Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
P01481P01481

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866) was born on February 16, 1802, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. His family moved in 1804 to Belfast, Maine, where he lived the rest of his life. As a young man, he entered the trade of watch and clock making.

Quimby apparently became interested in mesmerism (animal magnetism) in the late 1830s at a time when this practice, originally developed by Franz Anton Mesmer, was being introduced to New England by mesmerists such as Charles Poyen. Mesmeric practices often involved a practitioner hypnotizing a subject (the "somnambulist") and placing him or her into a state known as "magnetic sleep." This was a trance-like state in which the subject was receptive to the suggestions of the mesmerist. In time, Quimby himself became an accomplished mesmerist and toured with a young man named Lucius Burkmar, giving demonstrations of mesmeric power. Burkmar served as the somnambulist for Quimby and was particularly susceptible of falling into magnetic sleep and responding to Quimby's suggestions.

Quimby's work with Burkmar included investigating the potential of mesmerism to cure disease. He eventually stopped touring with Burkmar, but for the rest of his life he used mesmerism and hypnotic suggestion primarily for healing. He believed that mesmerism and hypnotism could change "false beliefs" of patients, leading to improved health. A phenomenon that frequently accompanied these practices was Quimby becoming temporarily ill himself with the same maladies he was treating. Quimby's theories about the nature of disease, as well as the religious terminology he sometimes used to describe the theories, had an influence on New Thought writers and are thought by scholars to be a source for some of their ideas.

Quimby established himself as a healer in Portland, Maine, in 1859, and it was there that Mary Baker Eddy became his patient on October 10, 1862. Although she experienced improvement in her chronic ill health as a result of his treatments, she suffered relapses when away from his presence.

Quimby died on January 16, 1866. In February, Eddy experienced a sudden recovery from severe injuries from a fall on the ice as she read the Bible and prayed. This led eventually to her founding of the Christian Science movement. While some ideas in Christian Science may have been sparked by Eddy's contact with Quimby, her healing practice and teaching methods were based on those of Christ Jesus, and she founded her system on the Bible. It was some years after her healing in 1866 before she saw clearly the differences between Quimby's ideas and practices and Christian Science as it was developing through her own healing practice and writings. In 1871, she received nine written questions about her teachings from a young man named Wallace Wright. In response, she told Wright that since Quimby's death, she had been further developing his beliefs and practices. Although Wright took a class from Eddy and initially began practicing his conception of her teachings, he soon became disillusioned and launched a series of attacks on her in the Lynn Transcript, beginning on January 13, 1872. Among his claims was that Eddy's teachings and practices were simply mesmerism. Eddy responded to Wright in the Transcript and began to explain the differences she was seeing between Christian Science and Quimby's ideas. By the time Eddy's textbook, Science and Health, was published in 1875, she had clearly stated the distinction between her system and Quimby's.

For more information about Phineas P. Quimby, see Keith McNeil, A Story Untold. Click here

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
P01481P01481

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866) was born on February 16, 1802, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. His family moved in 1804 to Belfast, Maine, where he lived the rest of his life. As a young man, he entered the trade of watch and clock making.

Quimby apparently became interested in mesmerism (animal magnetism) in the late 1830s at a time when this practice, originally developed by Franz Anton Mesmer, was being introduced to New England by mesmerists such as Charles Poyen. Mesmeric practices often involved a practitioner hypnotizing a subject (the "somnambulist") and placing him or her into a state known as "magnetic sleep." This was a trance-like state in which the subject was receptive to the suggestions of the mesmerist. In time, Quimby himself became an accomplished mesmerist and toured with a young man named Lucius Burkmar, giving demonstrations of mesmeric power. Burkmar served as the somnambulist for Quimby and was particularly susceptible of falling into magnetic sleep and responding to Quimby's suggestions.

Quimby's work with Burkmar included investigating the potential of mesmerism to cure disease. He eventually stopped touring with Burkmar, but for the rest of his life he used mesmerism and hypnotic suggestion primarily for healing. He believed that mesmerism and hypnotism could change "false beliefs" of patients, leading to improved health. A phenomenon that frequently accompanied these practices was Quimby becoming temporarily ill himself with the same maladies he was treating. Quimby's theories about the nature of disease, as well as the religious terminology he sometimes used to describe the theories, had an influence on New Thought writers and are thought by scholars to be a source for some of their ideas.

Quimby established himself as a healer in Portland, Maine, in 1859, and it was there that Mary Baker Eddy became his patient on October 10, 1862. Although she experienced improvement in her chronic ill health as a result of his treatments, she suffered relapses when away from his presence.

Quimby died on January 16, 1866. In February, Eddy experienced a sudden recovery from severe injuries from a fall on the ice as she read the Bible and prayed. This led eventually to her founding of the Christian Science movement. While some ideas in Christian Science may have been sparked by Eddy's contact with Quimby, her healing practice and teaching methods were based on those of Christ Jesus, and she founded her system on the Bible. It was some years after her healing in 1866 before she saw clearly the differences between Quimby's ideas and practices and Christian Science as it was developing through her own healing practice and writings. In 1871, she received nine written questions about her teachings from a young man named Wallace Wright. In response, she told Wright that since Quimby's death, she had been further developing his beliefs and practices. Although Wright took a class from Eddy and initially began practicing his conception of her teachings, he soon became disillusioned and launched a series of attacks on her in the Lynn Transcript, beginning on January 13, 1872. Among his claims was that Eddy's teachings and practices were simply mesmerism. Eddy responded to Wright in the Transcript and began to explain the differences she was seeing between Christian Science and Quimby's ideas. By the time Eddy's textbook, Science and Health, was published in 1875, she had clearly stated the distinction between her system and Quimby's.

For more information about Phineas P. Quimby, see Keith McNeil, A Story Untold. Click here