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,

s 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.