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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Healing Hypotheses  



Dresser calls Quimby

an unlettered empiricist in attitude and outlook: to this end he followed the clues of inner experience in contrast with theories which limit our horizon by authority or through bondage to material things, as if man were merely a body.1


possessed a remarkable native equipment in his exceptional powers of concentration, his keenly reflective observant mind. In these respects he owed his training solely to the use to which he put his powers when intent upon solving a problem such as the alleged mystery of mesmerism. He seems to have been unaware of his exceptional ability to concentrate upon a mental image or idea,


1 Horatio W. Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," p. 5. This is a typed copy of what appears to be a revision of an article of the same title in printed form pasted onto pieces of paper, without printed page numbers or clear indication of the publication from which clipped; it may be Christian Victory. A 1929 book is referred to as if recently published. Unless otherwise indicated, references here are to the page numbers of the typed revision; both versions are in the possession of the New Church Theological School, Cambridge [now Swedenborg School of Religion, Newton], Massachusetts.



Healing Hypotheses

and he certainly did not know at first that he was in high degree intuitive, with unusual powers of envisaging the inner world. These powers he discovered through use, first by attributing over-much to his "subject," and then learning by experience what abilities he possessed apart from the cooperation of Lucius.. . .

It is also important to note that Quimby was not at first interested in therapy. The fact that as his experiments went on people in his audience came forward to request a diagnosis by Lucius was an unforeseen development of his investigations. Quimby's own recovery of health1 in connection with the later period of his [perhaps four years2 of] work with Lucius was a surprise to him, for he did not know that he too had been a victim of an erroneous view of disease.3

Dresser says that "it is significant that Quimby had no theory concerning the human mind, but was free to follow wherever his investigations might lead."4 Dresser does not take note of the various mesmeric philosophies available to Quimby, except to point out that little was known of mesmerism when Quimby began to experiment


1 The Quimby Manuscripts, 1st ed., pp. 27-29, 2nd ed., pp. 33-35. It may have been reenforced by the memory of a premesmeric period healing of Quimby when excited by driving a horse when sick; see The Quimby Manuscripts, 1st ed., p. 22, 2nd ed., p. 28.

2 1843-1847, Ibid., 1st ed., p. 10, 2nd ed., p. 16.

3 Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," p. 6.

4 Ibid.

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with it.1 It is not clear how much Dresser knew of relatively early mesmeric speculation, except that elsewhere he refers to Dods, which may not indicate that he was aware of his early work, although the probable reference to Dods in the Burkmar journal2 and the references to various mesmerists in Quimby's "lecture notes" must have been seen by him at least a decade or so before writing this article. Apparently Dresser did not consider the work before Braid's very important; he says:

It was not until 1845, in England, that Braid introduced the term hypnotism, and began the studies which eventually prepared the way for scientific understanding as explained by the French and German psychologists of a later period.3

Dresser observes that

Quimby had that rare opportunity which is open to the pioneer who makes the first trail into a hitherto unknown land. Quimby did not blaze his trail in the direction followed by Braid and the French specialists who investigated the phenomena


1 Ibid., pp. 3-4.

2 See The Quimby Manuscripts, 1st. ed., pp. 37-40, 2nd ed., pp. 43-46; in the journal itself see p. 6 [Seale (ed.), I, 34; contrary to the Seale statement at I, 32, the original is in the Library of Congress; the error is understandable, since the journal probably is the only part of the collection that Mrs. Charles Pineo sent to the Library of Congress, rather than to Boston University] on Doods. [sic].

3 Ibid., p. 3.


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of hysteria. His interest never became scientific in the traditional sense. He followed a practical clue because he was practical in type, ready to adopt any principle which might prove serviceable even if it conflicted with established theories.1

Quimby was fortunate in finding his subject and the degree of mesmerism employed. He apparently managed to bring about

light sleep or partial hypnosis, during which the subject cooperates more or less with the operator. The "rapport" is not then complete. This state does not involve the entire domination of the subject by hypnotic suggestions, for the subject is left in a measure of freedom for following his initiatives.2

Lucius was "psychically alert under Quimby's commands but intellectually almost passive."3 Lucius

was free to utilize cooperative hypnosis to the limit, while seeing the mental and bodily states of those who came forward for diagnosis, without claiming to contact disembodied souls. . . . And he talked about his apparent bodily journeyings [while his physical body remained where this experiment was being conducted] . . . , describing tangible objects as he apparently saw them. Possibly he would have developed a secondary personality ... with secondary memories to match, and so on, if Quimby had learned or wished to


1 Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," p. 5.

