It is fair to say that if it was not for Ruth Drown, radionics as we know it today would not exist. She, and later David Tansley, took radionics from an electrical study of the physical body and into the realm of the metaphysical and the spiritual. For many years I’ve been interested in the mind of Ruth Drown – what were her influences that moulded her thoughts and insights? How was she able to realise that diagnosis and treatment were not limited by distance? And what was her understanding of how radionic rates relate to the vital energy, quite apart from the measurement of electrical resistance that Albert Abrams understood them to be?
Ruth Drown had been a student of Dr Albert Abrams’ methods. Abrams was a highly-respected neurologist, with impeccable American and European qualifications, was the Director of Medical Studies at Stanford University as well as holding other respectable positions. Because of his rigorous research into detecting life force emissions by instrumental methods, he is acknowledged as the father of radionics. In those early days of the 20th century, the science of electricity and electronics was in its infancy, and almost everyone was finding explanations for the mysterious and invisible in the invisible mysteries of the laws of electricity, electromagnetism and radio. Albert Abrams was no exception.
“Terminology inevitably became a stumbling block in this new approach to diagnosis. Development of Abrams’ work paralleled the first major and general technological development of radio. All this took place as well at a time when human consciousness of radiation was in its infancy. Terms were used in Abrams’ work – such as radio-therapy – that were drawn from another technology altogether. The terminological confusion has persisted right down to this day, and through the decades, an expertise has been automatically assigned to radio physicists in evaluating radionics. In fact, such people know nothing whatever about the energy involved in Abrams or Drown instruments.”
[Trevor James Constable, “The Cosmic Pulse of Life”.]
It was believed by Dr Abrams that the diseased human body was in electrical dissonance, producing a change in measurable resistance (in ohms) in the human body according to the condition. Although the term “radionics” was in use at least as early as 1925 (known to be used in relation to the Calbro Magnowave instrument), Abrams may not have used the word “radionics”; however he did use the term “electronic” – referring to the then-current theories of Matter, atoms and electrons, that Matter is electricity – a very early reference to what is now a commonplace word. He called the phenomena that he was observing “electronic reactions”, or the Electronic Reactions of Abrams (ERA).
When comparing the work of Ruth Drown with that of Albert Abrams, her revolutionary approach to radionics is obvious. Working mostly alone, she discovered that the radionics energies were more life-related and cosmic than her mentor had perhaps considered. Although acquainted with Theosophy, Abrams’ medical research was rigorously scientific, based on the physical theories of the day; whereas Ruth Drown found that the basis of “radionics” was far more subtle and even esoteric than the Doctor may have entertained (even with his connections to Theosophy), although she still subscribed to theories of the electron. Despite superficial similarities, one cannot truly compare the work of these two founders of radionics. Both were geniuses, but they were each working with entirely different concepts and insights.
“Ruth Drown… was well into her own research stemming from Abrams’ ERA, and it is here that we can begin to see a powerful move away from the initiating impulse and the scientific framework. It was not so much a move as a quantum leap… She was off into the rarer climes of energy.”
[David V Tansley, “Radionics: Science or Magic?”]
“Rear in thy mind the one thought, ‘God is All, nothing is manifest or unmanifest that is not God.’”
[Ruth Drown, “Wisdom from Atlantis”.]
Radionics is not electronics, despite the almost universal use of electronic components, so it must be clear that such an instrument does not measure, amplify, or directly affect anything that can be confirmed by our modern, reductionist and materialist technologies. Those scientific technologies are designed only as an aid or to add “leverage” to our normal five senses. What Ruth had discovered, via numerology and metaphysics, was a way to tune into the variations of subtle “energies” (information) inherent in all things and their state of being and change. From the Source to their manifestation, the One is in all.
It has to be admitted, however, that Ruth’s understandings and descriptions of the radionic process were far more philosophical than they were scientific.
“The Life Force was considered to be made up of electrons… In fact the physical explanations for the actions of her instruments are very dated and inaccurate. She tried, as many do today, to explain the workings of her instruments on a rather poor understanding of the atomic theory as it was at the time (the 1930s). Her physiological explanations are also rather strange.”
[Tony Scofield, “Horizons in Radionics”.]
“The Work of God and Not of Man”
Despite her positive and optimistic dedication to the holistic health and wellbeing of humanity, though perhaps due to her unconventional views and her missionary zeal, Ruth Drown was to become
“one of the most widely misrepresented and vilified women in America… Alleged technical descriptions of the Drown work, invariably condemnatory and always inaccurate, were printed in national magazines and published in books by writers who had never even met Dr Drown, let alone studied her work. This pillorying went on for decades.”
[Trevor James Constable, ibid.]
And yet Ruth never wavered, remaining focused on the divine Source, our very life force, tirelessly doing her work “with the ever-awakening consciousness of all that thou doth being the work of God and not of man, therefore it is for God and not for man,” ever mindful of “thy Great Errand which thou hast been sent here to do…
“There is but ‘One Energy,’ ‘One Power,’ ‘One Source.’ There is but ‘One Life.’
All is life. There is nothing in the Universe that it not life.
