April 6, 2014
DISEASE AND HEALING
Chapter XVI of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
Dr. Quimby is so greatly interested in calling attention to the power of human beliefs in relation to all man’s troubles that he does not give much space to a description of the natural world, does not state his idea of matter very definitely, and often leaves the reader wondering how he distinguishes between matter and “spiritual matter” or the mind of opinions. He is especially interested to point out that matter can be “condensed into a solid by mind action,” that it undergoes a “chemical change” as a result of mental changes. He sometimes speaks of it as an “error” or shadow, as “an idea seen or not, just as it is called out.” Whatever its objective reality in the Divine purpose, matter in itself is inanimate, there is no intelligence in it. His view of matter is idealistic, therefore, and in considering his theory of disease and its cure we need to bear in mind that matter for him is plastic to thought. The ordinary or external mind which is “spiritual matter” is the intermediate term. Above this mind is the real man with his spiritual senses, his clairvoyant and intuitive powers. The final term is Wisdom, making known its truths in so far as there is responsiveness and intelligence on man’s part. This is said to possess a real “identity.” To find himself as an “identity” in every truth, man should know himself as the “scientific man,” able through Wisdom’s help to banish all errors from the world.” ~Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.—editor.]
IS THERE ANY CURATIVE QUALITY IN MEDICINE?
Common opinion would answer that there is and according to my opinion there is but it is all owing to the patient’s belief, and to perfect wisdom there is no curative virtue in medicine.
I will relate one case out of a hundred to show medicine proves itself according to the patient’s belief or the direction of some other person. I was attending a gentleman who was sick and he thought he had consumption, but was not fully settled in his own mind, so of course he was very nervous. Under this nervousness the glands around the throat were excited and kept him hacking and raising, and also kept him heated, which heat would be thrown off in a perspiration. After I had told him the cause of his trouble, the explanation so far as he understood relieved him, he breathed more easily and was improving. One day he read in a paper an advertisement of a medicine which would cure the catarrh and prevent the discharges from the head; thinking it might cure him he bought a bottle and commenced taking it, but instead of lessening the secretion it grew worse and he ran down very rapidly.
My theory explains this fact in this way. His belief admitted that his head was diseased and in the condition of a sore and that the medicine would cure it. Under this belief the glands of the nose were excited and the medicine then proved his belief that the matter was in his head, for it was taken to make the head discharge. His belief did this by exciting the glands and the medicine was taken to throw it off, so when the matter and even blood commenced running it showed that the medicine was doing what it agreed to do. But another belief came up that I had given him, for I had exposed the absurdity of medicine and after he saw the effect he remembered what I had told him, and abandoning his medicine he returned to me again and in a few days recovered what he had lost. This is how the disease worked. His own belief produced the phenomenon; his knowledge gave the medicine the praise or blame, just as people give God the praise for their own acts while the devil has to take the blame for their troubles. I have observed the effect of medicine and have found that there is more virtue or misery in the advertisement than in the medicine.
Everyone knows how the mouth will water by a desire for something that the person wants, and low the mouth and throat will become parched by fear of detection in crime. This was known by the ancients and magicians, and from the fact that the mind could be changed by fear, so that criminals could be detected, those who understood it took advantage of it to detect a thief. The magicians made a paste that would dissolve when laid on the tongue of a person in a perfectly calm state of mind, but in case of unusual warmth or feverish thirst it would not dissolve, so when a theft was committed by the servants all the people were collected in one room and the magician was sent for. Believing in his power, their minds of course were controlled by their knowledge and if the thief were present he knew it and being sure of detection grew nervous, this would prevent the glands from acting and thus bring out his guilt. The others feeling innocent were safe, for if they were nervous it did not produce the state of mind to prevent the paste from dissolving. So the mind was the medium to detect the thief and out of his own mouth he was condemned. People put extravagant confidence in medicine supposing that it contains curative qualities. Frequently Indian doctors appear who have discovered an herb or root to cure some disease that man is afflicted with, as though God had made both the disease and the cure. The same class of people say that God has made a remedy for every disease, showing that their superstition is woven into a belief that God made all diseases and made medicines to cure them. This is the belief of mankind and it is not strange that man has gone out of the way. Now I disbelieve in diseases and remedies as understood by the world and as I once understood and believed...
