This section is from the "Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure" book, by Henry Lindlahr.
The discoverers of anesthetics are classed among the greatest benefactors of humanity, because it is believed that ether, chloroform, cocaine and similar nerve-paralyzing agents have greatly lessened the sum of human suffering. I doubt, however, that this is true.
Anesthetics have made surgery technically easy and have done away with the pain caused directly by the incisions; but on the other hand, these marvelous effects of pain-killing drugs have encouraged indiscriminate and unnecessary operations to such an extent that at least nine-tenths of all the surgical operations performed today are uncalled for. In most instances these ill-advised mutilations are followed by lifelong weakness and suffering, which far outweigh the temporary pains formerly endured when unavoidable operations were performed without the use of anesthesia.
We do not wish to be understood as condemning unqualifiedly any and all surgical interventions in the treatment of human ailments. An operation may occasionally be absolutely necessary as a means of saving life. Surgery is also indicated in cases of injury, such as wounds or fractured bones, in certain obstetrical complications and in other affections of a purely mechanical nature.
In all such cases anesthetics prevent much suffering which cannot be avoided in any other way. But anyone who has had an opportunity to watch the prolonged misery of the victims of un-called-for operations will not doubt that anesthesia has been a two-edged sword which has inflicted many more wounds than it has healed.
Many physicians have recognized more or less distinctly the uselessness and harmfulness of "Old School" medical treatment. Dissatisfied and disgusted with old-fashioned drugging, they turn to surgery, convinced that in it they possess an exact scientific method of curing ailments. They seem to think that the surest way to cure a diseased organ is to remove it with the knife--fine reasoning for school boys, but not worthy of men of science.
I, for my part, cannot understand how an organ can be cured after it has been extirpated and, preserved in alcohol, adorns the specimen cabinet of the surgeon.