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Suggestion And Pseudo-science

These applications of science, or rather of supposed science,
illustrate the influence of suggestion. The succession of events in
each case is about as follows: The definite attitude of mental
expectancy is created in the popular mind. As a consequence, with the
application of the new scientific principle, patients cease inhibiting
the recovery that would have come spontaneously before, only that they
were self-centered and had their nervous energies short-circuited.
Some are benefited by the habits of life that are established as a
consequence of the belief that they are about to be cured, while
before this they had been largely confining themselves to their
houses, and had been refusing to take recreation or get diversion
because of the conviction that they were ill. Finally, many of them
had no real physical ills, but were suffering from mental ailments
brought on by dreads and by a concentration of attention on
certain portions of the body which interfered with the normal
physiologic action of those parts. Whenever strong mental impressions
are produced, from any cause, results will surely follow, some of them
marvelous. The supposed causes of these results will seem quite absurd
to those who study them afterwards, but they were living realities to
the sufferers. Nothing is more calculated to produce a strong mental
impression than a newly discovered scientific fact with some
supposedly wonderful application to humanity. The subsequent history
of the application of scientific discoveries to medicine has been as
invariably the same as the primary enthusiasm over each new
therapeutic agent. After a time some people were not benefited.
Physicians lost confidence in the power of the new remedial measure,
whatever it might be. Patients were no longer impressed by the
assurance that they would be benefited, and then the new application
has either completely disappeared from our list of remedies, or has
remained only to be used by a few, who still report good results from
it. In spite of the constancy of this succession of events, we are
still quite ready to take up with enthusiasm new discoveries in
science and their applications to medicine. We have not yet lost the
feeling, common in earlier centuries, that all science was meant for
man and that every new scientific development must have some special
reference to him.

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