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An aura of confusion: 'seeing auras-vital energy or human physiology?' Part 1 of a three part series.

Review article
Duerden T. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2004.


The first of three papers that considers claims made for the perception or detection of vital energy. Many systems of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) assume the existence of a vital force that mediates therapeutic efficacy, for example chi or qi in Traditional Chinese medicine. Vital energy directly perceived or imaged that surrounds living organisms is frequently termed the aura. This paper aims to show how phenomena that arise as a consequence of the normal functioning of the human visual system can be inappropriately offered as support of claims for the direct perception of vital energy or the aura. Specifically, contrast and complementary colour phenomena, entoptic phenomena and the deformation phosphene, the 'flying corpuscle effect', the blind spot and the 'reverse telescope effect' are explained and discussed.


14744503 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Erratum in

  • Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2004 May;10(2):139.
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