Up to this time we have been studying principles that relate to the knowledge of Homoeopathy. At this point Hahnemann arrives at three important conclusions as to what we have been studying in application to practice. There are three steps to be surveyed:
1st. “By what means is the physician to arrive at the necessary information relative to a disease, in order to be able to undertake the cure?” Of course that relates to the disease in general, and the patient in particular. In going over the 3rd paragraph, we gathered together the means of studying an epidemic and each man in particular.
We shall now proceed to study disease in general and the patient in particular, from now on to the end of this course. All the rest of the study is of such a character. There are a great many questions that arise in this problem that must be studied in detail, the study of the nature of acute miasms and the study of the nature of chronic miasms; the study of such changes as show there are two distinct classes of sickness. Each one is to be studied in its most general way, and each person as a particular entity.
2d. “How is he to discover the morbific powers of medicines; that is to say, of the instruments destined to cure natural disease?” This constitutes a study of the Materia Medica and a knowledge of how it is built, which is by provings, by recorded facts.
3d. “What is the best mode of applying these morbific powers (medicines) in the cure of diseases?” This involves the study of all methods and settling upon that which is best.
To proceed in the study of these in a rational, scientific and careful manner is the object of the future study of this book. It leads from now on, from the science of Homoeopathy to the art of healing. We see that we have now gone over the principal part of that which is merely science, the science of Homoeopathy. We have none of the enormous classifications in the study of Homoeopathy that are resorted to in traditional medicine; they should not appear in the study of applied Homoeopathy.
The study of the classification of diseases as is done in traditional medicine is useful, because we come in contact with the world. As the Boards of Health require us to state what particular disease, according to classification, a patient died from, classified in accordance with old school nosology, we have therefore, to go into the study of diagnosis. In Homoeopathy, diagnosis cuts very little figure in the treatment; but all the ultimates in the case must be brought forward and described by name.
We want the use of adjectives, we want the use of large language, we want descriptive power, in order that the nature of the sickness, which is all that man can know about the disease, may be brought out on paper, and thereby caused to appear at any time thereafter to the mind of the physician. If the physician were simply to make a study of the disease, and after studying it were to give it a name and let that name constitute the record, no future prescription could be made. And the physician, thereafter, in referring to this record, would know nothing about its nature. The name conveys no idea of the nature of the sickness, only its place in a general classification. A knowledge of the nature of individual sickness is necessary for a prescription, and this depends upon the ascertainment of the details.
The very first of this study is to prove and realize that there are two classes of diseases, acute and chronic. The general classification of all diseases is made in this way; the acute are thrown into one group and studied as acute diseases, and so with the chronic.
An acute miasm is one that comes upon the economy, passes through its regular prodromal period, longer or shorter, has its period of progress and period of decline, and in which there is a tendency to recovery. A chronic miasm is one that has its period of prodrome, period of progress and no period of decline; it is continuous, never ending, except with the death of the patient.
The acute diseases need much less study than the chronic. They are all such as are contagious or infectious, such as have a miasmatic character and are capable of running a definite course. When man disorders his stomach and has an attack of vomiting, and from which he has no after trouble, he has suffered merely from an indisposition. Such conditions from external causes are not miasms.
Things that go through the mouth into the stomach and thereby produce sickness act either as rousers up of some old trouble or as mechanical causes of disturbance. The pure disease, on the other hand, whether acquired or inherited, are those that flow from the innermost to the outermost while making man sick. These causes that make man sick are influx of simple substance and they run a fixed distinct course. Each one has its own time of prodrome, its own period of progress, whereby the traditional school of medicine has fixed what it calls pathognomonic symptoms. It is well to know these symptoms, not for the purpose of naming merely, but for the purpose of association.