This is taken from https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ebook/article/arigo_healer-497.pdf
This is in place of the actual copy of the book: "Arigo, Surgeon With the Rusty Knife"
ArigoJosé Pedro de Freitas (1918-1971), known as Zé Arigo or Arigo, was aBrazilian mediumistic healer celebrated for an apparent ability to makeinstant diagnoses, prescribe unusual but effective medications, andeven to perform surgery without anesthetic, while possessed by ‘spiritdoctors’ in a trance state.Details are drawn from John Fuller’s 1974 biography Arigo: Surgeon ofthe Rusty Knife, unless otherwise stated.BackgroundThe context of Arigo’s life and practice is a culture sympathetic toreligion and the supernatural, one in which his healing activity could flourish. The strong Brazilian belief in mediumship,reincarnation and after-death communication evolved from two main sources. Spiritist ideas derived from the teachingsof the nineteenth century French educator and author Allan Kardec were influential among the educated classes, whilereligions that combined elements of Catholicism and African animism were followed by most of the population.At the time Arigo practiced, it was not uncommon for doctors in a modern Brazilian clinic to work alongside mediumistichealers, adopting a pragmatic approach. They tended to claim consistently better outcomes than could have achievedthrough conventional medicine alone.Researching his book, Fuller interviewed satisfied patients of Arigo, doctors and journalists who had encountered him andwitnessed his work, and other interested parties, who included a former president of Brazil Juscelino Kubitschek, Britishconsul HV Walter, Drs Puharich and Belk, and a sympathetic judge. Brazilians provided him with relevant Portuguese-language documents, including Arigo’s diaries and correspondence, court records, research notes, news stories and booksabout the healer.Early LifeJosé Pedro de Freitas was born on his father’s farm near the village of Congonhas do Campo on October 18, 1918, one ofeight brothers, and as a child was nicknamed ‘Arigo’, meaning ‘country bumpkin’. Most of his brothers went on to highereducation, but Arigo dropped out after the third year and worked on the farm. He was a devout Catholic. As a schoolboy heexperienced visions of a ‘bright round light’ and heard ‘a voice that spoke in a strange language’.At the age of 25 Arigo married. He worked in an iron mine until he was fired for leading a strike against harsh workingconditions, then started a restaurant and tavern.In his early thirties, Arigo began suffering a recurring dream, sometimes accompanied by severe headaches. The dreamtypically took place in an operating room, where doctors and nurses worked on a patient, led by a doctor with a stoutphysique and bald head. The doctor spoke with a guttural German voice, and he recognized it as the one he had heard as achild.One night, the dream became a waking vision. The doctor gave his name as Adolpho Fritz and said he had died duringWorld War I with his work on Earth unfinished. He had chosen Arigo as the living vessel to carry on his work, aided byother deceased doctors. Arigo initial reaction was one of panic. He consulted doctors and his priest: medical examinationrevealed nothing wrong; the priest warned him against spiritism and attempted an exorcism.Arigo then began to feel he should submit to the demand of ‘Dr Fritz’. He started to find himself expressing involuntarycommands with healing intent. Meeting a friend who habitually walked with crutches, he yelled ‘it’s about time you got ridof them!’, snatched them away and told the friend to walk—which he did. Verbal commands to become well provedeffective for other friends also. Arigo ceased to be plagued with dreams and headaches, until his priest temporarilypersuaded him to stop these healing efforts, when they immediately returned.Healing Career
