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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Lecture Notes—Booklet VII

The treatment of insane persons therefore should correspond with the great principle of mind acting upon mind and of impressions counteracting impressions.

We give the following experiments illustrating the power of mind over mind in cases of Insanity.

I was called upon about two years since to visit an insane man who had been chained to prevent him from extravagant conduct but who had by some means gotten loose and was raving about his premises, to the danger of his own family and his neighbors. I found him in the wildest state of insanity. I approached him in company with another individual. When he saw us coming, he advanced towards us with a ten foot pole. My friend could not proceed and I was left alone to meet him. I advanced keeping my eye steadily fixed upon him. He held his pole and advanced until we came within ten feet of each other. He then suddenly stopped and told me not to advance another step. I continued however to walk towards him and as I came up he threw down his pole and looking me in the eye asked what I wanted. I requested him to go into the house. He followed me in and became obedient to my commands as a child. I performed several experiments upon him showing how easily I could control him. When any of his family came near, he would commence raving but upon my requesting him to be quiet, he readily complied. I ordered him to dress himself and upon clothing being handed to him, he complied. He walked up to me and look at my form and enquire how much I weighed. I asked him to guess. He thought two hundred and fifty pounds. I allowed him to think so, although my real weight was about one-hundred and forty. I was enabled to control him while I was present without touching him at all. Another case of a man who had become ravingly insane and was imprisoned in the County Jail. He would allow nothing in his cell and allow no one to enter. He kept up a constant hollering so as to be heard all over the village. The keeper of the prison decided that something must be done. My situation was such that I had occasion to see him. I took another man with me and going to the door of the cell requested him to remain outside and not allow him to know that he was near. I opened the cell door, holding in my hand a green hide and a rope. He ordered me not to approach him, holding in his hand a stone which he had dug out of some part of his cell. I stood and looked at him about five minutes. He began to step back and I entered. I then ordered him to come to me and get down on his knees. He obeyed instantly and I then thought I would try an experiment. I told him I would not whip or tie him then, but if he ever made any more noise or destroyed his bedding or anything which might be handed him, I would certainly kill him, at the same time showing my intention in my countenance. He seemed to be very much agitated and frightened. I produced so strong an impression upon his mind that he was perfectly quiet and became more rational. In the course of three weeks, he left the prison and returned home perfectly sane. He has been sane ever since. Thus the power of impressions over the mind to produce or counteract disease must be acknowledged. And the action of mind upon mind must be conceded. It is, in Insanity as in other diseases, necessary to make an impression more powerful than that which preceded this diseased state and thus lead or drive the mind into a new channel of thought. So in diseases of every class an impression counteracting that which induced the disease must be made and nature will restore herself. This impression may be made by administering powerful medicine or it may be done upon some patients by the mind of an operator acting upon the mind of the patient.

It might be a question in regard to all the experiments we have presented in this volume whether it is really the strong intellectual power of a mind which may gain the ascendancy over another, and hold it in complete submission as in the case of our two last experiments. We answer that we do not think it is great intellectual power, but the capacity or power of arresting the attention and producing a strong impression. And this faculty may be cultivated and enlarge its power to produce impressions and arrest the attention of mind to the exclusion of surrounding influences. We have mentioned the fact in another page that the idea of magnetizing or mesmerizing only those persons who are dull and enjoy poor health and weak minds is exploded. The more intelligent the mind, if the attention can be fixed and drawn away from surrounding influences, the more certain you are of producing the excited or mesmeric state in the highest degree. A bright, intelligent and thoughtful person enjoying good health always makes the best subject.

We do not therefore claim a more powerful intellect by which we can produce such results upon mind, but attribute it to a natural and cultivated power in this capacity which I am enabled to exercise and produce such experiments as are called mesmeric, magnetic, etc. The fact that the community have always laid it down as a general principle that only a more powerful mind can operate upon and control a weaker has retarded the progress of this branch of intellectual philosophy. The idea, no doubt, arose from some self-conceited personage, or perhaps a numerous class of those who were public magnetizers, desirous of claiming all the intellect which is really worth having. It is a fact we are compelled to acknowledge that some of my predecessors in this branch of science seem to have possessed no other intellectual faculty than that of mesmerizing; and the consequence was that they would be desirous of instructing the world to believe that the power they exercise is indeed that of a great mind and to be surpassed by no other power. All we have to remark upon this class of philosophers is that whatever discoveries and advances they have made in the progress of human knowledge should be thankfully received. And the follies and egotisms which have been interwoven with their progress should be rejected, as the consoling food for the vanity and self-esteem of its projectors. No man would be justified in rejecting the whole Copernican System because some wandering genius, desirous of making himself greater than the rest, should have advanced the idea and proceeded to prove it, that the earth is spherical and turns on its axis every twenty four hours and is kept in motion on the principle of a great wheel in a treadmill by the constant tramping of an enormous Mammoth upon the equator. “Retain the good and reject the evil.” Then will science advance.

We now enter upon another branch of our subject by which a solution of the mysteries of past ages is given. We refer to the mystery and responses of the Ancient Apollo, the Egyptian Magi, the Black Art, Witchcraft, trances, catalepsy etc.

Apolonius of Tyana, Emanuel Swedenborg, Mahomet and others had the power of inducing this state of the mind upon themselves. This is a further and conclusive proof against a fluid theory.

We copy the following from Dr. Collyer's pamphlet upon Psychography. [Citation not copied here.—Ed.] [End of Lecture Notes.]

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