|Whatever idea tends to make us unhappy
cannot be true - though it may
~ Phineas P. Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
A person in consumption consults Dr. Quimby. He describes his feelings satisfactorily. So he see he knows something about them. He then says: "You are afraid of consumption."
(Patient) I know that I have consumption. I know that my lungs are diseased.
(Dr. Quimby) How do you know it?
(Patient) My doctor has pronounced my case consumption.
(Dr. Quimby) I say you have no consumption or disease of the lungs.
(Patient) How do you know that?
(Dr. Quimby) You will admit that I told you your feelings in regard to your lungs?
(Dr. Quimby) I had such feelings when I sat down by you, and I have no consumption. Why could you not have such feelings produced in some other way?
(Patient) But I know that my lungs are diseased, because I have such pains and suffer so much with my cough, etc.
(Dr. Quimby) Have I not taken all your feelings, and do I not cough and raise as you do?
(Patient) Yes, but it is from sympathy.
(Dr. Quimby) Well, if I take your feelings from sympathy, why could not you get these feelings from sympathy with some other person or idea?
(Patient) Do you think I make all this sickness or imagine my lungs are diseased?
(Dr. Quimby) No.
(Patient) Then why do I have these bad feelings and cough, if I have no disease? Do I imagine them?
(Dr. Quimby) No, your feelings are real - but it is your mind.
(Patient) I have no mind about it. These feelings come without my mind, for when I sleep, I am still sick.
(Dr. Quimby) What is your mind?
(Patient) My thoughts and abilities.
(Dr. Quimby) What are your thoughts about yourself?
(Patient) My thoughts are that I am in consumption.
(Dr. Quimby) Then are you not in your thoughts?
(Patient) I am, when I think about myself.
(Dr. Quimby) Then are not your thoughts your mind?
(Dr. Quimby) Then is not your disease in your mind?
(Dr. Quimby) Where is it?
(Patient) In my chest.
(Dr. Quimby) How do you know it?
(Patient) By my feelings.
(Dr. Quimby) What are your feelings?
(Patient) They are my consciousness of suffering.
(Dr. Quimby) Is not this consciousness your disease?
(Dr. Quimby) Is not this in your mind?
(Patient) Yes, but I should not have had this consciousness if something did not produce it - and how could I ever have gotten this disease by my mind?
(Dr. Quimby) By embracing false ideas and beliefs and receiving opinions for truth.
(Patient) What false ideas make me cough?
(Dr. Quimby) The false idea of consumption, which is a humbug.
(Patient) Do you mean to say that consumption does not exist and that people do not die with it?
(Dr. Quimby) It exists as much as people believe in it. But it is all a lie. Men worship false gods, but that does not make them true. Public opinion has made consumption, and mankind embraces it as true; and when it works its way, destroying its believers, it says, “I am the truth” - and death is its proof.
I say there is no principle in disease. It is an error that truth can correct. Mankind reasons entirely wrong about themselves from a false belief and produce disease, which is called upon as a witness to the truth of the very theory that made it - and they will never be well or happy, until they turn around and change their belief.
You believe that there is something in your body, independent of yourself that is consuming your frame. All around you are of the same mind. No one, save one, has ever thought differently (or said so, if they did). Your feelings are the symptoms (or working) of this destroyer, and to cure you would be to get you out of this belief and make you see the humbug and imposition to which you have been subjected. I say that your physical health is entirely under the laws (or operation) of the mind, and one is the expression of the other.
(Patient) I do not see how this can be, for we see those of strong minds confined to a weak and sickly body.
(Dr. Quimby) This may be, in some respects. Your mind may be strong and healthy on every subject but that of health. But if you are sick and locate your trouble in your body, your ideas cannot be right about yourself. Flesh and blood cannot originate disease, but they carry it on, being formed in the mind. You think that a vital power exists in your body, independent of your mind, which works the machinery of your pains, creating disease and finally exhausting itself in death - do you not?
(Patient) I have every reason to believe that my vital powers are declining under a wasting disease, and the condition of my lungs will testify to this.
(Dr. Quimby) You would like to get well?
