« PreviousContinue »
which defines it as “The healing art; the science of the preservation of health; and of treating disease for the purpose of cure.”
“The Art of Healing''; that was a phrase dear to Samuel Hahnemann. Healing the sick; that is the work to which we are pledged by the fact that we are physicians. Not to uphold a theory, however old or new; not to dogmatize, but to heal the sick. Not, please note, to heal the sick exclusively by means of drugs. It is important to have that clear in our minds, for we who are physicians too often are guilty of that confusion of thought which is almost chronic with the laity; the inseparableness of the practice of medicine from the administration of drugs. There are a great many worthy and successful practitioners of medicine to-day, the very least part of whose work has to do with drugs at all. This may not be a very palatable reflection to those homeopathists whose devotion to the practice of medicine does not go far beyond the exercise of their own therapeutic specialty. But it is none the less a fact immensely to be reckoned with. Nor can we escape reckoning with the fact that the greatest practical advances in the healing art for the last half century have not been made along the lines of drug-administration. Do you doubt this? Look over the records of recovery from disease made under treatment where drug administration has been reduced almost to a negligible quantity, or has been dispensed with altogether; the cures made by surgery; by diet alone; by hydro-therapy; by the various forms of manipulation; by the open-air treatment; by electro-therapy in its all but miraculous advances along the lines of high-frequency currents and vibratory stimulation; by the anti-toxins; by psycho-therapeutics. What advances has drug-administration made to compare with the advances made by these? Our brethren of the Old School return to this query an all but wailingly pessimistic reply. Said Dr. Frank Billings in his presidential address before the American Medical Association, only a twelve-month ago:
“Much as has been accomplished by experimental medicine in a comparatively brief period of time, there are vast fields to which the method has not been applied. With most of us our present methods of clinical observation enable us to do little more than name the disease. In the vast majority of infectious diseases we are helpless to apply a specific cure. Drugs, with the exception of quinine in malaria and mercury in syphilis, are valueless as cures.”
As homeopathists we are happy in being able, alike by authentic statistics and by long and varied personal experience, to give much more cheerful judgment on the usefulness to-day, and in a long past, of drugs, administered under a law. llere is our proof that as specialists we are making our specialty subserve the common store of medical knowledge and the alleviation of the sufferings of our fellowcreatures. But while reiterating and rejoicing in this fact, we must yet ask ourselves, what progress has homeopathy, the therapeutic specialty, made in the last twenty-five years, that is at all commensurate with that made by the majority of the specialties already named. Understand, please, that I do not mean by "progress'' advance along the lines of public appreciation or pecuniary success, but progress along the lines of broadened therapeutic resources. It is much that our remedies applied under our law still so largely hold their own, approving themselves by their success in curing diseases. When we compare this truth with the fate of the remedies twenty-five years ago so highly vaunted by our brothers of the Old School, and to-day, by so high an authority as the president of their national association hurled in a mass into the waste basket of dishonored oblivion, we have no reason for despondency. As homeopathists we have no reason for despondency that other specialties have out-run our own in relative progress in a half-century, since all those other specialties are our gleaning-fields, our personal resources when we think of ourselves primarily as physicians. Every progress made in medicine is our progress, since by it we may profit in equal measure with any of our brethren, in our work of healing the sick. There have been periods when factions have held that a homeopathist was false to his calling, if he employed in healing the sick, any other resources than those offered by the drug administered under the law of similars. Those periods have fortunately passed; those factions practically no longer exist. However the not yet extinct prejudice of our brethren of other schools may vehemently deny it, we are essentially at one with every educated physician, whatever his specialty in medicine. We need not talk of “amalgamation” with the mass of the medical profession as a future possibility, dependent on our yielding our special medical title. We are amalgamated with the true healers of to-day and of all time past and to come, when we claim as our own all knowledge that physicians can possess in common, and the right to employ all means that time and science may reveal for lessening the sufferings of humanity. Is there any one calling himself a homeopathist to-day who will claim that the use of a drug alone administered along the line of similars, will cure every diseased condition as quickly and surely as any other means known to the medicine of to-day can cure it? I venture to say there is not. If there be he must find himself ill at ease indeed in the American Institute of Homeopathy, so much of whose time is profitably occupied with the deliberations of special societiey which exist to cure diseases by means not primarily those of drug. adminsitration. Is there any homeopathist to-day who claims that he can select a drug, under the law of similars, which will achieve the results of the fresh-air treatment in tuberculosis; of surgery in pathologic conditions requiring the knife; of saline injections in collapse; of diet in diabetes, gout and scurvy; of antitoxin in diphtheria; of the desiccated thyroid in myxædema; of adrenalin in hemorrhage;
; of psychic therapy in certain forms of neurosis; of hypnotic suggestion in certain hysterias; of the X-Ray in epidermoid cancer, and lupus; of manipulative treatment in certain muscular affections? I again venture to answer, No; and to assert the necessary corollary of this admission that there are few homeopathists indeed who would ignore the obvious duty, when faced with a case of any of the abovereferred to maladies, of adding to whatever benefit he was achieving for his patient by the use of the carefully selected homeopathic remedy, the immeasurably more assured benefits of the treatments above referred to, each in its appropriate field of action. Would the homeopathist in doing this be advertising the inefficacy of his own specialty? It is hardly conceivable that such a claim can be made. Surely no one, outside the advertising circulars of a vender of quack remedies, claims to-day that for every disease there is a single cureall. In admitting the limitations that we share with every other specialist, we assert the privileges we share with every other physician.
