Luis’s mother, Celeste, is out of hospital so you’d think that she’d just be pleased to be out of the company of sick people. But, here in the Algarve, people who have been failed by conventional medicine often go to see Wim. Wim is a Dutchman who always reminds me of an ultra-serious Swedish actor playing some Ibsen role; a world-weary frown lining his face. He lives in a house in a field and has queues of people waiting to be zapped. He is a follower of Hulda Clark, an American ´healer´ who was chased out of the US to Mexico where she died of cancer, having not been able to treat herself. From my research I have found out that her basic premise is that all modern medicine is a sham to bolster the profits of drugs companies and that most illnesses can be electrocuted out of existence. Aparently it is particulaly good at targetting viruses deep in cell DNA. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It reminds me of one of the stories of ETA Hoffmann where the mysterious Doktor Mirakel turns up at the right moment to claim his next victim whilst claiming that everything will be well.
You probably get the impression that I am rather skeptical, however, I have been to see him once out of curiosity, and he analyses overall health in a rather holistic way; he and his wife Selma chant a litany like priests at Mass, while he does the laying-on of hands. Now, the spooky thing is that he has an uncanny ability to get it right. When he has finished a consultation, he tells you exactly what is wrong with you, from the most pernicious viral infections to lower back pain or minor dormant ailments. Whether he detects outward signs of sickness from movement or expression, I don’t know, but he has a vast medical knowledge and disdain for traditional medicine.
Now, his waiting room is always packed. The house is full of barefoot people with their feet in water, clutching onto hand-held electrodes wired up to oscilloscopes (colloquially referred to as zappers). The cost is trivial and he’s clearly not in it for the money.
So, does it work? As far as I am aware there is no evidence that is not hear-say. However, so many people can so many people be so completely misled and deluded? Is it faith in something that they don’t understand or a sign of the failure of tradional western-style medicine? I know of one person who claims to have been cured of jaundice and streams of others who claim miraculous cures where conventional medicines had failed.
The danger is that patients with dangerous conditions might give up conventional treatment and put themselves in peril. I should point out that Wim makes no claims for his treatment but allows word of mouth to pass from one to another. He doesn’t advertise because he doesn’t need to, he simply casts his eyes around his packed waiting room for evidence of faith in his zappers. Charlatan or quack? Dr Miracle or Doktor Mirakel? My inclination is to keep a skeptical open mind because the human mind is probably a very powerful thing.