"Pain is curative - the actions of life are maintained by it - were it not for the stimulation induced by pain, surgical operations would more frequently be followed by dissolution."
John P. Harrison (1849)
Vice-President of the American Medical Association
Since unconsciousness had previously been associated with poor wound healing and often imminent death, it was perhaps natural that many physicians assumed that insensibility caused poor wound healing. Thus the deliberate induction of anaesthesia for surgery struck traditionally-minded physicians as a dangerous novelty. Some mid-19th century American surgeons declined to operate on patients who were comatose or in shock until they revived on the grounds that the healing power of such patients was deficient.
Across the Atlantic, the British Medical Journal stated in 1858: "It is not the particular agent, it is the condition of insensibility, however induced, that puts the patient into such peril."