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.
Another case was still more remarkable. A woman, ill and bedridden, conceived a high regard for the piety and intelligence of her pastor. He entered her room and in a loud and solemn voice said, "I command you to arise!" Involuntarily she arose and resumed the duties of housekeeping, which after the lapse of ten years she still performs.
A Roman Catholic priest, of high position in his church, told the writer that he thought he had saved scores of lives by refusing to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, which led the patients to say "Father-does not think I am going to die".
In 1832, when the cholera raged in Norfolk, Virginia, Dr. Buzzell, a physician of great local celebrity, lived there. He was driving night and day, and on one occasion was summoned to see a stalwart negro who was apparently in the state of collapse. Instead of beginning at once to treat him, he accused him of shamming, denounced and derided him in every possible way for calling him when he was at work night and day, driven almost to death. Then, assuming the appearance of intense excitement, he procured a switch and began to thrash the negro very severely. The more he groaned, and the more he said he was dying, the more Dr. Buzzell thrashed him, and with his threatenings and beatings brought on such a tremendous reaction that the man recovered.
In a visit to a branch of the Oneida Community at Wallingford, in 185G, I asked Mrs. Miller, the sister of John H. Noyes, the founder of the community, what they did if any of the inmates became ill, as they repudiated medicines. She said they had very little sickness. " But, have I not heard of an epidemic of diphtheria among you?" She said there had been, but by their treatment they saved every case. "What was that treatment?" "It was treatment by criticism." "How was it applied?" "So soon as a person was taken ill, a committee was appointed who went into the room ami sat down, paying no attention to the patient; they began at once to speak about him or her, criticizing the patient's peculiarities, bringing every defect to the surface, and unsparingly condemning it." Mrs. Miller added that no one could endure this more than an hour. The mental and moral irritation was so great that they began to perspire and invariably recovered. The universal efficacy of this method may well be doubted, for many persons live in such an atmosphere that if that treatment would save them, they would never die; while others are so callous to all criticism that the remedy would be without effect.
In a certain lunatic asylum was a patient, a very attractive young lady, whose delusion took the form that she was specially called of God to do some great work which had not yet been indicated to her. With this were connected several pernicious practices, such as fasting, excessive prayer, and others of similar character. The asylum physicians were very much interested in her, but the months passed away and she did not improve.
At last one of the assistant physicians, especially interested in the influence of the mind upon the body, determined upon a plan to effect her cure by a powerfid mental operation. Accordingly, he introduced a tube into her room, without her knowledge, and also prepared a calcium light so that, at a certain time, he could flood the room with rays of intense brilliancy.
The young woman had not walked a step for many months. At the appointed hour, with all the physicians standing in the hall, and the wife of the physician in chief—a thoroughly Christian woman, intensely sympathetic with the patient —also with them, the physician spoke through the tube in the name of the Lord, informing the girl that He had heard her prayers, that she should soon be sent upon her mission, and that she should go forth from the place to her own home to testify to His glory. At the same instant that the voice was heard, the room was flooded with a light much brighter than the sun at noonday.
Her face, with the utmost simplicity of faith, was lighted up with a joy that seemed too great for mortal; and those who were situated where they could see it, declared that hardly ever in their lives had they seen such an expression of seraphic bliss.
Of course, great interest centered in the conduct of the young woman the next morning. She said not a word to a human being upon her vision, but in the morning rose and walked the entire length of the hall, and continued to improve in physical and mental health till discharged from the asylum as practically cured.
Our informant, an official of the institution, of entire credibility, has not heard from her for some time; but, up to a recent period, she remained in good health.
This is an instance of cure effected by the operation of the mind upon the body, as extraordinary as any instance of cure which can be adduced by Faith Healers or Christian Scientists.
The nervous " temperament" or condition of the healer appears to be of no special importance; that is, it is of importance only in the same sense that it is to salesmen, public speakers, school-teachers, lawyers, sea-captains, detectives, military leaders, physicians, and all who impress themselves upon others. I have seen successful healers thin and tall; others short and fat; some pale, others florid; some intelligent, others unintelligent; some intellectual, more only intelligent; some in good health, others diseased; one of the best was so feeble as to seem on the verge of death.1
The specimen mental treatment given on page 257 shows how the practitioner worked herself up to the point; and it is easy to fancy how forcibly she spoke when a surge of conviction that seemed to act on all the blood-vessels of her body and made her tingle all over, went through her; and it is equally easy to imagine the effect upon the patient.
The relation of the Mind Cure movement to ordinary medical practice is important. It emphasizes what the most philosophical physicians of all schools have always deemed of the first importance, though many have neglected it. It teaches that medicine is but occasionally necessary. It hastens the time when patients of discrimination will rather pay more for advice how to live, and for frank declarations that they do not need medicine, than for drugs. It promotes general reliance upon those processes which go on equally in health and disease.
But these ethereal practitioners have no new force to offer ; there is no causal connection between their cures and their theories.
What they believe has practically nothing to do with their success. If a new school were to arise claiming to heal diseases without drugs or hygiene, or prayer, by the hypothetical odylic force invented by Baron Reichenbach, the effects would be the same, if the practice were the same.
1 In practice it seems to be more difficult to successfully treat one's self than to treat another person. The reason for this is that, when personally under the influence of supposed disease, the appeal of the senses is more forcible than when the deception shows itself in another. But that one can conquer the results of his own inverted thinking, there is not the slightest occasion to doubt. . . . We must not, however, make the mistake of supposing that he who would attempt to bring healing to others must first be sound himself. . . . The effect of a treatment depends not on its length, but on the condition of the healer who exorcises it, and the dynamic power of the thought exerted. — MAR8TON. 25.
Recoveries as remarkable have been occurring through all the ages, as the results of mental states and nature's own powers.
They will not be able to displace either the skilled surgeon or the educated physician; for their arrogant and exclusive pretensions are of the nature of a " craze." Most sensible persons will prefer a physician who understands both the mind and the body; who can be a "father confessor" to the sick man, relieving him of the responsibility of treating himself, quieting his mind, strengthening him by hope, and stimulating him by his personal presence; one who, understanding the mineral, plant, and animal substances included in the materia medica, can assist nature, interfering only when absolutely necessary and certainly safe; too learned and honest, when not knowing what to do, ever to do he knows not what.
They will also prefer a physician who can relieve their pains when incurable, smooth their pathway to the inevitable end, or, when he has the happiness to see them convalescent, will be able to give them such hygienic hints as may prevent a recurrence of the malady, or save them from something worse.
The verdict of mankind, excepting minds prone to vagaries on the borderland of insanity, will be that pronounced by Ecclesiasticus more than two thousand years ago:
"The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth ; and he that is wise will not abhor them, my son, in thy sickness be not negligent; hut pray into the lord, and he will make thee whole. Leave off prom sin, and order thy hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wicked-nkss. Then give place to the physician, for the LORD hath created him: let him NOT go from thee, FOR thou hast need of him. there is a time when IN" their HANDS there is good success. FOR they SHALL ALSO pray unto the lord, Til at he would prosper THAT which they give for ease AND to prolong life".