2 Ibid., pp. 4-5.

3 Ibid., p. 7.

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produce "deep sleep." Then the question of dissociated memory would have been a salient fact. But dissociation did not occur. Lucius was not in any sense abnormal, if we hold that it is normal to exercise clairvoyance.1

Unless we note the fact that Quimby did not exercise and did not wish to exercise complete control over the mind of Lucius, but desired to follow the reports which Lucius gave wherever the phenomena in question might lead, we will not appreciate Quimby's readiness to accept clairvoyance as a basic experience. Many psychologists would begin by discounting as illusory (or impossible) precisely those matters which to Quimby were to prove most productive when he gave up Lucius as subject and ceased to experiment with hypnotism. He was ready to accept all the evidences at their face value because he was not deterred by the assumption that the bodily senses are the only sources of contact with worlds. Again he was free because he did not hold that all mental states are caused by states of the brain. What he needed, to carry the evidences through to complete orientation was not physiological psychology or any spiritualistic theory; but Myers' conception of the subliminal self, with the hypothesis that beyond the margin of consciousness the self has wider points of contact, with possibilities of increased knowledge of the self's relationships, including direct contacts between mind and mind. Lacking the theory that was not yet formulated in terms of what we now call extra-sensory perception, Quimby simply assumed that when the physical senses were


1 Ibid.


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quiescent Lucius saw with an inner eye, his vision being spontaneous. Quimby was free to "listen in," so to speak, to whatever Lucius might say, the mind of Lucius being in that case the leader. Nor was he deterred from accepting outright the fact that telepathy was a regular means of communication between mind and mind long before the existence of thought transference became a problem. Rapport between minds having been accepted as a fact, other matters easily followed, including the transfer of an activity such that mental pictures were set up in the mind of Lucius, side by side with processes which belonged more directly with Lucius' clairvoyance. Lucius could listen to Quimby mentally, receive suggestions, and see the mental picture which Quimby desired him to see, while also discerning clairvoyantly as freely as if Quimby were not communicating with him. Plainly, then, telepathy and clairvoyance are not identical. As surely, both operator and subject are most likely to apprehend the phenomena in question if undeterred by previous assumptions. We have then a remarkable record of sheer experience.

Since Lucius' experiences were not abnormal, but implied powers which all people possess potentially, Quimby was freed to conclude that these powers became active without such intermediaries as those in which spiritists believe. As neither mediumship nor spirit-guides are necessary, what is essential is a type of openness on any person's part, with freedom to utilize any activity that may disclose itself, unhampered by notions concerning the human mind. This openness implies the existence of an inner world in each of us, thus a point of view from within outward, from the interiors of the mind to the interiors of another, and from these interiors to a higher

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mental world if experience leads to such a conclusion. So the usual point of approach, from externals (the natural world) to internals (the spiritual world) is exchanged for this inwardness as central in all instances. Granted this outlook from inwardness in any direction, whether into the minds of people or into the regions of a psychical journey, we see why Quimby came to believe in the existence of "spiritual senses," not as mere counterparts of bodily senses, but as involving activities of their own (not determined by brainstates). The human spirit is so constituted, then, that spirit can talk with spirit, each of us in his own little world, with sensibilities enabling us to detect what Quimby called mental atmospheres. By our inner sensibilities we function more directly (in telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.) than when we speak and otherwise express ourselves through the circuitous means of sounds, facial changes and gestures. These higher abilities are dormant in most of us because we are absorbed in external circumstances and events. . . . When Quimby realized the very great potentiality of all people as spiritual beings, he knew that a hypnotic subject was no longer necessary, that there was no reason for even partly controlling another's mind.1

