|When a man can see
that his belief can make him sick -
he won't require much reasoning to see also
that to correct his belief will make him well.
~ Phineas P. Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Disease I(& The Boy, Caspar Hauser)
Is it necessary for the benefit of mankind that there should be such a word as "disease?" I answer, “No,” and will show that the world will never escape from this evil as long as they admit it.
Now the word "disease" supposes that either certain phenomena exist in the world which pass under the name of disease and which have an identity separate from each individual, as much as wild animals have an identity separate from man - or that there are certain hidden evils called disease that are ready to attack us when we expose ourselves to them.
For instance, there are certain diseases that go in the air, we are told. Now let us analyze them. Let us take, for example, the plague. This horrid disease, as it is called, goes in the air and travels from one part of the globe to another. Now when it is in the air, what kind of a looking-thing is it? Has it any knowledge? It must have, according to what the medical faculty say of it, for it generally follows large cities and armies; but I never heard of it where there were no persons to be devoured by it. So of course it has an identity and is a horror to mankind.
Now how does it vary from the old superstition in the church about the devil and the evil spirits that were going round seeking whom they might devour? If you ask a person if he really believes there is such a thing or being as the devil, he will tell you, “No, we make him.” But if you ask the same person if he believes in the plague going around from one place to another, he will say, “Yes.” Now one is just as absurd as the other. Both are the inventions of man - and both will give way to the wisdom of man.
Liberal religion has destroyed the devil as a being and located him in man's evil thoughts and acts. And we are taught that to get rid of him is to keep ourselves free from mischief and learn to do good. In like manner, science will show the serpent's head called disease. And when man learns that its body is in our ignorance, and we create him in ourselves, the same as we create the devil - then this old serpent, the devil (or disease), will vanish, and man will be free from one of the greatest curses that ever affected the human race.
I will try to show that disease is what follows our belief, and our beliefs affect us and also each other, and also animals. Ignorance, being the medium to be affected - error is the first growth after the soil is disturbed. Now error sows all the seeds of misery. These seeds are beliefs. All phenomena in the soil of ignorance would, of themselves, produce no trouble. This is proved by facts that cannot be denied.
Take savages - in their perfectly savage state they are not much troubled by the inventions of civilized life. And in proportion as the savage has intercourse with the white man, they become diseased; thus showing that the whites are the originators of this evil. Now if disease is not the invention of the whites, why does the savage not have the disease in the same locality in which he lived, before he ever knew the whites? Take the Indian tribes. When they lived separate from the whites and had no communication with them, they were healthy. But as soon as the whites settled near them, and they began to enter into their beliefs - then the savages became frightened, and disease took hold of them.
Now if disease is a thing that goes around and attacks man - why does it not attack those that never had anything to do with civilized life? The fact is religion and disease are synonymous. Both are the invention of man for the special benefit of a few, but disease has become so settled in the minds of man that it amounts to a solid fact and is believed in as having a being independent of man and is an enemy to his happiness.
It is believed by every person, therefore, that to correct this belief and restore a person to health is a mystery. But when a man can see that his belief can make him sick, he won't require much reasoning to see also that to correct his belief will make him well. Now take the effect of his belief and call that a disease - then you see that there is no need of the name “disease.” When man finds that a belief is something as much as an odor, then it won't be very difficult to see how odors affect man and beast. Now prove that odors affect man and beast to make them sick - then odors must be something. The next step will be to show that man has the power to create odors by his own belief and will.
Now the case of the boy, Caspar Hauser, shows that odors - which man in his ordinary senses cannot detect by the slightest effect - would make him vomit. The least wine or liquor put into water would throw him into convulsions and make his head ache. When meat was offered him, on putting it into his mouth, it produced convulsions. The odor of flowers affected him. The footsteps of persons at a distance were easily detected, one from another. His sight was also so sensitive that he could see when it was so dark that others could not see. All this effect on the boy was proved.
Now see the effect of these odors on the boy, making him sick, throwing him into convulsions and giving him dreams. Now after being taught - hear his story. He says that while confined in his cell (or cave), he never dreamed and never was sick, and he lived on bread and water - all going to prove that the elements of disease are in the world. And if the world had been a cave (or prison), and man was as ignorant as the boy, Caspar Hauser - disease, as we have it, would never have come. For bread and water he became accustomed to; and the other odors would have affected us, but the name “disease” would never have been known.
Now these odors that make all the disease that flesh is heir to - where did they come from, and how came they in the world? I have said these odors affected this boy, but only temporarily. The odor of a thing that could not be detected by his friend was very disagreeable to him. Now no one will say that the odor of a flower would give a person the typhoid fever - or even any fever - for all the medical men recommend the open air and green fields to the sick. So all those things that we, as individuals, believe are healthy brought on all his trouble and misery. So we must look for disease from some other source.
