International House, Feb. 13, 1862
As you have given me the privilege of answering an article in your paper of the 11th inst., where you classed me with spiritualists, mesmerizers, clairvoyants, etc., I take this occasion to state where I differ from all classes of doctors; from the allopathic physician to the healing medium. All these admit disease as an independent enemy of mankind, but the mode of getting rid of it divides them in their practice. The old school admit that medicines contain certain properties and that certain medicines will produce certain effects. This is their honest belief. The homeopathic physicians believe their infinitesimals produce certain effects. This is also honest. But I believe all their medicine is of infinitely less importance than the opinions that accompany it.
I never make war with medicine; but opinions. I never try to convince a patient that his trouble arises from calomel or any other poison, but the poison of the doctor's opinion in admitting a disease. But another class, under cover of spiritualism and mesmerism, claim power from another world, and to these my remarks are addressed.
I was one of the first mesmerizers in the state who gave public experiments and had a subject who was considered the best then known. He examined and prescribed for diseases, just as this class do now. And I know just how much reliance can be placed on a medium; for, when in this state, they are governed by the superstition and beliefs of the person they are in communication with and read their thoughts and feelings in regard to their disease, whether the patient is aware of them or not. The capacity of thought-reading is the common extent of mesmerism. Clairvoyance is very rare, and can be easily tested by blindfolding the subject and giving him a book to read. If he can read without seeing, that is conclusive evidence that he has independent sight. This state is of very short duration. They then come into that state where they are governed by surrounding minds.
All the mediums of this day reason about medicine, as much as the regular physician. They believe in disease and recommend medicine. When I mesmerized my subject, he would prescribe some little simple herb that would do no harm or good, of itself. In some cases this would cure the patient. I also found that any medicine would cure certain cases, if he ordered it. This led me to investigate the matter and arrive at the stand I now take; that the cure is not in the medicine, but in the confidence of the doctor (or medium). A clairvoyant never reasons, nor alters his opinion; but, if in the first state of thought-reading, he prescribes medicine, he must be posted by some mind interested in it; and also must derive his knowledge from the same source the doctors do.
The subject I had left me and was employed by _________, who employed him in examining diseases in the mesmeric sleep and taught him to recommend such medicines as he got up, himself, in Latin; and as the boy did not know Latin, it looked very mysterious. Soon afterwards, he was at home again, and I put him to sleep to examine a lady, expecting that he would go on in his old way; but instead of that, he wrote a long prescription in Latin. I awoke him that he might read it, but he could not. So I took it to the apothecary's, who said he had the articles and that they would cost twenty dollars. This was impossible for the lady to pay. So I returned and put him asleep again, and he gave his usual prescription of some little herb, and she got well.
This, with the fact that all the mediums admit disease and derive their knowledge from the common allopathic belief, convinces me that, if it were not for the superstition of the people, believing that these subjects, merely because they have their eyes shut, know more than the apothecaries, they could make few cures. Let any medium open his eyes, and let the patient describe his disease, then the medicine would do about as much good as brown bread pills. But let the eyes be shut, then comes the mystery. It is true, they will tell the feelings, but that is all the difference.
Now I deny disease as a truth, but admit it as a deception, started like all other stories; without any foundation, and handed down from generation to generation, till the people believe it, and it has become a part of their lives. So they live a lie, and their senses are in it. To illustrate this, suppose I tell a person he has the diphtheria, and he is perfectly ignorant of what I mean. So I describe the feelings, and tell the danger of the disease and how fatal it is in many places. This makes the person nervous, and I finally convince him of the disease. I have now made one, and he attaches himself to it and really understands it, and he is in it, soul and body. Now he goes to work to make it, and in a short time, it makes its appearance. My way of curing convinces him that he has been deceived; and if I succeed, the patient is cured. As it is necessary that he should feel that I know more than he does, I tell his feelings. This he cannot do to me, for I have no fear of diphtheria.
My mode is entirely original. I know what I say, and they do not, if their word is to be taken. Just so long as this humbug of inventing disease continues, just so long the people will be sick and be deceived by the above-named crafts.
P. P. Quimby