In these experiments a considerable measure of the success was due to Quimby's habit of depending on mental communications when telling Lucius what to do in contrast with spoken commands. Thus Quimby became convinced that the whole process was mental, not attributable to "magnetism" or to mysterious passes around a subject's head as in alleged instances of "animal magnetism." Hence the whole problem was


1 Ibid., pp. 8-10.


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While employing Lucius, Quimby received considerable evidence of the concrete effects attributable to the formative power of mind impressed by imagery. But

there was much more ... than could be clarified by continuing to put Lucius under hypnosis. [So Quimby gave up Lucius] and, after an interval for reconsideration [started] afresh into the relatively unknown world which the phenomena in question disclosed. This step was also the right one for Quimby to take because his experiments had convinced him that he too was clairvoyant, possessed spiritual senses and other abilities that could be trusted to lead the way by following the deliverances of his own mind without depending on anybody else. Few people would have sufficient self-reliance to make such a venture as this, since, for one thing, nobody is said to be perceptive enough to acquire the requisite power of introspective analysis while also penetrating into the little known world of psychical phenomena. Here in any case was the most significant turning point in Quimby's explorations.2

This turning point was

Quimby's advance from the psychological to the spiritual stage of his career. In the first stage, covering the epoch of his study of hypnotism, with his dependence on hypnosis and suggestion, thus on


1 Ibid., p. 11.

2 Ibid., p. 13.


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his "subject," Quimby was solely concerned with the human mind as highly susceptible to mental atmospheres, "errors of mind," adverse emotions like fear, and subconscious reproductions of this mass of conflicting activities. The most fruitful result of the psychological period was the conclusion that He too (as well as Lucius) possessed clairvoyance, the ability to transmit thought and to travel psychically. His departure from the psychological to the spiritual phase of his career signalized the rejection of hypnosis in favor of the method of spiritual healing as his own deepest inner experiences had brought it to light. While he still made use of his mental equipment, notably his unusual powers of concentration, this equipment became instrumental only. He did not now transmit a mental picture as if efficient in itself. He did not depend on an idea or mental process set up in another's mind, although ideas in line with his realization were aids. Instead, his spiritual relation with patients centered about the conviction that man is spirit, created into the image and likeness of Wisdom, with an unchanging true identity to be summoned into activity. . . . Thus the creative phase of his work was outstanding. He had a true religion to offer to his patients, displacing the "false identifications" of the old order of things in the churches.1

In introducing the spiritual phase of Quimby's work, Dresser observes that Quimby did not consider disease imaginary or matter

unreal or non-existent. What especially interested him in the experiments with Lucius was the fact


1 Ibid., p. 33.


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that Lucius could see through matter, penetrating the surfaces of the body and discerning the internal conditions of the organ in the region where there was an "obstruction." Apparently, then, so Quimby reasoned, matter is less solid than had been supposed. Meanwhile condensed thought is more real in its effect on the body than anybody would suspect who lacks clairvoyance in its active modes, noting the stages through which such thought passes in causing trouble.1

Elsewhere Dresser says that Quimby "was in possession of the facts we now call 'subconscious,' but could not readily name them."2 Here Dresser says:

Unwittingly we create formative images always at hand when condensing our thoughts into an efficacious opinion. Thus our beliefs are followed by results even though we are unaware of all the factors at work, notably those that are chiefly subconscious. Quimby's discoveries in such connections led him to compare mind to a fertile soil as "spiritual matter," seed-thoughts having the potency of suggestion, as he might have added had he possessed the term. That is to say "spiritual matter" resembles tangible substances, symbolically speaking, but is more nearly akin to mental


1 Ibid., p. 14.

2 The Quimby Manuscripts, 1st ed., p. 63, 2nd ed., p. 69. In a probably late manuscript, "Outline of the Teachings and Methods of P. P. Quimby," p. 6, he says, "Quimby discovered the subconscious long before Freud was said to have discovered the 'unconscious."'

