In an approach to the subject of the homoeopathic treatment of mental and nervous diseases. I would like to quote the opinion Dr. John Eastman Wilson has expressed in the preface to his work, Diseases of the Nervous System.
The medical treatment of many nervous diseases is at present considered to be futile, so for as cure is concerned, and the physicians of all schools are driven to symptomatological prescription, and to palliatives. Under such conditions we have a right to feel that we are the best symptomatologists yet evolved, and that by faithful work we may occasionally change the classical prognosis.
The therapeutics of diseases of the nervous system differ from those of the body in general reasons, and they have not rested upon changes which were palpable or appreciable; some of them have not even yet yielded their secret to our more refined methods of investigation. They, in general are not self-limited, and some of them take years for their full development and hardly one of them is curatively influenced by any kind of medication with enough rapidity to make the results striking, or even appreciable, except by observation for a long period.
It may be more explicitly stated that until within a very few years, the causes and the seat of the characteristic pathological changes pertaining to any special disease were not known at all, and some are still shrouded in the same obscurity.
All schools of medicine were therefore unable to furnish much material for our therapeutic guidance, since they were generally in no position to identity, or to rightly interpret the significance of the symptoms concerning which they were making their reports, and which they were assuming to have been relieved by their medication. This statement is written in full knowledge of the claims of both schools, and of the therapeutic accumulations of the years before even a few of these disease could be diagnosed with any degree of accuracy.
We may own that many a physician has cured a complaint that he could not diagnose, but we cannot accept his therapeutic conclusions, when we are certain that he was ignorant of the identity of the symptom-complex for which he announced the discovery of a remedy. We may infer that his description refers to the disease which we have under consideration, but we must repeatedly obtain similar results in order that his statements may carry conviction.
Therefore, it may be safely affirmed, no matter what may have been the school of medicine, or what may have been the nationality of writer, that any remedy recommended over thirty years ago, for any given nervous disease, should carry very little weight, for on one at that time could know either the etiology, pathology, or symptomatology of the disease for which he makes the recommendation.
When one looks over the chronology of the discovery and primary isolation of the actual changes characteristic of the most common diseases of the nervous system he is struck by their recent date, since 1868 and 1870 and 1876, and so on, are the rule, and, as I have said before, many of them still hold the secret of their cause and its pathological expression. Who can certainly tell the cause of epilepsy, of chorea, or hysteria?
In many cases therefore symptomatology is the only possible basis for prescription and, comparatively speaking, is the only scientific method. The validity of any method however is nullified in organic disease by the fact that while nerve-fibers may be regenerated, nerve cells once destroyed are nerve replaced by tissue capable of nervous function.
If therefore we have grounds for belief that the disease has destroyed the nerve- cells, we know that medicine, however skilfully selected, and by whatever method, can do no more than stimulate the remaining cells to their highest grade of function. All claims beyond this are a cruelty to the confiding patient. In functional diseases we have grounds for great confidence in our therapeutic measures, but we should make ourselves sure by a diligent study of the pathology of any condition in question that we are not confusing remission with cure.”
It is also well to review the statement of Dr. J.W.Waffensmith, in his article, The Ever present Truth of Homoeopathy, as published in the December 1939 number of the Homoeopathic Recorder.
“I am not so optimistic as to think that homoeopathy will come into general use in our distorted social and medical world of today. I fully realize the small minority who know and practice this great truth in medicine need have no fear of being overwhelmed by any great change of attitude in the immediate. further. Nevertheless, as our hair grows grayer and our experience with homoeopathy lengthens into a broader and more mature grasp of the possibilities at our disposal, we feel the mellowing influence of the greatest means for the cure of the mentally and physically sick.
May we quietly at this moment search our inner selves for a review of the many persons whom we have benefited by conscientious homoeopathic treatment. Have me not gently carried them long in their difficulties with the remedies, and helped them to adjust to and manage their problems? Some of these folks have spent considerable sums for diagnosis, in consultation, in hospital observation, laboratory fees and what-not, solely to have an obscure diagnostic tag put upon their sickness.
Others have been informed there was no evidence of pathology, to be sent away with some mental complex more firmly fixed, which drives them from one palliative measure to another without relief, but disgust for medical curative ability. These are the cases in which we secure remarkable results by integrity in handling and industry in study.”
