THE MENTAL ORIGIN OF DISEASE.
Can mind cause Disease? Is it possible for an act of mind without exterior physical means to produce an actual Case of Sickness? In various forms of expression this question is seriously agitating the minds of several millions of intelligent thinkers, whose attention has in one way or another been called to the statements made by the schools of Mental Healing that disease is both caused and cured by mental means.
The sentiment commonly expressed on first meeting with the idea is, that sickness is Disease, and that Disease is a physical thing possessing independent power for harm.
It is frequently stated with the utmost assurance that mind has nothing to do with Disease, except that, perhaps, the sickness may have reacted somewhat upon the mind, and that if the disease be removed by physical means the normal condition of mind will thereby be restored. One of the commonest statements heard is, "Mental treatment may answer very well for the hysterical and those of doubtful intelligence who imagine sickness but are not diseased. My sickness, however, is not imaginary; it is a genuine disease with which mind has no connectionrsuch cases require medicine which can be swallowed, or physical treatment. Mind can neither cause nor cure physical disease." These and kindred opinions seem to rest on a foundation of knowledge and common experience, yet every such thought is erroneous, and entertained only because the question of disease and its active cause has been viewed from but one side, while conclusions have been based upon the evidence of the physical senses, without investigation of the real activities of human nature.
Although in many cases the disease to be dealt with is a physical condition more or less clearly apparent to the senses, yet it is never absolutely certain that it is physical in every part of its nature; neither is there adequate evidence that it originated from a physical cause alone. In fact, such conclusion can only be reached through undem onstrated opinion, as the most cursory investigation of prevailing mental conditions presents numerous points of evidence that some degree of corresponding mental action in a definite direction takes place on the mental plane previous to the development of any diseased condition in Individual, Family, Community or Race.
The further honest investigation of this subject is carried, the more overwhelming becomes the accumulated evidence that disease originates in previously established mental action, which works itself out through the vital organs of the physical system, unrecognized except as the physical sensations resulting from the mental disturbances are observed. This is now a thoroughly established fact, and only those who refuse to investigate can continue to doubt the statement.
Three principal degrees of disease are now recognized. First, those conditions of the material body in which physical change of tissue has occurred in organic structure because of the continued presence of some definite unhealthy action. This form is recognized as Organic Disease, or Lesion, and is usually considered the most serious form of sickness. It is commonly supposed to bear no relation whatever to mental activity, but to be itself a physical thing, with definite power for harmful action. Such a conclusion postulates intelligence of disease, and makes it logically necessary to consider it an animal possessed of some degree of will and determination. These faculties are purely mental; therefore the animal must possess mind as well as body - the mind of a microbe instead of that of a man, but mind, nevertheless, else it would be devoid of power to plan and execute.
The human mind includes all faculties of the entire animal kingdom, combined with the higher activities of logical reasoning and intellectual comprehension of principles; therefore it possesses powers of intelligence immeasurably greater than those of any microbe, and so should readily overthrow any animal action or plan for action on the field of the human body. The one necessary condition is an adequate understanding of the laws involved.
Next in order, in the classification of diseases, comes that class of disturbances of the physical system, in which, though no physical lesion or change of structure can be discovered, yet the patient is afflicted with weakness, lack of endurance, and excitability, together with various tendencies recognized as nervous or neurotic, and classed either as diseases or functional disturbances. These, also, are generally considered actual physical diseases, affecting only the nervous system. They are usually classed under the head of neurosis or neurasthenia, and are known as neurasthetic conditions. Prominent physicians recognize that the mind probably has much to do with developing this form of disease, but usually they are unable to satisfactorily explain the mode of development, and hence are practically powerless to remove the troublesome symptoms by medication, though they study and work with great patience, confidence and hope.
In the third class of recognized diseases, marked symptoms of distress appear, without any physical lesion of tissue or definite nervous derangement that can be mechanically discovered; yet the patient evidently suffers and seems unable to control action. These cases are considered purely nervous and are frequently classed as diseases of the Imagination. It is admitted that they may originate in mind, because of a distorted imagination. It is also admitted that mental treatment may have some effect upon this class of patients, because it is supposed that nothing is the matter with them. This last opinion is a commom error, based upon misunderstanding of the case.
