THE SCIENCE AND ART OF MEDICINE
Medicine is supposed to be a scientific study and its practice an art.
The study of disease requires the aid of science. Consummate art is required to effect a cure when nature is no longer able to help herself. Understand, nature does the curing herself, all the time. Even if nature has to be helped, she does the curing. When nature is beaten down too greatly, there is no chance of getting back.
"Medicine.--The healing art. The art of preventing, curing, or alleviating diseases."--Century Dictionary.
"Medicine.--The science which relates to the cure and palliation of disease. "--Webster.
"Medicine.--The science and art of preserving health and preventing and curing disease. "--Gould.
Rogers, in his "Introduction to the Study of Medicine," says: "Medicine is sometimes considered a science, and sometimes an art, The object of medical science is to study disease." This is a mistake. Man should be studied in life and health--the influences on the body of food, clothing, bathing, and the daily care of the body. A live man, well understood, is worth more from a health standpoint than thousands of dead men. The aim of medical art is to restore and maintain health.
A better definition would be hard to find; for the fundamentals--such as chemistry, anatomy, biology, physiology, hygiene (confined to sanitation), the mechanics of obstetrics and surgery--are scientific studies, and impart a knowledge of the animal and the human body; but the most important part of the animal or human body is life, and this subtle element cannot be analyzed, measured, or dealt with objectively. Like electricity, it must be controlled through an understanding of its agencies. It will be necessary to understand the agencies used by life when at rest-when in the static state--as seen in the egg, seed, ovum, etc., and the character of all environments in which life manifests in the active or dynamic state; also the character of environments out of which life has passed. This knowledge is necessary before the art of medicine can be applied. Hence a correct definition of the word "medicine" is:
An understanding of all circumstances under which life manifests, and the scientific and artistic skill to adjust them to life's needs--the understanding of life's needs, and the knowledge and adeptness of supplying them.
We know the difference between life and death. We become acquainted with life by studying the phenomena of life and death. We learn to recognize what life is by studying objects that possess it and objects that are deprived of it.
We learn to know what life is by carefully studying the live body; and, on the other hand, we learn to know what life is not by studying the body after life has gone out.
The study of the dead body gives us knowledge of the elements, organs, their construction and arrangement, their relation to each other.
The study of a dead organ gives its mechanical construction. A study of the construction of organs, their location, their connection with each other, gives a mechanical understanding of the functions of the body. When this is known, we are ready to observe the functions of these organs, and the functions of the union of organsthe body.
The student of mechanics and physics can readily see what an organ or community of organs will do when the energy is turned on--when animated by life.
Those who are thoroughly scientific can take hold of a heart or other organ and tell about its attributes. Why? Because one who is thoroughly master of mechanics can tell what a piece of mechanism is for.
The study of the dead body is a study in mechanics--physics. In no sense is it a study of medicine, using the word "medicine" to signify an understanding of the cause of disease.
The study of physiology is the study of the mechanics of the organ or organs and the body in life. This study is chemical: analyzing the waste products--the secretions and excretions--and the amount of organic and systemic work done under the use of different foods; the action of elements and the action of every environmental influence on the body.
All of this study is mechanical, hence can be measured by the hard and fast lines of science. It must be said that a thorough study along these lines gives a scientific knowledge of the body, its structure and functions, so far as the mere human machine is concerned; but this study is only half of the knowledge required to fully understand the human animal.
Man's body has sensation and mind, and every tittle of the body is supplied with nerves that control the mechanism of every tittle or cell. Whether the work of the cell is done well or poorly depends entirely on the energy imparted by the nerves.
The amount of energy depends upon the health of the mind and nervous system. If the mental state is not favorable--if its influence is for overstimulation or depression--all cells are overstimulated or depressed. If the food or drink causes overstimulation or depression, the cell-life and its work are perverted. These influences cannot be weighed or measured, for they vary; they come and go with the thousands of influences to which man is subjected in his daily life.
There are glands in the body, the secretions of which cannot be analyzed; for they pass into the blood without being deposited in a receptacle. But, as man is a digestive apparatus, it is safe to predict that all secretions that are not lubricants are auxiliary to the enzymes, or they are enzymes.
In the body there are developed elements which are protective--which give the body power to resist unfavorable outside influences.
The only knowledge that can be gained of these autogenerated elements is gained by observing the body when these glands are diseased or removed, and when they are natural.
If there were no new developments, nor ductless glands in the body, the mind, or the functions of the cerebro-spinal system, would furnish quite enough of the speculative, unknown and unknowable, to remove forever cause and cure from the realm of science.
Hence the great subject of healing--cure--health and disease--must be approached with great reverence from the standpoint of art. I say it must be approached with reverence, because art belongs to the flower of mind.
The artist is attuned to the subtle in nature. He has the potentiality of becoming acquainted with the subtle elements and making the world acquainted with phenomena that would pass undiscovered were it not for his powers.
There is nothing supernatural about the artist and the secrets he inveigles from nature. The elements whose individuality are hidden from us objectively must manifest through elements that are within the grasp of our senses. This, however, does not mean that they are not of the same kind and order as the gross elements. Indeed, every thing points to a universal monism--a oneness of all things.
There is no secret in all nature that will not some day be delivered to mind; but the mind that discovers it must be free from the influences of gross matter.
The artist's mind, like the refined elements with which he deals, is attuned to their rhythm.
The mind of the hodcarrier is below that of the mason, that of the mason is below that of the contractor, and that of the contractor is below that of the architect. The architect's mind is mechanical--scientific--and artistic. The more artistic, the more beautiful his work. If he is not artistic, his work may be good from a scientific standpoint, but he can never be anything except an imitator.
The physician may be scientific, but if he is not artistic, his work will be gross indeed--far more gross than that of the scientific architect; for the latter deals with gross, inanimate matter, while the former not only has to deal with matter, but that matter is potentialized by a subtle element which is not subject to the hard and fast lines of mechanical science, and it causes matter, over which it presides, to disappoint the expectations of the medical scientist.
The above explanation should be welcomed by all who care anything for truth; for it gives the key to the confusion--Babel--that is seen everywhere on the subject of medicine.
This explanation accounts for schools; for theories that are poles apart; for cures that are diametrically opposite.
Medicine, so far as aiding people to get well is concerned, is artistic pure and simple. The artist must, however, have a foundation of scientific knowledge; but if he is not artistic, or if his artistic sense is suppressed by gross habits, his work will be gross indeed, and instead of being a healer, he will be a scientific killer.