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 by reason of the neglect of psychological methods of treatment by the medical profession that many sick people have been forced to ignore scientific medicine in vain effort to obtain relief from their psychophysical ills, and to seek aid from the Christian scientist, the osteopath, the magnetic healer, or anything that offered help by means other than persistent drugging and unreasonable surgical procedures. That drugs and surgery are, and have been, two of the greatest blessings to the human race none but a tyro will question in the least, but that they have been, and at present are, greatly abused is one of the most glaring and reprehensible discredits to the medical profession.
The essential argument of the advocates of this branch of professional equipment is, first, the universality of its application as an adjunct to all classes of professional work. It is not to be regarded as a specialty. No special type of personality is essential to its successful employment any more than is requisite in any other branch of medicine or surgery. Like all other measures, all that is needed is a knowledge of the fundamental principles upon which its application as a therapeutic measure is based and a practical knowledge of the technic of the various methods of its employment. The same is true of the employment of surgery, materia medica agencies, electrotherapeutics, hydrotherapy, dietetics, and any other method of physical or physiological therapeutics.
The second of the arguments in favor of the employment of psychotherapeutic principles is that it is based upon sound, rational, scientific principles. Mental processes, physiological processes, and physical effects are related to each other in such a way that each reinforces the other,
The impression that some physicians have that psychotherapy directly demands from them that they are to humbug their patients, or throw out suggestions which they themselves do not believe, and thus bring them down to the level of the Christian scientist, the osteopath, or the magnetic healer, is altogether an erroneous one. The tendency of the physician under such impressions to steer shy of the measure only shows his conscientious instinct on the one hand, and illustrates his misconception of the subject on the other.1
In all branches of medicine and surgery the line of demarcation between real science and its counterfeit is a very distinct one. The same is true as regards the employment of psychotherapeutic principles. A physician making employment of psychotherapy can make no greater mistake than to deviate in the least from the path of complete sincerity from his first steps in diagnosis to the employment of treatment for the relief of the condition found to be present.1
It is not necessary to make false or unreasonable promises in such cases where we believe that complete cure through the employment of psychotherapeutic principles is impossible. Even where we employ suggestion pure and simple, if we are to expect satisfactory results, they must be suggestions that are true and only the truth, as the experience of the patient and the actual physical and mental effects on the patient will in the due course of time confirm. Like the employment of all other measures, surgical or medicinal, the results largely, if not entirely, "depend upon the man behind the gun" - upon the personality of the physician making employment of the methods at hand. It is the function of the psychotherapist to so engage the psychophysical organism of his patient as to produce the results desired by the employment of the normal physiological mechanism of the nervous system.
The induction of anesthesia by suggestion is illustrative of the principle involved. The same principle is employed in securing sleep, or for the relief of pain, or to stimulate the functional activity of the stomach in perverted nutrition. The nervous system not only acts in the performance of its various functions, but it also reacts to the influence of mental and physical stimuli. In every one there are capabilities which potentially exist only when brought into action by a psychophysiological stimulus.
1 IIuro Munsterberg: Psychotherapy.
The reaction of the nervous system to the stimulus of phycho-therapeutic methods brings about the change from the abnormal to the normal, from the pathological to the physiological, from the unhealthy to the healthy, from a condition of functional inertia to one potentially active. In all diseased conditions, by whatever therapeutic measure we may employ, it is the restoration of functional activity that accomplishes the cure. This functional re-establishment is the sine qua non to the successful result achieved, by whatever measures we employ, in the treatment of any disease.
The third of the arguments in favor of the employment of psychotherapy is the large scope of its application in the general practice of medicine. In all acute diseases it is, when judiciously and skillfully employed, our most reliable functional stimulant, though generally unrecognized.
By its employment we quiet nervousness, promote sleep, aid digestion, encourage secretion and excretion, and, through a re-establishment of perverted functions, bring about an increased resistive power of every cell of the elements comprising the complex mechanism of the entire animal physiology. With its skillful employment the physician himself becomes one of the most potent aids in his therapeutic armamentarium.
To speak in general terms, he can employ such measures to retard the pulse, to inhibit pain, to lessen temperature, to modify hemorrhage, to stimulate functional activity, and, in consequence of its employment as a physiological stimulant, to make new blood and to increase the resistive power of all normal cellular elements to the onslaught of pathological processes.
Psychotherapy finds a most valuable field in the correction of vices, the curing of various drug habits, developing latent talents, strengthening the - muscles, and in correcting such morbid psychasthenic conditions as the various phobias, obsessions and associated conditions, despondency, and other morbid mental manifestations.