Stephen Paget.

The faith and works of Christian science online

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cases; but in many more I think you may be sure that patients
do not study the imitation or deliberately determine to practise
it. Rather they are, in respect of will, like children, who almost
involuntarily imitate diseases.

. . . Some mimicries are essentially mental ; such, for instance,
as those in which patients, out of mere fear and keen attention,
acquire the pains of cancer, and locali e them in healthy parts;
and in nearly all mimicries a mental influence may be discerned.
. . . But in some mimicries it is hard to discern any mental in-
fluence at all. Some are imitations of diseases very far from mental
association — in the cases, for example, of intestinal distention,
constipation of many days* duration, constant vomitipg and in-
ability to digest food, rapid heart-action with slow breathing, largely
pulsating arteries, and phantom-tumours. Some are found in
commonplace, ignorant, and slow-minded people who never sav/
or heard of the diseases imitated in them. Some occur in children
who could neither imagine nor act what they tell and show.

. . . Among the relatives of those with nervous mimicry, it is
common to find cases of mental insanity, extreme "nervousness"
and eccentricity, stuttering, convulsive and emotional hysteria,
various neuralgiae, extremes of mental character whether good
or bad, and sometimes (but I think less frequently) epilepsy and

. . . You may be sure that nervous mimicry is most frequent
in young women of the more cultivated classes; but you may
be equally sure that it is not so rare among men, or children, or
at any age, or in any social condition, as to make it unreasonable
to suspect it in any case of obscure disease. You had better not
let any such case pass without asking yourself, Is this disease, or


any part of it, mimicry ? Some of the worst cases of mimicry
of disease of the spine and pelvis that I have ever seen have been in
men and women of mature age; some of the worst of joints in
young children ; some of the worst of all kinds in poor people.

. . . Among the chief exciting causes of nervous mimicry
are sudden mental distresses, emotion, disappointment, long anx-
ieties, or exhaustion by overwork. I saw one day a young gentle-
man who had been overworking for a civil service examination.
After a three hours* mathematical cram he fainted, and when he
rallied had a very close mimicry of paralysis, on both sides of the
body, which lasted many weeks. On the same day, I saw a gentle-
man who had been greatly overworked in a prosperous business.
He kicked his great toe severely, and had a mimicry of tetanic
convulsions in the limb, with night-panics and other curious ner-
vous symptoms, which after a few days were followed by the sen-
sations of spinal disease such as one of his brothers died with.
... In a case which I do not doubt was a nervous mimicry of
hip-joint disease, with limping, and with eversion and contraction
and some pain of the thigh, I found that the patient's brother had
advanced true hip-disease. ... In the fortnight following the
death of the late Emperor Napoleon, I was consulted by four per-
sons who described, as they felt, the sensations of stone.

. . . More frequent probably than any mental state, among
the exciting causes of nervous mimicry, is injury of any kind,
especially of bones and joints. And after injury, let me tell you,
nervous mimicry is not only more difficult to be sure of, but harder
to cure. For there is something tangible to appeal to, something
which would indeed be quite inadequate to explain any severe
symptoms in a person of sound nervous system, but which the mind
and mimicry can invest with symptoms enough for even the grav-
est disease.

These paragraphs are from the first and second
lectures. The other four lectures are concerned


with the special mimicries of joint-disease, spinal
disease, cancer of the breast, abdominal tumours,
and other diseases ; and with the rules for diagnosis
between real and mimic diseases. All six lectures
are of the utmost interest in reference to the cases
that Christian Scientists heal. At the end of the
last lecture, speaking of treatment, Paget says : —

But, perhaps, the most important part of the treatment of these
cases is the mental part. I have referred to the infrequency of
commonplace minds among the patients with nervous mimicry
— some being far above, some far below, some in various ways
divergent from, the ideal standard average. It would, probably,
always tend to the remedy of nervous mimicry if the mind could
be brought to an average and uniform level, to a just medium of
common sensibility and common sense. A few excellent and wise
persons might be the worse for such a change; but for all except
these the change would be for the better and a chief step towards

Most of all, the will needs education in these cases. It needs
to be trained to the cure of the mimicry, to the endurance of pain,
to the control of movements, to the fixing of the attention on any-
thing rather than the supposed disease. And very often, in the
worst cases, this training of the will is not possible unless the patient
be separated from the persons and things associated with the dis-
ease. Many patients cannot get well at home. Some of those
about them are too sympathetic; some too hard; some yield too
much or too soon; none are really helpful; and the patient's
will becomes constantly more feeble, or more widely perverted.
In conditions such as these the patient should live with quiet
sensible strangers, who can teach the will and exercise and control it.

