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The Mental Origin of Disease

Every physical condition has a corresponding mental state. Change the mental state, and you change the physical condition. The body is what we make it—strong and whole, or weak and diseased. If we are in harmony with universal law, we must be harmonious ourselves. When our wills are in opposition, through selfish desires or emotions, we become weak and discordant.

The will has a definite effect on all parts of the body; but nowhere is it more noticeable than on the neck. Its true action gives strength to that part of the organism, while lack of will gives weakness. Where there is perverseness of will, or self-will, it often occasions stiffness or soreness of the neck. The scriptural statement that the Jews were a stiff-necked and rebellious people is only an illustration of the power of self-will.

The arms and hands, as the instruments of execution, are closely connected with the will and intellect. They are therefore considered the most executive part of the body. It is quite possible, with an educated sense of touch, to perceive different shades of will and intellect simply by the clasp ‘of another’s hand; and many are able to determine by this method whether or not a person is possessed of mental firmness.

Persons that are thoughtfully disposed invariably incline the head slightly forward; but one whose thoughts are constantly striving to reach a given destination in advance of the body droops the head and shoulders decidedly forward. Where the head is thrown back, it indicates physical development and independence. Frequently we notice people with their arms akimbo; this is also an indication Of an independent frame of mind. When the arms are carried close to the sides, however, a lack of independence is indicated. Stiff thumbs, bending outward, indicate firmness; but when they fall in toward the palm of the hand, a lack of mentality is shown.

The lungs are acted upon by desires. When these are intense and true, we breathe strongly and deeply. The right base of all breathing is the diaphragm; proceeding thence, the breath is under proper control. Our mental faculties should be used to develop every organ in the body. Where there is a lack of mind development, the corresponding organ will become first weakened and then diseased. It is not remarkable that nineteen persons in every twenty are troubled with coughs, colds, and other lung difficulties, for they use little more than half their lung power, their breath being exhaled from the chest instead Of the diaphragm. Desire is properly the aspiration for things good and true; it controls the out-breathing, while response to the desire is the receiving of inspiration corresponding to the in-breathing. Our ordinary respiration is seldom really strong and deep—for it is only as man asks that he receives; it is only as he knocks that the door is opened to him; it is only as he seeks that he finds.

Man is created in the image and likeness Of his Creator. He is endowed with certain faculties of soul and mind, and his salvation depends upon their proper use and control. His mission is to work out the powers and possibilities wrought in him from the beginning. After all, this is only a reasonable service; it is the one duty he owes to God and to his fellow-men. Through this development he most truly worships God and becomes most helpful to his race. 

Mental impulses have a decided and definite action upon the heart; but no impulse is so strong in this respect as that of love. True love—which is the love of universal good; which is the sun that shines for all; which is beneficent—strengthens every organ of the body to a degree equaled by no other soul-impulse or mental faculty. It is the crowning, dominating influence in the soul of man, transcending all others. When Jesus was asked concerning God, he could form no loftier conception than the highest impulse of his own soul. He answered, “God is Love.” All intellectual conceptions of Deity are as nothing when compared to this expression of a feeling so great as to be indescribable in human language.

The blood corresponds to the life-force which is “in all, through all, and above all.” From the heart of love, it is sent coursing throughout the organism to replenish its needs. After fulfilling its mission, it returns to the heart, where it undergoes a process of purification and renewal—whence it proceeds again to supply the needs of the body. In this interaction of heart, blood, and body, we find typified the correspondence existing between God and man. The vital forces proceed from the Supreme Heart of the universe, to nourish and supply every living thing therein; then they return to God, to be again sent out on their vivifying errand. “We live in God, and know it not.”

The brain is undoubtedly the principal organ of the mind, but the mind is not the chief part of man; neither is the brain the chief part of the body. Mind of itself originates nothing; it is ever acted upon by the higher impulses of the soul. Mind is not the germ of life; it is merely its reflector. It derives its being from the higher impulses, and its office is to relate itself to them. In this manner, man may become truly related to the outer world.

The bodily organs corresponding to man’s innermost being are those located in the trunk—chiefly the heart. When the heart is affected by emotions produced from without, we experience irregularity of action. When the life of man seems to be thus tainted—a condition invariably caused by a wrong relationship to his environment— the blood, after a time, becomes “poisoned;” it no longer carries true nourishment to the different parts of the body. Then it is said that the blood is “diseased.” There are different expressions and degrees of this life-poisoning condition: for instance, one form of it is called rheumatism; another is evidenced by cutaneous eruptions, etc.

Anger has a decided effect upon the blood, producing first an excessive flow. As stated in the previous article, wherever there is an excess of action, there must be a corresponding reaction. It is not possible for anyone to indulge in repeated outbursts of anger without adversely affecting the blood. Mental inflammation will surely result in physical inflammation, as one cannot be separated from the other. Anger, hatred, fear, selfishness—these are the cause of more physical disease than all other mental states combined. Bile derives its true action from sweetness and kindness of disposition; its flow is then directed to the corresponding needs of the body. But its false action is usually caused by mental bitterness and a feeling of repulsion toward persons or things.

