influenced my thinking and understanding and therefore the content of this book.

My parents, Dick and Zelma, must head this list for their handling of my formative years. My mother and her twin sister, Iva Cosgrave, commenced their examination of the ESP faculties during the early 1930s, and thus were able to help me to rationalise the healing activity which expressed itself through me in 1940. I am happy to relate that they are still involved in helping others to discover and develop their abilities.

Inevitably, I risk causing offence by omitting mention of teachers and helpers who have contributed to my education. Some are anonymous or conceal their identities under pseudonyms – all invariably emphasise that we examine carefully the content of the communication rather than be influenced by the status of the communicator – 'by their fruits shall ye know them'.

Many people, by and through whom my awareness has been expanded, include Louisa Ashdown, whose remarkable gifts I have never seen equalled, far less excelled, Grace Cooke, Harry Edwards, Sir George Trevelyan, Pir Vilayat Khan, Rimpoche Chögyam Trungpa, Father Andrew Glasewski and the Rev. Dr Kenneth Cumming. Through them, my attention was drawn beyond allopathic medicine into what is becoming known as complementary medicine, and similarly beyond Christian teachings towards those of other religions and philosophies.

Very importantly, I joyfully record the indispensable companionship of and help from my wife and sons who all have the gifts of healing and have shared wholeheartedly in building up the Westbank Centre.

Similarly, I am happy to share authorship with Johanna Turcan who, after a year in our home followed by several years of co-working, has shaped the material into readable form and prepared the bibliography. She and her parents have for many years supported and encouraged the development of the healing and teaching work and the centre from which we operate.

Lastly, I take this opportunity of thanking John Hardaker of Thorsons Publishers, and Dr George Lewith, the series editor, for entrusting me with this book and for painstakingly vetting the script and making valuable suggestions at each stage.



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Foreword by Ludovic Kennedy
Preface by Bruce MacManaway
Introduction by Dr George Lewith

1. Concept and Historical Background
2. Current Attitudes and Research
3. Healing and Wholeness
4. First Experience of 'Laying on Hands'
5. The Physical Importance of the Spine
6. Bridges Between the Physical and the Non-physical
7. Dowsing and Absent Healing
8. Extending Our Awareness
9. The Discarnate World
10. Development of the Healing Ability
11. Environmental Factors in Health and Healing
12. Healing Today
13. Conclusion: The Soul
Useful Addresses


Perhaps I should begin by declaring an interest. I believe in Bruce MacManaway's work because over the years I have had personal knowledge of it at different levels; and some of the experience he has had, I have had too. And I believe that he has something very important to contribute to the well-being of mankind.

First, the healing. Bruce discovered this gift in himself during the war when putting a hand on a wounded soldier to comfort him had the unforeseen effect of easing the soldier's pain. I came to realise something of what must have happened then the first time that Bruce put his hands on my back. Although I was wearing a shirt I felt as though a blow-lamp was being applied to my spine, the heat was so intense. Later, after interviewing for the BBC the late Harry Edwards (the man whom Bruce considers to have been this country's greatest healer), I asked if he could do anything to alleviate the congestion in my sinus. He put his fingers lightly on my cheekbones, and I felt the congestion melt away. I had no further trouble for two years.

Next, Bruce's dowsing techniques which he uses for analysis and diagnosis. When we met to discuss a television interview two remarkable things happened. The first was when my producer came and joined us. Bruce let his little dowsing pendulum run over his body:

when it reached the general area of his hip, it began to oscillate. Bruce told the producer he had something wrong with his hip. The producer smiled, surprised; he had just had an operation on it.

Discussing this, Bruce said that the pendulum could also produce results from abstractions. When I asked what he meant, he said, 'Well, if you were to write down a list of simple questions on a piece of paper, ones that require a straight Yes or No, and turn the paper face downwards, the pendulum will come up with the correct answers.'

I was too sceptical of his claim to take it up with him then, but! made a mental note of it, and when the time came for the interview, I prepared a list of six questions (The Queen has ten children, Everest is the highest mountain in the world, etc) typed them on a piece of paper and put them in my pocket.

Half-way through the interview I brought out the piece of paper, reminded him of our previous conversation and asked if he would care to apply the pendulum to produce the answers. He said he would be delighted. So I put the questions on the table, face downwards, and he put the pendulum over them. He got the first one right, the second one right, the third one right, the fourth one right, the fifth one wrong and the sixth one right. What the odds were against this, I have no idea, but we were all enormously impressed. Bruce, though, was more concerned about the one that had got away, which he attributed to the artificial atmosphere created by the cameras and lights.

This is not all. In Chapter 9 Bruce describes a remarkable incident with a medium. I myself had a similar but less dramatic experience. Early in the war my father was killed while commanding H.M.S. Rawalpindi against two German warships. My mother subsequently attended several seances in which, she told me, he passed messages to her. Curious, I looked up the list of forthcoming seances advertised in my mother's copy of a Spiritualist magazine, and chose one at random.

