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It seems that not many who are in a position to give expert testimony have made a study of Mr. Dowie. He is generally held by the medical profession to be a superior degenerate.

The New York World, October 22, 1903, published what purported to be the opinion of Dr. E. C. Spitzka, as follows:

"Cases resembling that of the gentleman who is now holding forth at Madison Square Garden are so common and frequent that I do not pay any attention to them," said Dr. Spitzka. "But John Alexander Dowie's case is peculiar; it has features far more attractive to me than the ordinary. ...

"The man shows the natural result of his career. He has played a false part so long before the world, and to play that part he has been compelled to present the true relations to himself, so constantly, that the false role has become second nature, and now when old age is coming upon him with all its weakening influences it causes a far greater breakdown than old age does in the man who leads an upright and honest life.

"You cannot say that a man of his kind is originally and necessarily a lunatic, but he now falls within that definition, which he might have avoided if he had lived a natural life.  He has been so raised by his success into a confidence in his personal magnetism that now, when this personal magnetism is enfeebled by old age, he cannot reconcile himself to recognize his failure, and it leads to the ridiculous demonstration which he is now making upon the stage at the Garden.

"Formerly he was able to control his actions diplomatically, whereas, with old age, he has lost that power and, like a fool, he babbles what he really thinks. All the egotism of old age comes out in its most disgusting form in such cases.

"If a delusion is to be called a false and ridiculous belief, out of which a man cannot be persuaded, Dowie falls under the definition of having delusional insanity.

"I think that Dr. Buckley is in the main right when he charges that Dowie is a lunatic, with megalomania, paranoia and other twists of the mind, although I fail to find the ingenious fantasies in Dowie's schemes which many paranoiacs show. ... 




"Some people may say that my diagnosis does not take into consideration that business ability shown by Dowie and his evident ability to collect tithes and to manage property to remunerative advantage. There are many peculiar and apparently inconsistent combinations in the character of certain insane persons. There are project-making lunatics who unite the most effective talents of the worst and most successful frauds with the hopeless delusions of a disordered mind, and persons of this type have played a part in the world's history which is really remarkable and seldom recognized.

"It was one of these persons who succeeded in precipitating all Europe upon Asian territory - I mean Peter the Hermit. It was another, that Jan of Leyden, who also founded a 'New Zion' in Munster. At first he succeeded in creating a sentiment for him in the country, but his conceit became so over-dominant that he lost control of himself and yielded to his natural instincts. He established polygamy and the whole new foundation went down in wreck and ruin. This 'restorer' also looked after the tithes and insisted that his people give to him one-tenth of their possessions.

"It is in this light that I regard the union of financial genius with imbecility in this so-called 'Dr.' Dowie."


A noted psychologist gives it as his opinion that Mr. Dowie holds his influence over his audiences by employing certain forms of suggestion in a masterly way, namely, the form of direct command, and blunt, over-bearing assertion.  “His impudence would be absurd but for the fact that it accomplished its purpose. ... On the whole, I incline to the belief that a part of his power comes from an element of genuine belief in himself and his work; that is he does not seem to be a mere pretender. The ethical tone of his preaching strikes me as sincere. Of course I regard him as crafty, as consciously planning many things for effect, yet it seems to me possible that he is sufficiently near to insanity to believe the claims he makes as to his Apostolate, etc. The possible extent of self-deception, who can measure?” *

Many things about Mr. Dowie are in accord with the character and career of Joseph Smith. Not that he has ever been as imaginative or visionary, but to somewhat the same characteristics as did Joseph, does he owe his influence upon his people.


* Personal letter from Prof. Geo. A. Coe.




Riley, in "The Founder of Mormonism," p. 233, quotes the American Journal of Phrenology, November, 1866, p. 146, as follows: "Joseph like Swedenborg was a sensitive nature. It is more logical to believe him to have been an earnest religious leader than to have been a non-believer in his own mission. Men never accomplish much when they have not unbounded faith in themselves and their calling ... The fact that the astute mind of Brigham Young and those of many other remarkable and talented men were fascinated by Joseph is suggestive ... There was an infinite aim and purpose about the man, which was certainly very taking."

