Faith is an astounding thing; it has the ability to convince the body to heal itself, the eyes to see things that don’t exist, and the mind to calm. It is also responsible for big-haired embezzling televangelists and charlatans that claim to speak on God’s [or insert deity of choice here] behalf and make people pay money for pretty questionable treatments. I know this a controversial point of view, but I’m going to say it anyway… faith alone WILL NOT heal – go to a doctor!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about the less than creditable and less than scientifically proven psychic healers – oh, and I’m expecting my fair share of blowback, so bring it.
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Few pseudoscientific medical practitioners can claim a celebrity victim, but psychic surgery has that disgraceful distinction. The avant-garde absurdist comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman, famous for his role as Latka Gravas on the long-running TV series Taxi, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer in late 1983. Eventually, after traditional medicine had run its course unsuccessfully, he sought the help of a spirit surgeon in the Philippines.
After a six-week course of “procedures”, he returned to the United States and unfortunately died of kidney failure due to metastasis of the cancer he was first diagnosed with. The video above talks about the groundbreaking comedian’s death, in which everybody’s favorite marble-mouthed magician Criss Angel – MINDFREAK! [with a gestural flourish]. Sorry, couldn’t help myself – demonstrates the debunked practice of psychic surgery.
Although he unnecessarily Goths the whole thing up for the sake of showmanship, even licking his finger when he made the first “incision”, it demonstrates how with a bit of sleight of hand, you can create a convincing illusion of removing affected parts of the body. These conmen are disgusting because not only do they take advantage of people’s faith but also take advantage of their hope.
One of the most famous psychic healers in the Philippines is a man named Jun Labo. His story and indoctrination into psychic healing is shaky at best. His previous experience includes treating a mother who was a psychic dentist (yes, a dentist who doesn’t use tools or anesthesia… as if dentists couldn’t be any more terrifying) and, according to Labo himself, he first realized he had the gift of healing at the age of 15 but was afraid of the visions that came with it.
He is a local celebrity, a playboy, and the former mayor of the town in which he resides, yet at the same time insists he isn’t a self-promoter. He not only treated Andy Kaufman (which chalked his death up to the fact that the disease was too advanced to heal), but also the murdering, bloody Libyan dictator and terrorist funder Muammar Gaddafi (apparently, he thought the genocidal maniac “was a very nice person”). You’d think someone with psychic abilities would be able to sniff out someone with a dubious and dark past. I guess it’s outside his qualifications.
Unfortunately, as hope exists across the world, so does the potential to make money off it. Outside of the Philippines, it actually manifests in a different way: from faith healing to prayer healing or complete dismissal of traditional medicine. These religious zealots have even refused traditional medicine for their children, resulting in their death.
In one case, a couple not only inadvertently killed one but two of their kids when they refused to take them to the hospital after their being stricken with treatable pneumonia. In another case, so-called parents Wenona and Travis Rossiter refused to take their 12-year-old daughter to hospital, which resulted in the girl’s death due to childhood diabetes.
In both cases, the parents believed that their children could be helped exclusively by prayer but were tragically proven wrong. Another worrisome movement that still has religious roots, although slightly unrelated to spirit healing, is the anti-vaccination movement. As to the health effects, non-vaccination has the potential to resurrect deadly diseases that had almost been eradicated.
Other Forms of Crockery
As primitive societies seldom distinguish between spirituality and healing, there are many forms and runoffs of these techniques. In Native American and Mesoamerican culture, their shamans were proficient herbalists using what the earth offered to heal. They also crudely cut people’s skulls open and wrapped the head of infants to shape their skulls, so the validity of smoking herbs or chanting might be debatable.
The Chinese have the long contested acupuncture treatment. Even western countries have the Christian tradition of “laying hands” and chiropractors (which many physicians question their benefit). The Japanese meanwhile have Reiki which is purported to convey the healers’ metaphysical energy to the ailing, helping their mental state and promoting healing.
How Someone Becomes a Spirit Healer
Although the qualifications necessary to become a spirit healer are less than standard, anyone that is interested in making a buck off of the most desperate of people can apply to a school established by none other than the psychic surgery rockstar himself, Jun Labo. I’d add a link but I couldn’t find anything on the Internet about it other than references to the school. There’s the International Metaphysical University, on the other hand, but I’m not sure it’s right yahoo school or another one.
Otherwise, if you’re a convincing con artist, you can develop an interesting origin story that involves visions, your first accidental healing, and which deity/spirit presides over or throughout your procedures. Oops, I forgot the quotation marks: “procedures”. Ah, much better.
The Benefit of Touch
We’re talking about good touching here of course, this isn’t about sexual harassment. The good type of touching is needed as it helps relieves stress and increases hormone levels that promote social cohesion through interpersonal trust, all of which is surprisingly beneficial for psychological health. Ultimately, the benefit of psychic healing might lay in the fact that human contact helps mental state, and a healthy mental state promotes faster healing – if the healing doesn’t demand the intervention of traditional medicine due to the ailment’s severity, of course.
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Do you believe in psychic healing? Have you ever visited a psychic healer or know someone who has? Would you like to share your experience with us? Let us know in the comments section below!