Notes from Underground is split into two stylistically different parts, the first essay-like, the second in narrative style. The protagonist and first-person narrator is an unnamed 40-year-old civil servant known as The Underground Man. The only known facts about his situation are that he has quit the service, lives in a basement flat on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg and finances his livelihood from a modest inheritance.
The first part is a record of his thoughts about society and his character. He describes himself as vicious, squalid and ugly; the chief focuses of his polemic are the "modern human" and his vision of the world, which he attacks severely and cynically, and towards which he develops aggression and vengefulness. He considers his own decline natural and necessary. Although he emphasises that he does not intend to publish his notes for the public, the narrator appeals repeatedly to an ill-described audience, whose questions he tries to address.
In the second part he describes scenes from his life that are responsible for his failure in personal and professional life and in his love life. He tells of meeting old school friends, who are in secure positions and treat him with condescension. His aggression turns inward on to himself and he tries to humiliate himself further. He presents himself as a possible saviour to the poor prostitute Lisa, advising her to reject self-reproach when she looks to him for hope. Dostoyevsky added a short commentary saying that although the storyline and characters are fictional, such things were inevitable in contemporary society.
The Underground Man was very influential on philosophers. His alienated existence from the mainstream influenced modernist literature.
Claims "attributed to a myriad of techniques" such as prayer, divine intervention, or the ministrations of an individual healer can cure illness have been popular throughout history. There have been claims that faith can cure blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, developmental disorders, anemia, arthritis, corns, defective speech, multiple sclerosis, skin rashes, total body paralysis, and various injuries. Miraculous recoveries have been attributed to many techniques commonly classified as faith healing. It can involve prayer, a visit to a religious shrine, or simply a strong belief in a supreme being.
Many people interpret the Bible, especially the New Testament, as teaching belief in, and the practice of, faith healing. According to a Newsweek poll, 72 percent of Americans say they believe that praying to God can cure someone, even if science says the person doesn't stand a chance. Unlike faith healing, advocates of spiritual healing make no attempt to seek divine intervention, instead believing in divine energy. The increased interest in alternative medicine at the end of the 20th century has given rise to a parallel interest among sociologists in the relationship of religion to health.
Faith healing can be classified as a spiritual, supernatural, or paranormal event, and, in some cases, belief in faith healing can be classified as magical thinking. The American Cancer Society states "available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments". "Death, disability, and other unwanted outcomes have occurred when faith healing was elected instead of medical care for serious injuries or illnesses." When parents use faith healing in the place of medical care, some children have died that otherwise would have been expected to live. Similar results are found in adults.