(Investigator 212, 2023 September)

Psychic surgery is the gift of performing invasive surgery without anaesthesia, cutting the flesh or leaving a scar. Almost exclusively practiced by the spiritual healers of the Philippines, Tony Agpaoa is probably one of the best known.

The terminally ill, the sick and the desperate from all over the world have been drawn to the Philippines seeking a cure for what ails them with some remarkable results.

The operations are truly amazing to watch. One I witnessed, the removal of a tumor from a male patient’s stomach, I would not have believed had I been told about it instead of seeing it with my own eyes. The "surgeon" kneeded the patient's stomach, his fingers gradually disappearing inside as blood spurted out. Then deftly removing some bloody tissue he wiped off the area and pronounced the man cured. There was no sign of a scar or anything to indicate that an operation had been performed. Sceptics and investigators have on many occasions exposed psychic surgeons as frauds using sleight-of-hand tricks, false thumbs and balloons containing blood. Analysis has shown that tumors allegedly removed from a person's body were in fact animal and not human tissue. Despite the exposures, these operations do in many cases have a beneficial effect particularly on those suffering from psychosomatic illnesses.


There is no doubt, at least to the rational mind, while non-invasive surgery such as that describe above is impressive albeit bizarre to watch, psychic surgery is undoubtedly a fraudulent practice - the illusion relies on sleight of hand and the proclivity of people to believe - it is a form of faith healing attracting thousands of the often desperately ill, many of whom die after being "cured" by a psychic surgeon.

The practitioners have been exposed time and time again on slow motion film and many have ended up in courts of law. An American Federal Court Trade Commission judgement in 1975, determined that "psychic surgery" and "psychic healing" are pure fakery and fraud accomplished by the deception and trickery of the "psychic surgeons" to deceive trusting persons into the false and mistaken belief that human bodies have been opened with the bare hands, diseased material or disease causing material removed and the incision closed all without pain or suffering. Concomitant with fraud, many people jeopardise their lives by opting in favour of "psychic surgery" rather than conventional treatment, and the terminally ill have their hopes falsely raised.

Further reading:

Hines, T. 1988. Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York.

Nolen, William A. 1975. Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle. Fawcett Publications, Inc., Greenwich, Conn.

Randi, James. 1980. Flim-Flam. Lippincott and Crowell. New York.

From: Edwards, H. 1994 Magic Minds Miraculous Moments, Harry Edwards Publications