Oh, the shame of it!


The Eclectic school of medicine is not a side show to the apparently large performance of the dominant school in medicine. It is a live, distinct and productive section in the great field of medicinal endeavor and possesses features distinctly its own. Therefore, it is well to note that there are things about it which are "peculiarly Eclectic." For often our own followers lose track of the fact that we have something distinctive and something that gives us the right to a distinct, separate position as a school of medicine. You may send your student to a literary university and he may acquire a good grounding in biology and the common sciences. You may send him to any school of medicine—Regular, Homeopathic of Eclectic—which makes any pretense to teaching, and have him well-taught in the facts of anatomy and the principles of physiology. In either the literary or the medical college he can be well-trained in physics and chemistry, but only in a medical college with clinical facilities can he acquire the necessary instruction in medical practice and therapy. If he wants regular medicine he should not come to an Eclectic or Homeopathic college. If he wants Homeopathy he should steer clear of the other extremes—Eclecticism and regular medicine. Obviously if he is to acquire Eclectic practice, Eclectic materia medica and therapeutics, he must go to an Eclectic college of medicine.

"This fact is often lost to view; and convenience and financial considerations influence the prospective student to acquire patch-quilt education in medicine—a little from this college and a little from that one—and when he 'finishes' he has done nothing well and emerges as from a dream into the realm where so many land—uncertainty in medicine. Even though financially pinched, it is far better to make a strenuous effort to attend the right college, however great the cost or distance. It will be casting bread upon the waters and after many days it will return to him in skill, reputation and money. If the time ever comes, post-graduate instruction in any college of his selection will then be profitable and worth while. But let us repeat. If you want that which is peculiar to Eclectic medicine, go to one Eclectic college for a full course from start to finish, but do not attend several colleges of all sorts of persuasions and hope to acquire a knowledge of Eclectic medicine by finishing the last term in an Eclectic college."

The above is an editorial in the Eclectic Medical Journal. It is so pointed that I have thought of it nearly every day since I first read it, and I have re-read it several times.

At one time I had a student, who was a well educated young man and he told me that he did not propose to be tied down to Eclecticism, but was going to know all there was in all schools. After practicing with success for a couple of years, he became restless, and, like many, thought it "better further on." He began vacillating hither and yon. Finally, he moved to another town and purchased the practice of a very successful Homeopath, and from that time on he was a full-fledged Homeopath and Eclecticism was not "in it." He knew nothing of the principles or practice of Homeopathy, as he had no specific training in that school of practice, but said there was not much difference in the schools. He soon failed in his efforts to be a Homeopath and moved from the place, and took a short course in refraction and located in another town and started with the announcement that he specialized in diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat, and with no special training in this except the short course in refraction; he soon failed again, and thus his whole professional life was a failure.

There are many such in our ranks to-day. They are like the "wandering politicians." The last one who sees them gets their vote. Many of our men are crazed over being an officer in some society and especially of a medical college. If they can only get to be a "professor" in a medical college they are as near heaven, perhaps, as they ever will be. It makes no difference what college it is, of what school it is, just so they are professor. They would sell out their own medical societies and their affiliation with the Eclectic school for a mess of pottage, yes, sell their passport to heaven (if they had one), if they could only be connected with some medical college. Well, what is in a name anyway. I never knew of any one who wanted an office, unless it was for self-aggrandizement and not for the good of those whom he is to serve or the cause.

Some years ago at one of our State meetings, it was proposed that we change the name of our society to "The Illinois State Therapeutic Society," and drop the word "Eclectic," and there were hundreds standing "just outside the gate" ready and anxious to come in, but they could not until that dreaded word was eliminated, and we should "fling wide the gates," and were informed, by our own members, that if we would not do that, they would organize a State Therapeutic society and would meet in the same place and at the same time and kill our society. All this by our own members, and not outsiders. You know well the result. The much talked of society was organized with over a hundred members, so I was told, and perhaps three-fourths of our members present that year joined the new society, they were nearly scared out of their shoes for fear of the "slaughter of the innocent." They were to have one thousand members within a year, and behold, the poor child "died in the bornin."

Is it not strange that so many of our members desire to change their names? They should have been women. It makes no difference what new name they adopt, whether it is the Illinois State Therapeutic Society, or The Association of American Medicine, The Chicago Society of Medicine and Surgery, any "old thing," just to get rid of the despised word "Eclectic." O, Lord, anybody or anything, so we get rid of that word. "Oh, the shame of it."

Is it not also strange that there are so many soreheads in the profession? So many "political doctors" always scheming for advertisement? Many are not in any medical society and perchance, if they are or have been, they have lapsed or have been dropped for "cause." Whatever that cause may be, and some of the disgrunted ones get together, like so many anarchists and conspire to kill their parent societies, if possible, and organize a new one that will open wide the doors to all other malcontents who either do not or can not belong to the societies of their own schools, or want some office or some other kind of advertisement, or the crowning glory of a professorship in some mongrel college composed of the riff-raff of all schools. "O, the shame of it."

Many of you remember Prof. Locke's story of the piggy and puppy. Perhaps there are many here who never heard Dr. Locke tell this story, and to further illustrate my point, I will give the story in substance. One time an Englishman decided to present a pig to a friend of his who lived some distance away, so he told his servant to take the pig and put it into a bag and carry it over to the friend. The servant proceeded to obey his master. On the way he had occasion to pass a road-house and left the bag and piggy outside while he went inside to get a drink. Some wags thought to play a joke on the servant, so they removed the piggy from the bag and put in a puppy of about the same size. When the servant came out he picked up the bag and proceeded on his way. When he arrived at his destination he told the man that his master had sent him a very fine pig as a present, whereupon he opened the bag and poured out the puppy, and with great astonishment and profuse apology he stated that, "that was a piggy when I started and now it is a puppy." He placed the puppy back into the bag and started for home, but on his return trip, he stopped at the same roadhouse to get another drink, and while he was inside the same wags took the puppy out and replaced the piggy and the servant proceeded on his journey. When he arrived home he narrated to his master this unusual phenomenon, and opened up the bag to prove to his master the truth of his statement, and poured out its contents, and there was the same piggy that he started with. In profound astonishment he stated: "Whin I started over there this was a piggy and when I got there it was a puppy, and whin I started home it was a puppy and now it is a piggy. I wish you would either be piggy or puppy all the time." That is the way with some of our Eclectics they are piggy one place and puppy the other. "Be we men and suffer such dishonor?" "O, the shame of it."

There are so many of our men who seem to be ashamed of their mother. Often we find young men outside of the profession that are ashamed of their mothers. I have never seen the time that I was ashamed of Eclecticism, always ready to give a reason for the faith within me, even in the presence of large numbers of the dominant school, who were calling us all kinds of names of an uncomplimentary character. I can not understand why it is that Eclectics, who owe all their success to the principles and practice of Eclecticism want to drop the name and connect themselves with Allopathy who as a school are confessedly weak in the practice of medicine and freely admit that we are superior to them in therapeutics. And pray, what is the practice of medicine if it is not the administration of medicines to cure the sick? Most of us prescribe medicines a thousand times where we perform even minor operations in a surgical way, unless we pose exclusively as surgeons.


"When freedom from her mountain heights
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robes of night
And set the stars of glory there."

And let us as Eclectics plant our banner so deep that no one can roll it up, and to such mountain heights that it can not be torn down, and then, when having done all, to stand for Eclecticism.

National Eclectic Medical Association Quarterly, Vol. 7, 1915-16, was edited by William Nelson Mundy, M.D.