The reader will find my ideas strewn all through my writings and sometimes it will seem that what I said had nothing to do with the subject upon which I was writing. This defect is caused by the great variety of subjects that called the pieces out; for they were all written after sitting with patients who had been studying upon some subject, or who had been under some religious excitement, or were suffering from disappointment or worldly reverses, or had given much time to the study of health, being posted in all the wisdom of the medical faculty and had reasoned themselves into a belief; and their diseases were the effect of their reasoning. So you will see at a glance that I must have all classes of mind, as I have all classes of diseases. No two are alike. You will find under the head of Two Patients, Book III,1. an article written from the impressions made upon me at the time I wrote. Although to the world their symptoms were, so far as they could describe them to a physician, precisely alike, yet the causes were entirely different.
One person had a strong desire for this world's goods and at the same time had been made to believe his salvation depended upon his being honest and steady. Hence his religion acted as a kind of hindrance to his worldly prosperity. This kept him all the time nervous, and he put all his troubles into the idea, heart disease. The other was a man who had a great deal of acquisitiveness and self esteem, so that all his acts were governed by popular opinion. He wanted to be a great man by making himself wise at others' expense, or getting every idea that is of any value without paying for it. This made him nervous, for his mind would often force itself into society where it was not wanted, yet if he made anything out of it, it was well. So his religion was always the last thing to think of. To him heaven had no claims till he had gone through hell to make up his mind which place was the better for his practice.
Now to cure these two men was to show them the hypocrisy of their belief and show them that all men are to themselves just what they make themselves. I convinced the former that his ideas of heaven were only a hindrance to his happiness, for to him religion was a sort of tyrant that he was afraid of. Now I have no belief, but if any person has a belief that they take for a truth that governs their lives through fear, I destroy it and I convince them that their happiness lies not in a belief but in themselves, and to do good from fear is not doing good from the right motive. But to do good because you feel better, then you act from love and not from fear. So in regard to any disease, I destroy the patient's belief in all sorts of medicine and also in all beliefs in disease and show that the whole foundation is based on a lie, and if I can tear their theory to pieces, I have nothing to give in return. For if the disease is gone, their belief is also gone, and to do well requires no belief, but it is wisdom, and to know how to keep well is to know what makes you sick.
This is what I intend to show. Therefore my arguments are aimed at some particular thing, sometimes words, sometimes one thing and sometimes another. So it is impossible to give a work like this to the public like any other. It will be more like a court record or a book on law with the arguments of each case. It takes up a little of everything. Sometimes I am reasoning on politics so I have to show the absurdity of their reason. This stops their mouths and keeps them still so that they shall not get nervous on politics.
1. This is a reference to the fourth paragraph of the previous article, “About Patients—A Case: A Divorced Lady.”