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.
The value of this therapeutic resource in the maintenance of a heightened degree of resistive power of the organism, and of assisting nature in combating morbid processes, is beyond question, as is demonstrated in the every-day routine of those who make employment of psychotherapeutic principles.
Contemporary psychologists have firmly established the fact that suggestion used to unduly exaggerate the gravity of the symptoms of a given case proves to be a powerful psychophysiological depressant, that the representation of a movement arrested is the beginning of the stoppage of that movement, and that it may even end in the complete stoppage of that function. "Paralysis by ideas" is not infrequent in the every-day practice of the physician whose gloomy prognosis is insinuated upon the consciousness of his patient and those in attendance upon him. This condition was referred to by Charcot under the name of "psychic paralysis." The conviction on the part of the patient that he can not move a limb renders him powerless for any movement, and he recovers his motor power only when the morbid representation has disappeared.
Upon one occasion I suggested to a young man that his knee was stiff, and he could not bend it until I gave him permission. I handed him one dollar, and told him that if he could bend his knee he could keep the money. I left him, and the next day he came to me and handed me the money, saying that he was a messenger boy and could not ride his wheel with a stiff limb. As he handed me the money I asserted that he could now use his limb better than ever before in his life, and he went away happy.
This influence of suggestion is not limited to the voluntary and motor functions, hut to the involuntary physiological processes as well. All sick people are more or less the victims of their fears. The very conviction of being sick and incompetent, which impels them to seek a physician, is a vivid representation or autosuggestion, which inhibits functional activity.
Very frequently a physician describes the pathological process, makes a vivid representation of the diseased condition, and leaves his patient in a more complete state of psychic paralysis than before coming into his presence. What appears as the result of these representations or suggestions is perhaps entirely new. They may he without precedent in the life of the individual, hut the phenomena are present nevertheless.
It matters not what be the diseased process, make your patient feel that you understand the nature of his disease; that you are master of the situation; leave nothing undone to strongly implant the conviction of recovery, and that it will begin from the very moment that he begins to make employment of the measures prescribed for his relief. To this end all possible available thera-peutic expedients are serviceable, not only for the direct influence which their own potency may exert upon the diseased process, but as a direct psychophysiological stimulant as well.
The syphilologist, doing the largest specialty practice of any physician in the United States, is a strong advocate of the employment of suggestion as a psychophysiological stimulant in conjunction with the administration of mercury. Suggestion employed in this disease as an adjuvant to the specific medication heightens the resistive power of every cell in the human organization and wonderfully augments the patient's recovery.
In the treatment of typhoid and other fevers I have boldly asserted to a patient that a glass of buttermilk taken every three hours would enable him to make a sure and rapid recovery, and in such cases I never let the patient get away from this conviction. while at the same time making use of such other therapeutic expedients as deemed advisable.
Psychotherapy is applied by the employment of suggestion, both with and without hypnotism, and it finds its application to all fornix of medical practice as an adjunct to the recognized therapeutic agencies, whether the condition be acute or chronic, gynecologic or otherwise.
Unquestionably the general practice of medicine is the field wherein its employment is attended with the most gratifying results. Without an intelligent conception of psychotherapy, so many of the cases of the general practitioner that are within his legitimate domain are likely to fall into the hands of the specialists, who are so rapidly crowding him out of work. His work is preventive as well as curative, and many of the more serious pathological lesions begin as functional disturbances, the neglect of which results in gross pathologic changes. It is in functional disorders that psychotherapy is pre-eminently applicable, and, if taken in their incipiency, as when discovered by the general practitioner, they could be easily relieved from the consequences which must be the inevitable result if neglected.
But psychotherapy finds a most important field of application in the treatment of the acute diseases as well. The writer attended a meeting of a medical society where the employment of morphin hypodermatically was freely advocated for the relief of the pain that accompanies acute pneumonia. It was no surprise to me that the physician advocating its employment stated that fifty percent of his cases of pneumonia terminated fatally.
Another physician present referred to the hypodermatic employment of morphin as "a sheet-anchor for the relief of pain that accompanies acute lobar pneumonia," and he also stated that at least twenty-five percent of his pneumonia cases terminated fatally.
My own convictions in regard to the dangerous consequences ■ of the employment of morphin in the treatment of "pneumonia were such that I felt impelled to preface my remarks in opposition to the treatment advised by the statement that in ten years of general practice I had treated but one single case of pneumonia that terminated fatally in a person above two years of age, and that was in the case of an elderly person, complicated with pleu-ritis attended with an enormous effusion. The employment of morphin in the treatment of pneumonia, I said, I regarded; as criminal, as helping the disease to kill the patient, nor did I hesitate to state that patients who recovered under such treatment did so in spite of the disease and the treatment. Quinin I used in moderate quantities, 20 to 40 grains per day, but the pain and other nervous manifestations I controlled by the alternate application of hot and cold poultices, or hot poultices only, together with the free and intelligent employment of suggestion.
Of course other remedial agencies were also employed, if indicated, but I am now speaking only of general treatment.