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.
His mother, as was her custom, at bedtime began to have him recite his infant's prayer, and after her the child repeated: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should - " there he began to have a paroxysm of coughing, and when he could speak again he said, "Mamma, mamma, I don't want to say any dying prayer - I want to say a living prayer, like that papa told you."
The substitute for the standard orthodox style of prayer had been learned from one of the current journals, and went as follows:
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I know the Lord my soul shall keep, And I shall wake to see the light, For God is with me all the night."
To satisfy the child and his mother, the father said, "Yes, my boy, we don't want a dying prayer - at least not when we are sick," and he repeated the substitute, the child saying it after him, and then went quietly to sleep.
If an ignorant Indian chief, that child of the plains, and a little four-year-old boy can appreciate a living prognosis and a living prayer, so are all men and women influenced by sense impressions or suggestions that a gloomy prognosis produces, with its weakening, paralyzing, inhibitory influence to all the nerve centers.
It is a physician's duty, first, last, and all the time, to do that which will help the patient get well.
There are many instances where, in a case of extreme illness, the only help that can be given a patient is to inspire him with hope, encouragement, and optimism, allaying his fears, and bringing about those conditions necessary for the physiological processes to accomplish the work of restoring the patient to health.
By the influence exerted upon the mind we encourage all the physiological processes, and thus, through them, convert potential energy into dynamic energy. We help the cells of the body to accomplish their work of fighting the etiological factors of disease, whether due to pathogenic germs or to other factors.
Physicians have frequently reminded me, in discussing this phase of our subject, that they have repeatedly witnessed a rapid lessening of the resistive powers and speedy death as soon as they rendered an unfavorable prognosis, given frankly and honestly in response to the question, "Doctor, do you think I am going to get well?"
If a patient who is extremely ill has important business matters in mind that are worrying him, let them be arranged to his satisfaction upon the ground that it will help him get well.
To such questions as, "Am I going to die?" you can evade a direct answer by giving one that will be perfectly satisfactory to your patient, and at the same time will create sense impressions that will set up a different line of thought.
I prefer to so impress my patient that such an idea will never come into his mind, and also to engage the services of every member of his family to help me to accomplish this result, while on the outside I take them into my confidence and express my opinion to them honestly and frankly.
Even in a case of acute multiple neuritis, with high fever, intense pain, hyperesthesia, and great tenderness, in which the disease reached its height in ten or twelve days, I was enabled to maintain a mental stoicism that was remarkable, and at the time of the patient's most distressing symptoms he repeated to me the suggestion that I had so often iterated to him. I had so often said to him, "You will get better," that he began to ask for the suggestion by saying, "I will get better, won't I, Doctor?" It was some months before he was able to go about on crutches, but I never let him get away from the conviction of recovery.
At the time of the Galveston flood an unfortunate man was picked up perfectly helpless, in a half-drowned, wounded condition, and for six months lay in bed wearing a plaster cast for a severe injury to his spine. Two years later he was hobbling on crutches, which he had been using for many months, but he was unable to get his hands to the floor and rise again without support. He was in constant pain, had numerous functional disturbances, insomnia, indigestion, frequent movements from his bowels, headaches, etc.
When I saw him I felt that possibly his nervous system was retaining impressions after the results of the physical injury which caused his pain, disturbances of locomotion, and other symptoms had been removed; and, at the request of his physician, I gave him three suggestive treatments, using hypnotism as a means to secure the most effective results.
All his symptoms were relieved, including his indigestion and bowel complications, after three or four treatments; he put aside his crutches, and a week after the last treatment was comfortable and happy.
In all classes of practice the therapeutic value of suggestions, strongly put into the brain plasm of your patient, will help him to get well where recovery is possible.
In some classes of work all that a physician can accomplish for the patient is to help him endure his physical disabilities. This includes such cases as where the organic structure of the nerve cells is involved, atrophic changes have taken place in the spinal cord or any other parts of the motor nervous system, as well as inoperable pathological conditions, resulting from malignant disease, tuberculosis, and all such cases as are beyond the pale of recovery.
Even in these cases, however, we can use suggestive measures to enable the patient to better endure his sufferings, and do so without the aid of hypnotism, much to the comfort of both the patient and his family.
In two cases of malignant disease - in one case of the uterus and in another of the stomach - occurring in two people above the age of sixty, I kept them each so cheered by constantly holding before their attention a contemplation of their past lives, which had been filled with usefulness, of duty done and successful achievement in their own humble way, and so pointed out the moral heroism that they were displaying and the value of such an example of cheerfulness and optimism, that they were enabled to meet that sweetest and most welcome of all relievers of pain and suffering under such existing conditions, death, with hardly a word of complaint.
If our patients have sufficient recuperative powers to give even the slightest hope of recovery, let us strengthen that hope and help them get well.
If they are ill with incurable diseases, we should help them to endure their suffering, all the while working for their recovery even without the slightest ray of hope to encourage us. Thousands and thousands of such efforts have been rewarded by the recovery of apparently incurable patients.
A million years of advancement and progress will not have rendered our most expert diagnosticians sufficiently competent to prognosticate with infallibility, in all cases, against the determined and persistent effort of the truly alive physician who will stand up, with all odds against him, and fight for the recovery of his patient with every available therapeutic resource.
Absolute honesty and sincerity, under all circumstances, are imperative to the self-respecting physician, but the weakening, paralyzing, discouraging frankness of the pessimist is brutal.