“New Spirit, New Flesh: The Poetics of Nineteenth-Century Mind-Cures.”
Sizer, Sandra S. “New Spirit, New Flesh: The Poetics of Nineteenth-Century Mind-Cures.” Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 63, no. 4 (Winter 1980): 407–22.
Although “the idea of a mind-body relation (however ill-defined) is widely accepted today” (407), the cause-and-effect relations between mind and body were obscure arguments before the “late nineteenth century, when the grandiose popular mind-cures of Christian Science, New Thought, and others emerged…” (408). Sizer argues that the multiple forms of mind cures of the 19th century arose from the metaphoric and poetic language of the 18th century. She traces the threads of old metaphors used by mind-cure systems to justify themselves against the theories of what came to be ‘orthodox medicine.’ Mesmer’s metaphor, for instance, was sympathetic influence. Swedenborg relied on a visual metaphor that spirit is light. Homeopathy appealed to a law of similar, and Andrew Jackson Davis conceived of soul as a harmonious relationship among the ethers. Phineas P. Quimby promoted the flow of thoughts toward natural good. Mary Baker Eddy, a former patient of Quimby’s, “went even further toward transcendentalism in her famous Science and Health…” (417). But even she, when she “dipped below her abstractions…used emotional, musical, or visceral metaphors” (418). None of them, Sizer points out, developed a theory acceptable to the medical tradition at large, but “the rationalization of their alternative poetics continues even today” (419).