Healing power is in the mind of the patient – the work of Dr P.P. Quimby

I’ve been to many healers in my time, and it seems to me that the techniques they employ say a great deal about the practitioner’s beliefs about what constitutes a human being. This – explicitly or implicitly – is what guides their healing methods. If you think a human body is simply a physical, mechanical thing, as many doctors used to do, you treat it accordingly. If you see it as intelligent, responsive, self-regulating, then your approach is entirely different.

Dr Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a real groundbreaker of healing, was in no doubt. He saw humans as mind, body and spirit, and showed that our healing power comes primarily from within. Nowadays, few people have heard of him and yet his influence is reflected in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and well known writers such as Louise Hay, Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr Bernie Segal, Byron Katie, and many others.

Quimby

Quimby was born on February 16, 1802. A clock-maker by trade, he lived most of his life in Belfast, Maine. New England. Although others called him ‘Doctor’ he had little formal education and no medical training, but he had a practical, enquiring mind and unparalleled determination.

As a young man, he contracted tuberculosis. Doctors couldn’t help, so he decided to help himself. Someone suggested horse-riding as the fresh air would do him good, but he was too weak to ride, so he borrowed a horse and cart. One day the horse refused to pull the cart up a hill, so Quimby got down and walked with the horse. When they got to the top, it suddenly started trotting. As Quimby couldn’t get back on the cart he ran down the hill with the horse, which, strictly speaking, he shouldn’t have been able to due to his illness.

Back home, he realised he was breathing freely. The pain had gone (it never returned) – he had experienced a spontaneous healing. In that moment he dedicated himself to understanding what brought this about. He reasoned that there must be something within that can make us well, of which we’re not normally aware.

First he studied the work of the hypnotist Anton Mesmer, who had quite a reputation in Europe. By 1840, Quimby was an expert hypnotist. He worked with a young man called Lucius who, under hypnosis, could apparently diagnose patients’ illnesses and suggest a cure. Later, Quimby realized that Lucius was tuning in to what the patient believed he had, not what he actually had.  So after his early experiments, he gave up hypnotism and instead focussed on curing disease through the mind, getting his patients to see causes for themselves.His approach was evidence-based and rigorously scientific. He trusted no opinions, only knowledge.

He studied the healing methods described in the New Testament. Quimby did not regard the gospel healings as miracles, but as scientific applications of truth as represented by Universal Law.

Ironically he was vehemently anti-religion. He believed that the Church had irresponsibly abandoned any interest in healing and that his purpose was to resurrect it. He studied the New Testament because he wanted to understand and correct the negative thinking of his patients – especially those who believed that ill health was a punishment for some unpardonable sin.

His healing methods were highly unusual. He sat with his patients until he had a mental impression of the problem and its cause. Often he felt every symptom of the disease in his own body. Then he silently challenged the cause in his own mind, addressing his comments to the spirit within which, he argued, could never be sick. Sometimes barely a word was spoken as Quimby’s thoughts somehow impacted on the patient.

He described the cause of disease in his own words:

‘The trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in. if your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness.

‘This I do partly mentally and partly by talking till I correct the wrong impressions and establish the truth, and the truth is the cure. . . . A sick man is like a criminal cast into prison for disobeying some law that man has set up. I plead his case, and if I get the verdict, the criminal is set at liberty. If I fail, I lose the case. His own judgment is his judge, his feelings are his evidence. If my explanation is satisfactory to the judge, you will give me the verdict. This ends the trial, and the patient is released.’

His son George (who acted as his secretary) described his father’s method of cure as follows (I paraphrase slightly):

‘A patient comes to see Dr Quimby. He renders himself absent to everything but the impression of the person’s feelings. These are quickly imprinted on him. This mental picture contains the disease as it appears to the patient. Being confident that it is the shadow of a false idea, he is not afraid of it. Then his feelings in regard to health and strength are imprinted on the receptive plate of the patient. The patient sees the disease in a new light, gains confidence. This change is imprinted on the doctor again and he sees the change and continues. The shadow grows dim and finally disappears, the light takes its place, and there is nothing left of the disease.’

Quimby knew that one mind can influence another, and believed that most disease is due to false reasoning. To remove disease permanently, it is necessary to know the error in thinking which caused it. ‘The explanation,’ he said, ‘is the cure’.  Half a century before Freud, he explained that many of the harmful beliefs are located in the unconscious mind and must be brought into consciousness before they can be dealt with.

