Miraculous medium-healers of Brazil

#1
I've just got done reading a book titled "Spirits with Scalpels", written by Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Sidney Greenfield. In a span of over 20 years Greenfield documented 4 medium-healers of Brazil, capturing footage and photos of these individuals at work. These healers had revealed that during their operations there bodies would become possessed by spirit doctors, allowing them to heal ill individuals using physical means. The surprising thing is that many of these healers only had a grade school level education (one having only made it past the first grade). However, these medium-healers would perform complex surgical procedures; removing tumors, growths, cysts, and even scrape away pterygium with household tools. Often times these individuals would use butter knives, kitchen knives, rusty scalpels, etc. to perform their procedures. None of the tools that were used were sterilized. The procedures were completed in a fraction of the time of modern day standard medical procedures. The medium-healers would not even wear gloves during the procedures, and would often get bystanders to feel inside the wounds without proper means of sterilization as well. The patients would be awake during these procedures, and were given no anesthetics or antisepsis, reporting little to no pain and no infection. The medium-healers would see up to 300 patients a day, not charging a dime for there services. Many of the patients were deemed terminal by their western trained medical practitioners, only to later be healed by these various medium-healers. Some of the patients were in fact doctors themselves! To prove the validity of his experience Greenfield displayed his footage at a magician conference in Chicago, in which 400 stage magicians were in attendance, in which they concluded that the procedures were in fact real. I would definitely recommend reading the book, in which there are photos of some of the procedures that had taken place and plenty of great information.

Below is a video showing one of the medium-healers (Edson Quieroz possessed by Dr. Fritz, a WWI German Doctor) performing 3 operations on various ailments. Warning, the video is graphic:

What are your general thoughts on these cases?

For opponents of paranormal/ psi phenomenon, what are your thoughts?
 
Last edited:
#2
I've just got done reading a book title "Spirits with Scalpels", written by Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Sidney Greenfield. In a span of over 20 year Greenfield documented 4 medium-healers of Brazil, capturing footage and photos of these individuals at work. These healers had revealed that during their operations there bodies would become possessed by spirit doctors, allowing them to heal ill individuals using physical means. The surprising thing is that many of these healers only had a grade school level education (one having only made it past the first grade). However, these medium-healers would perform complex surgical procedures; removing tumors, growths, cysts, and even scrape away pterygium with household tools. Often times these individuals would use butter knives, kitchen knives, rusty scalpels, etc. to perform their procedures. None of the tools that were used were sterilized. The procedures were completed in a fraction of the time of modern day standard medical procedures. The medium-healers would not even wear gloves during the procedures, and would often get bystanders to feel inside the wounds without proper means of sterilization as well. The patients would be awake during these procedures, and were given no anesthetics or antisepsis, reporting little to no pain and no infection. The medium-healers would see up to 300 patients a day, not charging a dime for there services. Many of the patients were deemed terminal by their western trained medical practitioners, only to later be healed by these various medium-healers. Some of the patients were in fact doctors themselves! To prove the validity of his experience Greenfield displayed his footage at a magician conference in Chicago, in which 400 stage magicians were in attendance, in which they concluded that the procedures were in fact real. I would definitely recommend reading the book, in which there are photos of some of the procedures that had taken place and plenty of great information.

Below is a video showing one of the medium-healers (Edson Quieroz possessed by Dr. Fritz, a WWI German Doctor) performing 3 operations on various ailments. Warning, the video is graphic:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IxljQmTzYRI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

What are your general thoughts on these cases?

For opponents of paranormal/ psi phenomenon, what are your thoughts?
My first thought is why you assume this has anything to do with the paranormal? My second thought is "the operation was a success, but the patient died". Can we know for certain none of these patients exhibited post surgical complications? Last thought, why do you uncritically accept this person was possessed by the spirit of Dr. Fritz? Very last thought. It appears remarkable, but it is a stretch to call it miraculous without a thorough forensic investigation of what actually is taking place.
 
#3
Steve001, read the literature that I have mentioned. Regardless of your opinion on the topic, it really is an interesting read! Greenfield did follow ups with patients that utilized these medium-healers. As I stated as well, many of the patients were doctors themselves. What is your explanation as to how an individual who was a brick layer by profession, who only completed the first grade, but somehow was able to remove a tumor utilizing household tools?....not to mention that he also did not use any anesthetics or antisepsis.

I didn't state that I accept anything...I'm just stating that is what the medium-healer had claimed. I don't know where you got that?

Also, do you think that if people were reporting complications (infections, death, etc) that these medium-healers would still be relied upon? A lot of the patients were referrals from previous patients.
 
