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Mind over matter

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Title: Mind over matter  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Aeneid, Responsibility assumption, List of Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes, Spirituality, Law of attraction (New Thought)
Collection: Paranormal Terminology, Philosophical Phrases, Psychokinesis, Spirituality
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Mind over matter

Mind over matter is a phrase that has been used in several contexts such as mind-centric spiritual doctrines, parapsychology and philosophy.


  • Origin 1
  • Parapsychology 2
  • Mao Zedong 3
  • Controlling pain 4
  • References 5


The phrase "mind over matter" first appeared in 1863 in The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man by Sir Charles Lyell (1797–1875) and was first used to refer to the increasing status and evolutionary growth of the minds of animals and man throughout Earth history.[1]
It may be said that, so far from having a materialistic tendency, the supposed introduction into the earth at successive geological periods of life — sensation, instinct, the intelligence of the higher mammalia bordering on reason, and lastly, the improvable reason of Man himself — presents us with a picture of the ever-increasing dominion of mind over matter.
— Sir Charles Lyell, 1863

Another related saying, "the mind drives the mass", was coined almost two millennia earlier in 19 B.C. by the poet Virgil in his work Aeneid, book 6, line 727.[2]


In the field of parapsychology, the phrase has been used to describe paranormal phenomena such as psychokinesis.[3][4]

Mao Zedong

"Mind over matter" was also Mao Zedong's idea that rural peasants could be "proletarianized" so they could lead the revolution and China could move from feudalism to socialism. It departs from Leninism in that the revolutionaries are peasants, instead of the urban proletariat.[5]

Controlling pain

The phrase also relates to the ability to control the perception of pain that one may or may not be experiencing.[6]


  1. ^ Bartlett, John (2002). Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature (17. ed.). Boston: Little, Brown and Company.  
  2. ^ Stevenson, Burton (1987). The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases. New York: Macmillan.  
  3. ^ Berger, Arthur S.; Berger, Joyce (1991). The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research (1st ed. ed.). New York: Paragon House. p. 341.  
  4. ^ Gilovich, Thomas (1993). How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life (1st Free Press paperback ed.). New York: Free Press. pp. 160–175.  
  5. ^ Asian Survey, Volume 4. University of California Press. 1964. p. 1049. 
  6. ^ Wiech, K; Ploner, M; Tracey, I (Aug 2008). "Neurocognitive Aspects of Pain Perception.". Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (8): 306–13.  
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