Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Dr. Phineas P. Quimby



(Lecture Notes)
Here we have the experiment and the explanation. Let us examine the reasoning:

First, "that which is immaterial cannot by its very definition move masses of matter." "I must bring myself into absolute contact with the body which I desire to move."

The person at a distance is then brought into "absolute contact" by the agency or electricity. He "wills, extends his hands and moves them hither and thither," and the patient at a distance, being in actual contact with him by this electric agency, extends his hands, moves them hither and thither, etc.

The body, or arm and hand of the patient is moved by the mind of the operator just as it acts in his body, electricity being the medium of communication, as though the body of the operator, his mind, and the body of the patient are one person.

Now, if electricity, or any other fluid, can so connect mind and matter, I do not see why we may not connect ourselves with the chair in the supposition above, and mind -  with its new organ of contact - will cause the chair to move, on the same principle of connection as the body of the patient.

Mind, no doubt, has equal power to connect itself with a chair as with any other material body, by the agency of electricity. The body of the patient, without his mind, or acting independently of his own will, as it must, if it were moved by the mind of the operator, would be like every other material thing, and susceptible of action upon it by another mind to the same degree as the chair, being no more or less.

And if he proves to you that the motion of the patient's hands is from the same mind as the motion of the operator's, through the agency of electricity, I will as conclusively prove that by the same agent your minds may be in "absolute contact" with any, or all, material bodies, and that you can as easily move the universe of matter by the mind, as the body of one man.

But was not the experiment really performed? We answer, yes - without electricity or any other fluid; not by the mind of the operator acting on the body of the patient, but upon his mind. It was mind acting upon mind.

The proposition laid down by the Rev. gentleman, i.e. that immateriality cannot move masses of materiality, does not apply to destroy the influence or action of mind - being immaterial - over immaterial mind.

We trust we have shown, by such experiments as have been introduced into the former part of this work, the great laws by which such facts are produced - that mind in the excited or mesmeric state is present with everything; that space, distance, and material objects are no impediments to its action; that it is susceptible of impressions from other minds, and will act under such impressions as it receives.

Suppose, then, the operator is impressed to extend his hand; that impression is immediately made upon the mind of his patient and all the organs of his body, being under this control of his mind, act in conformity to the impression. The distance from the patient is no obstacle. because mind, acting directly without the medium of the bodily senses, knows nothing of space and distance. It only requires direction, and it is present with the object.

If electricity be the "lever" by which the operator moved the arm of the patient, as asserted by the Rev. Mr. Townshend, we would ask where the fulcrum rests by which he gets his power. It might be answered that it rests where the fulcrum of the globe's foundation was supposed to - upon the back of an enormous tortoise!

We will say further, that the experiment above could have been performed without the motion of the hand of the operator; by his willing the patient - or impressing his mind - to extend the hand. So that all that is necessary to be done in such experiments is to give an impression to do an act upon the mind of the subject, and the result immediately follows.

"A friend of mine at Cambridge," says the Rev. Mr. Townshend, "was susceptible of being influenced by myself, but transiently and imperfectly, while on the other hand, he was at once and invariably brought into the mesmeric state by being subjected to the action of a young fellow student, who (as to the rest) used no art in his manipulations and merely imitated rudely my proceedings and gestures."

Also the following is extracted from his work on mesmerism: "E. A.," whom I could mesmerize in a few seconds, was operated upon for an hour by another person, who in other cases had displayed immense mesmeric power without experiencing any effect whatever."

Here are two cases directly opposite in their character. The first could only be partially operated upon by an experienced and powerful magnetizer; but a fellow student could throw him into the mesmeric sleep without exercising the least effort to pass the fluid.

If it had been a fluid, he, who knew best how to direct it, of course, would magnetize better than one who neither knew how, nor used effort, but only imitated the actions of a mesmerizer.

The second case proves conclusively that the fluid, by which Mr. Townshend and the powerful magnetizer operated upon their subjects - and of course it must be the same - did not produce a result when under the control of one, which it did under that of the other, upon the same subject. If it was a fluid, why did not the same results follow from the same causes? Both were powerful magnetizers, and of course knew how to use and direct the fluid.

