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Book Review: Psychic Surgery

February 25, 2019



Goodreads Synopsis: In recent years there have been increasing reports of ''healers,'' many of them in the Philippine Islands, who claim the phenomenal ability to perform psychic surgery. These practitioners claim that the human body is opened for surgery without the use of instruments; only the bare hands of the healer touch the patient. The psychic surgeon uses no anesthetic. The patient remains fully conscious but feels no pain.


Although conditions in the primitive chapels in which this profession is practiced are worse than unsanitary, no antiseptics or sanitary precautions are needed. No cases of infection incurred during psychic surgery have been reported. Furthermore, these healers are said to diagnose "psychically" with unfailing accuracy. Thousands of cures of supposedly incurable diseases have been claimed. 


How truthful are these seemingly incredible claims? Reporter Tom Valentine has spent two years examining the phenomenon and observing and photographing psychic surgical operations. He has interviewed numerous psychic surgeons and their patients, and in many instances the patents' medical doctors, a number of whom defied the wishes of the American Medical Association and cooperated with the author. Laboratory reports, tissue and blood sample analyses, and X-rays have been reviewed to determine the effects of psychic surgery. 


In Psychic Surgery Tom Valentine presents the results of her careful study, including photographs of actual operations! His conclusions are startling: psychic surgery is not impossible, is not fakery, is not the result of hypnosis. Nor it is it a miracle. the phenomenon is genuine. Using evidence that Western scientists have only recently amassed on such previously ignored phenomena as yoga and acupuncture, the author offers a hypothesis of how psychic surgery in fact occurs. 


Find on Goodreads and Amazon


Until reading this book I had never heard of psychic surgery, so Valentine’s book was definitely broaching a unique topic and I was interested to learn more about it. 


As you can tell from the synopsis, this book makes a lot of claims about psychic surgery, very few of which the author actually proves.  But first a little background. Tom Valentine was, or is I honestly couldn’t find out if he is still alive, a reporter and researcher of all things of a psychic nature. According to the bio on the back of my copy of the book, he also at one point lived in a community ‘’committed to a life ordained by psychic concerns and values’’.  


At the time of this book’s publication the world was minorly obsessed with so called psychic healers, most of whom lived in the Philippines. The biggest name in this phenomenon was a man named Antonio C. Agpaoa.  According to the book, people from all over the world would travel to see him in hopes of being healed.  At one point he was even arrested in the United States on charges of fraud. 


Antonio, better known as “Tony” Agpaoa claimed he could diagnose people’s health issues just by looking at the person, and furthermore that he could heal them using just his bare hands.  Supposedly he could cut into a person’s body and perform surgery, all without causing them any pain or using any tools.


Throughout Valentine’s book, he attempts to prove that Agpaoa’s claims were true. He talks about going to see Agpaoa, and interviewing various people who had interacted with the man. It was interesting reading this book now in 2019. The book was first published in 1973 and if you were to google ‘’psychic surgery’’ today you would find relatively little on the subject. I wonder what Valentine thinks of the subject today? Or if he would be so easily convinced that psychic surgery is real? While this book was not able to convince me of the reality of the phenomenon in question, it did make me think about subjects regarding healing and the search for healing. A lot of the people looking for help in Agpaoa were at the end of their rope. Doctors were unable to treat them, even to the point of simply not knowing what was wrong with their patients. It’s a hard place to be in, and who can blame them for looking for help anywhere it could be found? I certainly can’t. I even felt a little bit inspired that they had the faith to travel to a different country in search of healing. Living with chronic illnesses and pain is hard and everyone does the best they can to find treatments that work for them.


In the end I was unsure as to how I would rate this book, because while I did enjoy learning about the topic, I also don’t feel like this is a well written book.  Valentine’s attempts at proof are hasty assumptions and tangled logic, and are not convincing at all. 

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