SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Far from Springfield’s thrum of electromagnetic pulses, Dr. Norman Shealy arises at 5 a.m. to exercise and feed his 26 head of beefalo, a hybrid domestic cattle and buffalo, and six horses.
Shealy, 80, lives on a 250-acre farm that offers a sweeping view of rolling Missouri countryside. On most days, he ponders how, beyond surgery and drugs, he can help those in physical pain, as well as those battling depression. He has pondered this for some 0 years.
He reads. He writes. He sees an occasional patient at the urging of a friend, at no charge, but has not had a regular practice since 1999. He still does what he loves most, research. In fact, he currently is studying insomnia.
Shealy is a former La Crosse neurosurgeon who brought holistic medicine to the community in 1971. He worked at both St. Francis and Lutheran hospitals before opening a comprehensive pain clinic on his 560-acre farm near Barre Mills. Shealy moved his clinic to Springfield in 1982.
On Thursdays, he drives the 10 miles to Springfield for his call-in radio show on KWTO, “Dr. Shealy’s Wellness Hour.”
In addition, he converses with and receives guidance from an angel by the name of G, for “guide.”
“That is what he calls himself,” Shealy explains.
Shealy also believes in reincarnation.
“I don’t believe I had a prior life,” he says. “I know I had a prior life.”
On the farm, a frisky German shepherd is at Shealy’s heels. The dog’s name is Tonto. Shealy became the “Lone Ranger” when his wife of 52 years died of leukemia in April 2011.
Her death was the impetus to donate the farm to Missouri State University, including the 11,000-square-foot health center he had built 10 years ago. The center is a quarter-mile down a dirt road from his house.
His first health center was in north Springfield. He moved it from the city in part to escape what he views as Springfield’s high level of electromagnetic energy, which he considers harmful, causing tumors and leukemia.
Shealy is giving it all away, other than his house, to the university. He has three children and five grandchildren. He talked to the children and asked if they had an interest in the farm. They did not, he says.
His donation, valued at more than $2 million, was announced at an MSU press conference on Jan. 11. The farm will be used by the William H. Darr School of Agriculture for hands-on student learning, which will include a beef-production cattle ranch.
The conference center, with its stunning chapel, will become a university-wide retreat center.
After MSU takes over, Shealy, if he wishes, can live out his life in his house.
Shealy’s gift will also fund the Mary-Charlotte Bayles Shealy Chair in Conscientious Psychology at MSU. Mary-Charlotte was his wife. She is buried on the farm, just outside the conference center.
The study of conscientiousness by psychologists goes back decades, says Paul Thomlinson, a psychologist at Burrell Behavioral Health. He is vice president for research and quality assurance.
Conscientiousness is one of the Big Five personality traits, according to many psychologists. Those traits:
- Extraversion vs. introversion
- Agreeableness vs. antagonism
- Conscientiousness vs. undirectedness
- Neuroticism vs. emotional stability
- Openness to experience vs. not open to experience
Shealy has focused on conscientiousness.
“He has done all kinds of interesting research over the years, and he is a very conscientious person himself,” Thomlinson said. “We all have some of it and some have more than others. What we do know is that those who have more of it tend to do better generally with life outcomes.”
Shealy completed Duke University Medical school in 1956. Over the years, he became more interested in the management of chronic pain, which led to the opening of his pain clinic in La Crosse. He has become increasingly focused on natural methods of healing, such as biofeedback and acupuncture, as well as supernatural methods, such as the laying on of hands.
The arc of his work has led him to conscientious psychology.
“Conscientiousness determines about 75 percent of health and longevity; 25 percent is genetic,” he says.
An alternate path
Shealy wears a sweatshirt with a rainbow and the words “Miracles Do Happen.” He has a pleasant smell that comes from the Air Bliss oil he uses. It’s one of the many alternative health products he sells from his online business.
“Miracles Do Happen” also happens to be the title of a book he wrote that’s for sale. The business is operated from a building next to Shealy’s house.
Near the entry to the conference center hangs a quote from Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher.
“When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of the tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.”
Within the center are various rooms and devices somehow connected to Shealy’s pursuit of an alternative path.
There’s a Quartz Room, with walls made from a ton of quartz crystal. The purpose?
“For most people it quiets the idle chatter of the mind,” he says.
The vibratory bed looks like a bed with a jungle gym overhead. There are several speakers placed above the bed and 10 in the bed that make the mattress vibrate.
“So they feel the music,” Shealy explains. “We have evidence that feeling the music has a greater effect than just hearing the music.”
In one room, a wall is covered with a large span of copper. In the early 1990s Shealy experimented on the effects of having patients sit near the copper with a magnet placed over their head.
“It helped them release unfinished anger or depression — gave them insight into their unresolved issues,” he says.
Past life, same career
In January 1972, Shealy was in Aspen, Colo., at a meeting of the Neuro-electric Society. He was irritated by the fact the lecturer was equating acupuncture with hypnosis.
The lecturer then mentioned that there was a 19th century British physician who had demonstrated it was possible to operate on hypnotized patients. That doctor was John Elliotson.
“I felt as if someone had sent an iceberg up my spine,” Shealy says. “I knew I was John Elliotson.”
To find out more about Elliotson, Shealy says, he eventually flew to London, where Elliotson had lived. He assumed Elliotson had been a surgeon and asked his cabbie to take him to the Royal College of Surgeons.
En route, the cabbie was about to turn right.
“Then something picked me up and turned me around and I had that iceberg down my spine again,” Shealy says. He told the driver to turn left, instead, where he quickly came upon the University College Hospital of London.
“I knew every room in the building,” Shealy says. “I am the reincarnation of John Elliotson.”
Shealy says he knows some will dismiss his ideas on pain management, depression and conscientious psychology because of his firm belief in reincarnation.
“It’s never bothered me,” he says.
In addition to Elliotson, Shealy says he has also had snippets of other past lives.
“I know that I was a brute 300 years ago,” he says. “I had a man murdered because he wanted my job.” He also believes he was once a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi.
Shealy believes there will be more lives to come.
“I assume I will be back,” he says.