In 1950, the following incident occurred. Arigo was involved in an election campaign on behalf of a senator, CarlosAlberto Lucio Bittencourt, who was suffering from lung cancer. The two men stayed at the same hotel. According toBittencourt, he was unable to sleep one night when he observed Arigo enter his room holding a razor, a glazed look on hisface. Arigo, now speaking in a thick German accent, said an operation must be done; Bittencourt lost consciousness.When he woke in the morning, he found his night-shirt cut and bloodstained and saw a clean, neat incision on his back.Arigo said he remembered nothing of this.Bittencourt’s doctor carried out an examination and reported that the tumour had been removed by a surgical techniqueunknown in Brazil; he assumed it had been done in America. The senator, now recovered, spoke publicly about whathappened, causing Arigo to become nationally famous. People began flocking to his village Congonhas do Campo insearch of cure. Eventually he was working 14-16 hours on weekdays, seeing 300-1,000 patients a day. Bus schedules to thevillage were arranged around his practice hours.Arigo declined payment or favour for healings. He sold his business and obtained a junior clerking job.MethodsArigo worked by entering a trance state, during which he appeared to be a different personality: he held his head higherand spoke with a German accent, his eyes seeming somewhat out of focus. He then began seeing patients.Diagnosis was instantaneous: he did not request to see records or ask questions. For some, he would write out aprescription ‘at incredible speed as if his pen were slipping across a sheet of ice’. The medicines he indicated might beconsidered obsolete or, conversely, so new they had not yet reached Brazil (many originated in Germany). With somepatients Arigo carried out rudimentary surgery, plunging a paring knife into a cyst or tumour and quickly removing it. Thepatient could be standing against a wall, or (for major procedures) lying on a table. The operation would be performed inminutes with an unsterilized knife or scalpel and the patient would generally be able to get up, pain-free if shaken. Noanesthesia, antisepsis, cauterization or stitches were used; the incisions would close of themselves. Arigo was observednumerous times stopping blood flow by a prayer.In one instance described by Fuller[W]ithout a word, Arigo picked up a four-inch stainless steel paring knife with a cocobolo-wood handle, and literallyplunged it into the man's left eye, under the lid and deep up into the eye socket... Arigo began violently scraping theknife between the ocular globe and the inside of the lid, pressing up into the sinus area with uninhibited force. Theman was wide awake, fully conscious, and showed no fear whatever. He did not move or flinch. A woman in thebackground screamed. Another fainted. Then Arigo levered the eye so that it extruded from the socket. The patient,still utterly calm, seemed bothered by only one thing: a fly that had landed on his cheek... Arigo hardly looked at hissubject, and at one point turned away to address an assistant while his hand continued to scrape and plunge withoutletup.Examined by a doctor afterward, the eye showed no sign of irritation or redness.Arigo was filmed at work on several occasions (footage by Andrija Puharich can be seen here and here.) Braziliandocumentarist Jorge Rizzini filmed several major operations after Arigo cured his wife of crippling arthritis and hisdaughter of leukemia.Some patients responded well to mere commands; others he touched with his hands, as in the case of lepers. On oneoccasion, Arigo suddenly vomited an enormous amount of bile, then explained that the patient had been possessed by evilspirits, which Arigo had removed; the patient showed immediate improvement.He often dismissed patients, saying a regular doctor could help them; for others he said he could do nothing. He wasunable to treat himself or his relatives.He would work until he had seen all patients who had arrived that day, even if that took until past midnight. Coming out ofthe trance he could remember nothing of what had happened.Notable Patients and ObserversFuller estimated that in total Arigo treated at least a million people. Notables whom he cured included political leaders
and their relatives (for instance the daughter of president Juscelino Kubitschek who suffered from massive kidney stones)army generals, police chiefs, judges, industrialists and prominent journalists.A baby born to the wife of Roberto Carlos, a popular singer, suffered from a type of glaucoma that specialists in Europebelieved to be incurable. Arigo cured it within days, generating another round of national publicity.The British consul to Brazil, HV Walter, observed Arigo curing liver cancer for the sister-in-law of a dentist friend. Henoted that the scissors seemed to move by themselves at times, and the incision closed without stitching.Observations by DoctorsBy the mid 1950s, some Brazilian doctors were starting to take Arigo seriously. Fuller interviewed several who observed hiswork on patients they had declared incurable.Dr Ladeira Margues brought a patient with inoperable ovarian cancer: following