Mind Cure in New England: From the Civil War to World War I
Parker, Gail Thain. Mind Cure in New England: From the Civil War to World War I. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1973.
Parker defines mind cure as “a faith… in the power to heal oneself through right thinking” (ix). Her book highlights different ‘curists’ employing New Thought ideas and rhetoric, including Swedenborg’s scientific order; Warren Felt Evans; Emerson; women struggling to gain more manlike worldly mastery; women embracing their sexuality for “domestic and spiritual uses” (101); Horatio Dresser; William James; and Mary Baker Eddy. There are few glimmers of light in Parker’s rendering of Eddy. Her longing for a family is turned into an attraction for younger men and sexual repression. Eddy’s “desire for mastery [is] of a Machiavellian sort” (124). Eddy’s rocky, half-century journey from the poverty of her early strivings to an established and prosperous movement was, in Parker’s psychoanalytical view, purely about ambition, exploitation, greed and self-serving purposes hiding behind a false aura of spirituality. Parker highlights the tension between Eddy and some of the more powerful women in the movement but fails to explain why so many deeply resonated with her and Christian Science. A broader range of sources now available through the Mary Baker Eddy Library would have brought more balance to this cynical portrayal.
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0874510737
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-1584652519
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