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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Outlines of a New Theory for Curing Disease, The

All medical practitioners claim that their mode of treatment is the best; yet no one has even hinted or dares to risk his reputation on the ground that disease is an invention of man and ought to be treated as an error or deception forced upon mankind by ignorance and superstition in the same way that slavery has been forced upon this country, and with all the attendant evils. Dr. Quimby's theory is that all phenomena called disease are the result of false beliefs originating in the darkness of Egyptian superstition and the effect of certain beliefs is called disease.

African slavery is a disease of ignorance and superstition and is the cause of the present misery in this country; but it is merely the figure of white slavery which has riveted its fetters on the minds of men, while the world of mind lies crushed and humbled by this tyrant of old superstition. Disease is what follows a belief and a belief is like an atmosphere so universal that everyone is liable to be affected by it as one would be by chilly winds. God never made the wind to injure any person, nor has He put any intelligence into it by which man should be afraid of it, but man does not “see it in this light.” How often we hear this remark, “Don't expose yourself to the damp, cold air.” This belief that God made the air an enemy to man is a part of the clouds that rise in the mind of every person, and when this cloud is seen and felt, all persons, old and young, are affected, for the fear is the punishment of the belief, and it is no excuse that the ignorant have no belief as they must suffer for the sins of their parents. Science is the sun that burns up the clouds or changes the beliefs of man, and a little ray of intelligence springs up and the cloud of superstition vanishes as the true God appears. The people will hail the truth, as the peak of Tenerife hails the rising sun long before it is seen by the horizon of the common mind.

I will bring some cases to show that phenomena that were once produced can never be produced again. This fact holds good in the vegetable as well as in the mental world. Take a primeval forest, cut down the old growth and another will spring up, not like the first, but a more solid, thicker growth. So it is with error; like an old growth, error is tall and porous with a great show. Science is denser and more substantial. Error is the natural growth of man; it is a wilderness filled with all kinds of superstition and everyone is liable to be caught by a native of this land. It is inhabited by every variety of creature: consumption and liver complaint, etc. Science is the axe in the hands of Wisdom to hew down this wilderness and destroy its inhabitants and introduce a better state of society. Like all superstition, error is very religious. Religion and slavery always go hand in hand. Freedom and science also go together and are the same. So religion is in its acts and the other is the same, only when one binds his fellow man, the other liberates him. Where science goes civilization is the purest, but science is not always known. Science in religion has not made much progress except as an indirect result of some other development. Astronomy has destroyed some of the hideous features of religion and introduced a happier state of society, but it was not the design of astronomy to destroy religion. Still it is the natural result of science to destroy error and prejudice. It sometimes comes in contact with the most enlightened state of intelligence, for that is cursed with the shackles of religion of dark ages. You will see religion in its purest state under the most despotic form of government, and you will always find disease under some despotic power of religion; and those who undertake to rid the world of this evil are like demagogues in a despotism. Such is the essence of hypocrisy intended to keep the masses weak so they can be ruled. Starve the masses and you destroy their energy and make them desperate; then the more enlightened will submit to the leaders for their own safety. This keeps in power those demagogues.

So it is with disease. Religion is despotism in politics and disease. The misery of the sick is the torment of their belief. With politics the misery of the South is their religion. The North has more science and less religion. Yet the North has enough to sympathize with the South and bring misery in our midst. Religion makes no compromise; it is rule or ruin. It sometimes takes to itself the name of reform, giving every man the liberty of free speech, and then it subjects everyone to its laws. Just so with the poor slave or sick, for the sick are merely slaves of superstition made so by the sins of our parents. So they, like the African slave, think slavery or disease is of divine origin and the doctor is our teacher. Jesus came out against all this and lost his life. So with every reformer. Let him speak the truth of the church, the medical faculty and political parties or his life is in danger.

September 1862

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