"Fear made manifest"

Explaining her contention that all disease is mental in origin, Mrs. Eddy says: "Faith in rules of health or in drugs begets and fosters disease by attracting the mind to the subject of sickness, by exciting fear of disease, and by dosing the body in order to avoid it. The faith reposed in these things should find stronger supports and a higher home. If we understood the control of Mind over body, we should put no faith in material means" (Science and Health, p. 169). This also sustains her definition of disease as "fear made manifest on the body" (p. 493).

That the doctors are, to a certain extent at least, in agreement with these teachings, is indicated in an article in a recent issue of the Medical Record, in which the part that the fears of the patient play in the diseases of certain organs of the body is explained from the medical standpoint. Of these fears and the persons who entertain them the writer says: "The cases in question are those in which the patient, always normal and well, seems suddenly to have become obsessed with the idea that he is the possessor of some kind of a pathological process ... The patient who acquires such a phobia is often of an intelligent type, one who more than the average individual is conversant with medical terms and phrases. As a rule it is an individual who, either through the perusal of medical literature or in the course of conversation, becomes acquainted with the symptoms characteristic of organic conditions. It is the case of a little knowledge producing considerable harm."

Notwithstanding these admissions, the writer believes that "the greater publicity given by hygienists and public health officials to the preventable diseases" has been "of inestimable value and has been the means of decreasing the death rate in several of the infectious diseases;" although he also believes that "with the repeated precautions to watch out for certain symptoms there has been aroused in many an overcautiousness, with the result that some of the ordinary minor ailments are often magnified to unusual proportions and interpreted wrongly by the person possessing them." The treatment for such conditions is based, he says, "first of all on the absolute proof that the condition is a phobia and not a true pathological condition;" and his conclusion is that when the patient is convinced that there is no ground for the fear, he will be relieved from the belief in the disease.

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January 27, 1917

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