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Observations placeholder

Hack Tuke, Daniel – Healing - Warts cured by suggestion only



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.

Warts. — The influence of the Imagination upon warts, trivial as it seems, is really a curious page in the history of this power as a curative agent. They are so apparent that there cannot be much room for mistake as to whether they have or have not disappeared, and in some instances, within my own knowledge, their disappearance was in such close connection with the psychical treatment adopted, that I could hardly suppose the cure was only post hoc. In one case, a relative of mine had a troublesome wart on the hand, for which I made use of the usual local remedies, but without effect.

After they were discontinued, it remained in statu quo for some time, when a gentleman "charmed" it away in a few days. A surgeon informs me that some years ago his daughter had about a dozen warts on her hands. They had been there about eighteen months, and her father had applied caustic and other remedies without success. One day a gentleman called, and in shaking hands with Miss C — , remarked upon her disfigured hand. He asked her how many she had ; she replied she did not know, but thought about a dozen.

"Count them, will you?" said the caller, and taking out a piece of paper he solemnly took down her counting, remarking, "You will not be troubled with your warts after next Sunday." Now, it is a fact that by the day named, the warts had disappeared and did not return.

"Old women," says Brand (op. cit.), " were always famous for curing warts ; they were so in Lucian's time;" and he refers to the time-honored cure for warts, that of stealing a piece of beef from a butcher's shop, rubbing your warts with it, then throwing it away or burying it ; then as the beef rots, the warts decay. I daresay that the excitement of the theft was one element in the cure.

As Dr. Carpenter says, therefore, "the charming away of warts by spells of the most vulgar kind" belong to those "cases which are real facts, however they may be explained" (Human Physiology. By Dr. Carpenter. 4th Edit. 1853, p. 984).

Lord Bacon, in his " Natural History," does not fail to refer to the curing of warts by charms, and adduces his own experience, but does not see through the charm the effects of the Imagination. "I had from my childhood," he says, "a wart upon one of my fingers ; afterwards, when I was about sixteen years old, being then at Paris, there grew upon both my hands a number of warts, at the least an hundred, in a month's space. The English Ambassador's lady, who was a woman far from superstition, told me one day she would help me away with my warts ; whereupon she got a piece of lard with the skin on, and rubbed the warts all over with the fat side ; and amongst the rest, that wart which I had from my childhood ; then she nailed the piece of lard, with the fat towards the sun, upon a post of her chamber window, which was to the south. The success was that within five weeks' space all the warts went quite away, and that wart which I had so long endured for company. But at the rest I did little marvel, because they came in a short time, and might go away in a short time again ; but the going away of that which had stayed so long doth yet stick with me " (Lord Bacon's Works. 10 vols. 1826, II, p. 73).

Bacon attributes this result, not to the expectant action of the mind upon the warts, but to the sympathy supposed to exist between the lard and the warts after they had once been in contact. The lard having touched the warts, the melting or wasting away of the former in the sun, caused the disappearance of the latter. The explosion of this vulgar error is one of the triumphs of the inductive process of investigation which Bacon himself initiated.

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps