Historical Reprints Health Related Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery

Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery

Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery
Catalog # SKU1711
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Robert Means Lawrence


Primitive Psycho-Therapy
and Quackery

Robert Means Lawrence

Certain historic modes of healing, including the use of medical amulets and charms, which have been regarded from early times as magical remedies, belong properly to the domain of Psychical Medicine. For the therapeutic virtues of medical amulets are not inherent in these objects, but are due to the influence exerted by them upon the imaginative faculties of the individuals who employ them.

They afford powerful suggestions of healing. In this volume the writer has sought to emphasize the fact that the efficiency of many primitive therapeutic methods, and the success of charlatanry, are to be attributed to mental influence. The use of spells and incantations, the practice of laying-on of hands, the cult of relics, mesmerism, and metallo-therapy, have been important factors in the evolution of modern mental healing. The method of their operation, a mystery for ages, is revealed by the word suggestion. Thus may be traced some of the steps in the development of psycho-therapy. One ruling force, namely, the power of the imagination, has always been the potent therapeutic agent, whether in the word of command, in medical scripts, or in the methods of quackery.


Among the various subjects which belong to the province of medical folk-lore, one of the most interesting relates to amulets and protective charms, which represent an important stage in the gradual development of Medicine as a science. And especially noteworthy among medical amulets are those inscribed with mystic sentences, words, or characters, for by their examination and study we may acquire some definite knowledge of the mental condition of the people who made use of them. Satisfactorily to explain the derivation of the English word "amulet" has taxed the ingenuity of etymologists, and its origin is admittedly obscure.

According to some authorities, the Latin amuletum was derived from amoliri, to avert or repel; but the greater weight of evidence points to the Arabic verb hamala, meaning "to carry."

The definitions usually given embody both of these ideas; for amulets, in the ancient medical conception of the term, were any objects, ornamental or otherwise, worn on the bodies of men or animals, and believed to neutralize the ill effects of noxious drugs, incantations, witchcrafts, and all morbific agencies whatever. To the Oriental mind amulets symbolize the bond between a protective power and dependent mundane creatures; they are prophylactics against the forces of evil, and may be properly characterized as objects superstitiously worn, whose alleged magical potency is derived from the faith and imagination of the wearer.

The use of amulets has been attributed to religious sentimentality or religiosity. The latter word has been defined as "an excessive susceptibility to the religious sentiments, especially wonder, awe, and reverence, unaccompanied by any correspondent loyalty to divine law in daily life."

Any one desirous of moralizing on the subject may find a theme presenting aspects both sad and comical. When, however, one reflects that amulets, in some one of their protean forms, have been invested with supernatural preventive and healing powers by the people of all lands and epochs, and that they have been worn not only by kings and princes, but by philosophers, prelates, and physicians of eminence as well, it is evident that the subject deserves more than a passing consideration.

It would be vain to seek the origin of their employment, which lies hidden behind the misty veil of remote antiquity. The eastern nations of old, as is well known, were much addicted to the use of amulets; and from Chaldea, Egypt, and Persia the practice was transmitted westward, and was thus extended throughout the civilized world. Among the great number of popular amulets in ancient times, many were fashioned out of metals, ivory, stone, and wood, to represent deities, animals, birds, and fishes; others were precious stones or cylinders inscribed with hieroglyphics; necklaces of shell or coral, crescent- or hand-shaped charms, and grotesque images. Their virtues were derived either from the material, from the shape, or from the magic rites performed at the time of their preparation.

According to a popular belief, which prevailed throughout the East in the earlier centuries of the Christian era, all objects, whether inanimate stones and metals, or brutes and plants, possessed an indwelling spirit or soul, which was the cause of the efficiency of all amulets. They were therefore akin to fetishes, in the present acceptation of the term; for a fetish, as defined in the classification of medicines and therapeutic agents in the collections of the National Museum at Washington, D. C., is a material object supposed to be the abode of a spirit, or representing a spirit, which may be induced or compelled to help the possessor.

According to Juvenal ("Satires," Book III, v, 1), Grecian athletes wore protective charms in the arena, to counterbalance the magical devices of their opponents. It is probable that the ethics of modern athletic contests would not countenance such expedients. But so implicit was the confidence of the Roman citizen in his amulet, that a failure to avert sickness or evil of any sort was not attributed to inherent lack of power in the charm itself, but rather to some mistake in the method of its preparation. In the time of the Emperor Hadrian (A. D. 76-138), and of his successors, the Antonines, the resources of occult science, known only to the initiated few, were believed to be sufficiently powerful, through the agency of spells and charms, to control the actions of evil spirits. The early Christians readily adopted the pagan custom of wearing amulets as remedies against disease, and as bodily safeguards, in spite of the emphatic condemnation of the Church.

Origen (A. D. 186-253), a native of Alexandria, wrote that in his time it was customary for a person ailing from any cause to write certain characters on paper or metal, and fasten the amulet, thus improvised, upon the part of the body affected. Passages from the books of the Gospel (literally "good spell") were especial favorites as such preservatives; they were usually inscribed on parchment, and were even placed upon horses. Amulets were also employed to propitiate the goddess Fortune, and to thwart her evil designs. So insistent was the belief in the virtues of these objects, and to such a pitch of credulity did the popular mind attain, that special charms in great variety were devised against particular diseases, as well as against misfortunes and evil of whatever kind.


Chapter I
    Medical Amulets
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
    The Power Of Words
Chapter V
    The Curative Influence Of The Imagination
Chapter VI
    The Royal Touch
Chapter VII
    The Blue-Glass Mania
Chapter VIII
    The Temples Of Esculapius
Chapter IX
    Styptic Charms
Chapter X
    Healing-Spells In Ancient Times
Chapter XI
    Medicinal Runic Inscriptions
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
    Animal Magnetism
Chapter XIV
    Ancient Medical Prescriptions
Chapter XV
    Remedial Virtues Ascribed To Relics
Chapter XVI
    The Healing Influence Of Music
Chapter XVII
    The Healing Influence Of Music (Continued)
Chapter XVIII
    Quacks And Quackery
Chapter XIX
    Quacks And Quackery (Continued)
    Copy Of Certificate
    Some Noted Irregular Practitioners
        Mr. Squibb's Letter To Mr. Boreman
        Van Helmont

Softcover, 8¼" x 10¾", 150+ pages
Perfect-Bound - Large Print Edition

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