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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

Second Series

3. Matters Medical

Medicines, Prognostications, Consoling Medical Words

Why do people make such prognostications? Suggestions of the kind ought never to be made, mentally even – they might act like suggestions and do more harm than any good medicines can do.

But I am surprised to hear that even prognostications are very harmful.

Prognostications of such kind should not be lightly thought of or spoken especially in the case of the Mother – in other cases even if there is a possibility or probability they should be kept confidential from the person affected, unless it is necessary to inform. This is because of the large part played by state of consciousness and suggestion in illness. I shall I suppose one day send you the Presse Medicale with my note (the journal is with me and I shall send it to you, it is no longer with Pavitra) and that will perhaps show the basis.

I say – Dr. Hutchinson, President of the Royal Society of Medicine, – a Lord – says (vide “Sunday Times”, page 4) that if all the doctors struck work for a year, it would make no difference in the death rate. The doctor's only use is to give comfort, confidence and consolation. Now what do you say to this opinion of your President? Rather hot, isn't it?

It is not only hot, but a little top-heavy it seems. If the doctor's function is only to give consolation, I fear many patients visiting us will leave, cursing us.

It depends on the effectivity of your consoling words and confidence in giving drugs. Your words and cheery care may so boost X's morale that it will affect his piles and if it can't do altogether that, your medicines may give so much confidence to the piles that they will walk in and give up the ghost. But it is all a confidence trick in reality. If the piles are crass and refuse confidence, well –

I proposed to one patient this consolation treatment; he agreed. Then I asked him, “How is it then that your old malady has come back which was supposed to have been cured by the doctor?” He answered, “But one doctor may fail and, besides, there is the Force.” “Ah, you now bring in the Force!” Well?

Well, that's the point. How did X or how does anybody cure? By his medicines or by his “confidence” imparted to the subconscient of the patient?

The Force is another matter. Your President Hutchinson or Henderson (or what the deuce was his name?) wasn't thinking in terms of force.

Anyway, what is your opinion?

My opinion is that Allah is great and great is the mystery of the universe and things are not what they seem, etc.


1937 02 01 Exact Writting Letter Nitrodbaran