Theoretically Homoeopathic physicians prescribe upon the totality of the symptoms; practically this ideal, if such it can be called, is rarely attained. A numerical totality is of little value in any case, a totality of quality is of real use. A totality which represents the patient has value, one which represents great difficulties to the prescriber.
Symptoms which express the disease alone are likely to denote a pathology beyond the reach of internal medication, so far as cure is concerned. Here palliation, by means of homoeopathic remedies is frequently in order, or again, surgery or other mechanical treatment is indicated. Such symptom-complexes often denote incurability under any therapy, since success in homoeopathic prescribing rests upon individualization, this fact should always be borne in mind by the physician, for no two cases are alike, the personal equation of the patient himself always dominates.
Provings concern themselves mostly with subjective symptomatology; objective changes or pathology produced by drugs often is of great value to the prescriber, who, however, must always remember that gross pathology is usually, though not invariably, beyond the power of the homoeopathically given remedy to change. Pathologic end-products belong to the surgeon as a rule.
The case which presents a few symptoms of some functional derangement, without any characteristic symptoms of the patient himself, is the one which causes much trouble and chagrin to the physician. He is here compelled to prescribe upon particular symptoms, always an uncertain factor with which to deal. The materia medica is full of particular symptoms which bewilder and discourage the student of materia medica who is foolish enough to attempt to memorize them. Drugs, like people, have their own peculiar individualities, and these are expressed by certain broad general outlines which are striking, hence easily remembered.
People have characters, bad or good, peculiar or unusual; so have drugs, ,and since, if we have any knowledge of human nature at all, we come to know these various characters, we can easily know the materia medica in like manner. Thus every student of materia medica knows the irritable, cantankerous Nux vomica individual or the fickle, lachrymose pulsatilla woman; he knows the restless, oversensitive, apprehensive Arsenicum type or the unkempt and ragged Sulphur philosopher. The very clothes may reveal the Arsenicum man, the egg-spotted vest or shirts front the Sulphur patient.
And so with numerous other remedies, all can be known in bold outline and correctly chosen, hence often particulars can safely be disregarded. Without discerning powers of observation, however, we homoeopathic prescribers are apt to be lose, and unless well grounded in the philosophy of our science and art, are apt to plunge into the treacherous whirlpool of senseless polypharmacy. It is truly amazing how many there are of Homoeopathic physicians who have never gotten out of the kindergarten stage of the materia medica. They never seem to realize that in their treatment of the sick they are in reality playing but a pathetically minor part in the cure of recovery, between which, incidentally, there is a vast difference.
It is no doubt true that the real reason for the present-day retrogression of Homoeopathy lies in the fact that so few have more than an elemental knowledge of its deeper meaning and application. The development of the Combination tablet evil is the logical sequence of this ignorance. The true Homoeopathic physician must indeed be an artist, and like the artist, must be able to “mix his paints with brains, Sir.” He must know color values, the finer shadings, the minor touch as well as the bolder strokes and when and where to apply them.
We occasionally meet laymen, unusual men of intellect and education, who have a marvelous insight into the philosophy of homoeopathy, whose understanding far excels that of many a physician. Such men appear to possess an almost intuitive sixth sense and had they studied medicine, would perhaps make wonderful prescribers. We say perhaps, knowing full well that many a promising physician is killed in the making, compressed into the senseless educational mould which Fordizes medical men, but in so doing takes form them all individuality.
Standardization is the curse of America and must be overthrown and throttled if we are to attain our full measure of artistic spiritual development. We homoeopaths must be, if homoeopathy is to survive as a force to be reckoned with in this world of cut-throat commercialism, men and women of broad understanding and sympathy, willing and eager to learn from any and every source, able to sift the knowledge which we gather and give its rightful value and position.
We must know our weakness as well as our strength; we must recognize our limitations and at all times the boundless possibilities which surround us. We must learn to think in terms of homoeopathy, to classify the knowledge will be lifted out of the quicksands of oblivion into which it is steadily sinking and will again take its place as a dominant sinking and will again take its place as a dominant force capable of moulding orthodox medical opinion. Unless we do this we deserve, as old Constantine rightly said, to be known as a caricature only in the history of medicine. Let us rouse ourselves then, before it is too late, and stem the swelling tide of decadence.