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We have previously pointed out that a series of individuals, perhaps even of ages, are required for the full development and culmination of a great thought. Each individual and each age provides further light and truth, while man labors through indefinite time for the perfection of a science. Each event is the term of a series; the present is the summation of the past, which is still to be added to in the future. It was inescapable that at its origin (or rather, its revival) in the last century, Hygiene should have had many imperfections. It is certainly true that at its present stage of evolution it shall have imperfections still.
This fact was recognized by the early Hygienists, who not only held to different views and carried on different practices, but strove to improve both their understanding and their practices. Trall stated that the greatest room in the world was (or is) the room for improvement. To his classes he emphasized that the most the pioneers of Hygiene could do was to lay foundations and establish broad outlines, but that future Hygienists would have to fill in the details. Nobody thought that Hygiene had burst forth in full flower with no errors to be corrected and no further developments to be made.
Every basic and positive truth that is discovered adds to the approximation of the perfect system that belongs to the future. It not only adds to our understanding of truth, but enables us to correct past errors and to eliminate practices that are not based on truth. If we adhere to the original proposition of Hygienists, in laboring for the perfection of the science and art of Hygiene--that its true principles are to be drawn from physiology alone--and continue to work and harmonize its various parts, we will not waste time and energy seeking for Hygienic developments in all the fields of human investigation.
What was, perhaps, the basic error of the early Hygienists (all save Jennings and Graham), at least insofar as their application of Hygiene to the care of the sick is concerned, was their assumption that the remedial efforts of the body had to be regulated and directed. In pursuing the effort to regulate and direct these remedial efforts, they resorted to a wide variety of extra-Hygienic means and measures, the most important of these being hydropathy.
Water applications, massage, changes in atmospheric pressure (an elaborate apparatus was used for this purpose), electricity and hypnotism (by some Hygienists) were chief among the means employed with which to control and direct the body's remedial actions. Some of them enthusiastically adopted the Turkish bath, although this was denounced by Trall. Indeed, his opposition to this bath caused a serious breach in the ranks of Hygienists, leading to efforts to repress Trall and to lawsuits. It was but dimly recognized that their efforts to direct and control the remedial efforts of life by adventitious and extraneous means were suppressive.
All truly successful art is established upon scientific principles. The experimental art always presupposes error and disaster. No man can learn independently of general principles, except through frequent failure. The sad and disastrous experiences of life teach man wisdom quite as much as do his successes. Nowhere, perhaps, has this been more true than in the care of the sick. The healing art, as it is called, has been a long series of failures and disasters and, because of the lack of a single valid general principle, has taught only negatively.
The early Hygienists built upon sound principles. In saying this, we do not commit ourselves to all of the opinions, principles and practices which they promoted. Fundamentally, they were right and this was enough of a foundation to build upon.
Napoleon's famous remark--"Get your principles right and the rest is a matter of detail"--expresses an important truth; but he who thinks that when the principles are right the details automatically and instantaneously fall into their proper places, that they arrange themselves in their proper orders, sequences and relationships, with no effort on our part or that no mistakes are made in our work of ordering them, is naive. A true science is only slowly and laborously built up, even after the acquisition of correct principles.
The early Hygienists correctly insisted that "all healing power is inherent in the living system" and that "there is no curative 'virtue' in medicines nor in anything outside of the vital organism," and then established a lengthy catalogue of "true remedial agents and materials." They employed water cures, movement cures, sweat cures and various and sundry other cures. They neither emancipated themselves from the nomenclature of the medical system nor from the curing concept. They are not to be unduly censured for this failure, for understanding comes slowly.
