Excerpts from

  "Practical Health"
by Leander Edmund Whipple

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Book Description

This is a practical manual that outlines the principles of obtaining health from within by harnessing the power of thought. This very hard to find book from the early part of the 20th Century was one of the first covering the topic of what we now call psycho-somatic illness, and shows how our thinking largely governs our health. The author of this book was a renowned authority at the time on mental science and applied psychology.

Leander Edmund Whipple was founder of The Metaphysical Magazine in the late 1800s. He founded a system of teaching metaphysics by correspondence, and from this formed The American School of Metaphysics in New York, as the result of teaching for thirty years. Mr. Whipple was the author of several books including "The Philosophy of Mental Healing", A Manual of Mental Science" "Healing Influence", "Mental Healing", and this one, "Practical Health."

Metaphysics is the science which investigates first causes of existence and knowledge. It seeks to explain the nature of being and the origin and structure of the world, uniting man's physical, mental, and spiritual character into its true nature of holism.

Through metaphysics, an applied psychology of religion has developed which has influenced the work of ministers and teachers in handling the emotional and physical problems of youth and maturity, and in dealing with the sick and dying. This facilitates a closer relationship between the work of the psychologist and that of the spiritual healer. In fact, the Doctor of Metaphysics, or Metaphysician, binds them into one, so that he is both psychological counselor and spiritual comforter and healer. The true Metaphysician is a combination of teacher, healer, and counselor, and espouses universal spirituality.























One of the most important topics of the hour is how to use the mind rightly for practical purposes in individual life. Interest in the subject has been rapidly growing for many years; and the literature of the day shows in many ways a strong undercurrent of inquiry as well as a development of knowledge along the lines that lead to practical results.


All of these lines of progress exhibit varieties of the same general appreciation of the importance of understanding the finer forces of nature and of our being, which are not manifest in sense-action; and of the more subtile operations of the mind that are often over-looked while hurrying to and fro in personal affairs.


The ideas advanced on the intricate processes of the higher faculties are not all of them sufficiently sound to assure a right judgment. There is however a certain degree of truth underlying all the reasonings, and a correct interpretation that all may understand is vitally important.


The prevailing thought of a community affects, in some measure, the minds of all the individual members; hence the especial importance that a new line of thinking should have a correct start. In no one line, perhaps, is this necessity more marked than in the application of thought to healing—a field of action in which the public is today greatly in need of every genuine influence toward healthful conditions, un-mixed with error and without any avoid­able delay.


Since the publication in 1893 of “The Philosophy of Mental Healing,” there has been a continuous de­mand for a book that should present the principles and ideas therein explained in a more practical form for every day use. This need was recognized from the first; but the earlier writings took the form of lessons for definite Instruction in the healing art, whereby the deep principles involved could be more thoroughly presented and demonstrated. The growth of this work has been steady and continuous since its beginning, and it is of the utmost importance; but it does not entirely meet the more general demand for a book to read and pass along to inquiring acquaintances, for there are many such who cannot settle down to a con­tinuous study of a new subject. The writing of the present work was undertaken accordingly for the pur­pose of meeting these requirements, to a reasonable extent. The desire today for practical knowledge in a concentrated form comes from all directions and is expressed by multitudes.


Every author knows the difficulties attendant upon concentrating the results of extensive thinking into the compass of practical expression. In the present case there are so many topics which must necessarily include all phases of both personal and individual life, that it is not easy to give a clear explanation of each without becoming too voluminous or leaving unconsidered some ideas of vital import. Also the same laws and principles are so interwoven with all the activities of life and health, that while writing under various heads, endeavoring meanwhile to do justice to each subject independently, repetition of expression in word and in thought is almost unavoidable. Experience shows, however, that the ideas contained in the philosophy dealt with are seldom too well understood and few if any of them can be advantageously dis­pensed with; and repeated statement, in varying phraseology, of a truth that is new in idea, sometimes causes its deeper impress upon the understanding, also aiding the memory.


The subject in its entirety cannot be exhaustively treated in one volume. Other books, some already written, will follow this one in due time. Meanwhile the teaching course which includes the studies and re­searches of the past twenty years and covers the pres­ent field of understanding, is open to all inquirers. The philosophy is practically unlimited and is entirely unrestricted in its applica­tion to human existence. So much of it as available space and the purpose with which this volume was begun would allow, has been included in these pages. The instructions given have been thor­oughly tested and proved and may be relied upon as correct.



New York, January, 1907.



Chapter 1.




