Examination of the Patient by Stuart Close
We take up, in a general manner, the subject of the examination of the patient for the special purpose of making a homoeopathic prescription.
At first thought it would seem as if this subject should have been presented before the general subject of symptomatology, treated in the preceding article, inasmuch as the purpose of any examination of the patient is to discover signs and symptoms. It is evident, however, that we cannot intelligently and logically take up the study of methods of examining patients for a homoeopathic prescription until we have learned what symptoms are, from the homoeopathic standpoint, and decided upon some adequate form of classification. We shall be more successful in our search for anything if we know what we are looking for.
The story is told of John Burroughs, the late venerable dean of American naturalists, that on one occasion he was visiting the home of an admirer, who lived in the suburbs of one of our large cities. His hostess, professing her great love of birds, bewailed their disappearance from her neighborhood. She had not seen a bird for such a long, long time. The wicked boys and the marauding cats had driven them all away! “Uncle John” looked sympathetic, but said nothing. Shortly afterward he put on his hat, tucked his note book and opera glasses in his pocket and went out for an hour’s walk. On his return he invited his hostess to sit down beside him, produced his note book and showed her a list of nearly twenty different species of birds which he had observed during his hour’s walk, within a half mile of her home! The difference between Mr. Burroughs and his hostess was simply that he not only knew *what to look for, but *where and *how to look for it; and so he easily found what was hidden from her eyes.
So it is in examining a patient. The student who knows the nature, constitution, forms and varieties of symptoms necessary for the homoeopathic prescription will find many things in a case which another, specially trained perhaps only in pathology and general diagnosis, will entirely overlook; because pathology and diagnosis do not seek for nor take into consideration the phenomena which are most significant from the standpoint of the homoeopathic prescriber. The “modalities” or “characteristic conditions,” for example, which we have seen to be of the highest importance in selecting the homoeopathic remedy, mean little or nothing to the pathologist or general diagnostician. The same might be said of mental and subjective symptoms. Thus we have to separate and classify the various kinds of symptoms revealed by a complete general examination, and vary our methods of examination according to the particular end in view.
The technique of an examination for the purpose of diagnosticating the disease is quite different from that of the examination for making the homoeopathic prescription.
The diagnosis of disease by modern methods is based largely upon physical signs, tests and reactions, involving the use of many instruments of precision, in which the patient takes no active part, and of which he has no knowledge. The selection of the homoeopathic remedy, on the other hand, is based very largely and sometimes almost entirely upon the phenomena, or deductions drawn from the phenomena, of subjective, conscious experience, perceived only by the patient and stated by him to the examiner. Nearly all of the objective phenomena possessing value from the standpoint of homoeopathic therapeutics are of such character that they require the exercise of only the physical senses and ordinary powers of observation by the patient, his friends, or the physician himself. This distinction should be kept clearly in mind. Examinations for the purpose of pathological study and for diagnosis are necessary and important in their several fields; but from the standpoint of homoeopathic pharmaco-therapeutics, their importance is relative, not absolute. Aside from the physical and organic localization of disease, they furnish comparatively little that is of value to the homoeopathic prescriber in his special work of selecting the symptomatically similar medicine.
Let not the pathologist, therefore, criticize the methods or findings of the prescriber, nor the diagnostician assume that his findings are sufficient for the materia-medicist; but let each regard these matters in the spirit and from the standpoint of the *physician. For the physician, as an ideal, is greater than any medical specialist. The specialties in medicine only exist in order that, by combining them, the ideal of the perfect physician may not die and disappear from among men. However doubtful we may be of the necessity of the real value of the results, it is true that in the vast extension of so-called medical science it has become impossible for any one man to grasp and master it all. Therefore medicine has been divided into so many specialties that we might paraphrase the old proverb, “it takes nine tailors to make a man” into a new medical proverb: “It takes nine specialists to make a physician.
