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.
It is a recognized psychological law that we become like those whom we habitually admire. Thus we become a part of all with whom we have associated during our existence. In all of our experience with literature and personal association this law continually operates, so that all men are reproductions of other men.
In all sections of the country are neurologists who, from constant association with a certain class of patients, seem to have become the living embodiment of all the objectionable mental and physical characteristics of their patients. A patient who had twice been to see a physician of that type remarked that he felt worse after each visit, and did not care to return.
Another neurologist, who was himself the personification of physical strength, mental vigor, and optimism, remarked to me that he never felt as though he had done his duty unless he sent his patient out of his office feeling better for having come to see him. It is needless to remark that he is one of the most successful men in his specialty in the profession today.
The reader will pardon me if I seem critical or personal in my remarks in this chapter, but the importance of the subject at hand is such that I should deem my effort futile did I not drive home the point under consideration. Only my experience and the results obtained by careful observation of the personal factor in therapeutics, and the encouragement of physicians who have also personally tested these methods, give me the courage to express my honest convictions at all hazards.
I fully realize that the hard knocks and criticism that may be fired at me will only serve to educate the profession in the sane, rational use of the measures advocated, and, if such be the case, my efforts will not have been in vain.
It is a great thing to be able to make a hair-splitting diagnosis, the correctness of which is infallible, and I shall unceasingly strive to attain such proficiency.
It may also be a great satisfaction, and it is of unquestionable benefit to the physician who can do it, to give a minute and detailed delineation and description of the pathology of a disease to the satisfaction of his professional associates, but such an elucidation is never of value to the patient.
Physicians themselves become the easy victims of any disease as soon as they become conscious of the seriousness and gravity of the diagnosis rendered by their colleagues in attendance. Their very knowledge of its etiology and pathology renders them unduly self-conscious of their condition, and such a self-consciousness gives rise to morbid mental states that inhibit the normal physiological processes, prevent sleep, and seriously retard recovery.
When I see a physician sick and a half dozen of his learned colleagues lined up around him, all rendering him more self-conscious of the seriousness of his condition, I wish that only one of them had been called, and that he possessed those qualities of personality that, in spite of the physician's knowledge of pathology, could drive back those existing morbid sense impressions, and substitute in their stead mental states that would enable him to put up a more creditable fight. If the life of a physician is worth anything, the end would justify the means. So, while giving due appreciation to scientific professional knowledge and training in pathology and diagnosis, what is of far greater importance is that we so use our knowledge as to help our patients get well.
Every visit of the physician is an opportunity to help accomplish such a result, and here is where the personality of the physician is often detrimental or helpful to the recovery of the patient. The very self-consciousness induced by a physician at his visits, and the mental states which follow in consequence of such an induced self-consciousness, are the deciding factors for the good or harm of the patient. The influence of personality is contagious. We set up mental states in others around our patients that prove helpful or harmful in the sick-room.
Out in New Mexico a young man walked out of a physician's office looking downcast and dejected, with lips tightly closed and with jerky inspirations. "A lunger up against it good and hard," is the way they refer to such patients out there.
That night I lectured to a class of physicians, and the next day that patient went out of the same office with a smile on his face and a bright, animated expression, having taken the first step toward recovery, as the result of sense impressions or suggestions strongly made upon his brain cortex by his physician. He ate more that day, slept well that night, and reported that he had coughed but little, was not so nervous, had enjoyed his hreakfast, and felt stronger - all because his physician had the personality to exercise the egotism and altruism to look him squarely in the face after his examination and say to him, "I have some good news to tell you. You are much better today. Already a marked improvement has taken place in your condition, but you will be very much better by tomorrow. You will enjoy your food today, have a good digestion, sleep well tonight, and improve every day from now on."
Physicians themselves frequently have invalid wives, whose invalidism is maintained in consequence of the constant association of a husband whose personality depresses them. The affection displayed by such men for their wives may be beautiful to contemplate, but the accompanying emotional, sentimental sympathy is weakening in the extreme.
Reader, if you happen to be of that type of individual, get cured of your miserable psychoneurotic disease, and don't live as a parasite, infecting the lives of those with whom you associate. My prescription for you is to associate and amalgamate with the wideawake element of the medical profession who constitute the upper ten percent of our ranks. Sages, poets, and philosophers of all ages have repeated this message to the world - that men and women make men and women.
If there be anything of value in these expressions, that I so feebly echo here, they are but the reflex of impressions that association with other personalities has left upon my cerebral cortex. If the quality of my brain plasm were of higher standard, and my previous environing and educational advantages had been more propitious, my opportunities would have borne better fruit.
We all have our capacity, and, under equal opportunities, we can react upon sense impressions or suggestions only in proportion to our qualifications.
Some men bring a reproach upon the profession on account of a failure to exhibit those character qualities which alone constitute the highest type of professional personality and manhood. By the correct use of your personality as a factor in therapeutics, you help people to help themselves.
The fear that some physicians have that people will object to the employment of these methods is a self-confessed weakness. They are too proud to express a favorable opinion. Fear never accomplished anything for the good of the physician or his patient. Some of the best friends I have in the world today are those made in my efforts to get them to control themselves, who took my suggestions given either consciously or subconsciously, and through such aid learned to rely upon themselves.
In the employment of suggestion, both with and without hypnotism, you are only helping your patient to help himself. Yet, many physicians will denounce and ridicule it, and go on filling neurotic patients with such medicines as lessen in every way the patient's self-reliance, making the patient absolutely dependent upon them.
A man who practices medicine in that way may make money, but he also encourages the business of the undertaker. He can be excused only upon the ground of ignorance, and deserves to be placed in the class of the quack and the charlatan.