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Topic: Quimby Wisdom
Section: 46 - Appendix - Doctor P. P. Quimby and His World
Table of Contents to this Topic
Doctor P. P. Quimby and His World
Except for the Forewords, the Preface, the Searches, these back pages, and well-marked notes, all of the words of this book are quotations from the notes of Doctor Quimby as compiled by Horatio Dresser and Erroll Collie.
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby was born in New Hampshire, February 16, 1802. His labor ended on January 16, 1866. His wisdom goes on.
Dr. Park Quimby intended to put his wisdom into a book, but did not have the time. We have his notes now in the Library of Congress. Two compilations are in print.
Note: Dr. Ervin Seale was undertaking his great "retirement" task of compiling the Complete Writings of Phineas P. Quimby as this book was being edited. Dr. Seale's encouragement helped make my work possible.
The reader may wish to recall that, in 1860, formal medical practice was mostly useless and often harmful. Doctor Quimby's opinion of the "medical faculty" was harsh but realistic. Compare his words with those of one of the most eminent medical men of his day, a professor of medicine at Harvard:
I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.
Professor Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D. Harvard University Medical School, 1860
I have observed the effect of medicine and found that there is more virtue or misery in the advertisement than in the medicine.
P. P. Quimby Self-educated healer, 1862
In 1843, Holmes published a paper warning that child- bed fever is contagious. The medical men scoffed and ignored his warning.
In 1844, Ignace Semmelweis entered an obstetric ward to begin his campaign to save women from this hospital holocaust. It was not until 1864 that Pasteur announced the proof of "germs" in the air carrying infection. Lister applied this knowledge to surgery in 1865 but said, "With- out Semmelweis my achievements would be nothing."
Doctor Quimby's last notes are dated July 15, 1865.
On August 17, 1865, Doctor Semmelweis, frustrated by more than fifteen years of futile effort to get obstetricians and surgeons to wash their hands, stabbed himself in the hand with a contaminated scalpel. His death of infection was his final offer of proof of his wisdom.
Not only did the medical faculty do physical harm with abominable medications and filthy surgery, they also did mental harm.
The medical men commonly aggravated their patients' problems by evil suggestions. Frightening diagnoses with- out real merit often caused the disease. As Doctor Quimby tells us: You tell me I look sick . . . at last I die . . . this is disease. And you made it.
Medication in 1865 could best be described as "gro- tesque" and surgeons washed after surgery, not before. But the medical faculty was not the only source of disease and death.
Calvinistic religion was strong in New England. Doctor Quimby refers to "Calvinist Baptists." From the pulpit, patients were told they were being rightly punished by a vengeful God who invented these tortures for the sinful humans He had created.
Unable to recall how they had sinned and imagining sins never committed, or inventing sins to fit the disease, they suffered helplessly.
Puritan theology "was more likely to cause a fever than to mention one," said Olive Wendell Holmes in 1836. The following year, P. P. Quimby began his research. In seven years - near the end of his notes - he treated more than twelve thousand different persons. This was in the city of Portland, Maine, which has a population of only 61,572 today. People came, riding in buggies and wagons from hundreds of miles to stay in the International Hotel near Quimby's office and be helped by the man they called "Doctor."
Doctor Quimby blamed the medical "faculty" for the invention of fad diseases, including "falling of the womb, internal ulcers, ovarian tumors, weak spine, heart disease, neuralgia, and spine disease." There is no doubt that many of these diagnoses given to Quimby's patients long before the invention of X-rays were false and frightening.
In all fairness to the medical men of 1865, the incidence of false treatment was not so greatly higher than it is today. In modern times we know of unjustified tonsil- lectomies, hysterectomies, sleep drugs, tranquilizers, stimulants, drugging of "hyperactive" children, and other fads of the profession. But there is growing awareness among enlightened medical men and women that P. P. Quimby, whom they do not know, was right more often than not.
The medical establishment now acknowledges a continu- ously growing list of complaints under the influence or control of the mind, including peptic ulcer, colitis, bronchial asthma, dermatitis, hay fever, urticaria, angio- neurotic edema, arthritis, Raynaud's disease, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, amenorrhea, enuresis, paroxysmal tachy- cardia, migraine headache, impotence, alcoholism, hysteria, neurasthenia, and respiratory diseases, including tubercu- losis (consumption), cerebral infarction, warts, diabetes, Parkinsonism, angina pectoris, allergies, skin diseases, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, menopausal disturbances, and a wide variety of neuroses. Medical journals ad to the list every month.
