For many years we have seen though not always read entirely a dozen or so medical journals per month not counting the waste basket editions of the ever-faithful pharmaceutical houses and we hardly ever remember having read anything about the general influence of modern science on popular medical thought and art. Popular education and modern science are ostensibly the twin influences from outside medicine which affect it most extensively, though not profoundly, for neither the modern medicine man nor modern medicine is yet very profound.
There was a time when the genus medicus was supposed to move and have his being in an authoritative scientific nisus; when his judgments and edicts were accepted by the multitude with respect and awe even though often forgotten in the daily shuffle of interests and temptations.
That there is something the matter today with this ancient prestige of the M.D. may be seen merely by observing the shingles of the cultist practitioner in any desirable professional locality in the civic centers, by the allurements in the newspapers and radios and by the loquacious efforts of regular medicine to rehabilitate itself and explain everything to the public.
The prestige of medicine and the “medical doctor” as we more and more frequently hear him spoken of by laymen-an ominous appellation-appears in the aggregate to have suffered to about the same extent that the modern medical scientific spirit has increased. We suspect that one reason for this is that many people have found that medicine is too “scientific;” or rather, that, after all, scientific method has not been applied to humanity but that humanity has been too rigorously applied to “science.”
The writer has always been possessed of an extraordinarily large bump of benevolence so he will not say much now about the volume of useless and senseless multilations, external assaults and internal harassings which he find examples of daily in the history and conditions of patients, but merely remark, in passing that of all the inflated amphigorious meddling projected in this longeared civilization the caressings of modern medical and surgical usage compare very well with any.
Even so it is astonishing to see what hordes still remain who will endure medical and surgical punishment and not be aware that that is what it is. Comparatively few people in this age of noise some advertisement and existence a la mode have a sensitive and unperverted instinct of self protection.
We had a young lady patient recently whose abdominal and pelvic regions had been favored with eighteen separate ettements, ectomies, otomies, orrophies and what not. Some celebrated writer once said that the insane are the most truly happy, so the end result is achieved, for she is now in the asylum again after a brief attempt to stay out of it. Another patient of ours was told that all her teeth must come out; whereupon she departed from that presence in haste, determined to preserve her dollar 115.00 set of serated bivalves if possible.
For this pseudo-scientific state of medicine we do not blame science because its side excursion of the last several centuries into notation and classification was apparently necessary for human progress, but it shows how an innocent, lamb-like acceptance of one or another scientific authority may become the vogue and thoughtless routine and misfit, something that would be impossible with a decent cultivation of the God-given bump of scepticality or even an elementary conception of the organic system of vital energy.
This simple and beautiful faith in what is supposed to be science is still widespread. It has become ingrained in the blood and like the obscene Puritanical conscience which we blueblooded Americans inherit from the God-fearing New England fathers is hard to get out of the system and will yet dog our footsteps for many generations, although science is itself rapidly displacing it.
In olden times religion was the ostensible adjunct of mens enterprises but science as a cure has now largely displaced religion. Science is now a god in every western household just as securely as the old puritan-like awe of the gods of Numa pervaded the respectable Roman household twenty-five hundred years ago. Whatever science says” is supposed to be truth and verity, something which no layman may question or doubt.
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that when the scientific oracle speaks millions are dumb and no man dare say it nay-unless he happen to be a rival scientist, then he often does say it with a loud voice; or if he becomes infected with acute nationalitis as in the recent great debasement, for instance, he becomes properly intolerant of the propositions of the enemy scientist just as enemy artists and musicians are banned as unfit to be seen or heard; which shows that even the cold-blooded man of science may have blowholes in his system after all.
Nowhere is applied science more rampant than in medicine and nowhere is it misapplied more conspicuously, especially when conjoined with official tenure.
We have had our spirits regaled lately by the tales from two households which were visited by their local health officials (not of our city, our official is a gentleman) backed up by a state nurse, attempting to persuade them to change doctors and get a modern one, one who would have the childrens tonsils and adenoids out. This notwithstanding that in one case the tonsils had already been reduced from apposition to nearly normal with nasal breathing restored and in the other a large hard gland which had come up awhile after an enforced vaccination was disappearing rapidly.
Since this writing was begun another salaried female reformer from the Capitol visited one of our families and pronounced judgment that the little boy was perfectly all right except his tonsils. They were bad and must come out; they must be taken out at once. Little did she know, or could appreciate if she had known, the victories that had been won with critical and deep-seated acute conditions, of the delicate constitution which we had gradually brought up with homoeopathy until now he appeared perfectly all right, but-his tonsils must come out at once.
Truly there is some things to be desired in the common mind, including the medical mind besides scientific knowledge. One desirable thing is to realize that there are different levels of experience from the most primitive to those requiring mental image and spiritual sense, for different levels require different grades of understanding.
Another desirable possession is more catholicity of knowledge, a wider mental environment than material science gives; also to be desired, especially for homoeopaths, is the power of judgment, of assessing the invisible factors as well as the visible and resolving them into a balance and course of action. We should remember that this is where science falls short, though legitimately, for it is not the function of modern experimental science to exercise this kind of judgment. But this is the kind that should be used in applying science to human life.
The application of science to life and living without this governing and steadying quality leads inevitably to specialities and technicalities, away from generals to particulars. And the more technical, special and particular the scientific quest or practice the less the tendency to form circumpect and cosmic judgments. The more material science is applied en masse the more it tends to dogma based on selfish interest, on standardization, restriction and imposition. It tends to proscribe instead of develop freedom. It tends to adapt man to its strictures instead of developing the energy of the individual.
Perhaps this is because man has learned but imperfectly how to use science for the development of the human principle and the growth of the spirit, that is, for deepening human happiness. Scientists themselves here confined their work to the material and the logic of the material, a narrow vision and restricted logic at that. Only recently do they appear to be broadening out to the logic of qualities and energies instead of dealing with material terms only. When science really becomes qualitative as well as quantitative or when it finds where the two meet then we may see wonderful and beautiful things.
Why should not the science of the qualitative as well as quantitative be pushed farther? For this would lead inevitably to investigation of the phenomena of organic energy and to humanistic interpretations. A few science besides homoeopathy, if they may be called sciences, the methods of some psychologists, for instance, are proceeding in this way even though with narrow conceptions and rather nearsighted vision. They appear to have at least an inkling of the outward flowing direction of vital energy.
To come nearer home we fear that even homoeopaths may be infected with a mild strain of the bacteria of “approved” science. Even some who need modern science least, who know without it what they are doing and how to do it show mild symptoms of the scientific tradition and it seems to disturb their self-evaluation centers. They show signs of inferiority complex, feel that their aesthetic and technical position insecure.