Last edited:
#4
I have no explanation, but I don't assume it automatically indicates psi.
Yes I do think people would use these medium healers when local medical facilities are not available, people can't afford medical treatment... People relie upon psychic healers too when that's all they have.
You wrote: "For opponents of paranormal/ psi phenomenon, what are yourthoughts?"
I made an incorrect assumption of you thinking this was indicative for psi
 
#5
I really don't have an explanation either. And I agree, that people who can't afford medical treatment can make use of said healers. However, there were no demographics that these individuals did not serve. Yes, they performed operations on individuals who did not have monetary means to do so with modern medicine. But many of the patients were diplomats, doctors, etc. people who actually have ways to obtain services by standard practitioners.

I think what's even more telling is that regardless of the service that was rendered, these individuals did not take a dime. Often times seeing hundreds of patients a day.

And no worries, in stating that I just wanted to see what both sides of the fence have to say. Thanks!
 
Last edited:
#6
Bsanch123,

Congratulations for starting your time at Skeptiko with such an interesting discussion!

Steve001,

If you want to contribute further in this thread, please make some sort of positive suggestion as to what conventional explanation there could be for this phenomenon. I don't think it is relevant or useful to point out that some of the patients were too poor to access conventional medicine.

David
 
#7
Thanks, David! I don't think there is a conventional explanation (at least in terms of how medicine is practiced today). And if you dive into the literature, the procedures that these medium-healers performed are even more astounding. In my opinion cases like this are refreshing, because they reveal that there is a lot we still do not know.
 
#8
Steve001, read the literature that I have mentioned.
He won't. Steve does not bother reading actual scientific papers when one tries to play within his comfort zone and this is way "over there" for him. So, don't waste your time or he will flood the thread with superfluous replies (eventually composed of only a few sentences, and that's being generous) and the discussion will be lost to triviality.
 
#9
By Steve001 stating that he "does not have an explanation" is a good start. I don't expect anyone to just believe something without some type of evidence, especially with something as far out as this! However, I like this example because many who are opposed to psi/ paranormal phenomenon as being anecdotal, having weak statistical evidence, flawed in some way, misrepresented, and the list goes on. Opponents want stronger evidence, and it is my opinion that these cases with medium-healers provide some very "in your face" kind of evidence. At the very least they should make close minded opponents open their minds a bit.
 
#10
By Steve001 stating that he "does not have an explanation" is a good start. I don't expect anyone to just believe something without some type of evidence, especially with something as far out as this! However, I like this example because many who are opposed to psi/ paranormal phenomenon as being anecdotal, having weak statistical evidence, flawed in some way, misrepresented, and the list goes on. Opponents want stronger evidence, and it is my opinion that these cases with medium-healers provide some very "in your face" kind of evidence. At the very least they should make close minded opponents open their minds.
Point out where you see evidence of psi at work. What I see is a person making incisions then sticking his probing finger into that incision and after a short time pulling a lump of soft tissue out. What's psi about that? As for why these people seem to feel no pain I have no explanation, which does not mean there is not someone(s) with greater knowledge who does.
 
Last edited:
#11
Steve001, what is your reasoning as to how these individuals (many with grade school level educations) are able to perform complex surgical procedures (without tools and modern medicine)? How were these individuals able to operate without anesthetics and antisepsis? How did patients not get infected?

When you watch a man, with a 3rd grade level education, shove a pearing knife into the back of a patients eye without severing the optic nerve or at the very least causing any damage it makes it very difficult to explain with conventional understanding.

Did you watch the entirety of the youtube vid?
 
#12
How would someone obtain the knowledge to perform complex surgeries (many in which require specialization in certain surgical areas), without proper training, schooling, etc? Would you let a man with a 3rd grade education perform eye surgery on you?
 
#13
Steve001, what is your reasoning as to how these individuals (many with grade school level educations) are able to perform complex surgical procedures (without tools and modern medicine)? How were these individuals able to operate without anesthetics and antisepsis? How did patients not get infected?

When you watch a man, with a 3rd grade level education, shove a pearing knife into the back of a patients eye without severing the optic nerve or at the very least causing any damage it makes it very difficult to explain with conventional understanding.

Did you watch the entirety of the youtube vid?
I've only seen what's been shown in this thread. It looks interesting enough for me to delve further. Anesthetics aren't necessary, there is a ceremony done by the Lakota people called the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance is done by non native Americans too. In that ceremony the participants put themselves into an altered state of mind where they feel no pain where extreme pain would be expected from what I've see. There are similar ceremonies worldwide. That's how these patients may not feel any pain, an altered state of mind.
 
Last edited:
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#14
Thanks, David! I don't think there is a conventional explanation (at least in terms of how medicine is practiced today). And if you dive into the literature, the procedures that these medium-healers performed are even more astounding. In my opinion cases like this are refreshing, because they reveal that there is a lot we still do not know.
Reminds me of the case Krippner reported on regarding a shamanic healing ceremony:


More on Native American Consciousness & Spirituality here.

More on Shamanism here.
 
#15
Steve001, yes sir, great point. That is also mentioned in the book. I agree that an altered state of consciousness would be needed.

