DISEASES OF THE BONES
NOT least among the baneful effects of specialism is the artificial separation of cases into medical and surgical. There is no use crying out against specialism: the enormous development of special departments renders specialism a necessity; but at any rate we may be on our guard against its dangers. There is no hard and fast line to be drawn between medical and surgical cases: most surgical cases are medical to start with. This is particularly true of cases of disease of bones. By common consent diseases of the bones are classed as surgical. This I maintain is a very grave error. In many cases diseases of the bones are perfectly amenable to medical treatment, and only when medicine fails should surgery be allowed to step in. Not long ago I dealt with this subject in an editorial article in the Homoeopathic World (Mar. 1, 1894), entitled “Healing up” versus “Cure,” from which I may quote the following passage:-
There is all the difference in the world between these two ideas, curing a patient constitutionally and making a part heal up quickly.
A true homoeopathic cure of a patient leaves the patient for ever free from his disease; the removal of carious bone by operation, and the consequent healing up of the part, may take only a few weeks, but the “patient” is not by any means cured: he is for ever liable to a renewed outbreak. We have seen patients kept under treatment for years with frequently recurring bone abscesses; and by persistent homoeopathic treatment the patient has been completely relieved of his tendency to the disorder, and has recovered with the perfect use of the limbs affected, and his constitution thoroughly renovated. This requires years of treatment, it is true; but it ends in cure and not in mere “healing up,” which is the thing allopaths aim at. We are not saying that operation is never demanded: the circumstances in every case must decide: but the first thing to be considered is the patient, and not the diseased limb.
One reason why homoeopathy makes no more progress in this country than it does, is the difficulty men have, in the present advanced state of the physical and, so to say, materialistic sciences, of p73 apprehending Hahnemann’s point of view. We constantly talk about “mind,” vitality,” “the organism,” but we are at great pains to explain whenever we do so that we really do not mean anything by the terms. “Mind” is the mere excretion of individual brain cells; “vitality,” “the organism,” are phrases to represent the sum total of the activities of all the cells of the body.
Modern science has excluded the “soul” or the “vital force” from our confessed philosophic creed, although in our common speech it is perpetually cropping up. It was amusing to find in Dr. Burdon Sanderson’s Presidential Address at the 1893 meeting of the British Association the “living soul” re-asserting itself in that very centre of science under the name of “specific energy” which interfered with all calculations. “Heidenhain has proved,” said Dr. Sanderson, “that the process of lymphatic absorption, which before we regarded as dependent on purely mechanical causes, is in great measure due to the specific energy of cells, and that in various processes of secretion the principal part is not, as we were inclined not many years ago to believe, attributable to liquid diffusion, but to the same agency.”
Commenting on this passage, The Times had some very caustic remarks, reflecting on the philosophical acumen of physiologists in that it was possible for them so recently to hold such narrow and inadequate views of living things.