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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Science and Nature

Imagination and Reality

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

Imagination and RealityIMAGINATION AND REALITY. – Imagination has a great deal to do with disease, and so it has with the cure of it. Medical history is full of accounts of this nature. It teaches us that thousands of persons have actually brooded over the fear of a malady, until their fancy converted it into a reality. It also teaches us that thousands have been restored to health who took nothing but bread-pills under some magniloquent name, or had faith in the pure water prescription of talented empirics. But here arise two or three curious suggestions. How much, for instance, of all disease, is a mere delusion of the mind, and how much an organic affection of the body? How many of the marvelous cures we hear of are effected by drugs and potions, and how many by nature and hope, in spite of physic and physicians? We remember an American surgeon in London, who produced the most extraordinary cures, it was said, by means of a pair of metallic tractors. These tractors were a couple of small, tapering pieces of metal, the one made of copper, and the other of zinc, to give them the appearance of acting galvanic-electrically. The surgeon drew them repeatedly over the diseased part; and the rheumatism, gout, &c, rapidly disappeared. At least, so declared the patients: for a hospital was erected, and a host of cripples left it, after such treatment, protesting that they were convalescent. Another surgeon prepared imitation tractors, however, and his patients declared themselves equally benefited! Did the “mesmeric posses,” in either case, involved in the manipulation in the diseased part, produce a cure? Or was the cure the result of faith and fancy? This is the question. At any rate, one thing is certain; we can make ourselves ill by imagining ourselves in that condition; and if so , there is no reason why health should not be the product of an effect in the same direction. Why not try it? It is easier than swallowing drugs: it is much pleasanter than paying the apothecary or the doctor. – Wilson.