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Opposition

CHAPTER L

   What new truths, reforms and revolutions, though ever so beautiful and practical, have ever received public approval when first promulgated? Which of them has not been forced to contend with the combined forces of ignorance, superstition, bigotry and entrenched privilege? It seems an unfortunate circumstance that in every age and in every department of human activity and learning, truth must engage in a death grapple with fallacies, superstitions and popular vices and defeat and rout these before it can receive a respectable hearing.

   When new truth must be promulgated, when new rules of human action must be recognized by the world and inaugurated on the throne of reason, bitter strife must preceed. It has ever been so, as Trall so clearly stated: "Never was a great principle announced to the world that the world would not crucify in some way the medium. Never was a new light in science set up, or a higher standard of morals raised, that did not bring opposition and conflict. There never was a great truth established among men until its advocates have battled long and arduously for it and, perchance, died for it."

   Perhaps there is something to be said for the testing of truth by such a struggle, but it does seem to delay the progress of mankind. The vital truths of Natural Hygiene will be accepted as certainly as were the truths that the earth is round and not flat, that the earth turns on its axis and the sun does not go around the earth. We need not be discouraged, although we may be excused our impatience with the slowness of progress.

   Hygiene could not be adopted by the people without an intense struggle. The interests involved were too great not to arouse violent opposition. The principles and practices of the Hygienic school were new, original and independent. They had never before been written into the books of any of the schools of so-called healing, taught in any of their schools nor recognized by any of the various healing professions. While they were each and all in direct opposition to each and all of the fundamental principles upon which the popular so-called healing systems were based, they were and are demonstrably in harmony with the laws of nature. Hygiene reversed all of the doctrines of the schools and repudiated all of their practices.

   The syngraphic efflorescence of Hygiene was sufficient to frighten the drugging schools into hysteria. They attempted to meet the new truths with pseudo-righteous eloquence and occasional splashes of pomposity and when this proved unavailing, they turned to repressive measures, all reproach being advocated in the interests of the public health. The difficulty with which a new doctrine makes any headway and the bitterness with which it is opposed are, as a rule, in equal ratio to the soundess of its principles and practices. Like many other important truths, when first announced, the truths of Natural Hygiene were almost universally scouted as having no other foundation than the impudent trickery and charlatanism or the delusive fantasies of weak intellects. Many were the coruscations of wit that flashed from the pens of flippant penny-a-liners and many were the sneers of grave and reverent philosophers at the claims of this new science. But its greatest foes were the forces that saw in its general acceptance a blow, not alone to their prestige and to their means of livelihood, but also a mockery of their pretended wisdom and skill--the medicine men.

   Strong opposition developed immediately upon the first promulgation of the principles of physiological reform by Graham. Not only was he opposed by medical men, but by all others--tobacconists, brewers, distillers, saloon keepers, butchers, bakers, etc.--who saw their businesses threatened by the new doctrines. Ridicule and slander, distortion and untruth, were the chief methods employed, although an effort was made to mob Graham in Boston. Opposition to Jennings did not develop immediately, primarily because the secret of his success was unknown. Both his patients and his fellow physicians thought he was treating his patients with drugs. Yale University conferred an honorary degree upon him in recognition of his unusual success. Perhaps Yale would have been hesitant about honoring him had its regents known that Hygiene was the secret of Jennings' unheard-of success. A storm broke about Jennings' head when he finally revealed the plan of care that he employed.

   It was noted in the Journal, April 1861, that wherever a knowledge of the laws of life and health had penetrated, the sick had occasion to rejoice. It should not surprise us, therefore, that Graham, as all innovaters that attack old dogmas and substitute vital truths in their stead, was assailed by the slaves of precedent as well as by those who profitted from old evils. The assault upon Graham became more bitter as his teachings became more popular, and although he has been dead for over a hundred years, the medical profession still, when it condescends to notice him at all, disparages him and his teachings and refuses to acknowledge that they themselves have adopted, in their own ways of life, much that he taught.