To him who understands it is not necessary to explain.
To him who does not understand it is impossible to explain.”
[Ruth Drown, “Wisdom From Atlantis”.]
Ruth was described by Dr Franklin Thomas, an Adept, Doctor of Divinity and optometrist, as
“a unique cosmic figure… In Atlantean times, she was a master of these forces that we now dabble with as radionics, and she is in the body at this time to contribute to their rebirth on a higher arc.”
She was convinced that humanity had entered a new evolutionary phase, and worked tirelessly with this vision always before her. In 1939 she wrote
“The age of the healing art wherein the patient was given remedies and chemicals of the earth and water has now advanced another step, and has entered the air cycle – conforming to the advent of the radio, television and wireless…
Very ancient writings deal almost wholly with the rates of vibrations of all things pertaining to the mental and physical world of mankind. It is impossible to diagnose and treat the physical body without relating it to the mental. After two years of using our radio instruments, we found in the deeper study of ancient wisdom amazing and satisfying corroboration of our own development of rates of vibration.”
[Ruth Drown, “The Theory and Technique of the Drown Radio Therapy and Radio-Vision Instruments”.]
From the 1930s she wrote books and published a journal (The Philosopher’s Stone) unrelated to radionics, disseminating truths in a variety of poetic and philosophical forms, part of the vanguard of the New Age. However it is her innovative contributions to the development of radionics for which she is known within the radionic community, while for everyone else she is a medical quack in entertaining courtroom dramas which occurred in the last years of her life, and beyond.
Ruth Beymer Chase was born at 3:11am on 21 October 1891 in Greeley, Colorado, USA, the third of five children. At the age of 19 she married Clarence V Drown, a farmer. They had two children; Cynthia born in 1912, and Homer in 1917. After seven years of marriage the couple separated over domestic incompatibility, since Ruth possessed a strong character that would not be dominated by anyone. With her two children she moved to Los Angeles in 1918 and bought a gas station which she operated for a year before selling the business to her mechanic.
Her father was a professional photographer, who had taught her everything he knew about photography. She also had a deep interest in the new hobby of radio, and this fascination and knowledge of both radio and photography assisted her in her future radionic work, together with her soul’s calling to be a healer.
Ruth was a person of wide knowledge and great ability. She was positive and confident. From her teens Ruth was interested in the metaphysical, and studied esoteric teachings, and later medical publications from her twenties. After a year of Osteopathy studies, she then studied to become chiropractor, and was licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic in Los Angeles in 1927.
Before studying chiropractic, Ruth worked for a Hollywood photographic studio, using the skills her father had taught her, and later for the Edison Company operating addressing machines, both experiences no doubt establishing and enlivening in her, passions and skills necessary for her future work in radionics. Being interested in radio, and stirred by a lecture on radio therapy by Dr Frederick Strong in 1923, she had taken a low paying job as his office assistant, through her friend, Maude Breeze, Dr Strong’s secretary. In this seemingly insignificant career move, history was made: the good doctor was using the therapeutic ERA methods of Dr Albert Abrams.
During her chiropractic studies Ruth also experimented with the subtle life energies detected through radionic diagnoses, which also revealed to her the shortcomings of the Abrams method, and she determined that it had to be simplified and refined. She became convinced that the use of AC electricity was a mistake, that it was anathema to the subtle life force emanations which were contaminated by its coarse energy. Ruth was later to tell Riley Crabb, of Borderland Sciences, that her pioneering radionic work was psychically inspired.
There came about at this time an important difference between the Abrams and Drown methods of acquiring rates. Although similar in principle, on inspection there is, in essence, a wide gulf. While Dr Abrams would diagnose a physical patient for a disease, using percussion or a “stick” using a glass rod on the living tissue of a healthy subject’s abdomen, Ruth Drown, due to her solid grounding in esoteric teachings, required only her radionic instrument with its inanimate stickpad and the thought of the organ or disease held in her mind. This method of Ruth Drown is now so commonplace that it may be reasonable to imagine that it has always been a part of radionic practice. It is also believed that the stickpad itself, of a design now commonplace, was first incorporated into radionic instruments by her.
“Everything in the Universe Vibrates”
Ruth Drown had introduced her own radionic instrument in 1929, five years after Dr Abrams had departed this world. The Drown instrument at first had seven dials, but she very soon began using nine dials on all her devices (more on this below). From an electronic perspective, in some ways it resembled a tuneable antenna, in contrast to the resistor-based diagnostic and electrical therapeutic instruments that Albert Abrams developed. Ruth, herself, described it as an “antenna and resistor apparatus, used to tune into the energies of these bodies.”
Her design was essentially a single length of wire. Each of the nine dials was a rotary switch having positions numbered 0 to 10. Trevor Constable describes the instrument as having each switch position as a stud around which the wire was looped, passing onto the next stud, and so on. At one end of this wire were foot plates, or input plates, and specimen well which connected the patient or specimen to the instrument. At the opposite end the dials connected to ground via a “detecting pad” (stickpad). It is impossible to discover specific details of all the instruments that Ruth designed and constructed throughout her career. However it is probable that many, if not most, of the instruments’ nine dials comprised decade resistances, i.e. dial 1 was wired for 10 ohms per switch position (total 100 ohms), dials 2 to 8 wired for 1 ohm per position (total 10 ohms for each switch) and dial 9 wired for 0.1 ohm per position (total 1 ohm).
