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SKIN TROUBLES: PLAN OF TREATMENT

We may speak of the treatment for a certain condition, as, for example, skin disorders; but we never permit ourselves to apply our treatment to the symptoms only. The constitutional factors that are at the back of all such conditions must always be considered.In setting forth a plan of treatment we must therefore try to visualize the whole life of the individual, so that we may try to eradicate the various habits and practices that tend to undermine the welfare of the whole person. We say person rather than body or the part of the body that may appear to be involved, because health and disease are truly indivisible; every factor in the life of the patient plays some part in the bad adjustment from which he is suffering. At the risk of constant repetition we say that the disease cannot exist without the person, and the person and his disease are the entity. To try to separate the two leads to a faulty conception of the basis on which rational treatment should be laid.If we are to make any distinction between the patient and his disease we must reverse the general idea and declare that the patient is more important than his disorder. To formulate the right kind of treatment, knowledge of the particular sufferer is all-important. To a large extent the person himself must be encouraged to turn an analytical eye on himself. In this way he, better than anyone else, can delve into his own being and learn of the things which are undermining his integrity. Let him try first of all to think about the things that agitate his mind. Are they real or are they of his own imagination? Something that happened, for instance, in his childhood may still be a real problem to him, causing him some kind of tension that he carries on to his more mature years. Or he may have developed the habit of allowing some little thing to act as a kind of reflex to bring fear and the resultant tension into his mind. Some such thing may set up a train of worry, making him anxious and fretful. Perhaps he has allowed ambition to make a slave of him, or it may be that in early life he has developed a competitive spirit that still keeps him on edge. A disappointment may have made him bitter towards certain people, and, of course, towards himself. All these things, and many more, which the individual will think out for himself, are associative factors which from time to time set going the health-destroying nervous tensions.Merely to think about them is a good thing which tends to release the mind and refresh the spirit. In fact, they lose much of their power for ill if they are periodically brought into the conscious mind and given a good airing. By doing this one may, as the poet said: “clear to-day of past regrets and future fears.” Many people live their lives under great tension in the nerve-destroying atmosphere of past regrets and future fears, and there is nothing more health-breaking.Those who suffer from chronic skin complaints will do well to think these things over very carefully as a preliminary to other forms of treatment, because it will help them to adopt a more rational attitude towards the other essential measures. It may, for example, help them to understand some of the dietetic errors that such people fall into, and sustain them also in the self-discipline that will be required to change these errors. In planning the diet suitable for such people it is not wise to lay down hard-and-fast rules as’ though the individual is of no account. It is true that certain food elements are required to keep the body in good condition, but not all foods suit all people. Personal likes and dislikes come into it, and sometimes deeply rooted objections to certain foods may be a very useful guide both to diagnosis and to effective treatment.
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