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A PHYSICIAN'S REASONS FOR BECOMING A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST

From the February 1, 1908 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Milwaukee (Wis.) Wisconsin

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I want to tell why I gave up the practice of medicine and surgery to devote myself to Christian Science work. ... About six years ago I was obliged, on account of tuberculosis of the lungs, to abandon my medical practice in Chicago and go to Arizona, where it was hoped, against expectation, by those who advised this move that the disease might be overcome; but the prognosis was that I would not live more than a few months. I myself had discovered accidentally the presence of the disease more than a year before the time of leaving Chicago, but had delayed following the advice which I would have given to any one else, partly with the hope that I could overcome the trouble without the aid of a more favorable climate and partly through dread of the life at a consumptive resort. However, during the last two months preceding my leaving for Arizona the hemorrhages became so frequent and profuse that it was no longer possible for me to go on with my work, and I accepted what seemed to be the inevitable. During the year previous to my leaving Chicago I had been depending upon alcohol and opium in different forms to control as far as possible the symptoms of the lung trouble. ...

After reaching Arizona I made use of the best dietary and hygienic means possible, and although for about two months my condition grew worse, from that time on there was improvement and I was able to resume the practice of my profession. The use of opium was abandoned for brief periods several times during the next three years, but never for any great length of time, although the tortures incident to the giving up of its use would seem sufficient to prevent its resumption. It is the common story, however, that the memory of these struggles fades in the presence of the demand for the drug. To a physician who once allows himself to look to opium and alcohol for support, the temptation to use them is particularly strong, since they are ever at his hand, in his case or on his shelves, and the demands upon his energies and vitality, coming at all hours of the day and night, give him excuse to himself for the use of some unusual stimulant. Frequently this is the story: The whisky is the first helper appealed to, and in most cases either whisky or strychnine or both are the only ones ever used; but when there has been so much whisky taken that its effects are apparent, or it is feared that such will be the case, it is easy to believe that it will be best to correct this overdose of alcohol with a little opium in some form. As in my case, the opium is often taken for its sedative effect upon some irritating symptom. When the indulgence in opium has been carried so far that it is taken for a narcotic effect and there is dulness and disinclination to mental or physical exertion, or there is produced a drowsiness which is noticeable, then there is a suggestion that a little cocaine will wake one up, and from that time on the story hastens to its finish—absolute irresponsibility, insanity, and death. And it is recognized that there is no more hopeless task than the attempt to break this triple chain. ... I experimented with every means which offered any, even slight, promise of permanent relief, including hypnotism. As a last resort I put myself in the hands of the best-known hypnotist in Southern California, in the hope that a new suggestion might relieve me of the old one. ... I went to him to regain my self-control, but as a matter of fact I lost what little restraint and self-government I had possessed before this experiment. I had voluntarily attempted to yield myself temporarily to the control of another human mind, and that which I had yielded had gone from me entirely. After this my physical and mental condition grew rapidly worse, until within a few weeks there was no reason left. After a period of entire irresponsibility, lasting about a week and followed by unconsciousness for something more than forty-eight hours, a number of physicians who had known me for several months, in consultation pronounced me incurable, and told my friends that I had from a few days to a few weeks to live. A private sanitarium to which my wife applied refused to admit me on account of the hopelessness of the case, and the plan was that I should be taken the following day to the State insane asylum.

During the evening following this verdict a lady suggested with much trepidation the advisability of calling a Christian Science practitioner, and my wife consented that this be done, not with a feeling that anything could be accomplished, but in the same spirit of desperation in which any other harmless although probably useless thing would have been allowed. A practitioner came and remained with me three hours. At the end of the first hour I was sleeping quietly, and when I woke about eight o'clock in the morning it was with a clear mind and the absolute conviction, which has not changed since, that I was free and well. I asked what had been done for me, insisting that a radical change had taken place in my physical and mental condition. Naturally the conviction that I had been healed came very slowly to those about me, and it was months before it was fully acknowledged, but to me there was such a mental change that from the first there was no room for doubt. There is no need here to give figures, although I shall be glad to do so privately to any one, physician or layman, but I will say that so far as I know there is no instance in medical literature of the recovery of any one taking the amount of those drugs which I was taking up to the time referred to. And to one who knows the state of the nervous system and of the digestive organs which exists in such cases, it is stating it mildly to say that the most remarkable feature of the cure was that there was no period of convalescence. From the time of my waking on the morning following the treatment there was no nervousness or twitching, sleep was natural and quiet, appetite healthy, digestive functions all in good working order, and mind clear and composed. The same afternoon I drove my automobile for two hours without weariness or excitement of any kind. During the following thirty days I gained thirty pounds in weight. Within ten days of the time that I was pronounced incurable I undertook a most arduous trip across the Nevada desert, where unusual endurance and physical strength were absolutely necessary, and I found that I had an abundance of both. Moreover, from the day of the treatment to the present time there has never been any desire for alcohol, opium in any form, cocaine, or any other stimulant or drug.

