It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy, who argued in her 1875 book Science and Health that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone.
The book became Christian Science's central text, along with the Bible, and by 2001 had sold over nine million copies.
"She was like a patch of colour in those gray communities," Mc Clure's wrote, "She never laid aside her regal air; never entered a room or left it like other people." Mesmerism was named after Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), a German physician who argued for the existence of a fluid through which bodies could influence each other, a force he called animal magnetism.
Quimby and an assistant, Lucius Burkmar, traveled around Maine and New Brunswick giving demonstrations; Burkmar, in a trance, would offer mind readings and suggestions for cures. Quimby's theory is that there is no intelligence, no power or action in matter of itself, that the spiritual world to which our eyes are closed by ignorance or unbelief is the real world, that in it lie all the causes for every effect visible in the natural world, and that if this spiritual life can be revealed to us, in other words if we can understand ourselves, we shall then have our happiness or misery in our own hands ..." He would sit next to them and explain that the disease was something their minds could control; sometimes he would wet his hands and rub their heads, but it was the talking that helped them, he said, not the manipulation.
Most significantly, she dismissed the material world as an illusion, rather than as merely subordinate to Mind, leading her to reject the use of medicine, or materia medica, and making Christian Science the most controversial of the metaphysical groups. According to the church's tenets, adherents accept "the inspired Word of the Bible as [their] sufficient guide to eternal Life ...
What heals is the realization that there is nothing really to heal." It is a closed system of thought, viewed as infallible if performed correctly; healing confirms the power of Truth, but its absence derives from the failure, specifically the bad thoughts, of individuals.
The church does not require that Christian Scientists avoid all medical care—adherents use dentists, optometrists, obstetricians, physicians for broken bones, and vaccination when required by law—but maintains that Christian-Science prayer is most effective when not combined with medicine.
Between the 1880s and 1990s, the avoidance of medical treatment led to the deaths of several adherents and their children.
Her second husband left her after 13 years of marriage; Eddy said that he had promised to become her child's legal guardian, but it is unclear whether he did, and Eddy lost contact with her son until he was in his thirties.
According to Bryan Wilson, she exemplified the female charismatic leader, and was viewed as the head of the Christian Science church even after her death; he wrote in 1961 that her name—Christian Scientists call her Mrs.