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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/217

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leaders of this movement have not made some attempt toward a solution of this difficulty, which is the cause of much of the current enmity. They must certainly realize their own limitations, and should be clever enough to devise some edict on the subject which would attain its object without impairing the faith of their adherents.

The subject of nervous disorders is so complex that it seems at first hopeless, but the approach by the way of maladies of the circulation is more encouraging, though less traveled. One clue to this labyrinth was discovered many years ago while some young persons were under treatment for excessive blushing, which took place to such an extent, whenever they were addressed suddenly, as to be a source of great annoyance.

The first suggestion was to think of something terrifying whenever the feeling of reddening took place, upon the theory that terror tended to produce pallor, and would thus neutralize the blushing. This was occasionally successful, but it was always difficult to hold a vivid idea of fright, and the repetition of the idea robbed it of its effect, while the stock of new thoughts of this nature soon became exhausted.

The next step was for the patient to hold firmly the idea that he was not going to blush, and to refuse to believe that he was, even if he felt the warmth in his ears. He must know that he could not blush, and that he was not blushing. This worked now and then, but the patient naturally found some difficulty in believing that he was not blushing, when he could feel that he was, so the process was only useful when it was started well in advance of the tendency to redden. Here we have an exact parallel to the Christian Science doctrine, "Deny error! Evil and disease are non-existent!" No matter what the facts are, ignore them, and hold firm to the ideal that you desire. We see here a universal principle, the ideal must be made real, in spite of all obstacles. Now we may laugh at this system all we wish, but we shall in the end be obliged to admit that in every age it has achieved the wished-for results in minds of a certain class. It has a real scientific basis, however, as will be made clear later, but has the fatal defect of being inapplicable in many cases, because of its conflict with common sense.

Decided progress was made when the patient found that the flush would vanish if he said to himself firmly, "I know that I can stop blushing if I want to, and I will." This was only attained as the result of patient effort, assisted by strong auto-suggestion, by faith in the operator caused by the previous successes, and, as was learned in later cases, by incipient voluntary control of the arteries of the face. Great self-confidence on the part of the operator was required, together with considerable talk about "will power," "self mastery," etc.

Those who have read the books on mental healing will see that the