   Graham, Alcott, Gove, Trall and the many medical men who abandoned the drugging practice and adopted Hygiene, together with the graduates of Trall's school, all made themselves missionaries to carry the message of Hygiene to the people and from the people they commonly received a respectful hearing. Visiting Marietta, Pa., in August of 1861 to lecture to the people of that town, Trall contrasted the Hygienic System with the various drug systems of the day. The Mariettan of September 7, 1861, said of Trall's lectures that they "were certainly very different from anything we ever heard in Marietta. The facts propounded by Dr. Trall with regard to the nature of disease and the action of medicines were altogether new to us. It is gratifying to be able to say that Dr. Trail's visit to Marietta has aroused a spirit of inquiry on the subject of health and disease which cannot be otherwise than beneficial to the community. Our country friends were so deeply interested in the discussion, that some of them came every night six or seven miles to hear the Doctor. The Friday evening's lecture, on 'The Health and Diseases of Women,' was truly a masterly effort, and such as every man and woman throughout the country ought to hear. The lectures taken as a whole, were a treat of rare excellence."

   No one at all acquainted with the history of mankind should be surprised that lectures of this type should arouse the opposition of the medical profession of the time. In spite of their opposition, expressed in many ways, they refused to meet the issue in public discussion.

   Announcing editorially in the Journal (December 1861) that he had arranged to leave New York for the great West to lecture, Trall took advantage of the occasion to invite the medical men of Peoria, Illinois, where he was scheduled to lecture, to discuss or debate the respective merits of the medical and Hygienic systems. He offered to prove the following propositions:

  1. "The Drug-Medical System which they advocate and practice is false--untrue in philosophy, absurd in science, in opposition to nature, contrary to common sense, disastrous in results, a curse to the human race.
  2. "The Hygienic Medical System which we endorse and practice is true--in harmony with nature, in accordance with the laws of the vital organism, correct in science, sound in philosophy, in agreement with common sense, successful in results, and a blessing to mankind."

   It need hardly be stated that no medical men came forward to meet this challenge. Medical men found it beneath their dignity to discuss such matters with men whom they denounced as quacks. Trall pointed out that all of the professors of his college were graduates of regular schools of medicine and were all licensed to practice medicine. They had, he said, everything that the medical profession had and Hygiene in addition.

   Oh! what a noble profession is this! Reared and nourished in a free country, where every institution is founded upon the broad basis of free thought, we have in our midst a noble profession that, to preserve its dignity, shuns controversy and debate. Were they now with us, in what tones would the founders of America demand that the fires of agitation they had kindled may not go out, but be permitted to continue to burn until they have consumed every old structure, the dignity and beauty of which fades and withers when agitations open their musty petals and unravels their errors and mysteries!

   Referring to this "dignity" of the medical profession, a young graduate of the College of Hygeio-Therapeutics (class of 1855) by the name of Hall, of Carlton, New York, said in the concluding remarks of his graduation paper: "Here, Fellow Students, is a duty which we owe to ourselves and to humanity, who are suffering from this dignity. Let us be thankful that we have not had such principles inculcated in our minds and that our steps have been guided in the path we are now treading."

   Truth cannot be eternally opposed. It grows in spite of opposition. And even the opposition has to recognize it. Editorially, Trall said, September 1860: "The world moves. We learn from the reports of doings of the American National Medical Convention, which met at New Haven, Conn., recently, that Dr. Reece, of this city, Chairman of the Committee on Education, presented a report in which he recommended, among other things, that a Chair of Hygiene be introduced into medical schools. We have been for years calling the attention of our professional brethren to this subject, and we are glad to see that our advice has some prospect of being respectfully entertained. Is it not a little astonishing that the subject of Hygiene--the art of preserving health--has never been taught in any medical school in the world except the Hygeio-Therapeutic? It is true that Prof. Parker, of the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons, says, 'Hygiene is of far more value in the treatment of disease than drugs,' and that Prof. Clark of the same school, relies wholly on Hygiene for the cure of many diseases, and that all medical professors testify to the good value of Hygiene, not only to prevent but to cure disease. But we must venture the prediction that the proposition of Dr. Reece will be merely entertained. There the matter will stop. The Chair of Hygiene will never be introduced. Hygiene and drug medication are incompatibles. They can never co-exist. Barnum in his museum has solved the problem that a carnivorous, an omnivorous, an herbivorous, and a frugivorous animal may dwell together in the same cage without devouring or being devoured. But Hygiene and drugs could not be taught in the same school without a war of extermination. The drugs would eat up the Hygiene, or the Hygiene would drown out the drugs. Whatever may be said of other conflicts, this one is irrepressible."

