This section is from the book "Mental Therapeutics Or Just How To Heal Oneself And Others", by Theron Q. Dumont. Also available from Amazon: Mental Therapeutics or Just How to Heal Oneself and Others.
Nature, or the Power that is behind Nature, has built up an intricate system of nerves, nerve centers, and nerve connectives, by means of which the Corporeal Mind is able to perform the manifold and complex activities and functions of the body which is composed of cells and cell-groups as we have seen. The greater part of this work is performed by a part of the nervous system of wrhich but comparatively few persons have ever heard, much less have become familiar with.
We are so in the habit of thinking of the Cerebrospinal Nervous System, when we speak of "the nervous system," that we ignore the existence of the great Sympathetic Nervous System which performs all of the unconscious, involuntary activities of the body, such as the action of the heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, etc.; and which also attends to the important processes of secretion, nutrition, elimination, excretion, reproduction, etc.
The term "sympathetic" was originally applied to this great system of nerves and nerve centers by reason of the fact that there is a reciprocal action of the different cell-groups and parts of the body, one with another, in an apparent "sympathy" with each other. A disturbance in one part of the body sets up a disturbance and activity in other parts. The whole body suffers in sympathy with an injured or diseased part or member. Thus, a wound will produce feverishness; stomach trouble or indigestion will produce headaches, etc., etc. The secretions of the body respond quickly in "sympathy" with conditions in other parts of the body.
The Sympathetic Nervous System consists of a great cable of nerves running from the base of the skull to the coccyx or end of the spinal column; but not within the spinal column itself, as is the case with the cerebro-spinal cable or spinal cord. These cables run on each side of the body by the side of the vertebrae ; and bunch out into ganglia or nerve centers along their course. These cables are connected by branch lines with the spinal nerves, and with other nerves of the cerebro-spinal system; and are also connected with branches running to all of the organs of the body.
The Cerebro-Spinal Nervous System is concerned with our conscious activities; and all of our conscious motions and work is performed by means of it. The Sympathetic Nervous System, on the other hand, performs the unconscious and involuntary motions and functions. By means of this latter system our hearts beat, our lungs inspire and expire, the blood circulates, the stomach and intestines perform their work of digestion and assimilation, the liver and kidneys their important offices, the glands of the body secrete the important juices, and the entire reparative and nutritive work of the body is performed. The Sympathetic Nervous System, and the Corporeal Mind that animates and directs its activities, never sleep or rest-they are always at work; while the Conscious Mind and its Cerebro-Spinal System rest in sleep about one-third of its time.
An important feature of the Sympathetic Nervous System is its series of ganglia, or knots of gray nerve matter, which are scattered through the body, particularly along each side of the spine. Each ganglion is a complex center, having branches radiating in several directions. In several places these ganglia are grouped together in still more complex arrangement, called a plexus (plural "plexi"). The principal plexus is the well known "Solar Plexus," which some have called "The Abdominal Brain" by reason of its high power, and complex arrangement. This important plexus is situated in the upper part of the abdomen, almost directly back of the "pit of the stomach," it is the center from which emerge nerves extending in all directions. This great center is regarded as the Central Office, or headquarters of the Corporeal Mind.
The student should be able to grasp the fact that the Corporeal Mind is really the animating spirit of the sympathetic nervous system and the organs controlled by it. Consequently, he will be able to see that whatever affects the Corporeal Mind must reflect through the sympathetic nerves upon the entire body controlled by its power. The way to reach the organs of the body unquestionably is through the Corporeal Mind, by means of its great chain of sympathetic nerves. This is the scientific explanation of the processes of mental healing.
In the case of the reparative work of the cells performed after a wound has been caused to the body, as related in a preceding lesson, it is the Corporeal Mind that directs and guides the energies of the cells, the orders being transmitted over the wires of the sympathetic nervous system. A general alarm is sent out, and all hands are called into service. And so it is in the case of all natural healing, which is often called the vis medicatrix naturae or natures healing force. For the Corporeal Mind is not only the great regulator and governor of the physical activities, but also the great natural physician of the body.
As an instance of the control of the Corporeal Mind over the body, we have an excellent example in the regulation of the circulation of the blood. The blood does not flow through the body in a regular, invariable manner, in response to purely mechanical laws, as so many believe. On the contrary, the Corporeal Mind regulates the flow in accordance with the circumstances of the moment. When necessary millions of tiny capillaries are closed or opened up, as the case may be, in order to increase or decrease the blood supply to certain parts. The blood supply of each organ is regulated by the needs of that organ at that time, as determined by the Corporeal Mind governing it. Even the rate of the pulsations of the heart are under the control of this Corporeal Mind, and varies according to circumstances.
