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by George Lincoln Walton
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When Thales was asked what was difficult he said, "To know oneself"; and what was easy, "To advise another." Marcus Aurelius counselled, "Let another pray, 'Save Thou my child,' but do thou pray, 'Let me not fear to lose him.'" Few of us are likely to attain this level; few, perhaps, aspire to do so. Nevertheless, the training which falls short of producing complete self-control may yet accomplish something in the way of fitting us, by taking the edge off our worry, to react more comfortably to our surroundings, thus not only rend-ering us more desirable companions, but contributing directly to our own health and happiness. Under the ills produced by faulty mental tendencies I do not include cancer and the like. This inclusion seems to me as subversive of the laws of nature as the cure of such disease by mental treatment would be miraculous. At the same time, serious disorders surely result from faulty mental tendencies.
The longer these tendencies are retained in adult life, the greater the danger of their becoming coercive; and so far as the well-established case is concerned the obsessive act must be performed, though the business, social, and political world should come to a stand-still. Among the stories told in illustration of compulsive tendency in the great, may be instanced the touching of posts, and the placing of a certain foot first, in the case of Dr. Johnson, who, it appears, would actually retrace his steps and repeat the act which failed to satisfy his requirements, with the air of one with something off his mind.
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