The question as to whether any action of thought can have an important bearing upon bodily conditions, either in sickness or health, is receiving a great deal of attention in intelligent commu­ni­ties and converts to its affirmative theory are declaring themselves in large numbers almost daily. The unthinking masses do not as yet take up the question seriously, and numbers are ready to jeer at every advanced idea presented on this and kindred subjects. But singularly, and perhaps fortunately, numbers do not count as re­gards the estab­lishment of the truth of any principle, and the negative opinion of the masses, even when counted by millions, is invariably upset by the genuine discovery of the single inventor. Advancement in all ages has always come through the efforts and enlightenment of the few individual thinkers. This may not quite suit the “majority,” but it is a fact none can gainsay. It is a case where majority rule means ruin; and in any event it means stagnation, which always leads eventu­ally to an end of the existing conditions, and a loss of the truth which might be gained through active intelli­gence well exercised.


But, in the present day, few who think at all, fail to recognize the fact that with each person the character of his thought influences his life in certain ways. These ways, doubtless, vary with every individual case, but it probably will be readily admitted that the laws of action involved may be practically the same with all. If so, there may be some feasible ground for study that shall yield results in knowledge that must help us in daily life.


If the fact above mentioned be established then it is easy to consider that the thought-action indulged would in some way be likely to affect the body of the thinker. This suggestion has led to thousands of tests that have clearly proved the existence of a direct relation existing between the mind and the body of each person, and that the particular mode of thought-action evolved by any mind is reproduced in the physical action of the body with which that mind is associated. In other words, each one’s own thought reproduces its action in his own body. This once recognized as a principle of life-action, it follows as a logical necessity that the character of the thought-action will be found also in the bodily action, provided we know how to examine and can recognize it when seen.


This has been repeatedly proved. It is a fact that can be tested by any one who will exercise patience, study closely the varieties of action under observation and learn to trace action from cause to effect, through representative operations.


On its face, sickness is a disturbed or abnormal con­dition of the body. But back of this physical condition is always to be found a more or less definite state of mind, showing conditions that were established pre­vious to the appearance of the physical condition of sickness. The physical does not, as commonly sup­posed, come first and the mental proceed from it, but the reverse. The quite common error is the result of incomplete as well as imperfect observation of the phenomena involved. The exact character of each element is seldom recognized by the untrained mind and the connection is thereby overlooked. It exists, how­ever, and failure to properly understand the fact leads to many erroneous opinions.


First of all, the fact that there are involved in per­sonal life two phases of mental action, each distinct from the other and both in operation together, is almost unknown; yet without this fact of knowledge little can be rightly understood of the mind or its forces. These two phases of action or planes of personal life are the “conscious” and the “subconscious” mentality. The first constitutes man’s conscious and volitional action during waking moments and includes all those opera­tions which he knowingly performs with conscious intent or recognition. The second constitutes all the action in personal life here which results in bodily being, and whatever the mind has known but has passed and temporarily forgotten or left out of conscious use. The subconscious is of vastly greater moment in all details of life, but because of its nature it is unknown to the man during his waking hours, there­fore all its movements and activities are unrecognized. Here rest all memo­ries, which are records of action once consciously known, but later stored in the sub­conscious realm, to be brought forward again to the conscious plane, at will. In this way that which once was conscious action becomes subconscious—unrecognized, but still active—and is added to the storehouse of knowledge that exists within that subtle realm.


In such ways as these every action that is important enough to be stored up for the future, and especially that which is sufficiently acute to make a vivid impres­sion on the mind, passes into the subconsciousness and mingles with other phases of action estab­lished there. The nature of the thought will be exactly expressed in the action stored up in the subconscious realm. Any conscious coincidence arising in future life may serve to bring this stored-up action in a subconscious memory forward to the physical plane, where the character of its action will be reproduced in the reflecting action of the brain and the nerve-centers. Its first presentation to the conscious mind will probably be through the sense of feeling; in this event the nervous system will reproduce all the original thought, in nervous sensations that correspond more or less definitely to the thought indulged at the time of the original experience. On this plane of feeling the relation between the mind and the nervous system is most clear to understand and cause and effect can be easily traced.


Here sickness originates directly from abnormal states of mind. And even when it seems quite impos­sible that mind can have anything to do with the con­dition, the relation and connection will be found most exact, if traced with patience and discrimination along the lines indicated. Fear, in its many and varied rami­fications, is the most common form of “mental cause” of sickness. It is always negative and uncertain in its character, distressing in mental quality, and entirely abnormal in all its operations. Fear works contrary to all life-forces, tends toward weakness and ultimates in destruction or, at least, the thought of destruction. If it be acute the thought engendered under it is acute; then its repro­duction reflected in the nervous system will be acute, and all the accompanying sensations must show forth acute abnormal states; suffering is the com­mon result. The nature of fear is doubt, distrust, uncertainty and distress; therefore its sensations are distressing and necessarily disturbing in their action. Under these circumstances the results in physical func­tion and organ can only be distressing and the entire evidence becomes that of sickness.