Her instruments added no electricity or power to the radionic circuit (although some Drown instruments incorporated colour, and/or heated stickpad, for which electricity was used for lighting the bulbs). Rather, the instrument itself was powered by the life force, or the subtle vital energy, of the person or substance being analysed. She likened the instrument to a light bulb, “nothing working until it is attached to energy.”
“In contrast to other equipment, [Ruth Drown’s] used no power behind the treatment rates. Her theory was that all vibratory rates were ever-present in the atmosphere and being received by the human organism. Tuning the equipment to a particular rate set up a resonant circuit between the equipment and the patient with regards to that rate, intensifying its effect.”
[Riley H Crabb, “Radionics: The New Age Science of Healing”.]
Ruth attempted to contrast her methods from other forms of radionics that was being practiced at the time.
“Machines using electricity are not like our Drown instrument… The Drown instrument uses only the subject’s own energy, and the Radionics machine uses electricity as its carrier wave. I worked on both principles nearly forty years ago… The patient is both the ‘sending set’ and the ‘receiving set’ with the Drown instrument, as all energy returns to its source.”
“We do not concentrate our thought on the part of the body into which we tune, and I have been criticized for talking on another subject while doing the routine diagnosing of a patient. Often the patient did not think I was keeping my mind on the subject. My reason for this is twofold: First, to keep my mind away from the part tuned into, and second, to keep the patient’s mind off himself. Then the energy is less qualified by our thoughts and comes in as free as we can get it.”
[Ruth Drown, “Drown Radio Therapy”.]
“Experience and intuition thus united to convince her that commercial electric power was in some way inimical to the energy she was seeking to tune and manipulate. A quarter of a century later, Dr. Wilhelm Reich was to find out in the Oranur Experiment that a fierce and potentially lethal antagonism exists between life energy and electromagnetic energy… This simple fact appears to elude most persons doing this work.”
[Trevor James Constable, ibid.]
Together with the belief that all foreign energies should be kept from the living body, Ruth Drown believed that the instrument could energetically detect dis-ease in the living being. Since the vital energies of a person could be observed via numerical codes (rates), Ruth then reasoned that the same system of rates could be applied to the treatment of those vital energies. This profound breakthrough – that radionic rates represent a state of change in reference to the ideal condition – has been considered a fundamental principle of radionics ever since. Previously the rates were understood to be the measurement of the diseased condition. It followed that diagnosis and treatment could be performed remotely, at a distance from the client, via those same rates and the subtle energies which they symbolise and invigorate.
Remote treatment, now considered to be an essential aspect and primary principle of radionics, like all things whose time has come, was not discovered by Ruth Drown in isolation, but during the 1930s other doctors such as Dr Wood of Chicago, were researching the same phenomenon, diagnosing and treating patients from a drop of their blood when they could not be present. It was believed that the blood embodied the same vitality as the person from which it was taken. This same Dr Wood had, incidentally, also developed a Bakelite “detector” (stickpad) in the early 1920s which he would rub with the palm of his hand.
Ruth named the subject of her work “Radio-Therapy”, not because her devices were radios (which, she would well have known, they were not) but that they “did tune into the energy emanating from the Human, Animal, Vegetable and Mineral Kingdoms.”
The Drown instruments incorporated 9 dials.
“On our instrument there are only nine dials, as there are only nine numbers with which all mathematics deal, regardless of their combinations. Pythagoras stated that ‘Form is number’.”
[Ruth Drown, ibid.]
With this insight, in 1935, in addition to a variety of Drown Radio-Therapy instruments, Ruth developed the Drown Radio-Vision, a radionic camera that could take X-ray-like cross-section photographs of hidden and remote conditions, from little more than a blood spot on paper and tuning the rates dials on the instrument. The camera permitted no visible light to contact the film, yet many photos were developed revealing images of such things as foetuses, diseased conditions or cross-sections of organs, depending on who and what the Ruth consciously tuned into. Interestingly, towards the end of her life she apparently lost the quality necessary to produce these remote photographs.
“The principle underlying the work is simply that everything in the universe vibrates, and also has polarity. The energy which animates the human body is the same as that which is withdrawn at death, and is also that which, when coupled with the energy of the earth, produces metabolism of the cell structure. This fact furnishes the foundation from which to describe the rest of the work. This energy comes to man in a perfect state, but by reason of his thinking apparatus it becomes obstructed in some part of his body, and we call the result disease…
“Every part of the body, human or animal, vibrates differently from every other part when animated by the life force… This energy is passing from and returning to the body at all times; for all energy returns to its source.
“When [the witness is] placed in the Drown instrument, the energy (life force) of the patient is drawn through the instrument; and by proper tuning it is possible to diagnose, or treat, or make a picture of the part of this body which sent it out…
“The Drown instrument is only a tuning-board, used to resist and focus the patient’s energy under treatment. In this way the patient heals himself, though under the direction of the doctor after the condition which is out of balance is ascertained.
