As long as we depend too largely upon scattered facts our claim to be called scientific physicians cannot be said to be the best; on the other hand, science demands more than reason alone, which left to itself has slain hosts of human beings.
In so far as the ills of the flesh are many and the art of cure fallible, a natural law of cure is needed; one upon which we may rest the foundation of a systematic analysis, by which cures can be worked out. In so far as the law of similia harmonizes and dovetails with general science in a way that validates its position, even if there are many who fail to see it, it implies a naturalistic view of the functions of medicine; one that looks upon disease as a state rather than a thing although the latter may be an accompaniment; its application teaches discernment, as well as better prognosis; so that we need not measure the works of Homeopathy by allopathic standards.
While the chances for prescribing are many, the occasions therefor are fewer. Ordinarily sickness flies her signals plainly enough; but if they call for a diagnosis only, our sight is poor indeed and our therapeutic nihilism tends to destroy hope and spells out death.
Homeopathy, in common with the sciences is on the verge of a new day that is sweeping everything before it; one that demands exact knowledge and weapons of precision for we must realize that the time is here when the melting pot of performance will refine our product. The modern man doesn't care for your ideas and visions of what may help; to him, the man who knows so well how to diagnose and then cannot cure, is supremely ridiculous; professing a cant of the most offensive kind. How many men enter the sick room, make an exhaustive diagnosis and then helplessly prescribe upon the flimsiest of probabilities; only too often concocted from within their own brains. Such things have helped to elevate surgery and disparage therapeutics; more particularly because the former offers pure chances and less uncertainty than the latter.
In looking about for reasons why therapeutics rests upon so insecure a foundation, it soon becomes apparent that it has suffered more from the frailties inherent to theory than anything else. The dicta of professors and of a dead-house pathology have hung like a dead weight about its neck and paralysed every movement. But we will gradually come to see that sickness must be weighed solely by the evidence which it produces, regardless of all theories and idle speculations. This method is the only way that contains the germs of real curative procedure or can even compete with that physiological prescribing which palliates, but we know never cures.
While we should strive to know the meaning of symptoms, I hold that their ultimate origin lies well beyond our ken; but the more accurately we can photograph their every detail upon our mind's eye and match it correspondingly from the more surely will we cure. This involves much more than the mere statements of the patient, for he does not always speak, or the encyclopaedic knowledge of symptoms, for their connections are not always germane. It is these connecting links that govern our results and they should control our methods.
Unfortunately we still say that such medicines are good for this or that disease because a certain percentage of cases has been helped thereby. How could an argument be more onesided and lame. Just as though the personal equation upon which disease rests and from which it mainly derives its subsistence, were of no value at all. It is a specious reasoning that makes disease an entity with a vengence and bug hunting a vain-glorious pursuit.
Because casts of mind color ideas and warp our conclusions, reason strives to correct individual opinion to starting out from some fixed point, a premise, as it were. Applied to Homeopathic practice, this resolves itself into locating the part of the body in which distressed vital action is expressing itself; thus touching hands with diagnosis. After finding the seat of disease and collating the remedies which have a decidedly elective action within the affected area or regions, we have in hand a basis from which it various ramifications may be worked out. This is the first and the most fundamental step in a natural analysis and the one from which all others must proceed.
Exciting causes and modifying influences individualize sickness, as well as condition the remedies thereof. This entitles the modalities to the second place, for they not only apply to the location found, but, in one way or another also govern all of the symptoms. They are just as important as any regional effects possibly can be and help in many a differentiation.
If regions and conditions outline the forms of sickness, symptoms very generally picture the sensations thereof. Their language is largely ideographic and at times very clear, but also so elastic and variable as to leave much to interpretation. They may offer the greatest help or the most serious obstacles to the physician and should, for this reason, be assigned to the thirst place.
Proving cannot be said to be complete until we can designate the location of each symptom, define the manner of its existence, the modality and tell what kind of sensations it produces. This is the foundation upon which pathogenesy and its understanding must rest.
Hahnemann called attention to the bizarreness of symptoms, as being definitive, whether of direct or correlative origin. While in acute disease this differentiation is easier, in chronic ones our knowledge of the outcroppings of the miasms is more fragmentary, making it harder to separate common from individualistic manifestations.
The tendency to take seemingly, erratic effects as the sole guides for the selection of remedy, regardless of their relative position, is wrong. While it is reasonable to grade a given symptom by its strangeness when the connections harmonize with it, this is not always the case, nor do all odd clinical symptoms fall within the limits of our pathogenesy and vice versa.
