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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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