No ONE on the outside of the medical profession knows so well as doctors themselves the great need of more knowledge of what disease really is. Never in the history of so-called medical science has there been so much research work done as in the past decade; but with every new discovery there follows very closely the stark and stalking nemesis that chills the honest and earnest researchers to the bone--the inevitable word Failure. Why inevitable? Because, back in the beginning of man's reasoning on the subject of his discomforts, his pains, and his sickness, he made the monstrous mistake that something outside of himself--outside of his own volition---had wished him harm. Man being a religious animal, he early thought he had in some manner offended one of his many deities. The history of how man evolved the idea of disease being an entity is too long to do more than allude to it in a book of this kind. Any of the old mythologies may be referred to by those who are curious enough to look the matter up. That man is still saturated with centuries of mythological inheritance was brought out vividly when the germ theory was introduced. It answered the instinctive call for demoniacal possession! At last man's search for the demon--the author of all his woes--had been rewarded, and a satisfactory apology could be made to his conscience for all his apparent shortcomings. However, eighty years of vicarious atonement for man's sins by the demon germ are waning, and reason be praised if the microbe is the last excuse that man can make for his sins of omission and commission before the thrown of his own reason!
Medical science is founded on a false premise--namely, that disease is caused by extraneous influences, and that drugs are something that cures or palliates discomfort. The term "medical" means pertaining to medicine or the practice of medicine. Anything used in a remedial way carries the idea of curing, healing, correcting, or affording relief; and this doctoring is all done without any clear understanding of cause.
The words "medical" "medicine,' "disease," and "cure" have become concrete in our understanding, and shape our thoughts and beliefs. And so arbitrary are these beliefs that new schools and cults are forced to the conventional understanding. They may declare that an impinged nerve is the cause of any pathology. But they do not trouble themselves to find why one impinged nerve creates a pathology and another does not.
The psychologist does not trouble himself to explain why worry in one subject causes disease and in another it does not; why hope in one subject cures and in another it does not; why negation does not always cure; why faith does not always cure; begging the question by declaring that there was not faith enough, etc. No fool is a bigger fool than the fool who fools himself.
Why should not all new schools of thought be found harking back to their mother-thought--I say, why not? So long as the idea that disease is a reality, an individuality, an entity, is firmly fixed in the mind, even those in research work will be controlled and directed in their labors by the conventional understanding. That is why every wonderful discovery soon proves a mistaken belief.
There is no hope that medical science will ever be a science; for the whole structure is built around the idea that there is an object-disease-that can be cured when the right drug-remedy, cure--is found.
It is my intention to portray the common, every-day fobles of scientific medicine so that the people may see the absurdities concerning disease and cure which they are and have been hoodwinked into believing by the blare of science. hen I shall describe the only worked-out rational explanation of the cause of so-called diseases, hoping by contrasting the old and new, to start a few to thinking and building new brain-cells, which in time may supercede the old and conventional.
Until Toxemia was discovered and elaborated by myself into a medical philosophy, there was no real medical philosophy. The cause and cure of disease is and has been a medley of guesswork and most industrious medical minds in every generation.
Today, as never before, the brightest minds in the profession are delving into research work endeavoring to find the efficient cause of disease. But they are doomed to disappointment; for they fail at their beginning. Why? Because all the work that has ever been done in searching for cause has been along the line of critical study and examination of effects; and certainly reasoning minds cannot believe that an effect can be its own cause. No one believes in spontaneous generation. The remnant of this belief was annihilated by Pasteur's discovery of germs as a cause of fermentation--a discovery so profound that it created a frenzy in the medical world; and as in every epidemic of frenzy, a mental poise was lost. The importance of the germ as a primary or efficient cause of disease was accepted nolens volens, willy nilly. Everyone was swept off his feet. As in all sudden gushes in change of belief, it was dangerous not to agree with the mob spirt; hence opposing or conservative voices were suppressed or ostracized.
The germ theory frenzy was fierce for two or three decades; but now it is a thing of the past and will soon be, if not now, a dead letter. (If he only knew)
Cause of disease is being looked for everywhere, and no less a personage than the late Sir James Mackenzie, in "Reports of the St. Andrews Institute for Clinical Research," Volume 1, declared: "The knowledge of disease is so incomplete that we do not yet even know what steps should be taken to advance our knowledge." At another time he wrote: "Disease is made manifest to us only by the symptom which it produces; the first object in the examination of a patient is the detection of symptoms, and therefore the symptoms of disease form one of the main objects of our study."
