Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
During the closing years Prof. Scudder began the elaboration of a third study of specific medication looking to the action and uses of remedies having a selective affinity for special organs. Several of these papers appeared, and while they do not compare in utility with his other two phases of the subject they are very suggestive and valuable articles. This editorial is a part of the introduction to that series. In it he tells how he came to take up the study which culminated in his theory and art of specific medication.—Ed. Gleaner.
A THIRD STUDY OF SPECIFIC MEDICATION.—In study it is well—yes, necessary—to view the subject from every point of vantage. I am not one of those who rest satisfied with a single view; I want to see the shield on both sides, and I shall not argue or fight that it is silver or golden until I have seen.
There are many things in this world that we know; there are still more that are unknown to the wisest of men. I am thankful that we have the mechanism that will get knowledge—the senses that receive impressions, the nerves that carry them to the brain, that wonderful organism which receives impressions and brings them into order, and thinks; and above all, that ego, that personality which holds thought in subjection, and makes it reach out toward the infinite. However much a man may know, he should want to know more, and if he exercises the powers he has he will know more.
I need hardly say that I have never been satisfied with medicine, that I do not believe it a science, or even a decent art. It may be quite as far advanced as theology, hardly as far as law, and far inferior to many of the mechanic arts. This, of course, is said of medicine as the majority write it, study it, and practice it. Whilst my opinion is not in accord with those who think they know it all, and brag of medical attainments, many of my readers will think very much as I do.
When still a youth in medicine, I believed that something better might be had, if one would work for it. There were the elements of something better scattered through medical writings, and I determined to gather them up, and make such provings of them as I could, and present them to physicians in as good a form as I was capable of. Possibly if I had not been a teacher and a journalist I should not have done it, for it required the constant stimulus of a daily and monthly demand.
The matter seemed to take three forms in those earlier years: 1st, remedies influencing functions; 2d, remedies indicated by special symptoms; 3d, organ remedies. To the first I was prompted by a study of Williams' Principles of Medicine; the second came through a study of homeopathy; and the third through reading Rademacher and his followers.
I believe the first study was a good one, at least I have been fairly well satisfied with it. It took the form of The Principles of Medicine, which is to-day the very foundation of our practice. There the human body was studied in health and disease; disease was analyzed, its component parts studied, and remedies pointed out for each. It was the reverse of the ordinary method, which takes the component parts, adds them together, fixes a name to them, and at that name prescribes drugs. I do not know how you think or study, but I take up the book and read with as much interest as if it were a novel, and think the old problems out as if the subject were new; and new thoughts almost always come. Very early in my practice I was impressed by the fact that there were symptoms pointing to individual remedies which would relieve or cure. My vision was not as clear as some, but when I saw the indicating symptoms, and followed them, I had success. I need not say that every source of this knowledge was looked after, and thousands of experiments or trials made, and the results you have in the companion volumes of Specific Medication and Specific Diagnosis.
Whilst the most of the work has been done in these two parts, so far as I am able, it may be of advantage to some to take up the original idea and give the third part, organ remedies. I could wish that my ability was greater, that my experience had been larger, and especially that I had good health and youth. But as these are beyond remedy, I must needs do the best I can.
It is a fact of my experience, of your experience, of all experience, that remedies influence certain portions of the body in an especial manner. I need not argue that remedies influence the body, for it is a matter of common experience. It is not profitable to discuss whether they act upon the body or the body acts upon them; each reader may solve the problem to his own liking. We will all concede that medicines contain a force, and when remedies, this force is exerted towards health. Many would go further than this, and say they are not neutral in any case; they are either helpful or harmful.
Let us get the matter in different words. Medicines exert an action upon special organs or parts. They act in a somewhat definite manner. One may know when they are given where they will go and what they will do, and we may draw fairly reliable conclusions whether or to what extent they will benefit the sick.
My experience, your experience, all recorded experience, shows the facts as above stated, and also that it is possible to classify remedies as they may influence individual organs directly, and study the doses in which they act, determine how they act, and the result of this action.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1892.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.