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.
As we learn to discriminate between people of other classes presumably of like character and qualities, so do we also with physicians. There are among medical men some who, in the true sense of the word, are not physicians at all. Here is a type of the latter class. One day, in speaking of the importance of the psychological factor in therapeutics with a physician, he said, "Well, there may be something in that; for not long since I had a patient who lay in bed a little over three months, and I could not find a thing the matter with her, but I have never tried to exercise any influence over my patients in any way. They expect medicine, and I give it to them, and let them use their own minds to suit themselves. I am not in the profession for my health, and a man is liable to lose out with his patients by being too dictatorial."
"How often did you see her, Doctor ?"
"Twice a day."
"And you let her stay in bed three months, saw her twice a day, and did not even tell her that there was no reason for her staying in bed, and advise that she get up and move about, take exercise, get fresh air, and take an interest in the affairs of life, both as a means of happiness and for her physical well-being?"
"No; she was a very sensitive woman, and I hated to hurt her feelings," he replied.
"What was your bill in that case, Doctor?"
"Four hundred and eighty dollars."
"And you are not afraid to hurt her feelings with that sized bill?"
"Oh, no; she was quite well satisfied and paid it without a murmur."
"Why, Doctor, if I saw no reason for that woman staying in bed and having me visit her twice a day, I would as lief take money off a dead man's eyes as receive pay for such work."
"That is just the difference between us," said he.
And it was. And this illustrates a type of men everywhere who call themselves physicians.
Some physicians are actually convinced that they have done their duty when they have been kind, sympathetic, and attentive to their patients and prescribed for them medicinally. Since their patients are satisfied, they seem to feel that they have done their whole duty. So long as there is money in the case, the recovery of the patient does not seem to concern them.
The absolute lack of moral courage displayed by this class of doctors, who upon the surface give the appearance of being honest and conscientious professional gentlemen, is horrible to contemplate. They use narcotics freely, even when contraindicated, inhibiting the normal physiological processes, robbing their patients of self-reliance, rendering them absolutely dependent upon the physician, lessening in every way their resistive powers, and actually retarding recovery. We all have seen such men, who, in the spirit of cold commercialism, impress by word and conduct on their patients that they are very sick, when this attitude on the physician's part has proved to be a great causative factor in the case. Their patients, after a long illness, consider that their physician, in having impressed on them that such would be the case, has only displayed his knowledge and good judgment, whereas, in fact, this man in whom they have trusted has really been the greatest causative factor in the case.
Some physicians acquire a high reputation by giving a gloomy prognosis, thereby instilling fear into the minds of both patients and friends, bringing to bear upon them all the psychological conditions possible to depress them and hypnotize them into a long siege of illness. The power and efficacy of suggestion in the cause and cure of disease are but faintly appreciated by one in a thousand of the people of our time; hence their easy gullibility by such men. The student of psychotherapeutics can discern this class of physicians everywhere, who often stand high in the medical profession.
If I were to use the simile that I had in my employ a servant ever able and willing to obey my directions to have everything in the house just as I wanted it, you could form some idea of the power of the great involuntary nervous system in its control over the bodily functions. We influence this involuntary nervous sys-tem by the sense impressions we make upon the brain plasm of the patient whenever we come into his or her presence.
Fully nine-tenths of an individual's psychic powers or protoplasmic energies are subconscious - that is, he, the intellectual man, is unconscious of them. These we can influence for the good or harm of our patient. The physician who shakes his head, and gives a high-sounding name of the disease, often fastens the condition stronger upon his patient by adding a psychoneurotic element when there is no pathological basis for the condition named.
A lady of my acquaintance had been sick for several months, and her physician took with him to see her a consultant who appreciated the psychic element in therapeutics. Together in the consulting room they discussed this case.
"What is the matter with her, Doctor ?"
"Just weak and nervous, can't sleep, does not eat, discouraged, and getting worse every day."
The consulting physician quickly saw that the attending physician was the most aggravating causative factor in this case.
"Why does not she get better?" said he to the consultant.
"Because you don't talk and act right."
"What must I do and how should I talk?"
"Why, give her a sleeping capsule, and tell her that you are going to give her a good night's sleep. Then turn to the nurse and say, 'Give one of these sleeping capsules at eight o'clock, and, if she is not sleeping soundly by nine, give her another, but in no event give her more than two - she will sleep soundly all night.' Say it as if you meant it. Say it as if you had not the slightest doubt about it. Then, turning to the patient, say, 'You are going to sleep well tonight and will feel much better in the morning.'
"When you come to see her tomorrow, smile pleasantly as you walk into the room and, as you bid her good-morning, take her hand, and, feeling her pulse, affirm, 'You are better.' Tell her she will improve every day now. Say to her, 'You will enjoy your food today and not be nervous, and will feel much stronger; you are going to get well; going right along to recovery.' Keep this up as you see her at every visit. Getting in behind a neurasthenic case like this, with all the bodily functions perverted, you can stir latent energies and stimulate nervous centers into activity, and be a factor for good."
The physician did so and his patient was soon well.