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products. Prentice Mulford1 seems to have been groping after the same idea in saying "Thoughts are things." What signifies, however, is not the apparent substantiality but the mental life which utilizes what we are intent upon and projects inner states that are precisely what we take them to be, as hell to a Calvinist was what Calvin said it was.2

The recognition of intuitive sensitivity within himself put Quimby in possession of possibilities far exceeding any results that might have come from any further efforts in trying to control another mind, as he controlled Lucius. Hypnotism would have been a hindrance to the development of his method of spiritual healing, the object of which was to persuade people of the Truth, whereas through opinion people had been subject to "error" as a subject is regulated by an operator. Quimby gave up Lucius once for all by giving up the mesmerism which had first aroused his interest. This was several years before he began his therapeutic practice in Portland. For he needed time to assimilate his conclusions and develop a radically different method from his work as a hypnotist.

It became clear that Lucius in performing what passed as a cure by aid of what he told a sick person was no further along towards mastery than the victim of a disease-pattern such as heart-disease. For the recipients did not realize in either case that they had been influence[d] by


1 1834-1891, journalist, miner, etc., author of a series known at the White Cross Library; his autobiography is Prentice Mulford's Story (New York: F. J. Needham, 1889); it mostly ignores his philosophy.

2 Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," p. 14.


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suggestion. Obviously, nobody had ever consciously thought himself into disease. There must be a hidden activity between consciousness as we ordinarily know it and the disturbing result, with a part played by the amenability to suggestion about which the medical world was ignorant in Quimby's day. Step by step the whole process had become so clear to Quimby that he could begin to reduce it to a science....1

As Lucius had once explored a person's mind by casting about to whatever might be discovered merely because Quimby asked him to look and then to report on what he saw, so Quimby began at first by penetrating the inner life of this or that person to note what he found on the basis of experience not regulated by prior conceptions concerning what is real or true. This directive search is unlike what we call reason, thought or imagination. It does not proceed by inferences, after certain premises have been adopted. The searcher has a willingness to be led, to learn, without any desire to impose or dictate, and is entirely free from any desire to control. This is what marks off Quimby's silent treatment from hypnotism in all its guises. To see its import is to understand why, in the beginning with person after person, Quimby did not ask for faith in him or in his methods, and did not even require a measure of receptivity. This may seem strange at first thought, until we realize that he was directly concerned, not with the person as a conscious being, but with the whole personality as mostly subconscious at any given moment. Coming in touch with the mental atmosphere, Quimby knew


1 Ibid., p. 15.

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from this the inner "quality," whether or not there was an inner point of contact or clue, what the attitude was to this or that in relation to persons and things, and what the prospect was for reaching deeply into the selfhood as a whole in so far forth as resistances might be disclosed. In brief, Quimby put himself within this selfhood in readiness to detect whatever his intuition brought to attention.

While it might seem at first glance that the factors at work in spiritual healing are the same as those functioning in hypnotism, marked differences come into view when we look at these matters more closely. In hypnosis there is an emotional subservience to the suggestions of the operator, the intellect of the "subject" being quiescent, the will in abeyance. Hypnosis takes away from the subject for the time being any resistance to the operator. While hypnosis might be said to resemble the possible receptivity on the part of the patient, in the latter case there is no emotional subservience, no intellectual abeyance and no yielding of the will; the "silence" is for therapeutic purposes only, and is akin to worship or prayer.... The patient is not infatuated, is not asleep. Will is now appealed to, not put into abeyance. Intellect is quickened, not stilled. In short, the whole personality is welcomed and construed by spiritual standards, as in the worship in which the communicant listens for the voice of the Spirit. Thus the silence differs in both motive and objective, as a verifiable inner experience.

Quimby arrived at this point of qualitative difference between hypnosis and therapeutic receptivity because he found that by sitting near a person mentally disturbed, and by rendering his mind receptive, he could detect the inner life at its center, with its atmosphere. The atmosphere thus given off discloses the state of worry, fear,


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excitement, depression, suppression, or what not. To discern it is to trace it to disease-patterns, medical opinions, religious dogmas, and any other bondage that may have held the patient's mind in subjection. No device like "free association" was called for, because Quimby was not interested in what the patient could conjure up from the depths. Any analysis of dream-states would have been of minor importance. The resulting experience in the mind of the patient was to be far from the "control" brought about by hypnosis, for control spells quiescence on the part of the very qualities which under receptivity are to be brought into action through a cure. It was less necessary for Quimby to know the past history in detail in proportion to his discernment of the heart of the trouble. So his first remark to the patient, when the conversational part of the treatment began, might hit the very center of the whole inner life-history to the point of its earliest bondage.