From facts like these. Mr. Townshend concludes that it is not the power of the magnetizer, but the "proportions between the respective strengths of mesmerizer and patient which insures success, and that the less or more on either side would indifferently prevent a perfect result."

So that he has ventured to predict that in the progress of this science, a "neurometer, or instrument to ascertain the nervous power of a person, might give to mesmerism that precision which science requires."

We fear, however, that he advanced beyond what we shall ever realize from the fluid theory - that his mind had probably been exhilarated by a surcharge of electricity, which ena­bled him to predict an event, which, if it ever transpires, we think, must be very far distant in the future.

We have endeavored in every portion of our work to keep distinctly in view the theory of "mind acting upon mind" - not through a medium, because we see no necessity of an agent different from itself - but by direct action.

To those who are partial to a theory of fluid and are sincere and, as they say, "conscious" of the fact, we will remark that, on the whole, we differ but little from them, save in the fluid.

They are obliged to admit that it is often all "mind acting upon mind," yet all the followers of Mesmer must complicate this operation by intermixing it with some "imponderable agent" - as though immateriality cannot act upon immateriality without the agency of matter.

If "mind acts upon mind" at all, (and we contend it does), without the agency of the bodily senses, we see no reason why it may not act directly, carrying the influence home to the very soul of the subject, as well as to wield the lever of a fluid to make an impression, or to mount its thoughts astride of a streak of electricity to be conveyed to the mind of the subject.

It is a little surprising to us, however, that some of the "Doctors" of mesmerism have not put their theory to the test, not by always supposing that a fluid is necessary, but by experimenting without the fluid, in such cases as could not have been possible for any fluid to pass. Had this been the case, the theory of a fluid would have been abandoned long ago; for it would have been ascertained that all the fluid which really exists is in the mind of the operator, being like Berkeley's composition of matter - made up of ideas, impressions, etc. 

Mesmerism was introduced into the United States by M. Charles Poyen, a French gentleman who did not appear to be highly blessed with the powers of magnetizing to the satisfaction of his audience in his public lectures. I had the pleasure of listening to one of his lectures and pronounced it a "humbug" as a matter of course - and that his remarkable experiments, which were related, were, in my belief, equally true with witchcraft. I had never been a convert to witch­craft, nor had ever had any personal interviews with ghosts or hobgoblins, and therefore considered all stories bordering on the marvelous as delusive.

Next came Dr. Collyer, who perhaps did more to excite a spirit of enquiry throughout the community than any who have succeeded him. But the community were still incredulous, and the general eccentricity of his character, no doubt, contributed much to prejudice the minds of his audience against his science.

He, however, like all those who had preceded him on both sides of the water, must have a long handle to his science, namely, a subtle fluid of the nature of electricity. So contrary to all experience did all the facts elicited from his experiments appear, in connection with the laws which govern electricity, that almost every man of science would reject both theory and facts without a moment's consideration. However, the perseverance of the Dr. overcame, in part, some of the prejudices, and he at last drew out of a committee in the city of Boston an acknowledgement of the facts, although they refrained from any expression of their opinion as to their occasion.

Collyer was, like all others, satisfied as to the "fluid" - and nothing could be accomplished without producing a current upon the subject, or surcharging him with a quantity of the electric fluid. In a work published by him in 1842, although he is still the advocate of the fluid, yet he rejects the doctrines of Phreno-Magnetism, neurology, etc., as introduced and defended by Dr. Buchanan and LeRoy Sunderland.

The same course, which enabled him to detect the fallacy of their theories, would have led him, upon pursuing the subject a little further, to have rejected entirely his whole theory of a fluid. He would have looked to another cause of all this phenomenon.

From testimony, now before the community, there is no doubt that Collyer performed the first phreno-magnetic experiments in this country, and that the honor - if there be any - of the discovery, should be yielded to him. It is a matter of little consequence to the community who shall wear the wreath of honor, but we prefer to see the peacock dressed in his own plumage and not bear the shame of a naked plucking by his neighboring fowl.

