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.
Disease is a condition where the cells of a part or of the entire organism do not properly perform their function. At any rate, it denotes an absence of health. These are only relative terms, for what might be a condition of reasonably good health for one individual would be so far below the normal standard of another as to be considered disease for him.
A problem that confronts every human being is how to maintain the highest possible degree of resistive power in the cells of his organism so as to render them invulnerable to pathogenic germs and other etiological factors of disease. This can not always be accomplished by tonics, reconstructive agents, etc. In many instances it is simply a question of getting the individual to conform to those conditions and habits of life which bring an increased degree of resistive power to the cells of his organism as a consequence. Such habits can often be brought about as the result of an idea put strongly into the brain plasm of your patient. Before you can succeed in putting such an idea sufficiently strong to get your patient to act upon it so as to change his habits of thought and conduct, you must believe in the efficacy of the means to secure the desired end. Confidence begets confidence, and conviction creates conviction; courage begets courage, and health begets health.
So, if a physician is weak, discouraged, and tender-footed, he must get right himself before he can get others to act upon an idea, either consciously or subconsciously. To bring about this end, try "roughing it" as a means of health, and get your patients to do likewise.
The finest reconstructive agent at our command is an idea conveyed to your patient that will create hope, expectancy, confidence, and optimism. All these encourage anabolism or constructive metamorphosis, and this is doubly true when it moves one out into the sunshine and fresh air, and enforces exercise and deep breathing, resulting in sound sleep, good appetite, and increased digestion and assimilation. It means new blood for the patient, and all these contribute to health.
Along with this comes a rest from the routine path of life, the dropping of business cares and perplexities, and a chance to catch something of the inspiration that comes from associating with birds and wild flowers, trees and rocks, and running streams. The psychic and physical effect for the good of the individual of all such measures can not be overestimated.
We are told that one death out of ten in the world today is the result of tuberculosis. It is not so. The people who die infected with tubercle bacilli do so because they do not live so as to maintain that high degree of resistive power to enable the cells of their organism to withstand the onslaught of this pathogenic enemy.
In offices and street cars, in places of business and on the street, we in cities are exposed to the tubercle infection every day of our lives. We do not contract the disease because we are alive enough to resist its invasion. The factors of disease are here and ever will be. It is up to us to learn how to live.
No better illustration of the value of roughing it can be cited than where thousands and thousands of individuals with this disease are yearly going to the high altitudes along the range of the Rockies and dropping all home comforts, having the will and courage to face hardships in the West, living out-of-doors in open tents, and in this way making the fight for their lives. The very decision to do that which they believe will result in their recovery is the important essential which, favored by a dry high altitude and the conditions for living in the open air and sunshine, and encouraged by the optimism and cheerfulness of those who have been in that section long enough to have dropped the title of "tenderfoot, " brings about a restoration of health.
Life is a struggle with us all. In order to live, we must dare to be. We need sufficient resistive power in the cells of our organism to combat the etiological factors of disease, and this can be secured only by conforming to the requirements for creating and maintaining that high standard of healthfulness that will secure this quality.
In all classes of practice, medicine is only an aid. With its assistance the individual's chances of recovery, when sick, depend upon the natural recuperative powers of the cells of his organism.
In thousands of instances during warfare individuals have left their homes of comfort and luxurious ease, and for years have endured the hardships of camp life and the stress of battle, on scanty food and insufficient bedding without shelter, only to return after the campaign strong and robust, and in a perfect state of health.
During the cowboy days many young men, reared in wealth and affluence, went as physical weaklings to the western plains, and, astride a broncho, followed a herd of cattle and endured the hardships of camp life and simple diet until they were rewarded with health and vigor of mind and body.
The very process of learning to be content with little to make one comfortable and satisfied with extemporized substitutes cultivates a mental and physical stoicism which, as a means of health, is hard to overestimate.
We watch with, interest a game of baseball or football on the hottest day of summer, and wonder how the participants can so ignore the heat and enjoy such sport; such "roughing it" brings its reward and produces physical athletes.
At a temperature of 110 degrees in the shade I watched a gang of men working for hours and hours in the hot sun engaged in laborious manual labor with pick and shovel. This acquired physical resistance came "by roughing it," and the men were healthy and happy.
A month after the earthquake of San Francisco, when a hundred thousand people were in improvised tents and on plain, coarse food, the health of that city was officially reported as being better than at any time in its history. Neurasthenics who must have a cup of coffee with snowflake crackers in bed before rising in the morning were, after one month of "roughing it," enjoying a breakfast of onions and beans.
The health and vigor that rewarded the early settlers in the pioneer days of our country, when they were compelled to labor hard, live simply, and have but little, also has its lesson.
To the thoughtful observer it is plain that our artificial methods of living at the present time are not conducive to the highest development of manhood and womanhood.
When education interferes with physical development, it strikes a weakening blow at the quality of the brain plasm of the individual, an element that must be kept at a high standard to attain the best results in mind and body building.
It has often been observed that the most successful men in all professions and in all lines of business in our large cities have been, and are, those who were reared in the less populous towns and rural districts, where those natural conditions of simple living, fresh air, pure water and sunshine, quiet surroundings and wholesome food, exercise and employment, furnished the environment under which the highest standard of physical development could be produced. Such conditions favored the growth and development of a quality of brain plasm that manifested itself in the facility with which the individual was enabled to withstand the arduous duties and responsibilities amid the more complex environment of city life.
The boy reared in the fields, well acquainted with the woods and familiar with the chop axand the wood pile, thought he was having a hard time, but we know better now.
The country girl that rides horseback to school, carries a cold lunch in a bucket, and grows up among the birds and flowers., with cheeks painted by fresh air and sunshine, has a mental and physical equipment for life that far surpasses the accomplishments of her more delicately formed city sister. Let this be supplemented with a liberal education, and she is prepared to withstand the exigencies of life under any and all conditions.
"Yes," said one physician, "granting that all you say about the value of physiological and mental therapeutics be true, if we put the laity in possession of such knowledge, we physicians are likely to be out of a job."
To entertain for one moment such a selfish idea or to give expression to such sentiments is not in accord with the spirit that actuates the leaders of our high and noble profession.
We are rapidly learning to appropriate every possible means of maintaining a high degree of physical resistance in the cells of the organism as a means of enabling it to withstand the stress and strain of modern life.
The distance from the primitive life of our forefathers is too short to suddenly abandon the habits whereby they developed muscle and sinew. The most important factors in the maintenance of health are not on sale in a drug store. An occasional return for a short period to the primitive vocations - toil, manual labor, hunting, and fishing in the places remote from the dust and noise of the city - exchanging the freedom of camp life, fresh air, and sunshine for the confinement of office and the responsibilities of business, are being made every year by thousands of our American physicians in the effort to maintain the highest degree of physical resistance and mental efficiency, and we should never forget the beneficence of such measures in prescribing for our patients.