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Observations placeholder

Daniel Hack Tuke – The Power of the Will over disease in Andrew Crosse



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,


SECTION II. — Importance of Arousing the Patient's Will.

An event in the life of Andrew Crosse, the electrician, illustrates in a striking manner, the power of the Will over threatened disease, the symptoms in his case being those of hydrophobia. It would seem to illustrate the force of this influence, not only directly over the incipient irregular action of certain motor nerves and muscles, by forcing them into healthy exercise, but over the automatic action of the cerebrum itself, by resolutely arresting the train of ideas which have been excited. If "an act of the Will frequently excites such changes in the brain as to arrest an incipient paroxysm of angina pectoris or epilepsy" (Lay cock), there seems no reason why it should not exert the same influence over the symptoms present in this case.

Mr. Crosse was severely bitten by a cat, which died the same day hydrophobic. He appears to have thought little of the circumstance, and was certainly not nervous or imaginative in regard to it. Three months, however, after he had received the wound, he felt one morning great pain in his arm, accompanied by extreme thirst. He called for a glass of water. The sequel will be best told in his own words :

"At the instant that I was about to raise the tumbler to my lips, a strong spasm shot across my throat; immediately the terrible conviction came to my mind that I was about to fall a victim to hydrophobia, the consequence of the bite that I had received from the cat.

The agony of mind I endured for one hour is indescribable; the contemplation of such a horrible death — death from hydrophobia — was almost insupportable; the torments of hell itself could not have surpassed what I suffered. The pain, which had first commenced in my hand, passed up to the elbow, and from thence to the shoulder, threatening to extend. I felt all human aid was useless, and I believed that I must die. At length I began to reflect upon my condition. I said to myself, either I shall die or I shall not ; if I do, it will only be a similar fate which many have suffered, and many more must suffer, and I must bear it like a man ; if, on the other hand, there is any hope of my life, my only chance is in summoning my utmost resolution, defying the attack, and exerting every effort of my mind. Accordingly, feeling that physical as well as mental exertion was necessary, I took my gun, shouldered it, and went out for the purpose of shooting, my arm aching the while intolerably.

I met with no sport, but I walked the whole afternoon, exerting, at every step I went, a strong mental effort against the disease. When I returned to the house I was decidedly better; I was able to eat some dinner, and drank water as usual. The next morning the aching pain had gone down to my elbow, the following it went down to the wrist, and the third day left me altogether. I mentioned the circumstance to Dr. Kinglake, and he said he certainly considered that I had had an attack of hydrophobia, which would possibly have proved fatal had I not struggled against it by a strong effort of mind" (" Memoirs of Andrew Crosse," p. 125).

The source of the experience

Crosse, Andrew

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps