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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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My Conversion

The experience of my conversion from disease to health and the subsequent change from belief in the medical faculty to entire disbelief in it, and to the knowledge of the truth on which I base my theory.

Can a theory be found, capable of practice, which can separate truth from error? I undertake to say that there is a method of reasoning which, being understood, can separate one from the other. Men never dispute about a fact that can be demonstrated by scientific reasoning. Controversies arise from some idea that has been turned into a false direction, leading to false reasoning. The basis of my reasoning is this point; that whatever is true to a person, if he cannot prove it, is not necessarily true to another. Therefore, because a person says a thing is no reason that what he says is true. The greatest evil that follows taking an opinion for a truth is disease. Let medical and religious opinions which produce so vast an amount of misery be tested by the rule I have laid down, and it will be seen how much they are founded in truth. For twenty years I have been testing them and I have failed to find one single principle of truth in either. This is not from any prejudice against the medical faculty, for when I began to investigate the mind I was entirely on that side. I was prejudiced in favor of the medical faculty; for I never employed anyone outside of the regular faculty, nor took the least particle of quack medicine.

Some thirty years ago I was very sick and was considered fast wasting away with consumption. At that time I became so low that it was with difficulty that I could walk about. I was all the while under the allopathic practice, and I had taken so much calomel that my system was said to be poisoned with it; and I lost many of my teeth from that effect. My symptoms were those of any consumptive; and I had been told that my liver was affected and my kidneys were diseased and that my lungs were nearly consumed. I believed all this, from the fact that I had all the symptoms, and could not resist the opinions of the physician while having the proof with me. In this state I was compelled to abandon my business and, losing all hope, I gave up to die, not that I thought the medical faculty had no wisdom but that my case was one that could not be cured.

Having an acquaintance who cured himself by riding horseback, I thought I would try riding in a carriage as I was too weak to ride horseback. My horse was contrary and once, when about two miles from home, he stopped at the foot of a long hill and would not start except as I went by his side. So I was obliged to run nearly the whole distance. Having reached the top of the hill, I got into the carriage and, as I was very much exhausted, I concluded to sit there the balance of the day if the horse did not start. Like all sickly and nervous people, I could not remain easy in that place and, seeing a man ploughing, I waited till he had ploughed around a three-acre lot and got within sound of my voice, when I asked him to start my horse. He did so, and at the time I was so weak I could scarcely lift my whip. But excitement took possession of my senses, and I drove the horse as fast as he could go, up hill and down, till I reached home and, when I got into the stable, I felt as strong as I ever did. From that time I continued to improve, not knowing, however, that the excitement was the cause, but thinking it was something else. When I commenced to mesmerize, I was not well according to medical science; but in my researches I found a remedy for my disease. Here was where I first discovered that mind was matter and capable of being changed, also that diseases being a deranged state of the mind, the cause I found to exist in our belief. The evidence of this theory I found in myself; for, like all others, I had believed in medicine. Disease, its power over life and its curability are all embraced in our belief. Some believe in various remedies, and others believe that the spirits of the dead prescribe. I have no confidence in the virtue of either. I know that cures have been made in these ways. I do not deny them, but the principle on which they are done is the question to solve. For disease can be cured, with or without medicine, on but one principle. I have said I believed in the old practice and its medicines, the effects of which I had within myself; for, knowing no other way to account for the phenomena, I took it for granted that they were the result of the medicine.

With this mass of evidence staring me in the face, how could I doubt the old practice? Yet, in spite of all my prejudices, I had to yield to a stronger evidence than man's opinion and discard the whole theory of medicine as a humbug practiced by a class of men, some honest, some ignorant, some conceited, some selfish and all thinking that the world must be ruled by their opinions.

Now for my particular experience. I had pains in the back which the doctors said were caused by my kidneys, which were partially consumed. I also was told that I had ulcers on my lungs. Under this belief, I was miserable enough to be of no account in the world. This was the state I was in when I commenced to mesmerize. On one occasion, when I had my subject asleep, he described the pains I felt in my back (I had never dared to ask him to examine me, for I felt sure that my kidneys were nearly gone) and he placed his hand on the spot where I felt the pain. He then told me that my kidneys were in a very bad state, that one was half-consumed, and a piece three inches long had separated from it and was only connected by a slender thread. This was what I believed to be true, for it agreed with what the doctors had told me, and with what I had suffered; for I had not been free from pain for years. My common sense told me that no medicine would ever cure this trouble, and therefore I must suffer till death relieved me, but I asked him if there was any remedy. He replied, Yes, I can put the piece on so it will grow and you will get well. At this I was completely astonished and knew not what to think. He immediately placed his hands upon me and said he united the pieces so they would grow. The next day he said they had grown together, and from that day I never have experienced the least pain from them.

Now what is the secret of the cure? I had not the least doubt but that I was as he had described and if he had said, as I expected that he would, that nothing could be done, I should have died in a year or so. But when he said he could cure me in the way he proposed, I began to think, and I discovered that I had been deceived into a belief that made me sick. The absurdity of his remedies made me doubt the fact that my kidneys were affected, for he said in two days they were as well as ever. If he saw the first condition, he also saw the last, for in both cases he said he could see. I concluded that in the first instance that he read my thoughts, and when he said he could cure me, he drew on his own mind, and his ideas were so absurd that the disease vanished by the absurdity of the cure. This was the first stumbling-block I found in the medical science. I soon ventured to let him examine me further, and in every case he would describe my feelings but would vary the amount of disease; and his explanation and remedies always convinced me that I had no such disease and that my troubles were of my own make.

At this time I frequently visited the sick with Lucius, by invitation of the attending physician, and the boy examined the patient and told facts that would astonish everybody, and yet every one of them was believed. For instance, he told a person, affected as I had been, only worse, that his lungs looked like a honeycomb and his liver was covered with ulcers. He then prescribed some simple herb tea, and the patient recovered and the doctor believed the medicine cured him. But I believed that the doctor made the disease, and his faith in the boy made a change in the mind and the cure followed. Instead of gaining confidence in the doctors, I was forced to the conclusion that their science was a humbug. Man is made of truth and belief; and, if he is deceived into a belief that he has or is liable to have a disease, the belief is catching and the effect goes with it. I have given the experience of my emancipation from this belief and confidence in the doctors so that it may open the eyes of those who stand where I was. I have risen from this belief and I return to warn my brethren, lest when they are disturbed, they shall get into this place of torment prepared by the medical faculty. Having suffered myself, I cannot take the advantage of my fellow-men by introducing a new mode of curing disease and prescribing medicine. My theory exposes the hypocrisy of those who undertake to care for the lives of others. They make ten diseases to one cure, thus bringing a surplus of misery into the world and shutting out a healthy state of society. They have a monopoly of the business and no theory that lessens disease can compete with them. When I cure, there is one disease the less, but not so when others cure, for the supply of sickness shows that there is more disease on hand than there ever was. Therefore, the labor for health is sure, but the manufactory of disease is greater. The newspapers teem with advertisements of remedies, showing that the supply of disease increases. My theory teaches man to manufacture health, and when people go into this business, disease will diminish, and those who furnish disease and death will be few and scarce.

January 1863

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