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The Therapeutic Gospel: Religious Medicine and the Birth of Pop Psychology, 1850–1910


In 1857, a bangor, maine, newspaper announced that a man named Phineas P. Quimby was engaged in “investigations in psychology” and that he had “discovered and in his daily practice carries out, a new principle of treatment of diseases.” A few years later, a Portland newspaper reported that Quimby's “new theory of disease” was “so contrary to the commonly received opinions” that people “hardly dare believe there can be any truth in it.” Contemporary observers found both Quimby's theory of Mind Cure and his medical practice to be highly unusual. Apparently, Quimby would “sit down beside him [the patient], and put himself en rapport with him.” He did “not use medicine or any material agency, nor call to his aid mesmerism or any spiritual influence whatever” in his treatment. Rather, observers maintained that “his power over disease arises from his subtle knowledge of the mind”.

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Ruth Leys , “Types of One: Adolf Meyer's Life Chart and the Representation of Individuality,” Representations 34 (Spring, 1991): 129.

Richard H. Brodhead , “Sparing the Rod: Discipline and Fiction in Antebellum America,” Representations 21 (Winter 1988): 6796.

Louis Galambos , “The Emerging Organizational Synthesis in Modern American History,” Business History Review 44 (Autumn 1970): 279–90

Galambos , “Technology, Political Economy, and Professionalization: Central Themes of the Organizational Synthesis,” Business History Review 57 (Winter 1983): 471–93

Brian Balogh , ldquo;Reorganizing the Organizational Synthesis: Federal Professional Relations in Modern America,” Studies in American Political Development 5 (Spring 1991): 119–72.

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  • ISSN: 0361-2333
  • EISSN: 1471-6399
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