This section is from the book "Mental Therapeutics Or Just How To Heal Oneself And Others", by Theron Q. Dumont. Also available from Amazon: Mental Therapeutics or Just How to Heal Oneself and Others.
In the preceding lesson we have seen the wonderful work performed by the cells of which the human body is composed. Can there be any doubt that these cells are alive and have mind within them? Any other supposition would be ridiculous. The single cells found in the lower stages of animal and vegetable life, which perform even less complicated and complex actions are regarded as living, thinking creatures; then there can be no reason for denying life and mind to these cells which compose the human body, and which constitute a great co-operative community.
Biology teaches us that every living thing is possessed of sufficient mind to enable it to perform its tasks, and adjust itself to its environment. Even the tiny cells are possessed of suffi- % cient mind to enable them to preserve their lives, perform their work, and reproduce their species. The cells in the human body have sufficient mind to enable them to seek, select, and absorb their owrn food, and to move from one place to another in search for it when necessary. Moreover, they have mind enough to enable them to perform the complicated work referred to in the preceding lesson. The intelligence shown in the work of the red blood cells is wonderful, and is an undoubted proof of the existence of a high degree of mind in such cells. And the other work performed by the other cells, such as the secretion of fluids, the selection of mineral matter needed for building up bone, hair, and nails, is scarcely less wonderful.
Eminent biologists have conducted careful investigations of the life-activities of these cells, and have discovered some very important facts regarding them. For instance, it is discovered that the cells manifest rudimentary memory, which enables them to profit by experience in the direction of avoiding the recurrence of some unpleasant happening. They show their likes and dislikes very plainly; and they exhibit the tendency to acquire habits. Some investigators insist that they even show evidence of purposi-tive preparation for future action, and act in anticipation of such future necessity.
Binet, the eminent psychologist, in his important work entitled "The Psychic Life of Micro-Organisms," says: "We shall not regard it as strange, perhaps, to find so complete a psychology in the history of the lower organisms, when we call to mind that, agreeably to the ideas of evolution now accepted, a higher animal is nothing more than a colony of protozoans. Every one of the cells composing such an animal has retained its primitive properties, giving them a higher degree of perfection by division of labor and by selection. The epithelial cells that secrete the nails and hair are organisms perfected with reference to the secretion of protective parts. Similarly, the cells of the brain are organisms that have been perfected with reference to psychical attributes."
But the mind in the cells is more than merely the particular manifestation of mind in each particular cell. There is also found a sympathetic and co-ordinated mental activity existing between all the individual cells of the body. There is found what has been found a "group mind" of certain groups of cells; and an "organ mind" of the various groups composing an organ of the body; and these in turn are grouped together in what we have called the Corporeal Mind, which is the great group mind of the cells of the entire body. Just how these cells co-ordinate and co-operate in this way is unknown to science, but there seems to exist a high form of telepathic communication between them, of which we get a hint in the psychology of human crowds, in which there is found a "contagion of thought" between the various members thereof.
The cells possess mind not only for their own ends, but also mind which combining with like mind in other cells acts for the ends of the groups of cells, and then the larger groups, and finally the complete group composing the body. The combination of the cell-groups into organ groups of cells is so complete and thorough that to all intents and purposes each organ of the body may be regarded as a living creature, having a mind of its own. This is no flight of imagination, but is a cold scientific fact of biological psychology. Each organ has its own mind and uses it in its activities. When that mind becomes impressed with erroneous ideas (if the term may be used in this connection) it begins to manifest abnormally; and, likewise, when it is restored by properly directed mental treatment it resumes its normal functioning. These are proved facts of Mental Therapeutics and experimental psychology as may be seen by reference to any late work on these subjects.
Professor Haeckel, the eminent scientist, who cannot be accused of any leaning toward metaphysical theories, he being a leading advocate of the "materialistic" school of philosophy, says in one of his works: "The 'tissue soul' is the higher psychological function which gives physiological individuality to the compound multicellular organism as a true' cell commonwealth.' It controls all the separate 'cell souls' of the social cells-the mutually dependent 'citizens' which constitute the community. The human egg cell, as soon as it is fertilized, multiplies by division and forms a community, or colony of many social cells. These differentiate themselves, and by their specialization, by various modifications of these cells, the various tissues which compose the various organisms are developed. The developed many-celled organisms of man and of all higher animals resemble, therefore, a social civil community, the numerous single individuals of which, are, indeed developed in various ways, but which were originally only simple cells of one common structure."
