MISTAKES MADE IN HOMOEOPATHIC TREATMENT


The study of homeopathy exacts of the neophyte a definite effort ; for he must lay aside prejudices acquired during his university studies. But the method of considering any given case proves to be so different from that which he has hitherto known, that he soon sees the importance of this new method.


(First article).

“HOMOEOPATHIC PHYSICIAN”- what meaning should this title convey ? The physician who to the complete equipment of his university studies in medicine and surgery, adds also a thorough acquaintance with homoeopathy and puts its principle into practice, only he has the right to the title “homoeopathic physician”. He will have made himself especially familiar with the work of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homoeopathy, with the Materia Medica, with repertories, and the laws relative to administration of remedies to the sick.

The study of homoeopathy exacts of the neophyte a definite effort ; for he must lay aside prejudices acquired during his university studies. But the method of considering any given case proves to be so different from that which he has hitherto known, that he soon sees the importance of this new method. Now he sees in the “case” who come to consults him, not merely diseases which he must diagnose, but individuals sick, for whom he must find the similar remedy for each, individually.

Also, he must avoid routine ; he may not remember other cases resembling this one, which he has already treated ; he must isolate the distinctive difference in the sick person whom he now consider, must find out his peculiarities, his individual characteristic.

This is a theory essentially and indispensably homoeopathic. Among the tangle of symptoms resulting from his examination, he must distinguish with care those which pertain to the sick one himself, as a thinking and suffering human being, because of which he is burdened with illness, from those others which concern only a portion of his physical organism- a single organ, or group of organs.

The practical results is fully inherent in this great secret on nature, discovered by Samuel Hahnemann : To determine the symptoms representative of the Individual himself who is ill ; and not make the blunder of noting alarming who symptoms to any organ which is the point of least resistance where the illness finds for itself an exit, through which it utters its cry of pain.

A true homoeopath finds his task to consist first in establishing a therapeutic diagnosis according to the fundamental laws of homoeopathy discovered by Hahnemann and developed by Lippe, Hering, Allen, Kent, Nash and so many others.

This it is which makes homoeopathy a method not to be surpassed, this “therapeutic diagnosis”, I may call it, or “homoeopathic diagnosis”, which leads to the remedy immediately without waiting for a “morbid diagnosis”; which treats a patient without having to determine his exact sickness ! Observe that I say “exact sickness”, for such general terms as hysteria, nervousness, rheumatism, dyscrasic or cryptogenic state, idiopathic, and what not-these do not deserve the noble term “diagnosis”. This fine and learned terminology readily covers the ignorance of the doctor giving treatment, an ignorance not as to his science, but as to the case he deals with- a very different matter.

The word “diagnosis” alone, connotes a pathological diagnosis, with a verdict of morbidity. It is time to show to those who have not yet learned the fact, that there is a far more practical diagnosis : that is, one indicating from the very outset the necessary remedy. This is what Adolf Lippe meant when he said, “Here is a person of the phosphorus type ; here, one of the arsenic type ; here of Pulsatilla.” And he uses the terms consecrated to these meanings by Hahnemann in the Organon, 1811.

Kent also tells in his Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy, of a patient who asked him : “Doctor, what is the matter with me ?” and he replied : “Why, you have Nux vomica,” that being his remedy. Whereupon the old man said : “Well, I did think I had some wonderful disease or other!” That is therapeutic, a homoeopathic diagnosis.

I do not enlarge further upon the point ; such diagnosis is clearly the first duty of the homoeopathic physician. Frequently it leads to a prompt, mild and permanent improvement, to a cure of the patient.

But we are not at the end of our task ; we face two other heavy responsibilities ; one of these concerns the patient, and the other, the future of medical science. Upon us rest both of these responsibilities.

As to the patient-our task is not only to relieve, but to CURE. Now, a true cure rests not solely on a disappearance of existing symptoms, but equally on advice given the patient, that he need not again fall into such a state. Such counsels, of hygiene, of directing work and time, of morale, of reading, of the whole attitude, and control of life-these also presuppose a diagnosis. And here, at this point, the disease diagnosis becomes not only serviceable but indispensable to the doctor. (See Kent, Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy, 1919, page 143).

The whole idea of diagnosis, in relation to the task of the physician, is it not just the discovery of that famous “causa occasionalis” of which Hahnemann wrote in such details ? (See Organon, Sections 7, 73, 77, 150.) The homoeopathic doctor must not simply prescribe pills or drops, but he must be a minister of nature, a “naturist” in addition to a symptoms, to give them a purpose is, interpretative analysis, covering their last detail, a complete symptomatological examination.

There are homoeopaths, alas ! who do not sufficiently examine even their patients, and who thus bring discredit upon the name, and value of the art of medicine called homoeopathic. That certain clever men may omit such a procedure in examination as we have described, and still by a judicious interpretation of symptoms, cure their patient, is of course possible; but certainly such is not a method which could be generalized. Perhaps a few instances may clarify this thought yet further.

1. A young man of eighteen years of age sought consultation regarding frequent attacks of throat angina, which settled as often on the right side as on the left, and followed almost regularly exposure to cold. Painting with various applications and frequent cauterizations and pulverizations in no way affected his condition and he asked my advice.

The symptoms, as he gave them to me, pointed explicitly to Tuberculinum or Sulphur. yet I gave neither of these remedies, because after further questioning I found that he wore thin low shoes and silk stockings, and that he took cold especially after dancing, or when his feet were cold. Accepting some simple hygienic advice, he wore thicker socks, shoes with rubber soles and gaiters in winter and he had no more throat attacks.

I acknowledge that possibly the remedy, had I given it, would have removed his tendency to throat affections, but it seemed to me wiser to show him the mistake he was making, and to correct his condition by simple hygienic measures. The therapeutic diagnosis was Tuberculinum; the morbid diagnosis was angina from exposure to cold; the prescription was hygienic advice. Result : a cure.

2. A young woman in domestic service, aged twenty, came to consult me regarding rheumatism in the legs. She had been treated allopathically for three months, but the salicylates given were making her deaf and producing giddiness. She found herself increasingly weak, walking with difficulty, had vague pains and great weakness in the calves of her legs.

Questioning led to a clear indication of Lycopodium, but I did not give that until I had completed the full examination. On reaching the throat I found a curious condition of the pharynx : it looked as if painted with a yellow orange varnish ! Taking a culture I found a large number of Klebs-Loffler bacilli, of the short type.

Evidently there was here paralytic trouble, sequels of a diphtheria, which had been overlooked apart from a dryness of the throat, the sick girl had not local symptoms. This diagnosis enabled me to take the measures necessary in this disease.

Naturally, I made no serum, but for reasons which I need not detail here, I gave one dose of Lycopodium 200, without observing any result in the following fortnight. The throat remained the same; weakness was still there; no improvement was perceptible. Such total failure of reaction to the indicated remedy led me to give her a dose of Diphtherinum 200, to which the condition responded very well.

In Allens Nosodes (1918, page 40) we read with regard to this remedy:.

Painless diphtheria. Symptoms almost entirely objective patient too weak to complain. Patient apathetic. Prostration. Highly susceptible to diphtheritic virus. Post-diphtheritic paralysis. Remedy suitable when the most carefully selected remedy fails to relieve or permanently improve.

The girls throat promptly cleared up and resumed its normal aspect; and at the end of a fortnight, another examination showed not a single bacillus. As the weakness remained, I gave another dose of Lycopodium, of which the effect was surprising the patient got up, began to walk and in ten days was able to return to her work.

Wound psorinum or Tuberculinum have had an equally good effect ? How could one determine the suitable Nosode in a case which does not react, save only by making a most carefully disease diagnosis?.

3. A young man was treated by a homoeopath for a swelling of glands under the jaw. The homoeopathic treatment was changed frequently during several months, but without result. The doctor examined the mans neck each time. Then the patient consulted another physician who found no remarkable signs in his face, head neck and chest, but on examining the spinal column, he found evidence of Potts Disease.

The swelling was only a cold abscess arising from the third cervical vertebra. It was a tuberculosis of the bones of the spine, causing a suppuration which, descending, produced a swelling below the jaw. The patient was given hygienic advice, rest, mountain air, diet in accordance with the diagnosis, and medicine based on the diagnosis which cured.