The sequence of inner causes leading to the present trouble proved to be less significant than the discernment of the meaning of the patient's bondages, although in the "explanation" which was to be the "cure" [this being Quimby's way of putting it] in its final aspect it was indeed important to show that the patient had been held in subjection as if the soul were little more than a prisoner of the flesh. The patient needed to see that the imprisoning patterns had held the mind almost with the power of truth, and also to learn that the whole mass of associates in the subconscious had been favorable to the development of trouble. More important still, the patient needed to know that by identifying with the factors of his trouble he had helped to create it. For Quimby had found that the mind of the "natural man" was little more than a mass of errors.

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This mind, although secondary to the real self, puts all the vitality of a deeper mind into its falsities. The central idea here is identification. Man's false or negative identity is the self he takes himself to be when under bondage to opinion. Quimby's experiments with hypnotism had taught him that whatever the mind accepts as true is real to that mind as long as the acceptance continues. To accept an opinion as true is to take it to oneself, so identifying with it that one lives by it, permitting it to give tone to one's whole mentality. . . . The remarkable power of imagery over the human mind, coupled with its subconscious influence, was one of the chief of Quimby's discoveries.

The question is, granted dominion of a given group of negative images centering about a disease-pattern, how is it possible to detach the soul from this "false identity?" To answer this question is to follow Quimby in his next step after he changed from a mental to a spiritual point of view.

Plainly, if intuition under the guise of the spiritual senses, the power of directed receptivity, and the power of the spirit to project itself towards another spirit, is latent in each one of us, there is some common ground of spiritual powers in our primary self. In Quimby this primary self had become active so that he could view the mentality of a patient on all its levels, discerning repressions and patterns and also potentialities. There must be some way to arouse the latent primary self in the patient. This could not be accomplished by a word of command (as in hypnotism). The real self could not be aroused by mere suggestion. It must be appealed to by Truth, by what Quimby called Science, with its power to dispel opinion. The power of this spiritual appeal can be nothing less than Wisdom (God or Spirit). Wisdom is the common basis of our existence as spiritual beings.


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In this Wisdom we live, move, have our being. Through Wisdom we are intimately related: spirit can touch spirit.

Quimby was led to this conviction because of the upliftments and insights of his inner experience when sitting by the sick, inwardly seeking to heal them and set them free. He found that the life or power with which his spirit came in contact on the higher activity level was not an energy he controlled or tried to control: it was Wisdom to which he became open when he discriminated the identity of the natural man from the identity of the spiritual man. In seeking Wisdom's guidance and cooperating with it he did not try to impress his own mentality on the patient's mind. That would have been no better than hypnotism. His objective was to rise from the level of natural mentality to the level of divine creation, so that the imagery and efficiency of perfect health should utterly dispel the disturbing patterns, repressed emotions and the other adverse mental factors.

The greatest step made by Quimby in developing his technique was in realizing that the primary self--created and reared in the image and likeness of Wisdom for health and freedom, spiritual living and spiritual progress--is not sick, does not sin, is not really the slave it appears to be. For granted the truth it is possible to arouse by inner realization the true man. The thinking, willing, acting self which the patient takes himself to be (when unenlightened) must be readjusted according to this true or real man. This process involves detaching the patient's "natural senses"-his attention, thought, volition, emotion; his striving for freedom and self-realization, long held in bondage--from external things and attaching his consciousness to the "true" which dispels the false.

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This accomplished as the essential change, the other stages of the therapeutic activity readily follow.