The effect of judicious education of the will in the worst cases
of nervous mimicry is sometimes very striking; complete recovery


is not rare, especially in cases of mimic loss of power in the spine and
limbs, and of mimic diseases of joints, and mimic gastric disorder
and inability to digest. But the teacher must be carefully chosen ;
for among these nervous patients are some who are ready to become
the very slaves of persons who have strong wills, or who profess that
they are possessed of knowledge or authority that cannot or may
not safely be resisted. Thus it is that the worst cases are sometimes
cured by the most ignorant persons, who, by the mere confidence of
their assertions, give confidence and will : but the consequences
of such cures may be as bad as the disease.

The following case is a good illustration of what
Paget says of the consequences of such cures. In
the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, June
1 90 1, p. 342, there is a very careful and well-reasoned
essay, by Dr. Smith Baker, of Utica, New York,
on the Rationale of Subjective Healing. The re-
sults of a narrow, one-sided view of a case may be
disastrous, he says, as in material treatment, so in
mental treatment : and he gives this instance : —

A well-educated and refined woman, aged twenty-five, who,
after a slight injury, had suffered for five years with severe neuras-
thenia, and had got no good from doctors and surgeons, **fell in
with * healers* of the Christian Scientist order, who faithfully
tried their hand, and seemingly succeeded; for she soon resumed
her work, and remained at it for a year. Meanwhile, however,
she slowly developed a typically characteristic condition; namely,
a thoroughgoing dependence on her healers for sympathy and
support: on their characteristic publications for mental pabulum;
and on what she called *God' for about everything else. As for
her own selfhood, it had become quite swallowed up in the asso-
nant phrase *God is all*: while a dark, thick, idealistic phlegm


seemed to have invaded all her mental and bodily functions. Sen-
sation had become hypersensation ; perception illusional ; ideation
more or less imperative; attention narrowed down to an egoistic
point; memory was very poor, save for the one set of ideas; will
had succumbed to *the higher will/ as she believed it; conduct
was so erratic as to render her unfit for any vocation; while all
the bodily functions were more or less irregular and distressing,
with energy and endurance reduced to simply a useless quantity.

"At this point she was the most despairing, hopeless, unpromis-
ing case it had been my fortune to see for some time. She seemed
to have just life enough left to feel all the misery, and realise none
of the relief incident to therapeutics, whether material or mental.
/ have been through it ally she said. For years the doctors had me
and they failed ; and now the healers can do nothing more for me;
and worse, I cannot get away from them and their teachings and
practices. Night and day my mind repeats their formulcBy and
yet no good seems to come from it. I simply suffer as never before.

"Evidently neurasthenic, evidently hysteric, and born and. bred
to be just this, evidently blasee with therapeutic fag and disgust,
evidently an obsessional slave of the worst type. What a problem
for insight, resource, patience, and all the rest ! And, by all odds
worse than this, was eventually to be found the deep despair into
which she had been lowered, the listless will, the imperative con-
ception that would brook no interference without mental pain of
a worse order, and a deep feeling of poverty from which she had
little hope of ever being able to rescue herself. In fact, fortune of
body, of mind, of station, of purse had all oozed away steadily;
and what was first acute, and then became chronic, had now come
to be as permanent, seemingly, as sin itself."

One could not have a clearer picture of the harm
which may be done by Christian Science. Now let
us leave her faith, and come to her works. She
heals the sick. What was the matter with them ?


Are we bound to accept all that they tell us, and all
that they say that the doctor said ? Of course we
are not. Many of them are illiterate, many are
wholly unable to judge what happened, if anything
did happen. Again and again, they make wild
statements, worse than useless, and say what is not
true. We have nothing to do, here, with philosophy
or with religion: we are just reading So-and-so's
description of what was the matter with him, and
how the doctor told him that it was very serious.
But who is So-and-so, and who was his doctor .? If
So-and-so is a credulous, excitable person, illogical
even to this point that he believes Science and Health
to be the immediate revelation of Infinite Mind,
why should we pay any attention to his account of
his own case ?