(Patient) Certainly, if it were possible.
(Dr. Quimby) Who says it is impossible?
(Patient) The doctor and all my friends.
(Dr. Quimby) How do they know?
(Patient) By my symptoms.
(Dr. Quimby) What are your symptoms?
(Patient) All my bad feelings.
(Dr. Quimby) Have I not taken your feelings?
(Patient) Yes, but you have no disease.
(Dr. Quimby) What should make the difference between us, if we both have the same feelings - and why am I not in consumption and liable to die?
(Patient) I do not know that - but there is the difference of health and disease, and I am in danger of dying, while you are not.
(Dr. Quimby) Are you aware that it is your belief that makes the difference between us?
(Patient) Of course it is, and reasonably.
(Dr. Quimby) Would you not like to change your belief and be as free from disease, as I am?
(Patient) Certainly - if my belief affects my health.
(Dr. Quimby) Have I not shown you that your disease is in your mind?
(Patient) You have in words, but I do not believe it. You make out a clear case, but I do not see as that has anything to do with my disease.
(Dr. Quimby) This is where I shall try to explain to you what I mean. No phenomenon in the natural world ever produced itself, and no irregularity, disturbance or disease in the human body ever was self-created. But they must be dependent on some cause, which being ascertained, comes within individual knowledge and experience; but not coming within the cognizance of the bodily senses, is left in obscurity. When the trouble becomes apparent in the bodily senses, mankind, in their ignorance, assume that the cause is in the phenomenon, thus giving matter life and creative power. Mankind believes that the life of the body is a separate and independent identity from that of the soul and that its life dies - and whenever they get into trouble, they reason upon this belief.
Mesmerism proves that an individual can act with all his faculties - reason, see, hear, taste, etc., entirely independent of his body - and numerous experiments show how completely a subject's organization is controlled by the belief and affected by the thoughts of the mesmerizer.
When a person feels a pain in the side, the first inevitable construction of the world is that something is the matter in the body; while my experience teaches me to attend to the mind of the person as connected with it - not what they are thinking about, but their state of mind; whether nervous, anxious, sad or frightened, etc. - and in detecting this, the idea of their fright (or whatever their state of mind might be) comes, too. If I understand the idea which induces their state of mind sufficiently to convince them (or bring them into the same state that I am about it) - then I make a cure.
(Patient) What do you find is the state of my mind?
(Dr. Quimby) You are melancholy and afraid of consumption. And if I succeed in destroying the ideas that imprison you - then you are free.
(Patient) Do you suppose that you can ever convince me that I am not in consumption, when I have such proofs?
(Dr. Quimby) Certainly not, and if I do not change your feelings and make you feel better, I cannot expect you to believe in me. I know that consumption is based upon a false belief and is generated by wrong ideas in the community and that it is fed and nourished by those who have the care of it. Whatever idea tends to make us unhappy cannot be true, though it may be believed. If I can succeed in convincing you that your ideas concerning your health are false and that you have been drawn into this state by those who are as ignorant as you - then I shall help you out of your difficulty.
Nothing can affect you, unless you know it. You may not know it enough to tell it - but you are conscious of it. This disturbance I call “mind.” That that knows it is disturbed is the intelligence. Some time you have been disturbed, so that it affected your system, and in your trouble, you have called upon those who have the care of the welfare of human bodies to help you. Now it is satisfactory to know there is a cause for your trouble, even though it be a bad one. But instead of going back to find the cause of the present trouble in some former time or experience, they go forward and fix upon a disease which is to flourish in the future to account for the phenomenon. And by their belief, treatment and reasoning, they bring about a change to accord with their opinions. At the time the doctor told you what he thought was your disease, you were not in so bad a condition as now?
(Patient) No, the disease was in its early stages and had not made such progress.
