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.
The history of Mental Therapeutics is as old as the history of healing of any kind; for from the very beginning of the practice of healing there is found to have been practiced some of the manifold forms of mental healing. It is interesting to glance in passing at the history of the many phases and forms of mental healing of which the race has taken advantage.
Perhaps the earliest forms of mental healing were those connected with the magicians, medicine-men, or primitive priests of the savage tribes-from the very dawn of history mankind has taken unto itself priests, magicians, and medicine-men. And, just as naturally as the proverbial duck takes to water, so have these priests, magicians, and medicine-men taken to the healing of disease. This, perhaps, because the savage usually regards disease as something caused by the influence of devils, and evil influences, wThich must be chased away by the power of the magician or priest.
We, who can afford to smile at the superstition of these savages, must not make the mistake of supposing that these priests and magicians performed no cures. On the contrary, they did perform cures; and their prototypes among the savage tribes of this day are still performing cures, in the same way and for the same reason.
Travelers relate instances of wonderful cures performed by these medicine-men, priests, or magicians in Africa, South America, and other portions of the world in which savages still dwell in remote regions.
The magic performances of these medicinemen or magicians are directed toward the chasing away of the demons of disease. They believe in the power of the demons; and they believe in the power of the magicians-else they would not employ their services. The expectant attention and the imagination of the sick persons is called into operation by the magic ceremonies. All students of modern Mental Therapeutics understand the potency of the aroused imagination and expectant attention of a patient-this mental attitude results in a very decided curative and reparative activity on the part of the mind in the cells and the organs. The savage has a great amount of vital power, or vital mind, in his body, owing to his natural methods of living; and this once directed toward the process of cure begins to show marked improvement. The patient, noting the improvement, is encouraged in his faith and belief, and the reparative force thus gains additional power; and so on until the cure is made.
The next step is that of healing by religious ceremonies, which is performed by the priests of the primitive peoples of history. The priests claiming to be chosen instruments of the Deity, naturally claimed the divine power of healing among other gifts. Their favorite method was to lay on hands, accompanied by certain ceremonies of their particular religion. The literature and monumental remains of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Persia, India, and China shows that the laying-on-of-hands was a favorite and common method cure in those days and lands. There are evidences of it having been practiced nearly thirty-five hundred years ago in Egypt; it was also practiced extensively in ancient Chal-dea and Persia several thousand years ago.
But this custom, so well established in the mind of the race, did not perish with the ancient religions. On the contrary, it has always been a feature of the Christian religion-in fact it formed one of the strong foundation stones of that religion, as of every other religion in its early days. Healing the sick and casting out devils were two of the special offices of the early disciples; and the priesthood naturally took over the privilege and practice when they replaced the early disciples.
In the Middle Ages healing by means of religious ceremonies, charms, and blessings was very common. Sacred relics, altars, shrines, and holy places were visited by great multitudes of persons, many of whom experienced cures of their physical ailments. This practice, in fact, has endured unto this day in many parts of Europe. All over certain countries of Europe are to be found the holy wells, and holy shrines, where miracles of healing are performed. The many crutches, and other tokens of former illness, which have been left at these holy places as a token of cure, establish the fact that the power has not departed from them-or, rather, that the power of the mind aroused by faith and expectant attention still operates in the direction of cure.
Later on, some of the kings and queens took over the gift of healing, probably much to the disgust of the priests whose revenues were thus affected. We find many records of "the King's Touch," or "the Royal Touch," in the Middle Ages, or afterward. There arose a belief that the touch of the hand of the monarch was a sure cure for scrofula and kindred disorders of the blood and skin. So at certain times of the year great multitudes would present themselves to the ruling monarch in order that they might be made whole by his healing touch.
Those who may be inclined to smile at the idea of the monarch having any special power to heal should study the records of the times. Thousands were healed in this way, if we are to believe the testimony of eminent persons then living, including many distinguished physicians of those times. For instance, Dr. Wiseman, an eminent surgeon of old-time London, says that he, personally, witnessed thousands of actual cures of this kind "without the assistance of medicine or surgery, and those, many of them, such as had tired out the endeavors of able surgeons before they came hither. * * * I must needs profess that which I write will little more than show the weakness of our ability when compared with his Majesty's, who cureth more in one year than all the surgeons of London have done in an age."
