A new viewpoint Stearns Rochester,
In 1935, before a joint meeting of the parent societies of this Academy, Dr. Harvey Black presented his classic study, “The State of Allergy. ” He noted that this state is bounded on the north by the internist, on the east by the dermatologist, on the south by the rhinologist, and on the west by the pediatrician and that it has been carved out of the territory originally within the confines of the surrounding states, many of whose citizens oppose with acrimony the prospect of loss of territory which is being exploited by those whom they regard as interlopers. Since this paper was presented, representatives of the psychiatrists have realized that unexpected riches are to be found in this new land and have claimed title to portions of it. As in all political intrigues, they have sought to validate their belated claim by the crafty use of catch words such as “psychosomatic” to beguile the unwary. Black’s paper gave a few observations as to the topography of this new land and he noted that some explorers had found it distressingly dry while others spoke of it as being all wet. He discussed the habits and customs of the explorers and settlers, but made no mention of the original inhabitants. A diligent search of the literature has failed to reveal any observations of these natives, namely the Allergens. It seems appropriate to present some notes, which are of necessity quite fragmentary, on the modes of thought and behavior of these folk. It is the custom among the Allergens to foregather in a great assembly each winter to listen to reports of accomplishments of the various workers, both those who cultivate the paying crops and those who seek new methods of increasing the yield and improving the product, and to devise plans for future activities designed to promote the welfare of the state. The rather stilted reports presented at these meetings throw but little light on the day-by-day thoughts of the citizens, nor are the formal discussions very helpful, both being worded with extreme caution lest some heckler find a chink in the argument and put the
speaker to shame before the multitude. From the little groups who speak freely in the secluded corners, a better picture of the fears and hopes of the work-a-day Allergen can be gained. At one of the recent assemblies, some of the ragweeds presented in great detail, with much reference to former victories and defeats, an intricate plan for overcoming the machinations of a new enemy who had only recently reared his ugly head-namely, the blocking antibody. They noted that heat had no effect on him and that their victims acquired greater and greater armies of these fighters if treated in certain ways. The report ended with an impassioned plea for the aid of all to overcome this most obnoxious foe. A few of the ragweeds who had had no part in the discussion and who had maintained a noticeably carefree and even frivolous attitude toward what seemed to most a very serious matter, were taken to task in the corridor during an intermission. Said a carefree one, “If those fellows were smart they wouldn’t get all stirred up about a thing like this. The whole trouble is, they have picked the wrong place to work. Of course they are having trouble in their district, because a lot of these blocking fellows have been found around there. If they would only get wise and pick a section like ours, they’d worry as little as we do, because in our district, no matter how many injections are given, the blocking boys can’t get any new recruits. ” At the same meeting, some of the Allergens* got together for a convivial evening. As the party progressed, tongues were loosened. Said one, “I don’t mind being used to make pretty little hives on peoples’ arms. It doesn’t make any difference to me whether I get rubbed into a scratch or stuck in with a needle. The customer gets tickled and the doctor thinks he’s really discovered something, but it’s not dignified to be shot into one side of a man by an electric current and have to crawl all around inside him to find the place where I can tickle him and make him swell up.”
*Presidential address presented at the Third Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, New York City, November 26, 1946.
*This is an inconsistency in the manuscript; the author probably intended to refer to Ragweeds here, rather than Allergens.S.G.C.
Vol. 64, No. 5, pp. 472-474
@ 1979 The C. V. Mosby
“That’s bad enough,” said another, “but what about this business of having two or three men, with nothing better to do, holding hands and making us hunt through all of them? There ought to be a committee appointed to do something about it. “* The Allergens place much emphasis on the education and training of the young and less experienced citizens. The contact of this state with the modern world has been of such short duration that it has no great institutions of learning of its own. The promising youths are sent to teaching centers in the older states where they are compelled to follow the curricula devised to satisfy the needs of the students of the long established sects, with little or no training in their native fields of endeavour. To the elders of the state, this is a matter of grave concern, not because they are averse to having their neophytes learn the charms and rituals of the older practioners-indeed they welcome and insist upon this-but because they fear that the most brilliant youths, forgetting their birthright, will be beguiled into espousing the rites and customs of one of these sects and will be lost to the State of Allergy. To rectify this condition a delegation of the elder teachers has been set up, whose duty it is to make training in the proper way of life available to all, from the neophyte to the older citizen who has not been exposed to the best modern thought. One section of this delegation is specifically charged with devising some scheme whereby the rulers of the seats of learning may be made to see that the laws and customs of the Allergens are sweet and beautiful in their own right, and that they should be given the recognition and time which they deserve in the teaching of the young. To lay the groundwork for future advancement, the chief of this portion of the delegation caused the rulers of the teaching institutions to expose their weaknesses by a series of adroit questions and then had this exposure printed in the very publication of the learned organizations. The outcome is awaited with pious hope. When the young Allergen returns to the State from his period of foreign education, another branch of the delegation sees to it that he is given a position in which he may at least keep body and soul together for *The reference is to a program presentation at an annual meeting by Abraham Walzer and Harry Golan of the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn demonstrating the transport of antigen through the arms and trunks of three persons, joined by holding hands, reaching and reacting at a passively sensitized skin site in the subject at the end of the chain (J ALLERGY 16: 165, 1945). “There was much laughter from the audience. So far as I know, this experiment has not been confirmed by others. Dr. Walzer was very but some wonder if he were not serious in his presentation, pulling our legs. ”
