[Footnote 55: See an article entitled “Bread and Bran,” Journal of American Medical Association, July 5, 1919, p. 36.]
It is true that the suggestion of the efficacy of bran, dates, spinach, or any other food is frequently quite sufficient to give relief, temporarily, just as massage, manipulation of the vertebrae, the surgeon’s knife, or mineral oil may be enough to carry the conviction of power to a suggestible individual. But who wants to take his suggestions in such inconvenient forms as these?
=Change of Water.= Another popular superstition centers around drinking-waters. There are people who cannot move from one town to another, much less take an extensive trip, without a fit of constipation—or a box of pills. If they only knew it, there is no water on earth which could make a person constipated. A new water, full of unusual minerals, might hasten the bowel movement, but on what possible principle could it retard it? Constipation has nothing to do with food or with water, but solicitous care about either can hardly fail to create the trouble which it tries to avoid.
=Taking off the Brakes.= Since constipation is wholly due to the acceptance of a false suggestion, the only logical cure must be release from the power of that suggestion. “He is able as soon as he thinks he is able”; not that thought gives the power, but that the right thought releases the inhibition of the mistaken thought. As soon as the brakes are taken off, the internal machinery is quite able to make the wheels go round. The bowel will empty itself if we let it. The function of elimination is not a new trick learned with difficulty by the aged, but a trick as old and as elemental as life itself. Like balancing on a bicycle, it may not be done by any voluntary muscular effort, but it just does itself when one learns how.
Once the sense of power comes, once the mind forgets to be doubtful or afraid, then the old automatic habit invariably reasserts itself. Meddlesome interference may throw the mechanism out of gear, but fortunately it cannot strip the gears. Constipation is an inhibition or restraint of function, but is never a loss of function. No one is too old, no one is too fixed in the bad habit to relearn the old trick. I have had a good many patients with chronic constipation, but I have never had one who failed to learn. Real conviction speedily brings success, and in many cases success seems to outrun conviction. So efficient is Nature if she has only half a chance!
=Some People Who Learned.= Unless you are over ninety-two, do not despair. One old lady of that age, a sort of patient by proxy, was able to cure herself without even one consultation. Her daughter had been a patient of mine and had been cured of the constipation with which she had been busy for many years. The mother, who believed her own bowel paralyzed, had been in the habit of lying on the bed and taking a copious enema every second day of her life. When, however, she heard of her daughter’s cure, the bright old woman gave up her enemas and let her bowels do their own functioning. She stayed cured until her death at ninety-five.