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.
There is no better method of gaining the confidence of some patients than by giving a drug that will produce specific results, and given with the assurance that a specified result can be expected. Here we get not only the physiological action of the drug employed, but also find the drug producing a result that can be specified a most powerful means of suggestion.
There are in the experience of every general practitioner, in certain individual cases, crises where the psychic factor has decided the recovery or nonrecovery of his patient. The author has had in his own experience several incidents where he has been called into consultation to see individuals who were seriously ill, where the entire family had confidence in his judgment, which also made the patient more amenable to his suggestions, and where the attending physician had practically read the patient's death warrant by giving an unfavorable prognosis in no uncertain terms; and, after making an examination, he has begun psychic treatment by the positive statement to the patient, "You are going to get well all right."
In one such case that happened to be turned over to me after a brief absence, where the physician in temporary charge had given a positive, unfavorable prognosis, I assured the patient in the presence of the physician at my first visit that he was going to get well, that the treatment that he was on was precisely the right one, that a decided change for the better would take place that very night. The physician, a very dear friend of mine, followed me out of the room, and in a subdued tone, addressing me by name. said, "I hate to see you fall so hard. There is no more possibility of that patient getting well than there is of your taking wings and flying."
The case in question was that of an old man seventy-eight years of age, who had been sick for ten days with grippe, and who now had an acute lobar pneumonia. The prognosis given by the physician in this case was just such as ninety-nine physicians out of a hundred, who did not fully recognize the value of the psychic factor in therapeuties, would have given in such a case.
"Why do you say that he will not get well?" I asked.
"It is my opinion, based upon the pathological conditions, to-gether with his age and continued illness," was his reply.
"But my opinion is that he will get well," said I.
"Yes, but you are not doing right to make him believe that he is going to get well when he is so sick," said he most kindly.
"But, Doctor, that is just what is going to make him get well; because I can make him believe it will strengthen the bridge that is to tide him over to recovery."
After that I assumed control ,of the situation, and allowed no one to enter that room who did not believe that the patient was going to recover on account of confidence sufficient in me to rely upon my judgment. Even the physician agreed to co-operate with my plan out of respect for my wishes in that particular case.
When he returned the next day he said to me in the consulting room, with his face lighted with a smile, "He is really better; your presence has greatly benefited him." It was eleven days before that lung cleared up; his temperature went down, and heart beats became strong and natural for his condition, but he recovered.
The point that I wished to bring out has been illustrated in this case. The physician who does not fully appreciate the psychological factor in therapeutics is far more likely to give an unfavorable prognosis, and in many instances he might as well knock his patient on the head with a sledge hammer as use psychic influences, unconsciously though it be, to retard rather than promote recovery.
It is frequently the case that the physician comes into the presence of a serious pathological condition so depressed himself by his knowledge of pathology that he forgets to put confidence in the recuperative powers of his patient, which can be encouraged and stimulated to increase all physiological processes. This unconscious suggestive influence may so plant fear in the patient, accumulating with double force on account of the depressing environing psychologic influence which follows as a logical sequence, that it can be stated as a scientific truth that the prognosis frequently kills the patient.
People die frequently under such conditions of purely nervous shock. Shock may be defined as being a. complete suspension of some and partial suspension of others of the functions of the nervous system.
Fear alone, an emotion which is the result of the analysis of consequences, exercises an inhibitory influence pver all the nervous functions, both voluntary and involuntary. Every idea that originates in the conscious mind as the result of self-analysis of subjective sensations, symptoms, and conditions reproduces itself in the body.
Physiologists have always endowed the nerve and brain centers with a peculiar energy of their own, indefinitely expressed under such terms as neuric energy, nerve force, vis medicatrix nature, etc. At any rate, these higher centers stand in a similar relation to the body as a dynamo stands to a great building full of intricate and complex machinery. When properly manipulated, the influx of energy goes to every organ, cell, and function of the body, giving stored up energy to the special functions as occasion requires.
The mental attitude of the patient to his own condition is the determining factor in the utilization of stored up reserve psychic power. The very belief on the part of the patient in the possible serious outcome of his illness - even when he is, as far as it is possible for a human being to be, apparently devoid of fear - disturbs and depresses him, and weakens all power of resistance.
An illustration of the influence of the conscious mind upon voluntary functions is well demonstrated by concentrating the mind upon the arm held at right angles to the body and constantly iterating the suggestion that "the arm is getting stronger and stronger."