Coupeurs de feu

The magical, the mystical, the primitive beliefs… will always be part of the human spirit.

Yes, I must admit this…

I was surprised a couple of weeks ago by this term – coupeur de feu – which would translate into English by fire stopper or someone who can stop the fire, in the sense of stopping the burns caused by fire. I initially thought it’s a joke when the nurses told me that the intensive care unit physicians are calling these fire stoppers who would speak to the patients at the phone and would cause the burns to stop spreading, regress or even disappear – all this through the power of their gift to… well… inflict change in the body lesions caused by fire from… the distance… using their voice only… Quite surprised, and feeling a bit confused, I searched on the internet only to find this to be actually true. Then, a couple of days later, I even saw a nice car here on the streets, on which there was written the name of the driver and her professional advertisement: magnetizer – fire stopper – medium. I felt a bit envious about the car and I reflected deeply about my years of medical school and then medical practice – years lost and sacrificed forever – while seeing how easy life can be for someone born with a so-called gift for which no effort was ever made or required.

I belong to a tradition of critical thinking and general knowledge. For me, fire stopping is nothing more but suggestion that can probably alleviate pain and possibly enhance healing. But I cannot believe that these fire stoppers are constituting themselves into competition for the plastic surgeons or the trauma/burn surgeons. If it were so, the job of reconstructive burnings surgery would have disappeared…

What is also interesting is that this tradition of burn stoppers is spread around Switzerland and the French Alpine region, since I never heard about it before. Paradoxically, the rational, calculated and hyper-traditional people of the richest region in the world are also in the grip of the primitive superstitions and the esoteric practices. All I can say is… wow…

The photo of the article is from Annecy – the Venice of the Alps – called so due to its many water canals present in the city center. The photo shows one of these canals, but the view is from the backyard of some houses, houses which are showing their beautiful façade to the tourists and are keeping the rest hidden. I believe that this is a good metaphor for this region: richness and beauty linked to logical and pragmatic, even cynical, decisions, while fostering obscure practices that are deeply rooted in the primeval emotional realm.

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  1. Hi. Interesting piece. In English, the term “fire fighter” – or I guess stopper too – doesn’t only relate to an actual fire, with flames and heat and smoke. It can also be applied to someone who is taking action at a moment of crisis to prevent something getting worse – in my consultancy days before retirement I was often sent to client sites on firefighting assignments, typically where the client had discovered a problem with my firms computer system that urgently needed fixing, through technical intervention or coaching. I’ve also heard the term used to describe life coaching, for instance helping someone get through a bout of depression or anxiety it’s something I’ve needed myself in the recent past. Perhaps the car was being used by someone using those terms rather than “counsellor” or “psychologist” as a kind of attention grabber to attract business?

    Annecy looks lovely – I plan to visit Switzerland again in May, perhaps I’ll hop a train and pay it a visit.

  2. Je confirme les coupeurs de feu sont une realite . Ma femme en a fait l’expérience , elle qui a des dons extrasensoriel a soulage les brulures sur le bras d’un enfant qui s’etait ebouillante A+ Isidore