A Psychopathic Study
( Originally Published 1904 )
IT is axiomatic that any belief which is alleged to be founded upon observable phenomena is entitled to respectful consideration and scientific examination. I hazard nothing in saying that " Christian Science," so called, has abundantly demonstrated its right to both. Its votaries, claiming divine power, have healed the sick by hundreds of thousands; yet they have been recognized by the medical profession only by bitter denunciation. Claiming an intimate acquaintance with, and often verbal inspiration from, the Divine Father, they have poured the balm of religious consolation into many a stricken heart, only to be repaid from the pulpit by solemn objurgations and strenuous anathemas. They have gone into the highways and by-ways, and proclaimed their divine mission from the housetops, only to be answered by the jeers and ridicule of the ungodly. And, notwithstanding their solemn asseverations that they teach the only science worth knowing, Science itself has assumed a lofty mien and passed by on the other side.
Perhaps it was natural for the medical profession to indulge in a noble rage, owing to its cautious conservatism, — that is to say, its ancient prejudice against everything new that claims to heal the sick. The clergy must be expected to indulge in hostile criticism, because the Christianity of Christian Science is so very different from the Christianity of Christ. As to the unseemly levity of the irreverent laity, — its tendency to laugh at what, to its uncultured mind, seems ridiculous, —it is too well known to require comment or serious animadversion. But the attitude of Science is indefensible. It has no right to ignore facts, to indulge in prejudices, or to neglect to explain phenomena of such obvious importance as that which lends to Christian Science its air of supernatural mystery, and invests it with sociological, as well as pathological, importance.
The most that I can do within the space at my command is to outline the salient psychopathic features of the phenomena, and to suggest thereby the proper line of scientific examination, relegating to the professional alienist the exhaustive study of that which it so obviously within his domain.
The subject naturally arranges itself under two heads, namely : (I) the psychopathic condition of the founder of the sect; and (2) the psychopathic condition of her followers.
To those who are acquainted with the fundamental principles of the new psychology it is obvious that the founder of the sect known as " Christian Scientists " is an object of commiseration rather than of denunciation. She is simply a victim of self-delusion, arising from an ignorance of the fundamental law of psychic activity. The law is briefly this :
Man is endowed with a dual mind, or two states of consciousness. For convenience of treatment they have been designated, one as the objective, and the other as the subjective mind. The former is the mind of ordinary waking consciousness. The latter is the intelligence which is manifested in dreams, trance, or trance-like conditions, when the objective mind is inhibited, as in sleep, or in somnambulism, spontaneous or induced. The salient feature of differentiation which bears upon the case under consideration is that the objective mind is capable of independently conducting the process of inductive reasoning; whereas the subjective mind is devoid of that power. That intelligence is dominated by the law of suggestion. In other words, it takes its premises from an extraneous source; and it reasons deductively from those premises or suggestions. The latter may be conveyed to the subjective mind in many ways, prominent among which are the words or affirmations of another, as in hypnotism ; or they may be imparted by means of the ordinary processes of education, as in training children; or the objective mind of an individual may convey dominating suggestions to his own subjective mind. These are called " auto-suggestions." If truthful, they are beneficent. If false, they may result in insanity, as in monomania. Any form of false suggestion, indeed, may result in insanity, if it is persistently dwelt upon to the exclusion of the countervailing suggestions-of truth. When this occurs, the subjective mind is in control; that is, it dominates for the time being the dual mental organism, truth is subordinated, and reason is dethroned.
The salient characteristic, however, of the subjective mind which bears directly upon the case in hand, is its prodigious faculty for reasoning deductively from given premises to legitimate conclusions. It is akin to intuition, and it is always the concomitant of the latter faculty. Its manifestations, indeed, are often confounded with intuition ; and it is this circumstance that gives rise to so many claims for the superior " intuitions " of women. But their so-called intuitions, when analyzed, are often found to be mere deductions from premises that may or may not be true. The point is that the deductions of the subjective mind are always legitimate and logical, whether the premises are true or false. If true, the result is often a work of genius. But if the premise is false, the work soon reveals the fact; for truth cannot be evolved from a falsehood, if the deductions are legitimate. That is to say, a false premise carried to its legitimate conclusion always ends in an absurdity. If the author is mentally balanced, he will detect the absurdity himself and abandon the premise as untenable; especially if he is well endowed with that indispensable quality of a well-balanced mind —a fine appreciation of humor — a keen sense of the ridiculous.