The Value of Symptomatology
Sir James, when living, was probably the greatest clinician of the English-speaking world; yet he had not outlived the medical superstition that disease is a positive entity, and that the way to find disease is to trace symptoms to their source. But if a symptom is traced to its source, what of it? A pain is traced to its source, and we find that it comes from the head. The head does not cause the pain. Then we find that there are symptoms of hyperemia--too much blood in the head. The pressure from too much blood in the head causes the pain. Then pressure must be disease? No. Then too much blood is the disease--hyperemia? Certainly; too much blood in the head was a cause. What is it that causes congestion? We find that pain is a symptom. Pressure causes pain; it too, is a symptom. Too much blood in the head causes pressure; it is a symptom. Pain, pressure, hyperemia are , all three, symptoms. In time the walls of the blood-vessels weaken, and the pressure ruptures one of the vessels. Hemorrhage into the brain causes death from apoplexy. Is the ruptured blood-vessel the disease? No; Is hemorrhage into the brain disease? No; it is a symptom. Is death from hemorrhage the disease?
If the hemorrhage is not severe enough to cause death, but does produce some form of paralysis--and there can be many kinds--is paralysis a disease? Haven't we been traveling along a chain of symptoms from headache to paralysis? We have not found anything to which all these symptoms point as disease; and according to the requirements of Sir James Machenzie, disease is made manifest to us only by symptoms. Here we have a chain of symptoms beginning with pain, ending in hemorrhage and death and paralysis, without giving us any indication whatever of cause as understood. Any other chain, namely, stomach symptoms, ending in pyloric cancer, will not give any more indication of disease at the various stages than the foregoing illustration.
The first symptom we have of any chain of symptoms is discomfort or pain. In any stomach derangement we have pain, more or less aggravated by food. Catarrh follows, or more often precedes, it--or what we call inflammation or gastritis. Gastritis continues, with a thickening of the mucous membrane. A time comes when there is ulceration. This will be called a disease, and is recognized as ulcer of the stomach; but it is only a continuation of the primary symptoms of catarrh and pain. The ulcer is removed, but the symptom of inflammation and pain continues, and other ulcers will follow. This state eventually emerges into induration or hardening of the pyloric orifice of the stomach. When this develops, there is more or less obstruction to the outlet causing occasional vomiting, and on through examination, cancer is found.
If we analyze the symptoms from the first pain and catarrh in the stomach, we shall find the chain of symptoms running along. The first symptom to be noticed is pain. On examination, we find a catarrhal condition of the stomach; and this catarrhal condition is not a disease--it is a symptom. Catarrhal inflammation continues, with the thickening of the mucous membrane, which finally ends in ulceration. Ulceration is not the disease; it is only a continuation of the inflammatory symptom. If the ulcer is removed it does not remove the disease; it only removes a symptom. Those symptoms continue until there is a thickening and induration of the pyloris, which is called cancer. And yet we have not discovered anything but symptoms from beginning to end.
By removing the cancer, the question of what the disease is has'nt been answered. Cancer being the end-symptom, it cannot be the cause of the first symptom. Any other so-called disease can be worked out in the same way. Pain and catarrh are the first symptoms, as a rule, that call a physician's or a patient's attention to anything being wrong; and catarrh are not the disease. When the cause of pain is found, it too will be found a symptom and not a disease. And this will be true to the end.
It is no wonder that diagnosticians become perplexed in their search after disease, because they have confounded symptoms and disease. The fact of the matter is, it is impossible tout the finger on any ending of a chain of symptoms and say: "This is a disease," In the beginning of this analysis we showed that headache, or pain in the head, is not a disease; and when we had finished we found that hemorrhage or apoplexy is not a disease--it is only a continuation of the primary symptoms.
"Disease is made manifest to us only by symptoms which it produces." This statement tacitly infers that there are diseases and symptoms, and that through symptoms we may find disease. When we undertake to trace symptoms to disease we are in the dilemma of a mountain-climber who, on reaching the top of one mountain, finds other peaks, and higher ones, father on and on.