Dr. Buchanan and the Rev. LeRoy Sunderland have claimed the distinguished honor of discovering the sciences of "Nervaurics" and Phreno-Magnetism. These two sciences (so called), although claimed as distinct, are really regulated by the same laws - not the laws of a "nervous fluid" or of "electricity" - but by the same great laws as govern all minds in the excited or mesmeric state: "mind acting upon mind."

It is the direct influence of the operator upon the subject which produces such results. The exciting of particular organs in the brain by the nervous fluid or by electricity is the principle of these sciences. That is, Dr. Buchanan actually fills up these different organs of the brain, or such of them as he chooses, which produces an over action of these organs. This is done by contact of the fingers upon these bumps of the head.

Dr. Collyer has given a few examples. The following experiments were given before the citizens of Canandaigua, New York:

Touching organ of:
Caution                              "Feels like fighting"
Firmness                            "Firm as a rock"  
Acquisitiveness                 "Smiles and laughs
Combativeness                  "Great fear"
Philoprogenitiveness         "Like fighting"
Mirthfulness                      "Like singing"
Destructiveness                 "Feels well, is kindly disposed"
Touching organ of:
Caution                            "Desires to laugh"
Benevolence                    "Desires to fight"
Mirthfulness                    "Desires to sing"
Veneration                       "Desires to walk"
Self-esteem                      "As big as anyone"


The examples above show conclusively that there is no truth in the theory. There is no correspondence between the organs touched and the effects, except in a few instances. This would always be the case, unless something actually occurred beside the passage of the "fluid" into the organ to be excited.

I have personally tried hundreds of experiments, all going to prove not only that there is no such thing as exciting different locations of the head, but that there is no "fluid" at all. I can perform, and have done so repeatedly, the same experiments as have been done by Dr. Buchanan or LeRoy Sunderland, without being near my subject or by contact with any other part of the body than the head. The fingers or toes of any subject are quite as susceptible of excitement from the "fluid" and of producing all the remarkable phenomena and passions of the mind, as the head.

Phrenologists have laid down only thirty-four different organs; but in the rapid march of the science under the excitement of the "nervous fluid" or electricity, the number of organs has suddenly increased to upwards of two hundred. What a rapid stride in the progression of the science of Phrenology!

And among these "new organs" are Felony, Drunkenness, Idiocy, Insanity, etc., etc. What "dogies" must have been such philosophers as Gale and Spurzheim, who after devoting their whole lives in careful observation, could discover only thirty-four organs in the brain, when these lights of modern genius came puffing by on their fluid cover, upsetting everything which lay before them, and only stopping to gather a new recruit of "electricity" after having passed over two hundred newly discovered organs in the space of six months.

The science of "Neurology," as defended by Dr. Buchanan in a course of lectures delivered in the city of New York about two years since, has been most admirably criticized by a correspondent of the "Magnet," a work edited by LeRoy Sunderland, who was the great champion of Phreno-Magnetism. We take pleasure in giving the whole communication showing, as we think, some of the absurdities there advanced. (From the Magnet No. 8. January 1841. Copy the correspondence signed C.)
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The excitability of the human brain by "nervauric influence" will soon be, if it is not already, an exploded idea. There cannot be anything in it. Not that I suppose the experiments which Dr. Buchanan professed to perform were not performed. But on the contrary, I have performed the same class of experiments and am constantly repeating them upon different individuals with whom I meet daily.

Nor do I intend to charge any deception upon Dr. Buchanan, designedly practiced upon the community. It is a matter of belief, no doubt, with him, and so believing, he could not perform his experiments without attributing them to the very cause he has selected. But if he should believe it sympathy alone, he might behold the same results on abandoning all fluids - he could operate so as to produce the same phenomena by the direct influence of his mind upon the mind of his patient.

They are a class of mesmeric results performed without a fluid, nervauric, muscular, magnetic, galvanic, or electric. It was the impression which his mind made on the mind of his patient. In order to make an impression it will be necessary for anyone to have full confidence in the means he uses, or no impression will follow.

