One is reminded of the fable of the sowers of dragon's...

Richmond (Va.) Journal

One is reminded of the fable of the sowers of dragon's teeth by the antituberculosis campaign now being conducted in this city. It will be remembered that the crop was an uncontrollable army, bent upon destruction. No one can object to sensible sanitation or reasonable precautions against contagion, but a campaign launched and maintained for the purpose of inspiring fear of tuberculosis presents the paradox of defeating itself to the exact extent of its success. It is a known fact, admitted by the medical profession, that fear is one of the greatest inducements of disease. Dr. S. A. Knopp, of the New York post-graduate medical school, has said: "One must first overcome the fear of disease in order to combat it successfully." In the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin, Dr. J. B. S. King, formerly professor in Hering Medical College, and editor of the Medical Advance, wrote: "The Romans made a desolation and called it a peace; the sanitarians make a panic and call it precaution. The effects of fear on the body are more rapid and deadly than any known poison." Dr. John B. Huber, in Collier's Weekly, said: "Fear is a prime predisposition to any infection." Many other statements could be cited, but these three are probably ample to show that inspiring fear of a disease is hardly the way to prevent it.

Everywhere one looks he is now faced with placards intended to inspire fear of tuberculosis; reading notices of the same fearful nature stare at him in all the daily papers. Even the little children in their schools are not permitted to escape, but must have this poison distilled into their thought by moving pictures, talks, and plays dealing with "the dangers of the fearful plague." When people are filled with a fear of disease, when their attention is constantly concentrated upon it, and its results are perpetually pictured to them, what happens? If the published opinions of the leading members of the medical profession are to be credited, the result is an increased number of cases of that disease. In the Southern Clinic (Richmond) for June, 1917, there was an article on "The Mind in Disease," by Dr. W. T. Marrs, of Peoria Illinois, which deals at length with this subject. Doctor Marrs says, "Many ailments in their incipiency are due to fear in some of its protean forms," and goes on to describe how a person who has received suggestions of disease from advertisements, and the like, may discover what he believes are symptoms, and worry about them and dwell upon them until he develops the disease in very fact, and he will not go to a doctor for fear his convictions will be confirmed.

April 27, 1918
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