Difficult and Incurable Cases—Palliation

In these difficult cases, when you have zigzagged the patient for a number of years, you will find his symptoms become more definite and striking and more clearly understood….

While Homoeopathy itself is a perfect science, its truth is only partially known. The truth itself relates to the Divine, the knowledge relates to man. It will require a long time before physicians become genuine masters in this truth. In Switzerland the children have been raised for centuries to the knowledge that it is necessary to make watches perfectly, they have been raised, as it were, in the watch factories.

Now, when Homoeopathy is hundreds of years old, and little ones grow up into the knowledge of it and observe and practise it, our successors will acquire knowledge that we do not possess now. Things will grow brighter as minds are brought together and men think harmoniously. The more we keep together the better, and the more we think as one the better. It is a pity that differences should arise among us when we have so perfect a truth to bind us together.

It is very rarely the case that among the provings of our remedies not one is to be found which corresponds to the characteristics features of a case. It was rarely so in Hahnemann’s day, and it is certainly very rarely the case with our voluminous Materia Medica. Beginners, of course, are obliged to rely very largely upon the repertories. This one thing you can depend upon, the image of the patient’s illness becomes more simple when you have done your best to prescribe one remedy after another.

In these difficult cases, when you have zigzagged the patient for a number of years, you will find his symptoms become more definite and striking and more clearly understood. Sometimes when I have worked patiently upon a patient for a long time, and I have given several remedies, and the patient has partially improved, she has become disappointed and run off to somebody else, but would come back again and say I had done more for her than anyone else and she would try again.

I have found in such instances that time has done much, and that I had little trouble then to grasp the case and make rapid progress. In addition to that, she comes back with a patient state of mind, which is more helpful to the physician than to her. The confidence of the patient helps the physician to find the right remedy. His mind works much better when he feels he is trusted; the confidence of the patient sharpens his intelligence.

Closely analogous to these cases are what may be called alternating complaints and one-sided complaints, those that show but one side. It is not uncommon for a patient’s malady to have two sides–one side being manifested when the other side is not. Eye symptoms may be present when the stomach symptoms are absent.

You may find that Euphrasia is more sharply related to the eye symptoms than the antipsoric that fits the whole case, and that Pulsatilla fits the stomach symptoms much better than the antipsoric that fits the whole case, but remember that there is one antipsoric that is more similar to the whole patient than these special remedies, because it is better fitted to the generals. The oftener you prescribe for different groups of symptoms the worse it is for your patient, because it tends to rivet the constitutional state upon the patient and to make him incurable.

Do not prescribe until you have found the remedy that is similar to the whole case, even although it is clear in your mind that one remedy may be more similar to one particular group of symptoms and another remedy to another group. Very often a remedy that will go to the very centre and restore order to the economy will cause quite a turmoil. These alternating and one- sided complaints are sometimes dreadful to manage, and when every thing is thrown to the surface or the extremities, e.g., when gouty and rheumatic symptoms have an outward tendency, the patient will run off and leave you.

Incurable complaints–and you meet many–will trouble any physician. The allopath has the means of putting the patients under the influence of strong drugs and making them imagine that something is being done to their benefit, whereas injury is being done whenever they are patched up by strong drugs. It is unaccountable, therefore, that some of our homoeopathic practitioners make use of palliatives that are so detrimental to the patient.

The physician who applies the single remedy in potentized form under the Law of Cure any length of time will easily be convinced that there is no other way of palliation that holds out any permanent hope for the patient. Opium will sometimes relieve pain, stop diarrhoea, and mitigate cough, but woe to the patient. It so annuls reaction that there is no possible development of the symptoms that are necessary to indicate what homoeopathic remedy the patient needs, and while the pain is stopped the patient is not cured.

What has been said of Opium is as true of all drugs given to relieve pain. When an opiate must be given, let it be clearly understood that a cure of this patient is abandoned. What thoughtful physician will abandon the hope of a cure during painful sicknesses so long as life endures. In consumption and cancer and wasting sickness the remedy that is most similar to the painful groups of symptoms will ever give the most relief and it is a forlorn hope that tempts its abandonment.

James Tyler Kent
James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) was an American physician. Prior to his involvement with homeopathy, Kent had practiced conventional medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He discovered and "converted" to homeopathy as a result of his wife's recovery from a serious ailment using homeopathic methods.
In 1881, Kent accepted a position as professor of anatomy at the Homeopathic College of Missouri, an institution with which he remained affiliated until 1888. In 1890, Kent moved to Pennsylvania to take a position as Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his magnum opus, Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica. Kent moved to Chicago in 1903, where he taught at Hahnemann Medical College.