Quimby healed thousands of people of a wide range of illnesses, most of whom had not responded to conventional treatment. In the end, it was his very success that killed him. He died of over-work and self-neglect on January 16, 1866, having seen over 10,000 patients in his last seven years.

PPQ

Quimby left behind detailed journals, and some of his clients devoted their lives to spreading awareness of his methods. Rev Warren Felt Evans wrote the definitive contemporary account in his book, ‘The Mental Cure’ (1869), but it was not until 1989 that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings were published, edited by Dr Ervin Seale, who devoted most of his working life to the task.

Nowadays we have scientific proof that our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health. Placebos illustrate the effectiveness of suggestion as a powerful healer and CBT and NLP have proved their worth in many situations. Perhaps it is also time for Quimby to receive his due credit. If his ideas and methods were investigated anew, who knows how many people could benefit?

© Feeling Good All The Time, 8.10.2018

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Mind-Body Healing the Quimby Way

All illness has a psycho-somatic component. Often it’s hard to tell where the boundary lies between the mind and body. One great pioneering healer knew no bounds; his name was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.

Quimby

He was born on February 16, 1802. He was a clock-maker in Belfast, Maine, where he lived most of his life. Although others called him ‘Doctor’ he had little formal education, and no medical training or qualifications. But he had a practical, enquiring mind.

As a young man, he became desperately ill with tuberculosis. His lungs were wasting away and doctors couldn’t help. He decided to try and help himself. Someone suggested horse-riding – the fresh air would do him good. But he was too weak to ride a horse, so be borrowed a horse and cart. One day the horse refused to pull the cart up a hill, so Quimby walked up the hill with the horse. When they got to the top, the horse suddenly started trotting. Quimby couldn’t get back on the cart and ran down the hill with the horse – which, strictly speaking, he shouldn’t have been able to.

When he got home, he realised he was breathing freely and the pain had gone. It never returned. He dedicated the rest of his life to understanding what brought this spontaneous healing about. He reasoned there must be something within us, that we’re not normally aware of, that can make us well.

He learned of the work of Anton Mesmer, the hypnotist, who had gained a reputation for remarkable healings in Europe. By 1840, Quimby was an expert hypnotist. He met a young man called Lucius who was an excellent hypnotic subject. Under hypnosis, Lucius could apparently diagnose patients’ illnesses and suggest a cure.

Later, Quimby realized that Lucius was tuning in to what the patient believed he had, not what he actually had. So after his early experiments, he gave up hypnotism. Instead, he focussed on curing disease through the mind (mental healing). His emphasis was on getting his patients to see causes for themselves. He wanted to help the patient see life in an entirely different way. About this time, his own clairvoyant faculties began to develop.

He dedicated himself to discovering the truth behind the New Testament healings. In the gospels, Jesus was said to heal first the mind, then the body. He removed the cause of the disease and the physical effect ceased. Quimby did not regard Jesus’ healings as miracles, but as scientific applications of Universal Law.

Many thought him a charlatan, but those he helped saw him as a pioneer, a mystic. He healed thousands of people of a wide range of illnesses. He also carried out distance healing. Most of his cases had not responded to conventional treatment. Some thought he was most successful among the credulous, but there’s no doubt he brought about many marvellous cures.

He died of over-work and self-neglect on January 16, 1866. It is said he saw over 10,000 patients in his last seven years. Later writers attributed his success to four main factors:

1.       He had a deep sympathy for human suffering.

2.       He was an authentic and original thinker. It took a great deal of courage to do what he did and teach what he taught in 19th Century New England.

3.       His approach was rigorously scientific. He demanded proof and did not trust opinions, only knowledge.

4.       He understood the harm that organised religion of his day had done to people and the need to reverse this thinking. He believed that the Church had abdicated its interest in healing and that his purpose was to resurrect it. His interest in the New Testament was mainly to understand the negative thinking of his patients – especially those who believed that ill health was normal or that they were ill because G_d was punishing them for some unpardonable sin.

Quimby’s Healing Method

Quimby believed that the healing power is present in the mind of the patient. He sat down with his patients and put himself in rapport with them. He addressed his comments to the ‘spirit within’. He held that the spirit within is at one with G_d and never sick.

He used his intuition to discover the real source of the problem. He visualised the person’s spirit form standing beside the body. The spirit form imparted to him the cause of the problem. Often he felt every symptom of the disease in his own body.

He described the cause of disease in his own words:

“The trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in. if your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness….