Now all I have said in regard to this boy, I have proved by a mesmeric subject that I had. I found that his sense of smell was so acute that he could detect any odor at a distance - and not only detect, but describe the flower (or persons) that threw the odor; but all this does not account for disease. But I will lead you along to the point that will - and in doing so, be patient, for it cannot be shown by one sentence. It must be by degrees.
The boy, Caspar Hauser, was transferred from his sensitive state to the normal state of man; for he was a mesmerized subject in one sense, and I refer to him to show the similarity between this boy and my subject. For instance, persons and things were like pictures - all on the surface. A man, to him, looked like a picture - and everything the same. So with my boy. I could think of a being, and he was as much of a being to him as anyone. Now just suppose that Caspar Hauser had been told that all these odors that affected him were poisoned, and he was liable to disease; and suppose that he had been taught all the names of diseases and the symptoms - do you not see how he must be made sick?
I said that I could create objects that my subject could see; so of course I could create things that would frighten him, and I could create all kinds of fruit which he would eat and be affected by. For instance, when awake, he was very fond of lemons and was always eating them. I thought I would break him of the habit, so when I had him asleep, I would create mentally a lemon, and he would see it. Then I would make him eat it, till he would be so sick that he would vomit. Then he would beg me not to make him eat any more, promising me that he would never eat any more lemons again. I never named the conversation to him in his waking state. After trying the experiment two or three times, it destroyed his taste for lemons, and he had no desire for them and could not bear even the look of them.
Now to the natural man, he ate no lemon - then why did he vomit from the effect of eating? It may be said that it was my mind acting upon his. This was the case. Now if my mind was not something, it could not produce an effect. So if my mind is something - what is it? It is my belief, governed by my wisdom.
So an idea is the center of a belief. Now every idea that exists in the wisdom of man is in his mind; as every idea of a plant is in the earth, and every living idea that creeps on the earth or dwells in the seas; and every living thing that has form throws off an odor. And every person is affected, more or less, by the things he sees. Now there is another set of ideas, just as real as the former, which the world makes no account of; yet they are, of all things, the most wicked and dangerous, from the fact that they can't be seen by the natural man's mind; and yet they are in us, living on our very lives and devouring our substance of happiness - and we know it not.
Now settle this one thing - that ideas that cannot be seen are as real as those which can be seen; then man can account for his troubles as easily as he can account for injuries caused by an accident on a railroad or steamboat or any evils that we are subject to - and he can learn how to avoid them.
Some ideas contain no intelligence, because the author puts none in them. Others do - and the ignorant know no difference between them. Take the light of a lamp. When Caspar Hauser saw the light of a candle, he expressed joy and put his finger in the light. But as soon as it burned him, he drew it out and cried like a child, although he was 17 years of age. Now the idea “candle,” to him, contained no harm - but to those who knew it would burn him, it contained heat. So after he was burned, he was afraid.
Now suppose a person has put into the idea “candle” the idea “poison.” The idea poison to the boy would be like the candle before he put his finger in it. To him it contained nothing but a name – "poison." Now explain the nature of poison, and make him believe that his finger would be liable to become diseased; that it would spread all over the body and finally kill him - and a combined idea enters his mind. But suppose you take some simple remedy, and tell him if he applied it to the burn, it may stop the disease. Here you make an idea “poison” - and the idea is as real as the light. Now the idea poison is in the light. Every time he sees the light, he sees the poison. Now until he is rid of the idea poison, he is liable to be affected, in case he should be burned by the light.
This is a fair illustration of all these ideas of disease. The natural world has in it all sorts of living identities, from the vegetable to the animal - and every one throws off an odor. And before man became acquainted with the real properties of the odor, ignorance, superstition and error introduced other ideas and associated them with the thing that had an existence in the natural man (or error). And not knowing how to account for all the sensations of the odors, the false mode of reasoning called "knowledge" sprang up. So now there is not an odor from anything, but that there is a lie attached to it in the form of an opinion. These opinions become a part and parcel of the original idea; so as man receives the one, he is affected by the other.
Now the odor from the false idea contains the knowledge, so that every idea that contains knowledge, you may know is a lie; for the true idea contains nothing but a sensation. So in fact does the false idea - but the knowledge is in the odor of the lie and not in the odor of the real. For instance, the word “consumption” is like a flower that throws off an atmosphere - but the atmosphere is different from the flower in this respect. The odor from the flower contains the bush, but no language. The idea of "consumption" contains all the horror of death.
All this is language. So if a person does not know the meaning, all he sees is the bush (or skeleton) from which this odor arises. Now make him acquainted with the disease, and then he stands exactly as the boy does to the light, when he is made to believe it contained poison. So the idea "consumption" contains all the knowledge of its locality and the symptoms - in fact all the varieties of changes that man goes through after he thinks he has it. The symptoms are like the burn, and the remedies are not equal to the disease. So those that are affected by the symptoms are so excited that the idea “remedy” is not sufficient to produce the cure.
Now apply this theory, and you have a touchstone to test the true idea from the false. And the analyzing of the false idea destroys the effect - and health is the result.