treatment by Arigo she recoveredcompletely and eventually bore a healthy child.A young woman with cancerous growths throughout her abdomen had been given two months to live by her physician DrJose Hortencia de Madeiros. Arigo gave her three prescriptions, after which she became tumour-free and recoveredcompletely.Dr Ary Lex had tested mediumistic healers before, and none had passed his tests. He joined two other medical professorsobserving Arigo perform four operations, including the removal of a liver tumour, and concluded that more research waswarranted.Charges and ImprisonmentsThe Catholic Church and national and provincial medical associations were opposed to Arigo’s practice. In 1956, Arigowas charged with witchcraft, charlatanism and practicing medicine without a license, despite the absence of evidence thathe had caused harm or charged for his services.In 1957, he was sentenced to fifteen months in jail and a fine that would have bankrupted him and his wife, who had nowborne six children. An appeal court slashed the fine and reduced the term to eight months, with a grace period of a year’sprobation prior to serving the sentence. He continued to help the patients who came flocking to the village, while thepolice turned a blind eye. In 1958 he was pardoned by Kubitschek, after which his practice returned to normal.In 1964, at the behest of the Brazilian medical association, Arigo was again charged with witchcraft and sentenced tosixteen months imprisonment. Arigo drove himself to the jail, as no policeman could be found to transport him there.Once incarcerated, he was given a key to his cell so that he could continue to treat patients covertly, sometimes beingdriven by the prison warden to the nearest town. Crowds seeking relief eventually turned the jail into a clinic. Arigo’ssentence was halved, then cancelled, after the region’s chief justice, at the urging of Puharich, watched him perform acataract removal.American ResearchDrs Puharich and Henry Belk visited Arigo in 1963 and resolved to undertake extensive research on his abilities. Puharichasked Arigo to perform an eye exam on him with his knife: Arigo refused, considering it unnecessary; however, he waswilling to remove a lipoma on Puharich’s arm that Puharich had hesitated to have removed, due to its proximity to theulnar nerve and brachial artery. While Rizzini’s cameras rolled, Arigo asked Puharich to look away, and put the removedlipoma and the knife into Puharich’s hand within seconds without having caused Puharich any pain. (Footage of thisoperation is included in this video, starting at about 22:40.)Belk told Arigo about back pain that had troubled him for years, and received a prescription that, as a doctor, he foundodd. However, within three weeks the pain was gone.Puharich and Belk resolved to attempt to verify Arigo’s cures by obtaining patients’ medical records before and after.Among 545 patients for which there were diagnostic records, it was found that Arigo’s instant diagnoses agreed with thosemade by the patients’ doctors in 518 cases (95%).
Preparations were made for a much more extensive course of research involving more personnel and medical equipment,and the team travelled to Congonhas do Campo in May 1968. Despite precautions, word got out, and their work washindered by the presence of large numbers of reporters. The researchers were forced to flee when the reporters stormedArigo’s house, following a false report that he intended to visit the US. By this time, the provincial medical association hadreversed its opposition and decided that its own doctors should continue the research, analysing existing records of curesby Arigo, including two child leukemia cases where cure could be confirmed by white blood cell counts.Commentary and CriticismParanormal ExplanationsA spiritist group reported having received communication from Dr Fritz, and that he had revealed he had spent sixteenyears preparing Arigo to act as his medium.Another medium stated that each diagnosis was made by deceased physicians led by Dr Fritz before the patient met withArigo. The doctors had only touched the surface of medical knowledge while they were incarnate but now, in the otherworld, had limitless expertise.J Herculano Pires, a philosopher and follower of the teachings of Kardec, interviewed Arigo when he was channelling DrFritz in a trance state. At this time, ‘Dr Fritz’ stated that he had been born in Munich, moved to Poland at age four, livedthere until he moved to Estonia in 1914, where he died in 1918. Fritz said he had become a good