   Further evidence that the value of Hygiene was recognized, even though they tended to discredit the source, is contained in a paper read before the Medical Library and Journal Association in 1875 by Henry Hart, M.D., of New York City, in which he stressed the fact that there are "benefits which patients can only receive at the hands of quacks." He referred to Hygienists and hydropaths as "quacks." He criticized his own profession for permitting "ignorant pretenders and irregular practitioners" to monopolize the use of "water, rubbing and passive methods" and suggested the establishment of an institution, under the control of the medical profession, to which "private practitioners could send their patients to obtain the benefits which they can only now receive from the hands of quacks."

   Writing in The Science of Health, April 1876, on this lecture by Hart, in which he recommended a hospital "for the radical and permanent cure of chronic disease," Trall expressed the hope that such a hospital would be established, so that the merits of drugging could be thoroughly tested, and said: "For years hygienic practitioners have been confined in great degree to this class of cases, simply because the patients had been driven in desperation to try anything rather than die; for die it was evident they must, unless they received better aid than the medical schools usually furnish. In the majority of cases these chronic invalids that had been either pronounced incurable by competent physicians, or were considered beyond hope by friends, because of the repeated and absolute failure on the part of their medical advisers; and yet many, if not the majority have been either restored to health or been so greatly benefitted as to feel very grateful to the hygienic system."

   Trall charged, in his reply, that the chronic diseases which Hart wanted a "respectable medical institution" in which such cases could receive non-drug treatment, were "in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, if not in the other, the consequence of the vigorous treatment, which changed a single and simple and acute disease into a complication of chronic drug diseases. Acute diseases which are treated hygienically are never followed by chronic disease of any kind."

   Trall further said on this occasion: "Acute diseases, we insist, are mere bagatelles as compared with the 'difficult and intractable' chronic ones, and hygienic treatment is not only as successful with them, but very much more so. Acute diseases are simple and tractable, as a rule, and the patients recover in spite of the doctor, but Dr. Hart will find that the treatment of chronic invalids is a very different matter."

   Hart had referred to chronic disease as "difficult and intractable," an unusual thing for a medical man, who prefers to think of such diseases as "imaginary and trifling," especially if they are restored to health by Hygienic means.

   It is true that the sooner the patient can get off drugs, the better; but it is equally true that, the sooner he gets off Hygiene, the worse. A return to unHygienic living, which caused the disease in the first place, will build disease all over again. As total abstinence is the only course for the former alcoholic (it is well known that a return to drink will result in a return of consequences), so a permanent desertion of unHygienic ways is the only safe way of life.

   In an article in The Science of Health, May 1875, Trall pointed out that the drug schools, "making a virtue of necessity, have concluded to let each other live, dosing and drugging, each after its own fashion, and make a combined effort to suppress the Hygienic system." A Dr. Smith of the New York Board of Health proposed to squelch the Hygienists bylaw. He proposed to put M.D. into the constitution and to have the state take the doctor-making business (under drug-medical auspices) into its own hands and appoint a board to examine all would-be physicians in the materia medical of all the drug schools. This ingenious scheme would have rendered it impossible for a Hygienist to have received a diploma and to receive a license to practice.

   Opposition takes strange forms and resorts to devious means to achieve its end. But one hardly expects a respected member of the medical profession, who is also a professor in one of the world's leading educational institutions and who has achieved a reputation as a poet and essayist, to openly advocate permitting medical men to kill their incurables to prevent them from getting well under other plans of care. Whether this was the real object aimed at by the man in question may be difficult to prove, but Trall thought so.

   In 1875 Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D., of Harvard, whom Trall referred to as the funny poet, made a strange suggestion. Writing of this suggestion, Trall said that "Dr. Holmes is not the stuff that martyrs are made of." While not blaming Holmes for his weakness, he decried Holmes' demand for physicians the "right of procuring a painless passage out of this world, so far as is practicable, for the patient whom he can keep no longer in it." Trall regarded this as a direct attack upon his business and that of every other Hygienist.

   "Grant," said Trall, "the physician the privilege of killing his patients when he cannot cure them, and every Hygeian-Home, Water-Cure, Hygienic Institute, and other establishment where patients are treated without drugs would soon be closed. Not one of them could pay expenses. For myself, therefore, as well as in behalf of every Hygienist in the land, I protest against giving the drug-doctors the right to deprive us of our patients."

   Explaining this, Trall said: "More than three-quarters of our business is due to the medicines the patients have taken. We have more than three drug diseases to treat to one original ailment. If the drug doctors are to be allowed to kill their patients when they refuse to get well under drug-medication, our Health Institutes will very soon subside; and probably this is the object of Dr. Holmes' suggestion."

   Principles and practices which are radical and revolutionary and are subversive of established usages and existing interests must, of necessity, be opposed by the learned and rejected by the illiterate. Before they can be generally accepted or generally established or even fairly investigated, the public mind must be re-educated. And it is infinitely more difficult to dispossess it of its ingrained errors and life-long prejudices than to educate it truthfully.

   Good men, bent upon the promulgation of new and therefore strange truths are frequently surprised at the slowness with which new truths are accepted by the people. But they should not be surprised; they should know that man changes by inches, that any change that requires growth, and especially growth from long entertained fallacies to new and strange truths, from long accustomed bad to untried good conditions, must be slow, the slowness being the cosmic surety for the value of the new growth. Quick and rapid transformations more often than not betoken early decay.

   We never accept new ideas all at once. We need a previous preparation, and in those instances where radical changes in the human mind appear not to be gradual, there have been previous experiences and preparations that have, perhaps all unconsciously, prepared the way for the apparently sudden change.

   Hygiene will outlive the jibes, jeers, snears, sarcasisms, doubts, distrust and the great variety of sham-practices, as well as serious, well-organized opposition, else it is unworthy of survival. While we would gladly see the people awaken to a more ready realization of the superlative virtues of Hygiene, we cannot permit ourselves to become discouraged by the slowness of the revolutionary process. Ridicule, rejection, trials, troubles, severe hardships, even persecutions are the handicaps that all genuine progress must overcome. Prejudices are not immortal, but truth is.

   We think that we can discern the rays of the rising sun through the increasing gloom. Disease is not, in the nature of things, eternal. Ignorance, prejudice, fallacy, drug fanaticism and superstition may sway the multitude for a season, but Truth and Right in serene majesty sit enthroned forever. Order is Heaven's first law and the present subversion of reason and desertion of the paths of nature cannot last. The poisoning system has reached the end of its rope. Twenty-five hundred years of poisoning the body has been long enough for any experiment to last.

   In the developing light of Hygiene's own intrinsic truthfulness, all of these finely polished weapons of opposition have grown dim and pointless and are gradually crumbling into dust and ashes. At the present time great effort is not required to interest and convince even the most warped and biased mind of the fundamental truths of Natural Hygiene and their surpassing beauty, if they can be induced to stop long enough to think for themselves. Not only have the foes of Hygiene been unable to demolish a single one of its basic principles and to destroy a single one of its essential practices, but these have been strengthened by all genuine discoveries made by its very foes. Every advance in knowledge of biology and physiology has served to add strength to Natural Hygiene and to remove the foundation from under the ancient system of the medicine man.

   Considering the vast importance of this now extensively recognized body of truths and practices and its importance as a means of both preserving and restoring health and also the increased light its principles shed upon many other related phenomena, it would seem, at first view, somewhat strange that it has not been more extensively cultivated and its resources more fully developed and more generally applied to their appropriate uses. This wonder, however, will partially disappear when we consider that many of its present believers who could be among the most influential in bringing it into general notice are still smarting under the embarrassment of having been compelled to relinquish a previously avowed hostility and assent to its claims and in their wounded pride, most of these are still not disposed to give it the attention which its importance demands.

   The facts of Hygiene are such stubborn things, however, that eventually the most incredulous will be compelled to accept them. Prejudices are like mercury in the bones: they cling to one despite his better judgment. But even the strongest prejudices must ultimately give way before the bombardment of Hygienic truth.

   It remains to say a few words in reply to the charge of quackery that was and still is frequently made by the medical profession against Hygiene and Hygienists. A quack, in popular language, is just what you choose to make him. Calling a man a quack, however, does not make him such. The medical man regards all practitioners who care for the sick and who do not believe in and employ the same means and theories as those employed by medical men as quacks. Members of all schools of so-called healing other than the regular medical school, by this standard, are quacks. The dictionary defines quack as synonymous with charlatan. Etymologically and historically, this is not its true definition. It is a shortening of the German word quacksalber (quicksilver) and was originally applied to those regular physicians who poisoned their patients with mercury. As originally employed, the term was applicable to regular physicians and to no one else.