To those to whom this collective mentality of the cells composing an organ of the body, or the greater combination composing the body itself, may seem unthinkable, we would suggest a study of the action of collective mentality in the various forms of life. For instance, observation reveals the fact that a great school of fish seem to move by a common impulse, as if under the action of a collective mind; the same phenomenon being noted in the case of flocks of birds, herds of larger animals, and even in crowds of men as we shall see presently. The actions of the bees in a hive show such a close co-ordination that the animating spirit moving them has been called "the spirit of the hive."
Students of human psychology have noted the characteristics of the psychology of human crowds, audiences, congregations, mobs, etc. It is a proved fact of psychology that the various individuals composing a crowd of persons think, say, and do things when in the crowd that would be foreign to them as separate individuals. There is a strange "contagion of thought" among the individuals of a crowd. Each individual in a crowd loses a certain degree of individuality, and acquires a greater degree of collective mentality; he becomes a member or part of the "collective mind" of the crowd; at the same time the crowd itself takes on a being of its own, which disappears when the crowd is dissolved.
Le Bon, the great psychological authority on this subject, in his work entitled "The Crowd," says: "The most careful observations seem to prove that an individual immerged for some length of time in a crowd in action soon finds himself in a special state, which most resembles a state of fascination in which the hypnotized individual finds himself. The conscious personality has entirely vanished, and will and discernment are lost. All feelings and thoughts are bent in the direction of the hypnotizer. An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand which the wind stirs up at will."
All of the above leads us to the inevitable conclusion that the same general principle of "collective mind" manifests in the case of the various organs and parts of the body. Every fact of physiology seems to sustain this idea, and the idea itself is based upon the soundest foundations of biology and psychology. The liver has its collective mind; the heart likewise; the stomach likewise; the kidneys likewise; the nervous system likewise; and so until every great department of the body is included in the list. Each of these collective minds has its own peculiarities, characteristics, and qualities, as we shall see as we proceed. And, all combined in collective mental co-ordination, compose the entire body itself, with its Corporeal Mind.
But, it must be always remembered that the individual cells are the units of which the whole body is built up. All corporeal mind is, in its elemental form, merely cell mind. And so, at the last, all disease must originate in the cells, and all cures must be directed toward the cells -the cell minds of course being the soul and spirit of the activity of the cell.
The best therapeutic theory today holds that all disease is a failure of the cells to function properly, i. e., to do their full work, to repair wasteland to eliminate waste matter. This improper functioning may be the fault of individual cells, or it may result from a failure of cell-groups (large or small) to co-operate properly, and to work in harmony and unison. Sometimes there is manifested an actual rebellion of the cells or cell-groups. These failures of the cells to do their appointed work properly results in either local or else general conditions of disease or ill-health. Naturally, it follows that the diseased condition may be cured only by restoring the cell activities to natural functioning.
Nature often performs this curative work by bringing pressure to bear on the mind in the cells or cell-groups, but sometimes the Corporeal Mind itself seems to become obsessed with the delusion of disease, and in such cases it must be restored to normal condition by means of treatment from outside. Here is where Mental Therapeutics performs its great work. By reaching the mind in the cells and in the cell-groups the abnormal condition is neutralized and destroyed, and the normal condition restored. Even in cases in which there exists a material or mechanical cause for the disorder, proper stimulation of the mind in the cells and organs sets up an increased resistive and combative power, and the forces are rallied and directed toward the removal of the existing obstacle.
So, you see, Mental Therapeutics is not necessarily bound up with metaphysical, philosophical, or theological theories. Instead, it is based upon the combined discoveries of biology, physiology, and comparative psychology. There is a biological and physiological basis of cure underlying the theory and practice of Mental Therapeutics which is too often lost sight of by the over-insistence, on the part of some of its advocates, upon the acceptance of the metaphysical theories, philosophical hypotheses, and theological dogmas which they have attached to the general subject of mental healing.
But the student should ever remember, that, no matter how far away he seems to get from the cell and its mind, the basis of the system is to be found in the presence of mind in the cells of which the human body is composed. By holding close to this fundamental idea, one never can go very far wrong; nor wander far away from the path of solid scientific fact. Otherwise, beware the quagmires and swamps which beset the road.