Cancer is increasingly being regarded as a failure of the immune system and therefore subject to mental influence. this trend raises an interesting question to which the answer is by no means obvious to everyone.
If the course of medical research had been directed along the line studied by Doctor Quimby, what would medical practice be today - and how successful in treating all diseases?
A recent poll of physicians elicited opinions that from fifty percent to eighty percent of persons first arriving at a doctor's office come with a psychosomatic complaint. Cer- tainly, many of Quimby's patients suffered from hysteria, that strange affliction named after the womb. His most famous patient was an outstanding example, who with strong will lived to over ninety.
As Quimby started his notes after years of healing, in 1859 in France, Paul Briquet published his Treatise on Hysteria. this thorough study stands scrutiny against the best modern standards of research. Briquet found one- quarter of the female patients in a hospital to have hysteria and another quarter to be "very impressionable." There were twenty times more women than men hysterics in another group he studied.
Briquet quoted from the standard medical text, written 1694, still in use in 1859, by Sydenham:
Amongst women, there exists a more lively sensitiveness than among men. Feelings are more easily aroused, are experienced more intensely, and have more repercus- sions in the whole economy than amongst men.
Briquet observed, "These characteristics were in keeping with the social and biological needs of women and were the reason why hysteria was so much more prevalent in women than in men." In Briquet's words:
No illness is more difficult to cure . . . half recover only when advancing age dulls their sensitivities . . . Some . . . are condemned to a lifetime of suffering, malaise, and sometimes serious illness. They may spend a year or more in bed, completely incapacitated . . . old before their time, leading a wretched life for themselves and those around them.
There is now a move to rename hysteria by calling it "Briquet's syndrome." But as of July 1980, his superb study had not been translated into English. The all-male medical faculty had not cared enough about this affliction they associated with the womb.
Doctor Quimby cared.
Doctor Quimby did not claim to heal every affliction. Sweeping claims of perfect solutions to all ill are the province of charlatans and religious cults. In a circular sent to those people who wrote for information, he advised:
If any person is nearly gone with consumption, I should advise him to stay at home unless it is to be relieved of the distress, so it is with a great many kinds of disease.
Treatment by Doctor Quimby varied in length, from one visit to many visits, and was often followed up by correspondence. Quimby wrote to reply to patients' ques- tions and remind them of what he had taught them. He wrote with encouragement and with the offer of "absent treatment":
I wish now to let you know that I am still with you, sitting by you while you are in bed, encouraging you to keep up good spirits and all will go right.
He did not accept payment if he could not help. As a craftsman and inventor, he could earn his living without healing, but chose the hard course of healing against the resistance of the medical faculty and the religious faculty. He felt called to do this work. No one ever accused Doctor Quimby of profiteering. No one ever doubted his sincerity. And there is no doubt that he helped thousands of sick people.
We know how Doctor Quimby came to so much wis- dom. He tell us--both in his Introductions and throughout his notes. He was a scientist. He observed people. He learned from them. He was not burdened by dogmas of medical schools or theologies, by the empty words of poli- ticians or the rules of the aristocrats.
Doctor Quimby mentions sympathy as something he supplied his patients, but it is obvious that he often made it clear that he was not in sympathy with their beliefs. He never used the word "empathy"--a new word--but empathy best describes his method.
Quimby so strongly sensed the feelings of his patients that these sometimes frightened him. It was only by the exercise of will and wisdom that he was able to avoid taking on the diseases of his patients. this is a problem reported by all empathic healers. From time to time he found it necessary to leave Portland for a few day's rest.
After consultation, and sometimes during such a session, he would go to his office and add to his notes. Two sisters, Emma and Sarah Ware--daughters of a United States Supreme Court Justice--or his son, George Quimby, would make copies of his notes and suggest minor corrections.
Some of Doctor Quimby's patients were also his stu- dents and confidants. Although he never organized a clinic or church, and his book was not completed, there are today many churches, healing groups, and self-improvement organizations that are lineal descendants of the teaching of P. P. Quimby. Some of those are now loosely affiliated by the International New Thought Alliance, but others are unaware of their debt to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.
The wisdom of quimby is universal, but few have fully learned its lessons. Doctor Quimby was the first to teach what is now popularly called "positive thinking." But he discovered much more while sitting with thousands of sorely troubled people. He discovered a philosophy of life, an enlightened religion, and the existence of clairvoyant relations among persons.