Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/367

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THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL PAIN

chalgia are, let us hope unwittingly, everywhere subjected, chiefly because of failure to recognize its distinctive characteristics and needs.

The lady had reached middle life before anything other than unrealized motherhood had noticeably hindered or marred her fortunes. Then domestic troubles, loss of property, major operations came to shock and strain her in quick succession; but even these had she surmounted bravely and successfully; only, however, to develop in time the insidiously undermining of muscular control and all that goes with it, known as "Parkinson's disease." After this had reached an observable stage, it was evident that she had before her, not alone many long years of suffering from her tired painful ever-pulling muscles, for which there was no known cure, but likewise an ever-increasing danger from intercurring diseases and accidents, which could only be averted by constant care. But worse, much worse than all this, there was the horrible prospect that through it all her intellect was to remain as clear and the sensibilities as keen as ever, and that until the very last she must necessarily be the cruelly enforced observer of the entire course of most fiendish progressive physical decline. In fact, pain of body and pain of mind were to be in closest concomitance throughout. Already she had been partially apprised of the nature and cause of her disease; yet had evidently allowed herself to expect a more or less positive denial of this. But the facts were unquestionably against every view save that of unqualified affirmation—to be softened, however, as much as intelligent sympathy, general hopefulness, and patient care could make possible. Especially was it thought additionally desirable to endeavor to instruct and encourage her in the art of keeping her mind as rightly occupied on matters outside herself as possible; and also by suggesting a variety of means for combating the awful waves of depression and despair which had already begun to pass over her battered feelings and were sure to come with increased force, later on. After a month or so of this, during which time she had gradually become more fully acquainted with the true nature of the fight that was before her, as well as with a number of really useful measures for temporary relief of changing symptoms, especially those evidencing the "sick-soul" which would undoubtedly be the ground of some of the most poignant of her sufferings, she seemed vastly better prepared for her prospective ordeal, in that she had seemingly conceived and adopted the large and comforting assurance, that come what would, she would "make the best of it," and persistently remain all she possibly could be to the relatives and friends in whose circle she was to live.

Soon after this, however, she fell in with a member of a coterie of "faith curists," who assured her that she had no need to go through all that had been hinted, if not predicted, but could most certainly be "cured" simply by prayer, if only she would allow them to take her