Qigong and its Role in Mental Disorders

Research Paper Title

Qigong-induced mental disorders: a review.

Background

This review article aims to explore current opinions on Qigong-induced mental disorders, an entity which is unfamiliar to Western psychiatrists.

Method

Relevant literature published in Chinese and English is reviewed.

Results

The review is divided into three sections:

  • First, there is brief consideration of the historical development of Qigong in traditional Chinese medicine and its role in psychiatry;
  • Second, there is a review of the literature published on Qigong deviations and Qigong-induced mental disorders; and
  • Third, there is a discussion on the aetiological role of Qigong in these conditions.

Conclusions

Qigong remained veiled in secrecy and available only to the elite until the early 1980s. Despite the widespread use of Qigong, there is a conspicuous lack of controlled data regarding its effects on mental health.

Qigong, when practised inappropriately, may induce abnormal psychosomatic responses and even mental disorders. However, the ties between Qigong and mental disorders are manifold, and a causal relationship is difficult to establish.

Many so-called ‘Qigong-induced psychoses’ may be more appropriately labelled ‘Qigong-precipitated psychoses’, where the practice of Qigong acts as a stressor in vulnerable individuals.

Reference

Ng, B.Y. (2020) Qigong-induced mental disorders: a review. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 33(2), pp.197-206. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1614.1999.00536.x.

What is Qigong?

Qigong, which is sometimes spelled Chi-Kung (and pronounced chee-gung), is the study and practice of cultivating vital life-force through various techniques, including:

  • Breathing techniques.
  • Postures.
  • Meditations.
  • Guided imagery.

Qi means “breath” or “air” and is considered the “vital-life-force” or “life-force energy.” Qigong practitioners believe that this vital-life-force penetrates and permeates everything in the universe. It corresponds to the Greek “pneuma,” the Sanskrit “prana,” or the Western medical conception of “bioelectricity.”

Gong means “work” or “effort” and is the commitment an individual puts into any practice or skill that requires time, patience, and repetition to perfect.

Through study, the individual aims to develop the ability to manipulate Qi in order to promote self-healing, prevent disease, and increase longevity.

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