|Periodical:||The Psychological Review of Reviews|
From Pat Deveney's database:
Psychological Review of Reviews, The.
This was the short-lived (probably only a single issue) organ of Miller's International Society of Applied Psychology in San Francisco, published at the point when his other, more long-term current schemes (the Chapala Co-operative University and the Rellimeo Film Syndicate) were collapsing. It carried the likes of Miller's "Scientific Breathing," which was a standard part of his Applied Psychology lessons, and anonymous fiction ("The Mystic Lovers") probably written by Mrs. Lillian Granville White. She was a well-regarded writer of romance and historical novels and later became Miller's wife, and was indicted with him a few years later in the Rellimeo stock-fraud case. Most of the content of the journal, aside from advertisements for the books of Miller and Irvine, dubious "rejuvenating products," painless dentists, New Thought laxatives, raw food dining rooms, etc., was devoted to the promotion of Miller's Chapala Co-operative University and colony and was also published at the same time in his Chapala Round Table.
Orlando Edgar Miller (1864-1947) was one of the longest-lived, flamboyant and prolific of the international confidence men who graced the New Thought movement in the twentieth century. He was born in Ohio during the War Between the States and lived until after World War II, and was called variously "King of Quacks," "Affirmative Apostle of Intense Individuality," and "The Coue of America." He specialized in "Applied Psychology" but turned his hand to frauds grand and petty as his situation demanded: a bogus colony in Mexico, the sale of stock in his motion-picture company, bank fraud, quack cures and treatments, etc. He was regularly arrested, jailed and imprisoned for crimes ranging from bad checks, practicing medicine without a license and theft of railroad tickets to manslaughter, and several times he had to abscond to Europe for long periods to allow the hue and cry of his latest failed scheme to die down. An eminent scholar has unearthed the details of his life but long stretches of his biography are still blank where Miller's activities avoided notice in the press, but almost certainly the gaps conceal yet undiscovered peccadillos on his part.
As the AMA later revealed in its numerous attacks on him, Miller had tried his hand at being a grocer, lawyer, newspaper editor, president of a YMCA group, and school superintendent, and he himself added to this list his study of medicine and work as a banker – both skills that would serve him in good stead. He first came to public notice in the early 1890s, in Denver, when he was the prosperous proprietor of The O.E. Miller Hernia Treatment Company, the purveyor of a "rupture cure" system with, he said, offices in 18 states and total gross income of $20 million. This success was based on his enthusiastic employment of the time-honored American custom of check "kiting" – taking advantage of the delay in a bank's clearing a check by covering an outstanding check with the deposit of yet another check, preferably drawn on an out-of-town bank. Eventually, with the aid of several employees of a bank in Denver, he was kiting more than $125,000 in checks. In 1893 the edifice collapsed. He was convicted at trial and sentenced to ten years in Leavenworth Penitentiary but the conviction was reversed after a year on technical grounds and he was freed. He let it be known that he had spent his time in prison reading Emerson and the Bible and starting a Bible-study group. After a bankruptcy in 1899, he appeared in Chicago with a "medicated sand cure" for dyspepsia – five-grain capsules of "Lake Michigan sand, filtered of Chicago River tincture [a delicate phrase, that] to be taken six times daily with the meal." From this he expanded his activities to the St. Luke's Society, a sanitarium in Chicago that promised relief from opiate, alcohol and cigarette addiction, which came to naught when the building burned with 13 deaths. Then, after another bankruptcy in 1901, came "The Famous Glen Ellyn Mineral Springs and Mud Baths" and the Ruskin University (and Ruskin Industrial Bank, and Ruskin Sanitarium, Ruskin Training School for Nurses, etc.) in Glen Ellyn outside Chicago (a medical degree mill where he taught eugenics and sanitary science and from which he obtained his claimed Ph.D. degree), but again, these ventures collapsed 1905 and he was thrown out of town when a student at the university threw herself in front of a train.
