This section is from the book "Handbook Of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science", by Henry S. Munro. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science.
Whatever may be our favorite line of professional work, we can not overlook the fact that we are, as physicians, a body of organized men laboring for the common good of humanity. The medical profession is for mankind, and its greatest problem is to secure honest and faithful performance of professional obligation.
Important questions in special departments of medicine must constantly claim our attention, and it is therefore easy in the zeal of our specialties to lose sight of the simple requirements of fidelity to the public at large.
Whatever be the merits of our special departments of professional work, the final test must ever be found in the character and purpose of our effort to contribute to the public weal. It should be borne in mind that we are not merely doctors, but something more. We are American citizens, and as such nothing should seduce, or daunt, or affright us, or shake that adherence to the principles of fair dealing and honorable execution of duty which makes every medical practitioner the embodiment of the cause of liberty.
It is in this altruistic spirit that, as both a physician and an American citizen, these remarks are addressed to the profession of medicine. My aim is to show that in psychotherapy we have an invaluable adjunct to all classes of professional work, and that the ultimate end of its more extensive employment would be a great contribution to the common welfare of humanity; not to disparage other branches of professional work, but to show that in psychotherapy all branches of medicine have an efficient aid in the treatment of sick people and of all others who seek our help. "Its evolution, like that of all other modes of treatment, is marked by an ever-increasing precision in method and an ever-deepening comprehension of the conditions to which it is applicable. Progress in these two respects must always go hand in hand, for the moment therapeutics becomes divorced from pathology and diagnosis it leaves its scientific basis and stands in danger of approximating to that medical charlatanry which it is the highest interest of our profession to combat." 1
Each member of the human race is potentially the result of what he brings into this world as an inheritance, on the one hand, modified by environment, on the other. In the employment of psychotherapy the physician himself becomes a part of the patient's environment in a truer and deeper sense than is done without an effort to employ psychotherapeutic principles, and through its application determines a new sequence of ideas.
All psychotherapeutic measures are educational measures pure and simple. The importance of education in determining what the individual is in mental and physical attributes is not accorded the consideration that it deserves at the present time. It constitutes one of the most potent therapeutic resources at our command, and its value extends not only in the field of preventive medicine, but as a direct therapeutic resource as well.
In the field of preventive medicine we have accomplished much by the employment of educational procedures. Smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, and many other contagious and infectious diseases have been practically exterminated, but more yet remains to be accomplished. By teaching the people how to avoid the sources of infection from the typhoid fever bacillus, the bacillus of meningitis, hookworm, diphtheria, and scarlet fever infections, which has been enforced upon the public by scientific men, thousands of human lives are today saved which in former times were sacrificed to ignorance. When more is known of the causes of cancer and pellagra, it is strongly probable that these scourges of the human race will be quelled in the same way.
Shakespeare's expression, "Ignorance is the curse of God; knowl-edge the wings wherewith to My to Heaven," might well be paraphrased so as to read, "Ignorance is the cause of disease; knowledge is the wings wherewith to fly to health." The etiological factors of disease are here, and ever will be.
1 Frnest Jones. - Journal of Abnormal Psychology, June-July, 1909.
It is up to the individual to live so as to maintain a degree of resistive power that will render the cells of his organism invulnerable to the outrages of pathological process. That this is the real problem for the individual, and therefore for the medical profession - the problem of man for mankind - must be plain to every one, but how are we to go about it? The accomplishment of this end is the goal sought by scientific medicine - our real problem - before which every other problem fades into insignificance. To this end we need the contribution of every department of medical science and of surgery as well.
But pathology alone will not solve the problem. Finding microbes and abnormal cells, or making blood counts, will not do the work for the individual. Pathological findings help us better to determine what we can do for him and what we can get him to do for himself, and therein is its greatest help.
Surgery will not solve the problem. We can remove the pathological processes, cut out or destroy the diseased part, but, if we do that and nothing more, we frequently accomplish very little for the individual.
Medicine, alone or combined with electrotherapeutics, hydrotherapy, and massage, will not solve the problem.
After we have all the assistance offered by the combined therapeutic, mechanical, and surgical devices of medicine, as it is generally taught and practiced today, we have not done enough. We need to do something more. We need to help to equip the individual to help himself.
To help those individuals who stand in need of such assistance to so make employment of their physiological machinery that the highest possible condition of physical and mental stability may be maintained while making the struggle for existence, is the special function of psychotherapy.
Let me make a picture. Over on one side we see arrayed two powerful forces of nature. The one is composed of inherited weaknesses, microbes, and ignorance - the etiological factors of disease. On the other side are arrayed the accumulated knowledge of all ages, human intelligence, altruism - the real helpers of man. The com-ba1 between these two forces is both pathetic and interesting, and a recitation of its history marks the footprints of evolution and the development of modern science. But the fight is only half begun. Obsolete therapeutic systems, unreasonable surgical procedures, false theological concepts, and irrational educational methods, which have been hindrances to the welfare of the human race, are being rapidly refuted, and the adherents of scientific knowledge, practically applied, are day by day gaining new victories - victories for the whole of mankind.