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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/360

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

habits, and their dispositions—we shall constantly be impressed with the practical wisdom of these little inhabitants of our gardens and forests, and be daily encouraged by their untiring industry and bright, sprightly ways.

 

SUGGESTION IN THERAPEUTICS.
By Prof. WILLIAM ROMAINE NEWBOLD.

IF there be any truth in the doctrines I have already put forth in these pages, it seems a priori probable that suggestion will prove useful in combating some of the many ills that flesh is heir to. The various devices for heightening suggestibility are simply devices for increasing the effects proper to any given mental state by removing from its path all obstacles. Among the effects of mental states are the production and prevention of other states and of movements, and there are many diseases which are characterized by disturbances of sensation, thought, or movement. Very often these disturbances are functional—that is, they can not be traced to any visible injury of the nervous system, and frequently appear and disappear in most unaccountable fashion. It does not seem improbable that in such cases suggestion might work effects worthy of serious consideration.

And in fact it does. Every physician knows that it does, even though he has never heard the word "suggestion," or laughs at the theories of Nancy. Instinctively every trained practitioner supports his remedies by suggestion, cheering the patient by word and look, pooh-poohing his fears, assuring him of a speedy recovery, and often, if he be somewhat wiser than common, expatiating upon the specific results expected from the dose now to be administered.

The movement known as Psychotherapeutics or Suggestive Therapeutics is an attempt to dissociate this element of medical practice from its concomitants in order to determine its value when taken by itself. What that value is I shall not venture to say. In all probability the advocates of the method—or some of them—exaggerate its efficacy, and doubtless the personality of the physician has much to do with its success. In one man's hands suggestion will work wonders; in those of another it is almost valueless. Yet the evidence is rapidly accumulating, and every year sees a greater consensus among those who have made the trial as to the limits within which it is of value.

I can not undertake in one short article to go into the details of the results reported by von Krafft-Ebing, von Schrenck-Notzing, Forel, Ladame, Moll, Wetterstrand, van Renterghem and