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Betsy Block

Here and There

Hocus-Pocus Healer

Yefim Shubentsov has no fancy title, no special degree. But for most of the 16 people gathered inside his office on this chilly Wednesday afternoon in October, he is their last hope. They are all heavy smokers, drinkers, food addicts, or substance abusers, and theyve made the trek to Brookline, Mass., to see if this man who claims to mysteriously cure addictions can help them, too.

Theyve come from as far away as South Carolina, California, and even Colombia, South America, desperately seeking an end to their addictions. They have heard about Shubentsov from friends or the media. During almost two decades of treating people, he has never advertised. He doesnt have to  he has scores of former clients enthusiastically testifying to his power.

After a few moments, Shubentsov, the man some people call the Mad Russian, comes out to greet the group. One woman nervously asks him, Can we go outside to have one last cigarette before we do this?

No, he replies firmly and walks away.

She should have had her final smoke before she came inside. Others obviously have  the ashtray on the sidewalk in front of the office is littered with cigarette butts, empty matchbooks, and a crumpled pack of Newports. But now its too late  she is on Shubentsovs turf and hes in control.

Learning the skill
Shubentsov, who made his living as a professional artist in his native Russia, became a healer when he learned that he could eliminate pain just by passing his hands over a persons body. It all began unexpectedly one afternoon in the mid-70s when an acquaintance approached him on the street and said, You have a very strong energy field; I can feel it.

The man handed him a card with an address handwritten on the back and said, Most people have this energy to some degree, but in them its never tapped. Yours is already very well developed. He invited Shubentsov to visit him at the address on the card, though he was very mysterious about what Shubentsov would find there. The man simply said, I promise you an interesting life.

At first Shubentsov was skeptical and decided he wasnt interested. But days later his curiosity got the better of him. When he arrived at the address he found a laboratory occupied by a group of scientists and lay people studying what they called biological energy  a healing life-force that circulates within all living things, known to other cultures as qi, prana, or life energy. They were experimenting with transferring the energy from one person to another.

The researchers at the lab recognized Shubentsovs heightened energy field, and asked him to join the group so that they could help him develop his talent. He quickly learned to use his energy to heal diseased plants, sick animals, and eventually one of his own teachers, who was suffering from a terrible migraine headache. Within a few months he had become so respected as a healer that he was asked to work in a Moscow hospital. One extraordinary experience there changed his life.

There was a woman in the cardiology department, Shubentsov says, who was not responding to conventional treatments or medications. The doctors didnt know what else they could do for her and feared that she would soon die of heart failure. They asked Shubentsov to try and help her. She responded to his treatment.

I saved her life, he recalls with amazement in his voice. I went home and asked myself, How many people in the world are better artists than I am? Lots. How many people did I know personally who had saved somebodys life? Not many.

It was at that point two decades ago that Shubentsov abandoned art, immigrated to the United States, and made energy medicine his lifes work. Since then, approximately 100,000 people have sought out his help. And theyre still coming in droves  Shubentsov estimates that he treats 500 people every month.

One of Shubentsovs patients, Joe Russo, a 60-year-old businessman from Queens, New York, had been a 4-pack-a-day smoker for 50 years. He says he smoked in bed, in the shower, even right after a bypass operation nine years ago. He had tried to quit smoking using acupuncture, a nicotine patch, hypnosis, and even staples in his ears that were supposed to help him gain control of his uncontrollable urge to smoke, but nothing had worked  until he came to Shubentsovs seminar on March 7, 1998.

He stopped me cold, Russo says. I think hes a god.

Russo is just one of the many people who claim Shubentsov has changed their lives. Shubentsov has a file drawer crammed with articles written about him and letters of thanks from people whom hes helped. Russo and his wife alone say they know at least two dozen people who have quit smoking thanks to Shubentsov. Today theyre back in his waiting room to offer emotional support to a friend theyve brought to  Brookline to receive Shubentsovs cure.

Not Your Average Office Visit
Its clear from the many testimonials that hes helped at least some of the people who have sought him out overcome their addictions. Whats less clear is how. Unfortunately, no one seems to understand just what Shubentsov is doing to make the cravings disappear. Watch him and all youll see is a man wriggling, flicking, and combing his fingers through the air in front of another person. He calls himself an eraser, capable of removing the mistakes in the energy fields that surround addicts. Physically, I transform energy, he says. I correct it like its supposed to be.

Nearly 20 years ago, two senior members of Harvard Health Services, psychologist Douglas Powell, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Henry Babcock, M.D., sent 20 people  suffering from pain, addictions, and phobias  to Shubentsov to see if he really could heal people. They found that he was, indeed, able to help each one of them, to varying degrees. Just how he did it, though, remained a mystery.

Many healers cant explain what they do, says Eric Leskowitz, M.D., a psychiatrist in Boston, who studied for more than a decade with energy healer Rosalyn Bruyere of the Healing Light Center in Los Angeles. People are like magnets, Leskowitz explains. They have a magnetic field that extends beyond their skin into space. Healers have learned how to intensify and regulate their own energy fields so they can affect, in a positive way, the energy fields of their patients. Patients suffering from illness or addictions, he says, often have imbalances in their electromagnetic fields.

When clients walk into Shubentsovs office, they are often surprised by his direct, sometimes strident manner. It certainly doesnt seem at first glance that hes realigning anyones energy field. It seems instead that hes putting on a show. Hes a  big proponent of claiming responsibility for, and taking steps to modify, your own behavior, and he makes his points with all the subtlety of a professional wrestler.

If you dont truly want to change, he says, he wont be able to help you. He is like a professor, a comedian and a taskmaster all at once. When one man mutters, I bite my nails, Shubentsov coolly replies, Dont do it. (I have zero diplomatic abilities, he admits, This is why they call me Mad Russian.)

But when another woman complains of a pain in her arm and shoulder, he wriggles his hands, combing the air in front of her with his fingers, and a minute later she rotates her shoulder and neck. Is the pain gone? another participant asks, leaning forward in her chair. The woman nods a wide-eyed yes.

Later, while standing in front of this same woman, Shubentsov nearly yells at her, If you take one more cigarette I will bring big flowers in the cemetery! He leans in closer to her and continues, You have terrible, horrible circulation and combined with smoking this will cause you a stroke. Do you understand? She nods silently.

Shubentsov ardently believes in the virtues of common sense, toughness, and patience, and preaches for up to three hours before getting down to the business at hand: curing the hopeless. (Leskowitz suspects another purpose to this extended lecture: In the time hes taking, he may be working with the energy in the room as a whole.)

While those whom he has helped may claim he is a god, Shubentsov believes that anyone can do what he does. Toward that end, he has co-authored a book with Barbara Gordon, Curing Your Cravings (G.P. Putnams Sons, 1998), explaining how to acquire heightened sensitivity to biological energy. By following an eight-week series of exercises, readers can start to feel things without actually touching them, he promises. Getting in touch with this sixth sense is the first step toward harnessing the power of your own biological energy.

But theres still a long way to go: Do not expect to erase your own cravings with your newly awakened Bio Energy, he writes. It has taken me 30 years of practice to be able to erase cravings. However, he says, if you genuinely want to change he can help you leave your cravings behind.

In his practice, Shubentsov promises to cure people in one treatment. If he fails to do so, or if someones will is weakening after theyve found some relief, he offers follow-up energy work at no additional charge, for as long as he maintains his practice. The cost for a treatment with a lifetime warranty? $65.