Unfortunately for the poor psychic whose subjective mind is in control, and who is dominated by a false suggestion, he has no sense of humor, and is intellectually impervious to ridicule. Humor is not a faculty of the subjective mind. True humor is a concomitant of reason —a criterion of induction. It weighs facts and principles in its own balance, detects the incongruous elements of thought, and resolves them in its own alembic. In other words, the legitimate function of humor is to separate incongruous ideas and exhibit them in violent contrast. Its legitimate object is the ascertainment of truth, on the principle that no truth is inconsistent with any other truth in the Universe of God. Thus Mark Twain, in his humorous article relating to Christian Science and its founder's book, has more clearly and effectively shown the fallacies of that work, and demonstrated its utterly unscientific character, than have all the arguments of others combined. The fact is, the book does not call for serious argument, much less for denunciation, or vituperation. Its only legitimate place is in the library of the alienist. Its author is a psychic, and the book is purely and simply a psychical phenomenon. As such it deserves serious consideration, for it stands unique as an illustration, on an extensive scale, of the vagaries of psychical " mentation " when the subjective mind of the , patient is dominated by false suggestion, and reason is in abeyance. A few words will make the foregoing clear to the mind of the reader.
The " fundamental principle " upon which Christian Science is based, as set forth in its founder's book, is that " there is no such thing as matter." It will at once be seen that such a proposition affords the best possible illustration of the mental condition of its author — that is to say, of the dominance of a false suggestion, and the total inhibition of the inductive faculties or powers. Each is shown in the author's total obliviousness of all the facts of human experience ; for if man knows any-thing he knows that the material universe is a stupendous reality.
Now comes in the deductive logic of the psychic : dominated by the fundamental postulate—the non-existence of the material universe — and -realizing that, in all human probability, something exists, her deduction is that — " God is all." This is not an illogical deduction from the premise ; but whether it is demonstrated to be true, as the author thinks it is, by the fact that it means practically the same thing when read back-wards, is a question which we will not stop to consider. This is followed by two other propositions, namely, " God is good and " Good is mind." These are also held to be demonstrated by the fact that they can be read backwards without destroying their " scientific " validity; although, in view of the example we are considering, it would seem that the latter proposition, read backwards, should be stated with some qualifications. At any rate, these propositions cannot be said to be illogical deductions from the premise, although they appear to be merely incidental statements, not essential to the argument.
But in her next proposition she resumes her logical attitude and restate the premise and the conclusion in the same sentence, thus : " God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter."
This is another of her reversible, self-demonstrating propositions, and who shall say that the conclusion is not a logical deduction from the premise?
She has many other propositions of the invertible order which she imagines are mathematically demonstrated by the fact that they can be inverted. No one but an alienist, familiar with the phenomena of paranoia, would believe this statement without proof. Here is what she says :
"The metaphysics of Christian Science, like the rules of mathematics, prove the rule by inversion. For example, there is no pain in Truth, and no truth in pain ; no nerve in mind, and no mind in nerve; no matter in mind, and no mind in matter; no matter in Life, and no life in matter; no matter in Good, and no good in matter."
Leaving out of consideration the obvious absurdity of assuming to demonstrate a proposition in philosophy by the mathematical process of inversion, the fact re-mains that each one is logically deducible from the original postulate. They are corollaries of the proposition that there is no such thing as matter.
Of course the unfortunate author is unable to detect the monstrous absurdity of her original postulate, and, consequently she shrinks not from the conclusions necessarily derivable therefrom. This is shown throughout the whole book. Hence she does not hesitate to declare that there are no such things possible as evil, sin, pain, sickness, or death. How could there be, if there is no such thing as matter — if all is God, and God is all?
Thus far, then, the author is logical. But it is the logic of the subjective mind when dominated by a false suggestion — a monstrous absurdity. Not the faintest glimmer of the light of inductive reasoning illumines the dark and dismal picture. Not one fact of human experience is considered, nor one law of nature consulted.
The author had smooth sailing so long as she con-fined herself to laying down general principles. But she was intent on writing a book designed to apply her " principles " to the affairs of practical everyday life and human experience. It was then that the logical trouble began. She undertook to tell how to heal the sick when, according to her theory, nobody was, or could possibly be, sick ; because God is all, and God cannot be sick. Moreover, there is no such thing as matter, and, consequently, nobody has a body to furnish a basis of sickness or of pain. Besides, matter cannot feel pain, first, because there is no such thing as matter, and secondly, because there is no such thing as pain. Sin cannot exist, because God is good, and God is all. Death is impossible (1) because nothing but matter can die, and there is no such thing as matter; (2) because God is all, and God cannot die.
These and a thousand other contradictions and absurdities fill the whole book. The obvious reason is that, when the author comes to treat of the facts of human experience, she must necessarily employ the terms of human experience; and since her theory recognizes the existence of no such facts, the result is necessarily a monstrous hodge-podge of monumental absurdities. Such a conflict between theory and fact could have no other result, in the nature of things, especially when the theory is constantly reiterated in connection with the facts.
Nothing more need be said of the book itself. It must be read to be appreciated. To the student of neuropsychopathy it affords an abundant supply of illustrative material. To the student of the new psychology it is invaluable as illustrating the distinctive powers and limitations of the two minds or states of consciousness. To the non-professional reader it furnishes a frightful example of the danger to be apprehended from allowing the subjective mind to usurp control over the dual mental organism.