A sick man is like a criminal cast into prison for disobeying some law that man has set up. I plead his case, and if I get the verdict, the criminal is set at liberty. If I fail, I lose the case. His own judgment is his judge, his feelings are his evidence. If my explanation is satisfactory to the judge, you will give me the verdict. This ends the trial, and the patient is released.”

His son George (who acted as his secretary) described his father’s method of cure like this (I paraphrase):  ‘A patient comes to see Dr Quimby. He renders himself absent to everything but the impression of the person’s feelings. These are quickly imprinted on him. This mental picture contains the disease as it appears to the patient. Being confident that it is the shadow of a false idea, he is not afraid of it. Then his feelings in regard to health and strength are imprinted on the receptive plate of the patient. The patient sees the disease in a new light, gains confidence. This change is imprinted on the doctor again and he sees the change and continues. The shadow grows dim and finally disappears, the light takes its place, and there is nothing left of the disease.’

Sometimes barely a word was spoken – Quimby’s thoughts somehow impacted on the patient. Quimby’s highly developed intuition and powers of concentration were vital in his success. Today he would be called a medical intuitive, because he could ‘sense’ what the problem was and sometimes apply a remedy by telepathy.

He knew – predating Freud by half a century – that many of the patient’s unhelpful beliefs were located in the Unconscious Mind and must be brought into consciousness before they can be dealt with. The Unconscious is directly responsive to thought and embodies our fears, beliefs, hopes, errors, and joys. Thought, emotion and belief all impact on health, and these can be changed. Quimby found that the most harmful belief – which he encountered a great deal – was that G_d was punishing the person for their sins by making them ill.

Writings

Quimby left behind detailed journals which explained his philosophy and methods. In addition, some of his clients published their own books and devoted their lives to spreading awareness of his discoveries. The main one was Rev Warren Felt Evans. He wrote the definitive contemporary account in his book, ‘The Mental Cure’ (1869). His ideas also found their way into the writings of Mrs Mary Baker Eddy, whose most famous work, ‘Science and Health’, was published in 1875. (more on her later)

Quimby didn’t publish his writings. After his death, his son George held on to his manuscripts but refused to publish them until after Mrs Eddy’s death. Only in 1920 were edited excerpts published (by Horatio Dresser, son of Julius Dresser, a patient), but it was not until 1989 that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings were published, edited by Dr Ervin Seale, who devoted much of his life to this task.

Every New Thought thinker and writer has been influenced by Quimby, and so have many of the great psychologists and philosophers including the Louise Hay, Milton Erickson, Caroline Myss, Bandler and Grinder (NLP), Ernest Holmes, the Cognitive-Behavioural therapists and many others. Most acknowledge their debt.

Piano keys

Quimby was far ahead of his time. One of his most famous sayings is, ‘Take a piano. The same keys that produce discord will produce harmony.’ What did he mean? Simply that the same laws  of thought and belief that can produce discord and misery can also produce harmony and happiness.

At last people are waking up to the incredible contribution he made. Science is still catching up, and one day – hopefully before too long – it will.

©David Lawrence Preston, 2015

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The greatest mind-body healer?

The greatest mind-body healer of recent times was a diminutive and rather brusque character
who lived in New England in the first half of the nineteenth century. His name was Phineas
Parkhurst Quimby. He deserves to be much better known.

QuimbyHaving cured himself of tuberculosis, considered impossible in those days, he developed a healing method that focused on changing the destructive beliefs of his patient. These dysfunctional beliefs, he asserted, were the root cause of all health problems.

He wrote, ‘If you have been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth, I come into contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness.’

Quimby’s methods were highly unconventional. Usually he imagined a courtroom
scene in which he (an attorney) pleaded with a judge (the patient’s subconscious) to release
the thought patterns that created the illness. Sometimes he challenged the patient’s beliefs aloud, but as his skills developed, would challenge them without a word being voiced, as he silently ‘intuited’ the cause of the problem and ‘projected’ healing thoughts into the mind of the patient. This he could do in their presence or at a distance. He brought about many cures without even meeting the patient!

Quimby fervently believed – in opposition to the medical and clerical ‘wisdom’ of his day that health is the birthright and natural state of every human being. The life force or ‘Intelligence’ which sustains us was like a TV station broadcasting health and well-being for all, but could be blocked by erroneous beliefs which prevent us from enjoying long and happy lives.

