Sue Young Histories

Mary Baker Eddy 1821 - 1910

December 03, 2007

mary baker eddyMary Baker Eddy 1821 - 1910 was married to two homeopaths, and she made an extensive study of homeopathy, hypnosis and magnetism under Phineas Quimby before she underwent a religious transformation and founded the Church of Christ Scientist, which today is a thriving World wide organisation.

Her basic view was that the body is imaginary, therefore so are diseases and ultimately death itself. Mark Twain criticised her soundly. However, he also described her as ”the most interesting woman that ever lived, and the most extraordinary.”

Mary Baker Eddy was also a patient of homeopath A M Cushing,

Eddy was well educated at home, firstly by her brother Albert, and then by Enoch Corser, who suffered from a ‘paralysis’ from which he recovered. This must have been a profound experience for the young Eddy.

Chronically ill from childhood, Eddy sought relief in the various medical systems of her day, including water-cure, homeopathy and dietary regimens. Her experiments with homeopathy convinced her that there is an undeniable relationship between mind and body.

She also studied the Bible constantly, believing it held the answers she was seeking about health, God, and her own purpose for living. At the mid-point of her life, she sustained serious internal injuries from a fall.

Given little hope of recovery by the attending physician, she turned again to her Bible and read an account of one of Jesus’ healings. She glimpsed a truth in those moments that not only gave her the strength to get up from her bed, but also launched her on a career of healing, writing, and teaching that extended into her ninetieth year… continue reading:

In 1843, Eddy married homeopath George Washington Glover. They had a son also called George Washington Glover. When Glover Snr died, in 1853 (or 1844), Eddy became dependant on her family and her son was removed from her, causing her great distress.

Eddy was an abolitionist and did attempt to open a kindergarten at this time, but her invalidism stopped her.

Eddy remarried to homeopath Daniel Patterson, a marriage which ultimately ended in divorce because Patterson was not willing to allow Eddy to reunite with her son.

In 1862, at her sister Abigal’s insistence, Eddy:

goes to Vail’s Hydropathic Institute NH, for about three months. Struggling with chronic illness compounded by personal loss, Mary Patterson was preoccupied with questions of health. Finding that conventional 19th-century medical treatments produced harmful side effects, Mary sought relief in various alternative treatments of the day, including the Graham diet and hydropathy (water cure).

During Patterson’s long absences, she studied homeopathy in depth and became intrigued by its emphasis on diluting drugs to the point where they all but disappear from the remedy. She experimented with unmedicated pellets… and concluded that a patient’s belief played a powerful role in the healing process.

While investigating new treatments, she continued to seek comfort and insights from the Bible, still drawn by the healing record contained in its pages.

In October 1862 she became a patient of Phineas Quimby, a magnetic healer from Maine. She benefited temporarily by his treatment and his beliefs influenced her later thinking and writing although to what extent has been frequently disputed.

Originally, Eddy gave Quimby much credit for his hypnotic treatments of her nervous and physical conditions and initially thought his brand of mesmerism entirely benign.

From Quimby, Eddy was first exposed to the effects of unseen mental influences and beliefs on sick patients. While Quimby had his own notions on the nature of these unseen forces, which Eddy accepted early on, she would later draw decidedly different opinions on the nature of thought on the body and reject any form of hypnotism.

After being helped by Quimby, Eddy wrote the following defense of him in the Portland (Maine) Evening Courier in the fall of 1862:

”… now I can see dimly at first, and only as trees walking, the great principle which underlies Dr. Quimby’s faith and works; and just in proportion to my light perception of truth is my recovery.

“This truth which he opposes to the error of giving intelligence to matter and placing pain where it never placed itself, if received understandingly, changes the currents of the system to their normal action; and the mechanism of the body goes on undisturbed.

“That this is a science capable of demonstration becomes clear to the minds of those patients who reason upon the process of their cure.”

On the day following the publication of the above article her views were criticized by a rival newspaper, the Portland Advertiser. Eddy wrote a second article, replying to the criticism. In it appeared the following paragraph, referring to Quimby and his doctrine:

“P. P. Quimby stands upon the plane of wisdom with his truth. Christ healed the sick, but not by jugglery or with drugs. P. P. Quimby rolls away the stone from the sepulchre of error, and health is the resurrection.” continue reading:

At the present time, there is great dispute between Quimby’s descendants and the proponents of Christian Science over who influenced who and why Eddy eventually put all her faith in God and her new Church. This debate will run for centuries, judging by the many different versions of this available! I will not attempt to untangle it here!

Eddy was a close friend of Clemence Lozier, Charlotte Denman Lozier, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gerrit Smith, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, Julia Ward Howe, Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison, Hamilton Wilcox, Emily Howard Jennings Stowe, Susan B Anthony, Parker Pillsbury, Clara Barton, Phoebe Ann (Coffin) Hanaford, Moncure Daniel Conway, Elizabeth Peabody and Abraham Lincoln.

Following a serious accident in 1866, she experienced a profound healing through prayer as she read an account of one of Jesus’ healings in the New Testament. This experience motivated her to study the Bible in depth to understand how she had been healed and whether spiritual healing could be replicated and practiced consistently.

Gradually, she began healing many others through a method of spiritual treatment she would define as ”Christian Science.” Convinced that what she had discovered could be practiced by anyone, she began teaching her system of healing to men and women, who in turn established successful healing practices of their own.

In 1877 Eddy married again, to Asa Gilbert Eddy, but he unfortunately died in 1882.

In 1881, she established The Massachusetts Metaphysical College to teach others her system of healing… Eddy ordained the Bible and “Science and Health” as its pastor. This opened the way for both women and men to conduct church services.

Eddy wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Manual of The Mother Church,_ Christian Science versus Pantheism_, _Christian Healing and her autobiography Retrospection and Introspection.__ Eddy founded _The Christian Science Journal, _The Christian Science Publishing Society and two weekly magazine_s The Christian Science Sentinel__ _and Herald of Christian Science.__ In 1908 at age 86 she launched the (six time Pulitzer Prize winning daily newspaper) The Christian Science Monitor: _

The Christian Science Monitor has been a best seller for over 90 years. It has been translated into 17 languages (including English Braille), and was selected by the Women’s National Book Association as one of “75 books by women whose words have changed the world.”

In just the last five years of the twentieth century, it sold over one million copies. In 1995, Eddy was recognized for her many achievements and inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

In 2002, The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity will open to researchers, scholars, and the public, allowing access to hundreds of thousands of documents and artifacts. It will house one of the largest multi-disciplinary collections by and about an American woman.


Any views or advice in this site should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, especially if you know you have a specific health complaint