I cannot dismiss this branch of the subject, however, without uttering a protest against the constant iteration, on the part of the enemies of the unfortunate lady, of the charge of plagiarism. The story is that she copied the manuscript of the late Dr. Quinby and published it as her own after his death. The charge is, to use no harsher term, simply infamous ; especially since Dr. Quinby is no longer here to defend his own reputation. Besides, the lady herself denies it most emphatically. On the contrary, she says that the book was divinely inspired; and she unquestionably believes it. Her followers also most fervently believe it, and hence their veneration for the book as of equal authority with the Bible. She also intimates that she was the " woman clothed with the Sun," who is mentioned in the Apocalypse ; and good Christian Scientists, including honorable women not a few, fervently believe that the " little book," which the " mighty strong angel " commanded St. John to eat, was, in point of " scientific " fact, the very book now under consideration. This, it is needless to say, has caused the enemy to blaspheme ; and the mildest form of his blasphemy consists in the admission that the indigestible character of the contents of the book, together with the subsequent experiences of the seer, lend an air of plausibility to the supposition.
It has also been claimed that the idea of the non existence of matter was not original with the author. That may or may not be true without impairing the validity of her claim to originality in her method of treatment. Bishop Berkeley would be the first to defend her against the charge of plagiarizing from himself ; and he would probably stand aghast at the result of carrying his pet theory to its legitimate conclusions in dealing with the facts of human experience. It is to the last degree improbable that she ever saw or heard of the writings of Bishop Berkeley. Certainly the philosophical arguments by which he sought to sustain his theory are entirely absent from her work.
The next branch of the subject relates to the psychopathic condition of her followers. Indeed, the only justification for discussing the subject outside the journals of psychiatry, consists in the facts that the sect has gathered its forces from all ranks of society, that it numbers its followers by hundreds of thousands, and that its delusions threaten to become epidemic and to fill our insane asylums. Not that all who call themselves Christian Scientists are either mattoids or paranoiacs, or that they are all in imminent danger of losing their mental balance ; those charges are obviously the gross exaggerations of sectarian prejudice or of professional jealousy. On the contrary, there are vast numbers who are rated as Christian Scientists who know little of, and care less for, the theories of the founder; and therein lies their safety. It is only those who undertake seriously to master the theory and to harmonize it with the facts of experience that are in imminent danger of mental alienation ; and even they may escape the serious phases of paranoia if they have not acquired, or are not congenitally afflicted with, a neuropsychopathic tendency. Unfortunately this tendency is alarmingly prevalent in modern society of all grades, as the records of the lunatic asylums testify, to say nothing of the numerous comparatively harmless mattoids who are still allowed to run at large.
Among the numerous causes which unite to swell the ranks of Christian Science there is one which seems to be of almost universal application, and that is the astounding lack of the power of logical induction in primitive minds. Thus, the founder's book iterates and reiterates that her theories are demonstrated by facts of every-day experience. What facts? Why, the fact that people who believe in her theories are healed by other people who believe in her theories ; and this is reenforced by the scripture quotation, " By their fruits ye shall know them." That is the sum total of the inductive logic of Christian Science. I have said that it is the logic of primitive minds. Thus the American savage, whose theory of disease is that the patient is beset by evil spirits, effects his cures by frightening away said evil spirits by means of hideous noises and a diabolical make-up. The best authorities tell us that the
Indian medicine man's record of cures equals that of the M.D.'s or the C.S.D.'s. Doubtless the savage regards this as demonstrative of the correctness of his theory and the Christian, Science logician must admit it, for " by their fruits ye shall know them."
The same remarks apply alike to the voudoo doctor's theory and to that of the fetish worshipper, who simply attaches his fetish to the patient; for they also cure disease. Are the theories of Voudooism and Fetishism " demonstrated to be true " by their facts of successful healing? Certainly, if the " inductive" logic of Christian Science is valid. " By their fruits ye shall know them " is just as valid for Fetishism as it is for Christian Science, but it requires only the faintest glimmer of the light of reason to enable even the wayfaring man to see that it has no valid application in either case. And yet this is the sum total of the " inductions " of Christian Science. That is to say, the fact of healing is the only fact adduced to prove the theory that there was nothing to heal. Every other fact in nature is systematically denied.
And this is the logic which has won the great bulk of its proselytes to Christian Science. And these are the phenomena alluded to in the beginning when I said that Christian Science deserved a scientific investigation. I also alluded to the religious consolation which many have derived from their connection with the organization. Far be it from me to seek to deprive any stricken soul of the comfort and consolation derivable from religious emotion, by whatsoever means it may have been evoked. It is mentioned here only as one of the many causes which contribute to the success of the Christian Science organization. It is, perhaps, natural for the superficial mind to associate religion and mental healing, owing to the sacred character of the Great Healer. Yet he did not proclaim it as a religion per se, but merely as an element in that principle of universal altruism which was regnant in his soul. One might as consistently call hydropathy a religion, because of the association of the idea of water with the sacred rite of baptism. Practically speaking, the association of mental healing with religion by Christian Scientists has been employed to coin into hard cash the most sacred emotions of the human soul.
