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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.Adherents believed that material phenomena were the result of mental states, a view expressed as "life is consciousness" and "God is mind." The supreme cause was referred to as Divine Mind, Truth, God, Love, Life, Spirit, Principle or Father–Mother, reflecting elements of Plato, Hinduism, Berkeley, Hegel, Swedenborg and transcendentalism.Medical practice was in its infancy, and patients regularly fared better without it.

In a few cases Christian Scientists were expelled from Christian congregations, but ministers also worried that their parishioners were choosing to leave.

Parents and others were prosecuted for, and in a few cases convicted of, manslaughter or neglect.

In the latter half of the 19th century these included what came to be known as the metaphysical family: groups such as Christian Science, Divine Science, the Unity School of Christianity and (later) the United Church of Religious Science.

The process involves the Scientist engaging in a silent argument to affirm to herself the unreality of matter, something Christian Science practitioners will do for a fee, including in absentia, to address ill health or other problems.

Wilson writes that Christian Science healing is "not curative ...

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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.