THE DISEASES OF THE LIVER By J. Compton Burnett, M.D.
THE interaction of the human organism with its environment has generally been recognized in every age according to the views current at the time, the relations of the microcosm to the macrocosm used to be a big chapter in medical doctrine.
That man acts upon his environment has been well demonstrated by the changes that have been wrought in physical nature in the United States, Canada and Australia since they have become in habited. The differences in the American, Canadian, and Australian shew clearly that nature reacts back on man who is moulded and formed by his climate. I am personally acquainted with a gentleman, now resident in London, who at twenty years of age left England for Eastern Europe, and there remained till he was thirty years of age when he returned to this country. When he went he had an abundance of light curly hair. On his return his hair was abundant and curly but nearly black, so that his own mother did not know him and his own brother who went on board the steamer by which this gentlemen returned and hunted for him amongst the passengers entirely failed to recognize him though he stood close by him for some time, he was looking for a light- haired man. After ten years further residence in England his hair had almost returned to its original light color.
When the spermatozoon and the ovule meet and marry their interaction comes to a complete organic union resulting in a new organism, thus of dual origin, and finding a suitable habitat in the womb sets up a connection with the mother. Here the maternal organism and the foetus interact with one another: the influence of the foetal organism upon the mother’s organism is very curious; her breasts grow, her back widens, her shoulders broaden, her gait alters. Yet not withstanding the dependence of the foetus upon the mother and the maternal changes upon the foetus the two lead independent lives and may even have certain diseases in dependently of one another.
In this way we come up to what we may conceive to be the nature of the physiological position of the various organs of the body to the organism itself; what the macrocosm is to the microcosm that the microcosm is to the separate organs.
Although the crasis of all the fluids of the body and the stroma of all its organs and parts must in the main be about the same, both physiologically and pathologically, still there is a certain individual life and equality being inherent in each organ and part and I surmise that there are many kinds of blood corpuscles.
For the present, confining ourselves to the organs only, we wish to enquire somewhat into the question of how and how far a given organ is to be considered therapeutically apart from the organism of which it forms a part and without which it has no existence.
This idea has swam more or less before my mind for many years, and I have given expression to it in several of my writings, particularly in my “Diseases of the Spleen” and in the second part of this work, and its importance in my daily clinical work increases with time.
The question of the independent existence of the organ, or rather of the existence of a something in each organ (and I believe in each region and part) deserves the most careful study and consideration because of its bearing upon treatment, and upon the question of the dose, viz: whether to use high, low or medium dilutions, and this quite apart from organotherapy.
On this peculiar something in each organ the Rademacherian practice of medicine is largely based but not withstanding its practical utility it has thus far not been scientifically elucidated so little indeed that but few regard it as of any particular importance; in fact, we may say that it has barely any recognized existence at all. And yet there it is, and for a number of years has been of so much help to me in my clinical work that I feel impelled to dwell upon the subject here a little more at large. Brown Sequard’s work in the later years of his life has physiologically taught us that there is in the very deed a real “self” in each organ and that such organ has a functional importance for its organism to whose entirety it belongs.