That Mackenzie had been baffled in his search for fixed disease is indicated in the following, which I quote from the reports mentioned before:
Many diseases are considered to be of a dangerous nature, and many attempts are made to combat the danger, with, however, no perception of its nature. This is particularly the case with epidemic diseases, such as measles, influenza, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. As a consequence, proposals have at different times been put forward to treat individuals who suffer from these diseases upon some general plan, without consideration of the peculiarities of the individual case- and thus we get that rule-of-thumb treatment which is shown in the indiscriminate use of a serum or vaccine.
During influenza epidemics there is always a cry for a universal method of treatment, and attempts are made to meet this cry in the shape of so-called specifics and vaccines.
When a great authority declares that dangerous diseases are combated without any perception of their nature--and that, too, in spite of the germ theory--it should be obvious to thinking minds that the germ theory has been weighed and found wanting. Yet, when something must be done, and nothing better has been discovered serums and vaccines may be used indiscriminately."
That the "rule of thumb" is the rule governing all thinking concerning symptoms, disases, their cause and treatment, is so obvious that anyone possessing a reasoning mind, not camouflaged by scientific buncombe, should read as he runs.
Medicine rests on a sound scientific foundation, Anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and all collateral sciences that have a bearing on the science of man, are advanced to great perfection. But the so-called sciences of symptomatology, disease, diagnoses, etiology, and the treatment of disease go back to superstition for their foundation. We see the incongruity of jumbling real science with delusion and superstition. Disease is believed to be an entity; and this idea is necessarily followed by another as absurd-namely, cure. Around these two old assumptions has grown an infinite literature that confounds its builders.
Truth As Famous Men See It
When a man's knowledge is not in order, the more of it he has, the greater will be his confusion,--Herbert Spencer
Confusion worse confounded is the only explanation that can be given of the theory and practice of medicine. Of course, it is hoar with age, and is one of the learned professions. With much just pride can the rank and file point to its aristocracy---its long list of famous dead as well as living physicians. What has made most of them famous? The same that has made others famous in and out of the professions--namely, personal worth and education. Franklin was not a doctor; yet he was as great as any doctor, and could use his gray matter in advising the sick as well as those not sick. He appeared to have a sense-perception for truth; and I would say that his discrimination is the leading, if not the distinguishing, trait that has divided, and always will divide, the really great from the mediocre majority. They are the leaven that leavened the whole herd of humanity--the quality of character that could not be found in all Sodom and Gomorrah.
There was another discriminating mind in the eighteenth century--another Benjamin, who also was a signer of the Declaration of Independence--Benjamin Rush, a physician, a luminary that brought distinction to medical science. He was larger than his profession. He left seeds of thought which, if acted upon by the profession, would have organized medical thought and prevented the present-day confusion. He left on record such golden nuggets as:
Much mischief has been done by the nosological arrangement of diseases....Disease is as much a unit as fever....Its different seats and degrees should no more be multiplied into different diseases than the numerous and different effects of heat and light upon our globe should be multiplied into a plurality of suns.
the whole material medica is infected with the baneful consequences of the nomenclature of disease; for every article in it is pointed only against their name. . . . By the rejection of the artificial arrangement of diseases, a revolution must follow in medicine. . . . The road to knowledge in medicine by this means will likewise be shortened so that a young man will be able to qualify himself to practice physic at a much less expense of time and labor than formerly, as a child would learn to read and write by the help of the Roman alphabet, instead of Chinese characters.
Science has much to deplore from the multiplication of diseases. It is repugnant to truth in medicine as polytheism is to truth in religion. The physician who considers every different affection of the different parts of the same system as distinct diseases, when they arise from one cause, resembles the Indian oooor African savage who considers water, dew, ice, frost, and snow as distinct essences; while the physiciaaan who considers the morbid affections of every part of the body, however diversified they may be in their form or degrees, as derived from one cause, resembles the philosopher who considers dew, ice, frost, and snow as different modifications of water, and derived simply from the absence of heat.
Humanity has likewise much to deplore from this paganism in medicine. The sword will probably be sheathed forever, as an instrument of death, before physicians will cease to add to the mortality of maaaankind by prescribing for the names of diseases.
There is but one remote cause of all disease. . . . .These remarrrks are of extensive application, and if duly attended to, would deliver us from a mass of error which has been accumulating for ages in medicine; I mean the nomenclature of disease from their remote causes. It is the most offensive and injurious part of the rubbish of our science.
The physician who can cure one disease by a knowledge of its principles may by the same means cure all the diseases of the human body; for their causes are the same.