The general practitioner, if one dare to follow that ancient and honorable calling, must act in several capacities – as hygiemist, sanitarian, pathologist, psychiatrist, diagnostician, therapeutist, and perhaps even surgeon and obstetrician; but in each of these departments he may be compelled to fill up the measure of his own technical shortcomings by recourse to the specialists. He is the wise physician who recognizes his own personal and technical limitations and judiciously uses the services of others who are specially qualified in some particular branch. And he is the wise specialist who recognize *his limitations – who realizes that, after all, no matter how expert he may be in his branch he is only, as it were, a part of a physician in the broad sense of the word. Modesty pays good dividends in the long run.
In this spirit we may all co-operate for the best interests of our profession and our patients, and agree with Hahnemann in the postulate of the first paragraph of the “Organon:” *”The highest and only mission of the physician is to heal the sick.” Every medical specialty is subordinate to that ideal. The work of the homoeopathic prescriber, dealing specifically (as it does) with the application of medicines to disease according to a definite principle for the purpose of curing such conditions as are amenable to medicines, must ever remain one of the most important of the functions fulfilled by the physician. Although the related branches of medicine – hygiene, prophylaxis, sanitation, surgery, physical therapeutics, etc., have made great strides, the time is yet far distant when pharmaco-therapeutics will become unnecessary.
It follows that the pharmaco-therapeutist must be a specialist in the sense of becoming an expert in his department and this, let it be said, is the crying need of the profession.
With diagnostic and pathological examinations and symptoms, as such, this article has nothing to do, except to show their general relation to homoeopathic prescribing. The purpose of this article is to teach the principles of “case-taking” and how to determine, from the record of an examination of a case, what symptoms are most useful as indications for the curative medicine under the homoeopathic principle. Some points on the method of conducting an examination in such a manner as to discover and develop these symptoms for use in prescribing will now be presented.
In the present state of the science of pharmaco-therapeutics and with our materia medica in its present form, the most important thing to be remembered in examining a patient for a homoeopathic prescription is that, with very few exceptions, the most valuable indications for the remedy are to be found:
1. In those subjective morbid sensations and phenomena which come within the sphere of the patient’s own experience and are perceptible to him alone.
2. In those objective signs of disease which are perceptible to the unaided or natural senses of ourselves, the patient or others.
For the first we must, of course, depend entirely upon the statements of the patient himself. The findings of the thermometer, the stethoscope, the microscope, and the various other diagnostic instruments give us very little, as yet, that is directly available for the selection of the remedy. Their principal value is in determinating the diagnosis and pathology of the case as bearing upon the prognosis and general auxiliary treatment. They also point out or more accurately define the anatomical basis of the prescription and aid us in correctly localizing symptoms.
It follows, therefore, in our special examination, that we should at once endeavor to put ourselves upon such a footing and in such personal relation to the patient as will best favor a full, frank revelation by him of all the circumstances and conditions that led up to his illness; and an equally full, simple and frank statement of his sufferings as they seem to him. The problem is here largely psychological. It is well in some cases to briefly explain to a new patient the special purpose of a homoeopathic examination and to point out how it differs from the ordinary examination, especially by including mental and subjective symptoms and certain conditions that are usually ignored.
We must first gain the patient’s confidence and relieve him, as far as possible, from the sense of restraint and embarrassment. This is favored in a general way by a calm, dignified, but at the same time quiet and sympathetic manner on the part of the examiner; a demeanor confident, but not pompous; simple and direct, but not aggressive; cheerful, but not flippant; serious, but not grave or funeral. We should try to put the patient at his ease by adapting ourselves to his personality and mood.
We should not confuse the patient by a too penetrating gaze at some objective feature which may attract our attention. We may learn to observe objective phenomena accurately without seeming to do so. If a patient sees us gazing fixedly at some part of his anatomy, he is likely to become anxious and forget other matters which are of more importance to us as prescribers.
The same is true of the use of instruments and the performance of the various acts of a physical examination. A nervous patient will often be seriously disconcerted by so simple a procedure as listening to his heart action with a stethoscope – sometimes even by taking his pulse. It is best, therefore, with nervous patients, to postpone such examinations until near the close of the examination, or until he has lost his nervousness.