The great successes of Franz Anton Mesmer in the latter part of the eighteenth century are now perceived to have arisen by reason of the power of faith and expectant attention, and not by any virtues of his theories of methods. He was followed by many who improved on his methods, and built upon his theories. Braid, an English physician, in 1841, dispelled the mystery of Mesmer's cures, by advancing a new theory- that of Hypnotism. For a time after this many physicians followed Braid's methods, and obtained great results. Then after a time came the school of the French hypnotists, who evolved the theory of "Suggestion," which asserted that the healing power arose not from the hypnotic methods, but rather from the "suggestion" or mental commands given in the hypnotic state. Then came others who discovered that Suggestion was equally efficacious when administered without any resort to hypnotism. This was the dawn of the modern scientific study of Mental Therapeutics-for it revealed the important fact that in mental states-particularly those of faith and expectant attention-there was to be found a great healing power.
The great modern interest in, and improvement in, the methods of Mental Therapeutics have arisen from the work of the practitioners of some of the many forms of " psychological healing," or "biological healing," so popular during the last half of the nineteenth century, all of which were offshoots of Mesmerism or Braidism. Gradually there sprung from this main trunk the several forms of Metaphysical Healing which became so popular the last quarter of the century last past, and which have grown so remarkably during the years of the present century.
The connecting link between the older schools of psychological healing, and the newer schools of metaphysical healing, is found in Dr. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a poor clockmaker of limited education, but of a quick mind and a strong personality, who lived in Maine, one of the New England States of America. Quimby was attracted to the teachings of Mesmerism about 1838, and soon developed into a successful mesmeric healer. He followed along the lines of John Bovee Dod's "Electro-Biology" for a time, but soon evolved a more metaphysical theory of his own. His new conception was that disease arose from erroneous thinking, and that cures may be performed by getting the patient to think rightly. Among his pupils were Dr. Warren F. Evans and Julius A. Dresser, both of whom afterward established what they called "The Mind Cure," which wras the direct ancestor of the great "New Thought" movement now so popular in America and Europe. Another patient and pupil of Dr. Quimby's was Mary Baker Eddy, who afterward founded the great Christian Science movement, which now numbers its followers at a million or more-Christian Science, however, now repudiates all descent from Quimby.
Springing up as a result of the success of the Mental Science, Christian Science, and New Thought movements, during the past twenty-five years, we find many instances of the desire of the people for religious and similar phases of mental healing. Divine healers by the score have appeared, flourished, and then disappeared. Francis Schlatter, the German shoemaker of Denver, Colorado, U. S. A., healed thousands of persons who flocked to his cottage, believing him to be a prophet of God. John Alexander Dowie, an English preacher, created great interest, first in Australia and then in Chicago, Illinois, TJ. S. A., by his many cures. He established a church in Chicago, the walls of which were lined with crutches, trusses, etc., of persons who had been healed by his prayers and laying-on-of-hands. Both Schlatter and Dowie have had many imitators, many of whom have met with more or less success.
The great New Thought movement, with its many divisions, and subdivisions, has a large following, and also has a great multitude of healers, all of whom make cures by the general methods of mental healing, though under many different theories and conceptions, and by many methods of application. Christian Science supports many fine churches and many healers and teachers, some of whom have grown wealthy as the result of their practice. The " Emmanuel Movement," started by some of the orthodox churches several years ago, is another illustration of the popularity of mental methods of healing-and also of the common desire of the public to have such healing given under the cover, and in the form of religious teachings.
The student must not, however, imagine for a moment that all of these modern schools and phases of mental healing admit that the basis and foundation of their cures are such as we have seen to exist, in the preceding lessons. On the contrary, they generally vigorously insist that their cures are made by reason of the truth of their particular theories and beliefs, or methods of treatment. They scout the idea of the simple, natural, scientific basis of mental cures, as taught in these lessons. They prefer the mystery-and the possible monopoly-of their own teachings.
But the cold-blooded scientific observer insists upon the fact of the simple, natural scientific basis and foundation, which always exists under the fanciful guises and forms. He sees that while each of the cults or schools has its own particular theory and teaching-each claiming that the other are lacking in truth; still each and every one of them are making cures, and in about the same proportion and percentage. Therefore, he claims that the truth lies not in any of their particular conceptions, but rather in a fundamental principle underlying them all, and common to all of their methods." This fundamental principle is that which forms the basis of these lessons; it is over and above any cult or school-it is based upon scientific observation and logical thought, and not upon revelation, inspiration; or religious dogma, or upon metaphysical subtleties and hair-splitting.