Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Spiritualism & Mesmerism I1862
Can the phenomena of spiritualism be explained on the theory of mesmerism? I answer, “No,” - not so far as the development of Mesmer goes. Mesmerism is as much in the dark as spiritualism. Neither has ever been explained, and they are both one and the same, governed by differences of opinion. Those who believe in mesmerism and write about it stand precisely on the same basis, because neither has any wisdom, but only a belief that certain phenomenon will occur; while the causes are in the dark, and man is led by what some person said about it.
For instance, I found I could put a person into a mesmeric sleep, and others could do the same. Then I wanted to do more, so I procured books and read about it, and I found that the authors accounted for it on the principle of electricity. Of course, I believed it, and all my experiments went to prove the truth of my belief. At last I found that, instead of electricity governing my subject - he was governed by the minds of myself and others.
So I discarded all this false theory that I was told and discovered that the subject had an identity of his own and had as much of a being as the one who governed him. He was governed by the principle of argument, as much as any other person. The subject sat down for the purpose of being mesmerized, and if the operator has the idea of what he wants to do, he can do it.
'A' sits down with the intention of putting 'B' to sleep. 'B' sits down with no other motive than to see if 'A' can do it - so their minds mingle. 'A's will is determined to accomplish his object. 'B' gives up his will and becomes passive. The only way in which this process has been accounted for is that 'A' fills 'B' full of electricity. This is all a humbug. Their minds act precisely as two persons sitting down, one listening to the other, admitting that he knows more than himself; and the advantage is first tested. No one gives up his opinion to the other, unless he thinks the other is superior to himself. I found that out.
The sight is what is the mystery; the eyes, not being the medium. The subject is in another element, separate and apart from his natural self, but in his natural belief. As a man in the dark travels by another's light, the subject sees the idea of his mesmerizer, but the sight is in the odor of the idea.
This is new to the world, and man cannot understand it. Therefore I will give some examples. If 'A' thinks of an orange, 'B' will see it; everyone knows this. Does he see it as we see it? No, he sees it in the odor; for the odor is the light of the idea. So it is with everything that has form; and the background makes the object, for if there were no light at all, the object could not be seen.
It is so with thought. Thought takes form, and the wisdom that makes the thought is the light of its body. The light is felt, like the odor, and contains the knowledge of itself. This is the light the subject is in; for the mesmerizer makes the light by his own belief. It commences in total darkness, is first blue, then grows light - and when it is the color of gaslight, this is the light the subject is in; and it compares with daylight.
Whatever the subject is asked to see, if the mesmerizer can form the idea - it is seen in the light. This is clairvoyance. But it is in the blue light or darkness that the subject sees by sympathy (or odor). It is called thought-reading and is the state persons go into when they are entranced by a spirit. Then if you see a friend, the friend is formed but cannot be seen very distinctly; but is described like an apple or pear, by the odor. All this is governed by our belief.
If you believe in another world and believe your friends are with you, the belief may so affect the subject and carry him into the clairvoyant state; and if he believes in this state, he sees all the living and the dead - and they are with him, according to his belief. When he awakes, however, it is all dark - and he is sure he has been to another world. All this is as plain to me as daylight; for daylight is clairvoyance and twilight, thought-reading.
have been in both places with both my natural senses; have seen the
sun, land, water, vessels; heard the winds blow and felt the warm
breezes. When I sit by the sick, I see - but not always so plainly,
unless the patient is sure he has a certain disease. Then I see it in
every particular. All this teaches me that my belief - no matter how
absurd - can produce phenomena to prove it. Therefore, I believe the
writing on the arm, the moving of matter, the spirit hand - but the
medium must be of a peculiar combination of matter. It needs a man
whose eyes will stand out when you tell him the moon is inhabited by
people, forty feet high - and make him believe it. Then he can see