It is imperative to take the clue from Wisdom in all these matters, for here is the basis of all that is immutable, while the world of opinions is always subject to change. The spirit is untouched by either error or suffering, sin or misery, because it lives in its integrity in the divine image. Moreover, Wisdom is present with us to guide the spirit intuitively as an agent of healing. Wisdom is the active principle in which the human spirit resides. We can grow in responsiveness to its guidance by utilizing our spiritual senses, by the realization that Wisdom is indwelling, is equal to every occasion as the source of eternal truth.1

At this point Dresser introduces some comparisons with later teachings, which are not strictly relevant here. Disease is "an experience, . . . not an entity which seizes a person like an animal."2 Disease is "always a relationship within personality[;] . . . it is the person who is ill, notably in all nervous and emotional disorders."3

Quimby was far from saying that "Matter is an unreal illusion." He carefully called attention to what man takes matter to be in certain connections only, because man is in such connections under bondage to opinion. That is to say, an illusion is due to misinterpretation, as in construing a pressure- sensation so that it seems to indicate


1 Ibid., pp. 16-21.

2 Ibid., p. 21.

3 Ibid.


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disease of the heart. But the object mistakenly named still remains a fact to be accounted for when we acquire the knowledge that truly applies. Man invents mental worlds without number. But these are not the realm of nature in space and time. Nor are they the heavens of the spiritual world. Nature is not maya (illusion), as Hindoo philosophers have declared, nor is it basically due to avidya (ignorance). Ignorance certainly plays havoc with us all. But it is not cosmical in power.1

Elsewhere Dresser says:

The essential point to note ... is that matter is plastic to thought; it is that in which, on the one hand, the thought of God takes shape, and, on the other, the embodiment of human belief. In any case we must look to the direction of consciousness anterior to it, as the source of its changing states and of its life.

There is all the more reason for affirming and dwelling upon the reality of the good when we understand, not merely believe, that this constant realization of the true is just as constantly effacing all that is harmful in matter, and is receiving actual and substantial expression in the visible world. When we understand that "all that is seen by the natural man is mind reduced to a state called matter," we no longer confuse [l] matter, [2] spiritual matter or mind, and [3] soul or Spirit, while according due recognition and reality to each.

It was thus characteristic of Dr. Quimby not to deny anything--except the reality of disease as something by itself--but to see it, if possible, in its


1 Ibid., p. 22.

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true light and in considering matter he always regarded it from the idealist's point of view, and, while not ignoring it, never attributed to it that reality of life and power which belongs to God alone.1

Dresser observes, summarizing with regard to Quimby's technique, that applying it

for the benefit of others is to come into intuitive touch with the patient's mentality, to see what this mentality discloses, and what the negative identification is, as in mistaking a given pain for a disease one has heard about. The second step is to turn radically away from the patient's secondary self by rendering oneself receptive to Wisdom in two respects: with reference to the divine ideal of health, freedom, power, as the standard by which we were all created; and with regard to the patient's particular need, the special insight for that individual, placed as he is amidst contending forces. Quimby, with his remarkable powers of concentration, was uncommonly successful in thus changing the direction of his mind, by attaching his spiritual senses to what was to him fundamentally real and true. His realization of the Truth or Science was sufficiently powerful so that the patient's mind partook of it, the incentive coming from it, although the first results were subconscious. By "realization" one means the positive life or power by feeling it, making of the realization an experience. Prayer is not the word here. The realization is dynamic, it takes hold, strikes home, and home is where the spirit is.


1 Horatio W. Dresser, "Dr. Quimby's Theory of Matter," Unity, LX (June, 1926), 538.


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Yet even the silent treatment was a part only of the technique. For no one can be set wholly free from error until he sees it. Given evidence that the silent activity was effective, Quimby began his explanations in order to "take down the structure called disease" and show how it was reared. Since the first aches or pains were incidental, and could have been construed by avoiding falsities, it is well to recover the implied activity and redirect it. To see how we miscreated and misdirected is to realize the effectiveness of a power we did not know we possessed. Now at last we can "right about face" into the true direction.1

Dresser now takes note that the Calvinistic religious beliefs of Quimby's day were at the bottom of much illness, so Quimby had to help his patients escape


1 Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," pp. 22-23. Some terminology not originated with specifically this matter in mind may be employed helpfully here. It has been said that when "Will agency," free initiative, "freely turns to God for renewed strength, in humble faith in God's forgiveness and good will, forces are let loose in the life of that personality which his own free will now can readily accept, and allow to work for the greater good one feels obligation to at the time. But this help, this grace, is not forthcoming apart from a self-committing act of will agency." Peter A. Bertocci, Free Will, Responsibility, and Grace (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 106. The act of acceptance allows the influx of divine wisdom-life-love-power to be increasingly important with relation to will power, which is "the measure of control determined by its interplay with other factors [in addition to will agency] in the total choice situation." Bertocci, p. 37.