“In these times when everything is being speeded up and energies are being sent into the Etheric, bombarding the brain and body structure with sounds and forces hitherto unknown, it is necessary for the human body to be speeded up also, or else be shattered. The Drown method helps to do this in a natural way.”
[Ruth Drown, “The Drown Radio Therapy Methods”]
Shortly before the Second World War, Ruth visited England with some of her radionic instruments, where she taught her methods to several people. Several of her English students continued to practice her radionic methods for many years afterwards. One of the Drown instruments came into the hands of expert dowser and biophysicist, J Cecil Maby, who conducted scientific tests on organic and inorganic specimens, and found that the results matched almost precisely his own findings via dowsing, even to atomic weights and numbers. He published his report in 1945.
(An interesting side note is that Dr W Guyon Richards, a London medical specialist, using Abrams instruments that he had rewired according to his own theories and with added vacuum tube amplification, was able to confirm Cecil Maby’s findings, on a Drown instrument, with relation to radionic rates corresponding to atomic weights. That would have been food for thought then, probably for different reasons that it might be today, for radionics practitioners in those pioneering days were primarily doctors and scientists. They were assuming and seeking direct correspondences between the rate number and that which was being “measured” – similar, in a more material way, to what Ruth Drown was doing with her correlations between rates and positions on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (see below) – an assumption that has been entirely abandoned today.)
During the 1939-1945 war, import restrictions made it impossible to receive any more instruments into the UK. This tragic time was actually a fortuitous event in the history of radionics, for during those years of scarcity someone asked an engineer friend to make him a copy of a Drown instrument. That friend was none other than George de la Warr, who picked up the torch and was to become a leading light in the radionics world himself, another radionics pioneer who initiated a fresh phase of development. But I am getting ahead of myself…
A later model Drown instrument was examined by Edward W Russell.
“It appeared that she had discarded resistances. Beneath the tuning-dials were circles of copper, divided into segments by insulating material, with which a wiper-blade made contact. These must have had virtually no resistance and perhaps suggested the type of tuning later used with great success by de la Warr… Drown was probably the first to discard ohms or inductances altogether and to rely on a rotary pattern to tune the mysterious energies.”
[Edward W Russell, “Report on Radionics”, emphasis in original.]
(Incidentally my own research has also led me to believe that the pattern is much more important than electronic resistance. See related posts about radionic rates on this website.)
“Each dial is an octave, each number a note. When these notes are combined properly, the rate of vibration passing through them in resonance selects only certain parts of the body for a speeding up or lowering of energy (as the case may be) using the Life Force… Thus, in our diagnosis, when we find certain rates of vibration of the body lower or higher than the average normal, we select part for normalization and the animating Life Force or Light of the body does the rest.”
[Ruth Drown, “The Theory and Technique of the Drown Radio Therapy and Radio-Vision Instruments”.]
The Kabbalah Unveiled
So, what made Ruth Drown’s approach unique, and how may we see her work as a vital transitional phase between a purely physical and scientifically rigorous discipline, and what may be considered a more esoteric and even psychological practice?
In 1930 Ruth had been given a copy of S.L. MacGregor Mathers’ “The Kabbalah Unveiled”, and in this she discovered further correspondences between the physical and the metaphysical. Her study of Kabbalah profoundly influenced her approach to radionics as a whole, and especially with respect to the rates.
No doubt the first pages of MacGregor Mathers’ introduction immediately spoke to Ruth’s predilections:
“I say fearlessly to the fanatics and bigots of the present day: You have cast down the Sublime and Infinite One from His throne, and in His stead have placed the demon of unbalanced force; you have substituted a deity of disorder and of jealousy for a God of order and of love.”
[S.L. MacGregor Mathers]
The Kabbalah is a Hebrew esoteric tradition that has shaped the European esoteric arts and sciences since the Middle Ages, although its roots are much more ancient. Gematria (Kabbalistic or “cosmic” numerology) reveals the numerical interconnectedness between various words, principles and things, which may then be mapped on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a diagrammatical representation of the universe, serving to illustrate the planes of existence, archetypes, or pathways of creation and the return to the Invisible Source. Radionic rates could then be interpreted through this lens, revealing profound meaning and cosmic significance.
It was a logical step to apply the principle of Gematria to numerical rates which symbolise meaning:
“Every word is a number, and every number is a word… and on this correspondence between words and numbers the science of Gematria (the first division of the so-called literal Qabalah) is based… Gematria is based on the relative numerical values of words, as I have before remarked. Words of similar numerical values are considered to be explanatory of each other, and this theory is also extended to phrases.”
[S.L. MacGregor Mathers, ibid.]
Key to understanding the Kabbalah is that symbols are created to represent the abstract, and that the visible clothes the invisible. On the Tree of Life are positioned ten interconnected Sephiroth (emanations, the creative rays; literally “enumeration”) representing planes of manifestation, revealing the descent of power from all that lies above, down to the lowest and tenth Sephirah, Malkuth, the physical plane. Now we may get a hint as to why Ruth incorporated 9 dials on her instruments: to communicate the immaterial into the material world, to symbolise the pre-existent realities.