They said that "disease is not, as is commonly supposed, an entity at war with the vital powers, but a remedial effort-a process of purification and reparation. It is not a thing to be destroyed, subdued or suppressed, but an action to be regulated and directed." This was the crux of their error. The true character of disease was recognized, but it was thought that it had to be regulated and directed. This effort to regulate and direct the processes of nature let down the bars to the influx of regulators and directors and led them to say that the Hygienic System "adopts all the remedial appliances in existence, with the single exception of poisons." This enabled one prominent Hygienist to advertise his place not only as a Hygieian Home, but also as the largest water cure in America. The bars down, the cures and gadgets multiplied like rats in the corn crib.
Declaring that "diseases should not be 'cured,' " and that "disease itself is a remedial process," and that "disease is an action of the vital system and ought not to be stopped, but only regulated," they insisted on treating disease "according to its nature and not by its name," and asserted that Hygiene "cures sick people by removing the causes of sickness" and that it "removes disease by removing the necessity for it."
They correctly defined "truly remedial agents" as "materials and influences which have normal relations to the vital organism," and pointed out that the preservation of health and its restoration are intrinsically the same, for "who knows how to get well knows how to keep well, and who knows how to keep well has learned the first and chiefest lesson in the art of getting well." They, nevertheless, employed numerous "remedial appliances" freely and often which had no normal relation to the vital organism and often, it would seem, neglected due attention to the means that are employed in preserving health, although declaring that they are precisely the same as those that should be employed in getting well.
"There is not in nature," they said, "any law of reversion. Results are produced only by appropriate means and effects always correspond to causes. Good cannot be accomplished by evil agencies, nor evil result from good when properly applied." They declared that if a thing is not needful or beneficial in health, it is not needful or beneficial in disease. This was all good, but it was all too often ignored. There were too many remedial appliances that have no place in health. They failed to eliminate the cures from Hygiene.
These contradictions of precept and practice can be explained only by assuming that the early Hygienists were so close to the old practices which they had abandoned that they failed to see clearly the full import of the principles which they discovered and promulgated. That these principles and precepts were more clearly seen by some than by others is clear to the student of the early days of Hygiene. But that it was not clearly seen by all seems to be largely responsible for the fact that Hygiene was soon buried beneath an avalanche of gadgets and modalities.
We are faced with a similar situation today. Every newcomer to Hygiene, whether layman or professional, seeks to bring along with him a lot of baggage from the curing systems to which he had previously paid allegiance. Which of my old loves may I keep, he is sure to ask himself. To which of my little gutta percha gods may I erect a new altar? To which of my former idols may I continue to cling? Is it not true that there is good in all systems? May I not select the good and reject the bad? The tendency to hang onto old delusions, while trying to shift one's thinking into new channels, is great.
It should be quite obvious that when one resorts to the various therapeutic modalities that exist, he deserts Hygiene. The man who trusts the Hygienic System only when there is no danger and, when danger appears, deserts it for whatever fancy or caprice may dictate without any fixed principles to guide him is a poor Hygienist. To the degree that the practitioner relies upon either drug poisons or drugless modalities will he fail to employ to their fullest extent the resources of Hygiene. Let the man who has full confidence in the power of Hygienic means to preserve health have the care of the sick individual and he will bring the full resources of Hygiene into requisition to supply the physiologic needs of the sick organism, with full confidence in their fitness to fulfill these needs in sickness as they do in health.
Such a man knows that healing is a biological process which he can neither imitate nor duplicate, that healing is as much a process of the living organism as respiration, digestion, circulation, assimilation and excretion. Relying, then, upon the powers of life and the means which these employ to heal and with full confidence in them, the Hygienist will not seek for cures. He will not haunt the out-of-the-way places of earth for rare, exotic and adventitious substances and processes with which to do that which only the living organism, obeying its own laws, is capable of doing.
He will not employ the resources of Hygiene as cures, but as a means of supplying the ordinary and indispensable means of life. The Hygienic System is simply the intelligent and lawful application of all the life requirements brought to bear upon the living organism in due proportion according to need. These means maintain the body in health when properly used--they are adequate to the needs (and nothing else is) of the body in sickness. Hygiene does not recognize any radical change in the organism in disease so that it needs when sick that which it cannot use when well. Health is to be restored by the processes of life under the benign influence of the normal things of life and not by heaping abuses upon the body by drugging it and subjecting it to treatments.
Hygiene stresses the principle that there must always be a normal relation between the living organism, whether well or sick, and the material things and conditions that contribute more or less perfectly to sustain physiological phenomena. Only those things that have a normal relation to the structures and functions of the organism are usable, whether in health or in sickness. Only those who envisage disease as an entity, a positive and organized force, that has attacked the body and is seeking to destroy it, can find any theoretical justification for the employment of hurtful treatments.
The extra-Hygienic means and measures that secured the adherence of so many Hygienists in varying degrees may be grouped under the following heads: hydropathy, electro-therapy, mechano-therapy, magnetism and spiritual healing. Although not all Hygienists employed all of these means of treating the sick, almost all of them did use water-cure appliances. We may say with Dr. G. H. Taylor, that "a blind adherence to any medical faith is unworthy intelligent beings." The Hygienic practice grew out of an observation of the plainest truths and so far as it is a system, is founded in the reason and nature of things; yet it suffered and will continue to, from the inaccurate apprehension of some of its most ardent advocates. Antiquated medical notions were often provokingly mingled with the truths received, especially if one had been much sick and drugged.
Dr. Taylor tells us that it would be almost amusing to list the different notions people had of curing by water. "Some appear to think," he said, "it to be essentially a cleansing process, each successive bathing affecting the system more profoundly, till the filth of the disease is quite washed away, as soiled garments are restored to pristine qualities and favor."
Although disease was understood to be a remedial process, it was thought that there was danger in this process in proportion to the extent to which the remedial efforts were concentrated wholly or nearly so in a single organ--hence the necessity for regulation and direction. It was feared that "the vital action may become concentrated upon the lungs" or other "internal organs or tissues," and this was supposed to constitute a danger which could be obviated by resort to "counter-irritation" to diffuse the remedial effort. It was held that "the more important the organ in the vital machinery upon which the disease is concentrated, the more suspicious is the intelligent physician of the consequences. And the further the disease is removed from important organs, the less, of course, is he concerned with the results . . ."
It was thought that the true principle of care of the sick "consists in the modification of the efforts of nature to exalt, depress or diffuse, as circumstances demand, knowing that the real danger consists in the intensity and concentration of disease in particular parts."
To reduce this assumed danger, they sought to regulate the vital struggle so that the circulation was kept nearly balanced. It was thought to be necessary to maintain the balance of circulation in order that the body "can perform its remedial work successfully." They sought to balance the circulation largely by means of hot and cold water applications and by passive movements or massage. The water cure was regarded as essentially valuable in febrile states; the movement cure was regarded as essentially a mode of care in chronic disease. In fevers they sought to "increase the action of the skin" by water applications, thinking that the eliminative work of the skin was most important. In point of fact, it was a process of suppression and was not remedial.
"The leading features in the management of such irregularities being those measures which are most naturally adapted to reduce the too great intensity of vital action, and at the same time preserve the capabilities of the vital powers . . ." well sums up the attitude of many Hygienists of the period. This principle actually led to the acceptance of the old medical notion of the value of "counter-irritation" and to practices based on it. It was admitted that by drawing the vital energies away from "the work of destruction" by means of "counter-irritation," the "cause of the disease has not been removed; but art has interposed her magic cunning and restrained the energetic powers of nature, causing her to work more consistent with the enduring capacity of material fibers."
Admitting the legitimacy of the principle and practice of counter-irritation, they, nevertheless, decried the medical use of counter-irritants, saying that the great fallacy of medical theory and practice "may be considered to consist in the abuse of the principle of counter-irritation. Their alternative effects are more to be deprecated than the disease itself. Their remedial agents are so positively anti-vital as to often produce an untimely and almost immediate dissolution! The patient is made to react until he is often 'so far and so fatally drained of his living principle, that there is no longer any rallying or reactive power remaining, and gives up the ghost in a few hours, to the treatment instead of the disease.' " Thus D. A. Gorton, M.D., in the Journal, April 1859, quotes Good's Study of Medicine.
Today it is quite obvious that had more attention been given to the orthopathic principle so fully developed by Jennings and also suggested in the writings of Graham and less attention to medical fallacies, Hygienists would not have fallen into the error of supposing that the danger in disease is in proportion to the intensity of the remedial action and they would not have thought it necessary to employ means to direct, control and regulate the remedial process. They would have recognized that the remedial process is regulated, directed and controlled by the laws of nature and these are more certain and accurate in their work than any man can be.
Treatments directed to the control and regulation of remedial processes are strongly in opposition to the regulations of physiology and can lay no just claim to scientific merit. This fact, together with the ill successes with which such treatment meets, should consign it to the general repository of things that are past.
In an article published in the Journal, August 1857, Dr. James C. Jackson said: "I have become so entirely convinced of the soundness of the philosophy of treating human diseases by water as a remedial agent, and of the splendid success that awaits the true water-cure physician, that I fear not in the least the most searching inquiry . . ." He referred to the "water-cure and its adjuncts," thus relegating all Hygienic means to the rank of mere adjuncts of hydropathy. Although calling their practices Hygienic, many Hygienists gave elaborate instructions for the use of the various forms of water applications and only a few general instructions about correcting the mode of living. Theoretically, but not practically, they had divorced themselves from the cure superstition.
It was stressed by Taylor and others that water applications were merely means of applying varying degrees of temperature to the body. They saw in the so-called water-cure a thermo-therapy. Writing in the Journal, December 1855, Taylor said: "By temperature applied from external sources we have a most potent means of modifying and controlling the physiology of the system." "Water applications," he added, "are common and convenient modes of adding heat to or taking it from the body."
In the beginning, this thermic meddling with the functions of life was thought to be of value in the care of the sick, but it finally came to be realized that it was a program of suppression and it was recognized by those Hygienists who continued to employ water "therapeutically" that its therapeutic use was distinct from its Hygienic use.
Temperature is certainly a normal excitant of organic functions, as is seen in everyday life; but it is certain that when the influences of temperature are out of all proportion to the capacities of the organism to constructively use them, the body does and must suffer. There will be both an irregularity and even an abatement of function. The unnatural supply or application of a normal agent will produce effects not very dissimilar from those of an unnatural agent or drug. A bread crumb in the bronchioles will occasion irritation, a flow of mucus, discomfort and violent coughing; in the nostril, a bread crumb will occasion irritation, discomfort, a flow of mucus and violent sneezing to expel it; resting on the chest it will occasion irritation and a movement of the hand to wipe it away; taken into the stomach, it will serve as food. The use of bread as food is Hygienic; its introduction into the air passages is non-Hygienic.
Writing on hydropathy in the Journal 1856, Dr. G. H. Taylor said that it "furnishes a direct means for the suppression of most of the sudden pathological straits into which the system may be thrown," thus giving voice to a recognition that water treatment was suppressive. Although looking upon cold as a "physiological stimulant," he said that "if the cold be continued too long and the body cooled too much, the physiological capabilities are lessened and the response exhibited in increased production of heat is reduced." He recognized that the use of fomentations and compresses was merely palliative. On the other hand, the water-cure advice given was often of the most harmless character, such as "a tepid ablution" each day or a tepid ablution in the morning and a sitz bath of 75° in the afternoon.
Electricity was regarded, in the words of Dr. Taylor, as "a principle or actuating cause that abounds in nature and is probably silently and mysteriously working in all her operations . . ." An electrical apparatus was thought of as "a means of focalizing" this all-pervading energy of nature. In considering the elements of Hygiene, D. A. Gorton, M.D., said: "Electricity and Magnetism are generally classed among the hygienic agents and perhaps justly so, but they cannot be considered primitive agents." She wrote this while an associate of Trall and probably presented his view as well as her own when she discounted the greater part of the claims made for electro-therapy.
