THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 4, February, 1930
(Pages 152-156; Size: 15K)
ANY process or treatment having to do with the body is necessarily something more than physical; we cannot do thus and so to a certain set of cells and have the effect stop at the tip of our scalpel, any more than we can amputate a man's arm and leave his mental outlook, his financial, family, and religious relationships unaffected.
For over a hundred years the science of immunology has conducted itself upon the basis of certain crude, rough-hewn effects invariably following from equally crude, rough-hewn actions. Basically, disease is thought to be an invasion of the body lives by various categories of lives inimical. Inflict upon the body a mild invasion, and defensive forces are set up which will check a violent incursion. It is as though the well-wishers of a peaceful but unarmed nation were to make upon it a feigned attack, killing a few, destroying property, but withdrawing so soon as the nation attacked had rushed to arms and constructed a permanent standing army sufficient for any emergency. The result desired is gained; but what of the aftermath -- of a nation into whose mind fear has been injected, which has turned a great part of its productive activities to arming against attack, whose entire hierarchical ruling system has been in some manner modified to carry on the new regime? The desired result is gained, yes; but how many other results, good, bad, or indifferent, may accrue unseen? Suppose that the economic waste of a standing army upsets the delicate balance of the internal system, and a progressive degeneration and sinking toward poverty insensibly sets in? Suppose that certain units, cast out of their peaceful orbits, imbued with "war psychology" -- the "right of might" -- form combinations for prey, and little by little, through force of example, through necessities brought on by their destructive activities, infect the whole body politic? What would our friendly invaders then say? Well, there are many, many putative causes for any political or economic ill other than the real ones; and it is to be suspected that our mistaken benefactors would find a sufficiency without admitting their mistake -- unless to themselves!
The nature of scientific progress is such that the hidden holes and corners of nescience must sooner or later be searched out; biology could not be content with the mere injection of serums and the scratching of vaccines, but must needs look for causes; and no man knoweth whither the search for causes may lead. Causes must especially be looked for when results turn out to be undependable.
The recent researches and conclusions of Dr. W. D. Mainwaring of Stanford University mark, perhaps, a turning point. And he is no despised osteopath, chiropractic, or nature-healer!
Writing in the Scientific Monthly for October, 1927, he went so far as to drastically criticise the Ehrlich theory, which has ruled immunology, and according to which any specific chemical substance which can be caused to appear or increase in blood serum as the result of an infection or immunization, is necessarily a defense against that special type of infection. Doctor Mainwaring states that though the theory has been endorsed by the medical profession for several decades, his own results go directly against it. Some of the products, he says, might have a specific protective action. Others might increase susceptibility. Some might be inert. "Still others might cause non-specific variation in bodily resistance." (Italics ours). What kind of variation -- positive or negative? Variation to what disease or diseases?
In Science for June 21, 1929, Doctor Mainwaring pushed further along his daring road, stating that his experiments show that an injected serum, so far from behaving like an inorganic chemical substance of specific qualities, agreeably to the prevailing medical theories, actually feeds on the blood of its host as though it were a living thing. Tests of horse blood serum injected into rabbits, he said, showed an increase of 200 to 400 per cent. in volume. It was odd, he remarked, "that blood serum should be exercising one of the prerogatives of life." What prerogatives besides parasitism and multiplication, may it exercise? Serums and vaccines as normally used are animal proteins; animal cells are known to grow many times faster than human; is not that characteristic necessarily shared by these other animal substances now found to be alive? Cancer is an anarchic and over-rapid cell growth; cancer cells are known to produce a serum or fluid which stimulates like growth. What then must be the effect on human cells of living animal fluids injected? Is Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, the noted British physician, along with others, correct in saying that serums cause half the cancer?
Dr. T. Swann Harding(1) says that "No proteins can pass directly into the blood stream as such; if they did so the consequences would be disastrous." In fact, this is a lesson learned already by the bitter experience of the medical faculty. Is it to be supposed, then, that proteins can be forced into any tissues without undesirable and ulterior effects? Are the causes of any disorder, the causes of varying resistance thereto, well enough known for anyone to dogmatize in the negative, or to risk the integrity of his life-fluids upon a hypothesis? Different persons react differently to various proteins,(2) some even turning purple from eating eggs, beans, or milk. Protein poisoning creates a species of chemical bruise, causing blood to leak from the vessels. If there is this sensitiveness to proteins naturally ingested, what about those forced in with indefinite rupture and infiltration of tissues? What about individual sensitivities which there are no means of ascertaining in advance of injection? Sensitivities whose effects may not be apparent for days, months, years -- or considering the psychic phase of all substance, for incarnations?
