This section is from the "Impaired Health: Its Cause And Cure" (Volume 1) book, by John H. Tilden. Also available from Amazon: Impaired health its cause and cure: A repudiation of the conventional treatment of disease
Bad habits of speech and language are formed, as well as other bad habits. I have been in the habit of using the word "diathesis" in a reckless and meaningless sense. My only excuse is that I learned it early in my medical education, and continued to use it in the belief that my meaning would be understood better than if I should undertake to reform my language. Time has taught me to believe that truth can never be taught by fallacy, and so long as expression is fallacious it will hold thought to its dead-level.
The meaning attached to "diathesis" has varied. The general and prevailing idea has been that there are a tubercular, a syphilitic, and a cancerous diathesis. Since bacteriology has become the headliner on the medical vaudeville stage, and has been handing out "specific" etiology, the idea of diathesis is considered painfully deplorable. Notwithstanding the deplorability of the diathetic idea, the germ-theory advocates talk glibly of a universal syphilitic taint, and have appointed Wassermann to censor all suspects. After a blood test, if Wassermann nods assent, the doctor proceeds to medicate specifically; if he shakes his head in dissent, it is not final--oh no! The taint is suspected, and the victim is dismissed for a few months on suspended judgment. Like Victor Hugo's Jean Valjean, he must return and stand trial again and again. There is no hope of his ever being free from the sleuth hounds of persecution and prosecution. Neither the medical Sherlock Holmes' nor their victims suspect that the continual hounding builds in time the positive Wassermann reaction for which they are looking.
Taint, like diathesis, is never overcome; so what is the advantage of changing terms, if both carry an eternal fiat?
Diathesis, with a few, means a morbid temperament; and this definition is better than others. Hippocrates was nearer right than the mass of authority since his day. He declared that there were a diathesis of health and a diathesis of disease. But, as health and disease are two different phases of one state, there could not be a diathesis of health or disease; for neither is entitative--both being states.
Health and disease are different states of one and the same being. Perhaps the two states cannot be better defined than by saying that one is optimism and the other pessimism. One person believes in health and knows intuitively that it is his for the asking; another person believes in disease--believes that it is a heritage vouchsafed to him by divine providence.
To the discerning in physical as well as psychological health phenomena it is so plain that he who runs may read the truth; namely, that mind is the court of last appeal.
When the mind declares for health, health, and all that goes with it, will be realized. When the mind declares for disease, disease, and all that goes with it, will be realized. It should not be understood, however, that the mental declarations referred to are meant to be passive assumptions. Indeed not! The mind that declares for health believes that health is potential in life., and that, if the proper efforts are put forth, it can be realized. To make a homely illustration: Sugar is a potentiality of the sugar beet; but without effort--intelligent effort--sugar can never be a realization. Again, mind is a potentiality of brain; but unless the proper efforts for development are put forth, mind will not be realized. Passively to assume that health is positive and disease negative, and that by assuming the positive idea the negative must disappear, is self-delusion. Simply to assume that health is imminent, and will appear when its imminence is acknowledged, is pure, unadulterated delusion. Health must be the realization of properly adjusted means to ends. This state may be brought about fortuitously or by intelligent effort. It is not well, however, to trust to chance.
A belief in disease--a belief that man will be ill in spite of his best endeavors--is fatalism. Germs are everywhere, and that man cannot escape the disease they create is the attitude of the medical mind today. Watch the priests of this belief in convention assembled. Their wise deliberations are carried on in a cloud of tobacco smoke. One of their gods--namely, Lord Nicotine--goes before them "by day in a pillar of cloud.. and by night in a pillar of fire," in their search after truth. These priests of modem medical science are protected by their gods of sensuality, who move before them in pillars of smoke, fire, booze, and food--eating to keep up their strength. These gods do not abandon them "by day . . . nor by night, from before the people." And their constituencies stand for it. Great are the people, Selah!
As society stands today on the subject of health, the professions of religion, law, and medicine have declared for disease. And they should rejoice at their success; for disease is universal. Jails, penitentiaries, insane asylums, alms-houses, hospitals, sanitariums, sanatoriums, and, neither last nor least, the World War, all declare for the god of disease.
Only those with a philosophical comprehension will understand the significance of the above indictment. Those who have the proper understanding will know that to right all this world of error--disease--and its cause, will require much time; for health must be returned as it has been sent away-namely, by the slow process of evolution.
Is it not a fact that fear has been taught from the pulpit for ages? Fear of death, on account of the hell beyond, has caused a fear and belief in disease, because disease precedes death. Medicine has taught, and is teaching, with all the vehemence of sordid selfishness or stupid superstition, that disease is inevitable, with no escape by a route that is fraught with as many subtle causes for developing disease as there are schemes for immunization. All modem plans of immunization, except sanitation, are disease-building.
And what of law and order? It dare not take one step which is not squared on medical superstition. As much as it boasts of its erudition, and affects charity for the mental shortcomings of its weaker sister, medicine, its jails. penitentiaries, electric chairs, and insane asylums are built and filled on the authority of the preacher and the doctor, who censor the moral responsibility.