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of him. Few have, even though his achievements were well documented. He helped over ten thousand people  and left behind a voluminous body of writings. He influenced almost every mind-body healer who came after, whether they were aware of him or not. The best accounts, though, came from those whom he had cured. Several testified to his prowess and wrote detailed accounts of his methods and results, including one, Mary Baker Eddy, who founded her own healing movement and claimed his discoveries as her own.

PPQ

Quimby practised an early form of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).  His methods were also a forerunner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, on whom much of NLP is based, knew all about him). Many best-selling authors have made a fortune writing about the mind-body connection – they would be nowhere without him.

Awareness, intention, attention, thought, imagination and belief – correctly applied – are the keys to mind-body healing. I sum this up as the I-T-I-A Formula; Intention, Thinking, Imagination and Action. When all four are applied, as Quimby knew, the results can be astounding.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 29.3.2017

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For further information on the I-T-I-A Formula, see also

http://blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/2015/03/the-i-t-i-a-formula/

For further information on the place of mind-body techniques in healing, see:

http://blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/2013/07/consciousness-and-healing-1/

http://blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/2013/07/consciousness-and-healing-1/

http://blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/2013/07/consciousness-and-healing-1/

 

365 Spirituality book

How to Books, 2007

Quimby: The Silent Healer

Quimby

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby was born on February 16, 1802. He was one of seven children brought up in a modest family background. When he was still a toddler, the family moved to Belfast, Maine, where he spent most of his life.

As a boy, he became interested in the sciences, but had no formal tuition in any of them. He became a skilled clockmaker and inventor with several patents to his name. One of his clocks, on a church tower in Belfast, is 170 years old and still keeps perfect time. He married in 1827 and had four children.

Julius Dresser, a patient who knew him well, described him as ‘a small man weighing less than 9 stone (57 Kg), well proportioned, with dark eyes, a piercing gaze and a somewhat nervous disposition. ‘

In his early thirties he became desperately ill with tuberculosis. He became so frail he had to give up his clock-making business. He later wrote, ‘Thirty years ago I was very sick, and was considered fast wasting away…. I was told that my liver was affected and my kidneys diseased, and that my lungs were nearly consumed. I believed all this, from the fact that I had all the symptoms, and could not resist the opinion of the physician….  Losing all hope, I gave up to die.’

Before long, Quimby became disillusioned with doctors. In those days, general medical practice killed as many people as it cured. If they couldn’t help him, he reasoned, he would have to help himself. A friend suggested he should take up horse-riding as the fresh air would do his ailing lungs some good. But he was too weak to mount a horse, so he borrowed a horse and cart and wiled away the hours exploring the dirt tracks of Southern Maine.

One day the horse stopped at the bottom of a hill and refused to pull the cart any further. He climbed down and walked the horse up the hill. When they reached the summit, he got back on the cart and drove the horse down the hill. When he arrived home, he realised he was breathing freely and the pain had gone. Although not cured, he felt so much better he was able to resume his business.

But Quimby wasn’t going to let matters rest there. If the doctor’s diagnosis was correct, he shouldn’t have been able to do what he had just done, so what brought this about? In trying to understanding what had occurred, he reasoned there must be something inside us that can make us well.

By the mid 1830s, he had heard of the work of Anton Mesmer, a Viennese doctor with a reputation for remarkable healings in Europe. He claimed that he could correct imbalances using magnets. The cure was supposed to be due to a mysterious fluid which entered the patient’s body via the magnet, thus healing the condition.

In 1838, Quimby attended a demonstration of ‘mesmerism’ given by a Dr Charles Poyenne. He was fascinated by what he saw and heard. Quimby was not the type to easily accept others’ opinions, so he looked into the subject and soon he was an expert hypnotist. He met a young man named Lucius Burkmar who was not only an excellent hypnotic subject, but also had extraordinary clairvoyant powers. Under hypnosis Lucius could apparently ‘examine’ a patient, describe their disease and suggest a remedy.

The two men conducted public demonstrations, which brought them to the attention of the church. Local religious leaders denounced his work as the work of the devil. In response Quimby accused the Church of undermining the Christian faith.

The medical fraternity were no kinder. Most condemned him as a charlatan, although some local doctors sought his help with patients who were not responding to treatment. He was often called upon to anesthetize patients for surgery, since the only anaesthetic available in those days was a large shot of alcohol.

On one occasion, he was called upon to hypnotise an army officer whose arm was to be amputated, having been crushed in an accident. The operation went well, but afterwards the officer reported that he still felt pain in the arm. Quimby wondered how this could be. The officer had not yet accepted that he had lost the arm, but when, with Quimby’s help, he did, the pain ceased.

