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"Everyone will be Healed Tonight" by Sharon Boase

This article originally appeared in the Hamilton (Canada) Spectator, September 25, 2004

Intuitive healer lays hands on cure-seekers, and lumps and diabetes `disappear’ Hands are in the air as instructed, “channelling the healing energy.” Voices are raised in a chant, “God loves me, God loves me, God loves me.” The black-robed “intuitive” healer raises his arms and announces to the 150-plus crowd: “God will come into this room tonight. His Energy will come as lightning.”

Surprisingly, this is unfolding in a Hamilton church hall.

“The energy has already started, I feel it across my chest, I feel it in my legs,” says a deeply excited Doug Cottrell, self-described psychic healer. “Everyone will be healed tonight!”

Intuitive healer Douglas James Cottrell
Modelling himself after the late American psychic healer Edgar Cayce, renowned for his prophecies and trance-derived medical diagnoses, London-based Cottrell is in Steeltown to present a series of “Miracle Healing Services.” The last of three services is Monday at Christ Church Unity on Rosedene Avenue.

In the velvet-trimmed robe, Cottrell cuts an imposing figure, despite the conspicuous comb-over. His introductory talk reveals an inclusive and convoluted theology that puts him at odds with the likes of fundamentalist TV preachers Jack Van Impe or Joyce Meyer. He hasn’t got their hair or charisma either. Cottrell says he rejects formal theology and only ever went to church to play hockey.

Nonetheless, he promises miracles. “If you believe strongly enough, you will win the lottery,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “I don’t know why I didn’t last week.”

Some of those who’ve attended an earlier Hamilton session have sent e-mails claiming instant healings. Others healed slowly through the week.

“Let your guard down,” he says. “Remove your ego. I don’t want you to do anything tonight but let this energy in.”

Cottrell warns the crowds they might fall over after he lays his hands upon them. Two volunteer “catchers” are identified and people are told to stay on the floor “until the healing is complete.”

A few tentative souls approach. Among them is Shirley Cleveland, a 76-year-old, no-nonsense great-grandmother. She suffers from congestive heart failure but what’s really got her worried is the numbness that crept into her right hand a few week [sic] ago. She figures Cottrell is worth a shot.

“What do you want?” he asks them all. Before long, the line is 15-deep, a compelling parade of bad stomachs, bad knees and bad nerves. One elderly woman hobbles into Cottrell’s arms and just weeps.

Although Cottrell says his healing powers arise out of a deep trance state, he appears perfectly lucid, chatting and laughing. Part Dear Abby, part Benny Hinn, Cottrell’s manner seems like therapeutic touch with a side order of psychotherapy. “Are you intervening or interfering?” he asks a middle-aged woman who wants healing for her son and husband.

“Repeat after me,” Cottrell tells and elderly man whose head hangs forlornly, “God loves me, God loves me, God loves me.” Then he pounds it onto the man’s chest, “God (POUND!) loves (POUND!) you (POUND!).”

The ones left standing after Cottrell’s ministrations are told to “Take the energy! Take it!”

Helped back to her feet, a middle-aged woman falls into her seat rubbing her head and sighing deeply. A 50-something man wipes away a tear.

Cleveland appears unchanged.

“I could swear he had nothing in his hands but it felt like a vibration went right through me,” she says, describing what sounds like a joy buzzer. “He said my heart troubles are coming from my back. I think my acupuncture needle got moved around,” she adds, rubbing a shoulder.

Suddenly Cottrell turns toward the crowd: “Somebody has diabetes and it’s going away! Who is it?”

“I think it’s her,” says a woman excitedly, pointing down her row. Everyone applauds and Cottrell turns to the next seeker.

Cleveland says she developed an interest in the paranormal after a near-death experience while delivering her second of six children.

She’s read all about Cayce and has even been to see a big-name evangelist whose name escapes her.

“There’s more than just this everyday stuff,” says Cleveland, who as a child would accurately predict who was coming to visit that day or who was telephoning her mother.

At 10 minutes past the scheduled closing, the lineup has grown to 20-deep. A somewhat downcast Cleveland picks up her cane and makes her way out of the hall.

The next morning, Cleveland calls The Spectator. “My fingers are still tingling and that ... but I noticed in the bathtub this morning that the lump on my shoulder is gone,” she reports. “There I was, doubting him about this and that, looking for wires in his hands and look what happened.”

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