The value of indications is determined by their natural setting, stripped of all extraneous and immaterial influences; a point that requires nice discrimination and much knowledge of what properly belongs to sickness, what is constitutional and what is negligible. Here it may not be amiss to point out that nature tries to attract our attention to the most important things by developing them last of all; putting them right under our noses, as it were. Amazing subtlety; always appealing to our inner senses, she never makes coarse demands. If we would understand her, we must find out her ways rather than stare at results; we must see more than fever, or weakness, or pain, and in doing so see how she has sickened and why she is unable to reassert herself. The problem is surely large enough, but what we gain by looking into microscopes and examining cadavers is pitifully small as compared with what she freely hands us through signs and symptoms. She doesn't cry in a loud voice and say, I want Aconite or Bryonia because I have fever or rheumatism; but she speaks in the particular language of Aconite or Bryonia asking for what she needs according to the signs of different remedies. In order to do better work it is needful to learn how to read these signs in our patients; to lay diagnosis restfully aside, with discretion perhaps, and look at our patients through the eyes of our remedies.
Woe unto the victims of the man whose orbs are therapeutically strabismic or cataractous; it were better had they fallen into the hands of an allopathic or surgical philistine. The amount of mischief of which such a man is capable passes all comprehension, and far outweighs the sins of the therapeutic pessimist, he knows just enough Homeopathy to spoil everything that touches and sufficient of allopathic practice to make a fool of himself.
We are accustomed to find symptoms in associated groups, and guided by their peculiarities search out the similimum for each; an interesting and instructive labour, in that a symptom of a rather common sort may by its relative position and bearings take on an extraordinary value. When this proves to be the case it belongs in the highest rank.
It is notable that most provers develop a few central effects, around which the other symptoms revolve in a greater or less degree. A collection of these constitutes the essentials of our materia medica, especially as they are thrown into various groupings by clinical application. The concordances are condensed cross-references of such associated groups.
While it is theoretically true that symptoms may appear in any combination, it is nevertheless a fact that in acute disease they occur in pretty well defined aggregations, with now-this then-that feature in the lead, according to predisposing, epidemic or other influences. The ruling feature of every case puts the stamp of some particular type, such as bilious, haemorrhagic, etc., upon it, and when we select remedies, which in their action and order of development conform to the presenting type, we sav that the genius of the drug corresponds to that of the disease.
Chronic ailments are less thoroughly known, therefore, their natural groupings are not as well defined. Many of their manifestations move in cycles, and unless we await one complete revolution only a partial picture will be obtained, and the treatment will be correspondingly palliative or entirely nugatory. This is especially true of diseases like gout, malaria, etc.
Similar symptoms appear under many remedies; in our repertories these are indexed into paragraphs as colorless collections of drugs, only distinguishable by their relative values. It is only occasionally that the remedies which constitute such a rubric may, by their general character, be highly suggestive but nothing more.
To mechanically assemble the remedies which run through all or most of the rubrics having the closest resemblance to the symptoms of the patient is a method much in use, but one that tends to obliterate the finer shades of expression on both sides, and after all, even with the aid of the mental symptoms, only approximates the choice. Much of Hahnemann's greatness lay in his faculty of expressing every symptom and process in its natural language.
Standing over and above every bodily symptom are the actions of the mind, which, although variously expressed, reflect much that cannot be seen elsewhere. To be understood and properly used, mental expressions should generally be translated into their qualifying equivalents, and only rarely reproduced in the exact words of the patient. The interdependence of mental and physical states is so great that we can never afford to overlook it entirely. They, moreover, always clarify every other symptom; often in a decisive way.
The manner and moods that patients display are of far greater value than any particular words that we may listen to. This we call personality; something quite apart. It is the objective halo with which the mind surrounds itself; the true tincture of its action and is deserving of our closest scrutiny. The mind that hides itself in the subtleties of speech is far removed from the one that almost invariably uses direct and positive language.
It is not an unusual thing to find indications for the same remedy running through whole families. This is not a strange thing when we remember that the same mental as well as physical influences are apt to be at work there, and that the inheritances are very likely to be of a kind. In acute diseases the divergence is greater, but as we approach constitutional predispositions and miasmatic effects, they converge.
The symptoms which belong to the patient are the all important ones and far outrank those of the disease. It should be the business of the prescriber to trace out the connection that exists between the two kinds, always keeping in mind their relative age and sequence; in no other way can we unravel what seems all a tangle at first sight.