Success In Healing

We have any number of examples, then, of this power of the healer in

history. Over and over again we find that it was the personality of

the man and the suggestive value of the means that he employed that

enabled patients to cure themselves, that is, to use all the vital

force which they had for curative purposes. This force had hitherto

been inhibited by their own doubts of themselves and their doubts of

the value of all ordinary means of cure which had been previously

employed in their cases. This is the secret of the success of the

healer, and this secret is much more valuable for therapeusis than any

remedy which has come down to us from the olden time. It has,

unfortunately, been neglected, and thus an important benefit to

humanity has been lost. Now that we are able to review frankly and

deliberately the conditions that obtained in the past, it is time to

set about making use of this oldest secret in medicine, now no longer

a secret, as a strong factor in the treatment not of disease but of


Healers are at all times strong characters who are helpful to others

because of their own superabundant strength. The world is made up of

two classes of people, lifters and leaners, and the leaners constitute

by far the larger class. Most men and women are the subjects of doubts

and dreads and difficulties with regard to their health, and the more

time they have for introspection, the more are they likely to suffer.

Unable to overcome them by themselves, they need the help of others.

What they need, above all, is the reassurance that a trained strong

mind can give them. The exercise of this mental influence over them,

is only what corresponds to leadership in all the affairs of life.

Most people need to be led and to be guided. The place of the

physician is that of guide and director. The family physician of the

olden time had a precious amount of influence that accrued to him from

his character, and it was used to magnificent purpose. Most of his

drug treatment would be looked upon as quite absurd at the present

time, yet he did a great good work by lifting people up to their own

highest possibilities of resistive vitality. That means more for the

conquest of disease, even now, in most cases, than any remedies we


Often men do not realize how much their personal influence counts for.

They think it is their method of treatment, or some new discovery in

drugs or remedial measures, or some new phase of psychology they have

hit upon, that is producing results. This makes it difficult to

determine, in given cases, just what are the actual influences at

work. Many men supposing themselves to be discoverers of some novel

force, are merely exploiting that old-time influence of one mind over

another that can be observed all down the centuries.

It is interesting to study the careers of men who thought they were

employing on their patients some new psychological method, when all

they were exploiting was the old-fashioned influence of suggestion

from a stronger personality to a weaker. A dozen times in history

hypnotism has been announced as a wonderful curative agent. At present

no one thinks it so, but, on the contrary, if used frequently, we

think that it is much more likely to do harm than good. We went

through a phase of interest in hypnotism a quarter of a century

ago and there are now signs of the possibility of its return in

another form. In recent years we have heard much of psycho-analysis,

of dominant ideas, of the auto-suggestion that comes from this, and

how much benefit can be conferred on the patient by removing such

ideas or revealing their unfavorable influence and so neutralizing


The patients that come for treatment and to whom psychotherapy is of

special benefit, are not, as a rule, those suffering from acute

diseases or injuries, though even in these cases the attitude of mind

is always an important therapeutic factor. The patients are mainly

those suffering from chronic ailments, and from minor affections

which, while they do not confine them to bed, often prove the source

of such serious disturbance as makes them very miserable. The

suffering in the world is out of all proportion to the actual disease.

Many people who have little disease suffer a great deal, partly from

over-sensitiveness, partly from concentration of mind on their

ailments, and partly from such ignorance of whatever pathological

condition is present that they grow discouraged and morbid over it.

The role of psychotherapy is particularly to help patients of this

kind. This does not mean that its main purpose is to treat imaginary

disease, or disease which exists only in the mind of patients, for in

nearly all of these cases there is a definite physical element in the

affection. Even where the disease is quite imaginary, though that term

has been so sadly abused that it is perhaps better to speak of

affections as purely mental in origin, psychotherapy is important. As

has been well said, a patient not having something physical the matter

who thinks that there is something the matter, is in a worse state

than one who really has something the matter. There are a great many

such cases. If the principles of psychotherapy can relieve them and

cure many of them, then it has a large place in human life.

In order that the individual patient may be benefited, a thorough

understanding must be established between physician and patient. This

must take on the character of a personal relationship. The patient

must feel that the physician has a personal interest in him--that

there are certain individual features in his ailment which make his

case mean something much more than ordinary to his physician. Some

physicians have the power to make their patients feel this personal

relationship to a marked degree. They are the eminently successful

practitioners of medicine. Their patients sound their praises, and

even though they may not be distinguished scientists, they acquire a

large practice. Some of them are thoroughly scientific men. All of us

know them and, while we may not be able to understand just how it is

done, we recognize their power.

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