Although in the navy myself, I went to the seance in civilian clothes. I was twenty-two and unknown publicly. The medium asked me to give her something personal and I gave her my ring, once my father's. She took it, then went into trance. 'I see the sea', she said, 'and a ship and the letter R and a battle. And there's someone connected with it who's very close to you.'

I have given these examples of extra-sensory experiences to show how greatly the scope of Bruce's work has expanded over the years, from the comparative simplicity of healing to embracing telepathy, dowsing, clairvoyance, levitation, ley lines, etc. Behind all this is his belief, based on the knowledge of man's age-old aspirations to union with a spiritual force, that we have neglected our intuitive sources of knowledge for too long. It is an awareness of and a reaching out for this, he believes, that can give us true health, make us integrated and whole. It is basically the same message that the world's religious leaders, philosophers and psychiatrists have always preached; that fragmented man is a sick man who can only be cured, as Plato said, by assessing mind, body and soul together.

Christ made no distinction between physical and spiritual well being; for him they were indivisible and complementary. It was his followers in the mediaeval Church who set them apart, Bruce claims, to the lasting disadvantage of both. Who can doubt that he is right? If the Church had never become involved in the business of moral imperatives, never become authoritarian and censorious, concentrated instead on being a golden gateway to spiritual awareness, celebrated the living Christ rather than the dead one, what a different and more vibrant and altogether more helpful institution it might have been.

I feel as certain as Bruce does that if man is to find a way through the tangled thickets that lie ahead, he can only survive if he becomes more ready to respond to all the forces, visible and invisible, that shape him; if he listens rather less to the discordant voices of Presidents and Prime Ministers and rather more to what Keats called 'the spirit ditties of no tone'. It is less in the here and now and more in the intangible and unknowable that Bruce – and I believe that man's best hope for the future lies.



I have tried to be as objective as possible in this book about healing. Many aspects that I touch on are now the subject of scientific research and are amply written up elsewhere. Healing is, however, a complex and at times emotive subject. Doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, numerous therapists, clergy, scientists and lay people of all sorts will approach it with their own concepts and beliefs. The subject can be rationally discussed within any chosen discipline, but trouble arises when, in attempting to extend our understanding of it, we use a shared concept but express it in terms that clash with someone else's beliefs. For example, such terms as spirit and soul may be acceptable to a cleric but they would be anathema to a scientist, and a psychiatrist may be happier with the terms psyche or subconscious.

It is inevitable, therefore, that at times some of my terminology will clash with your beliefs, particularly when my own rationale creeps in despite my stringent attempts to be objective. On these occasions I would ask you to refrain from choking on theory but to look at the underlying concept and see if it makes sense in different words. Better still, try the practice for yourself. There is no substitute for personal experience, and I know that I for one would have been but little impressed by the most learned treatise on healing when I first came across the phenomenon in 1940. I was convinced that healing worked only because I saw it do so with my own eyes and as a result of using my own hands under most inauspicious conditions.

I found that healing worked for me despite the fact that I knew nothing about it at the time. More than forty years later I still have no formal qualifications. I have been privileged to work with highly talented and skilled practitioners representing many varied medical, clerical and scientific disciplines. Inevitably I refer to work done or knowledge available, but I speak as a layman. If at times! oversimplify or misuse technical terms, please bear with me.

I hope that in the near future the various disciplines will be able to work more closely together. Over the last forty years I have seen tremendous changes, both in our scientific understanding of matters related to healing and in general attitudes. Even as I write, new discoveries are being made and the old barriers of intolerance are becoming less rigid. A great deal more remains to be done. More research needs to be carried out in the hospitals and clinics because, as yet, not nearly enough attention has been paid to proper 'follow up' studies of those patients who are receiving healing in addition to orthodox treatment. Attempts to help the sick take many forms of which medicine is perhaps the most important – healing should never be seen as a substitute for, far less a threat to, the medical world. We do need medical skills and knowledge more urgently than ever – but healing can assist the doctors in their task.


Healing is often dismissed by the medical profession, but nevertheless it probably represents one of the most ancient systems of medicine. In this text, which I have had the privilege of editing, Bruce MacManaway has provided a clear and concise explanation of many of the ideas and beliefs involved in this field. His particular healing methods centre around the use of spinal and muscular manipulations, although he discusses many of the other methods involved in healing, such as 'the laying on of hands', 'absent healing' and 'dowsing'.

Since the Second World War a considerable body of scientific evidence has become available about healing, leading the enquiring reader to think very carefully before rejecting this therapy out of hand. While not claiming the case for healing is a proven one, it is important to assess the evidence in an objective manner. Bruce MacManaway has presented such facts as are available, but emphasises the need for further research. He does not attempt to place healing on a pedestal as a somehow separate and mystical art, but encourages us to see how healing may work in conjunction with both conventional and alter native therapies.

All medicine and medical men have a little of the healer in them. Conventional therapy may call this a placebo response, but whatever terms are used, people can make other people well without using a specific therapy. It would be wise for us all to consider this before becoming too over-enthusiastic about a particular treatment.

Southampton, 1983


A straightforward look into
all aspects of the healing phenomenon 

Bruce MacManaway

Bruce MacManaway