The Passing of Therapeutic Nihilism.
Lest We Forget
Doctor:—If the next issue of The Therapeutist does not reach you on time, let that recall to your mind the fact, that you have forgotten to answer Dr. Ellingwood's recent letter, and have not ordered your Therapeutist subscription continued for 1908. DO IT NOW!
Therapeutic nihilism, we are very glad to say, is certainly on the wane. A faith in therapeutics is developing in the hearts of all physicians and is increasing in strength continually. It has now become the fact that to declare a lack of faith in the action of medicine at once brings the individual into conspicuous notoriety.
Dr. Geo. M. Gould of Philadelphia in an address recently made the following statement. "A revival of faith in therapeutics is the one thing that can save the medical man. Unless it is soon had there will not be enough faith left to act the part of the germinating seed. If you believe no disease preventable, and no disease curable, for the sake of mankind get out of medicine, and go into gambling, bucket shop or the politician business.
Why claim to be a physician, a healer of the sick, and yet proclaim at the top of your voice that there is no virtue in medicine ? Why visit the sick and afflicted, and charge for the service, when you bring into the sickness nothing but the blackness of utter scepticism, and charge for the stone you offer, just as though it were wholesome, nourishing bread? Why claim to be a physician, when you applaud with all your heart and voice the assertion that all there is to medicine is its possible power to prevent disease? Much comfort is that to the man who is sick and small wonder that the people turn from such a physician as this, even to the ignoramus, who has in his heart the faith that the remedies he uses can give relief when needed."
This certainly puts the matter strong, but it puts it exactly right. What is a physician, we ask, but a healer of the sick? And what is a healer of the sick with nothing in his hand with which to heal, with no confidence in any drug? What, we ask further, is the science of medicine without therapeutics? What does the patient expect when he sends for a physician, but that the physician knows well of some remedy that will stop his pain or relieve his distress? A physician without faith in drugs is a man without resource, is a workman with no tools, and at the present time should be severely censured as a man without knowledge.
The logic of the whole matter, then, is this: if a man cures a given condition, satisfactorily, with a given remedy once, he will use that remedy again for the same condition with a hope that it will cure, if not with faith. Accomplishing the same results the second time he uses it again, this time with faith, and every time afterwards that he gets the same result from the same remedy his faith is confirmed until he can no longer disbelieve. Doubt becomes impossible. A physician cannot help believing if he gets results. He is sure to get results if he knows the right remedy to prescribe for a given condition. Consequently, if he does not get results he does not know. If the prescriber then says, "I do not believe in drug action," it is simply because he is grossly and densely ignorant of the action of drugs. This is the logic of nihilism and at this date every physician, whatever his standing, who has the audacity to declare that remedies have no influence on the cure of disease, should be hooted out of the profession. There is no place for him in medicine, and if he has not other traits that bring him conspicuously before the profession he will not be known to the profession and will die "unwept, unhonored and unsung."
Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.