Journal of Dr GFW
Friday, 13 August, 1830
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I have been much diverted today by an occurrence showing the effect of the imagination over the system. I was able to see B. Matthew's wife at which place a neighbor woman had come to consult me in reference to a black spot on her left cheek. As she said it had been coming for three years, and she was afraid it was a cancer and expected it would have to be removed by the knife. An operation she could not bear the thoughts of. As I went to examine it, she seemed timorous and said several times, No, don't you cut it. I just want you to tell me what it is. i am afraid of you doctors. There is no trusting you. I am really 'a notion to not let you see it.
Well, madam, it is a matter of indifference to me whether you have me examine it or not, but I am now ready to leave and you must decide one way or the other.
Well, if you will promise that you will not cut it out, you may examine it. I shall make no promises.
What sort of a man are you? Well, you may see what you think of it. Now don't, for God's sake, cut it.
Is it sore?
I kept asking questions in this way, having a keen small pen knife in my hand, and while talking to her removed the tumor and threw it into her lap saying, There, madam, is your cancer.
She jumped up and screamed, Lord God, what have you done? How it bleeds! And she became so agitated as to be unable to stand still. When I never wounded the skin at all and not one drop of blood issued from the place. She, however, because composed and was much rejoiced that it was removed. Such is the effect of imagination. She had no doubt believed that she would have to undergo the most excruciating suffering when that should be removed and had painted in her imagination the scene. She could not forbear the action merely from the association of ideas.