This section is from the "Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure" book, by Henry Lindlahr.
Persons of sanguine, vital temperament, with the animal qualities strongly developed, enslaved by bad habits and evil passions, will be greatly benefited by occasional short fasts. In such cases, the experience affords a fine drill in self-discipline, strengthening of self-control and conquest of the lower appetites.
Vigorous, fleshy people, positive physically and mentally, especially those who do not take sufficient physical exercise, should take frequent fasts of one, two, or three days' duration for the reduction of superfluous flesh and fat and for the elimination of systemic waste and other morbid materials. Such people should never eat more than two meals a day, and many get along best on one meal.
However, different temperaments and constitutions require different treatment and management. People of a nervous, emotional temperament, especially those who are below normal in weight and physically and mentally negative, may be seriously and permanently injured by fasting. They should never fast except in acute diseases and during eliminative healing crises, when Nature calls for the fast as a means of cure.
People of this type are usually thin, with weak and flabby muscles. Their vital activities are at a low ebb and their magnetic envelopes (aura) are wasted and attenuated like their physical bodies. The red aura, which is created by the action of the purely animal functions and forces, is more or less deficient or entirely lacking. Such people have the tendency to become abnormally sensitive to conditions in the magnetic field (the astral plane).
Next to the hypnotic or mediumistic process, there is nothing that induces abnormal psychism so quickly as fasting. During a prolonged fast, the purely animal functions of digestion, assimilation and elimination are almost completely at a standstill. This depression of the physical functions arouses and increases the psychic functions and may produce intense emotionalism and abnormal activity of the senses of the spiritual-material body, the individual thus becoming abnormally clairvoyant, clairaudient and otherwise sensitive to conditions on the spiritual planes of life.
This explains the spiritual exaltation and the visions of heavenly scenes and beings or the fights with demons which are frequently, indeed uniformly, reported by hermits, ascetics, saints, yogi, fakirs and dervishes.
Fasting facilitates hypnotic control of the sensitive by positive intelligences either on the physical or on the spiritual plane of being. In the one case we speak of hypnotism, in the other of mediumship, obsession or possession. These conditions are usually diagnosed by the regular practitioner as nervousness, nervous prostration, hysteria, paranoia, delusional insanity, double personality, mania, etc.
The destructive effects of fasting are intensified by solitude, grief, worry, introspection, religious exaltation or any other form of depressive or destructive mental and emotional activity.
Spirit controls often force their subjects to abstain from food, thus rendering them still more negative and submissive. Psychic patients, when controlled or obsessed, will frequently not eat unless they are forced or fed like an infant. When asked why they do not want to eat, these patients reply: "I mustn't. They will not let me." When we say: "Who?" the answer is: "These people. Don't you see them?" pointing to a void, and becoming impatient when told that no one is there. The regular school says delusion; we call it abnormal clairvoyance.
In other instances the control tells the subject that his food and drink are poisoned or unclean. To the obsessed victim these suggestions are absolute reality.
To place persons of the negative, sensitive type on prolonged fasts and thus to expose them to the dangers just described is little short of criminal. Such patients need an abundance of the most positive animal and vegetable foods in order to build up and strengthen their physical bodies and their magnetic envelopes, which form the dividing and protecting wall between the terrestrial plane and the magnetic field.
A negative vegetarian diet, consisting principally of fruits, nuts, cereal and pulses, but deficient in animal foods (the dairy products, eggs, honey) and in the vegetables growing in or near the ground may result in conditions similar to those which accompany prolonged fasting.
Animal foods are elaborated under the influence of a higher life-element* than that controlling the vegetable kingdom, and foods derived from the animal kingdom are necessary to develop and stimulate the positive qualities in man.
*This subject will be treated more fully in another volume of this series entitled "Natural Dietitics."
In the case of the psychic, who is already deficient in the physical (animal) and overdeveloped in the spiritual qualities, it is especially necessary, in order to restore and maintain the lost equilibrium, to build up in him the animal qualities.