The Truth About Psychic Surgery

Psychic surgery is a dangerous scam that may have even resulted in the early death of some patients

The process of performing surgery with the bare hands and seemingly removing harmful matter or diseased tissue from another person’s body is known as “psychic surgery”. Psychic surgeons were once described as having abilities that were thought to be “miraculous”. They claimed that their power to perform “psychic healing” was directed by spirits or divine entities. Although the belief in psychic surgery was once fairly widespread, it was eventually exposed as being nothing more than a “sleight of hand” trick performed by frauds and con artists. Today, fortunately, psychic surgery has largely been debunked as a hoax.

Traditionally, the practice of psychic surgery was prevalent among people in Brazil and the Philippines who either had ancestors who were supposedly shamans or were involved in local religious groups that needed “miracles” to attract new followers. During a typical psychic surgery, the surgeon appears to literally push their hands into the patient’s body to miraculously remove whatever diseased tissue or organ is responsible for causing the patient’s illness. Although the procedures are apparently invasive, the patients themselves are conscious and never experience any of the pain, incisions wounds, or scaring typical of most medical surgeries. One explanation once commonly used was that evil spirits put the substance in the patient to make them ill and that the psychic surgeon was able to successfully remove it and heal the wound using only their psychic powers.

Of course, in order to be seen as a success, a psychic surgeon would also have to convince their patient that they were healed of whatever illness they were suffering from. Simply witnessing the “miracle” of the surgery itself was often enough to convince most patients, at least for a while, into believing that they were actually cured. If their symptoms returned, it was often blamed on the patient for not continuing to believe in the “healing” that was performed.

In the early 1900’s psychic surgery was largely an unknown phenomenon outside of the few areas where it was practiced. With the invention of television, however, scenes depicting “psychic surgeons” supposedly removing tumors and other growths from patients’ bodies using only their bare hands soon captured the public’s imagination around the world. With money to be made, “psychic surgeons” began to appear everywhere, including the Unites States.

Many people were skeptical. They accused practitioners of preying on sick and gullible people who would often travel great distances and pay large sums of money to receive a non-existent medical procedure. They also feared that some patients may have even lost their lives because they did not receive timely medical attention from a real doctor because they mistakenly believed they were cured. For this reason, psychic surgery led many to believe that practice was actually potentially dangerous. Magicians in particular called the practice into question, claiming that they often used the same sort of tricks for entertainment, not deception.

Investigators were able to successfully use hidden cameras to expose the fraud by catching one famous Filipino psychic surgeon reaching under a table to pull out hidden chicken entrails he later claimed were removed from a patient’s body. Eventually psychic surgery was completely debunked although it took several years and many similar investigations to fully educate the public. It is one of the worst types of psychic scams and most people now recognize it for it for what it actually is. Fortunately, very few people still believe in it today.

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