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Observations placeholder

Hack Tuke, Daniel – Healing - Gout cured by powerful emotions of fear



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.,

SECTION III. — Influence of Mental States upon Disorders involving- the Involuntary Muscles and the Organic Functions.

Gout. — " You may see a person with gout," says Abernethy in his Lectures, " who is almost unable to move with pain : but produce a shock on his nervous system by telling him that the house is on fire, and he will scamper about like a lamplighter. As Smollett tells us, in one of his novels, of Captain Lismahago, who went into a house and cried out to an old gentleman with the gout, ' Mad dog ! mad dog !' when he jumped up and ran out of the house even into a pond of water opposite." In such examples it is immaterial whether the terror arise from a real or an imaginary cause ; the remarkable, though familiar fact is, that a strong mental image or impression infuses new power into the nervous and muscular system. The very fear which in a healthy person may produce excessive muscular contraction — a convulsion — will serve to nerve the limb of the crippled podagric just sufficiently to enable him to escape from danger. But were this all, we could not adduce this occurrence as an illustration of the cure of the gout ; an obstacle to locomotion being temporarily overcome, but the disease remaining. In the second case, however,, adduced in the following illustrations, an actual cure would appear to have been effected.

"A captain of a British ship of war," says Dr. Rush, "who had been confined for several weeks to his cabin by a severe fit of the gout in his feet, was suddenly cured by hearing the cry of 'Fire !' on board his ship. This fact was communicated to me by a gentleman who was a witness of it. Many similar cases are upon record in books of medicine. I shall in another place insert an account of one in which the cure effected by a fright eradicated the disease from the system so completely as ever afterwards to prevent its return."

Here is the case, communicated by Judge Rush, the Doctor's brother :

"Peter Fether, the person cured, is now alive, a householder in Reading, seventy-three years of age, a native of Germany, and a very hearty man. The first fit of the gout he ever had was about the year 1773 ; and from that time till 1785 he had a regular attack in the spring of every year. His feet, hands, and elbows were much swollen and inflamed ; the fits lasted long and were excruciating. In particular, the last fit in 1785 was so severe as to induce an apprehension that it would inevitably carry him off, when he was suddenly relieved by the following accident. As he lay in a small back room adjoining the yard, it happened that one of his sons, in turning a wagon and horses, drove the tongue of the wagon with such force against the window, near which the old man lay stretched on a bed, as to beat in the sash of the window and to scatter the pieces of broken glass all about him. To such a degree was he alarmed by the noise and violence, that he instantly leaped out of bed, forgot that he had ever used crutches, and eagerly inquired what was the matter. His wife, hearing the uproar, ran into the room, where, to her astonishment, she found her husband on his feet, bawling against the author of the mischief with the most passionate vehemence.

From that moment he has been entirely exempt from the gout, has never had the slightest touch of it, and now enjoys perfect health, has a good appetite, and says he was never heartier in his life

To you, who have been long accustomed to explore diseases, I leave the task of developing the principles on which this mysterious restoration from the lowest decrepitude and bodily wretchedness to a state of perfect health, has been accomplished. I well know that toothaches, headaches, hiccoughs, &c, are often removed by the sudden impression of Fear, and that they return again. But to see a debilitated gouty frame instantly restored to vigor ; to see the whole system in a moment, as it were, undergo a perfect and entire change, and the most inveterate and incurable disease radically expelled, is surely a different thing, and must be acknowledged a very singular and marvellous event. If an old man languishing under disease and infirmity, had died of mere fright, nobody would have been surprised at it ; but that he should be absolutely cured, and his constitution renovated by it, is a most extraordinary fact, which, while I am compelled to believe by unexceptionable evidence, I am totally at a loss to account for" (Medical Inquiries and Observations. By Benjamin Bush, M D., Professor of the Institutes and Practice of Medicine, and of Clinical Practice, in the University of Pennsylvania. 4 vols, in two. 4th Edit. Philadelphia, 1815., II, p. 180).

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps



Overwhelming fear and terror