This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
The case upon which Mrs. Eddy appears to rely is described thus: " The day you received my husband's letter I became conscious for the first time in forty-eight hours." What can this prove? What evidence is there that she would not have become conscious if the letter had never been written? If she were ever to come out of an unconscious state and recover, it must be at some time. The coincidence of Mrs. Eddy's receiving a letter from the husband does not show any connection between the two faets, for such letters have been sent and the patients have died. To my personal knowledge her treatments have failed, and her predictions have not been fulfilled, the patient dying in excruciating agony. Instances which have occurred, and can be reproduced at any time, of the attempted absent treatment of persons who never existed, are numerous; for there is not one of this chfss of healers that cannot be so imposed upon. This is sufficient to raise a powerful presumption that the spiritual presence which they evoke, and to which they speak, is "such stuff as dreams are made of".
It is not to be denied that they make more cures than any bungler or extremist of a school using drugs would expect. But their failures are numerous, and, like faith healers, they never publish these. Compelled, however, to admit this, the chancellor of the University of the Science of Spirit says:
Our inability to heal instantaneously as they (Jesus and the Apostles) are recorded to have done, is attributable to our deficiency in the realization of the doctrine. While we claim that our theory of healing is applicable to all diseases, we do not claim to possess sufficient understanding in it at the present time to heal all diseases instantaneously, neither would we now guarantee to cure certain diseases, such as cancer or consumption in the last stages. Of one thing, however, we are confident, i. e. that we can do more good in all cases of illness than can be done with any other theory, or with materia medica.—Akkns.
They are rather more successful than faith healers for this reason: with the faith healers it is generally either an instantaneous cure, or none at till. And an instantaneous cure cannot be made to apply to a great many cases, and what is supposed to be such is very frequently a delusion followed by a complete relapse. The Christian Scientists, however, and their congeners make many visits and give nature a much better opportunity without the destruction of the patient's faith in them by a failure at a critical juncture; thus it happens that the proportion of recoveries is more numerous.
The principal practical element has been more or less recognized and employed by the greatest physicians of every school through the whole history of medical practice, as well as by quacks and superstitious pagan priests. " The History of Medical Economy during the Middle Ages," by George F. Fort, contains numerous illustrations of this subject, though adduced for another purpose, and, unlike many other treatises, giving the authorities with most painstaking accuracy.
Dr. Rush, of whom Dr. Tuke affirms that few physicians have had more practical experience of disease, says: i have frequently prescribed remedies of doubtful efficacy in the critical stage of acute diseases, but never till i had worked up my patients into a confidence bordering upon certainty of their probable good effects. The success of this measure has much oftener answered than disappointed my expectations.
The " British and Foreign Medical Review" for January, 1846-, whose editor then was Sir John Forbes, contained an article written by himself which encourages " the administration of simple, feeble, and altogether powerless, non-perturbing medicines, in all cases in which drugs are prescribed pro forma, for the satisfaction of the patient's mind, and not with the view of producing any direct remedial effect".
" Physic and Physicians," published in 1839, speaking of the celebrated and extraordinarily successful Dr. Radcliffe, who was the founder of the Radcliffe Library at Oxford University, and died in 1714, says that he paid particular attention to the mind of the patient under his care, and had been heard to say that he attributed much of his success and eminence to this circumstauce. There is a very good anecdote illustrating his views upon this subject:
A lady of rank consulted Radcliffe in great distress about her daughter, and tho doctor began the iuvestigatiou of the case by asking, "Why, what ails herf" "Alas! doctor," replied the mother, "I cannot tell; but she has lost her humor, her looks, her stomach ; her strength consumes every day, and we are apprehensive that she cannot live." "Why do you not marry herf" said Radcliffe. "Alas! doctor, that we would fain do. and have offered her as good a match as ever she could expect." " Is there no other that you think she would be content to marry ?" "Ah, doctor, that is what troubles us; for there is a young gentleman we doubt she loves, that her father and I can never consent to." "Why, look you, madam," replied Radcliffe gravely, "then the case is this: your daughter would marry one man, and you would have her marry another. In all my books I find no remedy for such a disease as this".
This principle has also been employed by certain priests and clergymen of every sect. A young woman, a teacher, was, as she believed and as her friends supposed, at the point of death. Her physician was not quite certain that she was as ill as she seemed, and requested the pastor to assist him in breaking up her delusion that she must die. He attempted it, but she refused to hear him, and intrusted him with messages for her friends, especially for her class in the Sunday School. When about to bid her farewell, he informed her that he would return in the afternoon; she replied that she would like him to pray with her, but that it was useless to ask for her recovery. Having in view her hearing what he had to say, he prayed in such a way as to break the spell and cause her to believe that she would recover; as he did this, the morbid symptoms of approaching death gave way. and she is still living.