VOL. 1  NO. 2  SEPTEMBER 1999



  Click for Boston, Massachusetts Forecast   [The Boston Globe Online]   [Boston Online]
[Image] [Boston]

  Mad As Hell

A more out-there branch of bioenergetics healing focuses on the "bioelectromagnetic fields" that may surround each of us. Other, external electromagnetic fields are possibly causing disruption to our personal fields, and they must be stopped with expensive shielded jewelry and devices to make us resonate with the earth. (If you really must know more about this, go to http://www.lessemf.com.) By restoring the body's bioelectromagnetic field, the body should be better able to defend itself. Or, as the above website claims in a masterpiece of circular reasoning, "people who are healthy are generally less susceptible to cold viruses than those who are not".

The real point to all this is that the scientific, psychotherapy, and crackpot fields are all concerned with the link between physical well-being and energy supply, the chief difference being what's in charge of this energy supply. And in some way, The Mad Russian is also concerned with bio-energy, as it pertains to addictions. He has a philosophy for how people can get past their cravings: snap out of it, "don't dwell". And he also has a ritual that he performs in his sessions with patients, that somehow encourages that philosophy. This ritual appears to bear some resemblance to the idea of restoring a body's bioelectromagnetic field, perhaps to strengthen the will of a newly freed soul confronting its desires.

So, what really goes on in these sessions? Natalie, a friend of a friend, went to see Yefim about a year ago, hoping he would be able to help her both to stop smoking and to lose her fear of flying. She had heard of Yefim through the usual channels - a friend, and possibly in an article somewhere. She describes herself as "not a superstitious person"; she underwent hypnosis once, and was not a particularly good subject. As for kicking her habits, she was hardly at the end of her rope. Not a hard-core smoker, she had succesfully quit for a couple of years, but had recently taken it up again. However, she was about to embark on a long plane trip, and was a bit nervous, so decided to give the Mad Russian a try. And while she was already there, perhaps he could cure the smoking habit as well.

She met with the other hopefuls in a group of about 15 or 20 people, with Yefim presiding over them. Each person announced what fear or habit they were there to kick. He asked if anyone had any pain. Some would describe ankle pain, neck pain, back pain...Yefim would wave his hands at them and the pain would apparently be gone. And then, says Natalie, he began to speak to them, rambling in a heavy Russian accent on topics from art, items in his office, Russia, Americans, and a mysterious statue of a 19th century European painter on display in the room. The group was commanded to guess its identity, with no luck; Yefim became "visibly annoyed" when one guy thought it was Jesus Christ, and lamented the cultural ignorance of Americans. A year later, Natalie couldn't really "remember what the point of it was".

However, he did communicate his essential message: that he doesn't really know how or why it works, but that he's not a magician or a hypnotist. In fact, he became quite frustrated at those who asked too many questions. (Natalie describes him as "a very likable, eccentric character....a bit of a curmudgeon". )

After the group lecture, Yefim calls each person into his office for a one-on-one chat. Actually, it's a one-way chat; he doesn't encourage talking or asking questions. This is just as well, since each person only has a few minutes alone with him, and talking would waste valuable time. Natalie was among the last in her group called in to meet with him. While she and others waited, they would watch the faces of each person as they came out of their private session: are they better? Did he fix them? Others, while waiting, also had the opportunity to buy one of his two books, on sale from a lone secretary.

I asked Natalie to tell me, in her own words, what he did during their session. However, she wasn't able to tell me much, since the first thing he did was ask her to come in, sit down and close her eyes. She was then to imagine herself in the fear-causing situation. This was followed by a series of strange whooshing noises, punctuated by a blowing sound, like "Ha!" She says it essentially sounded like a lot of hand waving. A few minutes later, she was on her way home.

So, did he fix her? Right afterwards, she says she felt a "sense of confidence, like, OK, he did something, I'm all set". However, everything didn't really work 100%. Her smoking relapsed after a month, the fear of flying is still "off and on".

So she went back a little while later for her free follow-up. Second-time visitors can skip the lecture part. He remembered her, even remembered what her fears had been. He sat her down, told her not to worry, and performed the hand-waving exercises again. Once again, she was struck by his "charisma and otherwordly qualities....like he has some sixth sense or something".

Natalie herself wonders whether it is less effective to go in with two things you want dealt with - perhaps it's better to go in with only one thing to think about. It is, of course, comforting to know that you can always go back. However, Yefim claims to be "like an eraser - I erase your craving". He claims there's nothing he can't treat - with the exception of more serious psychological disorders, such as clinical depression. He waves his hands in front of you, manipulates your bioelectromagnetic field, or your muscular patterns, or your mitochondria, and presto! You're healed.

So maybe it comes down to belief: if you want something to work, maybe it can. God helps those who help themselves.

- Carolyn Gramling

[Next Page]


No Ordinary Putt-Putt

The Rio Grande / General Douglas McArthur golf course, where the clubhouse is a stand of scrub palmettos and there are no greens fees-- ever.
By Linda Z. Faber

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Hollywood has a dirty back door, and it just might be where you find your big break.
By Jesse Ratner

NEW YORK: Chick Tac Toe

At the Chinatown Fair, cough up fifty cents and you can challenge a chicken to a game of tic-tac-toe. You'll lose.
By Philip Chin


SINGLE: Better Than Ben & Jerry's

Looking for love in blind dates and luscious lips. Second of a three-part series.
By S. Craig Zahler


IN PRINT: Remembering Charlotte

How a high school English teacher changed the future of African-American literature in the United States.
By P.V. LeForge

Lost In Space

The wonderfully weird, oddly addictive songs of Space. They might surprise you.
By Jason Zack

In This Issue Features Columns Arts Letters About Us

Copyright © 1999 by THE WIRE