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Unconscious Psychotherapeutics

The great authorities in medicine, the men whose thought counted for
most in the development of not only the science but the art of
medicine, the men to whom we look back as having been great practicing
physicians, have always used this remedial measure deliberately and
have suggested to others that it should be so used. But the smaller
minds have been satisfied to think that their drugs, their external
remedies and applications, have been the sole sources of the benefit
that accrued to the patient. Such smaller men are prone to think that
they have specifics for disease, while the larger men hesitate and
recognize that coincidence plays a large role and that the suggestive
factors in therapeutics often deceive us as to the real efficacy of
drugs and remedies.

All physicians have at all times used, though often unconsciously, the
suggestive factor in therapeutics, and mental influence has had
everywhere a large role in the treatment of disease. Only in recent
years have we come to appreciate how many diseases are self-limited.
In the treatment of these self-limited diseases all sorts of drugs and
therapeutic methods achieved a reputation. Some of them were looked
upon by generations as specifics, though we know now that they are
almost, if not completely, useless so far as any direct influence upon
the disease is concerned. Indeed, at times they were, per se,
harmful rather than beneficial, and the patient literally got well in
spite of the treatment, though the repeated suggestion of betterment
often more than overcame the ill effect and helped in recovery.

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