Quacks often get social and economic results more agreeable to the patient and more helpful to society than orthodox medicine. "When traitors become numerous enough treason becomes respectable." So when mental hygiene succeeds, it becomes science for the case in question, and for that case orthodox medicine loses its respectability. For the layman there is no safety except in having intelligence enough to know whether his trouble has defied the sincere application of mental treatment, auto-suggestion, and loyalty to the health ideal.
Mental hygiene admits the existence of dental cavities, scarlet fever germs, adenoids, cross-eyes, uncleanliness, broken legs, inflamed eyes, overeating. The organic, structural defects which are to be sought by physical examination are all admitted by mental hygienists. They work for an orderly, daily routine and affirm the penalties of its violation. They would even favor going periodically to a physician, provided that we never go to him except when organic or structural disorders may safely be assumed from the fact that cheer and relaxation treatment does not give relief. Unhygienic living and mind cure cannot go together. The mind that tries to deceive itself cannot cure either mind or body. The man who violates the habits of health cannot patch his injuries or conceal the ravages of dissipation by mental hygiene. Here is the great advantage of knowing how to live hygienically, of observing habits of health, and then concerning ourselves not with ourselves, but with conditions of living for all those whose health can be affected by our health, or can affect our health and efficiency.
The most recent practical application of mental hygiene for moral and physical uplifting is the "moral clinic" or "psychotherapeutic" clinic established by Emmanuel Church in Boston. This clinic represents the union of three forces,—religion, medical diagnosis, mental hygiene. As a result of this alliance it is anticipated that both religion and medicine will be humanized, socialized, vitalized, made to express more accurately and more consistently that community consciousness and that yearning for equal opportunity and equal happiness which constitute the profoundest religious impulse. No person is treated at this moral clinic whose trouble is organic or structural. In determining whether the case belongs to this clinic, expert medical diagnosis is relied upon rather than the credulity of the patient or the zeal of the clergyman. Medical scientists of highest repute can consistently cooperate, because they recognize two scientific facts: first, that many troubles are due primarily to mental disorder; and, second, the greatest asset of the human mind is that something called religion, which is no less real and potent because peculiar to each individual. Whatever may be that deepest current of thought and feeling, whatever that synthetic philosophy, that explanation of being, which guides my life, it can be of inestimable aid if enlisted in an effort to secure normal vitality of mind and body.
The controlling motive of the moral clinic has proved infectious. There is reason to believe that the alliance of medicine and religion has come to stay, and that the present excitement over psychotherapeutics will settle down into a scientific utilization of religious motive and medical knowledge to prevent mental and moral disease. Unwholesome, morbid, self-centered thought is driven out. A recognition of others' claims takes its place. Hypnotism, suggestion, and group enthusiasm are used to their utmost possibilities. The success of the Boston moral clinic is due to establishing in the mind of the neurasthenic, the alcoholic, the world-weary, and the purposeless a truer conception of the pleasures that result from vitality and from altruistic effort.
It is too early to classify by kind of functional disorder the patients treated. Results from one patient have been described in newspapers as follows:
A school-teacher, as a result of nervous collapse, had lost control, began to fear the children under her care, and thought of relinquishing her profession. She was instructed in the art of self-control and the control of others; the notion of fear was dislodged and a sentiment of love for her little charges took its place. In the course of a few weeks this conscientious and experienced teacher regained her poise and found herself performing her duties better than ever before.
Many alcoholics have for months given evidences of complete cure. Stories almost incredible are quickening pastor and physician alike throughout the country. After individual treatments are given, after religious motive is appealed to, and the soul stirred to heed the lessons of religion, medicine, and sociology, patients are given the work cure. Thus a branch of social service is established, where after-treatment is given to the patient whose thoughts have been turned from himself to others. All of a sudden the church finds itself in need of definite knowledge as to opportunities for altruistic work, as to definite community needs not met, as to people in distress who can be relieved by volunteers, as to agencies which can be called upon to cooperate both in treating the individual and in utilizing his energies for others' benefits.
Because a relatively small percentage of men and women are neurasthenic, melancholy, morbid, alcoholic, the lesson of the moral clinic is most serviceable when extended for the benefit of the "not yet alcoholic" and the "not quite neurasthenic." In other words, individuals in thinking of themselves must learn the health value and soul value of purpose that centers in others' happiness. That thing which we have called tact in personality, and which in the past was discovered by induction, namely, the law of mental hygiene and the control it gives over others' health, must be taught in schools to children by wholesale, must be taught in medical and theological schools, to all physicians and all pastors. This alliance of medicine and religion, which is at present confined to one or two moral clinics, should be incorporated into education, into social work, into church work, becoming thus a part of civilization's normal point of view.
Mental hygiene cannot survive conscious violation of the fundamental laws of medicine and religion. The alliance of medicine and religion will prove utterly futile unless habits of living and of thinking are inculcated that conform to nature's law of self-preservation and to God's law of brotherly love. Self-centered religion, like self-centered medicine, destroys both body and soul.