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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/225

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221
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

jaundice, while many public speakers and soldiers know that fright causes perspiration and stimulates the action of the kidneys. In short, there are instances too numerous to mention of the effect of mental states upon the organs of the body, and the facts may be considered as established.

While the proper mental states tend to stimulate the nervous system, and restore normal conditions, anger, worry, fear and doubt tend to lower the tone of the nervous system and check the functions. It has been conclusively established by observation that favorable results from mental methods are practically impossible unless the patient has confidence; he must believe that the desired effects will be produced; in short, he must have faith. There are countless instances outside the realms of mental healing to prove this, notably the cases where people have taken astringent pills by mistake, and have yet been purged because they expected to be. In one particularly amusing incident, a doctor gave a man a prescription for an affection of the stomach, saying, "Here, take this! "Later, when the patient returned to render thanks for his recovery, the physician had forgotten the remedy he had used, and asked to see the prescription. He was naturally somewhat surprised to hear that the man had swallowed the paper, and had taken no other medicine. In this category, also, belong the cures from amulets, charms and incantations. Every doctor of experience will admit that confidence on the part of the patient, and expectation of recovery are half the cure.

If now, these ideas are well founded, and mental states will cure functional disorders as well as those of the circulation and nervous system, why not abandon medical treatment altogether, and adopt some form of mental therapeutics—accept the beliefs of the christian scientists? Well, in the first place, mental healing will not work on all people; some can not accept the requisite theories; others do not seem able to produce the essential mental states; and others are so violently opposed to the whole system that exactly contrary results appear. Next, the methods are unreliable; they will work at one time, and later fail on the same person under apparently identical conditions, while the healers generally are not skilled enough to bring about satisfactory effects, for the whole system is in the hands of unscientific persons, whose methods outrage common sense and arouse hostility toward the many excellent features of their philosophy.

Most important of all, mental healing is powerless in very many kinds of illness, including most of those which are fatal or even dangerous. If mental healing is resorted to, the disease may become established before its nature is recognized, and the patient may die, when if he had been treated by regular practitioners he would have recovered. In all contagious and infectious maladies the patient be-