HAHNEMANN-THE REBEL AND THE REFORMER


The stage was get for mighty happenings. Heroes from every field of human activity trotted over the Western continent. Alas! what about the followers of AEsculapeus? The old Galen, the Roman, seemed to rule the medical section of the arena. Eighteenth century medicine was dominated by theories and systems, by cults and creeds of diverse sorts.


It was two-hundreds of years ago that Hahnemann was born. In a reminiscent mood our mind goes back to the eighteenth-century Europe in relation to the time when he flourished and to his contemporaries amongst who lay his sphere of activity.

The dark ages that swallowed the whole of Europe after the fall of the mighty Roman Empire were over. The sleeping Leviathan was roused from its centuries old intellectual slumber by the rude shock of a call to arms to join the crusade. The light of knowledge which the Europeans received in the shape of Greek culture through the Arabic medium supplied the spark that set the intellectual horizon of the west on fire. They found their lost souls, as it were and the Renaissance set in.

From every part of Europe persons of outstanding merit began to be born and more than compensated for the previous cultural stagnation and degeneration. Poets and philosophers, painters and musicians, mathematicians and scientists appeared in torrents and like an avalanche swept off age-old superstitions and dogmas from the minds of the people and pointed to an age of reason and rational approach to the problems of the humanity. But the greatest liberator of human reason from the letters of academic scholasticism appeared in the person of Lord Bacon of England.

He, through his “Novum Organum” established the Inductive method of Logic and inaugurated the modern scientific era. Each morrow produced something new and broke through some defence line of the citadel of knowledge. The scientific spirit was dawning in the mind of the Europeans. Europe was throbbing with tremendous potentialities. This was no spirit of iconoclasm, of unrest or of discomfort but the evidence of a mind where every avenue was to the approach of truth from every direction.

The stage was get for mighty happenings. Heroes from every field of human activity trotted over the Western continent. Alas! what about the followers of AEsculapeus? The old Galen, the Roman, seemed to rule the medical section of the arena. Eighteenth century medicine was dominated by theories and systems, by cults and creeds of diverse sorts.

Though Royal touch was fast losing its therapeutic efficacy and witchcraft and astrology were slowly but surely giving way to more humane and more rational explanations as to theories about causation of disease, blind respect for traditional authority, the weaving of fantastic and one-sided speculations, shot-guns prescription and loathsome mixtures, blood-letting and cupping and other crude and torturesome therapeutic practices were in vogue and advocated by the leaders of the medical profession of that time.

There was absolute chaos, no general principle, no law guiding therapeutics-though some advances in Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology and Surgery were effected by the two Hunters, Baillee, Morgagni, Scarpa, Winslow, Doughs, Monroe, Meckels, Woolfe, etc.

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century (10th April 1755) we find a precautious German boy, the son of a porcelain painter in a tiny town of Misan in the Dutchy of Saxony, pouring over his books of Latin and Greek and thinking out lessons set for him by his father from day to day. Mediocre as the father was yet was he wise enough to note that knowledge is power and that a pen is mightier than a sword. He was training his son to be an original man and to take nothing for granted unless he had proved it to his utmost satisfaction.

How far his his father succeeded in his attempt has been verified by the future life and achievements of the son who blazed forth as a first-rate original genius. There was nothing which he touched, which was not illuminated by his phenomenal genius coupled with his indomitable will and indefatigable energy and exemplary patience. This boy is no other than Christian Frederick Samuel Hahnemann, the hero of our In memorium, a towering personality in the valhalla of scientists, an arch-rebel in the field of medicine and the founder of a superb system of medical therapy.

The father moulded porcelain and the son, in the full bloom of his career, started to mould the clay of suffering humanity. Such was the consummation of the loving fathers ambition, so devoutly wished for. Gifted with rare intellect and intuition, voracious reader as he was, he quickly assimilated all the medical knowledge available in his time soon after he graduated from the medical college. He got his Doctorate degree, but his mind craved to drink deep the Pyrrean spring of knowledge. The more he engaged himself in the practice of medicine the more dissatisfied he became with the therapeutic practice of his time.

N C Das
N C Das
Calcutta