After learning that the condition in which I found myself on this red-letter morning had followed treatment by a Christian Scientist, I asked to see him again, talked with him, and at once commenced the study of the text-book, Science and Health. I had not been able to read anything with any degree of understanding for weeks, but found that from that day my mental equipment was normal. Memory, which had been practically lost, was restored to a great extent, although improvement in that respect continued gradually for several months. In short, I was not only free from the bondage of the drugs, but was physically and mentally restored to normality, and there has been no other condition since that time. Two months later I was able to lay aside glasses, which I had been obliged to wear constantly for several years on account of compound astigmatism, and my vision since has been such that there has been no need to use them. About the same time and without any feeling of inconvenience I was able to abandon the habit of smoking, which I acquired in early boyhood and with which I had had many a hard and unsuccessful struggle. At the time of the first treatment, although I considered myself practically free from the lung trouble for which I came to the Southwest, there was yet quite a large cavity, involving the upper part of the left lung. Something over a year ago I learned that this cavity was no longer discoverable, but that so far as physical examination could determine there was healthy lung tissue filling the entire space normally so occupied.

I was forced by my own healing to the conclusion that there was a power in Christian Science of which I had never taken account. My own changed condition convinced me that there was something in the system, and I was determined to find out what it was, although I had no thought at that time that it could take me out of my profession. ... Suffice it to say I did not find just what I expected, and many times I put Science and Health away with a feeling of impatience that the grain of truth which I felt must be there was obscured and buried by what seemed to me a mass of nonsense; but each time there would come back to me the fact that I was alive and well—better mentally than ever in my life—whereas there was the certainty from a medical point of view that I would have been dead and buried except for something told in that book, and I was fairly compelled to go back and search for the secret of the power that had given me not only life instead of death, but a life which seemed of value in place of one which had lost all worth. It also came to me that there were thousands of people of intelligence and good judgment who had been through the process of investigating that which I was studying, and who had come to the conclusion that those things which I was pronouncing absurdities were really profound truths, and I therefore decided at least to postpone rewriting the book until I had disproved a few of the statements in it. This I have not yet been able to do. After months in which I studied nothing else and thought little else I found that I had been trying largely to splice onto those things which I had considered essentials in this new thing, and to make the new cloth match the old. I then made the effort to come at it from a new point of view. I tried to put myself in an unprejudiced state of mind, to put aside so far as possible, preconceived notions—to get the child-mind attitude—and to find whether this system would stand alone and stand the test. This I am still doing, and so far it has stood all the tests to which I have subjected it. The true understanding or state of mind which is the power for the correction of evils is not a secret and mysterious thing which requires long search and severe mental application. The only requisite for its attainment is an absolutely open mind to Truth.

Entering upon the study of Christian Science as I did, with the expectation of finding an addition to my medical armament, it soon became evident to me that if the claims of the system were well grounded, if it would do what the reported demonstrations indicated it had done, if it could be depended upon to produce similar results, there could be no hesitation on the part of any one engaged in the healing art in exchanging this for the old way. Of the cases submitted to a physician—after eliminating the not inconsiderable percentage to which unaided nature would bring recovery where the doctor renders no assistance—there are a certain number which will seem to him to be hopeless and beyond his aid. In fact, of the whole list of diseases covered by the standard text-books, between thirty and forty per cent are supposed to be incurable by the time that diagnosis is possible. According to Christian Science that whole list is wiped out, for if its Principle is true there are no incurable diseases. Even to-day there is authority for the statement that with the possible exception of a few diseases so rare that no examples of them have ever been submitted to Christian Science treatment, there is no malady known that has not been healed by this treatment.

