There are two kinds of processes in the living body which are called disease. First, there is a progressive deterioration or degeneration of the body which begins in early life, sometimes in embryonic life, or even in the germ cell, and which culminates in death, and which every one thinks of as normal and natural Second, there are the many forms of acute and chronic defensive reactions of the body, which are designed to save life, restore health and prevent the deterioration, and which every one regards as abnormal, evil and destructive.

For the purposes of this chapter the definition of degeneracy given by A. F. Tredgold, (Smithson. Inst. Rpt. 1918 P. 548) will, with a slight modification, serve admirably. He defines degeneracy as "a retrograde condition of the individual resulting from a pathological variation of the germ cell." Since deterioration may and does occur in individuals derived from ideal germ cells, we would include in this definition all permanent pathological variations of the somatic cells.

These degenerative changes in the body are evidenced by faulty development, susceptibility to disease, weakness, poor sight falling hair, decayed teeth, hardened arteries, hardening of other tissues of the body, destruction of the tissues of various organs, gray hair, bald headedness, blindness, deafness, feeble mindedness, and all permanent pathological changes anywhere in the body.

Back of this degeneration are various causes against which the body puts up a continuous, but losing struggle. At times the forces of life offer a more violent resistance to these causes of decay and this struggle makes itself felt as pain, fever, inflammation; swelling, rapid pulse, rapid respiration, diarrhea, skin eruptions, etc. These and the symptoms which accompany them are vital emergency measures instituted for the purpose of destroying and eliminating the causes of the degeneration and to repair tissue damages as far as this may be possible.

This conception of the essential nature, the rationale, of acute and chronic so-called disease, we express by the term Orthopathy. This word was coined by Dr. Isaac Jennings nearly a hundred years since, from the Greek words, orthos--upright, erect, true, and pathos--affection, suffering. Its literal interpretation is right suffering. We regard these so-called disease actions or processes as right actions; as lawful and orderly in their courses and developments and as serving definitely beneficial ends.

I shall have frequent occasion, in succeeding pages, to call the reader's attention to examples of the orthopathic character of so-called acute and chronic disease and need not offer examples at this place. I desire, at this time, to familiarize the reader with the degenerative process and to especially point out its continuity and unity.

What is wrongly called the modern science of medicine recognizes several hundreds of diseases which it has divided up into varieties, species, genera, phyla, orders and classes. The objective reality of these "diseases" and the propriety of so classifying them is not questioned by the individuals in the ranks of materia medica. They see in their so-called diseases organized entities, and do not regard them as varying phases of vital activity or types of behavior of the living organism. Thus It is that we have so many names for so-called diseases and so much complexity and confusion in the so-called science of medicine.

Pathological evolution is a continuous series of stages or steps by which the minute beginnings of the degenerative process, progresses, due to the persistence and accumulation of its causes, to the last stages of cancer, tuberculosis, Bright's disease, diabetes, and finally. death. It is a slow, gradual, insiduous process which, due to the present manner of regarding disease, is unrecognized. Its terminal manifestations, it is true, are recognized and are called "degenerative diseases of later life." But these are called this only because it usually requires a life time, thanks to the stubborn and never ceasing resistance of the body, for the degeneration to become great enough to be recognized as such, and because we have not learned to see that the process of degeneration has gone on for years before it finally culminated in these conditions.

Degeneration begins where its causes begin and persists where these persist. It is continuous because its causes are constant. These begin usually in infancy, or even before, and increase as the child's sphere of life widens and it comes into contact with an increasing number and variety of pathogenic influences. The body puts up a slowly yielding fight against them and as one tissue after another breaks down before their impairing onslaught, Greek labels are attached to the breaks and the individual has a new disease.

It is certainly a serious blunder to single out each link in a chain of successive and concomitant developments and give to each of these a different name and ascribe to each of them a different and perhaps a specific cause. We must learn to see the ils of the body as mere stages or steps in one continuous and unbroken process, and not as specific entities, if we are ever to make any progress worthy the name in the prevention of disease and degeneration.