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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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What Is Disease? I

The theory of the doctors and other leaders of the people (if there is any theory to it) is it is a certain something (I would not attempt to describe their views) that comes in various shapes and on various accounts or causes and attacks people in various parts of the body and with various results. Indefiniteness and uncertainty characterizes all their ideas about it and their ideas go no further than a belief. They believe it to be a something, they can't tell what. When a doctor speaks of the case of a sick person he gives his opinions. It may be founded upon what is to him very much evidence, including much experience. Still, in all cases it is after all an opinion which he gives, and this cannot be infallible and sure, not truth and sure and therefore good for nothing) because two opinions (there is an old saying that when doctors disagree or have different opinions) about the same thing cannot both be right. The same uncertainty about disease is allowed and winked at in the practice. But what is disease? If it is true that it is a thing of itself, did anyone ever see it? In all the post mortem examinations and dissections of bodies which has taken place, has the thing disease ever been found in the body?

A tumor or any disarrangement of the system is an effect, called by Dr. Quimby a phenomenon, or result of some cause. The question is, What is the cause? (This determines the disease.) To each of these questions you answer, No. Then I say, You know yourself that if it is not a material thing of itself it must be a property depending upon another thing.

It must be either a live thing like a fox (and twice as cunning) in order to come of itself and attack us, and furthermore, it must have intelligence or else it is a dependent characteristic of some other thing and if the latter, what is that? We hear the name animal life given to something in the body. We are told also that the body is under the control of the mind and we see daily illustrations of the fact. What then is the use of the second power called animal life? Did anybody ever see that? Is that a thing of itself or does it like [?] belong to something else? Oh, one cannot tell. That is something that no one can fathom is the answer invariably to this. How did they find that out? But this “life” is of the body I suppose. Now if the body is matter, has matter life? Again, did you ever see the body of any kind of an animal move without displaying intelligence? You know there is intelligence with every man and every animal and that intelligence guides each man and animal in all his movements. This intelligence needs no proof, but that animal “life” spoken of can neither be proved nor defined.

On the other hand, take away from a man or animal all knowledge, intelligence, or instinct and conceive if you can of any movement that he would make. What could there be a movement for? Nothing! There could be no object; the thought shows an inconsistency. Watch the very lowest brutes or the very smallest insect and you will see intelligence displayed in their movements. And again watch yourself and you will see no act or movement that is contrary to your will, but every stir or slightest motion is the result of your direct volition. What then can be the use of the animal life? If the mind has the control of the body as I would have the control of a hammer in my hand which would be no more a tool than the body is to the mind, of what use would be that second, indefinable, indescribable opinion of a thing or power called animal life? And if it is a thing of itself, why is it never seen nor found, and how can it go out of existence? But if it is not a separate thing of itself but a property of another thing how can it, being a live or active quality, be a property of a dead or inanimate thing, such as we see matter to be? You may say that is its life. How can it die then? If life dies, then it is not life. Again if disease is not a thing of itself, it must be a property of some other thing that has life and animation and intelligence of itself else it would produce no action or bad result. What then does it belong to? If to the body it could manifestly continue its operations after the spirit left the body. But we have not and cannot prove that the body has any life or animation or intelligence of its own, or independent of the mind; the evidence is all the other way. Then we have only the mind left to which to ascribe the disease as a property or how may it exist in the mind? I answer in the form of a belief, and the body being under the control of the mind, a subject of its influences is moulded and affected just in proportion to the state of mind in its belief.

A person is to himself just what he thinks he is and he is in his belief, sick. If this were not so, if it was not true that all disease is in the mind, not one of the hundreds of cures that have been made by Dr. Quimby, and are constantly being made, could have been accomplished by him, and the old time administers of pills, calomel, and error would still have undisputed possession of the field of sick and wounded. Again, take it another way. You complain of a pain in your side, is it you that complains or your side? You perhaps answer that it is your side complaining through your mind. But I ask, Has your side knowledge? And can it notify your mind that it may speak for it? Is not the knowledge in your mind and is it not your mind that complains? How much pain would you have if you did not know it? How much pain is there in a dead body? Why doesn't pain continue after the soul or mind leaves the body? It is known by all persons that the state of mind or belief influences a person's health. Why is it? How far does it go?

You see that there can be no action or motion without an intelligence behind it and you know that your body has no intelligence. I will quote a few lines from Dr. Q's writings “_____” [sic]. There is nothing animate in the body, so when the body is injured by what we call disease, it is by an error of the mind, the body being subject to the mind, so when the mind is corrected of its error, the truth is established which is its health.

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