It was his own distress that gave birth in his mind to the burning urge which drove Dr. Bates to find the true answer, the real reply to the universal belief that eyes behaving like his were helpless, and hopelessly lost.
His lenses were hard as stone he had been told. But it was true, however, that his eyes did accommodate. Dr. Bates published this record in his book, in which he tells the story of his own experience. Generally, however, his eyes accommodated (focused) in the reverse, that is, at the wrong time. His was a strange remarkable case.
According to the commonly accepted explanation today of how the eye accomplishes accommodation, a hard lens cannot accommodate at all.
The diagnosis was that Dr. Bates had presbyopia, that is, a lens which had hardened. Presbyopia (the eye of old age) is expected to begin at forty. The books state, however, today, that cases are on record in which presbyopia began at eight. On the other hand we know, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a distinguished medical intellect, reminded us, in his Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, that in millions it never does begin.
Those who are interested can find evidence, in current events, that a new, and a different, and an imperative demand is becoming organized, for the truth to be told them about this misinformation. They want to know why a trifling abnormal function developing in the mechanism of vision, condemns that whole mechanism as helpless, permanently, without the assistance of a pair of glass lenses. Most of the varieties of abnormal vision are being explained casually, under the designation of asthenopia, the vernacular eyestrain.
Like the miner who traces the tiny particles of gold back up the stream to where they originate, the genius of Dr. Bates told him to trace this effect (eyestrain) back to its source.
There are a number of factors in that problem. They will be described in this book as we come to them.
Dr. Bates began by studying the six muscles which are attached to the outside of the eyeball, the muscles which the great philosopher Helmholtz looked at, but did not "See".
The standard books allow to the muscles the power to do just what Dr. Bates explained that they do. But, like Dr. Helmholtz, those standard books do not realize the import and significance of what they themselves describe.
Dr. Bates worked on: Muscles carry out orders. Orders are delivered to them by nerves. Nerves receive directions from the central control, where all nerve impulses originate.
When it is ascertained that the muscles, and the nerves, are in good working order, the fault in the mechanism must originate in the central control. That is comparatively easy to understand.
But to comprehend the functioning of that secret mental organism is not yet possible. Fortunately, such knowledge was not necessary for the purpose in the mind of Dr. Bates.
In those cases where a spontaneous recovery has occurred, the control center has ceased to give out abnormal impulses. It again is giving to the muscles the correct orders which it gave originally, when the muscles performed their function without the disturbances caused by "eyestrain".
At this point, someone who is conscious of an awakening interest in the subject interjects a challenge. "But that is psychology". Dr. Bates admits that it is such. So we remind our interrogator that sight is a psychic function, so termed in the text books. From that hitherto unmarked margin on his trail Dr. Bates had to be guided by his own "psychology".
This book will not presume to discuss at all the working of the mind of Dr. Bates. It will simply follow the trail of his endeavors, as marked by his footprints; the sequence of his proceedings, as described in his writings.
Having arrived at the source, past the dissection of muscles, and the tracing of nerves, he laid down his tools, including his remarkable original work in photography. He was on firm ground. He must learn now how to approach the "master mind" of the biological organization.
Alexis Carrel, in his MAN THE UNKNOWN, raises the curtain that conceals from the casual attention of most of us the forces that are working out the salvation of the race.
Dr. Carrel reminds us that a few are born endowed with rare and marvelous powers. These men have intuition of things not known, imagination that discovers and creates. They have the faculty of discerning the hidden within the living matter, which he says is ignored by physiologists, as well as by economists, and left almost unnoticed by physicians.
In his frank dissection of the dangers in the trail of the medical specialists, Dr. Carrel expresses the opinion that harm is caused by extreme specialization. Ile believes that a specialist who confines himself, from the beginning of his career, to a minute part of the body, has so rudimentary a knowledge of the rest of the system that be is incapable of thoroughly understanding even that part in which he specializes.
