Warren Felt Evans: 19th-Century Mystic, Wounded Healer, and Seminal Theorist-Practitioner of Mind Cure

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Abstract

The Methodist-Episcopalian minister-turned-physician and philosopher of healing Warren Felt Evans (1817–1889) was one of the earliest practitioners of mental healing, also known as “mind cure.” Originating in New England in the second half of the 19th century, mind cure spread through the country in the 1880s. Drawing from Evans’s unpublished journals, I recount his struggles with chronic ill health and his turn to the Quietist mystics and Swedenborg, and then to the mesmerist-turned-mental-healer P. P. Quimby to procure both healing for his ills and philosophical sanctification for his soul. The transformational route Evans traveled reflects the mythico-religious journey of the wounded healer who suffers through a creative illness on the way to becoming a healer himself. The article places Evans and the mind cure movement within late-19th-century Boston’s medical and cultural milieu. Evans’s approach to psychological healing is explored by focusing on his mind-body healing philosophy and mental therapeutics as described in his first 2 mind cure books The Mental Cure (1869) and Mental Medicine (1872).

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