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CREED, CRAFT, AND CURE.
WHEN Montaigne wrote, "There is no greater worker of miracle than the wit of man," he must have had in mind some of the methods of physic, which to accept requires
"A faith, that reason without miracle
Could never plant."
In common life we see the eager and unlessoned crowd making a wild-goose chase after the latest medical "fad" bred of some maggoty brain, or putting blind trust in the impossible promises of the crafty quack, for "novelty only is in request.”
At the present day two novelties of the healing art possess popular favor. One is from over-sea, of decent parentage and with honorable sponsors; the other is native to our own quick soil, and of less reputable lineage. The credentials of the stranger and the gathering head of the home product suggest an inquiry into the grounds upon which they rest. Such an inquest should be free from bent or grace. Are they hatched of fact or fiction? Are they the golden secret, or a gilded sham? Do they come as ministers of health, or flitting and fleering sprites? Bacon tells us that innovations are the births of Time, but adds, "Novelty, though it be not rejected, yet is held for a Suspect."
These two "cures" may rightly be put on trial together, for they own a common seed, and in principle "there is not more twin than these." It was a saying of Tiberius that he who had lived twenty years ought to know how to order himself without physic. A misliking of "mutinous and tumultuary drugs" has become general, and the medical fashion of the day respects the popular instinct. The "new cures" humor this feeling, and throw away altogether the potion, "tinct, and multiplying medicine;" and this swimming with the tide has much helped them to win popular favor.
I. About fifty years ago the late Mr. James Braid, of Manchester, England, first applied Suggestion to the treatment of disease, the patient being previously put into a state resembling deep reverie, artificially produced, and which he called "hypnotism." In 1886 Dr. Liébault, a respectable physician of Nancy, France, published a number of cases of nervous and other disorders, in which he used this method, and he claimed that the patients were cured or much benefited by the practice. Neither Braid's nor Liébault's statements were received with any favor by the medical profession. Professor H. Bernstein, of the medical school at Nancy, after following some of Liébault's cases, and investigating his method, became a convert, and published, in 1886, the first edition of his work, "De la Suggestion, et Ses Applications Thérapeutiques," which, from his position and reputation, attracted a good deal of attention. During the past two years a number of works upon the subject have appeared in France, and at the present time it is winning much notice, and has many convinced and enthusiastic advocates.
"Suggestive Medicine" may be defined as the influence exerted over a "subject," in a special psychical state, by words spoken by a recognized authority, which promise, order, or affirm the removal of any morbid symptoms he may be suffering from. The special psychical state is hypnotism; but this is not regarded as an invariable condition, for many impressionable persons have been treated in the waking state. It is, however, essential that the patient have full conviction of the absolute power which the operator has over his personality, and that there be a full surrender of will.
The Abbé Faria explained many of the mysteries of mesmerism by the principle of Suggestion, and Mr. Braid demonstrated that it was the chief factor in the phenomena of hypnotism, and that they were not, any more than those of animal magnetism, due to any psychic force, or fluid, going out from one body to another. The brain of the subject accepted a suggested idea, the "sensitive," at the moment, being possessed by the conviction that a particular individual-the operator-could exercise a special influence. The subject becomes a mere automaton, as regards the free exercise of certain of the mental faculties.
There is response only to the impression received. The sense of the mind is shut. The mental image alone is the idea which possesses it at the time. Volition is decapitated; judgment, comparison, and self-direction are paralyzed. The brain sleeps, and is played upon by the suggester as an instrument, and responds only to his touch.
To make the suggestion more immediate and potent, the tone of the voice of the operator is that of vehement command, and the words, "you must," "you cannot," are pronounced so authoritatively that the impossibility of resisting the doing of the enjoined act is more quickly and strongly felt by the subject.
The methods of the practicers of Suggestive Medicine are the same. They put their patients asleep, not by placing a bright object before the eyes, after the manner of Braid, but by the method of the Abbé Faria, who, seating his subjects in a chair, and directing them to concentrate their mind and shut their eyes, would pronounce in an imperative voice the word "Dormez." The disorder is then conjured by auditive suggestions, uttered in an imperious tone, as, for example, "You suffer from pains in your face; on your awaking these pains will have gone; it is my will, and you know you are controlled by my will."
Such is the principle of Suggestive Medicine. What we have to inquire into, in investigating its theory and fixing the value of its practice, is, whether the facts agree with the idea, whether the particular events include the general principle, and whether the principle explains the alleged facts. Assuming the good faith of the partisans of this system of healing, and the accuracy of the reports of their successes, it cannot be said that they are yet able to prove their case. Without charging misrepresentation, there is a good deal of loose statement, and more often plain misinterpretation of phenomena. "Facts," says Hume, "can be known only by experience," which "is the only standard of our judgment concerning all questions of fact." In the present matter we have too few facts to warrant a final verdict. But, when called upon to recognize principles not fixed by the accepted canons of experimental inquiry, or to admit results not tested by "that indispensable element of a rational deductive method," verification by large and frequent experiment, we
have a right to withhold our assent, till such proof, or at least probability, is shown as shall warrant provisional, or final, acceptance of the proposition. This is wanting, so far, in this new method of healing. That within certain limitations it does what is claimed for it, is not denied; but that very admission tells against it as a system of cure. As will be seen later on, when Suggestion, as a psychic factor, is more fully examined, a fit subject for this treatment should be of peculiar temperament, capable of being "possessed," feeble in will as well as in bodyeither hysterical or hypochondriacal.
II. "Christian Science," "Mind Cure," "Metaphysical Healing," are in fellowship of mystery, and confess one faith; in fact, are triune and indivisible in principle and practice. A general notion of the doctrines of this system of healing may be gathered from the givings out of the chief teachers of the craft. Out of their own mouths shall they be judged.
The answer is:
Why is it called Christian Science? "Because it is a glorious truth, now dawning upon the world for a second time, which will enable us to unlearn our sicknesses, the same as we do our other evil doings; for Jesus revealed it some eighteen hundred years ago, and the primitive church enjoyed the revelation for about three hundred years, when it went into the 'dark ages' of human opinions, from which, after feeding upon 'medical husks' and the wisdom of the world, it is just now returning to the Father's house."
Again, we are told that "it is the divine anointing, and is universal," and that "we travail in pain until Christ be found within us, and crush and destroy every form of evil." Moreover, "only as personality is subdued and dissolved in Deity can Deity appear in or through the person. The weakness of human selfhood must be conquered." This is luminous, and should be satisfying.
The core-article of faith of the "Scientists" is that "all causation is mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon." Mrs. Mary Baker Glover Eddy, from whose brain, as a matter of fact, Christian Science came forth, in 1866, like Athene, of full stature and complete equipment, writes:
"The only realities are the Divine Mind and its ideas. Erring mortal views, misnamed mind, produce all the organic and animal action of the mortal body.
Instead of possessing sentient matter, we have sensionless bodies.
The conviction came to me from the self-evident fact that matter has no sensation, . . from the obvious fact that mortal mind is what suffers, feels, God is mind . . . is spirit, and spirit is infinite; is the only substance; is the only life. Man was and is the idea of God; therefore mind can never be in man. Divine science shows that matter and mortal body are the illusions of human belief, which seem to appear and disappear to mortal sense alone. . . Besiege sickness and death with these principles, and
all will disappear."
This divine science is indeed looked upon by its votaries
"inspiration of celestial grace
To work exceeding miracles,"
for one of them says: "It seems that the beautiful teaching of this new old doctrine came to many of us as a direct revelation of the Highest." Some among them deny that there is such a thing as sin; for God, or Good, being omnipresent and filling all space, there is no place for sin, as it is mathematically proved that two things cannot at one time occupy the same space. Others hold that disease is sin, and when asked why, give this discreet answer: "How does the lily come from the forces of nature? We see that the visible is the product of the invisible, and that is all we can say."
We are assured, with irresistible logic, that
"It is not God's will that any one should be sick. If disease is bad, to say that it is sent by God is to say that God is bad. .. If God ever permitted disease Jesus would never have cured a single case of it, because he would have upset his Father's work. . . . Since there is no evil in all the universe, and since man is the highest expression of good amidst ubiquitous good, how can he be diseased? . . . Have no foolish fear that matter governs, can ache, swell, and be inflamed, when it is self-evident that matter can have no inflammation or pain. . . What you call neuralgia, I call illusion."
Anatomy and physiology are called "the husbandmen of sickness," and their study is strictly forbidden, as well as that of the branches of medicine which treat of the causes and nature of disease. Drugs, the rules of health, and the massage craze are made of no account. Diet, exercise, and bathing receive a rebuke from Christian healing; and but little favor is shown to the sister arts, for mesmerism is styled