Three cases of hearing impairment with surprising subjective improvements after prayer. What can we say when analyzing them?

Dirk J. Kruijthoff*, Elena Bendien, Cornelis van der Kooi, Gerrit Glas, Tineke A. Abma, Peter C. Huijgens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: to enhance the understanding of documented mismatches between ‘subjective’ experiences and ‘objective’ data in three cases of self-reported instantaneous healing of hearing impairment upon prayer. Method: description of three cases taken out of a larger retrospective case-based study of prayer healing in the Netherlands. In this larger study multiple reported healings were investigated using both medical files and patients’ narratives through in-depth interviews. A subset of three cases with dramatic subjective reduction of hearing impairment upon prayer was studied. These patients underwent extensive additional investigations at the audiology center of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre. All data was evaluated by an interdisciplinary medical assessment team, subsequent analysis was transdisciplinary. Results: the three case histories with self-reported healing after prayer demonstrated a clear mismatch between subjective experiences and objective findings. No measurable improvements were found in four different audiological testing methods. However, in-depth interviews, hetero-anamnesis and a validated questionnaire all confirmed the healings. The medical assessment team could not label these healings as ‘medically remarkable’ because of absence of measurable ‘objective’ changes, but they did consider them as ‘remarkable in a broader sense’. On expert consultation no equivalents of mismatches to this extent could be found. The healing experiences of our participants involved their entire being with profound positive effects in different domains of their lives, and a perception of a benevolent God who acted upon them. There was a distinctive pattern, labelled by the participants as a healing of mind, soul and body. Conclusions: The subjective-objective incongruities that were found were not well understood. We noticed a paradox: the ‘objective’ measurements did not reflect hearing abilities in daily life where-as ‘subjective experiential’ data did. The latter could be ‘objectified’ and validated in various ways. In fact, a rigid distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ was not relevant here, nor a hierarchy among them. A model leaving room for different causations (horizontal epistemology) complied best with the multi dimensionality we came across.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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