Almost countless names have been attached to the manifold forms of disease, but all are modes of wrong molecular action and each one comes under the head of one or the other of the three previously mentioned degrees of disorder. Distinctly named, these are: 1. Organic disease: Lesion of physical tissue developed by continued disturbance of some organ or part.
2. Nervous disorder: Disturbance of the circulation of nerve fluids, either organic or functional.
3. Hysterical, imaginary and unreal: Commonly supposed to be unnecessary and susceptible to personal control by the sufferer.
Investigation of mental action in its relation to the physical substructure discloses the fact that the three classes of disease, Organic, Neurotic and Hysterical, are closely associated in what is really one class, with three degrees of action. Also, that each lower degree prepares the way for, leads to, and finally, if permitted to continue in operation, develops to the succeeding degree in due time, under favor ing conditions and circumstances. This ment is not, as some suppose, from physical to mental, but vice versa, the original mental action eventually leading to a physical condition corresponding to its mental cause. In general observation, only the physical side is seen; consequently, the mental action that has previously been in operation is not de tected; nevertheless it is an active factor in life, and has produced the physical condition.
Beginning with external evidence and tracing back for an adequate cause, the fact is disclosed that in a given Case of organic disease there first existed a nervous or functional disturbance with that part of the structure, before the lesion of tissue, described by the particular form of disease became established. This nervous disturbance sometimes develops so rapidly and in so subtle a manner as not to attract attention until the organic degree is reached; but whether of long or short duration, if followed patiently and intelligently, it can invariably be traced back, through all the stages of nervousness, from the extreme symptoms bordering on the organic, perhaps through many degrees of action, to the first nervous tendencies, so slight as scarcely to be perceptible - then back still further, to some element of mental distress established before the first faint nervous tracings of the symptoms began. If this original mental action had not taken place the organic disease would never have developed.
While mental agitation continues, nervous agitation gradually, though perhaps imperceptibly, increases. It first exists in mind, sometimes developing to hysteria or melancholia, even to insanity. Pro
longed disturbance of nervous circulation develops nerve exhaustion, spinal irritation and general nervous weakness. This eventually leads to disturbance of those vital organs which are the. most closely associated with the nervous system, as e. g., of the heart and blood vessels, producing a fever; of the digestive organs, resulting in dyspepsia; and so on through the entire system. Every organ, muscle, artery, nerve and function is under absolute control of the thinking mind which is its living intelligence. This control is exerted entirely by mind acting through the nervous system.
Next to the sympathetic system of ganglionic nerves, is the cerebrospinal nervous system, which includes all the larger nerves and systems of nerves, supplying circulation to the principal vital organs and to the organs of sense. Following this there is a distinct system of arteries and veins; a system of vital organs; a muscular system, and a bony substructure, all of which systems unite to form one physical body. Each organ and every part of this physical structure is under the intelligent control of the thinking mind, through thought exercised on the various planes of consciousness and reflected in the mechanism of the nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system corresponds more nearly than any other to the structure of the mental mechanism. It definitely registers every intelligent thoughtactivity, and faithfully reproduces every thoughtpicture formed in mind.
Every mental act is physically registered, either subconsciously or superconsciously first, directly on the brain, which is the centre of the molecular action in the nervous system; then, through the circulation of nerve fluid in all branches of both nervous systems, on the vital organs, and, in turn, by means of the circulation of the blood, in and through every part of the material body, internal and external. In this way mind, through wrong action, becomes responsible for every abnormal action in the physical system.
When clearly comprehended, the principle of the physical reflection of thought explains the numerous sicknesses of those children who are too young to think harm for themselves, yet who have mental mechanisms that register surrounding influences, frequently in the minutest detail. The modes of action expressed in those influences are afterwards reenacted in the physical system, developing various corresponding diseases. The anxious thought of the mother, nurse or doctor, for the child, reflects to, is absorbed by and reenacted in the little one's mental mechanism. The mental picture of uncertainty, generated in the older mind, perhaps through fear of some particular danger to which the child is supposed to have been subjected, is reflected in the delicate nervous system, and corresponding vibrations of discord register in the physical system - the child is taken sick in consequence. This effect is generally attributed to the weather, the food, or to the supposed presence in the atmosphere of some particular thing called a disease, while the real enemy remains unrecognized.