Again, it has been remarked that the beliefs of primitive peoples are often held with an emotional tenacity inversely proportioned to the amount of evidence adducible in support of such beliefs. But Christian Science, so far as I am aware, furnishes the only example of a great body of people who cling with fervent emotion to a belief in that which they know is not true. This is, literally, atavism run mad ; for it is more than atavism, in that it embraces a pronounced pathological element unique in the history of mental degeneracy. This well-recognized force must, therefore, be counted as one of the most essential factors which contribute to the success of Christian Science.
Atavism, or the tendency to revert to primitive types, is a force just as potent in the social, political, and religious realms as it is in the domain of mental and organic life. In the social and political worlds it is manifested in anarchism and socialism. In the religious world its tendency is often in the direction of that most primitive of all known religions — Fetishism -the worship of inanimate objects the earliest form of idolatry.
In this age of enlightenment, it is, of course, a comparatively rare occurrence for the civilized world to be invited to witness a decided recrudescence of Fetishism in its pristine purity. Mere survivals are comparatively common — so common, in fact, and so modified by environmental conditions, as to escape the notice of all but the critical anthropologist. Even in the revivals of Fetishism, its crudest forms are thus modified by later forms of worship.
Thus Christian Science, which is probably the crudest form of Fetishism possible in this age and country, is a decidedly modified form of primeval Fetish worship. In fact, it necessarily includes the later forms of idolatry, as well as some of the essential elements of polytheism. It cannot be said to be modified by Christianity, the only thing Christian about it being its name. All the rest is pure assumption. Were we dealing with other than a problem in psychiatry, it would be called " blasphemy." But the proverbial cunning of madness alone is displayed in assuming the name and in making the claim that it is a superior form of Christianity. Thus divested of the assumed element of Christianity, nothing remains of the religion of Christian Science but a compound of Idolatry, Polytheism, and Fetishism.
I employ the term " Idolatry " in the sense that it consists in the worship of anything other than God himself ; and the term " Polytheism " in its accepted meaning, the worship of a plurality of gods. They may, therefore, be considered together.
The founder of the sect has laid the foundation for the worship of herself by reconstructing the Lord's Prayer, apparently for that purpose. Thus the opening clause, " Our Father which art in heaven," is trans-formed into, " Our Father and Mother God, all harmonious." It will be observed that the words " which art in heaven " are cunningly omitted, and the words " all harmonious " substituted ; thus evading the implication that the God whom they worship is all in heaven, while--the Mother God is still on earth. The substituted words — " all harmonious " - clearly convey the idea of plurality. Otherwise they would be meaningless ; for, whereas a unitary God must be sup-posed to be " all harmonious with himself, it does not follow that a Mother God on earth is " all harmonious " with the Father God in heaven. Hence the necessity for the asseveration in the Christian Science ritual of worship.
Of course no one can say positively that the unfortunate lady revised the Lord's Prayer with the intention of including herself in the Godhead, but it can be readily believed to be true by those familiar with the salient symptoms of the particular forms of mental alienation, which we have been considering. Monumental egotism is a never-failing symptom of mental degeneracy, and our asylums are peopled with those who believe themselves to be God. What she believes, how-ever, is of small importance compared with the deplorable fact that she is worshipped as the " Mother God," equally with the Father, by the more advanced (in mental degeneracy) of the Christian Science "Church."
It is this fact that invests the whole subject with interest to the alienist and with importance to every sane man and woman.
The most astounding of all the manifestations of the atavic tendencies of Christian Science consists in the practice of Fetishism, practically in its primeval purity. Many such practices are revealed through private sources, but I will confine myself to one or two of those that are already notorious. First, then, the founder's book itself is a fetish. In the first place, it is worshipped as of divine origin,, equal, if not superior, in authority to the Bible. Again, the book is fervently believed to be itself invested with the divine power of healing. The authority for each of these beliefs is found in the book itself. Its author's claim to divine inspiration is boldly stated, and the faithful are informed that a devout perusal of its pages will heal their diseases. Accordingly, the truly good Christian Scientist reads it in an ecstasy of holy joy, and some of them have been known to sleep with it under their pillows. If this is not fetish worship, will some unprejudiced student of comparative theology tell us its legitimate classification?
Again, Darwin tells us in his " Journal " (p. 458) that he visited a tribe of fetish worshippers in Keeling Island. One of their fetishes consisted of a wooden spoon, dressed in doll's clothes ; and he avers that it danced " in good time to the song of the children and women." He adds that " it was a most foolish spectacle," but that the Malays firmly " believe in its spiritual movements."
