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"Blessed is he that cometh in the Science of Wisdom." ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

April 27, 2014


    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.]


[It is noticeable that Quimby does not spend time analyzing the process of healing, does not write about concentration, meditation or “the silence.” Possessing exceptional powers of concentration, he immediately turned to the patient to make his intuitive diagnosis, then gave his thought to the realization of the Divine ideal of health and happiness. The nearest he comes to a description of the process is in the following illustration, drawn from his experience as a daguerreotypist in his early years.]

A patient comes to see Dr. Q. He renders himself absent to everything but the impression of the patient’s feelings. These are quickly daguerreotyped on him. They contain no intelligence, but shadow forth a reflection of themselves which he looks at: this contains the disease as it appears to the patient. Being confident that it is the shadow of a false idea, he is not afraid of it, but laughs at it. Then his feelings in regard to the disease, which are health and strength, are daguerreotyped on the receptive-plate of the patient, which also throws forth a shadow. The patient, seeing this shadow of the disease in a new light, gains confidence. This change of feeling is daguerreotyped on the doctor again, and this [new impression] also throws forth a shadow, and he sees the change and continues to treat it in the same way. So the patient’s feelings sympathize with his, the shadow grows dim, and finally the light takes its place, and there is nothing left of the disease. [This description refers to the successive intuitions concerning the whole individual, the error to be banished, the fears to be overcome, the haunting mental pictures to be blotted out; and the picturing of the Divine image of health, made concrete by Quimby’s great power of focussing the attention, as well as his insight into the causes on which he based the explanation following the silent treatment. The “receptive-plate” of the patient includes part of what we now call the subconscious. When actual changes were wrought the patient began to feel the benefit. Then the process of re-education could be begun. Quimby judged by the ideal or “scientific” man, in contrast with which the patient’s own idea of himself as a sick person was a mere shadow.]


To show the effect of the will upon the mind of a child, I will state the case of one about two years old who was brought to me to be treated for lameness. The mother held the child in her lap and informed me that it was lame in its knee. This was the information I received from its mother; but when I sat by the child I experienced a queer feeling in the hip and groin, but no bad feelings in the knee. I told the mother that the lameness was in the hip, and that I would show her how the child walked, and how it would walk were it lame in the knee. I then imitated the walk of the child, and also showed how it would walk were the lameness in the knee. After I explained the difference to her the mother admitted I was right.

I then informed her that to cure the child’s lameness I must cure her (the mother) of the disease which was in her senses [mind] while the phenomenon was exhibited in the child. She said the doctor told her the disease was in the knee, and ordered it splintered. To splinter up the knee and keep it from bending would be to encourage the evil in the hip, and make a cripple of the child. I was obliged to explain away the doctor’s opinion. When I suceeded in doing that, it changed the mother’s mind so much that when she put the child down she could see that her will guided its motion. This was so apparent to her that she could in some measure counteract the wrong motion of the child. With my own wisdom attached to the child’s will I soon changed the mind so that the child walked much better.


It is an undisputed fact that Dr. Quimby cures disease, and that without any medicine or outward applications. How does he do it? is the question that agitates and interests the people. If he has any new way different from the mysterious and superstitious mode acknowledged by others who have appeared to cure disease by personal virtue alone, what is it? Where does he get his power?

He denies that he has any power or gift superior to other men. He contends that he operates intelligently under the direction of a Principle which is always his guide while with the sick. He follows this Principle in practice and theory, and under it he learns facts of real life that he could never get in any other way. He has found the way by which all errors can be corrected...