Phreno-Magnetism is the same thing in principle as neurology, and the remarks we have made upon Nervaurics are quite applicable to Phreno-Magnetism. There is no question but certain feelings and conditions of mind corresponding to Benevolence, Neuration, Self-Esteem, Combativeness, etc., may be excited in the mind, but that these organs, as laid down by phrenologists, are magnetized, electrified, galvanized or nervaurised is idle to the wind.

Experiments will always fail if the operator does not understand the location of these organs, which is conclusive proof against the theory of a fluid and the exciting of particular organs. The subject too, might also, were he acquainted with Phrenology, do much to answer the particular touches of the operator upon different parts of the head; but when the operator and the subject are both unskilled in the science, the experiment will always correspond with the condition of the mind of the operator.

Another fact which I have observed among different operators, is that no two locate these organs corresponding to what they wish to show, in the same place. Some locate the organ of "ejection" near caution, others, near benevolence, and others in different places - all going to show that "there is nothing in a location."

We venture the assertion that whatever action is produced upon the brain at all during this excited state, results rather from the mind of the subject, whose impressions are received from the mind of the operator.

The Rev. Mr. Dods of Boston, Mass., we believe, deals more extensively in the magnetic fluid than any other magnetizer. We have examined his work upon the subject of mesmerism, and can but smile at proofs so conclusively drawn in support of his theory.

A careful reading of the whole work is a comfortable lecturing into a talkative sleep, ending in ethereal and sublime explanations above the capacity of ordinary men. We were somewhat at a loss to determine whether the Rev. gentleman was most profuse in his language or his fluid!

We do not doubt his sincerity in support of his fluid, but must wonder at his credulity. It is a strong proof of the wanderings of an excited mind connected with a strong belief of the means by which wonderful results are produced.

If we were to take up all the points in his theory and discuss them, we fear our pages would be too voluminous for ordinary purposes and that few would be inclined to pursue the investigation. Dods, like all others who believe in the fluid theory, supposed that something must be the medium of communication between mind and mind and between mind and matter, separate from the bodily senses, and he has at once brought in the aid of a subtle fluid which pervades all nature.

To introduce the whole theory as it is contended for by most of those who have gone before me, I make the following extract from a pamphlet published in the city of Boston A.D. 1843 entitled "The History and Philosophy of Animal Magnetism" and dedicated by the author to Robert H. Collyer M.C., etc. (Copy chap. Fourth)
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And who, after such an array of distinguished names, would differ from their established theory! All these men were powerful magnetizers, and many of them of the first order of talent, but we fear a little inclined to speculate upon a theory, rather than to elicit facts aside from theory.

We are satisfied that they all believed in the "fluid," but what its character is remains to be settled among them - as it seems, no two agree to allow it the same name or character. If this "elastic, invisible ether pervading all nature" causes all these phenomena, it is a God-like power, second only to its author.

That it should operate so mysteriously, sometimes magnetizing individuals by contact and at others, passes through the space of one hundred miles and surcharges the patient and induces the mesmeric state - now made to reside in a letter, and again concealing itself in a tumbler of water, passing to the trunk of a tree - and from all these - passing out upon a particular individual and inducing the magnetic sleep.

If I could possibly believe in the "Fluid Theory," it would be far more marvelous and astonishing to trace out such laws as must govern this "invisible ether" than the experiments which follow. Or perhaps it may be a principle without the pale of the law, governing itself under the direction of the operator, in part at some times and at others, entirely at its own control.

Some of the theories of the old philosophers who wrote upon the subject of the soul appear to us rather speculative. Fire and other "imponderable agents," so-called, were made not the connecting link of soul and body, but the soul itself. Tracing the analogy of their ideas down to those of the Fluid System, we cannot see why this fluid might not be the soul itself.

It is the means, we are taught, through which the mind acts, and we are to suppose, of course, that it cannot act at all - except through the fluid - when the bodily senses are closed. It may then be either the soul itself, or a necessary appendage, without which, although the soul might exist - it could not act or give any evidence of its existence.

