This section is from the "Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure" book, by Henry Lindlahr.
To believe that God or Nature will overcome the natural effects of our ignorance, laziness and viciousness by wonders, signs and metaphysics, or to deny the existence of sickness, sin and suffering, must lead inevitably to intellectual and moral stagnation and degeneration. I am a thorough and consistent optimist and New Thought enthusiast, but I do not overlook the fact that in this, as in everything else, there lurks always the danger of overdoing and of exaggerating virtue into fault.
The greatest danger of this revulsion from old-time pessimism to modern optimism lies in the fact that the Higher Thought enthusiast may cut from under his feet the solid ground of reality; that he may become a dreamer instead of a thinker and doer; and that he may mistake selfish, emotional sentimentalism for practical charity and altruism.
This unhealthy "all-is-good, there-is-no-evil" emotionalism leads only too often to weakening of personal effort, a deadening of the sense of individual responsibility and thereby to mental and moral atrophy; for any of our voluntary functions, capacities and powers which we fail to exercise will in time become benumbed and paralyzed. Unprejudiced observers who come in close contact with metaphysicians cannot help perceiving the pernicious effect of their subtle sophistries on reason and character.
A chronic invalid who had been under the treatment of a faith healer for several years exclaimed, when we gave her our various instructions for dieting, bathing, breathing exercises, etc.: "How glad I am that you give me something to do! I fear I have been imposing too long on the goodness of the Lord, expecting Him to do my work for me." Often afterwards, while recovering from lifelong ailments, she expressed her happiness and contentment in that she herself was doing something which in her opinion was rational and helpful because it assisted Nature's healing efforts.
We believe firmly and fully in the influence of mind over matter, in the fact that vibrations of the physical plane by continuity create corresponding vibrations on the mental and psychical planes and vice versa. We know that, in accordance with this law, anything which affects the mind or the moral life of a person affects also his physical condition; but instead of hypnotizing the minds of our patients by law-defying, reason- and will-benumbing dogmas and formulas, we strengthen and harmonize their mental vibrations by appealing to reason, by teaching and explaining natural laws instead of obscuring and denying them.
The more intelligent the patient, the more amenable he will be to such normal suggestions based on scientific truth and on the dictates of reason and common sense.
While nonresistance to Nature's healing efforts is better than suppression by drugs or the knife, there is something more helpful and rational than the negative attitude toward disease on the physical plane assumed by metaphysical healing cults. That "something" is intelligent cooperation with Nature's cleansing and healing efforts.
Where the Old School fails by sins of commission, the Faith Schools fail by sins of omission. Many patients are sacrificed daily through fanatical inactivity, when their lives might be saved by a wet pack or a cold sponge bath, by an internal bath, rational diet, judicious fasting, scientific manipulation or some other simple yet powerful remedy of natural healing. To permit a patient to perish in a burning fever, depending solely upon the efficacy of prayers, formulas and mental attitude, when wet packs and cold sponging would in a few minutes reduce the temperature below the danger point, is manslaughter, even though it be done in the name of religion.
Incidents like the following are common in our practice: A little girl in the neighborhood of our institution was taken with diphtheria. The mother, an ardent Christian Scientist, called in several healers of her cult, but the child grew worse from day to day, until the false membranes in the throat began to choke her to death.
A boarder in the house, who was a follower of Nature Cure, finally induced the mother to call upon us for advice by threatening to notify the City Health Department. Within an hour after the application of the whole-body packs and the cold ablutions, the blood was sufficiently drawn away from the local congestion in the throat into the surface of the body, so that the child breathed easily and freely, and from then on made a splendid recovery.
Another instance: A man had been suffering from sciatic rheumatism for fifteen years. He had swallowed poisonous drugs to no avail. For several years he had been under Mental Science treatment, but the suffering had grown more intense.
When he applied to us for help, we found that the right hip bone (the innominate) had slipped upward and backward. A few manipulative treatments replaced the bone where it belonged, and the sciatic rheumatism was cured.
In this case, the combined concentration and prayers of all the metaphysical healers on earth would not have succeeded in replacing the dislocated hip bone, which required the full strength of a trained manipulator.
Metaphysicians could not have accomplished this feat any more than they could have moved, by their mental efforts, a hundred-pound weight from one place to another. Mechanical lesions of that kind (and there are many of them) require mechanical treatment.
Another factor which makes converts to metaphysical healing cults by the hundreds and thousands is the get-rich-quick instinct in human nature, the desire to get something for nothing, or with as little effort as possible. Herein lies the seductive pull of old-time drugging and of modern metaphysics. "It does not matter how you live; when you get into trouble, a bottle of medicine or a metaphysical formula will make it all right." That sounds very easy and promising, but the trouble is--it does not always work.
Our forefathers were too pessimistic; higher thought enthusiasts are often too optimistic. While the former poisoned their lives and paralyzed their God-given faculties and powers by dismal dread of hell's fire and damnation, our modern healers and Scientists have drifted to the other extreme. They tell us there is no sin, no pain, no suffering. If that be true, there is also no action and reaction, no Law of Compensation, no personal responsibility, no need of self-control, self-help or personal effort.
The ideal of the faith healer is the ideal of the animal. The animal trusts implicitly, it has absolute faith; guided by instinct, God, or Nature, it follows the promptings of its appetites and passions without worrying about right or wrong. It acts today as it did ten thousand years ago.
In man, reason has taken the place of instinct; we must think and manage for ourselves. We are free and responsible moral agents. If we deny this, we deny the very foundations of equity, justice and right. It behooves us to use the talents which God has given us, to study the laws of our being and to comply with them to the best of our ability, so that enlightened reason may take the place of animal instinct and guide us to physical, mental and moral perfection.