Or again, the healing of a wound; the knitting together of a broken bone; the complex arrangements made necessary by the processes of gestation and childbirth; and thousands of other wonderful manifestations of unconscious mind in physical processes; all these are the work of the Corporeal Mind working with its sympathetic nervous system. When we speak of "Nature" doing this or that in the work of helping along the curative work, or vital processes, of the body, we are referring to this Corporeal Mind acting through its wonderful sympathetic nervous system.
The Corporeal Mind is animated by two very potent motives, namely (1) the motive of self-preservation; and (2) the motive of the reproduction of the species. All of its wonderful work is along these two lines; these are the only two laws of action that it recognizes. This is why it strives ever to preserve health in the body, and also why it exerts a sometimes overpowering influence in the matter of sex-attraction.
Much that we call "sickness" is really but the effect of the Corporeal Mind to throw out of the system morbid and injurious material which has gathered there; fever is often but the attempt of the Corporeal Mind to burn up this debris which it fails to get rid of otherwise. If it is unable to get rid of the cause of the trouble, it tries to adjust itself to the impaired conditions, and strives to balance the physical functions so as to get the best possible results under the unfavorable conditions. The Corporeal Mind is ever working toward life and health for its owner. Sometimes it undertakes heroic and even desperate methods, in order to combat and defeat particularly dangerous conditions.
The following quotations from eminent authorities show that this Corporeal Mind, under the name of vis medicatrix naturae, or "Nature," or "vital force," or similar terms, is recognized by science as the real source of cure of disease, no matter by what method it may be called into effect.
"By the term 'efforts of nature,' we mean a certain curative or restorative principle, or vis vita, implanted in every living or organized body, constantly operative for its repair, preservation, or health. This instinctive endeavor to repair the human organism is signally shown in the event of a severed or lost part, as a finger, for instance; for Nature, unaided, will repair and fashion a stump equal to one from the hands of an eminent surgeon. Nature, unaided, may be equally potent in ordinary illness. Many individuals, even when severely ill, remain at rest in bed, under favorable hygiene, regimen, etc., and speedily get well without a physician or medicine."
"The vis medicatrix naturae is a very potent factor in the amelioration of disease, if it only be allowed fair play." "We are compelled to acknowledge a power of natural recovery inherent in the body-a similar statement has been made by writers on the principle of medicine in all ages." "Whatever other theories we may hold, we must recognize the vis medicatrix naturae in some shape or other." "A natural power of the prevention and repair of disorders and disease has as real and as active an existence within us as have the ordinary functions of the organs themselves." Hippocrates, the founder of the science of medicine, said: "Nature is the physician of diseases." Ambrose Pare had inscribed over the door of the great medical school, the Ecole de Medicine of Paris, these remarkable words: "Je le ponsez et Dieu le guarit," which freely translated means: "I dressed the wound, and God healed it!"
A careful investigation shows that this much vaunted vis medicatrix naturae, the "Nature" of medical science, is really mental in its nature; and is identical with our conception of the Corporeal Mind. Mind is ever at work in the physical processes of nutrition, assimilation, elimination, reproduction, and the reparative processes of cure. The basis of all true healing is to be found in this Corporeal Mind, under •whatever name it may be called-this fact must ever be kept in mind.
The Corporeal Mind, however, sometimes lags in its work; or else it becomes sluggish and apathetic; or perhaps discouraged from some cause or other. In such cases it may be stimulated to action, and even guided and set to work in the proper direction by means of the proper incentive coming through the Conscious Mind, or else directed immediately to itself. This fact makes possible all forms of mental healing, no matter under what name they may operate, or under what theory they may proceed-the basic fact remains the same.
And, alas! the rule works both ways. For we find that much disease is caused, maintained, and perpetuated by means of wrongful suggestions or ideas implanted in the Corporeal Mind by means of influences, suggestion, teaching, advice or other methods of implanting an idea in the mind. The Corporeal Mind, though very set in its way as a rule, is affected by suggestion or wrong ideas if strongly and repeatedly presented to it. And when it finally is affected by these ideas, it manifests its false belief by means of its very efficient system of sympathetic nerves reaching to all parts of the body-and disease and improper functioning begins. Next to false ideas, perhaps, Fear is the most potent factor in this mental causation of disease. Fear paralyzes the activities of the Corporeal Mind, and prevents it from doing its work properly and efficiently.
It is to be hoped that the student will not pass over these important basic and fundamental explanations on the ground that they are "dry reading." Such a course would be very foolish, indeed; for it is necessary that these fundamental and basic principles of the theory of the cause and cure of disease may be thoroughly grasped and remembered, in order that the principles of healing may have an intelligent foundation.