THOUGHTS ON HEALTH AND TREATMENT


The Greeks possessed these two faculties, the analytic and the synthetic, in an unusually happy combination to a very high degree. Hence their unsurpassed achievements. “A true physician must walk over the leaves of the book of Nature!”.


[I am afraid the eminent countryman of the celebrated Dr. Axel Munthe has far too high an opinion of me. – EDITOR, “HEAL THYSELF”].

THE most interesting times in history are undoubtedly the great transition periods when humanity takes stock of its mental, moral and physical assets, reconsiders the principles upon which it has built its life and lays the foundation for new developments. The time of the great philosophers of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. will perhaps for ever remain unsurpassed as the ideal example of such a period.

Though two thousand four hundred years have elapsed since the golden age of Greece, almost every branch of science still recognizes the great thinkers of those days as its pioneers. Their main characteristics seem to have been an extraordinary freedom from tradition combined with an unsurpassed analytic and synthetic faculty.

By the former, the various phenomena in the melee of events we call “life” were sifted out and kept apart form each other in order to be thoroughly scrutinized, classified, and re-combined by the synthetic faculty into new constructions of thoughts and ideas in which humanity could arrange for itself a new home, and from where it could launch upon new adventures.

The Greeks possessed these two faculties, the analytic and the synthetic, in an unusually happy combination to a very high degree. Hence their unsurpassed achievements.

The centuries that followed seem like a desert. Humanity slipped back from the Olympian heights of the fifth, fourth, and third centuries B.C. into the morass of muddled thinking, characterized by a hopeless inability to find the way through the bogs of old traditions, obviously in a constant state of putrescent decay.

This state of affairs lasted for nearly two thousand years. With the sixteenth century came the dawn of a new era inaugurated by men of genius in almost all branches of life who combined with a remarkable freedom from tradition a high degree of analytic and synthetic powers.

It was now that Paracelsus started his campaign against the school-medicine of his time which had remained stagnant for over one thousand six hundred years. He went roaming about over a great part of Europe to learn all that he could. “In so doing,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “he was one of the first physicians of modern times to profit by a mode of study which is now reckoned indispensable. The book of Nature, he affirmed, is that which the physician must read, and to do so he must walk over the leaves.”.

“Whence have I all my secrets-out of what writers and authors?” he exclaims. “Ask rather how the beasts have learned their arts. If Nature can instruct irrational animals, can it not much more men?”.

In 1526, he was appointed town physician, and shortly afterwards Professor of Medicine in the University of Basel.

“Unfortunately for him,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “the lectures broke away from traditions. They were in German, not in Latin; they were expositions of his own experience, of his own views, of his own methods of curing, adapted to the diseases that afflicted the Germans in the year 1527, and they were not commentaries on the text of Galen or Avicenna.

They attacked, not only these great authorities, but the German graduates who followed them and disputed about them in 1527. They criticized in no measured terms the current medicine of the time, and exposed the practical ignorance, the pomposity, and the greed of those who practised it. The truth of Paracelsus doctrines was apparently confirmed by his success in curing or mitigating diseases for which the regular physicians could do nothing.”

Paracelsus was a forerunner. He started a campaign which had gone on, gradually gathering momentum ever since. His greatest epigon was his compatriot, the famous Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann, born the 10th of April 1755 in Meissen and died in Paris the 2nd of July 1843.

A medical iconoclast like Paracelsus he far surpassed him as a physician. What Paracelsus aimed at but never was able to attain Hahnemann accomplished. Since the days of Hippocrates the world had not seen a greater healer. For all times he laid the only foundation upon which a real art of healing could be built.

Nearly a hundred years have elapsed since Hahnemann died. Like a mental wedge, driven with irresistible force, his methods and views have gradually penetrated the walls of the orthodox medical fortress, forcing the defenders to retire from one position to another, until at present their innermost stronghold seems on the verge of collapse.

Are Waerland