Medicine: Faith, Hands and Auras

Even before he died last year in an automobile accident at the age of 49, the peasant known as Arigó had become a legend in his native Brazil. Claiming to be guided by the wise voice of a long-deceased physician whom he had never known personally, the uneducated healer saw as many as 300 patients a day, diagnosing and treating them in minutes. For some he suggested minor surgery, frequently performing the operations himself with a pocketknife. For others he recommended drugs, writing prescriptions for unorthodox pharmacological combinations that somehow worked. He...

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