The same author, from whom we have quoted the "Fluid Theory," makes the following remarks in defense of his theory against the powers of imagination:

"We disapprove this charge at once," (that it is all the work of imagination), "by the fact that a person who has been magnetized several times, can be thrown into the magnetic sleep by the magnetizer when he is at a distance of half a mile, and at a moment when the person to be acted upon shall not even suspect it. This has been done successfully by a person who did not even know where the subject of his operations was at the time he made the attempt."

Now, upon the principle of a fluid to be "directed upon the brain of the subject," how is it possible that direction can be given, when the operator is ignorant of the location of his subject; and how is it possible that this fluid can be made to pass through so great a distance?

If the experiment above alluded to has been performed, could it have been done by the "fluid?" If by a "fluid," how could the operator so direct it as to strike upon the brain of the subject, when he was ignorant of his situation? How could he give effectual direction without knowing where to direct! And then the "fluid" is to pass through the space of half a mile before it can act upon the subject.

If such an experiment as the above can be performed (and we know personally it can) with the fluid and not without it, we certainly must assign the power of intelligence to the "fluid," and it, being commanded by the mind of the operator, to go in search of his subject and induce sleep, etc., obeys its master.

Such experiments as the above prove one of two things; namely, either, that there is no fluid by which a communication is effected between mesmerizer and mesmerized, or that this fluid is an intelligent being, capable of thought itself.

We contend that there is no fluid in the case. If others believe there is, and that it is capable of receiving intelligence and obeying commands, we are not accountable for such belief; but we leave the community, who read and think, the sole of judging which theory - fluid or no fluid ap­pears the most consistent.

I have performed a similar experiment upon my subject, Lucius, at a distance, sometimes knowing where he was and sometimes not knowing. Yet I did not use any fluid to my knowledge.

We have, in another part of this work, alluded to the experiment of the magnetized trees - the experiments before the Committee at Paris, France, in proof that no fluid was in the tree and communicated to the subject. I will again repeat the experiment in substance:

The subject was blindfold and led up to a magnetized tree, and immediately fell into the magnetic sleep. Being again blindfold, was without his knowledge led up to a tree not magnetized, and also fell into the magnetic sleep - proving conclusively that there was the same virtue in the magnetized and the natural tree.

There is another class of subjects introduced by magnetizers in proof of a magnetic fluid. Some are in the habit of giving their subjects a magnet by which they are thrown into the magnetic sleep. This experiment is explained by attributing the power to the magnet of communicating the fluid to the subject, etc.

I have repeatedly magnetized subjects by any little metallic article, presenting it to them after having imbued it with the "fluid." I have also performed the same experiment by passing to them a similar article not imbued with my fluid, and it produced the same results. I took two combs belonging to two ladies present and magnetized one of them, (that is, went through all the ceremony of magnetizing it), and the other I only took and passed back to the lady without any operation upon it, and both ladies were thrown into the magnetic sleep by these combs.

The lady who received the comb not magnetized was ignorant of that fact, and on the contrary, believed it magnetized. Perkin's metallic points are celebrated among mesmerizers and were considered sacred proofs of the Fluid Theory. Yet after they had their run, some cunning wag introduced wooden points so neatly counterfeiting the metallic in their appearance that they would effect the same results upon a patient as the genuine points.

I recollect a young man who, in company with Dr. Cutter, the famed lecturer in this part of Maine, visited this place and, being an easy subject to mesmerize, as a matter of defense against the influence of powerful magnetizers, carried with him a magnet, believing it to be a safe preventive against all magnetic power. When armed with his mag­net, no one could magnetize him, but without it, almost anyone could induce sleep.

If by some artful management, we could have induced him to believe his magnet absent, although it might have been concealed about him, we venture to say that he would have been quite as easily operated upon, as if his magnet had really been absent.

The truth is that it was a matter of belief with the subject, and he governed himself accordingly. If I could induce him to believe that magnetism, or the magnet, had nothing to do with mesmerism, or the excited state of mind called "mesmeric," then the charm of the magnet would be broken.

The Rev. Mr. Dods has become so confident of a fluid medium of mind and its similarity to electricity, that he has found it convenient, and perhaps companionable, to carry about with him when upon his tours of lecturing, an Electric Machine, and I believe he makes it an associate or assistant in throwing subjects into the magnetic state.