4. A patient, fifty-five years of age, was subject to cold in the head, was nervous, and had suffered for six months from sudden attacks of suffocation. He had been treated by various allopathic physicians with numerous anti-spasmodic and vagotonic medicines with no benefit and had deteriorated still further.

The patient walked with his head bowed, often belched aloud, spat continually and was afraid to swallow his saliva. Eating was a veritable tragedy for him, for he remembered that his first attack occurred while eating. He refused to take any liquid food, as this upset him more than solids. Finally he gave up his doctors, for they had told him that he was nervous, that he must pull himself together and that he should disregard his attacks. A first examination revealed nothing obviously abnormal.

For a time psychotherapy seemed to alleviate his fears. But neither Mephitis, Ignatia nor Lachesis could stop the attacks which, though less frequent, still occurred too often. After taking cold, laryngitis set in, causing a husky voice. The indicated remedies had no effect. According to all homoeopathic principles, the case was incurable. Examination of the larynx showed a paralysis of the right vocal cord and careful examination revealed a thyroid tumour, very hard, and as large as a tangerine, on the right side.

This caused the constriction of an important nerve. His loss of weight, age, complexion, and various symptoms pointed to the fact that this was a case of thyroid cancer, not a mere laryngitis. Unfortunately the patient found homoeopathy too slow, and returned to an allopathic physician. He applied radium needless which reduced the tumour which caused ulceration, and within eight days the patient died under terrible sufferings.

It is clear that the physician must know quite as well WHAT he is treating as WHOM HE IS TREATING. What can be said of those doctors who, not comprehending the case, called it “nerves” and advised the sufferer to pull himself together ?.

5. A young man of twenty had been treated for two years by a homoeopath with Aurum, Calcarea, Ignatia, Pulsatilla, etc. He was highly nervous and had frequent attacks of giddiness while working. He became so distressed and depressed as to weep hot tears. He worked in a bank, but his condition forbade his remaining there any longer.

The remedies hitherto prescribed had been given for mental symptoms, symptoms chosen somewhat at random, without regard to their due significance. A complete examination showed that Natrum sulphuricum was the indicated remedy.

A thorough examination revealed an advanced leukaemia with probable tuberculosis of the bone marrow. A homoeopathic prescription, an immediate sojourn to the mountains and a suitable diet, transformed this young man in a few months. It was a careful diagnosis, therapeutic and nosologic, which enabled the physician to cure this youth.

6. A Boston physician told me of being called by a homoeopathic colleague to see a young man who had fallen backward upon a fence and suffered excruciating pains in the rectum. The pain had been somewhat relieved by doses of Arnica administered by a homoeopathic doctor. The patient had the sensation as if there was a splinter in the rectum.

This symptom suggested to the doctor Nitric acid, then Hepar sulph, and then Silica. But the young man still suffered. After a few days of continued pain, the family insisted upon a consultation. The second homoeopathic doctor made an examination of the “site of pain”, and found a splinter deeply embedded in the rectum. The extraction of this splinter and a careful diet for a few days, restored the patient.

Here was an accident, not a sickness. Hence the physician should immediately make a pathological diagnosis and not prescribe disregarding a possible local cause. Had the mistake been made by a young practitioner, I should not comment upon it. But it occurred to a man who had been several years in general practice.

Pierre Schmidt
Pierre Schmidt M.D.(1894-1987)
Dr. Schmidt was introduced to the results of homeopathic treatment during the 1918 flu epidemic while living in London. There he met both J. H. Clarke and John Weir.
In 1922 he came to the United States and began his studies with Alonzo Austin and Frederica Gladwin, who had been a pupil of Kent's. He became the first graduate of the American Foundation for Homeopathy course for doctors. Returning to his native land he set up practice in Geneva, Switzerland. He was responsible for reintroducing classical homeopathy into Europe, teaching several generations of physicians, including Elizabeth Wright Hubbard.
Dr. Schmidt helped edit the "Final General Repertory" of Kent, and translated the Organon into French. In 1925, he was one of the main founders of the Liga Medicorum Homoeopathic Internationalis (LIGA).