There is but one way to get at the truth about
a new method of medical or surgical treatment.
Every case must be reported. Take, for example,
the operation of ovariotomy. Spencer Wells, in
this country, set himself to make it safe. He re-
ported every case; he kept back nothing. Every-
body was sure that he was telling the whole truth.
If anybody had been able to say that he was publish-
ing his successes but not his failures, it would have
wrecked the work of his life. Christian Science
has no such sense of honour: she publishes her
successes, and hides her failures.

Of course, her failures are altogether different
from the failures and the mistakes of medical prac-
tice. The doctor may make a wrong diagnosis : she
makes none. The doctor may fall short of perfect
skill over this or that operation : she will contemplate
simple abscesses and cysts till they burst. The
doctor, examining an obscure case, may overlook
one or more of many symptoms : she never examines
anybody, but gives absent treatment * to acute cases

* "Science can heal the sick who are absent from their healers,
as well as those present, since space is no obstacle to Mind. Im-
mortal Mind heals what eye hath not seen."^ — S. & H., p. 179.


that she has never seen. The doctor uses his eyes,
his ears, his nose, his hands : she is purposely bhnd,
deaf, inactive: she does nothing, nor attempts any-
thing. Therefore, her blunders are such as the
idlest, youngest, and stupidest medical student
would not commit: for she never reads a book,
enters a museum, uses a stethoscope, takes a tem-
perature, or looks down a microscope. But, for
the present, let us observe her successes, not her
failures. I have put here two hundred consecutive
Testimonies of Healing, from her weekly journal,
the Christian Science Sentinel. They are not ab-
solutely consecutive from week to week; because
some back-numbers of the Sentinel had been re-
moved from the Christian Science Reading Room
in this neighbourhood. But they are all recent
cases, between April and August, 1908. Of course,
if the reader be ignorant of medicine, he or she should
go over them with the help of a doctor. I have taken
them just as they came. I have left out none, except
one, which has already been quoted; and three or
four, not more, in which the patient speaks of mental
improvement only, and says not a word of* any
bodily ailment. Two hundred cases are too many:
one hundred would suffice. Yet, having got them
together, I have let them stand; for they repay
careful study.



April-August, 1908

1. Mrs. B/s baby. Nine months old. "Stomach and bowel
trouble." Had been treated by "the starvation method," and had
become dreadfully emaciated. The Christian Science practitioner
soothed it, and ordered it to have plenty of milk. Healed. ,

2. Mr. P. Headaches and "bowel trouble," healed after two
years of Christian Science treatment. "I seem to progress slowly."

3. Mrs. R. Healed of "sense of fatigue, and throat trouble."
Also, when knocked down by a bicyclist, she "suffered no pain
at all, and had little sense of shock."

4. Mrs. C. Suffered from "heart, stomach, and nervous
trouble"; also, for ten years, from an eruption on the face. "I
was cured of all these ailments in a short time : except the eruption,
which did not seem to yield." Finally, she convinced herself
that the eruption must be due to anger : and then it was healed.

5. Now that I am reading the proofs of this chapter, I find
that I numbered these cases wrong, and went from 4 to 6,
leaving out 5. So I give here to fill the gap, one of the testi-
monies which Miss Feilding quotes in her admirable book.
"The child seemed to have a severe cold, and his parents,
who have not demonstrated science as thoroughly as the little one
has, were becoming quite anxious; when the child went to his
father and asked, * Papa, will you please read Science and Health
to me ? I am sure it will make me well !' The father was busy,
and heeded not the childish demand; but the little scientist was
not to be thus deprived of the benefit he felt sure was to be gained
therefrom, and so he took the book, and in his own innocent way
read, *God is Love,' and repeated the 'Scientific Statement of
Being.* The next morning the cold had entirely disappeared,
and Edward was well and happy." This child was five years
old, and had attended a Christian Science Sunday-school.