As his experiments with Lucius progressed, Quimby found he could transfer his thoughts to Lucius. When he visualised something, the hypnotised Lucius did too. On one occasion, he got Lucius to hand him his hat by silent command. On another, he projected an image of a bear to Lucius, who recoiled in fear.

One day he asked Lucius in trance to diagnose his condition, since he was not yet one hundred percent cured. Lucius placed his hands on Quimby’s lower back and declared that a piece of one his kidneys was hanging by a thread.  Lucius offered to make it grow back together. He replaced his hands on that area and the pain immediately ceased. Quimby never again experienced pain there. It made him think: surely the cure couldn’t have been anything Lucius had done? ‘The absurdity of the remedy made me doubt that the kidneys were diseased,’ he wrote. Had he been deceived into believing that he was ill? Were Lucius’s remedies really placebos?

He concluded that he was ill because he had believed the doctors’ explanation. He began to doubt whether Lucius had ever diagnosed a genuine illness. If he merely tuned in to the patient’s beliefs about their condition, he was nothing more than a mind reader. He was dealing with opinions rather than truth, and Quimby had no time for opinions. So, incredibly, he dispensed with Lucius and gave up hypnotism. It was, he later said, ‘the humbug of the age’.

Instead he set himself the challenge of finding a mentally-based healing method that anyone could use on themselves and others. His son George wrote: ‘To reduce his discovery to a science which could be taught for the benefit of suffering humanity was the all-absorbing idea of his life.’

After finishing with Lucius, Quimby’s own clairvoyant abilities started to develop. He became convinced that we all have powers of extra sensory perception, but only if we believe we have. He also realised that one mind could influence another not only in the hypnotic state, but also in the normal waking state. Furthermore, he became convinced that disease was inextricably linked to the beliefs of the person and that changes in the mind of the patient would affect their physical condition.

But how could he bring this about? Having abandoned hypnotism, the only power to influence his patients that he had at his disposal was the power of reason. So he reasoned with them, trying to get them to see the causes of their illnesses for themselves and get rid of their error thinking. He used no mystical words or rituals, just logic, clear explanations and true-to-life examples.

As time passed, he became fed up with trying to get through to his patients verbally, so he tried doing it nonverbally. He would sit with them in silence and get an impression of their condition. Then he conjured up a mental image of a courtroom and addressed the judge. ‘This person has been accused of having a disease by that doctor, and he’s innocent,’ he would say. Then he argued the case in his imagination. ‘If I get the verdict,’ he wrote, ‘the criminal is set at liberty.’ Sometimes barely a word was spoken – Quimby’s thoughts somehow impacted on the patient, and they were cured.

In 1859, after years of helping people with a wide range of health problems, he set up an office in Portland, about 80 miles from Belfast. He practised there for the last seven years of his life. Among the conditions he cured was cancer, back pain, tuberculosis, neuralgia, tumours, diphtheria and lameness. If no cure was affected, no fee was charged.  Often he was the last resort. ‘People call for me and the undertaker at the same time,’ he wrote. ‘Whoever gets there first gets the case.’

Quimby sought no publicity. Julius Dresser wrote. ‘He was one of the most unassuming of men that ever lived….. To this was united a benevolent and unselfish nature and a love of truth, with a remarkable keen perception.’

The medical and religious fraternities accused him of being successful only among the credulous, simply because they were desperate or couldn’t get any worse. Consequently he reserved his greatest scorn for priests and doctors. He blamed them for most of the pain and sickness in the world because they planted fear-thoughts in the minds of their constituents. Echoing Yeshua, he pointed out that only the sick needed a doctor; the well could not possibly understand.

In his later years, he enjoyed loyal and affectionate support among the sick and the suffering, but they were a small minority compared with those ranged against him. In the end, it was his very success that killed him. He died at home in Belfast on January 16th 1866 of over-work and self-neglect, a few weeks short of his sixty-fourth birthday. In his last seven years, he had seen over ten thousand patients.

PPQ

Quimby had known nothing of quantum physics, radionics or germ theory, and yet, uncannily, had tapped into it all. He knew that he had discovered the secret of healing and – more than this – our understanding of what it means to be a human being – as we shal see. It took more than a century before science began to catch up, but to the medical fraternity and most of the public he and his methods were, and still are, humbug.

©David Lawrence Preston, 29.3.2017

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