The patient should be encouraged to tell his story freely and relieve his mind. We want the history and symptoms of the case from the patient’s standpoint first. If the physical examination is made afterward, when the patient is composed, there will be less danger of confusing or prejudicing his mind.
The first part of the examination should be conducted in an easy, semi-conversational manner. The best results, from the Homoeopathic standpoint, are obtained by making him forget that he is under examination. One can be painstaking and systematic without being over-formal. The mere thought of undergoing a formal examination is disconcerting to the ordinary patient.He dreads it as he dreads going to a dentist. he wants to feel, and it is best for him to feel, that he is relating his troubles to a sympathetic friend who has the resources at hand to help him. It is a good rule to keep the patient talking, but say little yourself during an examination; to let him tell his story in his own way, without interruption, except to bring him back to the subject if he digresses. We may start him in his narrative by asking when and how his trouble began, and we may instruct him to be as definite as possible in relating his history and in locating and describing his sensations *as they seem to him. We should not laugh at him nor pedantically correct his errors.
We should not ask “leading questions,” nor “put words in his mouth,” but let him express his feelings and observations in his own way. Afterward, we analyze, complete, correct and interpret his statements in accordance with the principles of homoeopathic symptomatology as set forth in a former article.
Notes of the patient’s statements should be made while he is talking, but quietly, without ostentation.
It is well to leave a space between the symptoms as they are written so that, when the patient has finished his voluntary statement, one can glance quickly back over the page, see what has been left out and write it in. Questions are then put in such a manner as to complete each symptoms as to location, sensation and modality and fill in the record.
As a matter of convenience in writing and keeping record it is well to divide the page into three vertical columns- the first for date and remedy, the second for the symptoms and the third for the modalities or conditions. This makes a page that the eye quickly takes in at a glance.
We should not hurry a patient in his narrative. We may quietly keep him to the point and prevent rambling and inconsequential statements, but that is best done, as a rule, by maintaining an attitude of business-like absorption in the medical features of the case.
It is well to keep in mind always, during the examination of a case, some working classification of symptoms – as *General, Particular and Common. In examining a case we are gathering data, facts, particulars, from which we are later to determine the characteristic features of the case by the logical process of generalizing. If we are to generalize correctly we must have all the facts and be sure of them.
One thing at a time and all things in order, with an eye to the outcome. First, the analysis- facts from the patient’s statements, then the nurse’s, relative’s or friend’s statements, and then our own observations. Then comes the synthesis – the review and study of the symptoms and construction of the case, classifying symptoms as we generalize. Comparison of the symptoms of the patient with the symptoms of the materia medica in repertory work follows, and finally the selection of the indicated remedy by the exclusion process.
It is well to practice on the simple cases first, in order to become familiar with the technic. The hard cases will come soon enough and they our skill and patience to the uttermost.
The suggested classification of symptoms into general, particular and common symptoms is applicable to difficult as well as simple cases; to chronic as well as acute disease. The general plan can be modified and adapted in various ways, but the principles underlying it are always the same.
The form of the examination and the direction it takes should conform to the classification of symptoms adopted, and one may well have blanks printed to use as a guide and reminder.
Hahnemann devotes twenty-two paragraphs in the “Organon” to the subject of the examination of the patient- Paragraphs 83 to 105.
In the footnotes to these paragraphs he gives many suggestions and special directions for conducting an examination. They teach among other things, *how properly to frame our questions a very important matter. It is not expected that one will ask every patient all the questions which Hahnemann gives in these important footnotes, but that we shall select and apply such as bear upon the particular case in hand. They are for general guidance in the art of questioning.
There is a point in Paragraph 83 that deserves special attention for a few moments.
Hahnemann says: “This individualizing examination of a case of disease… demands of the physician nothing but *freedom from prejudice and sound sense, attention in observing and fidelity in tracing the picture of the disease.”
“Without prejudice!” Said quickly it sounds simple, easy, almost trite. It is a “bitter dose” to swallow, nevertheless, when we stop to explore the depths of our own minds. In this respect it is like the old-fashioned bowl of “boneset tea” I had to swallow semi-annually in the spring and fall when I was a country boy in Wisconsin. Hot and well-sweetened it was to be sure; but bitter! Bitter was no name for it! I can still hear mother say: “Now shut your eyes, son and *swallow it quick; then you won’t taste it – much!” Sounds easy but – try it.
Who of us is without prejudice? The prejudice of a materialistic mind; of pathological theories which seem too often to be antagonistic to homoeopathic principles; of doubt as to the use of the single remedy or of use of any medicine at all; the prejudice of “a constitutional aversion to work!” Many of us are “born tired.” We don’t like to work. Laziness, selfishness and an “easy conscience” are responsible for more homoeopathic sins and shortcomings than anything else, for good homoeopathic prescribing means *work!
These are our worst enemies, and the worst enemies of homoeopathy. Against these, if we are to succeed in our work, there must be a constant warfare within ourselves, until they are conquered by the establishment of correct methods and practice and a genuine interest in the work is evolved. No man who is in the grip of settled doubt or prejudice can do good work. The commercial salesman of today, for example, is not regarded as competent, nor in the proper frame of mind to gain success until he is able to *”sell himself,” as the experts put it. That means that he must acquire and hold a thorough belief in and conviction of the usefulness, indispensability and value of the goods he has to sell. For him it means study, effort, personal self-discipline until he develops a genuine enthusiasm for his goods, his house and his work. It means *Confidence – in himself and in his goods.
Nowhere will prejudice show more clearly than in homoeopathic examination of a patient. If one approaches a case prejudiced in favor of some pathological theory his examination will insensibly, but inevitably, be limited by that theory. He will not get all the facts of the case, nor properly interpret those he does get; and without all the facts he cannot study or treat the case correctly.
Prejudice and doubt may be overcome by reflection, study, self- discipline and auto-suggestion; by cultivating the scientific spirit; by returning often to a consideration of and reflection upon the broad general principles underlying our art with the purpose of reforming methods, strengthening morale and correcting faulty mental attitude, or point of view; all looking toward the development of a more practical, more accurate and more comprehensive technic.
Beliefs and convictions may be strengthened and energy stimulated by reflecting upon the fact that our therapeutic method is efficient and successful because it is based upon immutable law. We may mentally recall and restate the law and its corollaries and review the facts upon which it is based, or, better yet, write a little essay on the subject; recall to mind or seek out illustrations and examples of its truth and adequacy; study the cases and cures reported in our literature by the masters; think of duty, loyalty to principle and consistency of practice; think of success, gained by right methods and without compromise. To *think success goes a long way toward realizing success.
Our work as physicians involves the performance of a number of related functions, all of which are subordinate to the main function of healing the sick.
As specialists in therapeutic medication we examine for the symptoms upon which the choice of the remedy depends; but as physicians we also examine for the symptoms upon which the diagnosis and prognosis depends. Our aim is to make a complete examination, including all necessary pathological investigations. Having all the facts in hand we determine what features of the case are medical, what are surgical, what are psychological, what are hygienic, what are sanitary, etc. We keep all these departments distinct in our minds as bearing upon *the case as a whole, realizing that each has its particular relations to and bearings upon all the others; and especially do we seek to realize this of the department of homoeopathic therapeutics, which for us is the most important of all, because we know it is useless to attempt to base the homoeopathic prescription upon anything except the symptoms which belong to its legitimate sphere. The generalizations of the diagnostician or the pathologist, be they ever so correct, cannot serve as the basis for the homoeopathic prescription.
*The purpose of the homoeopathic examination is to bring out the symptoms of the patient in such a way as to permit of their comparison with the symptoms of the materia medica for the purpose of selecting the similar or homeopathic remedy. Every disease has its symptomatic likeness in the materia medica. The homoeopathic materia medica is like a “rogues gallery” in which are hung up the portraits of all the pathological rogues in the world. When you catch a rogue compare his features with the portraits. Then make him “take his medicine!”
Like all rogue – catchers, when on duty our senses must all be on the alert, our minds clear, our logical faculties acute, our sympathies and prejudices held in abeyance. When all the facts are before us we may sympathize, correct, reassure and encourage as far as seems judicious and wise.
Artifice must sometimes be resorted to in the examination of a case, in order to get a the facts. Many obstacles have to be overcome. Among them is modesty, often on the part of the patient, *sometimes (rarely, nowadays!) on the part of the physician if he is young and inexperienced. I often recall with amusement my feelings as I witnessed for the first time an examination of a case of phthisis pulmonalis by my old preceptor, Dr. Wells. The part of the examination which excited my risibilities was that which referred to the character of the sputum. He inquired particularly as to its color, *odor, form and taste! It was the first time I had ever heard such questions and the first time that it had ever been brought home to me that such facts could have any bearing upon the selection of the remedy. I believed that I was not over modest, but such refinement of analysis rather disgusted me. After the patient had been prescribed for and dismissed, I frankly stated my difficulty to the old master. He laughed a little sympathetically at my ignorance and rallied me on my squeamishness. Then he soberly pointed out that the patient’s reply that the sputum “tasted sweetish” had enabled him to differentiate between two very similar remedies and make an accurate choice. He made that the text for some sadly needed instruction *in the necessity for close analysis of all the elements of the case – instruction which no one ever gave me during my college course.
Here, as an important part of the homoeopathic examination, attention should again be directed to the use and importance of *logical analysis in the symptomatic examination of the patient. The clinician analyzes symptoms for the same reason and by the same method that the pathologist analyzes a pathological specimen.
Many of the statements of the patient will be mere generalities. These are of no value to the prescriber until they have been analyzed into their elements. As stated, they are merely common symptoms without individuality. The patient will tell you, for example, that he has a headache. That, and all other similar generalities, must be analyzed so that the elements of locality, sensation and modality are brought out by properly framed questions. The patient may state that he has a discharge of some kind. After locating that anatomically, it should be analyzed into its elements of color, odor, consistency and quality (as bland, excoriating, causing itching, etc.). Similarly with a diarrhoea, so far as the character of the discharges are concerned; but here the act of discharge itself should be analyzed into its elements, and its character and concomitants in time and space fixed, by creating the divisions of “before stool,” “during stool” and “after stool.” In other words, the patient is asked to describe how he feels and what happens before, during and after the act of defecation. So in intermittent fever, for another example; the disease form is analyzed into its elements; 1. Type and periodicity (quotidian, tertian, quartan, weekly, monthly, semi-monthly, annual or semi- annual); and further as to time of day when the paroxysm appears; 2. Stages (prodrome, chill, heat, perspiration); 3. Apyrexia. In each of these divisions the phenomena are located as they appear, defining each particular symptoms as accurately as possible. Thus to discover and bring out the facts of a case and give them form and individuality *as a whole, is the art of the accomplished homoeopathic examiner. It is an illustration of what a former article means in speaking of the “totality” as consisting of “related facts, having form, coherency and individuality,” and characterizing its formation as “artistic.”
Although the facts must be gathered from the patient, their form, relations and value depend almost altogether upon the examiner. The patient, unaided, will usually give only rough, disconnected statements, crude generalities, single concrete facts and a few details – a mere formless mass. The trained examiner patiently and skilfully analyzes and completes the statements, brings out details, connects the whole and constructs the case logically and scientifically, giving it a typical form, according to a preconceived idea. That is art and true art is always scientific.
As models of analysis in special diseases, and for daily practical use, procure and study Allen on Intermittent Fever; Bell on Diarrhoea and Kimball of Gonorrhoea. In general analysis and synthesis of the entire field of materia medica, Boenninghausen’s “Therapeutic Pocket Book” and Kent’s Repertory are classics, indispensable to every homoeopathist.
Boenninghausen’s “Therapeutic Pocket Book” and his book on fever (unfortunately out of print) are the original and unsuperseded models upon which all other reliable works of this class are based.
Boenninghausen, following and working with Hahnemann, is the fountain head for the analysis and classification of symptoms from which we all draw. His name, next to that of Hahnemann, is the most illustrious in the galaxy of homoeopathic heroes. Methods of practice based upon and patterned after the work of such masters cannot fail to bring success to every practitioner who uses them and advance the cause of Homoeopathy.
Clinical Histories.- Getting a good clinical history is one of the most important parts of case taking. By the same token it is also the one most generally neglected of badly done.
In order to deal intelligently with the present we must know something of the past. We must know not only the facts of the present, perhaps acute illness, but also what led up to it. Otherwise we will often be baffled in our attempts to cure and find our patients making slow and imperfect recoveries from seemingly simple acute diseases, or settling down into states of more or less confirmed invalidism.
This is because all genuine acute diseases are in reality acute outbreaks or exacerbations of previously latent, deep-seated, underlying, chronic diseases or inherited tendencies and predispositions to disease, which exist in practically all persons, – a special subject which is dealt with elsewhere.
In examinations then, as a rule and at the appropriate time, we first get us complete a list as possible of *the patient’s previous diseases, from childhood down to the present, in as nearly chronological order as possible, with the ages at which the attacks appeared and inquire as to their nature, symptoms, duration, severity and sequelae.
We should inquire carefully not only as to acute eruptive, infectious, inflammatory or febrile diseases, including the so – called “children’s diseases,” but about the more chronic and obscure ailments, including skin diseases; organ and glandular diseases (tonsilitis, adenitis, etc.); nervous diseases (epilepsy, “convulsions,” chorea, paralytic conditions, etc.); catarrhs and “discharges” from any of the mucous outlets; bone or joint diseases and rachitis; all disorders of the sexual sphere, *especially syphilis and gonorrhoea.
In women and girls we should inquire about the menses, age at which established and regularity of the periods, note all deviations from the normal and ascertain the time and influence of marriage, childbirth, etc.
We should not forget to inquire if and when the patient *has been vaccinated and learn what course the implanted disease took. At the same time we should inquire if any other inoculations with serums or vaccines have been performed. Many troubles may be traced back to vaccinations and inoculations, intentional or accidental.
The kind of treatment the patient has had for the diseases experienced and the principal drugs used should be learned, if possible. It may be necessary to antidote some of them.
The occupation and habits of the patient; diet, exercise sleep, use of tea, coffee, tobacco, stimulants, narcotics, etc., should be noted.
It is important to ascertain whether the patient has met with any accidents or mechanical injuries, or has suffered any mental shock or trial, such as grief, fright, anxiety or worry, business losses or reverses, unhappy domestic experiences, disappointment in love, etc., and fix the dates and sequence. Such experiences have a powerful influence in causing or predisposing to disease besides being valuable to the prescriber as guiding symptoms.
Next it is important to ascertain the *family history: that is, a brief history of the diseases, causes of death, predispositions and tendencies to disease and individual peculiarities not only of the patient’s brothers and sisters, but of his father, mother, uncles and aunts and his grandparents, if possible.
All this is *General History and should make up a part of the office record of every case. In some cases it will be necessary to go minutely and thoroughly into the history and phenomena of particular phases of preceding disease in order to get the facts necessary for an intelligent homoeopathic prescription.
Such an examination should be made not only for its great practical and scientific value, but for its psychological influence upon patients. Patients will be much more likely to remain permanently with the physician and his hold upon them will be much stronger if he has through and comprehensive histories of their cases in his files and impresses that fact upon them. It gives them confidence in his professional ability and skill.
Patients like to feel their physician, “knows all about them;” that he is not only interested in them and their families, personally and professionally, but that he takes pains to learn and keep in touch with all their individual peculiarities. There is no surer way to build up a permanent, lucrative and substantial practice than by doing this work. It goes without saying that the fee for such a first examination must be commensurate with the time and skill employed and that it will be paid without grumbling, for every intelligent patient will see that he is getting good service and good value for his money.
Printed blanks, systematically covering the point outlined, modified according to individual judgment and need will greatly facilitate the process of good history and case taking. They should be of standard letter size, with blank sheets of the same size for expansion of individual cases and kept together, with all correspondence relating to each case, in folders, in one of the modern, indexed, vertical-filing cabinets, for constant reference. Individual records are filed alphabetically under the name of each patient. It is not well to try to keep case records on little three by four or four by five cards as some do. There should be ample space to do the subject justice. Standard letter size sheets, 8x 10, give plenty of space, match ordinary correspondence and fit the standard vertical cabinets.
The examiner should be constantly on the alert and observing while making an oral examination. The patient may be unconscious or delirious; or an infant, unable to talk; or insane. He may be malignering or trying to deceive as to the real nature or cause of his disease. Knowledge of the natural history and phenomena of disease. Knowledge of the natural history and phenomena of disease will aid in forming a true picture of the disease.
As a prescriber the homoeopathician is always seeking that in the case which is peculiar, uncommon, characteristic, individual. That may be noticed in some casual expression of the patient as he talks, revealing his mood or state of mind, or the origin of his trouble; it may be found in the color, form, or expression of his countenance; or in his attitude, gait, or physical demeanor.
If the patient is confined to bed, the examiner will observe his position in bed, his manner of moving or turning, his respiration, the state of his skin, color or odor of perspiration, odor of exhalations from mouth or body, physical appearance of excretions, relation of the patient’s sensations to atmosphere and temperature is shown in amount of covering, ventilation of room, ice bags, hot water bottle, etc., – all these, and many other little points, noticeable by the alert examiner, perhaps without asking a question, will be valuable guides in the choice of the remedy. They should be recorded as such.
The mental state, conscious and subconscious, is revealed by the general behaviour, the conversation, the expression of the countenance, the desires and aversions and the manner of sleeping, as well as by the voluntary verbal expressions. Mental symptoms are of the highest importance. Expertness in observing and analyzing these features of disease should be cultivated because right conclusions and effective treatment often depend more upon the physician’s own observations and directions, than upon anything that others or even the patient are able to tell him. In the matter of mood or temper of the mind, for instance, he will be able to judge from the patient’s manner of relating or expressing his sufferings and his behavior toward his attendants, whether he is sad or cheerful; calm or anxious, confident or afraid, indifferent, morose, censorious, malicious, irritable, suspicious, or jealous.
As to the intellect, he can observe for himself whether the patient is dull, stupid, unconscious, excited, delirious, distracted, confused, etc. All the foregoing points are covered by the rubrics in any good repertory and they must be covered by the remedy selected.
All these and their allied conditions are most valuable and characteristic as therapeutic indications. They should be observed and noted carefully. Every case should be approached with this thought and the mind kept active and alert while talking with the patient and his friends.
Such work as this has its pleasures, aside from its scientific relations. “The greatest study of man is man.” Most of us like to “study human nature” and rather pride ourselves on our sagacity in “sizing up” the people we meet by a study of their physiognomy, manner, etc. The homoeopathic prescriber will find it to his advantage to cultivate the art of psychological analysis, and may well take pride in it when he is able to do this part of his medical work systematically also.
It is taken for granted that the physical examination of a patient will be made thoroughly and systematically also and the findings added to the record. As that subject does not come within the scope of this work, no further attention will be accorded to it.
If he has succeeded in impressing upon his readers the necessity and advantages of always making thorough and systematic examinations and keeping full, written records of cases the author will feel that his purpose has been accomplished. Nothing conduces more strongly to professional honor and reputation and to success in practice. An honestly earned reputation for making careful examinations, for “taking an interest in the case,” for always being through and painstaking, is one of the most valuable assets a physician can have, and one which may be legitimately capitalized to his financial benefit.