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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/220

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

the statistics, as unfortunately it seems extremely difficult to persuade the disciples of Mrs. Eddy to lend themselves to investigations of this sort.

We can even go a step further with the utmost confidence, and say that simple concentration of the attention upon a given part will increase the blood supply. This is capable of experimental verification, for very many people can cause the backs of their hands to redden perceptibly by fixing the attention upon one spot for some time, without the thought of desiring a flush, though that idea usually hastens the process.

This furnishes us a key to some obstinate chronic diseases, where there is no destruction of the tissue, but where an unwholesome condition has resulted from an oversupply of blood caused by undue fixation of the attention upon the part, a permanent blush, so to speak. As the health of the body depends upon the preservation of a normal blood supply, modified by the demands made by the activities of the different organs, we see that an organ constantly oversupplied becomes diseased, like a man who habitually overeats, while this oversupply must be taken from the share of some other portion, which consequently starves. If this is so, it is evident that a cure will follow when the unwholesome attention is discontinued. This shows why the Christian Scientists say "Deny error. If your 'mortal mind' has a claim that an organ is diseased, stop thinking about it. Hold the thought that it is completely well, that you are perfect." This whole line of thought is well conceived, and tends toward mental poise and bodily well-being, for those who are able to believe the tenets.

Having secured some clear ideas about the physiological reasons for some of the Christian Science methods, we are ready for the more difficult aspect of the subject, that of nervous disorders. Every practising physician is confronted with a class of cases in which there does not seem to be an adequate cause for the symptoms, and which are roughly classified under the head of hysterical affections. They include paralysis of various organs, stiffness of the limbs, pain and swelling in the joints, pain in the head and spine, perversions of sensation, over-irritability of various functions, and a host of Protean symptoms. The sufferers suffer actual pain, and often very serious inconvenience, but the most careful medical treatment seems unsuccessful. The limits of this article will not permit a discussion of this subject, but it suffices to say that to all intents and purposes the maladies are real, even though they exist only in the imagination. They seem akin to "fixed ideas," and "pain habits," as well as to that phenomenon called the "balky will" frequently met with in childhood, where a child refuses to obey, and then holds the idea so firmly that it is physically and mentally impossible for him to yield. We have all seen it in balky