6. Mrs. B. "I have been healed of a growth in the breast.


which I had for seven years, and which was pronounced incurable
by my physician, unless I had it removed with the knife. My
friends were urging me to have this done before it was too late;
and I began to think I had but a short time to live, when I was
advised to take Christian Science treatment. I was healed of the
growth in three weeks." *

7. Mrs. T. Was healed, at various times of her Hfe, of " severe
rheumatic trouble, catarrhal trouble, bilious attack, and other
troubles, sense of fear, and chills."

8. Miss E. Was healed of "a very bad catarrhal trouble of
several years* standing": also of "a neuralgic trouble."

9. Mrs. W. Was healed of " a very depressed state, and great
weakness of the heart."

10. Rev. F. B. Was healed of "chronic stomach and bowel
trouble." Also suffered from "mental depression"; which was
relieved, but not healed.

11. G. E. S. Was healed, for a time, of "severe rheumatic
trouble": then it recurred, "in an even more determined way
than before": and again he was healed.

12. Mrs. E. Was healed of the pain of a bum. "The healing
went on rapidly, and in a very short time all manifestation of the
trouble disappeared."

13. Mrs. A. Healed of " rheumatic trouble."

14. Mr. B. Healed of "stomach and heart trouble." Also, of
pain and deafness, not of long duration, in one ear. This witness
was healed, at 78, of "the tobacco habit," by Christian Science.

15. Mr. S. Says that he was "a physical wreck, not sleeping
well, melancholy, and irritable. What made matters worse, I
began to read a medical book, which only added to my misery, as
I believed after reading it that I had an incurable disease." Healed.

* I have written to this patient, asking her about her case, but
have not received any answer. She may have had some in-
flammatory thickening of a part of the breast.


16. Miss S. "Many ills, known under materia medica as throat
and lung trouble, etc., have been destroyed.*' *

17. Mrs. K. Her mother died in an asylum. "Ever since I
was a child, I had been haunted with the fear of hereditary insan-
ity." Was healed of this fear.

18. Mr. G. Was healed of "stomach trouble" and of head-

19. Mrs. W. This patient, in one of her later confinements,
attended herself: "The experience was all over in three hours,
without pain or the expense of a nurse or doctor." On another
occasion she was "very ill and nearly unconscious," and, at the
reading aloud of Science and Healthy she felt " a glow of warmth "
come over her.

20. Mrs. D. Was enabled, by Christian Science, "to over-
come the effects of a severe operation"; and, on several occasions,
"to help members of her own family out of many distressing at-
tacks of illness."

21. Mrs. A. Healed of "severe pains in the head." One
of her children was healed of "fever." Another, four years old,
having swallowed a marble, was relieved of pain. Nothing is
said about the marble.

22. Mrs. W. Suffered from sleeplessness. "For nearly a fort-
night my reason completely gave way." Healed.

23. Mrs. P. Had occasional "attacks of deafness." Two
attacks were relieved by ordinary treatment : the third, after three
weeks, by Christian Science.

24. Mr. B. Was cured of "the liquor habit."

25. Mrs. D. Suffered from "dropsical and heart trouble,"
and was "unable to leave her bed." t She says that the doctors

* Destroyed^ i.e. made to cease.

t Nothing is said as to the site, origin, or duration of the
"dropsy." Whatever it was, there is no evidence that it was
due to any organic disease of the heart. I have written to this


said "that she could last but a few days at most." Healed at once
by Christian Science. She also tells of a child who fell with its
face against a hot stove, and stopped crying, and was healed with-
out a scar.

26. Miss. M. A factory-girl : healed of "stomach trouble,"
and of "a growth under the eyelid." *

27. Mr. L. Had an operation for "an intestinal trouble."
The operation was followed by "adhesions of the bowels, with
complications." These troubles were healed by fifteen weeks of
Christian Science treatment. One year ago, he was cured of " rup-
ture" by three weeks of " absent treatment." f

28. Mrs. T. Healed of "liver and kidney trouble, and stif-
fening of the joints."

patient, and she has kindly answered. She tells me nothing
more about her case. I give here, and I am sorry to seem offen-
sive, part of her letter. I think it right to use her letter as evi-
dence, (i) That Christian Science accepts any testimony of healing,
however ignorant and illiterate; (2) That the Sentinel corrects
and embellishes the style and the spelling of these testimonies.
Here is the letter: — "Your letter was forwared to me here will
say in regard to your inquiry about science I had been sick for
years before and had meny doctors some speshelist none of them

could do eny thing for me there was a healer in and my

children were small the oldes one had heard of christian Science.
. . . God will heal us throw all our medisons away God doesent
need them and we will then get his blessings."

* Nothing is said as to the nature of this "growth."
f Adhesions, or symptoms attributed to adhesions, occur fre-
quently after abdominal operations; and would disappear, in
many cases, in less than fifteen weeks. Of cases of "rupture,"
it need only be said (i) That some other malady is often mis-
taken for a rupture; (2) That many ruptures disappear for months,
or even for years, of their own accord.


29. Mr. M. Had "an ear disease" in infancy, which was
treated in vain. "One specialist gave me up as incurable.'* After
more than eight weeks of Christian Science treatment, he one day
heard the clock ticking. " From that day to this my ears have been
normal. The ear-drums, which were said to be destroyed, have
been replaced, and perfect hearing restored to me." * Has also been
healed, at various times, of a "dreaded fever," a dog-bite, and "nu-
merous minor ailments."

30. Mrs. S. "I was enabled to overcome quickly an acute
attack of lung trouble." She had recovered, twice, from similar
attacks, without the help of Christian Science, f

31. Mrs. F. Testifies that her child, two years old, was "taken
quite ill one night, with fever and cough": and was healed in the
course of twenty-four hours.

32. Mrs. R. Fell, hurting her spine and one hip. Had absent
treatment. "In one short week I was entirely healed, not only
from the effects of the fall, but I was also freed from a form of bowel
trouble : I was also healed of heart trouble of long standing, and of
stomach trouble."

'^^. Mrs. W. Testifies that her child, six years old, had " several
attacks of trouble with his neck." She read Science and Health
to him, and in less than ten minutes he said, "My neck is all right
now." Another child was healed of "bronchial trouble and ear-
ache." The earache left him instantaneously, while he was re-
peating, "God is infinite, all-power."

34. Mrs. H. Broke one of the bones of her leg. It was prop-
erly set and bandaged by a medical man. In three weeks she began
to walk round the room. Healed, also, of "headaches and stomach

* I have written to this patient, but have had no answer. Of
course, even after extensive destruction of the drums of the ears,
there is, often, very fair hearing.

1 1 wrote to this patient, and she has kindly answered my
letter. It is certain that her malady was not consumption.


35. Mr. J. Was healed (February 1907) of a "dreaded kidney
disease." Says that he was told in Hospital that he would die of
it : and that he was advised to undergo an operation. Says noth-
ing as to the nature of the disease, or its symptoms.

36. Louise B. After a severe illness, had Christian Science
treatment during her convalescence, and soon got well. Later,
was healed of a "stomach trouble."

■^J. Miss S. For ten years had "a complication of diseases."
Also, had weak eyesight, and "stomach trouble." Healed.

38. Mrs. O. For ten years studied "mysticism, occultism
and Vedastic philosophy." At the end of this time she felt "con-
fused, restless, impatient, irritable and nervous." Healed.

39. Mrs. G. Testifies that her boy, ten years old, had "a
chronic skin disease" ( .? ordinary ringworm). After two or three
months of Christian Science, there was "a marked change for the
better." Healed after ten months.

40. Mr. W. Cured of "the liquor and tobacco habits." Had
already cured himself, several times, by his own will, for some
weeks or months.

41. Mrs. H. "I had been suffering from serious kidney
trouble, and had been given up to die, not only by our home phy-
sicians, but by some of the best specialists in the county." Was
healed by seven months of Christian Science treatment. Later,
in the winter of 1906-7, "I had a weight of worry and disease on
my hands. Once again it was said that I could not live. All
through the night of May 29, 1907, the nurse sat by my bed telling
me to breathe, and the next morning my earthly existence seemed
limited to only a few minutes; but when the dear ones gathered
round my cot I was roused to fight for my life." * Healed rapidly
after two visits from a Christian Science practitioner.

42. Mr. S. A good case of a man cured of drink. Has kept
straight, now, for more than a year.

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Online LibraryStephen PagetThe faith and works of Christian science → online text (page 7 of 16)