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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Cause of Disease

Does the medical faculty or indeed any mode of practice known to the world treat the sick as the cause of their own disease? I reply that no mode of treatment administers medicine to the mind. They all treat the body as though it were a brute or a thing disconnected with intelligence. True, they admit imagination and try to influence it, believing that through it they can get control of the body or disease. But even that, they only affect through deception, just as a demagogue deceives the masses through their imagination. Physicians stand towards their patients as a master to his slave, in full possession of arbitrary power. If the slave obeys, all is well, but if not, arbitrary measures are used and reason is never employed to convince him. Only perfect obedience to the law is required. If the physician's orders are not obeyed to the letter, punishment surely follows.

A doctor is called to see a patient whose body he finds in a state of rebellion, as it were, against health. Assuming an air of authority, he gives his orders to the patient to take certain medicines in order to drive out the disease, which he admits is a kind of intelligence. And he leaves word that if it is not gone when he comes again, he shall resort to more powerful remedies. He approaches the patient as a general approaches a fortified city. The general orders the city to surrender or he will fire the city. The doctor in the same way orders the disease to leave the premises before morning or he will force him to leave. In the morning the rebel flag is flying, the face is flushed, the eyes inflamed, and the disease is in a perfect rage, ready for battle. A dose of calomel is given, which nearly turns out the disease, but leaves the man level with the bed. The doctor exults and rejoices in the success of his attack and enquires if the disease will surrender. The disease asks for a little time to think of the matter and the doctor in a bravado gives a few hours to consider. But the disease, being stubborn, commences to rally and barricade its weak points to gain possession of what it has lost.

To the inquiry what conclusion it has come to, the disease runs up its flag. The doctor then commences his siege, sends a full portion which strikes the foundation, but no effect being seen, he repeats the dose. Still no response. He follows up the attack with hot shot down the throat. Although he receives no answer, yet the resistance is feeble and one more shot is fired and the flag of life comes down. A flag of truce is sent in and the fort is found to be deserted by the disease and left in a state of ruin. A council of war is called, a post mortem examination held and they find that the first dose of calomel fell into the stomach and sent the blood to the head, causing congestion of the brain, and the subsequent firing burst the arteries, so that when the disease left could not be told. Some say, it was the first fire, but others declare that signs of life were subsequently seen on the outside of the body. They are forced to the conclusion that the fort might have been taken by a slower process and the inmates saved, but now they cannot tell whether it was destroyed by them or whether the rebels destroyed it. To make it sure, some of the friends consult a medium, and the general reports that he abandoned the fort at the first fire. The newspaper states that a great man died on such a day from typhoid pneumonia, that he was attended by the most skillful and successful physician in the country. This is a fair illustration of the manner in which the sick are treated.

I differ from the profession in every particular. I contend that diseases are the natural results of oppression. A belief in what man has no evidence of is a despot, and it makes slavery in politics and religion. Those who enforce either are demagogues of the same class. the medical man is a slave driver and applies the whip in the shape of pills, blisters, etc. The priests and politicians are the same. Neither enlightens the people by any philosophical reasoning. It may be asked what are these classes good for if they do not benefit the people? They are the law, I answer, but not the gospel. And what they fail to do, the truth accomplishes by introducing through reason the higher law, the law of wisdom. Then as man grows wiser he breaks from the law of sin and death and rises into the law of love. Politics is like the wind and the medical faculty the thunder, and when both have exhausted themselves, then out of the clamor of war and the scene of carnage, the effects of false religion, rises the still small voice of science. I have travelled through these bloody scenes and can understand the language of one who writes of Epicurus: “He first opposed himself to the terrors of religion and with undaunted courage soared above every selfish theory of man and rose to that state of wisdom where he could see the hypocrisy of the world.”

My course has been in the same direction and as his words will apply to my travels, I will give them. After saying that religion was the tyrant and tormentor of man and the author of his misery, he says that one man dared to meet this great enemy. Epicurus it was who “pressed forward, first to break through nature's fancied bounds, his mind's quick force prevailed, he passed through flaming portals of this world and wandered with his comprehensive soul o'er all the mighty space, from thence returned triumphant, told what things can have a being and what cannot, and how a finite power is fixed to each, a bound it cannot pass. And so religion that we feared before, by him subdued, we tread upon in turn. His conquest makes us equal with the gods.” Here is a man who had seen slavery in the form of religion and politics, for both are tyrants to man. I have said I differ from all others. I have seen the effect of their beliefs. I have broken their hold on my mind, passed their finite bounds and landed in an open space. Do you wish, reader, to take a trip to the world beyond the narrow limit of man's wisdom? Give me your hand and close your eyes from the natural world and rise into space, out of sight and hearing of the bustle of the world. View the vast space and sit till you see things come as it were standing on nothing.

See the things created by the Almighty Power and things created by man. Look upon the earth and ask what the inhabitants know of this state. This is the world they fear and falsely worship. Now return and make your knowledge practical by destroying the beliefs of men in their opinions. My theory, being in opposition to the world, is based on the fact that man's misery is in his belief. The world is in opposition to truth. Like the South, it wants to rule so that every man who would enslave his fellow man is a rebel, but he who would free all men is a loyal man. So there is a constant war of ideas between slavery and freedom, disease and health. Not everyone who holds a slave is a believer in the principle, neither is everyone who believes in disease in favor of oppressing the sick. It is through the ignorance of the masses that slavery of any kind has its power.

1863

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