I hope the enemies of the founder of Christian Science will not accuse her of plagiarism when they recall her now notorious spoon fetish. Hers is a metal spoon, -silver plated, with her likeness stamped thereon (price, $3.50 each), and her devout worshippers are each expected to purchase one and use it, habitually, for eating soup withal. Her spoon is also invested with great spiritual power and significance, and he who uses it in the spirit of true worship will realize its health-giving potency. His spiritual strength will be renewed. His soup will do him good.
No, the founder of Christian Science is in no proper sense a plagiarist. Fetish worship is common to all primitive peoples of a certain grade of intellectual development. When the conditions and the phenomena are found coexistent in the midst of a high civilization, science names it " Atavism."
I have said that many remarkable cures of diseases have been effected by persons who practise mental healing under the name of " Christian Science." Of this there is no room for reasonable doubt. I have also shown the illogical attitude of those who claim that the fact of healing demonstrates the soundness of the theory under which they practise. Nevertheless, to the mind of the superficial observer, there is a mysterious nexus between the theory and the results of the practice of Christian Science; and it remains to explain the real cause of the phenomenon, and thus divest it of the glamour of mysticism with which it has been invested by superstition.
In the first place, then, Christian Science, considered as a therapeutic agent, is a system of mental healing. No good Christian Scientist will gainsay that proposition, since there is no such thing as matter, and all is God and God is mind.
The next proposition is, that success in mental healing is dependent upon mental conditions. That is to say, a certain well-defined condition of mind in the patient is absolutely essential to success in mental healing. Christian Scientists themselves will hardly deny this proposition, for to do so would be to repudiate the Master himself as an authority on that subject. Jesus of Nazareth was the first to define the condition necessary to successful mental healing. His whole career was demonstrative of the truth of his declaration. And all the experimental researches of nineteen supervenient centuries have served but to confirm and illustrate its truth. In that declaration he summed up the whole law of mental healing in the one word " Faith." That was the one mental condition on the part of the patient which he constantly insisted upon as essential to the exercise of his power. That it was essential was clearly evidenced by the fact that he could not succeed in healing the sick in his native city " because of their unbelief."
The far-reaching significance of his declaration seems never to have been appreciated at its full value, especially by Christian Scientists and others who believe that mental healing is due to the exercise of some force, miraculous or otherwise, by some agency extraneous to the patient himself. The words of Jesus emphatically negative the belief in any extraneous agency whatever. The word " faith," as before remarked, indicated the mental condition essential to success in healing. It is the principle which energizes the human soul, and with-out which the soul is powerless to heal the body. And when Jesus declared to his patients, as he did with insistent iteration, " Thy faith hath made thee whole," it was a clear, positive, and emphatic statement of the one basic principle of mental therapeutics. It was equivalent to saying, nineteen hundreds years in advance, just what modern experimental science has demonstrated to be true, namely, that the mental energy that heals the sick resides within the patient himself. All that the healer does, or can do — all that Jesus did, or pretended to do was to induce in the mind of the patient the necessary mental condition, to stimulate, by appropriate acts and words, the energizing principle of his soul, — faith. No act or word of Jesus militates, in the slightest degree, against that one emphatic declaration. It was, in fact, a proclamation, or formulation, of the Supreme Law of Mental Therapeutics, — the law under which he performed his wonderful works; the law that he taught to his disciples ; the law under which his promise was made that those coming after him should do " even more wonderful works " than he had done ; the one universal law under which all mental healing has been accomplished since the beginning of time.
This is Christian Science as Christ understood it. At the very threshold of the inquiry, therefore, we find it to be the very antithesis of the Christian Science of modern times, in that Jesus declared that the healing power resides in the patient, whereas modern Christian Science teaches us, first, that there is nothing to heal, and secondly, that God himself interposes and does the healing.
In undertaking to correlate all methods of mental healing, and, to reduce them to one general principle, I shall assume that the Master knew the fundamental law of the science of which he was the Great Exemplar. I shall hazard nothing in this assumption, even from the most rigidly scientific standpoint, for I shall proceed to show that the discoveries of modern science demonstrate the truth of his declaration.