If this fluid be electricity, we do not see why Mr. Dods could not with his machine surcharge a whole audience with a few turns of the handle, by placing them in contact with its power.

We have witnessed the experiments of persons standing upon a glass stool, and receiving a surcharge of electricity so that sparks might be seen to emit from various parts of their body, yet we saw no signs of magnetic sleep. Now if this fluid be electricity, it does appear to me that the Electric Machine would be the very first power by which subjects could be magnetized.

While in the city of Boston about one year since, I met with a friend who began to question me as to the tricks I am playing in magnetism, and as we continued our conversation some time, he suddenly turned his head, and after a few moments pause, charged me with an attempt to magnetize him!

I did not let him know, but it was so. In truth, however, I did not think of it until after he named it. I state this experiment to show that I did not designedly use any fluid - indeed, could not have given direction to any - but the result upon my friend was just the same, no doubt, as though I had really sat down with the intention of performing an operation.

This was the belief which he exercised in his mind - that I was trying my powers upon him - and he became excited. and partially yielded. I do not think I exerted any power to control him, yet he felt a power which he believed proceeded from me, and it began to induce the mesmeric state into which he was passing.

A friend of mine, a powerful magnetizer who called on me not long since, operated upon a young lady in my family and threw her into the mesmeric sleep. He was a firm believer in the magnetic fluid, and everything was done according to the law supposed to govern it.

I began to exercise the power of my mind over the subject, and she would readily obey me. Desiring her to come to me, she immediately turned her head and was about to rise when her operator, observing the movement, began to cut off the fluid with his hand, so as to shut out the power I was gaining over her. I ceased trying to impress her mind with the desire of coming to me, and she turned back.

During the same sleep, I exercised a control over her which was observed by the operator, and when he discovered it, awoke her, saying it was very dangerous mixing up the fluids of different magnetizers upon the subject at the same time.

I could not induce him to go on with his experiments, and was obliged to do what I could to show that there was no danger from mixing up fluids, etc., or that all the danger arising in the case would be from the fear and belief of the mesmerizer.

I then performed a few experiments and requested him to exercise all his fluid power to counteract them. I am unable to say whether the fear of "disturbing the fluid" did not prevent him from making an effort - for all my experiments succeeded.

Steel and various kinds of metal are supposed to have powerful influence over subjects in the mesmeric sleep. Experiments have been introduced to prove the supposition. Some operators cannot exer­cise their magnetic powers if they have about them steel or silver. This is also a matter of belief.

If an operator believes he cannot make an impression upon his subject while this or that metallic substance is about him, then as a matter of course, he will not; but remove what he thinks is the difficulty, and then mind acts in full faith and produces a full and decided expression.

I recollect that when I first began to magnetize, I had all this horrid fear about the influence of metal, steel, silver, etc., upon the subjects, and being a full believer then in the Fluid Theory, supposed some strange connection in all metallic substances with the magnetized subjects.

Having on a certain occasion put my subject into sleep, after surcharging him with the fluid, a young lady present held her scissors pointing directly towards the head of the subject. Upon my first observing it, I was excited, fearing some bad result. The impression was conveyed to the mind of the subject, and all the consequences I feared would result, followed. This to my mind, at that time, was conclusive proof of the power of certain metallic substances, highly magnetic, upon a subject.

I have had very many excellent experiments in Phreno-Magnetism, exciting the organs by pointing a steel rod pointed at one end to the supposed location, believing the fluid passed out of myself through this rod into the organ. When I held the sharp point of the rod towards the organ, the subject would immediately arouse and answer to the direction; but if I held the blunt end, it would not affect him.

This to me, as I was trying my experiments to prove whether there was any fluid or not, was strong testimony in favor of the fluid system. I had supposed there must be some agent to bring out such results, and immediately embraced the theory adopted by most magnetizers, for want of something better.

Having adopted, as a matter of belief, an agent by which I could bring about this excited state of mind, I had assigned it certain laws such as I knew to govern electricity. I had all the faith to produce a result when I directed the pointed end to the organ I wished to excite; but when I reversed the point and presented the blunt end, I did not suppose for an instant that the excitement would follow. So the results corresponded with my own feelings.