As an illustration of the consequences involved in this point of view of a leader of medical thought, we find the eye specialist physicians delivering the mind, where the said mind is concerned with the mechanism of vision, over to the large commercial interests that supply the glass lenses, and that even advertise lenses which are so made as to prevent the eyes from receiving the natural light of the sun.
In the discourses and the accomplishments of this vast field of psychology, normal and abnormal, the foundation and the determination of the course of treatment is predicated on the conception that thought is the power in our l lives that determines our course. The will is only the factor which carries out the purpose of the thought. Ael Coue puts it so simply, it is the IDEA which dominates the conduct, and the idea comes from the imagination, and the imagination is the unconscious when it makes its cone ception conscious as a thought.
When a thought is held that artificial lenses are the only possible relief to help difficulties with abnormal vision, the will determines to accept that opportunity.
When deliberate thought accepts the proof that at natural way has been discovered by which the fault in the function can be corrected, the picture is changed, and the decision then remains with ourselves.
Every direction, and every practice described by Dr. Bates, is based upon this conception. Interpreted simply, he endeavors to imitate the normal, unconscious conduct of a mechanism of vision that is not disturbed by any abnormal strain.
He requires that the beginner forget his eyes, and have his ATTENTION absorbed entirely in carrying out the details of the proceeding involved. That is the babitual conduct of one whose eyes are normal, who never doe think of his eyes.
Some are so responsive that they are cured at the first sitting-the same as those who recover normal vision spontaneously.
The spontaneous recoveries revert unconsciously to the correct habit. The pupils under instruction in the method of Dr. Bates must accomplish the same transition deliberately by following the specific directions given.
In this book the directions are based on those given by Dr. Bates. No claim is made for any improvement on the techniques he devised. Like all geniuses his work was simple and direct.
In plain language, simple but fully warranted by the accepted findings reported in technical books on the subject, these acquired abnormal functionings of the mechanism of vision, fundamentally are habits.
Unconsciously they come. Unconsciously they cease. Spontaneously, meaning without any voluntary effort, multitudes have ceased to be so afflicted. Their normal sight has returned.
Even though many have not known of such cases, certainly those recoveries are not uncommon. This was one of the impressive considerations which aroused in the mind of Dr. Bates the determination to search for the truth. He undertook to find the foundation of the principles and the factors involved in the medical specialty which he had chosen as his life work.
The obvious contradictions urged on him as the explanation for his own most pecular affliction intensified his conviction. The necessity for relief was a constant urge which drove him through fields of research entirely new. In order to overcome obstacles which had never before been considered, he was obliged to invent new methods.
When he had discovered causes, and the way the mechanism of vision effected its own cures, without the help of the conscious mind, he had to devise practicable techniques, easily learned and carried out. The conscious mind had to learn to undertake the endeavor to recover normal vision by securing the co-operation of the visual centers which are known to control the mechanism of vision.
This search culminated in the practices which are known to the world as the Bates Method.
In the several books that I have bought and read, which offer what are often called "exercises" for correcting abnormal vision, I find the specific presentation of the writers' own interpretations of the suggestions of Dr. Bates.
As I understand Dr. Bates, we are not to order the mechanism of vision. When we are instructed to make said mechanism perform a series of complicated proceedings, the effort is expended in training the mind. One may accomplish a cure by such a complicated method. But a deliberate consideration of the instantaneous, or even the gradual spontaneous (not consciously) cures that are recorded and accepted will impress the realization of the value of the method which the mechanism uses. Doctor Bates reported a number of cures accomplished in less than an hour, when he could secure the simple and direct response of his patient.
Such a simple and direct response is not common. This means that one does not really accomplish a deliberate consideration. There is generally an automatic, unconscious inhibition. The only thoughts a beginner has had on the subject of the troubled vision have been the register of the prevailing propaganda, which states positively that the condition is not curable.
To eliminate that confirmed mental attitude is a necessity, as a beginning in the endeavor. Such a new and dif. ferent conception will be produced by a study of those established and accented records printed in the standard books, and found, each in their place, in the chapters of this book.