It may be necessary to explain what calls out my arguments. All that I write is intended to destroy some belief of the patient. A belief is what I call disease, for that embraces the cause and it sets the people to reasoning until their systems are prepared like the earth to receive the idea. And when the phenomenon is brought forth, the doctors call that disease. The belief in an idea that cannot be seen by the natural eye is as real as the belief existing in the natural world. For instance, every person who has not been there believes there is a rebellion at the South and every day brings evidence to prove the truth of their belief. But those who are there have no belief; they know it.
Everything that does not come within the natural senses must be a belief. Disease is one of this class. The phenomenon is admitted, and to make man admit it involves a belief that it exists. It does not follow that he is diseased any more than it follows that a man is in the war because he believes there is one. Yet he may be liable to be caught though there are some exceptions. War, like some diseases, has its exempts, for instance, small pox. A man can procure a certificate from a physician that he has had it or has been vaccinated. So the belief makes the thing to the person believing it, and as the belief becomes general, every person is affected more or less. Children are not exempts. They suffer, if they are in the vicinity of the disease, for their parents' sins. Their diseases are the effect of the community. The children at the South had nothing to do with this rebellion and neither do children have any part in the belief in the evils that come upon them in the form of disease. These come from the older inhabitants who embody the superstitions of the world, and they are as tenacious of their beliefs as they are of their lives, for their life is in their belief.
See how the South fights for slavery under the belief that it is a divine institution. The people believe the same of disease and each one will fight for his peculiar disease till truth will exterminate both. One is as dangerous as the other and each has its sympathizers and traitors. Take a person sick under the law of disease which he knows will kill him if the law is put in force. He or she is as anxious to condemn himself or herself by insisting that they have a certain disease as a Rebel is to swear that a Yankee is an abolitionist. Each is working to have the victim condemned. Both may be summed up as the effect of man's belief.
Religious sects fight for their various beliefs which contain not a word of truth and the world has to suffer the consequences. The medical faculty, spiritualists, and every class who have wit enough to have a belief keep up a warfare all the time to keep their beliefs alive that they may obtain a living. But when these are cut by science or truth, they wither and die out and from the ashes comes freedom or science. War is always engendered by beliefs. Slavery is only the name for all evils that have affected man, of which disease is one. They all have to pass through a sea of blood before their heads can be crushed and they can be handled by reason. Religious opinions have waded through blood before reason could control the mind, and then the warfare is carried on in words. Universal freedom has not yet gone through this sea of blood but is now in the storm and God only knows how it will come out.
The belief which makes man bind his fellow man is very strong, for it appeals to the religious prejudices, and they really are the bottom of all evils. The natural man believes slavery is right and he is religious in this belief, although in everything else he is governed by party interest. Every sick person is suffering either directly or indirectly from the effect of some belief; therefore my arguments are to show the absurdity of the beliefs whatever they are, for beliefs are catching. For instance, who would believe that any sane man at the North would catch the belief of secession, yet it is quite common. I have to come in contact with many persons' beliefs, either directly or indirectly. The child is a mere tool in the hands or belief of the parent, just as the Southern child takes its parents' beliefs without knowing the consequences. Therefore the child is affected by its parents' beliefs, which are just as real an enemy to health as slavery is to freedom. Science is the true man. Belief is the enemy to happiness, for everyone knows that a man will die before he will give up his belief. So when a person has a belief in any particular disease, he will not give it up until it destroys the body, although he knows that fighting is his own destruction. A belief always makes out its own destruction. When I sit by persons, I find them either like a child or a person in a belief. If they have no ideas that come within their senses, they are like one affected by surrounding circumstances, as a child whose parents are fighting is frightened and perhaps killed by the parents' evil acts.
When I have a patient who is frightened by some feeling in their system which they have not named, they are like a spectator in a riot who finds himself attacked and violently abused when he has been quiet all the time. But he knows that every person is liable to be affected by the company he keeps. I have to reason with such persons and convince them of their error; and as they learn the truth, they are safe, for to know a truth is to get out of an error or disease. I take the same course with such as I should with a stranger who had ignorantly got into a mob and was violently attacked. I enter the crowd, take the man by the shoulders, lead him out and then befriend him till he is safe.
A belief in disease is like a belief in any other evil, but there are those who, putting entire confidence in the leaders, accept certain beliefs. Such are honest and are the hardest patients to cure, for they attach a religious respect to their beliefs which are their very life. They often say they would rather die than lose their belief.
A belief going to establish any religion is held onto as a child holds onto its mother when it is afraid of strangers. I frequently have a hard battle with such before they will relax, and they will sometimes weep and lament as though I were really going to take their life. As I have no belief to give them, I try to show them the absurdity of their own.
It will be seen that in all I write, my reasoning is to destroy some belief that my patient has. Rheumatism or that state of mind affecting people in that way is caused by various beliefs. Their minds, as I have said, are deceived into bad company and they have to suffer the consequences of their acts, although their intentions may have been good.
I will state a case. A man uses tobacco freely, both chews and smokes. His wife, being of a sympathetic nature, enters into his error to try to reform him. This brings her into the same company that he is in. She is regarded as bad as her husband. She is beaten until blood starts out of her elbows, shoulders, and limbs, and her hands become swollen and sore so that she cannot work. Meantime her husband appears as well as ever. This is taking a disease from sympathy and it shows that such evils are catching in the world. To such I stand in this way. I take the symptoms and know who is the devil. I expose him and when I make the patient know him, the devil leaves, the error is cast out, the belief leaves and the patient is cured. This is a process of reasoning from cause to effect, not from effect to effect. The world reasons to make one disease in order to cure another. I destroy the disease by showing the error and showing how the error affects the patient.
A number of my pieces are on some religious belief and they were written to convince the patients of some error in regard to God which they had embraced and which troubled them; therefore it was necessary to change their belief and destroy the evil that tormented them. And when they saw how inconsistent their belief was, it changed their minds.
P. P. Quimby