The public is consistently led to believe that immunization practice, figures, results and facts are as definitely dependable as the marking of time by an astronomical theodolite, so it is more than interesting to find Doctor Mainwaring stating that "the overwhelming clinical disappointments of the last fifty years" show the "errors and inadequacies of immunological theories from which proposed clinical methods were logical and consistent deductions." No immunological hypothesis of the past half-century, he says, has had a clinical verification probability of more than five per cent. And immunology, we have been insistently told, is a science! How long would any other branch of science carry that name, were its hypotheses verifiably wrong nineteen-twentieths of the time? No wonder, then, that Doctor Mainwaring calls for a new theory, "with basic hypotheses more nearly consistent with clinically verifiable fact!"(3)
And he produces one. For his own "new" explanatory theory of immunization, he goes straight to ancient Egypt, in a passage which deserves quotation in full:According to the predynastic Pavlovs of ancient Egypt a protein molecule is a minute, living, spiritually independent, self-propagating, materialized, or condensed animal or plant soul. This pulsating molecular individual injected into human tissues carries with it the gender, ambitions and tribal friendships of the animal or plant from which it was obtained. Introduced into human tissues, this minute alien personality may be excommunicated by the molecular subsouls of its human host. Or it may be enslaved and trained to cooperative service with human molecules. Desirable aliens may he adopted into full colloidal brotherhood with the human body, married to native somatic proteins, and become the parents of half-caste, quarter-caste or eighth-caste molecular hybrids. Mongrel proteins. Bastard colloids. Semi-permanent symbions with the human body. Eventually even raised to the dignity of sub-command.The Ehrlich theory held that protective "antibodies" are generated in a body attacked mildly -- or artificially -- by some disease, and so, serving as security against heavier attacks. The new hypothesis assumes that the foreign proteins literally hybridize with the normal body cells, making the substances affected half-human and half-animal. He proves the case as to inter-animal serology. A thirty-day reaction from the serum of a dog into which horse protein has been injected, shows a precipitin reaction exactly half-way between that of horse and dog. "If this," he queries, "is not an actual semi-caninization of horse proteins, what is it?" The hybridization theory, he says, if true, must logically give certain prophecies which can be checked up. This is the first. The second is that the new protein should be self-propagating, able to thrive and increase its tribe in the new environment. We have already seen the experimental verification of this, to which he again refers. A third is that the mongrel or hybridized proteins may become permanently symbiotic with the human body; that is, may coexist and thrive indefinitely with and within the normal tissues. He produces experimental proof for this also.
From all this an almost endless series of unpredictable consequences arise. First, he suggests, in addition to "first-generation mongrels," second, third and even more remote hybridizations -- and once more gives experimental data. The possibilities of such successive hybrids cannot be predicted or computed. They may be beneficial, inert, or destructive. Experiments with diphtheria bacteria show that its destructive power only arises from a hybridization with the serum of the body. With certain serum globulins the resulting hybrid is a specific antitoxin. With others it is inert. With still others? But Doctor Mainwaring does not speculate on that. Going further yet, however, we come to the differential affinities of a given type of tissues for certain proteins, or vice versa; as for instance, the reactions of bone marrow in a rabbit with B. welchii serum, resulting in a chronic and frequently fatal anemia of the whole system, while the same filtrate intravenously injected produced only a slight passing effect and ultimate immunization. If smallpox vaccine, typhoid toxin, antitoxin, etc., produce immunizing and seemingly harmless effects upon the human tissues with which they are first in contact, what of the substances with which they later come into connection during the tortuously complex processes of after circulation, assimiliation, hybridization and sub-hybridization? Once more loom the ghastly inevitable specters of cancer and other things behind the uncertainty!
These things being seen, what is Doctor Mainwaring's recommendation -- to eschew with horror all this internal and complicated bestiality? By no means! It is to seek measures by which uncertain hybrids can be made stable to the tissues, loyal to their purported duties? Yet Doctor Mainwaring comes far within Theosophical boundaries with many of his theses; first he speaks favorably of the sub-personalities informing the various tissues of the body, and closes his article thus:If you conceive the human body to be a mass of dead, inert material colloids, animated, coordinated and motivated by some great super-material vital purpose, this is all nonsense. But if you are attempting to explain biological organization on a purely material basis, you must seek the unit of vital phenomena in individual molecules, atoms and subatoms. To be consistent you must endow the antigen molecule with just the same unit life as that proudly reserved for your own colloids.
Breathe a metaphorical soul into the alien protein molecule.
As soon as you have accustomed yourself to this theo-biochemical heresy, the ancient food hybridization theory emerges from the discarded superstitions of dead paganisms. A prophetic metaphor. The next great immunochemical challenge to pioneers and prospectors in clinical truth.
As a challenge, rather than as demonstrated fact, I present it to you.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
LIFE, THE TEACHER
So many people are "queer" -- un-sane if not insane in their modes and tenses. We wonder why "our Karma" has placed us thus in contact with them, when we would have it so completely otherwise. Might this be part of the education Life, the beneficent teacher, is trying to afford us? If we considered the seemingly incongruous association that way, assuredly we would learn. And perhaps, even where much of the patent "queerness" really inheres! Or that in fact it is something else -- merely another point of view. The Diamond Heart has many facets.
SHOULD OUR CHILDREN BE "IMMUNIZED"?
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THREE (3) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Scientific Monthly, November, 1927.
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(2) Drs. Alexander and Eyerman, The Week's Science, June 24, 1929.
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(3) Science, July 5, 1929.
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