The evolution of the positive-thinking movement.
In present-day society, the philosophy of positive thinking is ubiquitous. But where did this belief system come from? In extensive detail, Tarcher/Penguin vice president and editor in chief Horowitz (Occult America: White House Séances, Ouija Circles, Masons and the Secret, Mystic History of Our Nation, 2010) examines the developmental process of positive thinking from the late 1700s to today. When New England clockmaker Phineas Quimby took a "frenetic carriage ride" in 1833 across the Maine countryside, he suddenly realized that the ensuing exhilaration relieved his tuberculosis symptoms. Blending this new, positive thought process with the practice of mesmerism or hypnosis, Quimby began treating the sick through mental methods. Based on his work, a student founded the practice of Christian Science and was followed by others who delved into metaphysical studies. During the ensuing decades, other movements began to develop, and influential people, including Ronald Reagan, promoted the philosophy of mindful thinking and believed in "America's divine purpose and of a mysterious plan behind the nation's founding." Horowitz also examines the modern tactics outlined in The Secret and the mind-body connection found in the discipline of quantum mechanics. Though more a historical analysis than a definitive text on whether the practice actually works, the author does claim, "[t]he wish to authentically search for the self and its true aims is, perhaps, the greatest form of mental affirmation to which a person can aspire, and the one that brings the most help." Based on the all-encompassing information Horowitz provides, as well as his extensive notes that add further depth to the conversation, any scholar interested in this field should have no trouble making his or her own decision on the subject.
A historically rich analysis of an idea that is older than many may think.