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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/828

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a century ago, “There is not a natural action in the body, whether involuntary or voluntary, that may not be influenced by the peculiar state of the mind at the time.” The chief store-house of facts of this class is Dr. D. Hack Tuke's work on “The Influence of the Mind upon the Body in Health and Disease” (London, 1872), his attention having been called to the subject in 1869 by a newspaper article on “The Curative Effects of a Railway Collision.” The evidence furnished by Tuke and other writers leaves no room to doubt that mental action is a powerful agency which can be applied in the cure of disease.

Dr. Tuke says, in the preface to his classic work: “There are two classes of readers to whom I wish more especially to address myself. The medical reader who, I hope, may be induced to employ psycho-therapeutics in a more methodical way than heretofore, and thus copy nature in those interesting instances, occasionally occurring, of sudden recovery from the spontaneous action of some powerful moral cause, by employing the same force designedly, instead of leaving it to mere chance. The force is there, acting irregularly and capriciously. The question is, whether it can not be applied and guided with skill and wisdom by the physician. . . . ‘Remember,’ said Dr. Rush, in addressing medical students, ‘how many of our most useful remedies have been discovered by quacks. Do not be afraid, therefore, of conversing with them, and of profiting by their ignorance and temerity.’” Not only when disguised under some pretentious and illogical quackery has the mental force been employed, but it has already been utilized, with a full appreciation of its nature, by physicians of high standing. Sir Humphry Davy's cure of a case of paralysis by repeated applications of a thermometer is a much-quoted instance.

In a paper entitled “Bodily Conditions as related to Mental States” (“Popular Science Monthly,” vol. xv, page 40), Dr. C. F. Taylor, of New York, reports the case of a young man sent to him from a Western city. Dr. Taylor was informed that the patient had broken his thigh-bone two years before, that this fracture had united, but that a year later the same bone had been broken in another place. The regular treatment had failed to secure a union of the second fracture. On examination. Dr. Taylor found the muscles of the leg wasted and soft, with a large outward bending in the middle of the bone, but he could not find the slightest evidence that any second fracture had occurred. The patient thought he had refractured his thigh-bone, and this impression caused him quite unconsciously to withhold muscular action in the limb so completely that a relaxed and powerless condition was caused, which was mistaken for a broken bone. A mere explanation of his condition was not sufficient to enable him