Qigong-induced mental disorders: A review

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 

Volume 33, 1999 – Issue 2

Beng-Yeong Ng

Pages 197-206 | Received 29 Apr 1998, Accepted 09 Nov 1998, Published online: 03 May 2010


Objective: 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 ofQigong 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.


About the author:          

Ng Beng-Yeong obtained his medical qualification from the National University of Singapore in 1988. Ever since his stint in military service in 1990 he has been actively involved in psychiatric work. He underwent further psychiatric training at Woodbridge Hospital and the National University Hospital. In 1994 he obtained the Masters of Medicine (Psychiatry) degree and became the first recipient of the prestigious Singapore Psychiatric Association Book Prize. For his extensive research on dissociative disorder in Singapore, he was awarded the Institute of Mental Health Best Free Paper award in 1996 and the Singapore Psychiatric Association Research Prize in 1997. From February 1999 to February 2000 he was attached to the Institute of Psychiatry and Maudsley Hospital, London, where he gained training in neuropsychiatry and psychiatric aspects of HIV. He is the author of “Till The Break of Day”, a well-known historical account of mental health services in Singapore in the period from 1841 to 1993. He is currently working at Singapore General Hospital.


Breathing Spaces: Qigong, Psychiatry and Healing in China

By Nancy N. Chen

Columbia University Press, 2003

“Shortly after the meteoric rise of qigong practice, individuals began to trickle into traditional medical clinics and biomedical hospitals reporting unusual sensations. Ironically, during the height of the fever some individuals practicing qigong began to experience worrisome bouts of vertigo, uncontrollable qi energy, or disturbing visions. As the popularity of qigong spread in urban centres and rural townships through the media and traveling masters, a related phenomenon began to take place in the psychiatric clinics…

Beng-Yeong Ng summarised the way in which a TCM doctor might classify qigong deviation: sensory disturbances related to perceptions of abnormal qi flow, motor disturbances exhibited by uncontrollable or spasmodic movement stemming from qi blockages, or psychic disturbances such as altered consciousness, spirit possession, distracting thoughts, and mental derangement (1999, 2000).”


Making Martial Arts History Matter

The International Journal of the History of Sport 

Paul Bowman

Published online: 25 Aug 2016


This paper examines key ways in which ideas such as ‘tradition’, ‘authenticity’, and ‘history’ are deployed in discourses around Asian martial arts. First introducing how such concepts are used in national contexts such as Korea and elsewhere in East Asia it then examines the case of a dispute between two English language writers on martial arts. It examines these different cases to illustrate the ways that ‘tradition’, ‘authenticity’, and ‘history’ can be deployed for different ideological ends, from nationalism to personal self-advancement, in different contexts. In doing so, the paper theorizes the consequences of antagonisms that have recently arisen between common beliefs about certain Asian martial arts and historical studies that challenge such beliefs. It concludes that the discursive status of ‘history’ is not fixed or permanent, but varies depending on context. This is the case to such an extent that the status of ‘history’ can be said to have changed decisively. Ultimately, the paper argues for the value of rigorous scholarship even when it runs counter to cultural beliefs, and highlights the significance of such scholarship for showing the ways in which martial arts history matters in more contexts and registers than martial arts alone.

Full Text available: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09523367.2016.1212842

Wushu Belongs to the World…

But the gold goes to China…: The international development of the Chinese martial arts

International Review for the Sociology of Sport

Marc Theeboom,Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Dong Zhu, Shanghai University of Sport, China

Jikkemien Vertonghen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

published 28 April 2015, 10.1177/1012690215581605.


Since the mid-1980s, China has been promoting wushu (also known as kung fu) as an international competitive sport towards Olympic recognition. But despite the efforts of the International Wushu Federation, to date, wushu has not entered the Olympics. Data were collected of countries’ medal winning performances at the World Wushu Championships since 1991. The findings of this study clearly showed China’s unchanged dominant position, thereby making it questionable if wushu has really turned into an international sport. This paper discusses two discourses that have been used to describe wushu’s international position: an enrichment discourse to emphasise the potential of wushu to deliver added value to global sports; and a compromise discourse highlighting the dangers of detraditionalisation in order to internationalise. It further attempts to analyse underlying mechanisms that may account for wushu’s current international status.



Chinese New Year Photo Competition

Prizes to win! To celebrate the 2018 Chinese New Year, the Wushu Herald announces competition for the best photos taken in Australia during the two weeks of festivities. 

We invite you to send your current celebrations photos with brief description to herald@auswushu.com.au. The best photos will be published on our website and the authors of the top three will be awarded cash prizes:

1 place: $50
2 place: $30
3 place: $15

Photos must be of good quality and resolution (at least 300 dpi), have some relation to Wushu, Tai Chi or Qigong and contain some action! Please do not send us static group photos or pictures of dishes you are about to eat!

The deadline for this competition is Sunday 4 March 2018. The photos will be published and the results will be announced on Friday 9 March.

Good luck!