Children’s Literature and the Rise of ‘Mind Cure’: Positive Thinking and Pseudo-Science at the Fin de Siècle by Anne Stiles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). 249 pp., hardback $99.99


  • Adam Epp


The ‘Mind Cure’, the main subject of Anne Stiles’s Children's Literature and the Rise of ‘Mind Cure’, is part of a spiritual movement called New Thought. New Thought practitioners reject scientific medicine and believe our thoughts directly affect our well-being, such that thinking positively can cure any disease and thinking negatively can lead to sickness and financial failure. Due to the inadequate care they received from physicians, nineteenth-century women experiencing depression and other mental illnesses were especially drawn to New Thought, as its emphasis on positive thinking was a welcome alternative to treatments such as Silas Weir Mitchell’s rest cure. New Thought grew alongside Christian Science, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the nineteenth century, and the two movements share similar beliefs regarding health and God. For over a hundred years, both New Thought and Christian Science have been criticised for their ineffectiveness against physical injuries and diseases. Some of the movements’ members have died from ailments modern medicine could cure, although the ‘Mind Cure’ can work against some psychosomatic illnesses, albeit for the same reason that placebos can cure conditions.