surgeon but made severalbad mistakes, and in recompense wished now to cure as many living people as he could.Attempts to verify the existence of Dr Fritz from historical record failed.Called as a witness in a trial of Arigo, Dr Jair Leonardo Lopes speculated that the healer had the power of extrasensoryperception:He is a clairvoyant and has other exceptional faculties we can neither define nor understand. He diagnoses byclairvoyance. He “sees” the affected organs inside the patient’s body. Through telepathy, he knows what otherdoctors prescribe for the illness or he knows what has worked in similar cases.Puharich described the sensation he felt when Arigo guided his hand putting a knife into a patient’s eye, saying it was notat all like the usual feel of a blade on flesh:Take a pair of magnets and find the like poles of each. Then hold one magnet in each hand and bring the like polestoward each other. You will now experience repulsive forces between the two like magnetic poles ... when I movedthe knife into the tissues of the eyeball and the eye socket, I felt a repulsive force between the tissues and the knife.No matter how hard I pressed in, there was an equal and opposite force acting on my knife to prevent it from touchingthe tissues.ScepticsIn a critical review, sceptic Martin Gardner rejected Fuller’s account, calling it ‘despicable’. Gardner criticized the authorfor accepting anecdotes as facts and charged that his book would encourage some sick patients to expose themselves toquackery, perhaps dying ‘a needless death’.In a published reply, Fuller characterized Gardner’s review as ‘calumny’ and provided detailed rebuttals. He writes:In combing the voluminous trial records, I found that they recorded time after time that there was no testimony thatArigo had harmed anyone is his quarter of a century practice. Furthermore, your reviewer ignores the fact that I haveand quote the opinions of many doctors and scientists who observed and investigated Arigo.Parapsychology detractor Joe Nickell attributed the success of Arigo’s pharmaceutical prescriptions to the placebo effect.He noted that Arigo’s healings benefited his brother, who owned the town pharmacy, implying a pecuniary motive.Stage conjuror James Randi claimed that Arigo’s prescriptions were ‘useless’ and described the operations as ‘ordinary’.He also published a photograph of himself inserting a knife under his own eye-lid without feeling pain.Death
Arigo had long dreamed of building a hospital in Congonhas do Campo, which would enable detailed research of hispowers as well as providing patient accommodation. By late 1970, architectural designs were about to be started and plansfor joint American-Brazilian research well-formed. Arigo, however, was troubled by visions of a black crucifix—a sign ofimpending death he had seen before, shortly before the death of Senator Bittencourt in a car accident. More than onefriend heard Arigo predict he would soon die a violent death.On January 11, 1971, Arigo drove through heavy rain to a nearby town to buy a car. His vehicle crashed into another,having drifted into the oncoming lane. An autopsy showed that Arigo had died of a coronary, moments before he crashed.He was 52 years old. He was buried in the Congonhas do Campo cemetery, mourned throughout Brazil.It was reported that Dr Fritz appeared to Arigo’s younger brother Eli asking him to continue Arigo’s work, but Eli, asuccessful law student, was not interested, and the family also was opposed.Karen WehrsteinLiteratureFuller, J.G. (1974a). Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife. New York: Thomas E. Crowell.Fuller, J.G. (1974b). Trick or Treatment. New York Review of Books. July 18.http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1974/07/18/trick-or-treatment/Gardner, M. (1974). What Hath Hoova Wrought? New York Review of Books, May 16.Gardner, M. (1981). Science Good, Bad and Bogus. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York.Nickell, J. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. New York: PrometheusBooks.Randi, J. (1982). Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions. New York: Prometheus Books, pp 174-6.ReferencesFootnotes1.ˆ Fuller, 1974a, p. 27.2.ˆ Fuller, 1974a, p. 25.3.ˆ retrieved February 28, 2018.4.ˆ retrieved February 28, 2018.5.ˆ Lopes, 1965, Em Defesa de Arigo. Belo Horizonte. Cited in Fuller, 1974a, p. 170.6.ˆ Fuller, 1974a, p. 258.7.ˆ Gardner, 1974; see also Gardner, 1981, pp. 275-288.8.ˆ Fuller, 1974b.9.ˆ Nickell, 1993, p. 161.10.ˆ Randi, 1982, pp. 174-6.© Psi Encyclopedia