Trall thought of electricity as a means of controlling and directing the remedial activities of the body. He said: "It is capable of exciting motion or action in muscular fibers and of determining vital action in particular points, circumstances which, to a greater or lesser extent, are useful in many morbid conditions." Thus, as will readily be seen, we are back to the primary mistake of the early Hygienists--that the body's remedial efforts require to be directed and controlled. More attention to Graham and Jennings would have dispelled this illusion.
Among the electrical appliances that achieved popularity among Hygienists and hydropaths was the electro-chemical bath, which was supposed to work wonders in removing metallic substances from the body. Not all the Hygienic and hydropathic practitioners adopted the electro-chemical bath; indeed, some of them denounced it as a humbug. It enjoyed considerable vogue for a time and then ceased to be used. Dr. Gorton said of this bath that "the merits of this celebrated bath may have been overestimated by some. There are those, however, who discard its use altogether; while by others it has been, and is now, lauded to the skies. I regard it as efficacious in some particular complaints."
With biting sarcasm, Dr. Kittredge describes the views of many with respect to this miracle bath. He said: "Be you lame, halt, or blind, stiff in the joints as a ten years foundered horse, or as twenty years enlargement of the heads of the bones can make you, you have only to step into an acidulated bath, and have a streak of lightning run through you! and 'presto, or given to change,' and you are well again, rather, better than new, if anything."
If unable to afford the expense of one of these modern miracle-working gadgets (electro-chemical baths), one had only to go to a clairvoyant and he--though stupid as a dolt when awake--would, asleep, tell him all the ills he suffered with and how to cure them. What a convenience! The most highly educated are as prone as the ignorant to patronize the popular cure craze, be it a new "wonder drug" or a skilled mountebank who has magic in his hands.
Aye! By the mere laying on of hands you may be cured in a trice of disease you have been years in building and all this may be done without removing or correcting a single etiological factor that has contributed to the building of your extensive and long-standing pathology. Not only is there not the slightest need to disturb the causes, it is not even necessary to know cause from effect. Like the infallible "specifics" of the medical profession that immunize you against causes that are daily parts of your life, these marvelous magnetic procedures work their wonders independently of the laws of being.
How inconsistent to believe that a man can be made whole in a few minutes or in a few days by the simple laying on of hands by some pretender, while rejecting with horror the belief that this same man can obtain absolution of his sins from a priest! With what alacrity they believe in the absurd dogmas and damaging practices of the drugging school which, like the magnetic healer, also believes that it is not necessary to remove causes, but simply to violate the laws of life still more by taking poisons!
In discussing the electro-chemical bath and a few other crazes, Dr. Kittredge said: "I don't believe in the possibility of anything or anybody, or any combination of things or any number of bodies making a man well in three-quarters of an hour, or three hours, or three weeks, or three months, that has been twenty or thirty years getting sick; simply because, we know, it is impossible. Nothing short of a miracle could do it, and I am free to confess, I don't believe that God would subvert the wisest laws He ever made in order that some ignorant pretender might make a noise in the world."
That an animal magnetism of one man can be made to operate upon another to radically and permanently cure disease without the cause of the disease being removed, is a proposition as absurd and irrational as that drugs can do so. Yet, many Hygienists adopted magnetism and employed it in their practice. In spite of the opposition to which it was subjected and its condemnation as the rankest kind of charlatanism by the learned men of the day, Hygienists were inclined to accord animal magnetism an integral place in the Hygienic System. In Europe the subject received far more favorable attention from medical men than it did in this country, so that in espousing its cause, Hygienists were almost alone on this side of the Atlantic.