The fact that the majority—of savants as well as of the common people—attribute sickness to some physical affair and fail to recognize any connection with the mind, does not militate against the argument, for the reasons before recited. The fact, which is now unde­niable, that hundreds of thousands of tests of this the­ory have been made during the past twenty years with success, many times when the savants of science have declared that hope no longer existed, proves that it is more than speculation; and the thousands that have received such benefit raise a strong voice in favor of the theory which proved a bulwark to them in time of dire distress. From the certain knowledge born of these repeated tests and the experience thus gained, the statement is unhesitatingly made that every known form of sickness, disease, distress or malady of either body or mind has its origin in the morbific action of the mind of man, men or nations; and that in every such instance where a wholesome mental change can be effected to the extent of establishing the opposite condition of thought-action, a full and permanent cure can be effected by mental means in natural ways that are free from harmful influence.


It is not difficult for any one who desires the information to obtain proof of the statement that dis­turbed thought-action is followed by a bodily condition that accurately reproduces the thought indulged. A careful watch of one’s own doings will give the evi­dence in most cases. One who worries protractedly soon develops a lassitude and weariness with more or less marked disinclination to physical exertion and a tendency to neglect ordinary duties. A physical heavi­ness, and slowness of movement are often apparent. Food does not digest as usual and assimilation soon shows imperfec­tions. Certain forms of headache may develop with these ten­dencies to inaction. If the worry is persistent and the tempera­ment at all inclined to be morbid a bilious attack is liable, and in extreme cases a bilious fever may develop, sometimes becoming typhoid.


There are many degrees of these expressions of dis­turbed action, and in each case they will correspond more or less exactly to the mental distress that started the worry. The mental act of worry—anxiety about results; uncertainty as to self-power for accomplish­ing what seems to be necessary; fear of loss, or overweight of responsibility—reacts upon and expresses itself in a certain part of the brain, which is the seat of the nerve-force that relates to the moral quality of the sense of responsibility. The action once established in nerve-tissue in this brain center at once reacts upon the liver, which is the organic seat of responsibility of the human body, and the even flow of executive ability has now become impaired in mind, brain and liver—mental, nervous and organic. The entire physical system may soon show this “loss of control,” for when the execu­tive head is without natural system and weak in con­trol, the entire body follows suit; this is true of any organiza­tion, personal or social, in business or in politics.


The current medical system attempts to account for all of these conditions by means of supposed physical causes. It makes the LIVER responsible for either an over plus or an insufficiency of bile; the BILE must answer for the existing condition with the stomach and intestinal tract; the STOMACH, in turn, is credited with the upsetting of the brain and nervous system, and the upset NERVES are condemned for destroying the mental equilibrium. Thus does materia medica persist in climbing the greased pole of materialism backward, inevitably landing where it started and recognizing little but the pole itself. But all of this is dealing with effects, for this entire line of disturbed conditions in the body came after the mind was upset by worry, and the worry began with the false conception of over-responsibility—an abnormal idea with no true founda­tion in fact. If there had been no morbid view of responsibility, no worry would have started on its madcap cavort­ing around the midnight pillow; with no worry the brain and nervous system would have remained calm and forceful; then the liver would have continued to execute its functional orders in confidence of its executive supremacy over organic action, and each organ and part would have attended to its own charge, the quiet attention to duty resulting in har­monious interaction of organs and functions through­out the entire human economy.


The wrong action of the mind is alone responsible for this series of discomforts—often, alas! vastly more, for in the almost total ignorance of these facts of human life, every conceivable ex­periment is practiced upon the suffering patient by the anxious physician (those of one age invariably denouncing both the the­ories and the practice of the preceding ones) in the vain hope of curing the symptoms by physical means alone, and without even mistrusting the actual cause. Such efforts must continue to fail, as regards the estab­lishing of an accurate and reliable diagnosis or a per­manent and efficient pathology. Some will, of course, recover of themselves, regardless of the medicines taken, and chiefly because the mental state has changed, thus giving relief. Others will recover in spite of the drugs administered, and by virtue of a robust consti­tution that overthrows all physical disturbances as soon as the mind adjusts its thinking to more moderate action. Yet others whose mental worry does not cease, the causes seeming to be insurmountable difficulties, will continue to dwindle away in suffering and torture and finally give up the ghost ahead of the natural time, chiefly because so much burden of poison has been added to the already overworked organic structure that it can stand no more.