In 1906, Miller published his first journal, the Temple of Health Idea (a name obviously intended to play upon J.M. Peebles's Temple of Health), described as a "serial correspondence course in the Classics of Experience and Realization. Is it not worth your while to gain a diploma in the University of Life?" The journal marked his first known venture into New Thought, which would characterize his schemes for the rest of his life. In 1908, came the longer-lived International Institute for the Treatment of Tuberculosis, which treated TB patients for $275.00 a week with "vegetable injections" (probably hyoscine/scopolamine, which he later used in London). This aroused the wrath of the AMA when 36 of its 39 patients died – although Miller said that the deaths were caused by his patients' reading of the AMA attacks). Probably feeling the approach of more formal condemnation, Miller moved his operation to Europe, first to Paris in 1909 and then to London in 1911.
In Paris he had let it be known that he was backed by the "son-in-law of a Rockefeller," an unlikely appearing claim that had a bit of truth since Miller had in some unknown way become acquainted with Kim Montagu, the notorious, impecunious and serially unfaithful (he was once caught in bed with four women, one of whom Tallulah Bankhead) ninth Duke of Manchester. Montagu at the time was married to Helena Zimmerman of Cincinnati, whose father was a principal shareholder in Standard Oil. Montague and Miller were made for each other. In 1911 Miller started his Miller Institute for the cure of TB – five guineas a week -- but it went into receivership the next year and Miller took to lecturing on New Thought and running a sanitarium at the duke's former home, Spring Grove House, Isleworth, London (which was to become the British headquarters of the International New Thought Alliance). Notable among his subjects was the then-current idea of physical immortality – a foretaste of the goals of his later Chapala colony in Mexico: "Death was a bad habit, a cultivated habit, and a habit we could avoid. . . . We grow old simply because we believed in age. . . . There were people on this planet, however, to-day who, during the present century, would become absolute masters of their physical bodies, and would never be the victims of a funeral." During this period, Miller also published his second journal, Mastery (1914-1915), with the active cooperation of Paul Tyner (on whom see the note under The Temple), with whom he was running a New Life Educational/University Centre and an Ideal Health Home at Spring Grove. This idyll was disturbed in late 1913 when the duke, to the delight of the tabloids, was sued for breach of contract by the manager of Miller's sanitarium (of which the duke was a director) and it emerged that "[m]usical comedy actresses and chorus girls, who came under ‘Dr.' Miller's care remained as patients in an establishment that was known locally as the ‘abode of love.'" Things were further complicated the next year when Miller was arrested, in October 1914, for manslaughter for injecting a paralyzed patient with scopolamine. He served three months in Wormwood Scrubs.
Miller continued to lecture in Britain but by 1919 he was back in the United States where he styled himself as President of the International Society of Applied Psychology and was lecturing for the International New Thought Alliance on the West Coast, on "The Power of Love" ("The Art of Love is life's greatest art. It is not to be expressed in words or sacrifices, but in joyous behavior. It is the Finest Refinement of Skill, for it implies the most delicate and delightful reactions of the entire being. Sex is the Basis, logical and biological, of all the strong and tender emotions," etc. He also gave "advanced classes" on "Character Analysis, Vocational Guidance, Business Efficiency, Psychology of Salesmanship, and Eugenics." The term "Applied Psychology" as used by Miller, together with its interchangeable counterpart "Practical Psychology," was a protean concept widely adopted in the early twentieth century to refer to the universal belief in New Thought that man was infinitely improvable by the scientific, rational and artful application of the conscious mind to control the "real" inner Mind through will, attention, memory training, diet, breathing ("cell breathing"), memory training, etc., etc., and all the myriad other devices and tactics that constituted "Scientific Living," thus "unfolding" man's innate powers and possibilities and leading to success, efficiency, health and beauty. Curiously, Miller was said by critics to be an unprepossessing and dull speaker, rambling along on "How to Think and How to Eat," "The Origin of Life and Cosmic Rays," "Brains, How to Grow Them," and the like, but he padded his talks with what the AMA called "piety" and used them to select suitable gulls for his current exploit.
In the early 1920s Miller also pursued two new ventures: the Rellimeo Film Syndicate and the Chapala Co-Operative University and colony.