I have witnessed the same experiments performed by other magnetizers, and they always advance such facts as I have named as conclusive proofs of a Fluid Theory. Since I have abandoned the Fluid Theory, I find no difficulty in using either end of the steel rod - or use no rod at all - and placing myself at a respectable distance from the subject, can produce the same results as I did when the steel rod and Fluid Theory were the only means of my operation.

When in the city of Boston with my subject, one of the most powerful magnetizers put my subject into the magnetic sleep and proceeded with his experiments in phreno-magnetics to convince me that the organs were excited by a fluid. He remained in contact with the subject and directed his fluid with the points of his fingers. I was sitting in the room at some distance from the scene of operation and exerted myself to counteract the impression given by the operator. The operator's experiments all failed, although he was in contact with the subject, and as he supposed, was filling up his head with the electric or magnetic fluid.

I also entertained the same idea with other magnetizers about the condition of the atmosphere as being favorable or unfavorable to successful experiments. I could always, under this belief, succeed better in fine clear weather. Indeed, my experiments seldom succeeded in a dull and cloudy atmosphere.

I had been giving some very interesting experiments during one evening and did not know but the atmosphere was clear and bright as when I entered the hall. At the close of the experiments I was astonished to learn that, for the last two hours, during the time of my best experiments, the atmosphere had been cloudy, and that rain had been falling. This circumstance was one of the first which led to the rejection of the Fluid Theory.

I believed in the power to mesmerize a tumbler of water which, upon being drunk, would throw the patient into the magnetic sleep, and have often amused my audience by this simple experiment. I supposed I did imbue the water with some new virtue, and this was also the belief of the subject, and the results followed as I had anticipated.

The experiment of the silk handkerchief has been one I have performed repeatedly. I would magnetize the handkerchief and pass it to the subject, and it would induce the mesmeric sleep. I was so confident in the fluid theory and that silk would affect its operation, that on one occasion when I had put my subject to sleep and a lady was sitting nearby dressed in silk, his hands and feet were extended towards her dress.

These simple facts all went to confirm me in the belief of the fluid theory. Yet I have been compelled to reject them all, and I find there is no difficulty in producing the same results with a tumbler of clear water as when I have surcharged it with magnetic fluid, or with a silk handkerchief in its natural state as when magnetized. And I can with all safety allow ladies to sit near my subject, in silk apparel, without any fear of distracting his slumber.

I have magnetized a cedar twig and given it to my subject, and he would immediately pass into the magnetic state. I have also given him other articles and told him I had magnetized them, although I had not, yet he would pass into sleep as before.

We might multiply simple cases of this class to a very great number, but all of them would terminate as those I have mentioned. I have performed them with the fluid and have done the same without it.

It has sometimes been supposed that subjects are not susceptible of influence from the operator, only in the sleeping state. This is not so.

Dr. Buchanan, although a devoted advocate of the fluid, has given many experiments in proof of a controlling power which the operator may have over the subject. It is, with me, my daily practice to perform most of my experiments when the subject could not know in his waking moments my wishes, while to all appearance he is not influenced by anyone.

I have frequently extended my power to impress upon the mind of some person in my presence a wish to do something, keeping distinctly in my mind what I would have him do. And the subject would soon do the very act which I had wished to bring about.

I have frequently operated upon a subject in his wak­ing state producing certain feelings in him corresponding to my own, have relieved pain in hundreds of instances to the benefit and happiness of persons under my influence, have relieved headache and pain in any part of the body.

As I was writing a few sentences above, an individual called on me and stated that his foot was very painful to him, and if I could ease the pain, and adding that he did not believe I could, that he would not deny the fact, and should be a believer in mesmerism. I operated upon his foot and relieved the pain. He acknowledged the fact and began, he said, to be a little more serious.

Apollonius of Tyana, Emanuel Swedenborg, Mahomet, and others had the power of inducing this state of the mind upon themselves.  This is a further and conclusive proof against a fluid theory.





Dr. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby



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