The opinion that God has provided a remedy for every disease gives rise to a belief that there are certain roots and herbs intended by the Creator to cure all diseases. Absurd as it seems it is the belief of ninety-nine out of a hundred, and this being the case a door is open to quackery, for new discoveries will come up every day. Dr. Herrick’s pills, Ayers’ sarsaparilla, and countless others are advertised as the cure-all. Then follow certificates of cures and of recommendations from some M. D., and these give the medicines a run. Next a man comes who exhibits the effect of laughing gas and also states that it will cure neuralgia and rheumatism, and the sick rush to him for a time. After he goes a learned M. D. arrives with flaring advertisements announcing free lectures on anatomy and the digestive organs. He explains the action of these organs and dwells upon the danger of getting sick by overeating and drinking, receives some fifty dollars from the poor sick and leaves. Among the throng of humbugs, where all seems dark and despairing, an announcement is whispered in the ear of the sick that God has opened a way for their recovery and sent an angel of mercy who has discovered a flower that will cure everything that can be cured. So here is introduced an imposter who will give Lobelia emetics till they cease to affect the patient, pretending that all diseases must yield to it. This has its day, and another comes up. All this goes to show that the mind of man is like an old fiddle played on by every kind of quackery relating to roots and herbs. With my wisdom I understand them all as Job said to Zophar, “What ye know the same do I also, I am not inferior unto you.” I use nothing, yet I could easily use all kinds of drugs...
I have seen the working of popular belief and know that diseases and remedies are the invention of man, and the very proof which is brought to establish their wisdom goes to substantiate what I say. For instance, an emetic...when people have eaten too much they can take a Lobelia emetic; also if they think their lungs are diseased take a Lobelia emetic, and if they have dropsy take the same. Now I will call your attention to what this belief amounts to carried out toward God. What kind of a God is it that made the earth to bring forth, trees herbs and everything that hath life? All this was before man was created, therefore did He make these medicines and the codfish with a liver to cure consumption before the disease was made? This belief would certainly suppose that God made the remedies before the disease, and if He made all the remedies these quacks say He did, He certainly is the greatest enemy to mankind. Absurd as this sounds we believe it and are affected by our beliefs and this makes man the most dependent of all God’s creatures. He is merely a target to be fired at by every person’s opinion. I can show by facts that every person will admit that no kind of medicine has any more effect of itself than almost any kind of food or drink that we use daily, but our ignorance places some kind of virtue in the medicines as we place wisdom in some one’s opinion. The truth which places all disease in the mind can explain the operation of remedies. God is Wisdom and man is opinion, therefore man cannot live in Wisdom and be diseased. To show that there are diseases according to the belief of man is to show that they are made by circumstances which cannot be controlled except by correcting the error that brought them about, while ignorance would prescribe some medicine that God had made from the foundation of the world.
OUTLINES OF A NEW THEORY FOR CURING DISEASE
All medical practice claims 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 as slavery has been forced upon this country, and with all the attendant evils. My theory is that all phenomena called disease are the result of false beliefs originating in the darkness of Egyptian superstition. 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 the tyranny of superstitious belief. Disease is what follows a belief and a belief is like an atmosphere so universal that every one is liable to be affected by it as by chilly winds. God never made the wind to injure any person, nor has He put any intelligence into it so 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 Teneriffe hails the rising sun long before it is seen by the horizon of the common minds.
I will bring some cases to show that phenomena that once took place 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 every one is liable to be caught by a native of this land. It is inhabited by every variety of creature such as consumption and liver complaint. Science is the axe in the hands of Wisdom to hew down the 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... 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 and in politics and disease the misery of the sick is the torment of their belief. Religion makes no compromise, it is rule or ruin. It sometimes takes to itself the name of reform, giving every man the liberty of speech, and then it subjects every one 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.
[This is the sixth installment of a twelve–part series originally written and published as Chapter XVI. DISEASE AND HEALING, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
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Today we are continuing a twelve–part serial review of Chapter 16, DISEASE AND HEALING, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.
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