The Language of Disease (1931)


All too often the homeopath expects to be guided chiefly by the subjective, almost entirely neglecting the objective signs. All great prescribers are intuitively close observers of the sign language of disease. …


From the A. F. of H. Post-Graduate School, 1931. 96 SYMPTOMS

The language of disease, like any other, must be learned. Through many thousands of years medicine has been trying to understand disease by its own methods, taking little note of the language in which disease expresses itself. The distressed vital force uses the oldest and most universal language in the world, the sign language. Next in importance for expression, is the symptom language. All the signs of disease expressed externally we find by observation of the so-called objective symptoms. Disease expresses itself also subjectively, the so-called subjective, symptoms, which must be obtained from the patient. This is often very difficult.

All too often the homeopath expects to be guided chiefly by the subjective, almost entirely neglecting the objective signs. All great prescribers are intuitively close observers of the sign language of disease. These two dialects, as it were, of disease, are the ones on whom we depend for our symptom picture of morbid action. As patients present themselves it is the first duty of the physician to observe them closely, noting the facial expression, manner, mode of action, habits, and all external manifestations. This often gives the key to the whole case without asking a single question. One comes in with a slouchy gait, he is unkempt, his remedy is, apt to be Sulphur. Another is all primped up, a dude, his hair combed just so, he, likely, is an Arsenicum patient.

The mild, gentle patient, well mannered, often weeping on telling his troubles is frequently the Pulsatilla type. Note the patient’s actions, manner of speech, slow, rapid, evasive, measured terms, nervous, or what not. All these we must lean to observe and note down as beginners. Later, as experience is acquired, it becomes automatic and it is no longer necessary to record every little observation. The lively, nervous patient, especially if a women, if often Phosphorus. The variable patient, showing all kinds of contradictions suggests Ignatia; the loquacious, Lachesis. The loquacity of senile degeneration does, however, not usually need this remedy, and so on through the whole chapter.

If the physician can get at the patient’s mode of thinking, his involuntary ideas, he can build up a picture of his mental process. This is often difficult. The psychoanalyst takes hours and weeks to do it, the physician rarely has so much time at his disposal. To uncover these subconscious mental trends ask if the patient dreams much and the nature of his dreams, of business, excitement, fire, emotional or erotic things, etc.; what he thinks about in his quiet moments, when his mind is unoccupied, drifting thoughts as they are sometimes called. Some drift momentarily, from one thing to another, with no definite ideas. Are the thought processes slow or rapid? The strength of mind is a great factor.

These symptom pictures can usually be put into two categories, states of exaltation or excitement, and states of depression. All disease pictures one or the other and it is quite important to make up your mind to which class the patient belongs. All remedies are primarily either depressive or exaltative in nature. One rarely thinks of Aconite in a depressive state except, perhaps, in acute collapse, or of Phosphoric acid in a state of excitement. The division of all remedies into these two broad classes is of immeasurable help in prescribing.

It now behoves us to examine the rest of the patient’s body. Often I have done all the above only to discover on close examination of the body something to upset my whole conclusion, an immense wart, a tendency to discoloration, etc., etc. Such observations often put an entirely new interpretation on the symptom picture obtained up to this point.

Again, the conclusion may be radically changed by finding that he had an operation years before, since which he has never been well. This may mean that the symptoms are reflex and may give us still another point of view. Recently a young man came to me, as nearly hysterical as a man can be, with exalted, hysterical ideas. The symptom picture came after an operation. The irritation from the operation excited an unstable nervous system and brought to the surface an hysterical condition latent in the system before the operation. ln other words the operation was the exciting cause of the presented condition. An exciting cause uncovers the underlying strata, often lying dormant for years, and is an important part of the symptom picture. A fall downstairs, an automobile accident, great grief may bring to the surface this basic strata. One can not unravel such a complicated case without taking into consideration all exciting causes and what they ultimately reveal.

C.M. Boger
Cyrus Maxwell Boger 5/ 13/ 1861 "“ 9/ 2/ 1935
Born in Western Pennsylvania, he graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and subsequently Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia. He moved to Parkersburg, W. Va., in 1888, practicing there, but also consulting worldwide. He gave lectures at the Pulte Medical College in Cincinnati and taught philosophy, materia medica, and repertory at the American Foundation for Homoeopathy Postgraduate School. Boger brought BÅ“nninghausen's Characteristics and Repertory into the English Language in 1905. His publications include :
Boenninghausen's Characteristics and Repertory
Boenninghausen's Antipsorics
Boger's Diphtheria, (The Homoeopathic Therapeutics of)
A Synoptic Key of the Materia Medica, 1915
General Analysis with Card Index, 1931
Samarskite-A Proving
The Times Which Characterize the Appearance and Aggravation of the Symptoms and their Remedies