by Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.]
On the other hand, we do find references in letters from patients to Quimby’s “Science,” written with a capital “S.” This would indicate that in conversation with patients Dr. Quimby was in the habit of talking about his “Science of Health” long before he put this view in writing and identified it with the Christ. What we must presuppose, in order to have a complete view of his intermediate period up to October, 1859, is an insight which brought the principles under consideration into a single view, namely, the conception of the human spirit with its higher “senses,” the idea of the Divine presence as guiding wisdom and healing power, and the identification of this wisdom with the Christ in terms of a demonstrable Science which all might understand.
We are not to suppose that Dr. Quimby quickly transferred his exceptional powers of control as formerly exercised over Lucius into immediate command of his forces so that he was never ill, never had any disabilities to overcome. For the transition began with the realization that he could readily take upon himself the feelings of patients, and that a way must be found to throw off these feelings. Already in Lucius’s journal we find reference to the fact that Quimby sometimes found himself enveloped in mental atmospheres. Later, we find Quimby hesitating to take a patient with fits, because of the difficulty he experienced in keeping himself mentally free. In their letters, his patients sometimes inquire about his health, because they too realized that it was difficult for him to throw off his patients’ troubles.
These difficulties are instructive to us, however, since they indicate that in thus gradually learning to keep his own spirit free by realizing the protective presence of “Wisdom,” as he briefly called God’s power with us, he passed through a period of analyzing his patient’s feelings by making himself receptive, allowing those feelings to impress themselves upon the sensitive plate of his mind (his own illustration, drawn from his experience with photography), and then comparing them with the Divine ideal. For this contrast was essential to his Science. It led the way to his view that there is a part of us, namely, the spirit, that is never sick, never sins; but is what he called “the scientific man,” the man of Christ or Science, in his articles on this subject. Had he not possessed exceptional sympathy, so sensitive a sympathy in fact that it was difficult at times to put a patient’s atmosphere aside, he would not have developed so sure a view of the whole situation in the inner life. Even in the last years of his practice in Portland he found difficulties in this respect, and had to leave his practice for brief periods of rest at his old home in Belfast. The sick often tended to overwhelm him. Yet one of the secrets of his remarkable cures is found in this willingness even to bear the burdens of the sick and sorrowing, that he might see through their miseries to the end and establish a science of right living which all might know and all could live by.
Those who, in recent times, have acquired the art of mental healing by standing apart from the patient and putting the mind through a series of affirmations, meanwhile keeping themselves comfortably free from all atmospheres, should hesitate to conclude that they possess a method superior to Quimby’s, because he found difficulty in keeping free. Very few mortals are willing to undergo such sacrifices as the pioneer had to make to blaze the way for the use of his silent method in comfort and ease. At a distance it might seem as if the pioneer were lost in the woods of mental influences, not blazing a straight way through. But it is the one who has encountered all the difficulties and found the way through, who knows the sorrow and sufferings because he has borne them in sympathy, who can tell us the whole story. And, plainly, the affirmation or silent realization is only a part of the process as our pioneer developed it stage by stage in his journey. Had that part been sufficient he might have turned more quickly from his mesmeric experiments to the utilization of ideal suggestions as substitutes for medical and priestly opinion, he might have remained on the level of mind—to—mind projection of human thought. But his guidances led him far beyond all this to the conclusion that in taking the sufferings of patients upon himself he was learning the way of the Christ, coming to learn God’s presence as love.
There is one further point to note in reading the letters and accounts of the intermediate period, that is, the frequent references to the mind as if it were merely part of the body or identical with the “fluids” of the organism. Dr. Quimby has found that opinions and adverse mental pictures take such hold upon the mind that they produce what we would now call subconscious after effects. He has found that these disturbing mental states, believed in and increasing in power through fear and other disturbing emotions, bring about changes in the nervous system, in the circulation, and in other ways. But he lacks the common term, subconsciousness, and so is compelled to speak, now as if the mind were constituted of thoughts simply, again as if it were the mere nervous activities and the circulation of the blood. This is why he refers to the mind as “the name of something, and this something is the fluids of the body. Disease is the name of the disturbance of these fluids or mind.” Later we shall see that by the term mind used in this sense Dr. Quimby always means the lower mental processes, never the real self. This is “the mind that can be changed,” the mind that is subject to every wind of doctrine. Dr. Quimby was in possession of the facts we now call “subconscious,” but could not readily name them. Consequently he often uses figurative language, as in his comparison of thought to the blossom of a rose. Again, he speaks of himself impersonally as “Dr. Q,” trying in this way to suggest the impartial observer, puzzled at first to understand the new mode of treatment.
Dr. Quimby did not keep a record of his patients from the point of view of medical diagnosis or opinion, and we do not know just how soon after 1847 he began to give all his time to silent spiritual healing. But in 1861 he writes that he has sat with “more than three hundred individuals every year for ten years, and during the last five with five hundred yearly.” By 1851, then, he was treating as many as three hundred patients a year, and by 1856 the number had increased to five hundred. The greater years of his work in Portland, therefore, beginning in 1859, came after he had had abundant opportunity to test his method to the full.
[This is the third installment of a four part series originally written and published as Chapter VI. INTERMEDIATE PERIOD, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
All I want to show is that I do not belong to any sect or creed. As I used to mesmerize, some think my mode of treatment is mesmeric, but my mode is not in the least like those who claim to be mesmerized subjects or spiritual mediums. I have nothing to say in regard to persons curing by the spirits. I know all about that way of curing. Neither have I anything to say about mesmeric treatment; I know all about that. I have been over twenty years investigating the subject. And if I had no other aim than dollars and cents, I would close my eyes, go into a trance, tell the patient how he felt and call some Indian to prescribe by making out the patient sick of scrofula or cancerous humor or of some other foolish disease and impress upon the patient the necessity of having medicine ordered by the spirits of my own getting up to the value of several dollars of which I should receive for my own benefit or they never would get well. If I should do this, I should do what I know to be wrong; and if anyone in a trance or mesmeric state, making it his profession to cure diseases first tells the patient that he is ignorant of what he says and that he recommends a medicine of his own invention, he deceives the patient.
I have had a clairvoyant subject long enough to know that when a person is unconscious of what he says, that he has no selfish motives, any more than a person in a dream. A person is either asleep or awake and if asleep, he will never recommend medicine for his own advantage. If awake, he should be honest and let the patient know it. I sit down awake and tell the feelings and have confidence in my wisdom to cure without medicine. But people are superstitious and if any person purports to come from another world, it has a great deal to do with his cure. His cure is in the belief of the patient’s confidence in the spirits that recommend medicine. I ask no aid from any source outside of that wisdom which is given to all men in all branches of science. Wisdom never acts in that way. If the spirit was wise, it could cure without medicine and if not wise, it is not of God.
Portland, March 1862
[Source: The Separation of Myself from All Others Who Treat Disease. This article is included in Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond, beginning on page 515.]
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Today, we continue to explore the INTERMEDIATE PERIOD of Phineas Quimby’s personal development, with the third installment, outlined in chapter 6 of The Quimby Manuscripts, by Horatio W. Dresser in 1921.
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Horatio Willis Dresser, the first child of Julius Alphonso Dresser and Annetta Gertrude (Seabury) Dresser, was born on January 15, 1866, or the day before Quimby died. His parents first met, fell in love and then married while they were each patients of Dr. Quimby during the years of his healing practice in Portland, Maine.
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