These are usually called the works of “Providence,” whose mighty power, in these particular cases, renders the otherwise “great” power of drugs inoperative, and for Divine reasons. No fault of the poisonous effect of the drugs, nor yet of the fallacious reasonings evolved from the materialistic theory, which establishes effects as supposed causes, can be attached to the fail­ure; certainly not! One success—proof positive of the scientific status of the entire system. Two failures––Divine intervention; this also proves the “accuracy” of the system that has failed. Verily! A fine combina­tion. No grease needed here. The self-appointed savant doesn’t even need to climb; he slides merely up and sits on the top of the pole crying, “Long live Materia Medica! But how many of us are satisfied with the dose of “Divine intervention”?


This has been going on for thousands of years and yet medical art is today no nearer to scientific grounds than when it began. Claims that drug medication is a science are groundless, and we shall continue to suffer while we believe and trust to them. More sick people recover without drugs than with them, and it is safe to venture the opinion that the majority of those who die before their natural time, as do so many of the sick who have the very best available medical attendance, die because of the drugs taken rather than from the virulence of the disease itself.


These statements are honestly believed to be true. They are given here, not for aggressive purposes, but in an appeal to sound thinking rather than the usual unthinking state of blind belief in the materialistic man of science and his theory of belief only, in whose wake goes the angel of death and beside whose door always sits the undertaker waiting for the job that he knows full well will soon be his.


We claim here that if the theory of “mental causation through thought-action” be examined with suffi­cient care it will be found to contain the “Balm of Gilead” in this dilemma, for every disease has a mental cause due to the action of the afflicted one himself or of others who dominate his mentality; to the mind of the community, the nation or the race; and continued thought finally becomes a settled conviction, which transfers from one to another, passing from age to age, and from race to race, thus establishing condi­tions that seem so permanent as to be considered fix­tures in the universe.


The writer offers in evidence twenty years of intel­ligent recogni­tion and belief in medical science, with constant failure and repeated mistakes by those to whom he trusted, with the conse­quent suffering, dan­ger and personal fear, followed by nearly as long a period of study and practice of the thought theory, enjoying perfect health meanwhile, and with unquali­fied success in all ways. During this time thousands of cures of otherwise hopeless cases have appeared to verify the truth of the theory. Success is so nearly universal, when favorable conditions can be secured, that it seems as though the best minds of the world should be engaged in serious investigation of the sub­ject. No greater boon can come to mankind than a genuine healing art that can be relied upon for scientific results, and be it physical, mental, moral, or spiritual, the writer would hail its advent with the utmost enthusiasm.


This, it is believed, is to be the portion of “Mental Healing” when it shall receive adequate recognition and be thoroughly examined on its own scientific ground. Its system admits of as accurate experiment and test as does that of any materialistic method, pro­vided the test be made under the natural laws of action involved in the system; we might even say more so, because, the faculties dealt with are of a higher order and all operations are capable of more exact dealing.


The one mental cause cited, i. e., “Worry,” is only an illustration; all mental states affect the bodily organ­ism because every thought expresses itself in the nervous system, which is the mind’s instrument for action. A discordant thought can only produce nervous disorder and every discordant thought repro­duces itself in some degree of nervous distress. Excit­ing thoughts will excite the nerve centers and over-stimulate the nervous system; if there is fear asso­ciated with the excitement, an excited agitation will be set up in the nerve-action, which will readily develop fever, and any of its attendant phases may become established, according to the impelling influence of the original thought-action. Every form of fever is a reproduction of some phase of excited thought-action in the human mind. Without a mind the condition is impossible. It never appears in a dead body, neither does it continue for an instant after death occurs. Nor does it appear in the body of the idiot.


These facts give food for reflection; they should no longer be ignored. The reasoning faculties have in the past been too much exercised under the influence of the external senses, and erroneous conclusions have been the result. Through right thinking there are remedies at hand for all the errors of superficial rea­soning. Much of the causation of disease rests in the subconscious department of the mind and this must be well considered in evolving any theory. Health for the body is at hand, but it must come through knowl­edge of the mind which builds and controls it, else the body will be defective and correspondingly weak. The mind is dual in its action, though a unit in element; and every transaction has both its con­scious and its subconscious phases of action. Both planes of action of the mind must be considered in order that the term “Mental Cause” may be comprehended.

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