Lilias Curtin offers all manner of cures for modern ills. And word is starting to spread fast among Londonís smart set
When Lilias Curtin first had a magnet pressed into her hand and was told that it could work as a tool for “energy healing”, she had no idea that it might change her life and career, leading to her becoming Cherie Blairís latest alternative health guru. “I just thought it was a hilarious idea,” she says.
Until that moment, in the late 1990s, Curtin was in many ways a typical west London housewife, with a City lawyer husband, two young sons, Seamus and Tom (now seven and five), and a pretty terraced home.
Now, in her first interview, Cherie Blairís new guru reveals that it was her younger sonís severe autism that inspired her to explore alternative therapy and develop an array of techniques which have Londonís smart set flocking to her consulting room. Curtin, 41, is now an expert in many unusual treatments, such as electronic gem, thought-field and vortex therapies. Rory Bremner publicly credits her with curing an allergy problem, while Cherie Blair is a regular visitor to Curtinís clinic in Fulham, with its lilac-painted walls and polished, wooden floors.
A well-known adherent of alternative therapies such as crystal healing, rebirthing and acupuncture, Cherie Blair apparently went to see Curtin in early autumn on the recommendation of Carole Caplin, her style and fitness consultant. Caplin began visiting Curtin a year ago, and was soon recommending her to favoured clients.
Lilias Curtin is now seen as the successor to the late Jack Temple, the therapist whose remedies – he advocated tying bundles of homeopathic treatments to the afflicted parts of the body – captivated clients from Jerry Hall to Diana, Princess of Wales. Curtin is wary of being labelled Cherie Blairís latest alternative guru, but flattered by the comparison with Temple: “A number of people who used to see Jack are delighted that someone else is doing the energy work that he did. Iíve done a huge amount of research into the different therapies I offer. I donít want to be seen as just the latest quack. Iím very serious about what I do.”
Cherie Blairís treatments are likely to have started with autonomic response therapy, a method of diagnosing what may be wrong with the client, and to have progressed with thought-field therapy (a tool to remove the “heightened emotions that get attached to traumatic memories”) or gemstone therapy. Bremner began visiting this year when a nettle-like rash beneath his eyes refused to go away. Curtin gave him a session of autonomic response testing and decided he had a build-up of chemical solvents in his body from years of stage make-up, which produced an allergic rash. She soaked his feet for half an hour in a footbath through which an alternative electrical current was passed, in order to “draw out toxins”.
Strange, you may say, but Bremner quickly bought himself an aqua detox device, at a cost of ?1,300, so he could carry on being treated at home. “I retain a healthy scepticism,” he said recently. “But all I know is that afterwards I wasnít allergic to my make-up any more.”
Today, Curtinís business, Full of Energy Ltd, is thriving. Her website claims she can cure phobias, addictions, panic attacks, grief and insomnia. But what has spurred Curtinís interest in the wilder shores of alternative therapies was the discovery, when her son Tom was two, that he was severely autistic: “Tomís diagnosis gave me a new determination to push the boundaries of alternative medicine, to find a way of making a difference to his life and that of other people, too.”
She has tried many of her therapies on Tom, who was prone to screaming, shouting, biting and hitting – often the autistic personís main means of communication. They did a two-week course of Tomatis – “a way of introducing missing frequencies into people through the use of music”.
This involved Tom listening to special music through large earphones for up to two hours each day: “He was two and keeping him amused was quite a task. He watched cartoons without sound and would put up with it for an hour at a time. That was really hard, but it was the first big breakthrough. Within three or four days, he began looking up at us and saying a couple of words. The recognition that something was happening was terribly exciting. It was the realisation that there was, in fact, Ďa little personí inside his head.
“Then I did a lot of gemstone therapy on him, but when he was asleep – no child that age wants to sit still for more than 30 seconds. And, on a behavioural level, the vortex therapy is so simple to use, my nanny can do it with him. You place a hand on the part of the body from which the negative energies need to be drawn out, and point a long rod at a small block which is filled with corresponding negative energies. Tom likes it being done. If heís really frustrated and angry and canít make himself understood, he will move your hand to the part of him that he feels needs Ďroddingí, and within five minutes heís calmer.”
Curtin, the daughter of the owner of an out-of-town shopping centre, grew up in the Devon countryside, mad about horses, before coming to work in London as an estate agent. Her artist mother gave her the unusual, ancient Scots name of Lilias, but she had no sense of being someone out of the ordinary until eight years ago. Then, while pregnant with Seamus, she discovered that she had what she calls “a gift” for clairvoyance.
During a session with a reflexologist, she became aware of another presence in the room. “The reflexologist told me, ĎThatís your mother. You do know youíre psychic, donít you?í” Curtin recalls. In the belief that she needed to use her new-found powers, she enrolled at the College for Psychic Studies in London, where she was introduced to magnets: “When the magnet was put into my hand, I found I could feel the difference between the north and south poles of it, and I was intrigued.”
She became one of the first accredited magnet therapists in the country and began working from her spare bedroom at home. At first, husband Richard, 43, thought her hobby eccentric – until magnet therapy had a startling effect on the eczema from which he had suffered. “I put a strong magnetic mattress pad on the bed and didnít tell him,” Curtin says. “After two weeks, his eczema started to clear up. Now heís enormously proud of what I do.”
Curtinís therapies are easy to deride. There are few studies to “prove” her effectiveness. But she has made an enormous difference to the lives of many people with conditions that modern medicine hasnít cured – fear of flying, juvenile arthritis, insomnia, asthma and eczema. But Curtin says her greatest joy came from the improvements in Tom: “When he was diagnosed as autistic three years ago, he was violent and would never make eye contact. Now I have a very happy child who will look you in the eye, talk to everyone and enjoy imaginative play. Thatís what makes me really happy.”