At that time there was much excitement over the cures reported to have been effected by the spirits of the dead--spiritualism was enjoying a revival. People were hearing strange noises and feeling queer sensations--raps, taps, knocks, thumps, bumps, pinchings, squeezings, rattlings, chatterings, rollings, poundings, tippings, tumblings, scratchings, scorchings, freezings. A desk, a table or a chair would rise up without visible means of lifting it; a chair would reverse position; a man's pen would be wrong end up but would write quite as well; nevertheless, everything behaved contrary to all known laws. The victims of the delusion would see a phosphorescent face staring down at them, appearing to be constituted of fog and electricity. It would develop into a human form--head, trunk and limbs--so demi-ethereal and semi-transparent that one could think only of gas and magnetism.
New fangled notions were few and just emerging, but they attained great popularity in a short time. Many Hygienists became converts to spiritualism. Among those who adopted spiritualism, magnetism and hypnotism were Mary Gove and Dr. Thomas Low Nichols. The most difficult obstacle Hygiene had to hurtle then, as now, is its simple naturalness. Few people are content with nature or with simplicity. They prefer the mysterious, the incomprehensible, the complex and the artificial.
Is it not strange that these departed spirits, who while "in the flesh" were farmers, mechanics, merchants, lawyers, etc., all become healers as soon as they "pass beyond the veil?" Dr. G. H. Taylor said of the spirit healing of his time: "I ought, perhaps, to add as an inference from sober inquiry, that the spirits of the departed dead are usually engaged in some higher pursuit than the attempt to interrupt the relations between transgression and its consequences; nor is the presence of hypothetical influences sufficiently plain to be reliable. There must always be a connection between life, whether in its normal or depressed manifestations, and the material things that contribute more or less perfectly to sustain physiological phenomena."
If our forerunners of 150 years ago could not boast of their mesmeric influences or table-turning or spirit-wrapping, they were the victims of a marvellous list of charlatans of other descriptions. It is very unfortunate for the Hygienic cause that many of these popular fallacies found their way into Hygienic practices.
Religion still had a strong hold upon the imagination of the people and we should not be surprised to learn that many Hygienists, including Dr. Jackson, who was a minister, Dr. Nichols and Mary Gove, believed also in divine healing. These, with others, resorted to prayer in their care of the sick. The correct Hygienic attitude in this matter is that all things are rightly related to all things else and it is sheer folly to think that good can come from violating these relations or that God will, upon appeal from us, violate the eternal relations of nature. The intelligent man would expect an intelligent God to permit the lawful processess of nature to pursue uninterruptedly their lawful courses.
The brothers, George H. Taylor, M.D., and Charles F. Taylor, M.D., introduced the Ling System or what became known as the movement cure into America. This system, composed of active and passive movements and massage, possessed considerable value and Dr. George Taylor taught the system in the Hygeio-Therapeutic College. But, for reasons that should be obvious, the massage or the passive movement features of the system ultimately received most stress.
Dr. Walter's Nutritive Cure was composed of a series of measures by which he sought to influence and control nutrition in local parts. In the process he used water applications, manipulations, exercise, etc. Of these means, he considered massage the most effective and especially that form of massage that consisted in squeezing and pressing the soft tissues of the whole body. By this method he sought to squeeze the blood out of the tissues and to allow fresh blood to flow back into them as the pressure was released. In his later writings he seems to have abandoned this conception and this means of health restoration.
Kinesipathy was a term employed to designate a "mechanical or motor system" of treating disease. It pretended to cure disease by "specific active and passive movements." It was but a re-christening of the Ling System. Motorpathy, kinesipathy, statumination and other fancy terms were employed to designate a plan of treating disease with various manipulations, directed as much as possible to exercising weakened muscles. It was more particularly employed in displacements of organs. Writing in December 1853, Trall said: "Motorpathy means literally motion-disease, as hydropathy is literally rendered water-disease, 'atmopathy' air-disease, 'orthopathy' nature-disease, &c. But all of these terms are used in exactly the opposite sense, as motor, or motion-cure, water-cure, air-cure, nature-cure, &c."
He was correct in all of these instances except in defining the term orthopathy, which means literally, correct affection, and was coined by Dr. Jennings to express his conception of disease as right action--this as opposed to the medical view of the time that it is wrong action, a conception which Jennings coined the term heteropathy to express. We can find no instance in the writings of Jennings where he employed the term orthopathy to mean nature cure. Like Trall, Jennings did not believe that diseases should be or could be cured.
Another form of massage is that described by Dr. Charles F. Taylor in an article in the Journal of May 1857, which he called medicopneumatics. He said: "I am induced to give the following description for the benefit of all who are desirous of increasing the number of natural and rational appliances that can be used by the medical man, thus affording a choice of means at his command in any given exigency." The method may be described as one of dry cupping and was intended to control circulation locally. Believing that everything in the universe that is not poisonous can be used remedially, the Hygienist could employ the vacuum cup in his rational care of his patient, but he should have realized that such things have no relation to Hygiene.
The multiple system created by the adoption of the principle that all non-poisonous things may be used remedially soon led to the adoption of more and more gadgets and the burial of Hygiene beneath an avalanche of these. Vacuum machines, electrical gadgets, massage rollers, vaginal syringes, means of giving enemas, means of washing out the stomach and other gadgets multiplied. These were not heresies generated within the Hygienic System, but were, in fact, alien practices and theories that crept into it as the result of fortuitous contacts and made acceptable by the false idea that any non-poisonous thing can be used remedially.
It was unfortunate that very frequently Hygienists continued to attempt to express Hygiene in the old medical terms--a practice that was like that of putting new wine into old bottles. Dr. Jackson, for example, continued to speak of attacks of disease. He spoke of rheumatism attacking vital organs. He also continued to use the terms cure and curability. He was not alone in this mistaken use of old medical terms. It is an unfortunate fact that when new concepts are expressed in old terms, they will be understood in the old terms and this means that they will not be correctly understood at all. New concepts require new terms in order to properly express them.
The early Hygienists were medical men, trained in medical colleges, steeped to the eyebrows in medical terminology and habituated to expressing themselves in this terminology. From the outset, they attempted to express the new conceptions and new principles in the old and familiar terms. They wrote of hygienic medication; they talked of cures and therapies, even of pathies. Only little by little was it recognized that the old terms expressed the older ideas and that they were trying to put new wine into old bottles. New concepts require new terms; new principles need new modes of expression. It is contrary to the doctrine of chance that a group of would-be thinkers, wandering in a mist and without any principle to guide them, could be fellow travellers with those who seek to maintain a truly scientific course.
Every department of human knowledge requires its own special terminology. It is impossible to convey the meanings of physiology in the language of the farmer or the mechanic. But in medical parlance we have remnants of ancient words galvanized into a ghastly semblance of their original meaning and employed to bewilder, befuddle and confuse the hapless student. Many of the words and phrases from ancient languages are used for no better purpose than that of clothing the nakedness of modern thought, that is, to hide its emptiness. They may be thought to adorn and elucidate the forms and meanings of young and growing sciences, but they really serve to cover up a vacuum.
As an example, suppose we take the word paraplegia. When the old Greeks observed a man who had been smitten with a stroke, and the blow appeared to be full and disabling, so that he fell senseless under it, they called him apoplektos, that is, "struck asunder or completely"--hence the term apoplexy. If it appeared that only one side was smitten, that is, the imagined weapon glanced either to the right or to the left side, so that the victim was but half-struck, they called it hemiplex--hence our word hemiplegia, "half-struck." Or, if the hostile intent of the striker seemed to fail and he dealt a careless blow, which fell short of of its purpose, but caught the victim in the lower extremeties, so that he was partly smitten, he was paraplex--hence our word paraplegia. In like manner, many of our words (scientific terminology) are expressive of the ancient conception of disease as an attack upon the body by unseen foes.
