I Want to Believe: A Short Psychobiography of Mary Baker Eddy

By Dean, Taylor Wilson | The Journal of Psychohistory, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

I Want to Believe: A Short Psychobiography of Mary Baker Eddy


Dean, Taylor Wilson, The Journal of Psychohistory


In season one, episode one of the hit television series, The X-Files, we meet F.B.I Special Agent, Fox Mulder. He investigates paranormal phenomena and stretches the limits of science and belief. When the viewer first meets him in his basement office of the F.B.I.'s headquarters in Washington, D.C., there is a poster of a flying saucer hanging on the wall with the inscription, "I Want to Believe." This simple declarative sentence would become the hallmark of the show, and for those who watched it every Sunday night. Chris Carter, the creator of the series, had constructed a world where there are monsters hiding in the dark and government conspiracies concealing the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms.

In many ways the life and work of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the First Christian Church Scientist, mirrors the reactions of those to The XFiles. Mrs. Eddy's principal work, Science and Health: With Key to the Scriptures, outlines a very different reality than the one in which most people believe. She claims that pain, illness, and all manner of malady and ailment are illusions. Once individuals allow their minds to be fully connected with God, and disconnected from the body, they might become free of all sickness and disease; faith can cure all ills.

Many people want to believe in the elimination of disease for the same reason that Fox Mulder wanted so badly to prove that alien life existed: the loss of a loved one. Fox Mulder's sister was allegedly abducted by aliens when he was a young boy, and no one had believed him. He was afraid of encroaching insanity, but most importantly he was afraid of being alone-the loss of his sister constantly weighing upon his thoughts and his feelings. Mrs. Eddy's decree that faith can cure all ills, is something many desire and hope to be true with every fiber of their being. Would it not be so wonderful if that disease that took our relatives from us had a cure? What if that cure was more simple, accessible, and easier than turning on our television set?

Yet no matter how much one wants to believe in extra-terrestrials or the faith healing that Christian Science offers, one must come to terms with the fact that our existence has an expiration date. This article does not intend to prove or disprove the tenants of Christian Science or of the existence of extra-terrestrials. It seeks to better understand the personality of the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. Her desires, her fears, the way in which she came to this doctrine, and her state of mind throughout her life.

Her childhood, adolescence, all three of her marriages, and a number of aspects in her life will be examined through a psychoanalytical framework. It is not my aim in this article to definitively diagnose Mrs. Eddy with any psychological illness or malady. It is my intention to try and humanize a woman who is most often believed to either be a saint or a charlatan. She lived a fascinating life, one filled with trauma and loss, as well as success and fulfillment.

CHILDHOOD

Mary Baker was born on July 16, 1821 in Bow, New Hampshire. She was the youngest child of Mary Ann and Mark Baker. Some biographies of Mrs. Eddy, such as the one written by Sibyl Wilbur, would claim that Mary's childhood would foreshadow her later greatness. Yet, her childhood was not extraordinary; it was, fairly typical of many girls reared in the 19th century. Mark Baker, Mary's father, was a middle-class farmer, though he and his sons had higher aspirations than the life of a farmer.1

During the formative years of her life she could often be found at the side of the person who recounted her family's heritage: her maternal grandmother. Mrs. Eddy reports that in her grandmother's trunk was a sword besto- wed to one of her ancestors by the Scottish revolutionary, William Wallace.2 She also claimed to be a descendent of revolutionary war hero, General Henry Knox, and a Scottish knight, Sir John MacNeil, who at one time served as ambassador to Persia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

I Want to Believe: A Short Psychobiography of Mary Baker Eddy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.