We also start to receive a hint as to the meaning behind this cryptic remark:
“Because they all use my rates does not prove they are correct on their equipment, but there must be an analogy or they would get nothing. I know the true explanation but cannot give it out at this time to those who are not aware of the full subject.”
[Ruth Drown, “Drown Radio Therapy”.]
Another insight of the Kabbalists is that all manifestation is differentiated into dependent pairs of opposites. In other words, without the tension and dynamic interplay between polar opposites there would be no existence, merely a homogenous stasis. Thus the Tree of Life has a right-hand pillar and left-hand pillar. Kether, the first Sephirah symbolising the undifferentiated Light of Consciousness, differentiates into masculine and feminine principles, Chokmah (2) and Binah (3) respectively. The right pillar is that of Force, Expansion (“physical light”), the fire element, the Masculine. The left pillar is that of Form, Restriction (“vessel”), the water element, the Feminine.
Each of these, Chokmah and Binah, receive from above and give birth to the primary and secondary “divine emotions/utterances” that condense downward to manifest our apparent reality at the base of the Tree. The right-hand pillar is comprised of Chokmah (2), Chesed (4) and Netzach (7); and the left-hand pillar, Binah (3), Geburah (5) and Hod (8).
Between these interdependent pairs of opposites is a central pillar representing Equilibrium, Harmony, Mildness (“the breath”), the air element, the stillness between the dynamic interplay of creation, consciousness. Tiphereth (6) in the central position on the central pillar of the Tree symbolises the centrality of the Christ principle in Earth’s evolution. Yesod (9) is near the base of the Tree, integrating everything that came before it, and is the foundation of Malkuth (10), our material plane.
The Kabbalistic Tree of Life reveals a balanced and harmonic organisation. Cosmic power descends like a lightning bolt, across and down, from Kether to Malkuth. Illumination or Enlightenment is the path upwards, following the same lightning flash which has its origin in Kether, and the restoration of completeness, wholeness.
Thus, on this basis, the Drown 9-dial radionic instrument can be seen as a precise and tangible embodiment of the Kabbalah, a condensation of the abstract into the practical. The numbers assigned to the Sephiroth correspond to the numbers on the rates dials; the nine dials signify the unmanifest planes which give existence to this manifest plane.
“I only tune into that which has already been created!”
[Ruth Drown, ibid.]
Rates as Sacred Numerology
Following the creation of her radionic instrument, Ruth Drown spent four intense years studying MacGregor Mathers’ book, refining methods of radionic analysis and compiling rates of the vibratory principles of the body and its diseases. Regular correspondences between her radionic rates and Kabbalistic numerology became undeniable. She was tuning into the cosmic pattern, divining the correspondences, her nine dials tuning into resonance with the Rays descending into Malkuth, this material plane.
“Drown would reduce her rates to one number that corresponded to each station of the Kabbalah and the angelic force behind it. David Tansley said there was no logical reason, except in her own mind, for using sacred numerology and making the vibrational link. It is the practitioner who helps to set the pathways to healing and, depending on their connection, in harmony with the client, spontaneous healing occurs. She was a light bearer.”
[John Nauss, author’s personal correspondence.]
Relationships exist between the Drown rates, the Sephiroth numbers, and bodily organs. The following chart is a summary, from “The Cosmic Pulse of Life” by Trevor James Constable, who knew Ruth Drown personally:
Kether, the Crown, corresponds to the pineal gland in the human body. This is the point of entrance of the vital energy into the human being. The pineal gland rate is 98. In reducing the numbers to a single digit, we find that 9 may always be omitted from the reduction without altering the final single digit. Thus, 98 expressed as 9 + 8 = 17, which reduces again as 1 + 7 = 8.
From the following similar reductions of the organs assigned to the first three Sephiroth, remarkable consistencies appear:
Reduces to 8
Reduces to 8
Ocular Motor Nerve
Reduces to 8
(8 + 8 + 8 = 24. Reduces to 6)
These organs and nerves correspond with Sephiroth 1, 2 and 3. Their total also reduces to 6.
Proceed down the Tree of Life and correlating the Drown rates with the organs assigned to the various Sephiroth, we find the following:
Reduces to 4
(Chesed is Sephirah 4)
Liver (4 lobes)
Reduces to 5
(Geburah is Sephirah 5)
Stomach (Solar Plexus)
Reduces to 6
(Tiphereth is Sephirah 6)
Reduces to 7
(Netzach is Sephirah 7)
Kidney (2 essential parts)
Reduces to 4
These two rates reduce to 8 and Hod is Sephirah 8)
Both reduce to 9
(Yesod is Sephirah 9)
(Malkuth is Sephirah 10)
…The above connections may be indefinitely pursued and extended, the only limits being the knowledge and consciousness of the investigator.
Correlations may now be established, for example, between severity and liver problems, found in Sephirah 5; or between reasoning power and kidneys, in Sephirah 8.