I shall also assume that there is but one law of mental healing. Nature is not prodigal of laws ; but those that exist are immutable, and they are universal in their application. Thus the law of gravitation applies alike to the sun, the stars, the planets, the earth, the falling apple, and the smallest atom in the material universe. The law of mental healing is also universal if " nature is constant," and it applies to all methods alike, without reference to any one's theory of causation or to the names by which the various systems are designated. If, therefore, any person is healed by mental processes, it follows that the law has been invoked, whether he is conscious of it or not; just as the workingman who falls from a scaffold obeys the law of gravitation, although he may never have heard of Newton or his Principia. If told that he and mother earth were attracted to each other with a force proportioned directly as to the mass and inversely as to the square of the distance, he would doubtless blush deeply and perhaps deny the soft impeachment, just as the Christian Scientist denies, with hysterical vehemence, that she ever was guilty of healing the sick under the same law that prevails in Hypnotism, Mesmerism, Animal Magnetism, Fetishism, or any of the other isms under which mental healing has masqueraded since the dawn of creation. Nevertheless, it is just as true that there is but one general law of mental healing as it is that there is but one general law of gravitation. What that law is, and why it is effective under all systems and in spite of all theories of causation, I shall now try to make clear to the general reader.
I have shown elsewhere 1 that Jesus of Nazareth was endowed with an intuitive knowledge of the laws of the human soul. The internal evidence of this fact contained in the history of his life; when considered in connection with the discoveries of modern psychological science, is simply overwhelming. Especially is this true of his knowledge of the law of mental healing, the salient feature of which, and the only one which it is important that we should consider in this connection, has already been mentioned above, namely, his declaration that the healing power resides within the patient and not in any extraneous agency; that " faith" is the energizing principle of the soul, and that when faith is perfect " all things are possible." If, therefore, we find that this, the fundamental postulate of the Master, is demonstrated by the facts of Experimental Psychology, we shall be in possession of the key to the mystery. That is to say, we shall have found the nexus of cause and effect which correlates the undoubted facts of healing by the methods of Christian Science, Voudooism, Fetishism, and kindred superstitions with those of Hypnotism, Animal Magnetism so called, and all other methods of mental healing.
Assuming then, provisionally, the absolute veridity of the Master's postulate, it follows that the office or function of the healer is simple to the last degree, and consists in stimulating, energizing, and directing that force within the patient which does the work of healing. And that is what Experimental Psychology has demonstrated to be true in all cases and under all conditions. Briefly stated, all experiments in psychical research, together with all the facts recorded of mental healing in all the ages of the world, conspire to prove that the following propositions furnish the master-key to all the mysteries of mental therapeutics :
1. Man is endowed with a dual mind, — objective and subjective.
2. The subjective mind controls the functions, sensations, and conditions of the body.
3. The subjective mind is constantly amenable to control by the power of suggestion.
It will at once be seen that, if these three propositions are true, the words of Jesus are scientifically verified, his every act in healing the sick is explained, and that all the facts of mental healing are explicable under the law of suggestion.
That the first proposition is true is attested by every psychic phenomenon that has ever been recorded. That is to say, the mysteries that have puzzled and appalled mankind throughout all the ages have been dispelled and removed from the realms of superstition by the discovery of that fundamental law of psychology. It was first publicly formulated, and the two minds or states of consciousness clearly differentiated, in 1893.1 Since then it has been accepted as at least a valid working hypothesis by every unprejudiced scientist who has en-gaged in psychical research. In short, all psychic phenomena attest it ; experimental surgery 2 confirms it, and the facts of organic evolutions demonstrate its scientific accuracy.
The second proposition is provisional, depending upon the verification of the first and third. It is explanatory of what has been vaguely termed " the principle of life," the recuperative energy of nature," etc.
The third proposition embraces the greatest discovery in psychological science — the law of suggestion. The famous Dr. Braid, of Manchester, England, is entitled to the credit of laying the foundation for the discovery. But it remained for Liebault, of France, to formulate the law, thus rendering it practically available to science. In their hands, however, the law was confined to the phenomena of experimental " Hypnotism," a word which Braid coined to soften scientific prejudice against Mesmerism.
Under the dual-mind theory, however, it was seen that the law of suggestion is, ex hypothesi, a universal law of the subjective mind, dominating it under all states and conditions of the objective mind. It seems almost superfluous to say that this indefinitely enlarged the field of effective suggestion, and threw a flood of light upon all phases of psychic phenomena. For it was not only explanatory of why it is that the hypnotized subject can, by mere suggestion, be made to believe himself a dog or a devil, a great statesman or a helpless infant " mewling and puking in the nurse's arms," but why it is that the subjective mind of the spirit medium, dominated by the ever-present suggestion that she is under the control of spirits, not only believes itself to be a spirit, but will personate any one suggested, real or imaginary. It also shows how it happens that our lunatic asylums are full of Napoleons, Hannibals, kings and potentates, gods innumerable and sporadic devils.