This is true of Mr. Dowie with the possible addition that his commercial schemes show a combining of the fever of modern times to get rich and have monetary power, with "an infinite aim and purpose." However I have not been able to find any trace whatever of epilepsy in Mr. Dowie and am assured upon the statement of Mrs. Dowie that it cannot be shown that his ideas and vagaries are to be thus accounted for, as it is not present in the preceding generations.

In his pamphlet "Dowie Analyzed and Classified" Dr. J. M. Buckley, who has given considerable attention to such characters as Mr. Dowie, says: "His consuming ambition, insatiable love of power, intense self-consciousness, grasp on money and property, vigorous suppression of individuality, commercialism; luxurious way of living, and wholesale entrance of his Zion into real estate speculation and manufacturing, contrast strangely with John the Baptist and with Elijah the Prophet. Reason must first be paralyzed, faith drugged, and this done it would still seem too large and abnormal a conception for open-mouthed credulity to believe that the Christ of the New Testament should choose the evolver and center of such a flamboyant mixture of flesh and spirit to be the Restorer and his special fore-runner. If Dowie believes it, he is in the moonlit borderland of insanity where large movements of limited duration have sometimes originated. If he believes it not he is another imposter.




"The probable genesis of the Dowie of today is this: Beginning his public career with the sincerity and simplicity of the ordinary Christian, he passed into fanaticism, made claims which he believed, but confronted with failures, he sophisticated his conscience and reason to explain them. Lured by ambition, self-confidence, and love of power into great enterprises which made large sums of money necessary to him, he was obliged to manipulate men, and his shrewdness became cunning. Intoxicated by increasing prosperity, he has come, without Divine authority, to believe himself God's special messenger. In that character he judges, denounces, condemns all who do not accept him, and rules his followers with a rod of iron."

This quotation gives the interpretation of the personality of Mr. Dowie, which all the facts seem to warrant. Mr. Dowie is insane with the idea of his own greatness. He is reported to have said that of the three great leaders of this generation, Lord Salisbury in Politics, J. P. Morgan in Finance, and John Alexander Dowie in Religion, John Alexander Dowie is greatest of all, as religion is greater than politics or finance: and since he is also a master of these two. His many utterances which indicate that he is possessed of the delusions that politicians are afraid of him and the votes he can control, that he can, to use his own terminology, "spank" this or that person in authority, indicate partial insanity. To hear him present his claims of being the Messenger of the Covenant, Elijah the Restorer, and that Prophet of whom Moses spoke, would awaken a sense of the ludicrous in anyone whose critical faculty was at all awake. "The declaration that we are that person (The Messenger, Elijah, and the Prophet) is either what those peculiar theologians ... the Chicago Press declare it to be, a Great Blasphemy, or it is a Tremendous Fact of the utmost importance to the whole world. We have not assumed it; it has been imposed upon us by God himself.




Had we been deceived in this matter God would have deceived us. That is an impossibility.” *

It would seem that the one who was guilty of such naiveté as this were not amenable to reason. Notice his logic: "We have this conviction that we are that person. If we are deceived God is a deceiver. This is absurd; God cannot deceive. We are that person (Elijah, etc.)"

Mr. Dowie evidently has the more or less constant consciousness of himself as a God-appointed Restorer and Apostle. This is insanity, or to speak in terms more definite, it is a disease of his personality, a delusion in his consciousness.