For about fifteen months I studied the theory of Christian Science and investigated its results from the above standpoint. As I read and investigated I found it not difficult to be convinced that it might do away with the use of drugs in the treatment of medical diseases; partly because I knew that medical men everywhere were coming to place less and less reliance upon drugs, that I myself had found their power most uncertain, and partly because from my own experience I welcomed the doing away with such dangerous tools. As to surgery I was much more slow in believing that mental treatment could be of any use, and it was not until I came to understand the real Principle upon which Christian Science is based that I understood that it will eventually do away with operative surgery as well as the demand for it. I myself have seen a broken bone and dislocated joint restored to normal condition and function within a few hours, and that without manipulation, splint, or bandage of any kind. I have seen a child of five years freed instantly from a congenital deformity without touch of hand or instrument. I have seen a woman, who, according to the verdict of the best medical talent, was within a few hours of death from cancer, restored to good health and spirits within a few days. To-day, however, it is not claimed that we can do without surgeons altogether; not because pure Christian Science will not go so far as to remove cancers and set broken bones, for it is doing these things every day, but for the same reason that abdominal and intercranial surgery were not done with the same freedom and safety one hundred years ago as they are to-day; for the same reason that Adam did not have a telephone and Noah a steamboat; not because the laws of physics and physiology are not the same in one age as in another, but because the understanding of them is not the same, ... but because men are still busy learning the multiplication table does not indicate that the problems of Euclid will not be solved in due course; rather the contrary.

However, one does not go far in his investigation of Christian Science without learning that the healing of individual attacks of sickness is considered of minor importance and may almost be said to be incidental, but that its real purpose is the permanent healing of all disease, mental, moral, and physical, in the individual; the immunizing, so to speak, of the individual to all forms of illness and evil. One learns early in the study that under the healing of disease Christian Science includes ills not mentioned in medical text-books, at least not in those published before Christian Science influence began to be felt in the world's thinking. Its list covers such diseases as worry, selfishness, jealousy, fear, hatred, miscalled love, poverty, dishonesty, avarice,—the assassins that make it seem impossible to obey the command: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." And one learns that these diseases are amenable to Christian Science as well as measles and cancer, and by it are being eliminated from human consciousness. Also whereas the physician expects that his patients will come to him and will have occasion to come to him as long as they live, and that the beloved "family doctor" will always be a welcome visitor in the home, at the fireside as well as at the bedside, the Christian Science practitioner seeks to bring it about that those who come to him for aid shall cease as soon as possible to be patients.

It is thought in all branches of learning that empiricism is being done away with and that conclusions are being based upon principle as a result of an advance in the understanding of physical science and the influence of this scientific thought upon philosophic speculation in all lines. And yet in theology, I believe, those who are regarded as the most advanced thinkers are basing their conclusions as to what is truth upon the reply to the question: According to the sum of human experience, does it work? Empiricism has been the rule in medicine for centuries, and although in that branch there is a thought that it is passing away, still all conclusion based upon material premise must be empirical, for that which is called premise is the result of fallible experiment and cannot therefore be strictly principle. When a surgeon administers an opiate to a person with a broken arm, he stops the pain. His colleagues will say it is more scientific to set and properly dress the broken limb so it will heal, and thus do away with the cause of the pain. But is the cause of the broken arm done away with? Is there any less possibility of the arm being broken again than there was before the surgeon came? When theologians agree upon the truth of a certain proposition because it accords with human experience, have they removed the possibility of human experience being fallacious, as it has been proven to be more often than otherwise? There is no recognition in either case of a fixed rule—a straight-edge by which all propositions can be tested as to truth or falsity. Christian Science promises to remove the possibility of a broken limb and the necessity for the reliance upon human experience in the search for Truth, by implanting an understanding of the omnipotence and omnipresence of God, good, an understanding which is not merely a belief in theory, but a knowledge which is actual power.

Christian Science takes away from us nothing but ignorance and dependence upon falsities. It shows us that we have been making ourselves the slaves of the things for which we have been spending our lives, that we have belonged to them and not they to us. It makes us possessors of real things, not possessed by unreal things. It is not a system of medicine, nor a drug; not a something to be taken when we are sick or in trouble and to be kept on the shelf between times. It is the understanding of true values as distinguished from the false and of how a man is governed by the former and not by the latter. It is a thing to be lived. It is the way to live, the scientific way to live, the only way to live right and the way in which all men sooner or later must come to live, for it is the Christ-way, and at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the Science of being, the Science of Life. It is the truth that makes men free.

[The author of this article is an alumnus of Rush Medical College of Chicago. He served an internship of eighteen months in Cook County Hospital, Chicago—one of the largest hospitals in the country—and at the termination of his internship was appointed a member of the surgical consulting staff of the same hospital. At the same time he received appointment as instructor of the faculty of Rush Medical College, and held these positions until forced by ill health to leave the North. In Arizona he was acting assistant surgeon of the United States Marine Hospital Service for Arizona. He is licensed to practise in Illinois, Arizona, and California, and was a member of the American Medical Association until he left medicine for Christian Science.]

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