In 1919, when he returned to the United States from eight years on the lam in Europe to avoid the consequences of earlier failed schemes, Miller brought with him what he said was his lifelong vision of a cooperative university and "City Beautiful." He tried Florida first as the location for the altruistic venture but rejected it because "the law-making machinery of the state seemed to be controlled by one of the magnates of ‘Big Business.'" He then turned to Mexico, lured by its new (1917) "cooperative" constitution. According to the dubious letter later published by him in his Chapala Round Table (1923), the new president of Mexico, the spiritualist Álvaro Obregon, welcomed him and promised his support, recommending Lake Chapala near Guadalajara for the University. As his ideas developed and were promoted to raise funding, the Chapala Co-operative University became the nucleus for a Temple of Psychology colony on Lake Chapala. The colony's members, under the guidance of Miller, were supposed to inculcate in themselves the principles of his applied psychology and become in the process potentially immortal supermen and superwomen, all the while supporting themselves in cooperative fashion in working the colony's land and luxuriating in the colony's environs.
"The executive offices of the Eight Great Departments of the work will be housed in veritable temples. There will be a temple of Education, a temple of Art, a temple of Music, a temple of Commerce, a temple of Finance, etc., and these will be of such architectural design as to awaken the admiration of the people in the community; they will be built around the Great Civic Center, but the chief exterior thing of note about the homes will be the wonderful gardens, shady trees, palms and flowering shrubs. Each home will contain nearly an acre of ground and will afford a wonderful opportunity for beautiful gardens. While the houses will be constructed so as to afford shelter from sun, wind and rain, they will really permit one to live in the open. The windows of the various rooms will constitute the frames for beautiful land and seascapes. The heat, light and power within the community will be generated by water so that there will be no dust, smoke or dirt of any kind. The homes will be connected with lecture rooms, classrooms and places of amusement by automatic telephone and radiophone. Every home will contain a music room where at all hours of the day or night, the most beautiful music can be listened to by merely pushing a button." Etc.
All of this was apparently intended develop along the lines of John Ruskin's paternalistic economic ideas,. The economic basis of the cooperative venture was worked out in enormous detail (complete with spreadsheets) by Miller in the Chapala Round Table (1923) and the Psychological Review of Reviews (1923). Miller claimed that he had been pursuing his vision with his own money for years but had determined that this approach was not "co-operative" and that the realization of the goal should depend on the contributions of others!
"This is a clarion call for you to acid test your own sincerity and make your dreams come true. If you count yourself my friend, now is the time for a clean-cut demonstration. This work must go forward to completion NOW. I NEED MY FRIENDS NOW. May I have the happiness of hearing from you at your earliest convenience."
Miller's ideas were a sort of contributory communism, funded with contributions of $1,000 from each member of the colony and allocated by the benevolent leader to land, machinery, housing, etc., all of which were to be owned and worked in common. Every member, including children, was required (or perhaps willingly agreed) to work a certain number of hours a day and in return was allotted a "units" to be credited at the university's bank. While Miller's ultimate goal was perhaps these contributions of the members, his immediate goal was the Founders' League of the Chapala Co-operative University that he created in San Francisco to raise a fund "for the completion of the preliminary work" necessary to create the colony. The League's goal was $1 million. "Those who contribute ten dollars or more toward further preliminary work will become Life Members and will be entitled to participate in the Chapala Round Table. Their names will be engraved in bronze and placed in the Memorial Hall in the Temple of Administration, upon completion. Each member will receive a beautiful engraved certificate, suitable for framing." Miller had an elaborate headquarters for the Founders' League on Geary Street in San Francisco, and when the pickings grew slim he turned to the East Coast with the same proposition but the attempt there was brought up short when a Boston grand jury began investigating one of the inducements offered to prospective members — a special hammock which would "lengthen the bones of the spine [à la Albert Abrams' Concussor and C.S. Clark's Cartilage Company] and make certain [a] longer and happier life." President Obregon of Mexico, whose name and authority Miller had been using freely to convince potential donors of his bona fides and readiness to aid the colony, was apparently not amused when Miller's ideas came to his attention, and the Mexican government quashed the scheme, apparently convinced it was a "love cult."