the time during which he is subjected to further ordeals of training, Such positions are given euphemistic names, such as fellowships, to conceal the hard life which they entail. The Fellow enters upon a life, almost of serfdom, in which he is driven to superlative feats of endeavor by his superiors who freely apply the whips of ambition and the prospects of future honors to keep his feet on the treadmill day after day without cessation. He soon learns that not only must he increase his own stature in the held of knowledge, but he must delve into the secret places and bring honor to his master from whose workshop the tales of his efforts emanate. When his term of service is finally ended, he is permitted to go forth and enter the lists as his own man, buoyed up by the hope that the ordeals have not been suffered in vain and that, somehow, he will be able to sustain life until his real worth is truly appreciated. The minds of many of these individuals become so warped as the result of the ordeals to which they are subjected that they are never able to settle down to the growing of paying crops like their associates, but spend their years struggling frenziedly to unlock nature’s secret places. The ordinary citizens look with indulgence on this strange behavior and treat those individuals with gentleness. Sometimes they are even accorded high honors. The third section of the delegation concerns itself with the older Allergens who have settled on homesteads and have plowed and reaped without the advantages of the knowledge of modern methods. To help these individuals who are tied down by family cares and the necessity of continuous cultivation of their crops, traveling troups of teachers make periodic trips to the remote parts of the country and expound the laws before assemblages of those who seek to acquire merit-and perhaps gold-by sitting at the feet of the masters for a few days. These teachers are chosen for their wisdom and their willingness to sacrifice comfort and time for the welfare of the state. The whispers which are occasionally heard from citizens of the lower sort, suggesting that not wisdom, but glibness of tongue is the criterion by which they are chosen, and that it is not a spirit of sacrifice, but a desire to advertise their eminence which makes them undertake these jobs, must be recognized as manifestations of envy and are not to be believed. In order that the laws may be codified and made readily accessible to all, various eminent citizens have gathered them together in book form and have expounded them, chapter and verse. Some of these books are so small that they may be readily carried in the pocket so that the worker, when in doubt, may consult the authority on the spot. Others are ponder-
ous tomes which can be perused with comfort only in the seclusion of the library. Some deal only with the integument, while others limit themselves to the interior. Still others give consideration to the whole organism in minute detail. All of these works have one factor in common: namely, that none is the final and complete authority on the law. The legislators change the statutes so often and the courts alter their rulings with such frequency that a book soon becomes outmoded, thus giving other aspiring literary geniuses opportunity to shine for brief periods. Each year sundry sages of the state review with care the changes in the statutes and the rulings of the courts during the twelvemonth. This gives them the oppportunity, publicly, to anoint with the oil of commendation those ideas with which they agree and to point the finger of scorn at others. One of these reviewers, as becomes one truly wise, gladly shares his hard-won wisdom with the younger Allergens, pointing out that it is futile to attack humans who do not have on their bodies the mystic symbol X and that their efforts are much more likely to be crowned with success if they will search out individuals who are drpletd either in mind or in body. Whenever two or more Allergens are gathered together, whether it be at the crossroads or in the annual statewide assemblies, there are sure to be heard heated discussions of the great controversy regarding sanctification. The chronicles of the nation show that, after uncounted years when each worker acquired merit by his deeds and especially by how well he could get the tale of these deeds spread through the public prints, a sort of ecclesiastical High Court was set up for the purpose of conferring sainthood on the deserving. This court was established by the orthodox older sects and it was only by artful scheming that the Allergens became eligible for minor grades of sanctity. To justify its existence, the court found it necessary to confer halos of sainthood on a certain number of citizens at once. These first saints were chosen because their gray hair would reflect the beams from the halos. thus seeming to produce a more-thanearthly light, or because they bore sonorous titles bestowed on them by some institution of learning, or because they had been especially adroit in causing their heroic deeds to be publicized in print. Naturally a considerable amount of jealousy was engendered in
CLIN. IMMUNOL. NOVEMBER 1979
the hearts of those not chosen and some of the more irreverent were even heard to remark that the halos of several of the synthetic saints emitted very little light. There are found in some of the later chronicles canons which delineate with precision the disciplines which the future suppliant for sainthood must follow. To make sure that each citizen shall be kept advised of the important affairs of state, the Ailergens print a news sheet in their own dialect. Because they receive the publication as a partial return on their taxes, they feel entirely free to discuss it without inhibition. One says too much space is utilized to expound obscure rites and practices with useless attention to minute details of procedure and that these pages could be put to much more profitable use by clear expositions of the best methods of cultivating and harvesting the everyday crops. Another complains bitterly that when he offers something for publication which he knows will do more than anything suggested in recent years to improve the welfare of the state, its publication is either postponed for months or he is told it is not quite orthodox in its theme and no space is available. One says too much space is given to the boiled-down stories and another believes it would be better if everything were given in abbreviated form; for instance, why not print only the conclusions of the authors, thus saving the reader the struggle of trying to understand interminable tables and obscure graphs. There is even as occasional brave soul who dares to state in public that thoughtful reading of the periodical rather than fault finding will yield ample reward for the time so spent, and furthermore if those who offer stories for publication would be satisfied with nothing short of the best story material, there would be little cause for complaint. Some citizens go so far as to cause their stories to be printed in the periodicals of the other sects in the older states. Truly patriotic individuals decry this practice, holding that it is done, not for the welfare of the state, but because these periodicals reach more readers and therefore have greater advertising value. The careful observer can note that no matter where a treatise is printed, the author craftily buys large numbers of copies and sends them to his acquaintances, and even to those who have never heard of him, hoping that his fame may spread throughout the land.