Another of the deeper students of homoeopathy and its philosophy, Dr. A.H.Grimmer, in his article Mental Disease Cured by Homoeopathy in the April 1939 issue of the Homoeopathic Recorder, has to say:
“Homoeopathic procedures are especially efficacious in the treatment of mental disease. The literature is rich in numerous abnormal mental symptoms produced by the provings on healthy subjects. So perfectly are the moral, mental and physical states of patients linked up together by homoeopathic methods of study that the underlying disease causes involved are more certain of being removed than by other less thorough or scientific methods.
A study of our cases will show us that we need but find the one indicated medicine for the individual case, in order to restore acute ailments of all sorts. Nowhere else in the realm of medicine can those afflicted with mental and so-called nervous disease be as certain of cure as that offered by homoeopathy.”
In the same writers paper, Homoeopathic Psychiatry, in the March 1940 number of the Homoeopathic Recorder, he states.
“The provings of the homoeopathic materia medica present a complete array of mental symptoms and states corresponding to the picture of any mental aberration to be found in the realm of sickness, and because of this fact, the homoeopathic physician is better equipped than any other to cope successfully with all varieties of mental disorder.”
This statement I feel is not entirely consistent with the facts. I have not been able to find a remedy in our materia medica that will cover some of the clinical pictures presented by a case of dementia praecox. I do not know of a proving that has been carried through to such an extent as to produce, for example, the peculiar bizarre symptoms as seen in a well developed case of schizophrenia.
Symptoms of this disease appear to arise on the basis of so-called splitting of the mind; that is to say, the fundamental mechanisms of the mind, the will, the emotions and the intellect are weakened of themselves and among themselves with consequent co-ordination of these aspects of the psyche. The integrity of the personality is assailed and profoundly altered.
In the schizophrenic type of reaction the behavior of the patient is an outstanding component. It is in part the expression of the loss of interest in the actual world, of the diminished response to ordinary social demands, of the domination by certain subjective beliefs and by hallucinatory experiences. Still more characteristic is the odd and eccentric quality of the behavior, its peculiar impulsiveness and inappropriateness, and the lack of correlation with conscious purpose. In other words, it has no conscious adaptive value. There is a regression to a primative level of adaptation.
I repeat, I know of no proving that has produced a picture approximating this primative or archaic plevel of behavior. I mention this fact to bring out the inherent difficulty in prescribing for certain types of mental disease by any school of medical thought. The homoeopath, however, is not deprived of a scientific approach to the treatment of mental disease.
This approach is by means of a study of the deeper acting constitutional antipsoric remedies like Aurum, Thuja, Medorrhinum, Syphilinum, Psorinum, Calcarea carb., etc., for I am convinced that these various psychotics states have their origin in disorder of the vital force, and are therefore susceptible of successful homoeopathic treatment.
In the more acute conditions that come to the attention of the majority of physicians, I agree that we have the wherewithal in our materia medica to treat successfully practically all of them. The difficulty in selecting the remedy seems to be in finding the peculiar characteristic or key-note symptom in nervous diseases, and herein, of course, lies the test of the skill of the homoeopathic prescriber; that is, taking an accurate case history, for an accurate and thorough case will naturally spell out the remedy.
Personally I see no difference in the application of homoeopathy to mental and nervous disease than to any other kind of disease, for when all is said and done we are treating a sick individual as a whole and not any particular nosological entity. When we come to the realm of the psychoneuroses, psychotherapy may be of primary importance, and when a cure is obtained one is sometimes left in doubt as to whether the credit is due to the remedy selected or the removal of doubts, fears and obsessions by persuasion, suggestion and positive assertion on the part of the physician. I know they both work.
For this reason I would urge every homoeopathic physician to endeavor to allow the psychoneurotic patient to tell his story; maintain an impersonal attitude, do not interrupt, interfere with, criticize or give the patient the idea that you are in any way sitting in judgment on him. Remember the nervous patient is abnormally sensitive to his inner psychic tensions, and may be as sensitive to some causal remark of yours as a man with a boil on the back of his neck might be to a light touch of the finger in the region of the boil. Let him have his say, and when the more or less inconsequential smoke and steam have blown away a clear picture for a prescription may be seen in the smoldering embers.
