Appendicitis and Imagination

Under the above heading appeared the following editorial in a recent issue of the Times-Herald of Chicago:—

"That people can imagine themselves into sick-beds has long been an accepted fact by men who practise medicine, and the belief that the bread pill is one of the most potent remedies in the physician's case was never more general than it is to-day. Since the beginning of the appendicitis fad the spread of imaginary ills has been much worse than ever before. Pains in their sides now are sure to throw about three out of every five people into a terrible state of alarm. They used to disregard these things, but appendicitis has wrought a change. A New Orleans physician, in a recent interview on this subject, related an experience that is worth repeating.

"'A nervous man recently called on me [this is the doctor's story] and asked: "In what part of the abdomen are the premonitory pains of appendicitis felt?" "On the left side, exactly here," I replied, indicating a spot a little above the point of the hip-bone. He went out, and next afternoon I was summoned in hot haste to the St. Charles Hotel. I found the planter writhing on his bed, his forehead beaded with sweat and his whole appearance indicating intense suffering. "I have an attack of appendicitis," he groaned, "and I'm a dead man! I'll never survive an operation!" "Where do you feel pain?" I asked. "Oh, right here," he replied, putting his finger on the spot I had located at the office. "I feel as if somebody had a knife in me there and was turning it around!" "Well, then, it isn't appendicitis, at any rate," I said cheerfully; "because that is the wrong side." "The wrong side!" he exclaimed, glaring at me indignantly, "Why, you told me yourself it was on the left!" "Then I must have been abstracted," I replied calmly, "I should have said the right." I prescribed something that would not hurt him, and learned afterward that he ate his dinner in the dining-room the same evening. Oh, yes; he was no doubt in real pain when I called, but you can make your finger ache merely by concentrating your attention on it for a few moments.'

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Railroad Rates
May 24, 1900

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