This example will provide the reader with a faint idea of the absurdity of trying to express the principles of a great scientific method of mind-body care that is founded in nature and, therefore, intimately connected with true physiology and biology, in the terms of an old and fallacious system that seems to be able to do nothing so well as it propagates disease and death. The old system plays all manners of wicked tricks--poisoning, cutting, slashing, peppering, burning, blistering and electrocuting.
Why should we try to express Hygienic views in the inaccurate and confused terms of medicine? We can agree with them only if we make the same errors and mistakes that they make. If we express our principles in the same terms in which they express their mistakes, we will be understood in the same language. In making use of an established idiomatic thought and speech in which to convey new concepts and new discernings, we are severely handicapped. If we express our new thoughts in conventional ways, they will be understood in conventional ways and this means that they will either not be understood at all or will be but faultily understood.
Medicine's is a conceptual world that belongs to the remote past. If we attempt to use the older terms in the hope that they will be read by others with the same meanings for these that they have for us, we gravely err. Inasmuch as their conceptual world is radically different from ours, they read these words with the old meanings. The older terms convey to the reader the older thought forms and not those that may be in the mind of the writer. In our writing and speaking, we must always take into account the differences between the intellectual world of those who have been reared in the ancient traditions and who have not emancipated themselves from these, and the intellectual world in which we live. Without any reference to which of us is right, the difference exists and must be reckoned with. We may appropriate the older terms and change them to suit our purposes, but they will still be understood by others in the traditional sense. If we draw them to Hygiene and attempt to mold and adapt them so that they become integral to a different system, they will be so understood only by those of us who are drenched in the different system.
It has been urged: let us not cavil about words. Ideas are what we want--principles, not phrases. But this objection overlooks the fact that ideas are expressed in words and if we choose the wrong words, we express wrong ideas.
On most subjects we desire to communicate ideas and, hence, we use plain and understandable language; but if we have no ideas to communicate, or our ideas are false and, consequently, it is not desirable for them to be understood, we employ language that enables us to conceal the weak points and discourage close examination. Whoever investigates medicine will find mystery! Mystery! Mystery! He will find no principles at the bottom of the system, except such as are at variance with all the known principles of life and are, consequently, false--hence the necessity of profound study and of specialty of language. Medical reasoning is an anomaly. There is nothing like it in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. The show of words without rational meaning and the greater show of technicalities thrown in as a cover for ignorance, are perfectly marvelous, but exceedingly useful. They overawe the ordinary reader, causing him to retire into reverent silence. There is nothing like a few Latin and Greek terms with which to silence annoying questions without answering them.
Much of the dietetic care of the sick was of a character that we could hardly endorse today. Recounting his care of a woman patient, Dr. Jackson says: "So I kept her under the same simple diet of bread or pudding or gems or porridge and milk, with an addition of stewed dried apples . . ." He says that he allowed her nothing else, "not so much as a strawberry between meals." We think that it is quite evident that, good as were the results obtained by the early Hygienists, much better results could have been obtained had they not relied too heavily on cereals. Graham had not advocated a cereal diet, but too many Hygienists were so enthused about whole wheat that they permitted this to dominate their thinking in the realm of diet.
The seduction of Hygienists by an idealistic illusion of a tropical utopia is to be greatly deplored. The tropics, as they exist today under the prevailing earth conditions, are not the superior habitation for man that the earth as a whole must have been before the change of earth's climate. The excessive heat of the lower altitudes, the great humidity of some of its regions, the poverty of some of its soils, the prolonged dry seasons, the excessive rainfall of the wet seasons and the failure of many of man's finest foods to thrive under tropical conditions, are factors that render the tropics less fit for human habitation than the exploiters of tropical colonization schemes picture for us. It is not surprising, however, that many Hygienists have felt the lure of the tropics and while there is not room in the tropics for more than a third of earth's present population, they have urged us to "return" to what they fondly believe was man's original home.