For example, one of my patients would come to the office in a depressed state, weeping and declaring that her condition was absolutely hopeless and that she would never be well. She knew that she was going to lose her mind, was greatly concerned because of her inability to concentrate her attention. She felt her memory was becoming worse as time went on. She was unable to carry on her work as a school teacher because mental effort made her confused. She states that she had lost all interest in her work.
She complained of aches and pains in various parts of her body. She was unable to sleep and always got up more tired in the morning than when she went to bed. She was very dissatisfied with her environment, thought that people around her were beneath her. She had formerly been a very capable woman, but now had a positive aversion to her work. She was having considerable menstrual difficulty and was fearful that she had cancer or some other serious condition in her pelvis. She was very voluble, would keep up an almost constant stream of talk, would talk and wring her hands and cry all at the same time.
She was quite suspicious and full of doubts as to whether I or anyone else could understand her condition. I prescribed various remedies that seemed to be indicated, but was making no real progress until one day she remarked that her feet felt so cold and numb at night; that she felt as if they were almost dead and when she took off her stockings they were always damp.
Then the light broke. I thought I had taken her case carefully, but I had not, because it was only the incidental remark about her cold clammy feet that was the essential key-note symptom that I had not obtained by questioning. I looked up Calcarea carb. and there was the lady as clear-cut as a cameo portrait, but I could not see her through the smoke of many of her neurotic manifestations. Calcarea carb. cured the case completely.
Another case, a young man about 21 years of age. About three weeks ago he said he had a cold and his doctor called it the flu.” Said he thought he had gotten over the actual cold, but still felt depressed. A week ago last Monday he felt dizzy, became very nervous and fearful and tremulous all over. He had a slight sore throat and was convinced that he had a streptococcic sore throat. He saw his doctor who assured him that there was nothing the matter with him, and then he became quite certain that he had pneumonia and thought that he was in danger of dying.
He again went to see his doctor, who took his temperature and again assured him that there was no foundation for his fear that he had pneumonia. His apprehensiveness still remained; said it was a very distressing fear of the unknown that something terrible might happen to him, thought he might possibly even lose his mind. He had a peculiar quivering in the pit of his stomach, his appetite was poor and he was slightly nauseated, and his bowels became quite loose.
He mental state was such that he consulted a professor of psychology at his university, who told him that his trouble was due to certain complexes and that he needed a thorough psychological house-cleaning; advised him to see a psychiatrist and undergo a psychoanalysis.
He informed him that he would require from two to four seances him that he would require from two to four seances a week with a psychiatrist, and to be prepared to undergo this psycho-analytical treatment for about six, months, and he should be prepared to spend considerable money for his treatment. He talked the matter over with his physician, who is a surgeon, and admitted to me he was as much bewildered with the case as the patient himself.
The young man was referred to me day before yesterday. I allowed him to go ahead and talk freely, and he disclosed many symptoms, but through the maze of them the outline of Gelsemium could be discerned. I gave him all the assurance I could in an endeavor to calm his fears, and then gave him a little Gelsemium and told him to take it four or five times during the day.
The next day, that was yesterday, almost all of his symptoms had disappeared. He called me on the phone about 9 oclock last night and stated that he had been free of most of his symptoms the greater part of the day and did not see the need for taking more medicine, but after dinner he felt nervous and tremulous. I told him to take another dose of the medicine.
Today he came into my office whilst I was in the throes of penning this ponderous epistle; he was almost entirely free of his symptoms. Said he had a awakened about 5 oclock this morning and had dozed off to sleep again and them awoke about 8 oclock with a slight headache and an unpleasant taste in his mouth. Later in the morning he was constipated. His appetite for breakfast was poor and he felt slightly nauseated. I thought it looked like Nux and so prescribed.
Had I not had the sheet-anchor of homoeopathy to tie up to, I no doubt would have wallowed around in a sea of doubt dragging the patient around with me. The point I wish to make here, of course, is that there was no need to prescribe the sedatives as is almost invariably done with the old school; neither was the patient subjected to a long expensive siege of psychoanalysis. In my opinion a psychoneurosis was nipped in the bud by homoeopathic treatment.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men which if taken at the flood leads on to fortune; neglected, all the voyage of our lives is spent in shallows and and in miseries.” This might well be restated as follows: There is a remedy for the diseases of men which if taken according to the laws of homoeopathy leads back to health; omitted, all the rest of our lives is spent in complaining and in doctors offices.