“Let the physical integrity of a given organ – or a chain of interconnected organs – be impaired, and the quality of mind associated with that organ will have difficulty manifesting in the earthly personality… These findings in turn strongly support the view of Dr Rudolf Steiner… The spirit of man is always healthy…”
[Trevor James Constable, ibid.]
The Curtain Falls
Ruth Drown practiced her radionic art for over thirty years, and was able to achieve a high level of diagnostic accuracy and treatment in the physical, psychological and subtle anatomy of her clients, as relayed through several sources such as Trevor James Constable, Edward W Russell, the letters published in her Journal of Radio Therapy, and the testimonies in her defence when she was on trial.
However, “facts have little meaning when arrayed against prejudice.” [Manly P Hall.] Thus Ruth experienced the same fate as Dr Albert Abrams who observed that “contempt prior to investigation had relegated to oblivion many important truths.”
The end of this story is, unfortunately not a happy one, as is often the case with visionaries exploring the boundaries of consensus reality, who are thereby rejected by the majority and criminalised for their unorthodox genius. Ruth Drown, by the end of her life, was branded “Queen of the Quacks” by the medical establishment; a slender, grey-haired lady ridiculed, mercilessly crushed by the wheels of the machinery that patrols and enforces the boundaries of the official narrative. A lifetime of compassion, research, and ultimately her dedication to a higher calling, amounted to nothing in her accusers’ eyes, focused as they forever are on preserving the status quo, fearing loss of power and profit – all in the name of protecting the weak and vulnerable, of course. She joined the likes of Dr Albert Abrams and Dr Wilhelm Reich who were persecuted and died before her, at the hands of the same medical authorities, for daring to apply scientific principles to invisible realities.
Radionics and subtle energy research has been constantly mocked and derided, and outright attacked by the scientific communities with an established physical worldview, and have unwittingly created heroes and “martyrs” for those who oppose them. Dr Albert Abrams, for example, named in an American Medical Association publication (Hygeia) as “the most finished medical charlatan of our time.” Similar accusations were levelled at Ruth Drown. Dr Wilhelm Reich, a further example, was under surveillance by the FBI, was accused of quackery, and in 1957 died serving a two year prison sentence, charged by the FDA for supplying and using Orgone (universal life energy) Accumulators, declared to be a “medical fraud”, and etheric transducers (Cloudbusters). There followed an enforced campaign of censorship of his books, “the only nationally-sanctioned book-burning in American history.” [Olivia Laing, “Everybody”.] “But the larger reality of the proceedings against Wilhelm Reich…is that he was also convicted of sinning against society” [Webster Schott, Washington Post].
This latter observation, that of sinning against society, while placed in the context of Reich’s theories of sex and health, may also be applied to all who work with subtle life energies and the ultimate wellbeing of humanity, including of course, Ruth Drown. Society is built on a consensus sense of culture and morality, thus it is not too difficult for an individual to offend it. As there are always at least two sides to any story, we know that a condemnatory bias does not usually see any positive character behind the perceived flaws. So it is, naturally, that Ruth’s friends and supporters had a totally different viewpoint to the offended.
“Ruth Drown was truly an angelic sort of a person – if you can imagine an angel in the flesh… She started reeling off these Pythagorean relationships that just made my mind spin. I couldn’t keep up with her… I have known and respected many radionics people; as a class they are outstanding. But Ruth Drown was a giant among them. This was also evident in the influence she had.”
[Arthur M Young, inventor of the Bell helicopter, and philosopher.]
Ruth was, however, somewhat secretive of her methods, fiercely independent, and also successful with her patients, which destroyed any slim chance which she may have had of being accepted by the scientific orthodoxy.
“[The medical establishment] fought Dr Drown to the finish… They were afraid of her! She had something they couldn’t get! They offered her all kinds of money if she would give them a monopoly of her machines, so that they could get $2500 a case – for some of their cancer cases – and she wouldn’t do it.”
“The fact that Drown was a student of the Kabbalistic teachings and spoke of the Life-Force, would amount to a heresy of unpardonable proportions as far as science was concerned. The matter of distant diagnosis and treatment is ridiculous in the view of modern science. We can be sure that the ‘authorities’ in the 16th century would have consigned Drown to death by fire. In the 20th century they used different tactics.”
[David V Tansley, ibid.]
If a sober point of view is taken, it was as much Ruth’s own fault that she was persecuted as it was the medical industry’s.
“Although she and her assistants did some office treating, most of her treatments were given ‘broadcast’ style… In practise, while some individuals with particularly sensitive constitutions could benefit from being connected to a treatment circuit with no power behind it, others did not derive significant benefit. They required power treatments to obtain adequate therapeutic effect. Again some individuals were susceptible to being treated broadcast fashion, while others were not. Apparently no attempt was made to ascertain into which category each patient fell. The result was that some of those who paid a substantial monthly sum for daily broadcast treatment, and who did not benefit, naturally complained. This was undoubtedly a factor in the legal persecutions brought against Dr Drown, though her practise of selling treatment instruments to laymen at high prices was also responsible for drawing legal difficulties.