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from theologians as well as physicians.

With regard to Quimby and depth psychology, Dresser says:

Had Quimby been content to remain a merely mental therapist, he might have begun somewhat as Freud did by tracing emotional suppressions to infantilisms. For he had abundant evidences of the concealed "mechanisms" which have been identified as complexes. But the releasing of emotions associated with the illness was part only of the process, and incidental. The whole selfhood was involved, and analysis alone could not disclose that. The whole furniture of the mind was at stake. What the analysts have termed the "transference" was included in what Quimby learned concerning mental atmospheres. Had his technique stopped with analysis he would have been unable to make the complete explanation which was the cure.1

The explanation was not simply a theoretical matter that is applied alike in all cases. Dresser stresses:

granted the presence of indwelling Wisdom, the significant principle is guidance or wisdom for the occasion, for the individual, and no two cases are the same. The attitude of receptivity to Wisdom as power and life, guidance and quickening love, is wholly unlike that of utilizing suggestion as the primary force. Quimby gave his spirit to Wisdom with a fullness of response such that his personality as a whole was actuated by the experience. Hence his remarkable power of concentration (formerly used in controlling the


1 Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," pp. 24-25.


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mind of Lucius) was secondary in comparison with the depth and scope of his spiritual realization. All his mental powers were instrumental; what was more central was his spirit actuated by Wisdom.

This contrast between the spiritual and the mental was also implied in Quimby's distinction between divine truth and man's opinion, the Christ in each of us and "the man Jesus" who exemplified the true Science of Life and Happiness, and between the spirit, the "real" or "scientific" man in each one and the "false identity" or conditioned self. Hence the psychological factors are to be understood by noting what was implied when Quimby shifted from the intuitive diagnosis in the first stage of the technique to the second stage or interior realization. The whole process at work in the "silent treatment" was indeed silent because Quimby found that he could work directly with the patient's subconsciousness, could address himself to the spirit within, in fact that he must do so before the patient could cooperate. The actual state of the patient was much deeper than is apparent to any one save the therapist realizes because it includes the emotional depths, the bondages, repressions and conflicts grouped by the analysts under the term "complex." Quimby . . . could discern the heart of those depths so as to give himself to the realization at the point and in the manner most needed by the patient.

Thus the rapport with the patient was an important part of the technique. No less important was Quimby's power of "absenting" himself, as he called it, from the negative identification and thus diagnosed which held the patient in bondage. Thus the shifting of attention from the diagnosis to the realization was a turning-point. Quimby made this transition with force because he could intensively concentrate. The truth concerning the patient's

Healing Hypotheses


real self (the part that cannot be sick) was the central consideration: the truth was grounded in God's wisdom or design. The qualification that part of us is not and cannot be sick was not a weak but a strong one, in contrast with the qualifications which we usually make. Hence Quimby could give himself to his conviction with all the force of his long experience in discerning the inner life. The real man in all of us is of course ready to be set free. But we live in relative darkness. What is needed is the coming of spiritual light, "the light which lighteth every man born into the world," the light that can penetrate all darkness whatever the bondages. Quimby found that he could bring this light. Hence the various references in his writings to the "the dark places" in which he found his patients enveloped. His patients, by divine birthright, possessed the requisite power of "openness" or receptivity through which wisdom from above could come. Given this illumination, the old identification could give place to the new.

