DISCUSSIONS OF THE THEORY AND PRINCIPLES OF HOMOEOTHERAPEUTICS AND RELATED MEDICAL TOPICS. “THE MEDICAL FOLLIES”.
Under the above title the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association has published a volume of critical essays which have attracted much attention for their plain speaking. They are trenchantly written, cutting in their sarcasm and scathing in their ridicule. Superficially they are consistent with the facts of history, and have a seductive appearance of fairness. But in one chapter, at least, with which this review is concerned, there is exhibited a lack of knowledge, a distortion of facts, a mental bias, a spirit of negation, an absence of philosophic insight, and a covert hostility which entirely destroys any value which it might otherwise have.
Hahnemanns place in history as one of the worlds greatest physicians and reformers is secure. Homoeopathy has suffered grievously from misrepresentation and ridicule of outsiders, and the ignorance, incompetence and perversity of many of its own nominal adherents. But when it is classed with such passing delusion “Perkinsism” and “Abramism” and treated as quackery, so rank an injustice is done to the great school of philosophical thought which it represents, and a scientific system of pharmaco- therapeutics which has successfully stood the test of experience for more than a century, it is time to protest and expose such arrogance, ignorance and bigotry as is displayed in the chapter under review.
Hahnemanns Organon, the fountain head of homoeopathy, was published one hundred and fifteen years ago. It was clothed in the language and forms of thought of the period, now difficult to understand; but it dealt with subjects which are of perennial interest and importance. Since that time many changes have occurred in all departments of thought and activity. There has been progress in every branch of science and philosophy. But the fundamental principal common to all sciences have not changed even if they are now expressed differently. Great truths never die, and homoeopathy is a true science and a true philosophy.
Hahnemanns Organon still lives. It is still on sale in the homeopathy book shops. It has never been “out of print.” Only a few years ago it was included in “Everymans Library,” and had a large sale. It is still read and still readable by intelligent men. When read today, however, for instruction or criticism, it must be in the light of the development of thought which have occurred since it was written if it is to be understood. Its statements must be interpreted and its principles elucidated from the standpoint of modern philosophy and science.
Fundamental principles are not always expressed or clearly stated in such works. They are often implied in the context. When the need for formal or explicit statement arises they must be deduced and brought to light by those who are competent to “read between the lines” and bring out the hidden meaning. No other treatment of such works is fair or honest. When that is done and the underlying principles of Hahnemanns Organon are identified and phrased in the language of today, it will be seen to be in almost perfect accord with modern science.
Hahnemann was a century ahead of his time in many things. He anticipated many of the later discoveries and developments of modern science and exercised a profound influence in bringing them about.
In his researches in cholera, for examples, Hahnemann fore- shadowed the bacteriological discoveries of Koch and Pasteur by three-quarters of a century. He did what Koch and Pasteur were unable to do. He cured cholera. If his suggestions for sanitary control had been adopted at the time, as they were eventually, cholera would have been stamped out much sooner.
Hahnemanns incidental researches and conclusions in physics and chemistry bearing upon the constitution of matter, the correlation of forces and conservation of energy, as implied or set forth in his theory of potentiation and demonstrated by the use of infinitesimal doses in the treatment of disease, have been verified by the results of modern scientific research in many fields.
Science is no longer afraid of the infinitesimal. Chemistry with its theories of ionization and infinite solutions, physics with its reduction of he atom, to mention only two fields, have merely worked out in detail, and verified ideas and principles which were stated or implied in Hahnemanns work more than a century ago.
Even “orthodox medicine,” most erratic, most backward, most bigoted and most perverse of all pseudo sciences, with its vaccines, serums and antitoxins, is stumbling along the therapeutic trail blazed a century ago by the man who is maligned, misrepresented, ridiculed, patronized and “damned with faint praise” by the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association in his flippant production. “The Medical Follies”-a terrier snapping at the heels of a thoroughbred.