There is the same difference between the knowledge of a physician who prescribes for diseases as limited by genera and species, and of one who prescribes under the direction of just principles, that there is between the knowledge we obtain of the nature and extent of the sky, by viewing a few feet of it from the bottom of a well, and viewing from the top of a mountain the whole canopy of heaven.
I would as soon believe that ratafia was intended by the Author of Nature to be the only drink of man, instead of water, as believe that the knowledge of what relates to the health and lives of a whole city, or nation, should be confined to one, and that a small or privileged, order of men.
From a short review of these facts, reason and humanity awake from their long repose in medicine, and unite in proclaiming that it is time to take the cure of pestilential epidemics out of the hands of physicians, and to place it in the hands of the people.
Dissections daily convince us of our ignorance of the seats of disease, and cause us to blush at our prescriptions. . . .What mischief have we done under the belief of false facts, if I may be allowed the expression, and false theories! We have assisted in multiplying disease. We have done more-we have increased their mortality.
I shall not pause to beg pardon of the faculty for acknowledging, in this public manner, the weakness of our profession. I am pursuing Truth, and while I can keep my eye fixed upon my guide, I am indifferent whither I am led, provided she is my leader.
Oliver W. Holmes, M. D., was a man who gave dignity and respectability to the profession. He was a literary man, and from his beginning to his end, was always larger than his profession. He once said: "I firmly believe that, if the whole material medica could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes." "Breakfast-Table Series" will be read by the intelligent people of the future, who will know nothing of Holmes' fight for women against the dirty hands of herd-doctors and their consequences--puerperal fever.
"Aequanimitas" will keep Osler in the minds of intelligent people when "Osler's Practice of Medicine" will be found only in the shops of bibliomaniacs. Such men as Osler keep the dead weight of mediocre medicine from sinking to oblivion by embellishing medical fallacies with their superb personalities and their literary polish.
Throughout all the ages the finest minds have sensed the truth concerning the cause of disease, and this has bulked large against medical insanities and inanities.
A very striking picture of the medical herd was made by "Anonymous" in his essay on "Medicine" in "Civilization in the United States."
"It has been remarked above that one of the chief causes of the unscientific nature of medicine and the anti-scientific character of doctors lies in their innate credulity and inability to think independently. This contention is supported by the report on the intelligence of physicians recently published by the National Research Council. THEY are found by more or less trustworthy psychologic tests to be lowest in intelligence of all professional men, excepting only dentists and horse-doctors. Dentists and horse-doctors are ten per cent less intelligent. But since the quantitive method employed certainly carry an experimental error of ten per cent or even higher, it is not certain that the members of the two more humble professions have not equal or even greater intellectual ability. It is significant that engineers head the list in intelligence. In fact, they are rated sixty per cent higher than doctors.
This wide disparity leads to a temptation to interesting psychological probings. Is not the lamentable lack of intelligence of the doctor to lack of necessity for rigid intellectual discipline? Many conditions conspire to make him an intellectual cheat. fortunately for us, most diseases are self-limiting. But it is natural for the physician to turn this dispensation of nature to his advantage and to intimate that he cured John smith, when actually nature has done the trick. On the contrary, should Smith die the good doctor can assume a pious expression and suggest that, despite his own incredible skill and tremendous effort, it was God's (or nature's) will that John should pass beyond. Now, the engineer is open to no such temptation. He builds a bridge or erects a building, and disaster is sure to follow any misstep in calculation or fault in construction. Should such a calamity occur, he is presently disqualified and disappears from view. Thus he is held up to a high mark of intellectual rigor and discipline that is utterly unknown in the world the doctor inhabits.
The critic appears to think that "one of the chief causes of the anti-scientific character of doctors lies in their innate credulity and inability to think independently." I presume he means that the doctors cannot think independently; for if medicine, scientific or unscientific, could think at all, it might have thought itself out of its present day muddle.
THE only thing that saves all physicians from the above indictment is that they are not examined on the cause and treatment of disease. If average physicians pass low on "trustworthy psychological tests," it does not speak very well for the higher education which put so many medical students out of business a few years ago. But these psychological tests may be fitted to educational standards which are assembled with intelligence left out. Intelligence, like the cause of disease, is a force in nature that can be used under the proper environments; but it cannot be monopolized to the exclusion of all mankind. Gladstone in youth was passed upon by the psychological test of his teacher, and pronounced incorrigible; yet at eighty-six he was wielding an ax and translating Virgil.
Continued next page. Toxemia Explained Part 2.