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
Make a city clean and quiet-or as nearly noiseless as possible. Every utility should be run in the interests of its patrons, on the principle that people well served are happy, healthy, and prosperous, and possess drawing power. They attract other people to their city. Such a city grows; its property advances; and, according to the law of "like attracts like," a prosperous community attracts prosperity.
All physicians who know that sickness is brought on, wittingly or unwittingly, from practicing many bad habits, and from unwholesome environments, by wearing out the nervous system with a lot of unnecessary noise, or by any influence that uses up nerve energy, know that rest is one of the most important elements in any therapeutic plan-rest of body and mind. This means that the body must not labor; that the mind must not labor; and that the nerves of special sense-namely, sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch--must rest from labor.
Everything may be done for a broken-down individual except securing quiet--absence from noise; and if this requirement alone is neglected, restoration to health will not take place. Nervous people must secure rest from noise, because nothing is so uncompromisingly destructive to the nervous system as noise.
It is the duty of parents to control children. When several get together, they are inclined to push their funmaking to excess, and from small noises they go to larger and larger, until they become hysterical. If this is permitted day after day, the decidedly nervous temperament will lose more or less power over coordination, and this will lead to chorea, or St. Vitus' dance, or other nervous diseases.
Light, very restricted eating, and quiet in bed, with visits from children interdicted, is the proper treatment. Such patients must be kept in bed until every sign of irritability and muscle-twitching has subsided.
After nervous children recover, a limit must be set to the amount of play indulged in; and excitement of all kinds must be avoided. The diet of such children must be simple: toasted non-yeast bread, butter, and milk for two meals each day; and fruit, cottage cheese, and milk for one meal. Quiet and rest is the principal remedy.
Not many know that music has other qualities besides the power to "soothe the savage breast;" or perhaps I would better say that most people think that only good can come from music. Inharmony disturbs rhythm, and anything that interferes with rhythm strikes at the base of development and interferes with growth--nutrition.
Everything capable of producing an effect may be said to have at least four influences; namely: a good, natural, or wholesome influence; then an excessive, defective, and perverted influence. This is true of music. I know of people who are made very miserable by music--it might be said that they are badly influenced by it. Then there are strong, healthy people who are driven almost mad by poor or defective musical execution, but who thrive in an atmosphere of harmony.
All people are not attuned to the same key; or it may be possible that it is easier to adjust the nervous system to the different tones than to fall into harmony with varying time.
Sensitive children drive themselves into nervous prostration by the inharmony they produce when compelled to spend long hours in practice.
It may be that only inharmony (noise called music) is to blame for the nervousness I have seen in music teachers and their pupils; but I know that many suffer much from music, or the noise of practice, or butchered harmony. Of course, there are other influences which must be considered besides the noise of musical instruments. They are food, mental, and physical bad habits that help noise build nervousness and break nervous people down.
School children are overworked. School, music, and social duties wear some of those who are food-poisoned to nerve exhaustion.
When enervation is pronounced, as we often see in mothers of undisciplined children, such mothers must be taken away from home environments to be cured of their diseases. There is always something unusual--something out of the ordinary--the matter with mothers who cannot get well in the environment of home and children; for the mother-love converts din--what uninterested people would call bedlam--into sweet music. The ear-splitting shouts coming from one of her future great men she interprets as orders by the captain of the guards; another, whose voice dominates all others, is her Beecher or Spurgeon; still another is a captain of industry who will control all the iron industries of the country. So intensely is her mind fixed on the future of her children that their noises are material out of which she builds their future, and the success that she has in placing each one at the head of his specialty medicines every pain she has. Where this is not true, an accident at one of her confinements has caused septic poisoning, which has reduced the oxygen-carrying power of the blood fifty per cent, causing oxygen starvation; and her brain is so illnourished that her self-protecting imagination fails to convert din into sweet music, and she languishes and dies unless removed and carefully nursed back to the normal.
If our noises are grinding a grist that feathers our nests, the success antidotes to a degree their evil influences on the nervous system.
When a din becomes the vehicle in which to ride to success, it becomes for the time being a tonic, even if it builds insanity when reverses come.
Sound may be health-building and it may be mind-destroying; it all depends on our relationship to it. It comes under the old rule: What is one man's food is another man's poison.