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Hack Tuke, Daniel – Healing - Inducing bowel evacuation as a consequence of 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.,


Van Swieten says (xl, p. 414), " I have seen a man who had taken a sufficiently nauseating draught, not only shudder and be nauseated, but also be frequently purged, when he merely saw the cup in which he had taken the medicine;" and adds, "Sic sola idea fastidiosi remedii renovatapurgantis pharmaci vices supplevit, ettotum corpus turbavit."

He compares this to our thinking of sadness or even feeling sad when we merely see the word sadness, although it has only an arbitrary connection with it.

The efficiency of an ideal purgative in exciting the peristaltic action of the intestines has been already incidentally referred to ; the following case well illustrates it, and is the more valuable from being the personal experience of a medical man.

Dr. S. all his life had the greatest horror of taking medicine, although fully admitting the beneficial and necessary effects of it, and constantly prescribing it judiciously for others; he consequently never took it. After a certain period of life, however, he began to experience a torpidity of the bowels and all the consequent uneasiness, rendering it apparent to himself that relief could only be obtained by the means he prescribed to his patients, namely, the taking of medicine. After due deliberation, accordingly, and conflict with himself, he decided upon taking some, and imagining that an ordinary dose of salts would answer all the purpose, and be less nauseous than most others, be carefully mixed one, and laid it by his bedside at night to be taken in the morning when he first woke.

The proximity of it, however, and the impression on his mind of the horrible dose which awaited his first waking, banished sleep from his eyes, and kept it continually before him. At length, however, he did sleep, and even then the vision did not leave him, but like the haunting phantom of the roasting pig to the slumbering glutton, it assumed various guises and positions to his mind, the difference alone being that his was more purely imaginary, as he had not swallowed the cause of the mental disturbance, which the other had, but suffered from the anticipation. At length, however, he awoke, and so far from requiring the prepared medicine found all occasion for it removed by an effort of nature, and from that time he declares that he has nothing to do when suffering from torpid bowels but to lay a dose by his bedside at night, and that it as effectually acts as if he had swallowed it

(Medical Essays. By Mr. J. H. Sealy. 1837, p. 64).

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps