INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF HOMEOPATHY by H.A. Roberts
Dr. Roberts advise to homeopath that, a man who adopts the homoeopathic methods must be free from prejudice, and able to look fairly at disease conditions from a new angle….
***IF a physician would successfully practise medicine he must know, first, what is curable by medicine, and second, what is curative in drugs.
The physician must know something of the history of the development of the drug action; of the gradual experiments with the remedial substance upon healthy human beings and the data gathered therefrom over a long period of careful observations, which have been checked and verified again and again, both in experimental provings and in clinical use. The basis upon which this knowledge of drug action is built is a profound and basic element of homoeopathic procedure.
By the time the physician has become somewhat acquainted with these guides he is in a position to go forward and erect the structure of his future medical career upon a basis that is immovable, that does not change with every new theory that arises upon the medical horizon. If we look thoughtfully at medical literature over a period of years we find it one kaleidoscopic panorama of ever-changing theory and practice.
Homoeopathy, on the other hand, is ever capable of development, while the principles remain the same. Homoeopathy is founded upon principles that are again founded upon natural laws. These natural laws are basic, they are more eternal than the hills, for these laws were formulated before the hills came into being.
If a man follows where homoeopathy leads he must be able to follow those laws and to hold close to them, regardless of pressure or influence. On the other hand, the very principles which he follows stabilize him and make him sure in his work. This stability can be maintained equally well in chronic work, in acute cases or amidst the panics of epidemics of unknown origin, such as influenza, poliomyelitis; outbreaks of such conditions as encephalitis; for here, as in all other manifestations of illness, the fundamental laws remain firm and intact, and they are sufficiently basic to provide a sure guide to health.
A man who adopts the homoeopathic methods must be free from prejudice, and able to look fairly at disease conditions from a new angle. He must look at the patient as an individual, not as a disease, and he must treat the patient, not the disease. He must learn that the symptoms that under ordinary training would have been discarded as confusing the issue or as of no value are the very symptoms which, to the homoeopathic physician, simplify the case and provide the strongest clues to the surest method of assistance.
He must possess a sense of values, and be able to train himself to observe and interpret those signs which manifest themselves through the habits and circumstances of the patient, into indications for health-restoring medication which he has at his command.
In other words, he must learn to observe and record cases from the homoeopathic angle. The diagnostic viewpoint which has featured so largely in his training must here take a different place in his perspective. He must take time to trace the source of the disturbance and the remedy to fit the complete picture, always basing the process upon the sound rock of natural laws.
Homoeopathy opens up a vista of opportunities for continually seeking new fields for the demonstration of natural laws, for if, as we believe, these laws are fundamental, their application is universal, and had we the vision to see it we would be convinced not from its application in the field of medicine alone, but in every field of natural science and in applied science as well.
The vista in the field of medicine which is opened up for cure under the homoeopathic method of treatment is a wide one and cure is always accomplished with the least possible disturbance to the patient and in the gentlest manner, yet with the most profound effect on the whole individual. Homoeopathy is a system of medicine upon which we can depend to set the individual system in order, and the patient on the high road to recovery, if recovery is possible. If we fail, we may know that the failure is ours, in that we have not fully compassed the case or a knowledge of the remedies. In a field so vast, it is conceivable that not all available agencies have yet been developed; and our own ignorance may limit us in the use of those remedies which we already have, but those who study homoeopathy with an unprejudiced mind, and those who have practiced it faithfully and purely, can and do attest its unsurpassed results when conscientiously applied to the sick.
If chain is no stronger than its weakest link, we must examine the links individually, one by one, and not determine their strength or weakness by testing the complete chains as our first measure.
The very foundation of homoeopathic practice considers man not only as an individual, but as a complete unit in himself, of which all his parts comprise a well-balanced whole. Homoeopathy, therefore, does not consider any one part as being ill, but considers the manifestation of illness in one part in its relation to the whole man.
Medicine ideally has to do with the cure of disease, the building up of the individual, not overlooking proper hygiene and sanitation, but with a deeper view of the needs of the individual himself, once again considering his individuality. Probably homoeopathy stresses this view of the individual in relation to his environment and circumstances more than any other school of medical thought, for it takes into consideration not only his immediate heritage, but the more subtle and complex burden that is the heritage of long ages of struggling and developing ancestors. Homoeopathy seeks to relieve the individual as much as possible from the heavy burden of hereditary tendencies he carries, and to guard against increasing this load by enabling his vital energy to provide its own immunity against disease. Homoeopathy looks upon the health of the individual as a precious charge, and his return to health as almost certain if we but follow the fundamental laws.
Homoeopathy accentuates the study of the action of drugs upon healthy human beings, with little consideration of their action on the lower animals, for homoeopathy recognizes that it is only through a knowledge of their action upon man that we can obtain a correct perception of their applicability in disease. This is a field in which homoeopathy leads all other forms of medical thought, for no school of medicine has carried on, over such a long period of years, such intensive study of remedy reaction, nor has any such extensive experimental work been done with the results so faithfully recorded by such a large group of people, with the results so carefully checked by clinical application.
This can truly designated as scientific, for the results have been checked and rechecked, and the findings applied with unfailing success when the proper principles were followed.
The generally accepted concept of homoeopathy is that it is concerned chiefly with the law of similars. Indeed, the encyclopaedia gives as the definition of homoeopathy that it is a system of medicine based upon the law of similars. While for a concentrated definition this might serve, yet there is much more to homoeopathy than the law of similars, for it would be very incomplete did it not embrace much more than this. It might better be defined as a system of medicine based upon natural laws.
We need to get a more complete and comprehensive insight into the scope of these laws. There is danger of making a fetish of the faith in homoeopathy by expecting wonderful results where a proper understanding of these laws would deter us from attempting the use of homoeopathy. Sometimes even without a knowledge of these laws we obtain wonderful results, it is true, but we often fail by not carrying out the teaching of Hahnemann, to remove the cause of the disease where it is manifestly a mechanical trouble. Again, in the class of disease where malnutrition results from lack of the proper foods, instead of the lack of powers of assimilation, homoeopathy cannot be expected to take the place of the proper elements in the diet.
On the other hand, in the field of therapeutics by curative medicine there is no other absolutely curative assistance. Here homoeopathic laws reign supreme. To confuse the scope of each of these fields makes for misunderstanding and failure.
Homoeopathy considers the morbid vital processes in living organisms, which are perceptibly represented by symptoms, irrespective of what caused them. Homoeopathy is concerned only with disease *per se, that is in its primary, functional or dynamic aspect, not in its ultimate and so-called pathological results. With these we have nothing to do; these are not in any sense the disease but are the results of disease conditions. Therefore we must distinguish between the primary functional symptoms which represent the morbid process itself, and the secondary symptoms which represent the pathological end of disease.
The gross physical pathology such as we find in gallstones we do not prescribe for, but we do prescribe for the patient, being guided by the symptoms which began in the perversion of the vital process, which preceded and accompanied the ultimate development of the gallstones.
Functional symptoms always precede structural changes. In biology, ” function creates and develops the organ.” In disease, function, the effort of the vital energy to function under adverse circumstances, precedes and develops the pathological states. For the homoeopathic physician the totality of the functional symptoms of the patients is the disease and constitute the only perceptible form of disease and therefore the only basis of curative treatment. Symptoms are the outward and visible signs of the inward disturbance of the vital force which will ultimately produce morbid states, and when these symptoms are removed the disease ceases to exist.
Homoeopathy is not concerned with the morbific agents any more than it is with the tangible products or the ultimates of disease. Hahnemann regarded the removal of all the obstacles to cure as absolutely essential before he attempted to proceed to the selection and administration of the remedy which was homoeopathic to the symptoms of the individual case, by which alone the cure is to be accomplished.
We thus focus our attention upon the individual and purely functional side of disease, upon disease itself, where we can perceive the sphere of homoeopathy. Thus from this view disease is a constant change of functions and transformation so long as life lasts. We are here dealing in the realm of pure dynamics. This field is the field of disordered vital energy, and therefore disordered vital expressions and functional changes in the individual patient, irrespective of the name of the disease or its cause, and is governed by the laws of motion in the vital realm. It is in this sphere that vital functions act-in the realm of the laws of Mutual Action : ***ACTION AND REACTION ARE EQUAL AND OPPOSITE.
In his *Organon, Par.6, Hahnemann says :
The unprejudiced observer, well aware of the futility of transcendental speculation which can be receive no conformation from experience-be his power of penetration never so great-takes note of nothing in every individual disease, except the *changes in the health of the body and the mind (morbid phenomena, accidents, symptoms) which can be perceived externally by means of the senses; that is to say, he notices only the deviations from a former healthy state of the diseased individual, which are felt by the patient himself, remarked by those around him and observed by the physician. All these perceptible signs represent the disease in its whole extent, that is, together they form the true and only conceivable portrait of the disease.
Disease itself is impossible of observation; we only see and record the effects of disease; we can only record the symptoms. Disease is as elusive as thought; we are utterly unable to discern thoughts, save such as are transformed into acts; so we only recognize disease as it is made manifest in symptoms. The inner expression are dynamic in nature, their outward expression is functional. While all this is true, yet we are dealing with the most positive of facts-for symptoms are a record of facts- facts registered in symptoms are the most exact record of the expression of the vital energy to the morbific agent.
Once more to quote Hahnemann’s *Organon :
There must be a curative principle present in medicine; reasons divines as much. But its inner nature is in no way to be perceived by us; its mode of expression and its outward effects alone can be judged by experience.
Health is restored after the removal of all symptoms; then and only than is all disease removed. Hahnemann this way distinguishes between disease itself and its causes, manifestations, and products, and then shows at once that the sphere of homoeopathy is limited to functional changes from which the phenomena of diseases arise. Thus homoeopathy operates only in the dynamic sphere. Directly, homoeopathy has nothing in common with the physical cause or product of disease, but secondarily it is related. Here is the place where surgery may have its function, yet many of the tangible effects may remain. If these effects are too far advanced, they may be removed. If this is not done, it stands to reason that the best effects of the remedy will not be realized, but we must differentiate between the causes of disease the ultimates of disease; they stand at opposite ends of the scale. While these ultimates are not primarily within the range of *similia, and therefore not the objective of homoeopathic treatment, the morbid process from which they arise or to which they lead is under the control of homoeopathic medication. This medication may control and retard the development of pathological conditions. Thus tumours may be retarded or completely arrested, and absorption increased, and finally the disappearance of the growth; secretions or excretions increased or decreased; ulcers healed; but all this is secondary to the real cure which takes place solely in the dynamic sphere, restoring the patient to health and harmonious functioning of this whole being by the dynamic influence of the symptomatically similar remedy.
As Stuart Close has well said, the real field of homoeopathy is
To those agents which effect the organism as to health in ways not governed by chemistry, mechanics, or hygiene, but those capable of producing ailments similar to those found in the sick.
Fincke has shown that in the development and growth of the child much can be done to make this symmetrical, for it is closely related to the laws of assimilation; here the laws of *similia have pre-eminence, for the child is peculiarly under the influence of the laws of action and reaction as applied to the action of the similar remedy in its development and growth.
The homoeopathic principle is not used in another field of what might be called extreme emergency, but rather we use what may be called a principle of palliation. As Hahnemann says in a note to Par. 67 of the *Organon :
Only in the most urgent cases, where danger to life and imminent death allow no time for the action of a homoeopathic remedy-not hours, sometimes not even quarter hours and scarcely minutes- in sudden accidents occurring to previously healthy individuals-for example, in asphyxia and suspended animation from lighting, from suffocation, freezing, drowning, etc.- it is admissible and even judicious at all events as a preliminary measure to stimulate the irritability and sensibility (the physical life) with a palliative, as for instance, gentle electric shocks, with clysters of strong coffee, with a stimulating odour, gradual applications of heat, etc. When this stimulation is effected, the play of vital organs goes on again in its former healthy manner, for here there is no disease to be removed, but merely an obstruction and suppression to the healthy vital force. To this category belong various antidotes to sudden poisonings: alkalis for mineral acids, hepar sulphuris for metallic poisons, coffee and camphor (and ipecacuanha) for poisoning by opium, etc.
Even in emergencies, however, we may find the indications for the homoeopathic remedy just as clear-cut as antipathic means would be, and if we can read these indications, even here the action of the potentized remedy will be more rapid and far more gentle in its restorative powers than would be the case if stronger measure were taken. Thus in such conditions as asphyxia, shock from various sources, and even from the ingestion of poisons, among many other so-called emergencies, homoeopathic remedies in skilful hands have saved lives with almost miraculous speed and with the happiest of results. The indicated remedy works with exceeding rapidity, and we dare not put a limitation upon its restorative powers.
It is well to obtain this clear view of what is before us and face candidly the true place for the practice of the healing art that we may become true physicians; and to stabilize still further, let us look at what Carroll Dunham called *the scientific reasonableness of homoeopathy.
Homoeopathy has been developed through the inductive method of reasoning. Not only are the conclusions of homoeopathy consistent with its assumption but they are founded upon Truth, for homoeopathy as a method is drawn logically according to the strictest rules of inductive generalization from data derived from the closest observation of facts and experiments. All the processes from the proving to the curative prescription are controlled by the principles of inductive reasoning.
Funk & Wagnall’s *Dictionary defines inductive reasoning as follows :
The Inductive Method in Reasoning is the scientific method that proceeds by induction. It requires (1) *exact observation : (2) *correct interpretation of the observed facts with a view to understanding them in relation to each other and their causes; (3) *rational explanation of the facts by referring them to their real cause or law; and (4) *scientific construction : putting the facts in such co-ordination that the system reached shall agree with the reality.
Let us examine the earlier steps taken by Hahnemann in his development of the scientific approach toward the healing of the sick through the reasonable application of natural laws.
His childhood training in logical thinking crystallized his keen mind and made him peculiar fitted for the task he assumed. In other words, he was early trained in inductive reasoning, and he was able to scientifically construct hitherto unknown principles in the care of the sick.
(1) *Exact observation : Hahnemann’s honest disappointment with the practice of medicine as manifested in the eighteenth century was the direct result of his faculties of observation and reasoning. His early training demanded of him that he find logical reasons for the administration of medicinal substances, and that once given, favourable results were to be expected.
The chaotic prescriptions of that day left little reasonable grounds for clear-cut results, and his observations of the frequent failure of the physician to help sick patients toward cure, or worse still, the rapid decline of the patient in seemingly simple and uncomplicated cases under the best medical care procurable, led Hahnemann to renounce the practice of medicine. He turned to chemistry and the translation of medical literature as a means of livelihood. In one of these translations as item on the use of cinchona bark for intermittent fever arrested his attention, since he himself had recently suffered such a malady. His interest was aroused, and his experiments with medicinal substances (which he later called *provings) were begun.
Here he first caught the gleam of light that led him to an understanding of the reasonable application of remedies, based on the *exact observation of the ability of the drug to produce symptoms, on the one hand, and of the symptoms of the patient on the other. This problem he simplified to a logical basis.
(2) *Correct interpretation of the phenomena produced by the experiments or provings was provided by close study of series of these experiments on groups of people. Thus the probability of error was reduced through the accumulation of more data, with increasing exact observation not only of results produced, but of possible interposing conditions which varied the results.
Hahnemann was soon convinced that (3) the *rational explanation of the phenomena was the thought, hinted at in the time of ancient Hindu sages, by Hippocrates, Paracelsus, Stahl and others throughout the course of medical history, that ” diseases are cured by medicines that have the power to excite a similar affection.”
While this thought had been applied occasionally, Hahnemann was the first to insist on the importance of this premise in every case where a true cure was achieved, as he was the first to test remedial substances and classify the results with this purpose in mind.
With (4) true *scientific construction he applied the principles evolved from his inductive reasoning and the correlating experiments he had conducted.
Briefly, then we find that these experiments had led Hahnemann to give a medicinal substances to healthy persons, to carefully record the effects-which were the production of symptoms of (artificial) disease-for the purpose of making these substances available for people suffering from like symptoms in(natural) disease syndromes. Thus developed his work in proving as we know it.
This hypothesis, a process of inductive reasoning, proved to be a triumph through the discovery of scientific principles based on natural laws.
So, too, principles of inductive reasoning led Hahnemann, through his observation of the effects of remedies administered on the basis of symptom similarly, to the gradual decrease of the dose, because of the consequent drug effects (as differentiated from the remedial effects) of the substances administered. This decrease of the dose was developed according to a definitely scaled formula, and this in turn led to a principle of potentiation, or release of energy.
This discovery of the principle of potentization was Hahnemann’s greatest gift to science in general, and to medicine in particular. Had it not been for his powers of observation and his interpretation of these observations through rational explanation, and his action upon those observations, he would never achieved this eminence. When we consider the centuries of medical practice that preceded Hahnemann, and the years of medical practice and scientific research that have followed, and comprehend somewhat the significance of his discovery of powers released through minute division, we can but marvel at his keen logic and strive to follow his processes of reasoning.
Thus we readily see and appreciate the aptitude of Stuart Close’s description of homoeopathy, when he describes the foundations as “solid concrete, composed of the broken rock of hard facts, united by the cement of a great natural principle.. it is inseparable from the foundation.
This shows the relation of facts to the practice of homoeopathy, with an outline of the reasoning process by which homoeopathy was worked out and built up; and it is applicable in every concrete case which a homoeopathic physician may be called upon to treat. The principles involved are the same : the examination of the patient, or the record of the proving; the analysis and evaluation of the symptoms in each case; the selection of the remedy; all these are conducted under the rules and in an orderly method based upon inductive reasoning. Thus we determine what is characteristic in the patient and in the remedy; the characteristic symptoms are always the generals of the patient.
What is true of one symptom may often be true of the whole patient, as illustrated by the reaction to thermic changes of individual parts and symptoms, and may be true of the whole man; therefore, while we strive to form a picture of the totality of the symptoms we must instinctively evaluate, and find ourselves assembling symptoms as applying to the whole man or to his individual parts, as the case may be. As Close well puts it, in his *Genius of Homoeopathy :
Logic facilitates the comprehension of the related totality or picture of the symptoms of the case as a whole. From all the parts, logic constructs the whole. It reveals the case; in other words, by generalizing it assigns each detail to its proper place and gives concrete form to the case so that it may be grasped by the mind in its entirety.
The true “totality” is more than the mere numerical totality or whole number of the symptoms. It may even exclude some of the particular symptoms if they cannot, at the time, be logically related to the case. Such symptoms are called “accidental symptoms”, and are not allowed to influence the choice of the remedy. The “totality” is that concrete form which the symptoms take when they are logically related to each other and stand forth as an individuality, recognizable by anyone who is familiar with the symptomatic forms and lineaments of drugs and diseases.
The basis of the homoeopathic prescription is the totality of the symptoms of the patient, *as viewed and interpreted from the standpoint of the prescriber. A successful prescription cannot be made from the standpoint of the diagnostician, the surgeon nor the pathologist, as such, because of the differing interpretation and classification of symptoms. *A prescription can only be made upon those symptoms which have their counterpart or similar in the materia medica.
Individuality is inculcated always in the examination of a case. The three steps always followed in a carefully developed case consist in the examination of the patient, the examination of the symptom record of the patient, and the examination of the materia medica.
After these steps are logically taken and analysed they lead by the process of induction to the generals of the case, for the generals are the sum total of the particulars. The value of the generalization depends primarily upon the data from which it is drawn, for it is an axiom of philosophy that ” a general truth is but the aggregate of particular truths, a comprehensive expression by which an indefinite number of individual facts are affirmed or denied”.
It is not possible to form generals until we have considered special particular symptoms and analysed and assimilated them, in their relation to the whole. Minor particulars enter into major, and majors into one all-inclusive concept of the case. Such an all-inclusive major is *similia similibus curantur- the most complete and far-reaching generalization ever made from the deduction of individual facts.
The value of generalization depends in its essence upon the data from which it is drawn. The facts must be both accurate and complete.
Where we have many and clear mental symptoms they are always generals, for they represent the man in the most characteristic sense. Modalities again are always generals, for they are the natural modifiers of the case. “Where there are no generals,” says Kent,”we can expect no cures.”
The approach to the study of the case and the approach to the study of the materia medica are essentially the same- the materia medica is the *facsimile of the sickness.
Boenninghausen has shown in his repertory that these aggravations and ameliorations are modalities and therefore rank as generals. Close rates this repertorial work as ” the greatest masterpiece of analysis, comparison and generalization in our literature” The attempt to limit the application of the modality to the particular symptoms with which they were first observed has not been successful in practice, so Boenninghausen’s grouping of them as generals was a masterpiece of inductive reasoning. Writing in regard to these modalities which he considers generals, he says :
All of these indications are so trustworthy, and have been verified by such manifold experiences that hardly any others can equal them in rank; to say nothing of surpassing them. But the most valuable fact respecting them is this: That this characteristic is not confined to one or another symptom, *but like a red thread it runs through all the morbid symptoms of a given remedy, which are associated with any kind of pain whatever, or even with a sensation of discomfort, and hence it is available for both external and internal symptoms of the most varied character.
He arrived at these truths by the inductive study of the facts, and the results were the products of the sound reasoning.
We see, then, that homoeopathy is more than the law of similars. It is basically a scientific method of healing which is based upon natural laws and developed by inductive reasoning. It is closely allied with the principles of natural growth and development. The whole fabric is summed up in the third paragraph of the *Organon, where Hahnemann writes:
If the physician clearly perceives what it is in disease in general and in each of disease in particular that has to be cured (knowledge of disease, knowledge of the requirements of the disease or disease-indications): if he clearly perceives what is the healing principle in medicine generally and in each medicine in particular (knowledge of the powers of medicines) : if in the light of clear principles he can so adapt the healing virtue of the drug to the illness that is to be cured that recovery must follow, and if he has the ability not only to select the particular remedy whose mode of action is most suitable for the case (choice of the remedy or indicated medicine), but also to choose the exact quantity of the remedy required ( the suitable dose) and the fitting period for its repetition, if, I say, he knows all these things and in addition recognizes in every case the hindrances to lasting recovery and can remove them, *then truly he understands how to build up his work on an adequate basis of reason, and he is a rational practitioner of the healing art.
What must a physician know before he can successfully practice medicine? (*Answer : What is curable by medicine and what is curative in drugs.)
How can he learn what is curative in drugs?
Compare the value of homoeopathy in chronic and acute work.
How does the homoeopathic physician regard seemingly confusing symptoms?
In what relationship does homoeopathy consider the sickness of local parts?
What does homoeopathy not give more weight to the experimentation upon the lower animals?
Why do we feel that the knowledge of drugs and their reaction, assembled and recorded by homeopathy, is truly scientific?
What is the larger definition of homoeopathy? (*Answer: A system of medicine based upon natural laws.)
How does homoeopathy regard gross physical pathology?
What did Hahnemann mean by ” removing all obstacles to cure “?
How does disease manifest itself?
How much can we ever learn of disease?
How do we treat emergencies, such as poisoning, asphyxia, etc.?
What do we mean by natural disease? By artificial disease.