Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/216

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should grant this at the start, it would not alter the situation much, for imaginary diseases are often as "afflictive" to the sufferer, and more annoying and expensive to the family, than actual ailments, and a debt of gratitude is due to any method of removing them.

The next objection is that the patients would have recovered anyway if let alone. Suppose this is also conceded; the position is unchanged, for the chances are that the disorder would not have been left to the curative processes of nature, but would have been dosed with various poisonous patent medicines, with dangerous results. Here christian science is beneficial by preventing interference. But, after all, is this true, especially of chronic cases? We may well ask why, if nature alone was able to cure the case, it remained unbenefited for years, but quickly recovered as soon as mental healing gave its assistance.

The unexplained instances are jauntily disposed of by attributing them to "suggestion," but giving a thing a name is not solving the problem, and, while there are reams in the text-books upon the effects of suggestion, few seem to attempt to say exactly what it is or how it acts.

The whole subject of mental therapeutics is so discredited that the medical profession hesitates to treat it, but, really, few fields will more quickly repay the application of modern scientific methods. Light even appears in the dark maze as soon as we begin to classify the more reliable cures, as distinguished from those not sufficiently verified. The great majority are disorders of the nervous system, including under this head certain functional affections, and many more are dependent, directly or indirectly, upon morbid conditions of the circulatory system.

Mental healing has not yet demonstrated its power to cure diseases caused by microorganisms, like malaria, pneumonia, diphtheria, yellow fever and many others, and its adherents admit that it is not effective in surgical cases or those where there has been an actual destruction of the tissues. Christian scientists are often taunted by their friends with being unable to cure common colds (caused by bacteria), and with going to the dentist, and with reason, for both these are beyond their powers. They would lose nothing, and would allay much hostility, if they would frankly admit that, for the present at least, these complaints are beyond their scope, and would confine themselves to more successful fields, instead of claiming that they are able to "demonstrate" over cancer and smallpox.

The community has a right to protect itself, and should take measures to prevent individuals from endangering themselves and their neighbors by refusing medical aid in even the minor contagious and infectious maladies. It is somewhat surprising that the able