What is more to our present purpose, it reveals the secret of all so-called imaginary diseases, or, more properly, diseases induced by morbid imagination ; or, to be scientifically exact, diseases induced by false suggestions. It is safe to say that nine-tenths of all the ailments of the human family may be traced to this source. Such suggestions arise from a thousand different sources; for example, newspaper advertisements of patent medicines, especially those containing a long list of " symptoms " indicative of imminent danger and the stern necessity for immediate investment in a dozen bottles of the medicine. The success of this plan of suggestionis rendered easy by the fact that there are few imaginative people who cannot, by diligent introspection, find one or more of the advertised symptoms. Educated physicians are all well aware of the potency of suggestion in the creation of diseased conditions of the body. They have been so instructed in their schools and colleges, and many of them have had valuable practical experience along those lines in their daily practice. Comparatively few, however, have practically tested the potency of suggestion as a remedial agent. Hence they will be prepared to give but a theoretical indorsement of what is to follow. Those, however, who have studied the subject by scientific methods, and have had practical experience besides, will instantly recognize in the psychological formula above given a potentially complete explication of all the phenomena of mental healing. A very few words will suffice to render the explanation clear to the general reader.
For the purposes of this argument we may leave the first proposition out of consideration altogether. The second proposition, that " The subjective mind controls the functions, sensations, and conditions of the body," embraces that potential healing force, resident within the body, which Jesus said must be energized by faith. It matters not what terminology we may employ to designate it, the fact remains that it exists. We may call it " the principle of life," or we may designate it by the histological term, " communal soul " (Haeckel), which is that intelligent energy which controls and regulates the functions of the innumerable cells of which the whole body is composed, each one of which is itself an intelligent entity. Each cell is highly specialized with reference to its location and its consequent functions, each having its special duty to perform. I do not step outside of pure materialism when I say this. Nor do I do so when I say that "the functions of an organ are the functions of the cells of which it consists," and that disease is abnormal performance of function by one or more organs or tissues." 1 Disease of the body, there-fore, is disease of the cells of the body, and the health or disease of the cell is determined by its normal or abnormal food-supply, which in turn depends upon the circulation or composition of the blood.
These, of course, are very general terms, and they are of very wide, if not of universal, application. No educated physician of any of the schools will gainsay them, and every histologist will recognize them as embracing the very fundamentals of his science. Nor will any scientist deny that each and all of these cellular intelligences, which comprise all that there is of any multi-cellular organism, are governed by a central intelligence, sleepless, ever alert for the preservation of the body, instinctive, automatically controlling the involuntary muscles, and capable, in response to stimuli, of accelerating or retarding the action of every fibre and function of the body. These stimuli may be either physical or mental. They may consist of food supplies, normal' or abnormal, or of medicines, or they may be purely mental. Thus the heart's action may be accelerated or retarded, or suspended altogether, by good or bad news. The same may be said of the circulation of the blood, secretion or excretion, digestion or assimilation—in short, the normal performance of any of the functions of the body may be inhibited or promoted by appropriate mental stimuli. It goes without saying that when the stimulus is purely mental the action of the central intelligence upon the cells involved is also mental. It may be direct, as in imparting an impulse through the nerve ganglia, or it may be indirect, as in the reestablishment of normal metabolism in diseased cells by the induction of an increased flow of blood to the group affected. In either case it is a mental phenomenon induced by a mental stimulus. Medicines could do no more, and frequently they do much less.
Now, the existence of this central controlling intelligence, by whatever name it may be designated, or whatsoever theory one may entertain as to its ultimate origin or destiny, its powers, its potentialities, or its limitations, is now recognized with practical unanimity by all students, not only of the new psychology, but of physiology, physiological psychology, and histology. More-over, what is more to our present purpose, every student of experimental psychology knows that this central intelligence is constantly amenable to control by the subtle power of suggestion. Indeed, experimental psychology may be said to have revealed its existence. It certainly has demonstrated its suggestibility, as well as its potency as a therapeutic agent when energized by an appropriate mental stimulus.
These stimuli are now known to psychological science by the generic name of " suggestions." They are multi-form in character, and in the hands of the skilful practitioner they are varied in accordance with the individual idiosyncrasies of his patients. But multiform as therapeutic suggestions are in practice, they may all be comprised under one generic term having reference to the fact that all disease, in its ultimate analysis, is disease of the tissues or of the cells of which the tissues are composed. The central intelligence, or " communal soul " as Haeckel terms it, necessarily conveys the mental stimulus which it receives to each of the cells affected. And as each cell is itself an organic entity, endowed with a mental organism of its own, and per-forming all the functions of animal life, it follows that the mental stimulus received by the communal intelligence is conveyed directly, as a mental stimulus, to the mind organism of each cell, thus stimulating it into normal activity. Effective therapeutic suggestions, therefore, are those which reach the intelligences composing the organic tissues that are diseased, stimulating those that are being atrophied, and regulating their supply of nutriment in cases of hypertrophy.
Any student of histology, who is also acquainted with the psychology of micro-organisms, will readily. grasp my meaning and be able to extend the principle involved to all cases of effective mental healing. Even the non-professional reader will see at a glance that this hypothesis greatly simplifies the whole theory of suggestive therapeutics, in that it reveals the machinery through which mental stimuli, or suggestions, are made effective.