“Dr Drown undoubtedly had a great deal of ability and a very wide range of knowledge… It would seem that her ability and knowledge transcended the limited scope of her equipment.”
[Riley H Crabb, ibid.]
Despite the fact that the second leading cause of death in the USA is medical malpractice, the medical industry used this same accusation against Ruth Drown, highlighting that she misdiagnosed and provided no real treatment, and in fact caused deaths. At least as early as 1951, the medical authorities had been pursuing Ruth, intent upon taking any possible legal action against her to shut her down.
The FDA believed that if they were successful in destroying Ruth Drown, the most visible radionic practitioner in the USA, others would be too frightened to continue practicing radionics. So in 1951 they took the opportunity of a complaint made against her to take her to court. Arthur M Young travelled to California to defend her. He reported that
“many in the court had formed the impression that the charge against her was trumped up. Efforts to have her patients testify that her treatment was ineffective was a complete failure. All the patients testified to her correct diagnosis and treatment… One after the other – very real and healthy people – testified that they had been cured of all kinds of diseases and ailments. They were not only completely convincing, but, each time the prosecuting attorney tried to invalidate their evidence, they added more evidence that contributed more than the defense attorney had brought out… Several doctors testified on Drown’s behalf… When the jury went out, the court stenographer was certain that she would be acquitted. To everyone’s surprise she was not. The best guess as to why was that the jury were more impressed by the radio experts who testified that the instruments could not work as a radio.” [Edward M Young]
Despite all the positive evidence in support of Ruth Drown, the jury was obviously confused by the unfamiliar technical evidence. She was convicted of fraud and medical quackery, and appealed. Her appeals dragged on for years without success, and she later served a brief prison sentence in early 1965 shortly before her death. The American Cancer Society later summarised Ruth Drown as
“one of the most notorious radionics practitioners… diagnosing and treating people for non-existent diseases with worthless electric devices.”
[Journal of American Cancer Society, 1994]
This was mild compared to much of the reporting on the Drown legal case. Rather than inquiring into the mystery that, by a multitude of accounts, radionics did indeed appear to work, the mainstream authorities and media resolutely listed failures and deaths, and disparaging descriptions of seemingly irrational technologies and procedures, to pander to the incredulous and facetious.
“[Ruth Drown’s] failing was that her inspired and intuitive pronouncements did not mesh with the rather flat-footed and dogmatic pronouncements of current science. In conversation with her, one could feel that she was in touch with a tremendously complicated internal system of patterned harmonics, a self-regulating system of ‘resonant vibration’ of which all I can say is that I was convinced that she knew what she was talking about, even though it could not be translated into terms which could pass muster in present science.”
[Arthur M Young]
Ruth Drown was set up as an example by the American Medical Association (AMA) – an organisation which dedicated itself in 1849 to eradicating quack remedies and treatments – to prove that any view which challenged their own materialist reality would be mercilessly crushed. To their way of thinking, health is a mechanistic process which may be repaired by reduction to material components, with no room for a vital, animating force which may be strengthened, nurtured and maintained for optimal health and wellbeing.
The AMA entertained their faithful with accounts, intended to both shock and mock, of courtroom dramas that clearly had already been decided from the outset, the accused guilty and charged during the whole proceedings. It was a farce, “bread and circuses”.
The following is quoted from a 1968 AMA publication, which frames Ruth Drown and her supporters as heartless criminals, cruelly and ambitiously plotting to profit from the vulnerable and credulous. Pay attention to the words they use, and to their insistent focus on the technology, indicating their blindness to anything other than a sensational, mechanistic world view:
“Los Angeles deputy district attorney John W. Miner and a squad of police and public health inspectors swooped down on the LaBrea Avenue building, arrested Doctors Drown and Chatfield and assistant, Mrs. Margaret Lunness, and took into custody enough Alice-in-Wonderland machines to fill a wing of the Smithsonian Institution. Doctor Drown died in 1965 while awaiting trial. Doctor Chatfield and Mrs. Lunness were convicted of grand theft for their part of the operation and in 1967 were sentenced…
“The case is a vivid reminder that pseudo-scientific health quackery is still a major activity in the United States. At the time of their arrest, Doctors Drown and Chatfield had treated 35,000 persons from all over the country, and had sold their devices to other fringe practitioners who had treated an unknown number of other patients. The devices allegedly could diagnose and cure nearly every known affliction from jealousy to cancer, plus a few ailments — which medical science has yet to discover. Actually, expert witnesses testified that the elaborate machines that form the basis of the Drown treatment are a hoax. In finding the defendants guilty, the judge stated that the theory of the treatment is no more valid than ‘voodoo or witchcraft.’…
“In 1951 Doctor Drown was tried on federal charges of introducing a misbranded device into interstate commerce. At the trial one of the government’s expert witnesses, Dr. Elmer Belt, described the Drown device as ‘perfectly useless.’ ‘You just do not seem to think much of the instrument, do you, Doctor Belt?’ the defense attorney asked. ‘I couldn’t even use it to amuse the children,’ Doctor Belt replied. Doctor Drown was found guilty by the jury and was fined $1000. She stopped shipping her devices across state lines but otherwise carried on business as usual. In 1966 Doctor Chatfield and Mrs. Lunness went to trial in Los Angeles on the state charges… The court heard a procession of witnesses relate astounding stories [of Drown’s malpractice]…
“A dramatic highlight of the trial was the testimony of Dr. Moses A. Greenfield, professor of radiology at the UCLA School of Medicine and a consultant to the Atomic Energy Commission. Disassembling a Drown device in open court, Doctor Greenfield explained that all it basically consisted of was a length of wire linking together two pieces of dissimilar metal — the German silver of the foot pads and the lead of the electrode. The only function performed by the patient was to complete the otherwise broken circuit…
“As for the nine dials with their 10 numbered settings, Doctor Greenfield dismounted the panel and showed that only two wires connected each dial to the circuit. Further dismantling showed that the 10 positions of each switch were connected together and it therefore made no difference on which position any of the dials were set! The exposure of the scientific fraud brought some moments of amusement to the courtroom. But behind it lay an epic example of heartlessness, cruelty, and indifference to human life. ‘Quackery can kill,’ said deputy district attorney John Miner in his summary, ‘and the use of fraudulent instruments such as these devices in the courtroom is dangerous to human life.’”
