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.
Yet, physicians are far from infallible. All their patients do not get well, neither does absolute knowledge upon any subject exist, while every conception, or theory, or viewpoint represents some relative phase of truth to be determined by individual experience.
While we know what mercury will do in syphilis, and quinin in malaria, and sulphur in itch, and antitoxin timely administered in diphtheria, and what the result of corrected errors of refraction will bring in the relief of headaches and numerous functional disturbances, and what relief surgery will bring in gross pathological changes, etc., yet there are many conditions confronted in all lines of professional work in which we do not know absolutely what the outcome will be, and no physician has done his full duty until he has given his patient the full benefit of every therapeutic aid. The rule should be, "while there is life there is hope."
Two cases here cited that have been brought to my attention will illustrate the blunders that may be made by too quickly jumping at conclusions without due appreciation of the psychologic factor in therapeutics.
A well-known physician and surgeon was consulted in reference to a patient of another physician with an incipient malignant affection of the cervix, and he strongly advised operative procedures as the only safe course to pursue. The operation was deferred, and several months later this patient was taken on a litter to a prominent surgeon in one of our larger cities. After carefully considering the case, together with the assistance of a well-known pathologist who made a microscopical examination to determine the exact character of the disease, he declined to operate, as he believed this would only serve to transplant the disease to more vital structures and hasten her death. Discouraged and hopeless, the lady finally yielded after much protest to the solicitation of a Christian science friend, and consented to do so because this was the only promise held out to her for a possible hold on life. After three or four mouths' treatment by Christian science psychological methods, that lady had gained twenty pounds and returned home, walking erect and strong, and after three years would occasionally call upon the consulting surgeon in her home town who advised the operation in the incipiency of her disease, and laugh heartily over the incidents connected with her case.
The facts in this case can be well authenticated.
Again, in a western city a gentleman about thirty-five years of age had been treated for pulmonary tuberculosis for a period extending over many months, and was finally advised to go to a higher and drier altitude, his physician assuring him that this was the only hope offered for him. He went to a town situated just west of the Rocky Mountains, and carried with him a letter of introduction from his home physician, together with a report from a competent pathologist showing sputa teeming with tubercle bacilli. After examination and observation for several days, this physican advised the sufferer to go home at once and die among his friends and relatives. He then sought the assistance of a Christian scientist, and after two days did return home inspired with hope, and, having been able to sleep and eat under the psychic effects of that method, he was much improved, and put himself under the care of a Christian science "practitioner" at his home town. When I saw him he was holding the position of city attorney, and in his hands he held the report of the pathologist, as unquestionable proof of the correctness of his history, which he flaunted, while he enthusiastically related his experience at one of their midweek meetings, stating that he had gained thirty pounds, and was enjoying life - eating, working, and happy.
As illustrating another phase of the subject at hand, however, in another western city a well-known physician advised an immediate operation for an incipient malignant disease of the cervix. Seeing his patient a few weeks later, he very naturally greeted her and expressed his pleasure at seeing her looking so well. "Oh, I have never been sick, doctor. That was all an 'error of mortal mind.' I am perfectly well." Her phraseology at once "put him next," so, with the salutation, " I 'wish you well, madam," he modestly left her.
Several months later she returned to his office. The temporary psychic stimulation that had for awhile held her up, in spite of the existing pathological conditions, had reacted, and now that characteristic, sallow, cachectic hue which attends this disease was plainly in evidence. She was weak and anemic, nervous and overanxious about her condition. She had at last decided to have him operate, but she had waited too long, and there was nothing left but to leave her to face the inevitable.
In the first case of "malignant disease" it is probable that the pathologist was mistaken; and tuberculosis, under favorable climatic conditions and when not too far advanced, is by no means an incurable disease. Good food, dry open air, sunshine and optimism often do wonders in the way of giving the recuperative powers of such patients an opportunity to overcome pathogenic bacteria and re-establish a condition of health. In less serious affections, especially, should the influence that the psychic factor exerts be well kept in mind before an unfavorable prognosis is rendered, for there are numerous instances in which the prognosis may determine the outcome of the disease on account of the part played by suggestion in aiding or retarding recovery.
In many diseases an exact diagnosis is not always possible, though few expert diagnosticians will admit this, and even in psychiatry and nervous diseases those that are amenable to treatment, either curative or palliative, are benefited just in proportion as the mental and bodily functions, both voluntary and involuntary, are encouraged into normal activity.
No possible harm can come to the individual by suggestive measures, used either with or without hypnotism, which are only a means of getting the individual to rely upon the properties, faculties, and functions inherent within the biological elements of the cells of his organism. By suggestion we can stimulate and develop all bodily and mental functions, both voluntary and involuntary.
All other sane, sensible measures are, of course, not to be neglected, such as rest or exercise, dietetics, hydrotherapy - both internal and external - relaxation, deep breathing, and materia med-ica agencies, as the individual case indicates. Yet, there are many cases, not incompatible with complete recovery, in which the patient would get well, due attention being given to the psychologic factor, but which would not recover without its aid.
In all cases let us give the patient the benefit of the doubt.