Minds are mirrors to thoughtpictures, and reflect perfectly every outline. The minds of intelligent children are the most keenly sensitive mirrors of this kind, responding instantly to either right or wrong thoughtaction. Because of this fact these helpless little victims are at the mercy of surrounding mental disturbances, unless a counteracting mental influence of a right character is brought to bear in their favor.
The appalling child mortality in many civilized communities marks through our otherwise enlightened land the blighted pathway of erroneous con victions in regard to the Thought or Evil. If entertained, this thought will inevitably result in the fear of death - or an end to life. This line of action contains mental images of distress which these sensitive little ones cannot endure, and because of its distressing vibrations they pass over the border in thousands.
Several types of contagious disease originate entirely within this malignant field of false Mental Imagery. The subconscious action of similar thought is extremely intricate in detail, yet one erroneous principle underlies its every exercise; that is, the picturing in mind of conceptions contrary to the harmonies of real life. The excuse that such thoughts are believed to be true will not in the smallest degree change or vary the inevitable result.
Every thought is a thing in mind, and throws out a reflection which must be like the mental action from which it proceeds. When people learn to think and picture in mind that which they wish to possess rather than that which they fear, this law will be employed for real and permanent good. The Law is inexorable: act against it, and you will suffer its penalties; cooperate with it and you will share its goodness.
The direct action of mind in and through the nervous system is the secret of what seems to be physical life. When it ceases, life leaves the body, but does not necessarily leave the mind; for mind is a living entity of spiritual substance, having an enduring nature independent of matter or physical form.
Spiritual activity is the only real Life, while Spirit is the one active element of Divine Reality in the Universe.
When used in relation to man, Mind and Spirit are terms employed to designate conscious activity on different planes of existence and in different phases of life. Spirit is the intelligent Individual, active in the higher forms and on all possible planes of intelligence and consciousness; while Mind is the same Individual acting on the thoughtplane only. Continuing this classification, the Personality is that Individual acting temporarily on the senseplane,in the illusion of physical sensation; and the body is a physical machine, constructed by mind, of material elements, for the purpose of analyzing sensations on this plane. Being a part of the earth, the body never leaves it, yet it depends entirely upon mind for form, structure, action, power and organization.
He whose knowledge of his own being is limited to the outward objective laws of the physical body, knows nothing certain even about that organism; while he who has acquired true knowledge of the foundation principles of life, operating through the spiritual action of thought, has an understanding of facts with regard to the activities of both mind and body; for the body is controlled entirely by mind, which reenacts the fundamental activities of intelligence; while these, in turn, are produced by active spirit, the substantial principle of conscious life.
When spiritual lifeaction ceases to register in the nerves of the body, it begins to disintegrate and soon returns to its component elements of carbon, iron, salt, lime, soda, sulphur, phosphorus, magnesium, potash, saltpetre, water, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and other earth elements of which it is constructed, and in varying proportions of which it is held together during physical life, by supercon scious mental action. Whether it shall be retained in its natural proportion of ingredients and in normal degrees of action, depends upon the character of the mental action which governs it, while this, in turn, depends upon the active thought generated by the individual.
These facts are concentrated in the Proverb of Solomon: "For as he thinketh in his heart so is he,"both physically and mentally, in fact.
• Proverbs : 7.
Thought contrary to natural law produces disease. Thought in accordance with nature's laws results in health. This principle is absolute and universal.
Where no mental action exists, no disease can take root. This statement is indisputable, if the fact of subconscious and superconscious as well as conscious mental action be taken into consideration, as must be the Case before any definite information in regard to either mind or body can be acquired.
Pure thought reflects in pure action: Pure act reacts in harmonious sensation.