[Today’s Health, published by the American Medical Association, 1968]
The story entertained and sedated those for whom it was intended. The medical orthodoxy no doubt believed that they had won a righteous war. But as Victor Hugo observed, “no force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” Nor, it seems, can you stop a good story. Even today there remains a voyeuristic fascination with Ruth Drown. As recently as 2020 there was a book published about “The True(ish) Story of America’s Greatest Con Woman”. And despite the best efforts of the quack busters, the practice of radionics continues unabated, albeit adapted to a post-Ruth Drown world.
Ruth Drown’s Legacy
Shortly after her release from a prison sentence, Ruth Drown suffered two strokes while awaiting trial, and departed this world on 13 March 1965. She was indicted for medical quackery, fraud and attempted grand theft, after her lifetime of devotion to serving a higher principle, restoring the divine spark to humanity.
Throughout her life dedicated to innovation in the field of radionics, and offering radionic diagnosis and treatment to all who sought it, Ruth had been overly confident and enthusiastic – qualities which can be natural to a true pioneer – leading her to make claims which resulted in her tragic harassment and ultimate demise. It also did not help that she had taken on more patients than she could handle, taking away valuable revenue and reputation from the medical profession. Given her temperament, she could not turn away those who were disillusioned with mainstream medical practice.
In her enthusiasm and belief in the rightness (and righteousness) of what she was doing, not all diagnoses and treatments were correct, especially once she was set up by the FDA and AMA with fake medical cases to diagnose. All of these factors counted against her, and it did not matter if her accusers were guilty of making similar mistakes. Ruth Drown is another unfortunate example that not all Davids win over the Goliaths.
There is a pertinent and ironic end to this tale. During the 1970s the Food and Drug Administration hosted an Exhibition of Quackery, in which they presented a large display of health aids and healing techniques which they consider fraudulent. Among them was a Drown Homo-Vibro Ray instrument. There was so much interest in the instrument, and so many inquiries as to where one might be purchased, that the FDA withdrew the exhibit. Ruth Drown, no doubt, would have enjoyed the irony.
We can learn a lot from both the life and work of Ruth Drown, and also her character assassination. I could say a lot about both these points, but I shall leave you to contemplate the significance and heed the cautions inherent in her story, a classic Greek tragedy of a proud, independent woman, immersed in the work of the gods, who meets a sad and unjust end.
“The case will stand out in history as a classic example of the stubborn unwillingness of those who are supposedly dedicated to the healing arts even to examine anything unusual that might advance them.”
[Edward W Russell, “Report on Radionics”.]
The legacy of Ruth Drown does not end there. Although radionics was forced underground in the USA, medical radionics continued to flourish in the UK, with countless instruments based on Drown’s “Base 10” principle, developed and sold primarily by George de la Warr, Malcolm Rae and Bruce Copen.
George de la Warr was the first in the UK to manufacture radionic devices in 1941, when asked to make copies of Drown instruments. George and Ruth had been corresponding, and she gave him permission to build her instruments and use her rates. While Ruth followed Dr Abrams’ theory of resistance, George de la Warr theorised that radionic detection and broadcasting worked on the basis of tuneable aerials, each dial being an aerial, and constructed his own devices as such. Bruce Copen took inspiration from de la Warr, and even borrowed (uncredited) Ruth Drown’s rates. But all that is, as they say, a story for another time.
In conclusion, it is difficult to overstate Ruth Drown’s contribution to radionics; she is the brightest star in the radionic firmament.
“It is perhaps not too much to say that, but for the work and personality of Ruth Drown, radionics might have withered in adolescence. Certainly the science owes her an incalculable debt.”
[Edward W Russell, ibid.]
Radionics has evolved significantly since those earlier days, but Ruth’s heritage remains visible in every Base 10 (i.e. potentiometer-based) radionic instrument to this day.
As always, please join the conversation. Your knowledge, insights and wisdom – and any corrections – are always gratefully received.