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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