TEMPERAMENTS by H.A. Roberts
When a remedy is indicated, the symptomatology gives us a basis for our *simillimum regardless of colour or type and temperament….
***IN homoeopathic instruction there is frequent mention of temperaments; especially do we consider temperaments in case taking and in prescribing. Perhaps it is wise to give some consideration to a definition of temperaments, and just what weight this should have in taking the case and prescribing.
There are four classical temperaments: nervous, bilious, sanguinous, phlegmatic. There are many combinations of these types, usually with one basic type predominating. Sometimes we find people who are very difficult to classify under any type, being a combination of several basic types.
These temperaments are to a very large extent physiological, but besides the stature of the patient the matter of temperaments implies colouring, functional tendencies of circulation, elimination, respiration, and so on, and at the same time mental and emotional tendencies in reaction to environment and circumstance. The matter of temperaments is closely allied with the basic dyscrasias, which we have discussed at greater length. Our concern at this time is particularly in relation to the temperament as it has been considered an element in prescribing the homoeopathic remedy.
It has been said that the temperaments are cast in the very beginning of the new individual, when the parent cells first unite, and that once cast, there is no deviation from them; and that what is physiological cannot be influenced or changed by the action of our remedies. Both these statements are to a considerable degree true, but perhaps it would be more definitely true if we said that the initial tendency cannot be changed, but that the homoeopathically indicated remedy, prescribed accurately in babies and children, can so modify the physiological tendencies as to prevent their unfavourable ultimates, to a considerable degree.
The morbific influences that are attracted to temperamental tendencies are amenable to treatment and can be removed by the homoeopathic remedy; this in itself is greatly preventive of the dangers arising from temperamental weaknesses.
The homoeopathic prescription is often biased by the temperament to the extent that certain temperaments bring out certain symptom pictures much more readily than do other so-called temperaments. For instance, the phlegmatic type is essentially sluggish in reaction. We expect to find venous stasis a marked tendency of this temperament, the opposite of the sanguinous. The nervous temperament, as it implies, would indicate quick action, the high strung type. In the bilious we expect to find a tendency to liver disorders. Just so far as the temperaments as classified develop symptoms in their conventional lines may we depend upon them as guides in the selection of the remedy. If we look into the case further, in the light of the hereditary dyscrasias that tend toward certain development changes, we will see more clearly the indications for our remedies than if we merely look at surface groupings.
We often hear patients classified on snap judgments as a *Pulsatilla patient, a *Nux vomica patient, or perhaps a *Phosphorus patient, because of the general build and colouring associated with these remedies. Many mistakes have been made in prescribing on this so-called type method. Let us analyse the reasons we have for considering a phlegmatic blonde woman as a *Pulsatilla patient. Do we mean that this colouring always indicates *Pulsatilla? Do we mean that a woman of this type never requires *Nux vomica? If we do, we have based our conclusions on a half-truth. What we really mean is that the stout young woman with blue eyes, fair hair and pale skin has developed more, and more clearly cut, symptoms under the proving than people of other colouring or stature. On the other hand, the best provers of *Nux vomica were wiry dark men. This means that the natural physical makeup of certain people predisposing them to certain reactions under certain circumstances makes them particularly susceptible to certain disease influences, whether these disease influences are natural (created by themselves or their environment) or artificial (created by homoeopathic provings). In other words, the temperament as cast in the beginning of their existence predisposes to certain morbific reactions, and, if not controlled, they will develop these reactions under certain circumstances.
On the other hand, we have not attempted the stupendous task to so classify the various elements that influence people to ascertain how people of any general type might react to any given set of circumstances that we could with assurance say that certain temperaments would develop certain symptoms. It is far simpler and easier to learn the value of the homoeopathic remedy by a close study of its symptom complex, that we may recognize them in an ailing patient, and there manifest the action of the remedy as the *simillimum.
When an individual becomes a patient, he manifests symptoms as a reaction of his inner and outer conditions and circumstances that show his susceptibility in an entirely different way than when he is in a state of equilibrium. Whereas in a state of perfect health, and therefore perfect equilibrium, he might not react at all to the introduction of a remedy, and therefore produce no symptoms, in a state of disturbed equilibrium or sickness he may develop a heightened susceptibility to the very remedy he passed by indifferently when his condition was not susceptible to its action.
Thus we may note the action of several of our frequently indicated remedies in the provings. *Belladonna has shown marked reaction in the florid, phlegmatic temperament; *Phosphorus developed many symptoms in the nervous-bilious temperament; *Baryta reacts most effectively in the dwarfed, stunted or back- ward individual; *Nux vomica brought out the most symptoms in the nervous temperament. Certain types manifested peculiar susceptibility to certain remedies.
As the equilibrium deviates from normal it becomes more and more susceptible; the least possible has an overwhelming influence in states of disturbed balance, and therefore the remedy indicated by the conditions of disturbed balance is the one that will most quickly restore the equilibrium, regardless of the temperament.
Various remedies have brought out differing provings in different temperaments, but the recorded symptoms are useful in any temperament. Thus in the spare, narrow-chested individual the provings of *Phosphorus produced a tubercular syndrome, while provings of the same remedy on the rotund, florid individual developed many vascular symptoms. Yet *Phosphorus acts on all types of people, and will cure in all symptom likenesses regard- less of temperamental indications. What is true of *Phosphorus is true of every remedy in our materia medica.
It is true that the spare, narrow-chested individual that we call the *Phosphorus type may develop *Phosphorus symptoms more readily than a different physical stature; but the development of symptoms according to physical makeup does not run to any proven ratio of dependability.
The indications of colouring are often considered as symptomatic. The *Pulsatilla blonde, of whom we hear so much, is far from always requiring that remedy. The *Nux vomica man is not always dark; for the dark man may require *Pulsatilla and the *Nux vomica woman is often with us. Far more valuable than the indications of colouring or even of stature are those indications of disposition and general symptomatology, especially the modalities; these are the true indications for our prescription. The faintness and aggravation from a close room, the amelioration from fresh open air, are far more indicative of the *Pulsatilla patient than the blue eyes and fair skin. If we can add to these the tendency to weep and the aggravation on consolation, we may think of *Pulsatilla with some assurance, be the patient man or woman, black or white! As an illustration, a case of hay fever carefully repertorized left the balance divided equally between *Pulsatilla and *Nux vomica. The woman, red-haired, tall, vigorous, seemed to fall into neither class with any assurance on the part of the physician, so indefinite were the modalities that we expect to mark the two so clearly. Upon inquiry, however, the question of reaction to tears or anger elicited the fact that she never wept until she become thoroughly angry; but she smouldered for some time before she got to that state. The *Nux vomica side of the balance had the necessary additional weight, and that remedy was prescribed with remarkable success.
When a remedy is indicated, the symptomatology gives us a basis for our *simillimum regardless of colour or type. Thus we may find a so-called woman’s remedy, such as Sepia, distinctly indicated in a man. Some of our older teachers instructed that when a remedy was indicated out of its normal type (that is, out of the type that made the best provers of it) it was a double indication that it was needed in that particular case.
When *Pulsatilla will develop blonde hair, or Nux vomica provings change the colour of the hair, the eyes, or the skin, to the true brunette type, then we may say with truth that the wiry brunette is a *Nux vomica patient, or the blonde-haired lady is a *Pulsatilla patient and judge them correctly at first glance.
Prescribing on types, or temperaments, is at best a slack method of using the blessings of homoeopathy. It is really keynote prescribing, and then not on any morbific symptoms, but on a general stature that is present from birth. Keynotes may often give us a clue to the indicated remedy, but this clue must not be allowed to overbalance our judgment in weighing the whole symptom picture.
The only real evidence of disease conditions is the deviation from normal–the perversions of function as manifest in mind, body and spirit–the sum total of which provides us with a sound basis for prescription. The basis, then, in all of our procedure, is to find the totality of the morbific symptoms. If we find this, we can meet it through the *Law of Similars with the single indicated potentized remedy. Then we will have cleared the patient of the morbific conditions, and will leave the personality and temperament intact and even guided into a state of healthier attractions, less liable to invasion by morbific influences.