Davy, Sir Humphry - Cures paralysis using a 'talisman'
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
As described in 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.,
CHAPTER XVI. INFLUENCE OF MENTAL STATES UPON DISORDERS OF SENSATION, MOTION, AND THE ORGANIC FUNCTIONS.
SECTION II.— Influence of Mental States upon Disorders involving Excessive or Defective Action of the Voluntary Muscles.
Sir Humphrey Davy's well-known case of cure of paralysis was due to aroused hope and expectation. He placed a thermometer under the tongue, simply to ascertain the temperature. As the patient at once experienced some relief, the treatment was continued for a fortnight, when it ceased to be required, for the patient was well. This case is of interest from the application not having been made to the part affected ; local excitation was not an element in the treatment ; and the Attention was directed rather from than to the paralyzed limb. Dr. Paris relates the circumstance in the following words :
" Early in life he was assisting Dr. Beddoes in his experiments on the inhalation of nitrous oxide. Dr. Beddoes having inferred that the oxide must be a specific for palsy, a patient was selected for trial, and placed under the care of Davy. Previously to administering the gas, Davy inserted a small thermometer under the tongue of the patient, to ascertain the temperature. The paralytic man, wholly ignorant of the process to which he was to submit, but deeply impressed by Dr. Beddoes with the certainty of its success, no sooner felt the thermometer between his teeth than he concluded the talisman was in operation, and, in a burst of enthusiasm, declared that he already experienced the effects of its benign influence throughout his whole body. The opportunity was too tempting to be lost. Davy did nothing more, but desired his patient to return on the following day. The same ceremony was repeated; the same result followed ; and at the end of a fortnight he was dismissed cured, no remedy of any kind except the thermometer having ever been used" ("Life of Davy," p. 74).