How not to do it

In this presentation of the common errors of those who are untrained in the fundamental doctrines when they attempt to practice homoeopathy, Dr. Tyler draws most vivid pictures of regrettable occurrences; but does not fail to point out how the clouds of regret may be prevented by successful work….


Dr. Kent, Dr. Gibson Miller, and others, can tell you, from long years of successful work and experience, how to do it. I feel that I am equally well qualified, from some years of poor prescribing and much failure, to tell you how not to do it.

I used to get brilliant flashes of light and joy-when I hit the drug-and that was just often enough to keep up the enthusiasm of an optimist like myself; but, take it all around, it was failure; and, because it may help some of you, I will try to tell you why.

Homoeopathy, as you and I know, would work, and did work. But I had not properly mastered it; my ideas were too crude, my methods too lawless and untrained, for it would work only fitfully for me. The power was there, right enough, for the illuminating fish testified to its presence; but I could not draw on it with confidence at all times, or make it work quietly and surely-as power will work for those who understand the forces they harness, and can recognize their laws and limitations, and the peculiarities of their manifestations.

In short, I had not learned my philosophy….to tell you the truth, I did not know that there was any philosophy to learn. And, without its philosophy, one may use homoeopathic medicines, even homoeopathically, but one is no homoeopath, and one will never get uniform nor satisfactory results. One will never even recognize the significance of the results one does get, not know how to deal with them.


Remember that the one thing that power exacts is obedience. Electricity is a great power; no man has doubted its existence; for the roar that has followed the flash since the dawn of time has proved too much for the stoutest skeptic. But, to utilize this power, man must court it in its own way obediently, guiding it through its own channels, conforming to its idiosyncrasies one by one, as he makes its better acquaintance and discover them. It is only by faithful obedience to the master-power that it may be bent to work for man, obediently, as his salve. So with homoeopathy. There are no rough-and-ready methods. A child can stroke a cat’s back and get sparks; but for a steady, useful current, it requires rigid conformance to all the known laws.

No great power works without definite laws and limitations; and with these we have to reckon, or fail.

And in homoeopathy, as in electricity, you have either something-or nothing! Both are giddily intangible-only to be recognized by results. And in both there are no half measures. All has to be in order with your method if the steady current of healing is to flow. A spark here and there-even devastating-is not business. It is convincing in its way, and may even hold a promise of better things if you can better your methods of dealing with it.


For a homoeopath, I suppose the often fatal first step is to label disease, and then to label drugs to match.

To ticket Rhus and Bryonia “rheumatic remedies”, and practically make your choice between them, and to fling it in the teeth of homoeopathy when they fail to cure a case that required Sulphur or Tuberculinum, or Tuberculinum, or-the dentist;

To regard Sulphur and Graphites as “skin medicines”, and utterly fail in the cases (and they are not few) that demand Pulsatilla;

To set Sepia aside as “a remedy for women’s complaints”, and scorn the person who dares to give it to babies. Whereas, if you are to work homoeopathy for all it is worth, you will have to cure individual cases.

Of tubercular dactylitis with Sepia, of all medicines!

Of goitre, even with a mass in the right lobe-not even left-with Sepia (I showed such cases recently to the British Homoeopathic Society);

Constipation with Rhus, or Variolinum (As did Dr. Burnett);

Or (as did one of our men recently) a nocturnal gastralgia accompanied by wasting with a single dose of Syphilinum

If you are to do it, and to do it often, you just have to led the disease alone and go for the patient. You have to say, not “this is a case of rheumatism, and I might try Rhus, because Rhus is a very good medicine for rheumatism”, but “this is a Sepia patient, and, whatever ails her, it is Sepia she needs, and no other medicine”. My goodness! if I had known that from the beginning.

And, for your own sake, don’t be too ready to say, “I tried homoeopathy for such a case, and it failed”. Remember, it was you who failed; and the very fact that you failed proves that, whether it was, it was not homoeopathy. The power was there all the time, only you failed to apply it. Say this to some one who knows, and he regards you pensively. You have merely betrayed your own limitations.


Now, the second fatal stumbling block is the cabalistic sign t.d.s.- ter die sumendum (which the knowing ones reserve for Placebo). I suppose that that has blighted more brilliant homoeopaths in the but then one can imagine.

And next to that, in its self-stultifying mischief, comes the atrocious formula, of those who fondly imagine that hey are doing high class homoeopathy indeed, “once weekly”. When I started on my career of failure and bad prescribing, I saw every one giving drugs t.d.s.-for chronic cases anyway; think of it! And, never having learned to prescribe, I fell headlong into the pit. In vain my mother protested-she had learned good homoeopathy in the early days of better work.

“It is quite wrong”, she said,” To give medicines like that, and for weeks at a time. It is not homoeopathy at all. Directly there is improvement, you must stop; and only repeat later, if the symptoms return unchanged”.

But t.d.s. was everywhere the rule, on which I proceeded to improve. For, knowing that potencies worked, I gave 30s and 200s thrice daily-or once or three times a week, as the spirit moved me; not divining that, if one must play the t.d.s. game, it is well to employ the drug in its highest state of im-potency- perhaps about the 3x, where you have not enough quantity for crude effects, or enough penetrating power for deep and lasting mischief. Men do get excellent results in some superficial cases in this way.

Worse than all, I led others into the same error, inducing them to try the high potencies. I was always thrown back on myself to wonder why, when I had made a good prescription, the patient, after a few day’s splendid betterment-“Why, I thought I was cured for the first three days”-relapsed and came back worse than ever, or with new tales woe, for which a new prescription went down- with like result.

Always better-and then worse, perhaps in a new way; but never, never, never cured!

Gentlemen, you can go on in this way for years, curing your patients till they die. They will forgive you the relapse each time for the good hope of the first three days. In fact, that will go down to your credit, and the rest to the credit of the disease. You can rind the changes with a regular sequence of amelioration; drug effect; new prescription-symptoms wiped out; new drug symptom; new drug to meet them-fresh amelioration; fresh mischief; and again another remedy of like symptoms which, like all its predecessors, ameliorations promptly, and then proceeds (if persisted in this idiotic way) to set up its own train of symptoms, for which you again drearily prescribe-while homoeopathy sinks lower and lower in your estimation, and the younger men wonder that you have lost all enthusiasm for its cause. Even in those days of little knowledge. I could often have done brilliant work had I used my mother’s words, and adjurned the patient: “Directly you are better you have to leave off your medicine, and never touch it again, unless you are really worse.”

I am afraid I spoiled several men’s work by inducing them to try the higher and highest potencies. I known that I am giving myself away badly, but perhaps that is necessary. For gentlemen, every evil that I have done in my ignorant flounderings after better things lives on in some corner of L.H.H., and I am always meeting my sins at odd moments and around unexpected corners-hinc illae lachrymae!

I have seen Calcarea carb. CM prescribed thrice daily to a month by a man who was, as he expressed it, “giving the high dilutions a trial”.

And my evil suggestions as to giving Tuberculinum weekly, while one gave, say, Silica 30 t.d.s. (Silica, that deep-acting drug of 40-60 days’ action!), are still haunting the place like evil spirits, to lay which it will take more of the holy waters of repentance and confession than I can manage this afternoon.


But it was not all imagination and daring experiment. I did try to work out my cases, believing that which by no means follows. I had the wrong drug-which by no means follows. I did try to work out cases, with hours and hours of labour-generally in vain! For I had never been trained.

Till our first scholars came back from America, no one had ever taught me how to recognize the few symptoms of inestimable value in the equation. No on had ever shown me how to eliminate drugs and minimize labour by starting with certain general symptoms well marked in the patient. I had no faintest ideas how to work economically as regards labour.

Margaret Lucy Tyler
Margaret Lucy Tyler, 1875 – 1943, was an English homeopath who was a student of James Tyler Kent. She qualified in medicine in 1903 at the age of 44 and served on the staff of the London Homeopathic Hospital until her death forty years later. Margaret Tyler became one of the most influential homeopaths of all time. Margaret Tyler wrote - How Not to Practice Homeopathy, Homeopathic Drug Pictures, Repertorising with Sir John Weir, Pointers to some Hayfever remedies, Pointers to Common Remedies.