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Despite what TV teaches us, medicine isn't always clean, pretty and reliable. It can be messy, and surgery is no picnic. There's also the risk to life, need for equipment and a sterile environment, aftercare, and a doctor to perform it. Some characters luck out though, their Hero Insurance covers Psychic Surgery.
Rather than open up the patient, the "doctor" sticks his hand into the patient, roots around, and then pulls it out with the problem well in hand. The best part? No scars, barely any blood, and a complete and instant recovery! The doctor may be using Psychic Powers (hence the trope name), incredibly advanced technology, a biological ability of his own, or outright magic. Hence the quotations around the word doctor earlier; the healer in question may not have any sort of medical degree, relying entirely on instinct or homeopathic/arcane/psychic training. Which is going to make any medical care when he's Brought Down to Normal... interesting.
This far more invasive form of Healing Hands can, however, be used to harm. Badly. A healer without a Hippocratic oath may pull out a spine to stop an attacker, or squeeze the heart to interrogate. Heck, being able to root around inside a person without surgical implements lends itself to so much Squick it's best not to think of it. (Which, of course, means someone has.)
Anime and Manga
- A fellow with this ability shows up in Black Jack; he tries to claim the moral high ground over Blackjack, but it backfires because he didn't ask the right questions.
- In the anime of Shaman King, Faust VIII uses this to torture Manta. In the manga? He cut him open.
- A self-healing version of this is used by the villainess Lucifer in Angel Cop. She reaches inside her own body to set some broken bones; she's also seen plunging her fingers straight into an enemy's head.
- One of Tyki Mikk's powers in D.Gray-man, where he kills exorcists by pulling their organs out. And he also almost kills Allen Walker by putting his flesh-eating pet butterflies into his chest to bite a hole in his heart
- In Green Lantern, Star Sapphire corps member Miri did this between the hearts of two lovers simultaneously, linking the heart of Soranik to restart Kyle's, who had just died.
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the head bad guy removed the hearts of his sacrifices this way, without killing them.
- The Matrix: Reloaded ends with Neo removing the bullet from Trinity this way.
- A non-fantastic portrayal appears in the Andy Kauffman biopic Man on the Moon. Kauffman, in the terminal stages of cancer, travels to the Philippines and undergoes psychic surgery. He sees through the stagecraft.
- Lucifer removes John Constantine's lung tumors this way.
- The protagonist in The Boy Who Reversed Himself does this reaching through the fourth dimension, but does incisions to cover up her secret.
- In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Book of the Still, the Doctor is rendered Brainwashed and Crazy by a device that's been inserted into his brain. Fitz is shortly thereafter rendered conveniently intangible (among other things), and the Doctor instructs him to remove the device for him. Fitz is then somewhat perturbed to find his hand covered in slime, and the Doctor thanks him "for not taking a bigger handful", which one supposes must mean the Doctor is now undeniably brain-damaged.
- Gerard the Lightbringer from Seekers of the Sky cures cancer by removing all bad cells from a body with his Word (a psychic power that allows to store and retrieve any objects in another dimension; for the rest of humanity, though, it's impossible to store still living objects using their Words). Notably, he is himself unaware that he is using the Word and believes that God cures his patients using him as conduit.
Live Action TV
- Seen in an episode of The Outer Limits.
- Michael Palin sees a "real" demonstration of psychic surgery by a Philippine con man in Full Circle.
- In Heroes, Sylar heals Charlie's brain clot with telekinesis.
- Angel had the evil form, the psycho psychosurgeon in "I Fall To Pieces".
- In Star Trek: Voyager, a homicidal hologram uses this to attack Be'lanna Torres at one point.
- In Vampire: The Requiem the vampires brainwashed by the VII covenant have the ability of "Psychic Surgery", which allows them to heal injuries in themselves and others by phasing their hands through flesh... or cause minor brain lesions to help brainwash other vampires into their covenant.
- The Medic from Team Fortress 2 uses the "advanced technology" variant, combined with Worst Aid. This man performs open chest surgery with his bare hands on a conscious patient (who assists in the procedure by "holding his ribcage open), replaced said patient's heart after a "modification" he made caused the first one to explode, left a live bird inside someone's body cavity, lost his medical license after removing a patient's entire skeleton, and provides the trope image for Artistic License Medicine... yet his ability to give the target of his medigun a temporary healing factor makes him vital to a team's success.
- Used several times in Dominic Deegan, particularly when Azula had a stone of concentrated evil in her stomach removed by another orc who plunged his hand straight into her, leaving her unharmed.
- Mentioned but not used in The Dragon Doctors, a team of magical doctors. They were discussing possible options for removing an all-consuming sentient cancer from a patient. The problem was that psychic surgery requires bare hands, so getting rid of it with psychic surgery was out of the question.
- Some people claim to be able to perform real Psychic surgery. The article has a number of media examples of people exposing it as a hoax.