The Unprejudiced Observer

Men cannot get rid of their prejudices until they settle upon and recognize authority. In Homoeopathy the law and its principles must be accepted as authority. To get rid of our prejudices is one of the first things we must do in the study of Homoeopathy….

Paragraph 6. The unprejudiced observer-well aware of the futility of transcendental speculations which can receive no confirmation from experience-be his powers of penetration ever so great, takes note of nothing in every individual disease, except the changes in the health of the body and of the mind which can be perceived externally by means of the senses; that is to say, he notices only the deviations from the former healthy state of the now diseased individual, which are felt by the patient himself, remarked by those around him and observed by the physician. All these perceptible signs represent the disease in its whole extent, that is, together they form the true and only conceivable portrait of the disease.

The teaching of this paragraph is that the symptoms represent to the intelligent physician all there is to be known of the nature of a sickness, that these symptoms represent the state of disorder, that sickness is only a change of state and that all the physician has to do is correct the disordered state. Hahnemann, it seems, would say that it is great folly for a man to look into the organs themselves for the purpose of establishing a theory to find out whether the stomach makes the man sick, or whether the stomach makes the liver sick and such like. We can only end in theory as long as we think that way. So long as we get the mind to thinking about a man’s organs and how these things are brought about we are in confusion, but not so when we meditate upon the symptoms of the sick man as fully representing the nature of the disease after these have been carefully written out.

Hahnemann starts out in this paragraph by speaking of “the unprejudiced observer.” It would almost seem impossible to find at the present time one who could be thus described. All men are prejudiced. Man is fixed in his politics, fixed in his religion, fixed in his ideas of medicine, and because of his prejudice he cannot reason. You need only to talk to him a moment on these subjects and he will begin to tell you what he thinks; he will give his opinion, as if that had anything to do with it. Men of the present day cannot recognize law, and hence they are prejudiced; but when men have authority on which they can rest, then they can get rid of their prejudices.

Suppose we have a large dictionary that we say is an authority on the spelling of words. If a club of one hundred and fifty men who bought that dictionary, and put it into a closet and say, “That is how we agree to spell,” that is a recognition by these men that the book is authority. There would be henceforth no argument on the question of spelling. But if there were no authority one man would spell one way and another man in another way; there would be no standard of spelling. Such is the state of medicine at the present day, there is no standard authority. One book is authority in one school, and in another school they have another book, and so there is confusion.

Men cannot get rid of their prejudices until they settle upon and recognize authority. In Homoeopathy the law and its principles must be accepted as authority. When we know these, it is easy to accept them as authority, but seeing they are not known there is no authority and everybody is prejudiced., Men often ask, Doctor, what are your theories as to Homoeopathy? What are your theories of medicine?” I have no theories. It is a thing that is settled from doctrine and principle, and I know nothing of theory. A woman came into my office this morning and said, “Doctor, I have always been treated by the old school, but the doctors were unable to decide whether the liver made my stomach sick or the stomach made the liver sick.” This is only confusion.

No organ can make the body sick; man is prior to his organ; parts of the body can be removed and yet man will exist. There is no such thing as one organ making another sick. When we realize that them course of things is from centre to circumference we must admit that the stomach was caused to be in disorder from the centre, and that the liver was caused to be in disorder from the centre, but not that they made each other sick. One who was has been taught such ideas cannot rid himself of them for a long time. It is matter of years to get out of these whims and notions which we have imbibed from our inheritance. We cannot rid ourselves of confusion until we learn what confusion is.

In this paragraph Hahnemann does not speak of changes of tissue or changes in the organs, but changes of state. Man could see and feel tissue changes, but these do not represent to the intelligent physician the nature of disease or disease cause, they only indicate that because of the disorder within certain results have followed. The unprejudiced observer can see that pathology does not represent the nature of the disease, because numerous so-called diseases can present the same pathology and the same phenomena.

The trouble is that there are so few unprejudiced observers. To get rid of our prejudices is one of the first things we must do in the study of Homoeopathy. Therefore let me beg of you, while sitting in this room, to lay aside all that you have heretofore imagined or presumed, the whims and notions, and “what I thought about it.” the things that you have learned from men and books, and only follow after law and principle, things that cannot deceive, cannot vary.

Even law will deceive if man is of prejudiced mind, because then he misreads the law and doctrine, and when things are called back they look to him white; every image is inverted in his prejudiced mind, because he realizes only with his senses, and sees with his eyes and feels with his fingers only the appearance of things, just as we say that the sun rises, judging from our eyes, although we know from our intelligence that it does not rise.

If we believe our senses only we will accept all the notions of men. If the senses were invariable men would agree, but they are variable and no two men will agree in everything, for just as men’s observations differ so different notions and theories will be established. We must try to get rid of the prejudices that we have been born with and educated into, so that we can examine the principles and doctrines of Homoeopathy and seek to verify them. If you cannot put aside your prejudices the principles will be folly to you. The unprejudiced observer is the only true scientist.

“He perceives in each individual affection nothing but changes of state.” The changes of state are such as are observed by the patient when he says he is forgetful, that his mind does not operate as it did, that he is often in a state of confusion, that when he attempts to deliver a sentence a part of it goes away from him, the idea passes away, or that he is becoming irritable, whereas he was pleasant, that he is becoming sad, whereas he was cheerful before, that there are changes in his affections, in his desires and aversions. These things relate to states: not to diseased tissues, but to a state of disorder or want of harmony. Dr. Fincke expresses it as ” a distunement.”

After the patient has related everything he can about his change of state, the physician may be aided by information from outsiders, from relatives who look upon the patient with goodwill, who wish him well. If the husband be sick it is well to get the wife’s testimony. After the physician has written down all the information in accordance with the directions of 85 for the taking of the case he then commences to observe as much as he can concerning the disorder, but more particularly those things which the patient would conceal, or cancel relate, or does not know. Many patients do not know that they are awkward, that they do peculiar and strange thing in the doctor’s office-things that they would not do in health, and these are evidences of change of state.

The physician also notes what he sees, notes odors, the sounds of organs, chest sounds, intensity of fever, by his hand or by a thermometer, etc., and when he has gone over this entire image, including everything that can represent the disease, he has secured all that is of real value to him.

What if there are changes in tissue present? There is nothing in the nature of diseased tissue to point to a remedy; it is only a result of disease. Suppose there is an abdominal tumor, or a tumor of the mammary gland, there is nothing in the fact that it is a tumor or in the aspect of the tumor that would lead you to the nature of the change of state. The things that you can see, i.e. the changes in the tissues, are of the least importance, but what you perceive in the patient himself, how he moves and acts, his functions and sensations, are manifestations of what is going on in the internal economy. A state of disorder represents its nature to man by signs and symptoms, and these are things to be prescribed upon.

Take a case which as yet has no pathological changes, no morbid anatomy, one that has only functional changes; the collection of signs and symptoms presents to the intelligent physician the nature of the state and he is clear as to the remedy. But if the patient does not receive that remedy, what will happen? The case will go on for a while, perhaps for two or three years, and when he returns to you on examination you will find that he has cavities in his lungs or an abscess in his liver, or albumin in the urine, etc.

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.