From: <CEvans1950@aol.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 08:02:30 EDT


Here is a faith healer that I imagine most laying-on-of-hands Christians would decry, and yet is there any meaningful difference between his practices and those of the other psychosmatic-doctors of the world?

I don't think so.

It would seem likely that those subject to psychosomatically-aided cures were subject to psychososmatically caused-or-influenced ailments. Or perhaps psychosmatic cures can aid in even non-psychosomatically-induced diseases. The efficacy of head-trip medicine has nothing to do with the truth of the associated legends (since there are so damned many conflicting versions of them) and everything to do with the malleability of the human mind.


Fredric L. Rice, the Chairman of The Skeptic Tank adds:

Caroline is right: So-called "faith healers" don't do anything fundamentally different than any so-called "witch doctor" in the various developing countries around the world. The faithful still believe in the idiot nonsense sold to them by the frauds which take advantage of their religious superstitions.

FEATURE-Thai witch-doctor buries patients in sand
By Sutin Wannabovorn

BURIRAM, Thailand, June 24 (Reuters) - Pan Rerngprasarn buries his patients up to their necks in hot sand and then stands on them. And they pay for the privilege.

Pan is a witch-doctor in a village 400 km (244 miles) northeast of Bangkok and says he can cure everything from cancer to mental illness with ancient Cambodian healing arts.

His patients, some considered hopeless by doctors practising conventional medicine, travel from far and wide to Pan's village and all seem to believe that Pan's treatment works.

"I use four elements -- earth, wind, fire and water -- and combine them with Cambodian magic power to cure these hopeless patients who have already given up on modern hospitals," said Pan, who learned his method from a guru 40 years ago.

Pan, 81, starts treating people by touching their foreheads, making them drink holy water and blowing his magic power on to them.

He then rubs herbal medicines into their bodies and buries them naked in specially-built sand holes, where they stay for at least an hour.

"Blowing their head represents the wind element, holy water is water, rubbing medicine and burying in sand represent earth," Pan explained the comprising four elements.


The patients who visit Pan come from all walks of life and suffer from a variety of conditions ranging from cancer to kidney problems, paralysis and mental disorders.

They come in wheel chairs, with walking sticks and on other people's backs to visit and at any one time there are 35 patients in beds, and hundreds of others are outpatients seeking daily treatment at his shack home.

Patients say the magic and herbal medicines of the man they call "Father" have cured them and brought back their lives.

"I feel relieved and my condition is improving steadily," said Prasobsri Kamsuree, 58, emerging after an hour buried in the sand in the full glare of the midday sun.

Prasobsri, a millionaire businesswoman who owns one of Thailand's biggest gasoline stations, has ovarian cancer.

She has already had an operation, and has had the full benefit of modern medical treatment but has finally turned to Pan and his remedies.

"Eight months after the operation I kept bleeding and I felt that my chance of survival had gone. I gave up modern medical treatment and came here for my last hope," she said.

She said her condition had improved steadily and her bleeding had now stopped.


The provincial health office says Pan's treatment is dangerous and difficult to assess independently. Because people trust and believe in his method, the authorities say there is nothing they can do to stop patients visiting him.

Conventional doctors say some of Pan's methods are especially dangerous.

Pan's "fire massage" is one such treatment, which involves stepping on a patient's stomach with feet heated up by contact with a sheet of burning iron.

Pan's 70 kg can do real harm, doctors say.

An official at the public health office of Buriram Province, northeast Thailand, said Pan and his treatment were the subject of a local investigation.

The official, who declined to be identified, gave no other details. He said there was a possibility that legal action might be taken to stop Pan practising.


But Pan says he has cured more than 10,000 patients since he began practising 40 years ago and stresses he treats all patients for free as an act of "merit-making," to improve his chances of a better reincarnation.

His patients, in traditional Thai fashion, pay homage to Pan in exchange for treatment. Patients say they pay 420 baht each for a "master of ceremony" fee and 20 baht for each round of additional treatment.

"I use my magic power and meditation to find the raw material of herbal medicine from the jungles and put the magic power into it," Pan said.

Pan says he wants to retire and only keeps going to please his patients.

"I have been thinking of retiring but these hopeless patients keep coming to me. I cannot turn them down. But I may stop treatment in the near future," he said.

"This may be the last year."

($1 - 41 baht)

21:36 06-23-98

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.


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