Although the principle of identification is secondary it is highly important, as we have noted in the foregoing, because the mind, being limited in scope, can function actively in but one direction at a time. Hence it is that a "direction of mind" can make all sorts of things (one by one) as real as life itself. The given "direction" carries identification with it, for it includes the process known as attention, which is central to the human mind. A direction, however, as the term is used here, is more than the shifting of interests of the moment as our minds ordinarily shift. This directivity not only implies a change of thought, an exchange of mental imagery, as one object gives place to another: the direction carries activity (as power) with it, so that the whole mind becomes absorbed by what is thus accepted. Unwittingly a man may


Healing Hypotheses

take home to himself the very miseries he would cast out. If he knew that the process of identification is his own act his procedure would be radically different. To give assent because of ignorance is indeed to fall into a pit of confusions. By contrast the directivity toward light and freedom has the added power of the "realization of truth," the power of Wisdom sustaining our conviction. The realization profoundly and truly becomes an experience, a new experience of the divine presence. On this level there is peace, the peace which knows no disturbance or fear. On this level there is imbuing love, quickening guidance. The efficiency is not then in the finite thought, the human will, not even in the imagery or suggestion which helps to make the realization definite: the power rests with God as Wisdom. For there is no strength in anything human that is not in deepest truth a sharing of divine power.

It is difficult to see the force of this teaching unless we take up a position on a level from which we can look down on the play of life (on "Wisdom's amusements," Quimby says) where man is mistaking himself for a being of flesh and blood, generating woes by misusing his mentality. On the upper level man is intact, complete as a spirit, with all requisite powers so that if death were to occur he would be found adequately equipped for existence in the spiritual world. Quimby grew into this conviction through experiences with the sick in the more critical instances when a patient was actually rescued from imminent death, especially when the separation between soul and body had partly taken place. Man is indeed a complete spirit because he is independent of the body so far as his enduring powers are concerned. To gain this insight is to base one's whole view of life upon it, always regarding

Healing Hypotheses


the spirit as centrally real.

What then is consciousness? It is this interchange of activity between spirit, mind, and body through which we become aware of the activities in which we are living. We think and move most directly with Wisdom when we think from the spirit, think with the spirit. Thus to think is to follow what comes, what is given: not interposing our own ideas, not trying to direct or control. The type of thought is that of the divine image and likeness, not that of man's inventions. I repeat: Quimby did not when directing his attention to a patient try to convey his own thoughts or imagery. Believing that the divine image-likeness (Love and Wisdom) is latent and can become active, his part was that of an awakener or light-bearer. He believed in direct relationship or contact because by experience he could discriminate between a transfer of thought on the mental level and the experience of cooperating with Wisdom on the spiritual level. Furthermore, his experience in helping the sick led him to see that the indwelling life, when curative, works through the organism to the point needed, for example, in dissolving and carrying away a tumor through the process he called a "chemical change."

What is it in our nature that is most responsive, most likely to be touched into central activity? The immediate or intuitive side, the love-nature rather than the intellectual side. Quimby did not develop a theory of the emotions at this point. He did not discriminate what has been technically called feeling or feeling-tone in contrast with the emotions. Noting the fact that a patient was suffering from emotional congestion, he turned directly to the center or heart. Fear was, he found, the worst of the besetting emotions, almost the basis of disease in its entirety. Granted


Healing Hypotheses

this conclusion, Quimby gave himself to the realizational truth of "perfect love" as the dynamic which casts out fear. Error and truth, fear and love cannot rule in the same household. To establish the truths of the divine image and likeness is to drive the errors away.

Yet while the spiritual emphasis falls on the unifying curative realization, Quimby's conversations with his patients were often of an analytical type. For the patient needed to know the genesis of the particular fear or pattern in some detail in order to be convinced, notably in instances in which doctrines of the churches were involved.... It was plain that he made no claims in his own behalf. He sought rather to take himself out of the way that each patient might behold the vision for himself. Thus the whole procedure was spiritual in the best sense of the word. Had Quimby taken any credit to himself he might have claimed that he had received a "revelation." He himself would then have become an authority, and attempts might have been made by his followers to found a new religion. But such a scheme would have been utterly absurd. This would have meant a reversion to the bondages from which Quimby had set people free. It would have meant exalting the finite ego to the first rank. Self-assertion would then have been the prevailing direction of mind. But the true prevailing affection is love of Wisdom, whose instruments we may become by demonstrating the unchangeable in the changing. Hence Quimby claimed no more for himself than the functions of a light-bearer carrying the torch of Wisdom into the dark places and disclosing the realities hidden there.1


1 Ibid., pp. 28-33.

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