(Dr. Quimby) Now when you first learned that your lungs were diseased, you believed it, and a horrid idea of consumption - with its wasting, sufferings and sure progress and termination - was formed in your mind. This ghost has kept you company ever since, and sleeping or waking, it enters into every sensation you experience. Your friends, from sympathy and pity, force it upon you, and in all the wisdom of the world, there is no way for you to get rid of it. Everyone who pities you makes you worse. Therefore, you withdraw yourself from all. As you never met anyone to help you , you look upon all mankind as enemies. So you look upon me as I talk, like an impostor who is trying to get possession of you. If I do so, it will be by destroying the opinions of your friends, which keep you sick.
(Patient) You deceive yourself, if you think my friends keep me sick.
(Dr. Quimby) I do not say that your friends willfully and intentionally harm you, but they are of this world and embrace the opinions of which your disease is made. You, being sick, are sensitive to the influence which your friends, by their pity, exert upon you. They depress and will destroy you. You feel better when I am with you, do you not?
(Patient) I do not know.... I want you to come to see me.
(Dr. Quimby) Do you know why?
(Patient) I can't help hoping your mesmerism may benefit me.
(Dr. Quimby) What is that?
(Patient) The gift you have of healing.
(Dr. Quimby) I do not pretend to have any such gift, and if I had as great a one as you would give me, I do not see how I could cure you, if I believed as you do - unless I took the disease and died myself. I come to break the prison wall that surrounds you, and if I did not know what it was, how could I do it? If I did not know what consumption was, how could I destroy it? In this world, we are subject to any idea that we cannot scientifically destroy, and we are affected by them all - from the most petty disease of fashion to the lowest superstition. Our minds act upon each other more indifferently than we are taught to believe.
For instance, I establish an intercourse with you, perfectly intelligent to myself, purely mentally, and discover all your troubles by asking a single question. This you admit, and this proves that you, as an individual, are entirely independent of the body which you inhabit. There is not a particle of knowledge in that body, of itself; but it is a servant (or medium) of communication which you employ between yourself and others in the same state.
That that sees is not the eye, the organ; and that that is seen through the eye is not the truth, but matter (or an idea), and it is the meaning that we see. This intelligence that controls the senses, I, by my practice, come in contact with. That disturbance which makes you come to me produces certain sensations on you which I feel, and in these sensations is the answer which you wish and which comes to me. This answer - if I can make you know and feel it as I do - is your cure; and the science lies in making you know it. If I do not succeed, it is not the fault of the truth, but the skill of the operator that is at fault.
(Patient) Well, I do not believe you can ever affect me, so as to make me believe that consumption is all in the mind. I have not imagination enough for that.
(Dr. Quimby) I hope I shall convince you that I do not insult your intelligence by telling you a lie and then cure by a trick. Some time in your experience you have gotten disturbed, and the answer you have sought and obtained has made all this trouble, and you have been affected, according as you believed it. Then you go to work and form the very trouble you are directed to - and then comes your misery. In trying to get out of your trouble, you act upon your body through ideas that man has made.
It requires no effort for a well person to breathe, but let that person become excited, by religion perhaps, so that the system is convulsed by their emotions - and this very effect frightens them. Then they begin to breathe according to the ideas of man, and every breath is laden with ideas of disease and death - and they produce the very symptoms that they most fear. God never made any way of breathing which would make consumption. The act is regulated by natural principles of the circulation of the air and heat and cold. These principles are understood enough to be applied to machinery, but man has never thought of applying them to himself. He does not reason that he is a machine, made by a wiser hand than himself, and of course adjusted to true principles.
(Patient) I have been thinking of what you said to me yesterday, and now I want to know why you so persistently insist upon saying that my disease is in my mind, when I know that it is in my body.
(Dr. Quimby) What do you call the mind?
(Patient) The intellectual ability - and you know very well that does not have consumption.
(Dr. Quimby) I differ from the world from the application of the word mind.
(Patient) What right have you to differ? What do you depict the mind to be?
(Dr. Quimby) I say that mind is spiritual matter.
(Patient) But it is not so.
(Dr. Quimby) Cannot the mind change?
(Dr. Quimby) Can wisdom change?
(Patient:)No, I suppose not, if it is true.
(Dr. Quimby) Then mind cannot be wisdom, for mind changes. Consequently, it must be matter - or a substance that can change and take form.