Psychic surgery is a form of spiritual woo commonly practised in Brazil and the Philippines in which a "doctor" performs typically unsterilised, invasive surgery on a patient without any surgical instrument whatsoever, and leaves no visible scar. It can be summed up as a non-doctor performing non-surgery.
What it is
Psychic surgery is, in reality, a fraud that makes extensive use of sleight of hand to deceive wealthy Western customers. The material supposedly removed from the patient's body is usually from an animal, and the blood is released from a vial, not the body, with palming or another trick. The practice received publicity in 1984 when comedian Andy Kaufman paid for psychic surgery in a misguided attempt to remove a tumor. Negative attention caused psychic surgery to be widely abandoned in favor of other alternative medicines.
Psychic surgery is relatively side effect-free other than possible staining with chicken guts, and loss of earnings… however the main danger is when seriously ill people such as Andy Kaufman take it seriously. Then it gives false hope and may stop them getting proper medical attention.
- Therapies.com Offering trips for psychic surgery and training courses
- psychic "surgery", entry in The Skeptic's Dictionary
- Highly pro-woo biography of woo-meister general Alex L. Orbito
- James Randi "performing" psychic surgery on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson