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Annetta and Julius Dresser

Early practitioners of the Quimby System of Mental Treatment of Diseases

Julius and Annetta Dresser were early practitioners of the healing methods taught and practiced by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. Julius A. Dresser was born February 12, 1838, in Portland, Maine. He had intended entering the ministry in the Calvinistic Baptist church, and was studying in Waterville College, Maine, when his health failed. Hearing of P. P. Quimby as a healer, and thinking he had not long to live, he went to him and in a short time was healed. This was in 1860. 1862 was the year that Mary Patterson (Mary Baker Eddy), who later founded the Christian Science church, first visited Dr. Quimby for healing.

At Dr. Quimby's office Julius met Annetta Seabury, who also came seeking health, and in 1863 the two were married. Julius Dresser became an enthusiastic advocate of Quimby's system and devoted himself to explaining it to others. He had become editor of a Portland newspaper in 1866, but moved to Webster, Massachusetts, where he became editor and publisher of the Webster Times. This same year Annetta gave birth to their first son, Horatio, who went on to become a prolific author of New Thought books.

1866 was also the year that Dr. Quimby died, and shortly afterwards Mrs. Patterson fell one day on the ice and suffered a serious injury. She felt lost without Quimby's sustaining healing power and wrote to Julius Dresser urging that he take up the work and try to heal her. He refused to take up the responsibility, however, and a little later moved West and lived there several years.

Returning to Massachusetts, he and his wife took up the practice of mental healing in Boston in 1882. The Dressers had no public meetings at first, but only personal contact with individuals seeking to be healed. They operated strictly on the basis of the Quimby principles. When in 1883 they began teaching classes, it was the Quimby system they taught, encouraged to do so by seeing pupils of Mrs. Eddy and some she had rejected practicing and doing what the Dressers considered to be work inferior to that of Quimby. They made use of the Quimby manuscripts in their teaching. Thus the teachings of Quimby and Mary Baker Eddy were set in contrast and the so-called Quimby controversy began.

In 1884 the Dressers issued a circular setting forth their theories and methods, which closely followed Dr. Quimby's ideas and method. Answering various questions concerning their method they assert that it is not that of any of the "isms" of the day, but rather "a purely mental treatment, and its results are a triumph of mind over the ills of suffering humanity, and of the real truth of a sick person's case over the opinions that assume to know."

They make no use of medicines or other material means. It is, they assert, "natural and right to be well, and the simple truth understood and applied destroys the error of disease." Theit examinations are by mental perceptions (intuition) which reveal the nature of the disease. In this and the method of cure they are following out specifically "the principles of truth discovered and reduced to a science by Mr. P. P. Quimby of Maine. They had learned it from him personally, and knew no other name for it than "The Quimby System of Mental Treatment of Diseases." The system might properly be called a Spiritual Science, and must be judged only by its fruits.

They were successful in their healing practice. People who were healed wanted to know by what means the healing was wrought. Instead of writing it down and letting patients read it as Dr. Quimby had done, the Dressers held classes, giving instruction through lectures. Generally there was a series of twelve for each class. It began with the analysis of experiences of mental influences, showing how powerful mind is in its effects upon man's life, its fears, anxieties, emotional excitement, anticipations, hopes -- in general, the power of thought. Next came a discussion of the divine immanence of God in the world and in man -- the Omnipresent Wisdom , at least some small portion of which is found in every man, of however lowly a nature. Following this was a lecture on the nature of matter, in which not only were Quimby's words quoted at length and explained, but (as in the writings of Warren Felt Evans, from whom they no doubt drew) additional evidence from the great idealistic philosophies was adduced in support of Dr. Quimby's theories. Thus was provided a basis for the powerful influence of mind on mind as well as of mind on body, which they considered in great detail, drawing from their own experiences with the ill as well as the experiences of others. Much emphasis was placed on the "mental atmosphere" and the subtler phases of the mental life discovered by the healer, especially of the fact that "we are members one of another," in a very intimate sense.

The subconscious aftereffects of man's dynamic opinions were explained as leading logically to their statement of the general mental theory of disease, for which they found ample support in Dr. Quimby's manuscripts. Also there was constant reference to the teachings of the New Testament concerning disease. Man's spiritual nature was discussed at length, and here the Dressers followed Quimby in distinguishing between the historic Jesus and the Christ, "the universal ideal or consciousness," a distinction which seemed to them, as it had to Dr. Quimby and has to most New Thought leaders since, to be very important because it "made clear the possibilities open before everyone who is faithful to the guidance of the omnipresent wisdom," and served to encourage the beginner to undertake the work of spiritual healing. They were careful to insist that this in no way was to be construed as a denial of the divinity of Christ. Rather, "to the love of Christ as the elder brother was added the practical conception of the Christ ideal as the highest standard of service among the sick," something in the nature of a new revelation to many minds of the day.

In most respects it is clear that the Dressers follow closely the thought and practice of Quimby, though one gets the impression of a kind of religious warmth in them that goes beyond anything in Quimby's teachings. God is omnipresent wisdom, immanent in all the universe and man. Every man possesses in some degree God within; indeed, man has no good quality or power that is wholly his own, rather all that he possesses is God within. All the qualities of love, mercy, justice, truth that reside in man , though they are but a spark of the infinite love, or mercy, or justice, or wisdom, "yet they must be the same kind else they would not be true love, or mercy, or justice, or wisdom."

Annetta Dresser published a book in 1895 entitled The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby giving a historical sketch of the life and works of P. P. Quimby and outling the healing methods that he taught. The book is no longer in print but may be read online:

The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby by Annetta Dresser

The following is available in eBook form for immediate download:

The True History of Mental Science by Julius A. Dresser

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