In order to understand Dr. Quimby it is necessary to give the reader some idea in regard to how he treats diseases and also some explanation as to the way in which he says they were brought about. To do this I must give his ideas of the cause of disease. These will enable the reader to see some meaning in his otherwise blind writings, for he reasons about things that would seem to many persons as having nothing to do with the cure of disease. His ideas are entirely new to the world and if no explanation or introduction to his writings is made the reader would of course pass over what he says with indifference and condemn it as visionary. It is therefore necessary to set the reader right at the outset lest he should weary in looking for the principle the doctor claims to have discovered.
Dr. Quimby asserts and expects to prove that what is called disease is not a cause but an effect. He says that thoughts are like the shock of a galvanic battery, that they are directed by some wisdom outside of the individual and that these thoughts are deposited according to the direction and bring about a phenomenon. This phenomenon which he calls an idea is named disease.
He says that every idea, whether of disease or of anything else, is a combination of thoughts and that every person is responsible to himself for his ideas and must suffer the penalty of them. Dr. Quimby's theory is to correct these ideas which are false and avert the evil that flows from them. He holds that disease is caused by false ideas over which we have no control and that a different mode of reasoning from that which now prevails will eradicate from society the phenomena called disease.
In treating the sick, Dr. Quimby introduces the subjects of religion, politics and all ideas the discussion of which agitates society. These, he says, contain fear and excite the mind which by a false direction brings about the phenomenon called disease. Thus it is evident, his ideas are at variance with the belief of the world. So he stands alone, his hand against every one's, and all, against his.
He takes every patient as he finds him and commences as a teacher with a pupil, destroying his error by correcting every idea that affects his health. He often comes in contact with pet ideas of the patients, like religion for instance, that are so interwoven with his existence that they have become a part of himself. If these cause the patient trouble it is the doctor's business to correct them.
Chemical changes he talks a great deal about. This phrase he makes use of to give the patient an idea of the change in the system which always accompanies a change of ideas. He says that every idea or belief affects people just in proportion to their capacity to understand. He also says that obstinacy often prevents people from taking an interest in what they hear, thus protecting them from disease.
The doctor shows how fear also affects the mind. He says that false ideas contain some bugbear of which people are afraid and this he has to battle with; and in order to destroy this bugbear which terrifies them, he is obliged to destroy the idea which contains it. Patients, he says, will cling to their ideas as a child to its mother and he sometimes has sharp discussions before they will yield the point. This discussion he calls the remedy, so he says that the curing of disease is a scientific mode of reasoning. His theory is to correct man's errors so far as his health and happiness are concerned.
People not familiar with Dr. Quimby's ideas think that he does not understand the meaning of language and therefore does not express himself clearly upon those subjects which he undertakes to elucidate. It is therefore desirable to determine whether or not he understands his position.
His first principle is that nothing cannot produce something. Life, he says, is not a reality but an idea and in it is the fear of destruction called death, He shows that life and death are no part of wisdom, for the words cannot apply to what never had a beginning or ending. He proves by his theory and practice that every person has within himself the power of creation and at the same time shows that the life given to the creature is not in the thing created but springs from its author. He says that the great creator of all things contains no life nor death, but as long as the thing created remains a mystery, it contains life. Every false idea that man believes in contains life as long as he believes it, but when the error is discovered, the life is gone. Therefore, he says the absence of life is death.
He shows that man is a compound idea without wisdom or intelligence and he appears to have these only when he is acted upon by an identity that has its existence in the great father of all. He shows by his theory that two sets of ideas are admitted in the world, one real and the other unreal; the real being those that can be seen by the natural eye, the unreal, those that cannot be seen.