DISRAELI was credited with the dictum, “Never apologize. Never explain.” I am no Disraelite and so I feel that I must apologize for this paper for this reason: that through force of circumstance for which no one is to blame, I have had very short notice and less time to prepare it.
Believing, however, that each of us has a duty to record what we do or try to do, I usually have some notes on hand, some records of symptoms which, though they may seem trivial, are nevertheless clinical and must therefore derive some value from this fact if from nothing else.
I was interested to learn quite unexpectedly (for I had no idea that such a rule existed, though I agree with it) that our Secretary tries to give us at least a years rest between papers to this Society, whether to allow of your recovery, or like the Sab-batical year, to give us the opportunity of learning a little more Homoeopathy before having the effrontery to inflict oneself once again upon the Society. There are many of you who have imposed upon yourselves a much longer period of self-effacement than this yearly minimum.
Why you should try to improve upon the Jewish law which, if you may care to remember, prescribed six years of reaping and one fallow, not six years fallow and one of reaping (bumper crop though it might be !), I do not know; but the very fact makes me diffident in appearing before you so soon again, and I should most willingly have given place to those of my colleagues who have been digesting their material for a much longer period.
I shall try to conceal the acidity of my material, lest you should guess that it has not even been thoroughly masticated ! And I shall hope (if you will excuse the allusion) that it does not consist entirely of waste products !.
One of the criticisms levelled by the Orthodox School at the Homoeopathic method is that we are symptom hunters and little else.
“Disease is only made manifest to us by the symptoms it produces.” That is not Hahnemann, though it might quite well be, but the late Sir James MacKenzie who, though his aim was to discover certain laws pertaining to the production of symptoms as a guide to early diagnosis, still, had he known it, did more to further the science of symptomatology as a guide to treatment than perhaps any one non-homoeopath.
Many beginners have expressed their amazement when first introduced e.g. to the Repertory of symptoms, that so much detailed knowledge of disease symptoms should have been concealed from them in their orthodox medical education. Indeed, they have admitted (what we all very well know to be so) that instead they have been taught that the subjective symptoms of the patient, if not confirmed by any gross pathological signs, are usually of little value. But surely, as Dr. Julian Huxley might say, to wait for pathology seems madness !.
There is, of course, the other danger that we should consider symptoms all important and physical signs of none, but if on occasion the homoeopath is guilty of neglecting the latter, we have no monopoly of this neglect.
Of course, the neurasthenic feeds on the homoeopathic symptomatology. If in addition he should be an enthusiastic self-prescriber, then he is par excellence the symptom addict and does himself no good, nor the science of Homoeopathy, Indeed, I have always felt that it might be said of the Homoeopathic neurasthenic that it had been better that he had never been born! But he frequents other clinics than the purely homoeopathic! And so to our muttons.
This paper is a continuation of one I gave you before the war on the Value of the Peculiar Symptom in relationship to the Totality of Symptoms, and which was founded on notes kept from day to day by Dr. Duncan Russell and myself of symptoms of patients in practice, symptoms which led us to prescribe the drug indicated by that peculiar symptom and in some cases for that symptom itself, it being that complained of by the patient.
Some of the symptoms mentioned to-day were also noted by Dr. Russell, but he is with the Forces, and I must take full responsibility for all of them.
Not all of to-days list are peculiar; many are indeed known to most of us here, but they are a guide which cannot be too often repeated in our choice of remedy. So I do not expect to teach you anything, but simply to underline what you already know. For beginners they may be of value, and so it is to these that I shall primarily address my remarks.
After the publication of the previous paper one member was sufficiently interested as to look up most of the symptoms in the Repertory, and to my dismay reported that he could not find some of them at all! But, taking my cue from Kent, one or two were chosen on analogy since sometimes, as many of you must have found, the very best symptoms cannot be found when looked for.