• Sidney M Greenfield Ph.D.


This paper seeks to explain unusual surgeries performed withour antisepsis or anesthesia in which patients bleed but minimally when cut. experience little if any pain, do nor develop infections or other post-surgical complications and furthermore, recover. Operations performed by three Brazilian Spiritists healer-mediums are described. The explanation of the Kardecist-Spiritists, whose belief system informs the surgeries and other healings, is presented and examined. The author then seeks an objective, scientific explanation for the phenomena in recent developments in new fields within biomedicine and in psychosomatic healing. Ernest. L. Rossi's model (as developed in The Psychology oJlvfind-Body Healing) which focuses on information flow as a way to resolve the mind-body problem, is taken as a point of departure. Rossi proposes that hypnosis can be used therapeutically to introduce information ar the level of the psyche that is then transduced ro the endocrine system, the immune system, etc., activating them ro contribute to the healing process. Observing that hypnosis, as undersrood and used in the individualistic west, usually requires someone to induce a patient so that healing and therapy may be initiated (by suggestion), the aurhor then turns to the comparative record of anthropology to show that individuals regularly enter into trance states during religious rituals where they also are exposed to alternative real ities in which there are forces and beings believed able to both cause and cure illness. This information, it is hypothesized, is transmitted symbolically to the psyches of individuals in both words and images. The results of anthropological studies of the role of symbols in healing are summarized. Adding the cultural dimension of trance states induced during religious rimal in which suggestions that come from the alternative reality are transduced to the psyche of the individual and then to his/her endocrine. immune, and other systems, Rossi's model is expanded and hypothesized as an explanation for rhe surgeries and other supernaturally meditated healings. An experiment conducted to test the model is presented.