Heart Troubles And The Cure Resort
( Originally Published 1921 )
THE TREATMENT OF HEART TROUBLES IN CURE RESORTS
As I approach this subject I find it difficult to treat it honestly and competently. The minute a cure resort becomes wholly scientific, it is a failure; and yet the cure resort that hasn't a substantial scientific basis does not carry the confidence of the profession or of the people that is necessary for its success. The same is true of many other human activities. The drama that hasn't the proper technical basis fails; but if the technical basis is too conspicuous, and we can see the man produce the artificial thunder, the play becomes ridiculous.
A certain percentage of illusion is necessary for the success of everything that depends upon art. The artist must deceive the eye, the musician must deceive the ear, and the cure resort manager must maintain an element of hope if his resort is to be a success. So it becomes difficult for the science of medicine to reconcile itself with the art of medicine as practised in cure resorts. The fact, however, is that the cure resort has been of the greatest benefit to patients with heart troubles, more so perhaps than in any other class of disease.
The best cure resort is also a pleasure resort. It is a sanitarium, without the outward appearance of a hospital. Its grounds, buildings, amusement places, and all its appointments should be of such a character as to attract and keep the greatest number of people, while at the same time furnishing a means for the scientific and well-regulated treatment of disease. Just as heart disorder is caused ordinarily by a thousand and one strains of modem life, so it is overcome at the cure resort by numerous details of treatment, consisting of opportunity for rest, relaxation, freedom from worry, the hope of cure engendered by other people who are successfully meeting the same problem, and the opportunity for the technically correct application of baths, exercises, and medicinal curative measures.
All this implies for a successful cure resort a management that has complete control of every detail, a management possessing knowledge and wisdom, one which honestly attempts to give to the guests of the resort full return for value received. By cooperation between the body of people needing this kind of care and the people able to give it, it ought to be possible to bring the cost within the reach of many people who in this country are now deprived of it. The establishment of cure resorts as a matter of social service has not yet, as far as I know, been even suggested.
The best example of a cure resort for heart disease is that which exists in Germany at the Bad-Nauheim. In certain American resorts an attempt is made to give the treatment, but we have no example of a whole community devoted to this problem.
A visit to a cure resort for a man not very ill really means a vacation taken under medical supervision. The hard thing to persuade the modern subject is that he should employ a physician for other purposes than the relief of some condition producing conscious symptoms. When a person goes to Atlantic City, for instance, to spend three or four weeks, he will ask his home physician, "Whom shall I call upon if I am ill?" And he will probably return at the end of that time without having seen any physician at all. If he went to a European resort for the sake of his health, the second day after he arrived he would call on a physician in the place and say to him, "Please examine me and tell me what I shall do while I am here to get the greatest benefit to my health from the resources of the place." And then he would call on the physician regularly, and carry out what they call a "cure," which is really nothing more than a scientifically conducted vacation.
In visiting cure resorts in Europe, we usually find that a family had gone to one of these re-sorts for the benefit of some particular member whose health demanded it. But we should also find that nearly all of the members of the family were at the same time taking some kind of a cure for their own benefit, all under the direction of the physicians of the place. They do this almost unconsciously because it falls in with the spirit of the resort.
It is necessary to acknowledge the five per cent. of illusion, and then forget it, because that is necessary to the cure resort. But when the spirit of the cure resort is really understood, and the picture is presented of a large number of people going to a place and nearly all of them coming away in better health, we must conclude that in the lack of true cure resorts in America we are experiencing a real loss.