It might be called the Principle of Goodness. It is the highest intelligence that operates in the affairs of man, always producing harmony, and making man feel that he has more to learn and is a progressive being... It has been his aim to develop this principle in relation to human misery and make life a science. The cause of all misery is in ignorance of ourselves, and in proportion as he develops this higher, happier portion of mankind, which he calls Science, he sees through the miseries and the ills, and just in proportion as he sees through them he can correct them... With a knowledge that all trouble is a false alarm...he proceeds to undermine the foundations, and the structure gives way. However well established are the facts of any disease, he believes the basis all wrong, dependent on the opinions of men for an existence... To destroy the belief identified with a patient’s feelings, changes the mind, and that is the cure... The mind is something and embraces a much larger compass of our being than we are taught to consider it. It includes all opinions and [conventional] religion, and everything about us which can change; not that part which is seen by the natural eye, but that which acts upon the natural man. It embraces all excitement and agitation, and all the variations of humanity... It is not matter that comes to our bodily senses. It is another kind which is just as sensible to him as that which he touches with his hands. Around every one is an atmosphere of intelligence which contains our whole identity, and he has become so sensitive to that atmosphere that its existence is a fact, and with that he operates. [If this seems to imply a sixth sense, the answer is that Dr. Quimby has not] found any one faculty that would answer to a “sense,” but he has refined and spiritualized those faculties which mankind exercise toward each other till he has arrived at the true way of communicating with and influencing minds. For instance, his sympathy for his patients is pure from any feeling like blame or contempt, or discouragement, and is a transparency to reflect their feelings just as they come to him, with light from a higher source, to account for and explain them to the patient, and his explanation illumines the patient’s mind.

How does he know he has got hold of a true method? How does be know he is not mistaken? There are many reasons which confirm his method as a science. One is that he constantly improves it. He finds he can cure more quickly, and harder cases. Then as he explains his method to others and they understand it confirms him... Admitting that there is a First Cause or God, it is not so hard to demonstrate that Dr. Quimby knows more about His wisdom in regard to health... and unto Him he gives all the glory. He knows that while treating disease he is purely under the influence of the highest truth... He knows that his peculiar belief is not an invention of his own, for it is contrary to what as a natural man he has been taught: it rests on the facts of his own experience with the sick...


Disease is that part of the mind that can be compared to a wilderness. It is full of erroneous opinions and false ideas of all kinds, and it opens a field for speculators to explore... When I sit by a sick person he tells me the story of his travels, and his experience of the evils that beset him in this wilderness. The scientific character is like the prodigal son, it desires to enter this land of mystery to see what it can gain... As health is the thing most desired, to find out how to keep it and when lost how to restore it, is the object of our journey into this territory.

The question may be asked, What is health? I know of no better answer than this: it is perfect wisdom, and just as a man is wise is his health; but as no man is perfectly wise no man has perfect health. Ignorance is disease, although not accompanied by pain. Pain is not disease itself, but is what follows disease. According to my theory, disease is a belief, and where there is no fear there can be no pain; for pain is not the act but the reaction of something which creates pain.

But, says some one, I never thought of pain till it came. But if it came something must have started it. Therefore it must be an effect, whether it came from some place or from ourselves. I take the ground that it is generated in ourselves, and that it must have a cause. Every one knows that in his natural state a person is sensitive to what is called pain, and if his sensitiveness is destroyed he shows no signs of pain. But to suppose his senses are destroyed because he feels no pain is not correct: his senses [or consciousness] may be detached from his body and attached to another idea, so that he is not sensitive to any effect upon the body which in his natural state would give him pain. This shows that pain is in the mind, like all trouble, though the cause may be in the belief or body.

For instance, suppose a tumor appears on the body, the person feeling no sensation or trouble from it. He consults a physician who, after examining it, asks the man if he has shooting pains and hot flashes. The man says, “No, why do you ask the question?” The doctor replies that it looks like a cancer, and then explains the nature and symptoms of the disease. In the course of an hour the man feels shooting pains. Now where is the pain, in the tumor, or in the belief in a cancer? I answer, in the belief... Error gives direction to the mind, and a cancer is formed just as far as the belief is received by the patient. Every thought is a part of a person’s identity, and if it contains a belief he must suffer the penalty of his acts; for to believe is to act.

[This is the ninth 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.]

Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

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Editor’s Corner

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.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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