Patent medicines and other forms of quackery could not pay such enormous dividends unless there was some truth in their claims; unless their victim found some beneficial return for his money. They win confidence because they raise hopes and combat fear. They do cure thousands of people of fear and of "ingrowing thoughts." In so doing they remove the sole cause of much disability.[17] In so doing they are merely applying by wholesale principles of mental hygiene that are legitimately used by physicians, tradesmen, teachers, and parents who deal successfully with nervousness.

[17] The alliance of mental hygiene, medicine, and religion is discussed in the Emmanuel Church book, Religion and Medicine; the Moral Control of Nervous Disorders; also in its bulletins, Religion and Medicine.

Quackery makes cures and makes money because of the undoubted influence of mind in causing and in removing those ailments that originate in fear, imagination, or morbid introspection. A few years ago a little out-of-the-way town in southern Minnesota was visited by train loads of the sick and crippled from miles around. Miraculous cures were heralded broadcast. Life-long cripples left wagon loads of crutches and braces to decorate the little church with the enchanted transom. People who had not walked for years returned to their homes cured. The marvels of famous shrines were fast being duplicated when the church authorities at St. Paul issued an explanation of the alleged miraculous appearance of biblical figures in the transom of the new church. The outlines of a mother carrying a baby had been vaguely impressed in the transom glass when molten. When the mystery was explained the excursions and the cures stopped.

Nearly every physician and practically every medical charlatan can count scores of cures of ailments that had previously defied the skill of eminent physicians. A child's bumps actually stop aching after the mother or nurse kisses the abused spot. Invalids forget their limitations under stress of some great excitement or some intense desire for pleasures incompatible with invalidism. Many a physician of reputation owes his success in great part to the discriminating use of the placebo,—a bread pill designed to supplant the patient's fear with confidence. Hypnotism and "suggestion" have been successfully used to cure alcoholism and to fill patients' minds with conviction stronger than the fear that produced the sickness. A well-known writer and preacher cures insomnia by auto-suggestion, telling himself he is sleepy, is very sleepy, is going to sleep, is almost asleep, is fast asleep. Treatment by osteopathy has been followed by disappearance of diseases that cannot possibly be cured by osteopathy. Christian Science has restored to health and happy usefulness hundreds of thousands of chronic invalids. Verily is hygiene of the mind an important factor in the civics of health.

Fear can originate with mind. Fear produces fear. Fear disarranges circulation of the blood and the nourishment of muscle and nerve. Fear can produce many bodily disorders which in turn feed fear. Fear cannot last unless bodily symptoms exist or arise to justify and feed it. Fear can be cured and removed in two ways: (1) by driving away fear and releasing bodily disorders from its thraldom; (2) by removing the disorders and making fear impossible to the logical mind. An enforced sea voyage begins with the disorder; a clever, buoyant physician begins with the fear. Patent-medicine proprietors, quacks, and fakes of every kind begin by displacing the fear with hope or cheer; the physical disorders frequently vanish by the same window as fear. For fear write self-pity, morbid self-consciousness, hypertrophied submission; to hope and cheer add smile, relaxation, and zest; and we have the chief elements of mental hygiene and the reason why intelligent as well as unintelligent men like to be swindled by medical or other quacks.

The social aspects of mental hygiene are particularly important. Once admitting the power of the mind to decrease vitality, we recognize the duty of seeming happy, buoyant, cheerful, vital, at least when with others, for the sake of others' minds and bodies. Secondly, we find the duty to refrain from commenting on others' appearance in a way that will start "ingrowing thoughts." A "grouchy" foreman can give blues and indigestion to a roomful of factory girls. A self-pitying teacher can check the heart beats of her class, cause arteries and lungs to contract, and deprive the brain of fresh blood. An oversympathetic neighbor can put a strong man to bed by discovering signs of nervous disintegration. Shall we gradually work out a code of mental hygiene rights and nuisances that will require compulsory notification of the "blues" and compulsory segregation of every person unable to "smile dull care away"? Is the time coming when boards of health will accompany infection leaflets with messages such as this from James Whitcomb Riley:

Talk health. The dreary, never-changing tale Of mortal maladies is worn and stale. You cannot charm or interest or please By harping on that minor chord, disease.
"Whatever the weather may be," says he, "Whatever the weather may be, It's the songs ye sing, and the smiles ye wear, That's a-making the sun shine everywhere."

Mental hygiene has hitherto enjoyed an evil reputation and has been condemned to generally evil associations, because the rank and file have been ignorant of hygiene of every kind. Medical science has so long enveloped itself in mystery that it is in danger now of becoming discredited and of falling heir to the mantle of quackery.