Sci, in another book "Spiritism and Mental Health" Krippner recalled an account with a medium-healer, named Luis Augusto de Queiroz. He had sought his treatment for prostate cancer. After his experience with the healer, Krippner, who had seen his doctor twice a year since his diagnosis was only required to see his doctor once a year after they noticed steady PSA levels. His levels remained at the same low levels for years.
 
Last edited:
#16
I've just got done reading a book titled "Spirits with Scalpels", written by Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Sidney Greenfield. In a span of over 20 year Greenfield documented 4 medium-healers of Brazil, capturing footage and photos of these individuals at work. These healers had revealed that during their operations there bodies would become possessed by spirit doctors, allowing them to heal ill individuals using physical means. The surprising thing is that many of these healers only had a grade school level education (one having only made it past the first grade). However, these medium-healers would perform complex surgical procedures; removing tumors, growths, cysts, and even scrape away pterygium with household tools. Often times these individuals would use butter knives, kitchen knives, rusty scalpels, etc. to perform their procedures. None of the tools that were used were sterilized. The procedures were completed in a fraction of the time of modern day standard medical procedures. The medium-healers would not even wear gloves during the procedures, and would often get bystanders to feel inside the wounds without proper means of sterilization as well. The patients would be awake during these procedures, and were given no anesthetics or antisepsis, reporting little to no pain and no infection. The medium-healers would see up to 300 patients a day, not charging a dime for there services. Many of the patients were deemed terminal by their western trained medical practitioners, only to later be healed by these various medium-healers. Some of the patients were in fact doctors themselves! To prove the validity of his experience Greenfield displayed his footage at a magician conference in Chicago, in which 400 stage magicians were in attendance, in which they concluded that the procedures were in fact real. I would definitely recommend reading the book, in which there are photos of some of the procedures that had taken place and plenty of great information.

Below is a video showing one of the medium-healers (Edson Quieroz possessed by Dr. Fritz, a WWI German Doctor) performing 3 operations on various ailments. Warning, the video is graphic:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IxljQmTzYRI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

What are your general thoughts on these cases?

For opponents of paranormal/ psi phenomenon, what are your thoughts?
Amazing, bsanch. There's another video here:


Incidentally, you can embed videos by clicking the media icon (fifth icon from right of the main group of icons in the icon bar at the top of the reply box) and entering the URL of the video.

Sidney Greenfield's book is rather expensive, but I found a PDF of one of his papers here (just click to download the PDF). He offers explanation in terms of hypnosis and also gives the traditional explanation in terms of spirit possession.

I don't know what's going on, but for the moment am inclined to be accepting of the phenomenon -- there's plainly no trickery, and real incisions are made, without anaesthesic or sterility procedures being employed. I'm just trying to find any reports of actual patients as to the outcomes of their operations; Greenfield reports that they are successful, but it would be nice to be able to confirm that. If anyone can locate any links to such reports, please do post them.
 
Last edited:
#17
Michael, thanks for the heads up!

The book is a little on the pricey side, however it gives 3 more examples of medium healers, as well as some documented photos. One guy actually uses an electric table saw to operate on his patients vertebrae.

In the book Greenfield does follow ups with previous patients. However, in my opinion given the amount of people that were being seen you would think someone would be came out and claimed infection, death, etc. I couldn't find any documentation for negative claims.

In addition to that I do not believe they would have had the large amounts of patients (in the hundreds per day) if they were unsuccessful. Thoughts?
 
Last edited:
#18
Michael, thanks for the heads up!

The book is a little on the pricey side, however it gives 3 more examples of medium healers, as well as some documented photos. One guy actually uses an electric table saw to operate on his patients vertebrae.

In the book Greenfield does follow ups with previous patients. However, in my opinion given the amount of people that were being seen you would think someone would be came out and claimed infection, death, etc. I couldn't find any documentation for negative claims.

In addition to that I do not believe they would have had the large amounts of patients (in the hundreds per day) if they were unsuccessful. Thoughts?
Perhaps I should have said reports BY patients rather than OF patients. It's not that I doubt Greenfield, so much as I'm looking for independent corroboration. There's quite a lot about Edson Quieroz (now deceased, apparently) on the Web, but it seems to be largely in Portuguese, which I don't speak, unfortunately. There should be something somewhere and if anyone can find it, please post link(s) here.
 
#19
I've done some searching too, and I'm curious as to why there's not much data on medium healers....obviously they were doing something pretty incredible. You would think there would at least be some skeptical articles.
 
#20
I've done some searching too, and I'm curious as to why there's not much data on medium healers....obviously they were doing something pretty incredible. You would think there would at least be some skeptical articles.
I did find this research paper by Sidney. M. Greenfield Ph.D "A model explaining Brazilian spiritist surgeries and other unusual religious based healings"
I can't provide a link via my mobile, but using the title you'll find it. The paper gives cultural, physiological, physiological, religious reasons why this is possible.
 
Top