Psychic Treatment Of Digestive Conditions

If discouragement and solicitude make a healthy stomach digest

imperfectly, the same mental factors will play an even more serious

role with a diseased stomach. Certainly without the mind's aid, there

can be little hope of such a reactive vital resistance as will enable

the organ to recover from the organic ailment.

So many cases of indigestion are due to mental persuasion alone, that

after a time there is danger that the physician may be over-confident

in his diagnosis, and may occasionally overlook serious organic

lesions. Before attempting psychotherapy in these cases, the physician

must assure himself that no organic lesion is present. This is

particularly true for cancer in the middle-aged and ulcer in young

women. At times these lesions are latent except for certain vague

digestive symptoms. After careful consideration it is generally

possible to make a definite decision, and then the indications are

clear. Even when an organic lesion is present, a modification of the

mental attitude will often be of great service to the patient.

Suggestion will even make a cancer patient gain in weight, though one

must be careful of that very fact because the apparent improvement may

occasion delay until the case becomes inoperable.

Once the presence of these serious organic lesions of the stomach can

be excluded, the bringing of influence to bear on the patient's

mind for the improvement of his digestion is indicated. It is true

that there are certain reflex disturbances of the digestive tract

consequent upon affections of other abdominal organs. Chronic lesions

of the appendix may produce stomach symptoms as will also pathological

conditions of the biliary tract. A floating kidney, various affections

of the pelvic organs, especially in women, and of the urinary organs

in men are sometimes said to produce seriously depressing effects upon

the stomach. Where this occurs, the first indications undoubtedly are

to put the patient into as good condition as possible before making

any decision. Where a lesion of the stomach itself exists suggestions

with regard to the increase of diet may do harm. They will not do harm

in the reflex conditions, and so patients can be brought into better

physical condition. As a consequence of this, their symptoms in other

organs will often disappear. In case the symptoms do not disappear the

patients are in better condition to stand and react from operative


Before concluding as to the character of the stomach symptoms we must

make sure that other important organs are not affected. Most cases of

tuberculosis begin with stomach symptoms, which often make their

appearance before there is cough or any definite localizing symptom of

the disease. Often there is only a disturbance of pulse, and perhaps a

slightly increased range of temperature. If the patient has been

exposed to tuberculosis, a careful investigation of the lungs should

be made. Any disturbance of the liver or pancreas (especially cancer)

will almost surely give rise to stomach symptoms. Latent cancer in any

part of the body, however, will, by its depressing toxemia, produce

loss of appetite, consequent loss of weight, and a number of symptoms

that are sure to be referred to the stomach. I have seen cancer of the

prostate, without disturbing urination, produce such symptoms for

months before it was recognized. I have seen cancer of the rectum in a

comparatively young woman treated as piles, without an examination,

the development of the piles being attributed to the gastro-intestinal

symptoms which were consequent upon the presence of the cancer.

Psychic States In Menstruation Psycho-neuroses Hysteria facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail