Bernheim then proceeds to give a resume of some of the histories of cures which took place at Lourdes, where thousands flock annually to partake of the healing waters of the famous grotto. The history of that wonderful place is too well known to need repetition here. It is sufficient to say that thousands of cures have been effected there through prayer and religious faith, and the cures are as well authenticated as any fact in history or science.
1 De l'Imagination, 1879.
The most prominent and important methods of healing the sick now in vogue may be briefly summarized as follows:
Prayer And Religious Faith, as exemplified in the cures performed at Lourdes and at other holy shrines. To this class also belong the cures effected by prayer alone, the system being properly known in this country as the Faith Cure and the Prayer Cure.
"a professed method of healing which rests upon the suppositions that all diseased states or the body are due to abnormal conditions of the mind, and that the latter (and thus the former) can be cured by the direct action of the mind of the healer upon the mind of the patient."1
This method of healing rests upon the assumption of the unreality of matter. This assumed as a major premise, it follows that our bodies are unreal, and, consequently, there is no such thing as disease, the latter existing only in the mind, which is the only real thing in existence.
Spiritism, which is a system of healing based on the supposed interposition of spirits of the dead, operating directly, or indirectly through a medium, upon the patient.
This includes all the systems of healing founded on the supposition that there exists in man a fluid which can be projected upon another, at the will of the operator, with the effect of healing disease by the therapeutic action of the fluid upon the diseased organism.
This method of healing rests upon the law that persons in the hypnotic condition are constantly controllable by the power of suggestion, and that by this means pain is suppressed, function modified, fever calmed, secretion and excretion encouraged, etc., and thus nature, the healer, is permitted to do the work of restoration.
Each of these schools is subdivided into sects, entertaining modified theories of causation, and employing modified processes of applying the force at their command. There is but one thing common to them all, and that is that they all cure diseases.
1 Century Dictionary.
We have, then, six different systems of psycho-therapeutics, based upon as many different theories, differing as widely as the poles, and each presenting indubitable evidence of being able to perform cures which in any age but the present would have been called miraculous.
The most obvious conclusion which strikes the scientific mind is that there must be some underlying principle which is common to them all. It is the task of science to discover that principle.
It will now be in order to recall to the mind of the reader, once more, the fundamental propositions of the hypothesis under consideration. They are, -
First, that man is possessed of two minds, which we have distinguished by designating one as the objective mind, and the other as the subjective mind.
Secondly, that the subjective mind is constantly amenable to control by the power of suggestion.
These propositions having been established, at least provisionally, by the facts, shown in the foregoing chapters, it now remains to present a subsidiary proposition, which pertains to the subject of psycho-therapeutics, namely:-
The subjective mind has absolute control of the functions, conditions, and sensations of the body.
This proposition seems almost self-evident, and will receive the instant assent of all who are familiar with the simplest phenomena of hypnotism. It is well known, and no one at all acquainted with hypnotic phenomena now disputes the fact, that perfect anesthesia can be produced at the will of the operator simply by suggestion. Hundreds of cases are recorded where the most severe surgical operations have been performed without pain upon patients in the hypnotic condition. The fact can be verified at any time by experiment on almost any hypnotic subject, and in case of particularly sensitive subjects the phenomena can be produced in the waking condition. How the subjective mind controls the functions and sensations of the body, mortal man may never know. It is certain that the problem cannot be solved by reference to physiology or cerebral anatomy. It is simply a scientific fact which we must accept because it is susceptible of demonstration, and not because its ultimate cause can be explained.
The three foregoing fundamental propositions cover the whole domain of psycho-therapeutics, and constitute the basis of explanation of all phenomena pertaining thereto.
It seems almost superfluous to adduce facts to illustrate the wonderful power which the subjective mind possesses over the functions of the body, beyond reminding the reader of the well-known facts above mentioned regarding the production of the phenomena of anesthesia by suggestion. Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten that the production of anesthesia in a healthy subject is a demonstration of subjective power which implies far more than appears upon the surface. The normal condition of the body is that of perfect health, with all the senses performing their legitimate functions. The production of anesthesia in a normal organism is, therefore, the production of an abnormal condition. On the other hand, the production of anesthesia in a diseased organism implies the restoration of the normal condition, that is, a condition of freedom from pain. In this, all the forces of nature unite to assist. And as every force in nature follows the lines of least resistance, it follows that it is much easier to cure diseases by mental processes than it is to create them; provided always that we understand the modus operandi.