Moreover, it divests " suggestion " of that indefinable glamour of mystery with which it has been invested, To the professional psychotherapist it will at once be obvious that other systems of healing, not supposed to be suggestive, owe their success, in great measure, to this principle; for example, massage and osteopathy. The masseur may well be supposed to convey, unconsciously, suggestions directly to the affected cells by manipulation of the group, and the osteopathist, also unconsciously, by manipulating the nerve centres leading to the group. This hypothesis will, in fact, be found to afford an explication of many groups and sub-groups of phenomena, particularly of all cures effected by touch, digital manipulation, or laying on of hands. Besides, it affords an explanation of many other mysterious psychical phenomena, outside the domain of' suggestive therapeutics, which cannot be mentioned here.
It must now be obvious that a generic term for therapeutic suggestion must have special reference to the fact that, in its ultimate analysis, effective suggestions are those that directly or indirectly reach the seat of the disease ; that is, the cell intelligences composing the diseased tissues. Its intimate association with histology, or the branch of biology that treats of the structure of the tissues of organized bodies, suggests histo-suggestion; but partly for the sake of euphony, and especially to avoid coining a word, I have chosen the term "histionic suggestion " to designate that form of mental stimulus that energizes diseased tissues, or the cells of which they are composed .l In this sense the term is generic, for that it embraces the efficient cause of all therapeutic effects of all forms of suggestion. Specifically, it may be defined as that direct method of conveying therapeutic suggestions which consists in personal contact or digital manipulation. I may add, en passant, that this method, when employed with intelligent purposefulness by the proper person, is by far the most efficient and universally practicable of all the multiform methods of imparting therapeutic suggestions. Indeed, it is often the only method by which they can be imparted. A demonstrative illustration is found in the soothing touch of the sympathetic mother, often instinctively applied to an infant too young to assimilate any other form of mental stimulus. Intelligently applied, its effects are indefinitely multiplied. Many fantastic theories have been invoked to account for this well-known phenomenon, often with the view of removing it, with its innumerable cognates, from the domain of suggestion. But, in its ultimate analysis, it ranges itself under that generic term. It is histionic suggestion, peripherally applied. In other words, it is a mental stimulus or impulse, conveyed by a second subjective personality to the affected cells, precisely as the same impulse is conveyed by the central subjective intelligence of the adult patient in response to any form of suggestion.
This may seem to be a digression. But I have deemed it necessary, not only to assert the universality of the law of suggestion as applied to mental healing, but to demonstrate it by an appeal to the universally acknowledged facts of modern science. To that end I have sought to remove therapeutic suggestion from the domain of the mysterious and the occult, as well as from the dismal realm of superstition. I have endeavored to show its reasonableness, its conformity to all the known facts of human experience, and that its simplicity stamps it with the sign-manual of scientific truth. I leave it to the intelligent reader to draw his own conclusions, and to make his own application to Christian Science, as well as to all other methods of mental healing.
For seeking to place mental therapeutics in the custody of a law I shall doubtless be accused of trying to rob the Divine Father of the honor due to the Healer of his children. I am not. On the contrary, I regard it as the strongest possible incentive to divine worship, the greatest conceivable reason for profound adoration, the most indubitable evidence of his infinite mercy and loving kindness to his children, to reflect that God has instituted a universal law for the- healing of the nations, — Christian, pagan, and savage. No stronger or more convincing teleological argument has ever been made than that derivable from the one pregnant fact that God has instituted a law of mental healing that adjusts itself with equal facility to all peoples, all beliefs, all superstitions, and all grades of civilization. Ancient history tells us of an indefinite number of methods, each based upon some fantastic theory or upon some gross superstition. Yet each method seems to have been equally effective, for history informs us that under all systerns " miraculous " cures were common occurrences. In view of this well-known fact, one may well pause to inquire what would have been the fate of those primitive peoples if the law of suggestion had not been as potent for good as for evil — for the promotion of health as for the creation of disease? For untold centuries suggestion, in its myriad forms, was the only therapeutic agency available. But it was perfectly adapted to primitive conditions of human intelligence ; a fortiori, because of its perfect adaptation to all forms of belief, superstitious or otherwise.
What is, if possible, of still more profound teleological significance is the fact that it is adapted to the uses of the highest civilization, for when the law is scientifically comprehended it may be intelligently applied. Besides, in the midst of the highest civilization yet attained, primitive minds still exist, primitive methods of reasoning still prevail, atavism still constitutes a retrograde force, and primitive superstitions, more grotesque and idiotic than any mentioned in ancient history, dominate the minds of large classes of our population. Why should they be vilified and abused, buffeted and contumeliously entreated, by press and pulpit, for that which is their misfortune and not their fault? They are availing themselves of the law of suggestion in healing their sick and afflicted, and they are doing it in a way that is perfectly adapted to their grade of intelligence. They heal many, and their religion stands the test of quantitative analysis.