|This Science gives man
consciousness of life independent of matter.
This Life contains the reality
and here is where we must seek for the causes of our own troubles.
~ Dr. Phineas P. Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Answer to an Article in the New York LedgerAugust 1860
I see an article in your paper of August 9, 1860, taken from the New York Ledger, in which the writer gives a minute account of a very remarkable case of clairvoyance or “vision,” as it is called, in which Dr. E. W. came in possession of a fact that he could not have received through his ordinary senses. Cases of this kind are frequently occurring and are accounted for on the principle of an overruling Providence, interesting itself in some foolish trouble that man has got into. Just as though Dr. E. W.'s son must be returned to his father by the destruction of a young lady! As though God took this way to show his power! Oh! Vain man! How long is God to be misrepresented by such ignorance and superstition! The time will come when this heathen superstition will give way to a higher development of God's wisdom, and God will no longer be made the cause of so much misery in this world of error.
I accept the doctor's account of what he saw. I have no doubt that it took place to the very letter - and he is responsible for the phenomenon. I can account for the phenomenon on the grounds of superstition and show just how it was brought about - and thousands of other like cases. It is not denied that persons can throw themselves into a nervous state, to that degree that a scene that is troubling them can be seen and described to perfection. I have been excited upon some cases of disease; so much that I have seen a whole scene, as this doctor did - but under another state of belief. And if my belief had taken place, the opposite effect would have taken place. I will state a case for the benefit of the profession.
A lady, being very sick and unable to walk, had great confidence in my power to heal and wished me to visit her. But owing to engagements, I could not leave. So I sent her husband a letter, saying that I would visit his wife for one week, and on Sunday between the hours of eleven and twelve, I would make her rise from her bed and walk. In two or three days, I received a letter saying that the lady was made very nervous the night she received my letter, but was better the next day. On the day I was to make her walk, I told some of my friends that I would have three or four strangers there to witness the scene. The Sunday following the scene, I received a letter stating that the lady arose from the bed at the time named and walked into the dining room and returned; also that there were three persons from a neighboring town witnessing the scene.
Now what I wish to say is this. In the case of the lady I made walk, I was aware of my effect on her, and my mind acted upon hers to bring about the phenomenon I produced. As the time drew near for her to walk, I, of course, grew more anxious to have my cure accomplished - so at the hour appointed, I was sitting alone, and the scene was just as I described it to my friends.
Now if I had believed that the lady was going to die with consumption - for that was what the doctors called her disease - I have no doubt but that I could have killed her, just at the time appointed; that is, if I had known that she was very sick and that a certain day, in a certain month, had a great effect on consumption, and if I feared that she would have died on that day. I have no doubt that my own mind, directed by ignorance, would have produced the phenomenon; as the doctor did in the case of the young lady. I have no doubt that, from the ignorance and superstition of the doctor, his mind affected the young lady, as mine did the sick lady, but with this difference - I knew what I was doing, and he did not. But each belief acted upon the persons, just according to direction.
The doctor, from his superstition, saw in this young lady - or thought he saw - the image of his wife. So the very first impression made upon her was bad. It would make her nervous. Then it was followed by remarks to her parents, so as to get their minds all centered on their child. This was enough to get her mind into a nervous state, just fit for the phenomenon that the doctor had laid out. As his mind was watching the young lady, she became more nervous, and at the time that the phenomenon occurred, no doubt but the doctor's own mind was tormenting her and his own soul, by the superstition of his own brain.
Now put the doctor in possession of the science of God (or truth), and this would not have taken place. This science gives man the consciousness of life independent of matter; and in this life is the operation of principles and the action of thought, which shows itself in the natural world in some form of disease or misery. This life contains the reality, and here is where we must seek for the causes of our own troubles. And as we investigate it, we learn that to think wrong towards anyone is as much a sin as to do or say the same - and in certain cases, where there is much excitement, its effects are the same. The influences making our happiness or misery are, in either case, spiritual - but in one, they are of God and in the other, they are the inventions of man; and if we direct these towards others, they are affected by them.
With this knowledge, the doctor would have felt that he injured the young lady and dishonored himself, by the process of mind that he kept up. To account for the similarity which he observed in the young lady and his deceased wife, he sacrificed her with consumption and directed the parents to do the same. So the life of this young lady was surrounded by enemies and hypocrites, who brought about the sad phenomenon, which they had made.