As a rule, the worlds of western medicine and psychic phenomena just don't mix, but that's not the case on Tuesday's installment of The Dr. Oz Show.
Oprah discovery Mehmet Oz will welcome famed psychic medium John Edward, who claims to relay messages from the dead, and the two men will discuss how connecting with the afterlife can be therapeutic for those in grief.
Edward also conducts readings for several members of Dr. Oz's studio audience, and offers advice on how to pick up signals your dead loved ones may be sending you — things you can do without the help of a psychic. TV Guide Magazine spoke by phone with Dr. Oz, who had quite a wild time watching Edward do his thing. In fact, the good doc says the experience changed his life!
TV Guide Magazine: The idea of you — one of western medicine's best known and respected figures — finding healing value in talking to the dead is intriguing. It's pretty monumental, really. What gives?
Oz: [Laughs] Trust me, I was probably the last person who ever thought we'd have John Edward on our show! But it turned out to be great and not at all what I expected. Let me tell you, it changed my life! It was the most bizarre experience I've ever had — and I've seen and done a lot!
TV Guide Magazine: What prompted you to book him?
Oz: It's funny. My wife and I had gone on vacation a while back with several friends — five couples — and I happened to ask how many of them believed in the afterlife. Seven of the people were believers — five women and two men — and I was very intrigued by that. It was much more than I expected.
We also found out there's a Pew poll [from 2008] that says 74 percent of the American public believes there is an afterlife. So, basically, we had John on the show because I'm all about learning. I've always liked the guy. He seems authentic, not at all like a charlatan. I've learned in my career that there are times when science just hasn't caught up with things, and I think this may be one of them.
TV Guide Magazine: And you now consider what Edward does to be a legit form of grief therapy?
Oz: I can see how it could help people who are dealing with grief, and how it might bring closure to relationships, and help make people more comfortable with the idea of death. We've spoken with the American Psychological Association who say they don't know if this works or not. But if it helps with grief, why not? I'm open to the idea.
TV Guide Magazine: What specifically about Edward did you find so believable?
Oz: That's the exact word — he's specific. When he started [his readings] with our audience, I expected him to say things like, "I feel a white light behind you. A masculine light. Is there anyone in your family that might represent?" Well, of course! We all have someone male who died. But that's not what John did. He wasn't vague. He wasn't fuzzy. In one case he said, "Someone very near you had a loved one who died on Valentine's Day. I get the feeling they were run over by a car or a truck." At first John was saying this to one particular woman in the audience, and she kept insisting she didn't know anyone who died that way. It was really awkward. [Laughs] We must have sat there three or four minutes — which in TV time is an eternity — while John badgered this poor woman. He was so certain he was in the right part of the audience. But this woman just would not cop to it!
Then all of a sudden, just to this woman's right, was this other young woman who whispered, "It's me." She was completely ashen and almost couldn't speak. It turns out, her best friend's brother was run over by a truck and killed on Valentine's Day. John had all the details absolutely right. And he didn't do this just once. He did it on our show, like, five times!
TV Guide Magazine: Did you try to explain it away?
Oz: I couldn't! I walked out of that studio thinking, "There's something here. It's bizarre. I don't know what exactly is happening. But it's definitely something."
I'm a heart surgeon. I can explain a lot of weird things. I've seen people who should have died who didn't. Over the years I've had some pretty deep conversations with people who died and say they saw "the light" and came back with stories.
I've heard many things that are not easy to reconcile with the western scientific mind, so you try to think of a reason for what's going on. Could it be synapses short-circuiting in the brain that make people think they're having an out-of-body experience? That's what a doctor does. He tries to find a rational explanation. But I can't make up an explanation for what John Edward does. And, again, what was most eerie was his level of detail, the concreteness of it all.
TV Guide Magazine: How do you think this will this affect your outlook in the future? Will we see more alternative ways of thinking and healing on The Dr. Oz Show?
Oz: This is understandably uncomfortable for me. Medicine isn't religion. It's science, and therefore you have very clear beliefs about what you expect to happen.
If a doctor is honest with himself, he'll have to admit that he sometimes seeks out and believes data that supports his own beliefs. But our world is changing. I'm talking to you right now from the hospital — today's my operating day — and I was just speaking with one of our anesthesiologists who just got his certification in acupuncture. That would have been unheard of in western medicine 10 years ago!
So, yes, the future is very open to new possibilities. [Laughs] Or, perhaps we should say old. In the case of eastern medicine, we're starting to embrace things that have worked for millennia across the world and are now making them accessible to people in this country. In that same way, what John Edward does can also open up a whole new vista of healing opportunities.
Again, I don't understand it. It's completely weird to me. But it's also very, very exciting. And I want to know more.
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