The Gentle Wind Project has the support of some enthousiastic believers:
Jack Fong, a dentist and naturopath, sent away for a laminated multi-coloured card when he read in an alternative health magazine that holding it could have positive effects on a person's energy field.
"I got a lot of improvements after holding it," he says. "I noticed a better sense of calm and well-being in myself. I felt more mental clarity and a better ability to concentrate. Now I make sure to hold it for 15 minutes every day, some days in the morning and some after work."
The Texan also offers it to his patients, he says in a phone interview from his Amarillo home, and some have reported positive experiences with it.
Fong has given more than 100 of his patients his card to hold, he says, telling them it may help to balance their energies. It seems to help calm them, he says, and occasionally it appears to have more dramatic results.
When one patient who suffers from high blood pressure appeared in his office with a very flushed face, in a nervous state, he gave her the card to hold while he worked in another part of his office for a while.
"When I returned, her face was not flushed and she said that this was the best she had felt in two weeks," he says. "Her blood pressure was 132/84. I am getting positive responses like this frequently after having patients hold the card."
Miller says people at the Gentle Wind Project believe the trauma card is a physical object that gives off a non-physical energy, and is meant to work on emotional healing after trauma. People occasionally do report physical changes after holding the card, however. "There is a strong connection between a person's mental and emotional history, and the current and future state of their health."
Mary Ryan, 39, who has a Ph.D. from Oxford in biological anthropology, is a researcher at the University of Massachusetts and also operates a clinic in Tibetan and Chinese medicine. She says she has had such excellent results from using the card with her patients that she has set up a 16-week randomized clinical trial of the card at a pain clinic in Northampton, Mass.
Ryan says she believes she knows, in part, how the trauma card works, from her understanding of the impact sodium and potassium cell salts in the body's cell membranes have on the release of chemical neurotransmitters. In her studies of ancient Chinese Taoist texts, she found references to the way in which holding particular cell salts in the hand was believed to create a low magnetic charge that went into the body's meridians. There are cell salts embedded in the card, she notes.
"I use the trauma card with a lot of clients who have suffered sexual abuse, as well as patients with anxiety," she says. "I try to get it into the hands of everyone I can. It's one of the tools I use regularly with clients. Some of them hold it and don't want to let it go.
"I've lost a few clients after they used the card," she adds. "They say it is all they need. That can be a little annoying, actually."
Rachel Miller, 63, of Dover, N.H., is a registered nurse with a Master's degree in counselling and psychology. She works in two long-term care facilities with many people who are seriously ill or in rehabilitation.
"I really notice the effects of the trauma card, especially with dying patients," she says. "I'm thinking of one terminal patient who was on morphine and was very restless. When she held the card, her breathing slowed and she became a lot calmer. All their vital signs are more stable after holding the card. I've started to keep a log of the good results I've observed."
Ruth Molin, 56, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and mental health counsellor in Massachusetts. She says she believes that blocked energy is the cause of disease, and that the trauma card uses energy somehow to change the way a person perceives a traumatic memory, without removing the memory itself.
"I see 30 clients a week and there's no doubt in my mind that the trauma card is helping my clients to heal." she says.
"I was very ill and the docs couldn't help me. I was desperate to try anything. I was introduced to the original puck by a health care provider in California whom I trusted. I was disappointed with the one I got, so I complained to the GWP, who kept encouraging me to upgrade. I ended up with 14 instruments. Now I'm just broke, humiliated and in need. It will take me years to save $5,000 again. I have to seek government assistance for my needs."
From Brisbane, Australia: "I have shared my instruments with over 3,000 people, and monitored the results…. No one had any long-term benefits. One month I forgot to 'send' distance healings to several people, which involves holding a puck in one hand and thinking about the person's name and location. The persons who gave me their names reported back that they'd all had breakthroughs. That made me aware that placebo and suggestion play a big part in the sales success of the instruments."
The most serious charges against the group, however, come from Judy Garvey and her husband, Jim Bergin, two former Gentle Wind adherents who published
on their Web site detailed and dramatic accounts of their 17-year involvement with the group.