Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/221

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horses which refuse to move until their attention is distracted by a lump of sugar, blowing into the ear, or putting a pinching instrument upon the lip, which succeed where a severe beating only increases the obstinate immobility. Many cases of such fixed ideas are on record, which have been cured by fright. One old doctor was in the habit of curing bedridden patients by letting mice loose on their beds, until they ran shrieking from the room, forgetting all about their ailments.

In a recent case, the husband was sent for the physician, leaving the patient alone in the house. The telephone rang so continuously that she rose and answered it, and was so absorbed in scolding him for not returning in time to receive the call that she forgot that she was out of bed for the first time in years. One man who had a most severe case of asthma, which had caused him the most serious discomfort, was completely cured by the fright of the Kingston earthquake, and has had no relapse, though forced to live under conditions of considerable hardship. This is vouched for by the writer out of his own experience.

Now, while cases of this nature are very refractory to drugs and other medical treatment, they yield with surprising readiness to mental therapeutics. The attention of the patient is distracted, a desire for cure is firmly implanted, interest is excited, and all the conditions are made favorable. The process is not dissimilar from that of stimulating the motion of balky horses with lumps of sugar. The fact that there is no real disease evidently accounts for the failure of the skilled physician.

The successes of Christian Science are largely in these cases, which are principally found among women of the middle and upper classes, who live luxurious, self-indulgent lives, are over-fed, under-exercised, have no occupations or absorbing interests in life, and concentrate their attention upon themselves and their ailments. We are not surprised to find that converts belong very largely to this class, or to learn that many relatives bless any belief that will turn a nervous, sickly, complaining invalid into a cheerful, though perhaps a bit too superior and self-complacent member of society.

A very large percentage of all the cures of all systems of medical treatment without the use of drugs may safely be classed under some of the heads which we have already discussed. It is not unreasonable to group with mental healing many methods more generally accepted by the community, such as "high dilutionist" homeopathy, osteopathy, massage, electricity, water and bath cures, and even allopathy, which, as every physician knows, habitually employs "bread pills" and other similar methods of influencing the minds of the patients.

Making all allowances, however, there are a number of cases of genuine cures, as the result of mental treatment, of serious diseases, which have defied all regular medical processes. The discouragingly