Is it a matter for regret that in the ever-widening history of medical specialization, what I have already called the segregating process should so continually obtain? From any sane or far-reaching view-point, emphatically no. Spencer's famous law of cell-growth and reproduction may well be believed to apply to the cells of knowledge as well as to those of more material sort. Says Spencer:
“A cell increases in bulk, as the cube of its diameter; in surface, as the square of its diameter."
The obvious outcome of this inevitable process is that there comes a time when the demands of the bulk exceed the power of the surface to supply. The consequence must either be death or segmentation. Two bodies take, by segmentation the place of one, each unit with a surface of its own. Is not this entirely true of the bulk of knowledge ? Slowly growing, from within outward, there comes a time when seg. mentation takes place, and two bodies stand where one stood. This is inevitable, if all the truth which was developed is to have means of manifestation. Hence differing religious creeds.
Hence differing medical denominations and specialties. Disruption as a means of growth is nothing to lament. So that no part arrogates to itself the
title and privileges of the whole the process of segmentation, of specialization, is wholly beneficent in result. Our ancestors in medicine, when the moment of their segregation came, found no recognition of their right to a life separate from that of the parent body. That was and is regrettable. What would be infinitely more regrettable, would be for us, their descendants, to emulate the unwisdom that refused them that recognition. Let us, in this our day, watch the new processes of specialization with calm and acquiescent eyes.
Let us ask of any medical specialist the one question: does it heal any form of sickness more quickly and more permanently than any method already in use Let us ask of any specialist : is he first a physician? Here, I take it, is the key to problems of medical legislation. To face with no dogmatic challenge curative systems that claim a right to prove their efficacy on whatever patients are willing to try their efficacy. Merely to demand of those who desire to practice such systems, that they be and approve themselves physicians, well grounded in the knowledge of the fundamental laws governing the life of the complex human body. This assured, admit them to the field of medical practice, and watch the results of their work. Surely the most radical defendant of the rights of individuals can see no tyranny here. The community demands that no man shall practice as a pharmacist unless he can show the license that proves his familiarity with the properties of the drugs he dispenses. It demands that no man shall practice as an engineer unless he can show the license that proves him master of his steam and his steel. It is more tyrannical for the community to demand of every one who would practice as a physician, a healer of the sick, that he first demonstrate his understanding of the laws governing the human body with which he asks to deal? To demand less than this, to admit fanatics and charlatans, ignorant of the bodies they are tampering with, into the field of medical practice, is to put the community at large into obvious peril. I need but to instance the risk to the community of allowing a case of small-pox or scarlet fever, or diphtheria to fall into the hands of those either too ignorant to recognize the character of the disease, or too fanatical to admit its existence. No; let us as physicians insist by every influence that we can command that none but qualified physicians shall have a right to recognition in the field of medical practice; and then as specialists in that field, let us accord respect and intelligent respect to the work of every other specialist in that field.
Is this too large a liberality to ask of you? Are there certain specialists I have already mentioned, to which you are doubtful if thinking men and women are justified in according any meas of
credulity? Do you hesitate to admit, for instance, the claims of the almost innumerable varieties of psycho-specialists, because their methods seem too aerial and indemonstrable? Neither time nor inclination permits me to enter here into any lengthened argument for or against the possibility of distinctively psychic means for the cure of disease. But I cannot forbear a suggestion or two, which I leave for you to ponder at your pleasure. Has it ever occurred to you that any physician who knowingly gives a placebo to an hysterical patient, which placebo serves its healing purpose, has accomplished his cure by distinctively psychic therapy? Can you deny that this is the case? And when he keeps the knowledge of this fact from his patient, and in no infrequent instances from himself, is he the superior or the inferior of the specialist who treats his patient by distinctively psychic means, with that patient's full knowledge and assent? I but ask the question; in answering it, weigh the justice of ridicule or persecution of the habitual practitioners of psychotherapy, by those who employ the same therapy occasionally and unconfessedly. Is there here no possible gleaning by night in a neighbor's field, such as we agreed awhile ago we ourselves sometimes suffered from?
One more word in this connection, and a somewhat more serious one, to which I ask your serious attention and consideration. Is it not possible, I say only possible, that there may be rounds in the ladder of consciousness too elevated for ordinary sense to climb, yet to be scaled by senses of which not many of us are as yet practically aware? May there not be powers too high and subtle for manifestation to the ordinary sense, that can yet make themselves manifest to specially cultivated sense? The lowest of the recognized five senses through which the universe outside ourselves manifests itself to our consciousness, is that of touch. Touch is our ability to apprehend, by means of its direct and material contact with certain nerve fibres, a form of energy manifesting itself through a solid mass of matter. This is the lowest round on the ladder of consciousness, requiring for its ascension only a material object and flesh with which to bring that object into contact.
The second round in our ladder of consciousness we call taste. Here indeed we have material substances still to be apprehended before the act of consciousness can be complete, the round of the ladder ascended. But note that this matter must be in higher form and manifested through a more subtle medium than that which appeals to the sense of touch. And now we climb, if not far, yet fast. For our next round is that we call hearing. Here we are emancipated