The Sick

Dr. Kent explores Aphorism one and the need to treat the sick person as a whole, and not reduce the disease to organs and tissues. The totality of the symptoms written out carefully is all that we know of the internal nature of sickness. Then the proper administration of the similar remedy will constitute the art of healing….

Homoeopathy asserts that there are principles, which govern the practice of medicine. It may be said that, up till the time of Hahnemann, no principles of medicine were recognized, as even at this day in the writings and actions of the Old Schools there is a complete acknowledgment that no principles exist. The Old School declares that the practice of medicine depends entirely upon experience, upon what can be found out by giving medicines to the abandonment of the same, fully attest the sincerity of their acknowledgments and declarations.

Homoeopathy leaves Allopathy at this point, and so in this manner the great division between the two schools is affected. That there are principles Homoeopathy affirms. The Old School denies the existence of principles and with apparent reason, looking at the matter from the standpoint of their practice and methods. They deal only with ultimates, they observe only results of disease, and either deny or have no knowledge of the real nature of man, what he is, where he came from, what his quality is in sickness or in health.

They say nothing about the man except in connection with his tissues; they characterize the changes in the tissues as the disease and all there is of the disease, its beginning and its end. In effect they proclaim disease to be something that exists without a cause. They accept nothing but what can be felt with the fingers and seen with the eyes or otherwise observed through the sense, aided by improved instruments. The finger is aided by the microscope to an elongated point, and the microscopic pathological results of disease are noted and considered to be the beginning and the ending, i.e. results without anything prior to them.

That is a summary of allopathic teaching as to the nature of sickness. But homoeopathy perceives that there is something prior to these results. Every science teaches, and every investigation of a scientific character proves that everything which exists does so because of something prior to it. Only in this way can we trace and effect in a series from beginning to en and back again from the end to the beginning. By this means we arrive at a state in which we do not assume, but in which we know.

The first paragraph of the Organon will be understood by an inexperienced observer to mean one thing and by a true and experienced homoeopath to mean another.

1. “The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure as it is termed.”

No controversy will arise from a superficial reading of this statement, and until Hahnemann’s hidden meaning of the word “sick” is fully brought to view, the physician of any school will assent. The idea that one person will entertain as to the meaning of the word “sick” will be different at times from that which another will entertain. So long as it remains a matter of opinion, there will be differences of opinion, therefore the homoeopath must abandon the mere expressions of opinion. Allopathy rests on individual opinion and allopaths say that the science of medicine is based on the consensus of opinion, but that is an unworthy and unstable foundation for the science of curing the sick.

It will never be possible to establish a rational system of therapeutics until we reason from facts as they are not as they sometimes appear. Facts as they appear are expressed in the opinions of men, but facts as they are, are facts and truths from which doctrines are evolved and formulated which will interpret or unlock the kingdoms of nature in the realm of sickness or health. Therefore, beware of the opinion of men in science. Hahnemann has given us principles which we can study and advance upon. It is law that governs the world and not matters of opinion of hypotheses. We must begin by having a respect for law, for we have no starting point unless we base our propositions on law. So long as we recognize men’s statements we are in a state of change, for men and hypotheses change. Let us acknowledge the authority.

The true homoeopath, when he speaks of the sick, knows who it is that is sick, whereas the allopath does not know. The latter thinks that the house which the man lives in, which is being torn down, expresses all there is of sickness; in other words, that the tissue changes (which are only the results of disease) are all that there is of the sick man. The homoeopath observes wonderful changes resulting from potentized medicine, and being compelled to reflect he sees that crude drugs cannot heal the sick and that what changes they do effect are not real but only apparent. Modern physiology has no vital doctrine in its teaching, and therefore no basis to work upon. The doctrine of the vital force is not admitted by the teachers of physiology and, therefore, the homoeopath sees that true physiology is not yet taught, for without the vital force, without simple substance, without the internal as well as the external, there can be no cause and no relation between cause and effect.

Now what is meant by “the sick?” It is a man that is sick and to be restored to health, not his body, not the issues. You will find many people who will say, “I am sick.” They will enumerate pages of symptoms, pages of suffering. They look sick. But they tell you, “I have been to the most eminent physicians. I have had my chest examined. I have been to the neurologist. I have been to the cardiac specialist and have had my heart examined. The eye specialist has examined my eyes. I have been to the gynaecologist and have had my uterus examined”, says the woman. “I have been physically examined from head to foot, and they tell me I am not sick, I have no disease.” Many a time have I heard this story after getting three or four pages of symptoms. What does it mean? It is true if that state progresses there will be evidences of disease, i.e., evidences which the pathologist may discover by his physical examination. But at present the patient is not sick, says the learned doctor. “But what do all these symptoms mean? I do not sleep at night. I have pains and aches. My bowels do not move.”

“Oh, well, you have constipation,” That is the first thing that has been diagnosed. But do all these things exist without a cause? It would seem from one opinion that the “constipation” is the disease per se, but from another opinion it would appear to be the cause of disease; the “diagnosis” is made to apply to one as much as to the other. But this is the character of vagaries so common to Old School whims. These symptoms are but the language of nature, talking out as it were, and showing as clearly as the daylight the internal nature of the sick man or woman.

If this state progresses the lungs break down. The doctor says, “Oh, now you have consumption,” or a great change appears in the liver, and he says, “Oh, now you have fatty degeneration of the liver;” or albumen appears in the urine, and he tells the patient, “Now I am able to name your disease. You have some one of the forms of Bright’s disease.” It is nonsense to say that prior to the localization of disease, the patient is not sick. Does it not seem clear that this patient has been sick, and very sick, even from childhood? Under traditional methods it is necessary that a diagnosis be made before the treatment can be settled, but in most cases the diagnosis cannot be made until the results of disease have rendered the patient incurable.

Again, take the nervous child. It has wild dreams, twitching, restless sleep, nervous excitement, hysterical manifestations, but if we examine all the organs of the body we will find nothing the matter with them. This sickness, however, which is present, if allowed to go on uncured, will in twenty or thirty years result in tissue change; the organs will become affected and then it will be said that the body is diseased; but the individual has been sick from the beginning. It is a question whether we will start out and consider the results of disease or begin at the beginning with the causes. If we have material ideas of disease we will have material ideas of the means of cure.

If we believe an organ is sick and alone constitutes the disease, we must feel that if we could remove the organ we would cure the patient. A man has a necrotic conditions of the hand; then if we believe that only the hand is sick we would think we had cured the patient by removing his hand. Say the hand is cancerous. According to this idea it is cancerous in itself and from itself, and seeing he would later die from the cancer of his hand we would conscientiously remove the hand and so cure the patient. For an eruption on the skin we would use local means to stimulate the functions of the skin and make it heal, and believing the eruption had no cause behind it we would conscientiously think we had cured the patient. But this is the reductio ad absurdum, for nothing exists without a cause. The organs are not the man. The man is prior to the organs. From first to last is the order of sickness as well as the order of cure. From man to his organs and not from organs to the man.

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.