   To make it mean a pretender to knowledge and skill that one does not possess makes it cover the entire healing profession, regular and irregular, from Hippocrates to the present. However well meaning and well-educated in the lore of the time were those men of the not-so-distant past who sought to cure disease by blood-letting, for example. they were mere pretenders--charlatans. There has never been a time in the history of medicine when the practitioners of the many and various schools of medicine that have arisen and flourished have not pretended to greater knowledge and skill than they possessed. The same fact is true of the members of the various schools of so-called healing that now flourish.

   For the medical man to brand as quacks all members of all schools of healing other than his own may be good propaganda, but it does not make good sense. For the givers of quacksalber to brand all who refuse to administer this poison as quacksalbers is the height of the ridiculous. If the brand belongs to anybody, it belongs to the members of the "regular," the self-styled scientific or what was formerly known as the allopathic school of drugging (poisoning), and to no other. Let them accept their proper brand and cease trying to transfer it to others.

   We would define a charlatan as one who seeks to do or to make others believe that he can do by illegitimate or unlawful means or unwise methods, that which can only be done by means which are obviously natural and in harmony with law. What have physicians from Hippocrates to the present been other than a body of pretenders, seeking to do with unnatural and anti-vital means, that which can be done only by means that have a normal relation to life? They have been ignorant of physiology, pathology and etiology. Was it not the grossest kind of ignorance that caused them for centuries to bleed their victims? However well-meaning they may have been, they were, nonetheless, charlatans.

   In any profession, he is a charlatan who sets up pretensions which are not fortified by knowledge and we seriously assert that in no profession is there to be found a greater proportion of its members who are ignorant of the fundamental principles that underlie or should underlie the care of the sick, than are to be found in the medical profession.

   The continuous outcry of physicians against what they delight to stigmatize as quackery is an unconscious acknowledgement, either of their own inferiority, which they sense all too keenly, or of the monopoly they are so desirous of enjoying in their field. A physician who complains of the quack in his neighborhood is voicing his own feeling of inferiority or his desire for monopoly.

   Men who asserted that it is the duty of everyone to study the laws and principles of our animal existence and to dilligently live according to these laws were denounced as quacks by Tully in his Materia Medica and Therapeutics, published shortly after the middle of the last century. He said that this set of "quacks" insist that "all disease" is the "natural and inevitable consequence of living contrary to nature," and that they teach that "the sickness which prevails" everywhere "may be directly traced to the violation of the great laws which govern our present mode of existence." From this he proceeded to write all he could to prejudice the medical student against the teachings of the Hygienists, even going to the extent of distorting and falsifying much of what they did teach. He set the pattern that has been unthinkingly followed by the medical profession from that day to this.

   It is a bit amusing to read in the various publications--daily, weekly and monthly--of today of the continual "ding dong, sing song, often loud, but never long," attacks upon what is described as wide-spread quackery. It is confessed that "quackery" is alarmingly prevalent and constantly gaining on the regular profession of medicine. But why this is true is amazingly perplexing. Why do so many millions of people, many of them of more than average intelligence and many of them highly educated, turn to "quackery" when scientific medicine offers them so much? Is it because scientific medicine is not fulfilling its promises? Do people turn elsewhere for succour when the regular traffic in cures fails them? Is it possible that the best remedy for "quackery" is for medical men to cure their patients?

   It is altogether too easy to credit the wide-spread patronage of "quackery" to gullibility and ignorance. Before the profession stresses these qualities of the layman, they should take a closer look at their own ignorance and gullibility. Are they not guilty of employing and even promoting a succession of new drugs, most of which, after but a brief trail, are discarded? Before they stressed so much the alleged dangers of "quackery," would it not be well for them to take stock of the dangers of their own practices--the dangerous side effects of their drugs, the mounting incidence of iatrogenic disease, the number of deaths from "allergic reactions" to drugs, the deaths from operations, etc.?

   The pitiful witlings of the drugging school may continue to babble about quackery while they continue to routinely dose their victims with poisons and their chief propagandists may sharpen their pens to utter smart things about the ignorance of the "quacks," but the public will draw their own inferences from what they observe and experience. If the profession will come out into the open and discuss their own quackery and cease "barking behind the fence," they will do the public a genuine service. For, it is evident that the quackery within the profession is the parent of the quackery outside the profession.

 


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