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One Thought Can Be Replaced By Another

If we control attention we control thought, and with the suggestible
patient this principle depends upon the one just now considered. Hope
and courage-breeding thoughts can replace despairing and fearful ones,
but it will be only when attention is directed through interest or by
will to new material. There is no blank in waking consciousness. The
last thought or feeling or perception, through association of ideas,
brings up a related one, and so on indefinitely. We may start with a
pebble on the road and go on logically, smoothly, until in five minutes
we are thinking of the coronation of King George, with no sense of
anything at all unusual in the succession. It may be a very roundabout
process, from "pebble" through "rough way," "ways that hurt," "dangerous
ways," "brigands," "uncertainties of life." "Uncertain lies the head
that wears a crown," "King George and his crown," "coronation." But this
constant stream of thought can be broken into at any point by a spoken
word, a passing vehicle, which diverts the mind's trend. So the nurse
can take advantage of the mind's very suggestibility, and substitute for
the unhappy and sickness breeding by turning attention to anything else
of a happier color, and may divert the entire stream of thought in that
direction. She who knows these simple laws of the mind, and who at all
knows people, is a therapeutic agent of unlimited value.

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