Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/219

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Clearly, if we can control the blood supply to the various organs, many problems of disease are mastered. There is, however, one slight difficulty; though we can in a measure control some local nerves, most of those regulating the circulation are beyond the province of our wills. It seems as if nature were willing to trust us with minor matters like motion, but preferred to attend herself to subjects of real importance like digestion and circulation, while we are forced to conceal our humiliation by saying in a learned manner that "assimilation and circulation are functions of the sympathetic nervous system, not of the higher centers!"

Are we balked? Well, not necessarily! If the highway is blocked, there are yet the by-paths of attention and incomplete motion. While most of us are unable to control our blood supplies by a direct effort of the will, all of us can do it indirectly to some extent. Have we been reasoning in a circle, and are we still upon mere hypothetical ground with the mental healers? Not a bit of it! We here emerge from the perplexities of theory and stand upon the firm foundation of instrumental measurements, owing to the labors of a number of investigators, prominent among whom are Dr. Wm. G. Anderson, director of the Yale Gymnasium, and Dr. Angelo Mosso, of Turin.

Dr. Anderson places a student upon a low, legless table, about the size of the body, so delicately balanced that a breath will make it move, and outlines his figure so that he can resume his position after leaving the "muscle bed" temporarily. Now every exertion, mental or physical, means that more blood must be supplied to the active part, thus increasing its weight, while as the amount of blood in the body is limited, the excess must be taken from some other organ, thus decreasing the weight of the latter. If the man on the bed rises and dances a jig, when he resumes his place upon the balanced bed, his feet will sink, and his head ascend correspondingly.

Now this is nothing startling, as we all know that a member if exercised, will grow at the expense of idle organs, which tend to atrophy from disuse. Now it seems as if we had wandered from the subject of the mind, but we shall soon see that even here the mind is an indispensable factor. Curiously enough, if the man does not leave the bed at all, but merely thinks of dancing a jig, simply mentally going through the incomplete motions, but taking care not to move a muscle, the delicately balanced bed will sink at the foot almost as much as if the exercise had actually been performed.

Now it is clear why the Christian Scientists say to a person troubled with cold feet "Hold the thought that your feet are warm! Deny the 'claim' that they are cold"! It is reasonable to suppose that the feet of one of the mental believers would sink upon the muscle bed just as rapidly as those of the mental jig dancer, though we can not give