True physical digestion comes through proper mental digestion. It is noticeable that intellectual people are generally troubled with either indigestion or dyspepsia. They make the intellect the god of their being, depending on it to the exclusion of the higher impulses, thereby producing an unbalanced state. The intellect should not be underrated; it is necessary, however, to show its true relation to being—as a reflector, not a producer, of light. One of the most common causes of indigestion lies in the effort of certain persons to acquire knowledge rapidly. They cram the mind with many things they have not mentally digested, and this mental indigestion is the forerunner of a corresponding physical condition. Again, we find people with good digestion who do not properly assimilate their food. This result corresponds to knowledge which they have clearly perceived but failed to use. We must first thoroughly digest what we read, think of it, talk it over, thoroughly assimilate it—then we can make it our own. We must live it—must be it; and if we are bright, hopeful, and cheerful, we shall have no trouble with the digestion and assimilation of our physical food.

The kidneys and secret organs are affected by the secrecies of life. Into every life enter many thoughts and conditions too sacred to mention, even to one’s dearest friends. These things act upon the private organs to strengthen and keep them whole; but the false secrecy of life—the desire to cover and hide evil things from the knowledge of others—produces weakness and disease of those parts. False passions inflame, and in time consume, the secret organs of the body.

As already pointed out, the lower limbs correspond to the sustaining power, and the feet to the rock of understanding, or the foundation upon which the body rests. If our trust be placed in “the Giver of every good and perfect gift,” we shall experience no weakness in these members; for we shall feel that the sustaining power is ever with us, to guide and direct our feet into the “paths of righteousness.”

To what extent is this philosophy applicable to the young? Frequently children have diseases to which grown people seem also subject; and the questions are often asked: How can such a malady be the result of any fault or shortcoming on the part of so young a person? Why is it not possible for this disease to be the result of contagion or heredity?

The mind of a child may be likened to a sensitive plate. It is more easily acted upon by the thoughts of others than is the mind of an adult, especially if such thought-action proceed from the mother or nurse. Should a mother become very angry, her child may feel the influence to such a degree that a feverish condition would ensue almost immediately. The fears of parents often act injuriously upon the minds of their children the thought-images in the minds of the former being telepathically transmitted to those of the latter. This is the true meaning of “heredity.”

Heredity of thought is more powerful than heredity of blood. Most physiologists assert that there is an entire change in the organism of the body once in seven years, while some name a shorter time. Now, if we inherit a specific disease through the blood, it would be quite natural to expect that, after seven, or fourteen, or twenty-one years, this ailment should be entirely eradicated. The fact remains, however, that many years later than the period last named, maladies that had afflicted the parents have appeared in the children, being classified as “hereditary diseases” by the medical profession.

This idea of heredity is becoming rapidly displaced by another “discovery.” It is now almost universally conceded by the medical fraternity that the majority of the ailments formerly attributed to hereditary taint are caused by disease germs, or bacilli. Thus, even by medical authority, the belief in the transmission of disease through heredity is relegated to the past; it no longer plays an important part in orthodox diagnoses. Still, from the standpoint Of mental science, heredity cannot be ignored. Every child undoubtedly receives an inheritance of mental pictures from the minds Of its parents, which have a pronounced effect upon its life. The Bible may be taken literally when it says that God shall visit “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate” Him. Note particularly the clause that I have italicized.

If a child has inherited evil (unwholesome) mental pictures, and in manhood still allows them to affect his life, his condition will be similar to that of his parents. If, on the other hand, he should realize that his true inheritance comes from God—that “every good and perfect gift” comes from his eternal Father—the false inheritance would lose its power; it would be overcome by the true. The only real, true, and eternal inheritance is from God. All others are but transitory and illusive.

If parents would only realize the effect produced upon their children by their thoughts, they would be much more careful in their mental processes. The subject-matter in the mind of the parent influences the life of the child for good or ill. A child is ever prone to express his parents’ thought. Selfishness .and greed, when seen in children, are but the outward expression of identical qualities hidden in the minds of the parents. A child is natural, and expresses just what he thinks. Up to a certain age he is the mere reflector of the thoughts of others; but a time comes (earlier with some children than with others) when he asserts his individuality, and claims the right to live his own life. While still affected by the thoughts of those surrounding him, and by the mental images produced by his parents, a child nevertheless soon 'begins to reason, to think, and to act for himself. Especially at this juncture he should meet with every encouragement.

Many parents try to break the will of their off spring in order to make him conform to their wishes; but the willfulness of the child is often but a reproduction of that of the parents. If the latter consider it necessary to change a child’s will, they should attempt to do so only through love and gentleness. A child should receive a reason for doing, or for not doing, a certain thing, if he ask it from his parent. It is his privilege, as fully as that of his elder. It is even more important in his case, for a grown person can often comprehend the reason without asking it, and without its being told. After telling a child to do a certain thing, and he asks why, it is not the proper and true way to deal with him to answer: “Because I told you to do so.” The child has both a thoughtful mind and a keen sense of justice. There is no doubt that, in regard to most questions; we should deal more carefully with children than with grown people. How often are children punished while their parents are in a state of anger! How often would a parent refrain from punishment were he to wait until his anger subsided! Absolute justice is as necessary in dealing with a child as with an adult.

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Charles Brodie Patterson

  • Canadian New Thought author
  • Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917
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