 Ribot says: ** "There are cases of false personality reducible to a fixed idea, to a dominant idea, toward which a whole group of concordant ideas converges, all others being eliminated, practically annihilated. Such are those who believe themselves God, Pope, or Emperor, and speak and act accordingly," In another place, *** Ribot says: "At times the transformation approaches to complete metamorphosis; and then the subject entirely overwhelmed by the feeling of his matchless power, proclaims himself Pope, Emperor, God. 'The patient' as Griesinger justly observes, § 'feeling proud, bold and enlivened, discovering in himself unwonted freedom in his decisions, and feeling the superabundance of his thoughts, is led naturally to have ideas of grandeur, rank, riches or great moral or intellectual power, such as only the fullest liberty of thought and volition can exhibit in like degree. This exaggerated idea of force and of freedom must nevertheless have a motive; there must be in the ego something that corresponds


* The naiveté of this statement does not obscure the psychological, perhaps pathological experience underlying it. It came to him as an overwhelming conviction. It is in line with what he believes Scripture teaches God has foretold wi1l be. It is God.


** Th. Ribot: "The Diseases of the Personality," p, 81.


*** Op, cit., p. 56.


 § Tra ites desMalades Mentales, p. 265.




to it; the ego must have momentarily become different; and the patient knows no other way of expressing this change than by proclaiming himself Napoleon, Messiah or some other exalted personage.'" This transformation of character may be partial or complete; momentary or permanent.

Ribot says further:* "The study of the intellectual conditions of personality has in store for us a large number of examples of this kind, (as hypnotized subjects upon whom a role or personage is imposed) but the cases that we already know are sufficient to justify our asking what they teach. At first sight, these cases are quite simple as regards mechanics of formation. The first origin is obscure: Why is that particular idea produced and not some other? Usually we know nothing of this; but the morbid conception, once born, grows and increases until its climax is reached by the simple automatism of association."

So Mr. Dowie may be said to have formed the habit of regarding himself as a great and divinely appointed Prophet or Apostle, with all that those terms connote according to his understanding of Scripture. September 18, 1904, he sanctified himself as Apostle in the presence of eight thousand of his followers, mitred and clad in gorgeous raiment, with these words upon his lips: "I stand here today as the High Priest on earth and the First Apostle of The Christian Catholic and Apostolic Church in Zion of that High Priest in Heaven." ** These can be none other than the words of a man under a mighty delusion, controlled by an idea which has become a habit of mind, a determining factor in his stream of consciousness. Whether of crystal clear sincerity all along in his career, or a crafty poser and conscious deceiver at times, the man is swayed by that other self, that abnormal personality. If sincere


* Op. cit., p. 81.


** I was told by Mrs. Dowie that he was so busy carrying out his program on the day set for the declaration that he neglected making the declaration, but that it was printed, as I have reported it in the L. of H. as having been made by him.




and utterly self-deceived, innocent of any breach of moral law; if a poser and deceiver, to that extent a criminal and morally reprehensible according to the magnitude and results of his pretentions. For reasons presented this latter seems to be the case as it stands with Mr. Dowie. Under the sway of a vast delusion, or series of delusions, he still consciously worked fraud and deception. With natural faculties reinforced by a great and all-controlling idea, a moral sense willfully perverted, he believes a lie himself and craftily supported himself in his position of authority and dictatorship by prostituting every natural or acquired talent he has. Every affection or confidence reposed in him was turned to account to foster the interests of his Zion, which were personal interests for he absolutely owned the entire establishment. *

We would scarcely contend that Mr. Dowie, under the dominance of the idea of his special call and appointment of God, has formed a new ego, as this second self is never able quite to entirely supplant the normal ego for the elements of the original ego preserve enough cohesion to enable it by turns to regain the ascendency. The second or altered personality seems to furnish impulse for most of his acts, but even while this is true the real personality, John Alexander Dowie, with its tremendous mass of sub-conscious and conscious states, not Elijah or The First Apostle, is the force which gives color and meaning to every concept and act of the man. He is insanely rational and rationally insane. ** 

Mr. Dowie is laboring under the delusion that he is the Restorer of the Primitive Gospel, the First Apostle in the Restored Church, and by a combination of the power this view gave him and his own craftiness he has wrought his great work of gathering thousands into a separate organization, segregating them and building a city.


* A few personal testimonies have been given me of confidence betrayed for his own ends.


** To the alienist belongs the question of deciding if he be fully insane.  Cf. Ribot, op. cit. p. 101.


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