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Mind and Disease

Mind and Disease

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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MID AD DISEASEBY THE AUTHOR OF"PRO CHRISTO ET ECCLESIA"In spite of the enormous progress of medicalscience in knowledge and skill, there is, in thepractical application of both to the bodies of menor animals, little exact knowledge. Even theveterinary surgeon finds that the personal or in-dividual element in horse or dog baffles his forecastof cause and effect; what ought to cure, occasionallykills ; what ought to kill, may cure. And althoughwe may call these variations rare, yet when wecontrast their recurrence with the certain resultswe can obtain when we work upon inanimatethings, we are forced to perceive that there is inanimal vitality a factor, or perhaps many factors,of which we have no knowledge.The spread of any disease for no apparentreason than that it has taken hold on the popularfancy ought to be a subject of much more seriousattention than it is. Physiology, bacteriology, havenothing to say here, nothing more, at least, thancan be expressed by a shrug of the shoulders.The psychologist speaks of the force of a corporateidea in the neurotic origin of disease. Every one215216 GOD'S CITADEL O EARTHconcerned who has the power of reflection perceivesthat we are here dealing with an unknown some-thing which leaps from one man's nervous systemto another, quite as baleful in effect, and quiteas terrible, as any specific bacteria. To call it"suggestion," to say that it works by unconsciousmind, explains little, and gives no remedy. If wehad not the safeguarding hopes aroused by quack medicines, "Christian Science," and the like,
suggestion would soon prey upon the minds of many in every community, a worse monster of the invisible air than even bacteria or the demonsof old.ot long ago the world of medical science wasmoving on under the impression that the progressof knowledge was tending all in one direction — toshow that health or ill-health in any part of thebody must produce corresponding results on thebrain and therefore on the mind. Mind as anorigin of bodily affections was disregarded. Morerecently it has been admitted that, bodily harmsbeing of two sorts, functional and organic, theformer may be caused, and in some cases cured,by mental agency. ow we have a few doctorscoming forward to claim a much larger power forthe mental agent. Dr. A. T. Schofield's booksmake the drift of this school plain to the lay mind.One quotation will show that in these matters nofinality is reached."We have seen that the powers of the un-conscious mind over the body are well-nighimmeasurable; and knowing, as we now do, thatour old division into functional and organicchap, iv MID AD DISEASE 217diseases is merely the expression of our ignorance,and that all diseases, even hysterical, involve or-ganic disturbance somewhere, we are prepared tobelieve that faith and other unorthodox cures,putting into operation such a powerful agent asthe unconscious mind, or, if you prefer the formula,' the forces of nature/ are not necessarily limited toso-called functional diseases at all" 1Let us quote Dr. Paul Dubois, of the Universityof Berne, who appears to be a staunch materialistand determinist, and writes about educating hispatients into a health-giving frame of mind, as onemight speak of training the tendrils of a vine orthe habits of a dog.
"I have been able, in the course of a ratherlong medical career, to give up all physical anddrug measures. Undoubtedly this purely psycho-therapeutic treatment is not easy. It takes animmense amount of time and patience, on thepart of the patient especially, and as well on thepart of the physician. The practitioner some-times grows weary of this work, and might betempted to take up the easier role of prescribingdrugs. But when one has reflected on thesesubjects, when one has seen the patients recovertheir robust health after years of suffering, andregain their power to work, and become brave;when one has seen them acting on their environ-ment, and transmitting their optimism to it by theforce of contagion, then one takes courage andgoes on with one's task, which is always to bringback patients to a healthy life from a triple point1 The Forces of Mind, pp. 1 64-5.218 GOD'S CITADEL O EARTHof view — the psychic, the intellectual, and themoral." 1But these doctors stand somewhat apart. Thepoint where the main body of advanced medicalmen seem to part company with the historic Gospelis in the distinction they make between the diseases,mostly functional, which they admit it is possible tocure by mental suggestion, and those which causeorganic disturbance in the body, and which aretherefore reckoned as quite beyond the reach of mental influence. It is better here frankly torecognise that there is a very great and pardonableanxiety abroad, lest any person of weight shouldmake any public utterance which might lead thosesuffering from a morbid growth to defer the surgicaloperation, which, if promptly performed, wouldprolong or save life. It is this anxiety whichhas caused, and which partly excuses, some trulycurious statements made by religious leaders uponthe limited efficacy of prayer for the sick. Butthe religious mind ought to admit that while it

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