In the worst year of political and economic unrest, as food supplies declined, and shop shelves remained empty, the Russian people lost confidence in the future and turned to psychotherapist Anatoly Kashpirovsky, who first appeared on television on October 9, 1989.
Kashpirovsky led weekly sessions of “healing” by hypnotizing the whole country through TV screens. With his heavy gaze peering into millions of living rooms in Russia, Kashpirovsky started each show slowly counting and telling the naïve audience how they were feeling.
“Your fears will disappear, fears that have tortured you for many years,” Kashpirovsky chanted in a typical program “you will stop clenching your fists. And most importantly, you will find your pains simply slipping away; as soon as I say the word, those intense pains, wherever they might be, will simply vanish into thin air.”
During Kashpirovky's first show, two women underwent major abdominal surgery allegedly without any anesthetic, only being hypnotized via television by his austere look.
Thousands of viewers sat transfixed in their homes, believing he could make their every sort of ache and pain go away when he said “you feel light and happy”, “your headache is gone”, “you’ve started to sleep well”, “you stopped stuttering”. However, for others it was good entertainment and many watched his shows out of pure curiosity.
Kashpirovsky's popularity was so great he was elected a Duma (Russian parliament) deputy in 1993. At the end of his term in 1995, Kashpirovsky moved to the US, where he “cured” Russian immigrants of obesity, bladder incontinence and other various illnesses. After spending several years abroad, he moved back to Russia and toured the country with sessions of mass healing.
Today, with the population hit by the economic crisis, Kashpirovsky is making a comeback with his own show on one of Russia’s main TV channels.