Random Thoughts. On the eye of departure for the International Homoeopathic Congress, to be held in London, July 18th to 23d, many thoughts and conjectures arise as to what we shall find during this important meeting of the followers of Hahnemann, who will gather from almost all corners of the civilized world. We have been impressed, often enough, by the evident earnestness of foreign homoeopathic physicians and by their apparent zeal and enthusiasm for the advancement of homoeopathy, as shown by their writings in British, German, French, Spanish, Indian and other homoeopathic medical journals. It is an enthusiasm reminiscent of thirty years ago in the United States, but which has long since passed and is now scarcely known at all among American homoeopaths of any shade of opinion.
Why is this so? Many of us have wandered off after strange gods, Abramism for example; very many others, perhaps the majority, have gone into the numerous specialties and have neglected or forgotten the help which homoeopathy might give them. Quite recently an old-time, veteran homoeopathic physician was obliged to undergo a major operation in one of our newer and modern hospitals; the handling of his case was all that could be desired, from the surgical and nursing standpoints; he received all the technical benefits of modern medicine and, though in the hands of his friends, was amazed to find that homoeopathy was not employed at any stage of his case. He naturally wondered at this omission, and months after his recovery, sadly shakes his head in amazement that such things can be.
Yet we all know that they can be and are. Why is this so? Has modern medicine so absorbed us, that in our worship of its principles we have cast aside the only set of therapeutic methods which is truly curative? Is refined diagnosis of more value and more to be desired than cure? It would often seem so, especially if we are to judge and draw conclusions from clinical cases which come to us after they have been passed through the hands of specialists who form the coteries known as Group Medicine. The brilliant failures of such medical groups are astounding in view of their unquestioned diagnostic skill and technical ability.
Several letters have come to us, taking issue with us upon the question of sectarianism and the proposed dropping of the title “homoeopathic” from the designations of our hospitals and other institutions. Space forbids the publication of all these letters and probably little good would be achieved thereby, since the writers, whose intentions are unquestionably of he highest, show ignorance of the status of Homoeopathy at the present time. In this connection, it may be illuminating to many to know that at the recent annual meeting of the Alumni Association of the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital, a vote previously taken among the alumni of this institution, showed a large majority in favor of dropping the title “homoeopathic.”
No matter how much some may deplore this decision, the fact that it was made how much some may deplore this decision, the fact that it was made by the graduates of this college, is of immense significance. Whether the trustees will acquiesce, is of course another matter, but is, after all, of little moment. This decisions plainly shows the present-day trend of the homoeopathic school. The sad part of it is that this school is doing so little to compel recognition by the old school, which of itself is gradually discovering the basic truths of homoeopathy and eventually will incorporate them as its own. Homoeopathy is just now more concerned with boosting its societies and their officers, than it is with the development and perpetuation of the cause these societies are supposed to represent.
So far as we have been able to see, at long range, German homoeopaths balk at the use of high potencies, whereas in England their employment excites no opposition or unfavorable comment. In the United States, homoeopaths are no longer ridiculed by their colleagues for using high potencies, thought it must be confessed that the number of those who use the high and highest potencies is not increasing.
The forthcoming congress should serve as a clearing house of ideas and ought to bring about a better understanding and greater uniformity of homoeopathic practice among physicians of all countries. Certainly there is much to be learned by all of us.
The Question of Causation in Its Relation to Homoeopathic Prescribing. This subject may at first sight appear to be a simple one, but in reality presents a problem, the solution of which involves the very life of the homoeopathic profession or school.
Hahnemann long ago emphasized the importance of seeking the cause, his statements upon this point are clear and readily understood, but Hahnemann did not live in an age when bacteriology and pathology exercise a governing policy in diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy. To remove the stone in the bladder, is obviously of importance in the work of curing a patient, whose numerous symptoms included those which are indicative of such a condition. Hahnemann so recognized it. The same observation may with equal force be made of stone in the kidney or of gall-stones.
Probably none of us will, in this age, venture to argue at any length upon this question; it is practically self-evident. We need hardly point to such elementary illustrations as fractured bones, foreign bodies in the tissues, the results, in short, of accidents, trauma, etc. conditions so obviously mechanical in character as to admit of no misunderstanding. Such states may be and usually are considered as ultimates, pathologic resultants or end-products, demanding surgical interference for their correction or relief.
So far as the homoeopathic prescriber is concerned, he under such circumstances, plays a secondary, albeit most important part; unfortunately, however, and this we desire to emphasize, he is today rather seldom called upon to exercise his talents or is relegated to so remote a position in the background, that his talents as a prescriber are unable to penetrate the sacred aura of this sanctified surgical confrere.
Modern medicine tends to minimize more and more the purely medicinal character of its therapeutic armamentarium; it seeks to prevent disease by the employment of hygienic measures, with all that such measures imply and by the use of bacterial vaccines and sera. In this work of prevention, corrective surgery plays an important part and all such prophylactic measures are highly laudable, however much we may differ as to the wisdom of employing vaccines and sera.
There are, however, many cases of particular interest to the homoeopathic physician which may, in a sense, be called borderline cases; that is to say, that in such cases pathologic changes has advanced far enough to be recognizable by the various diagnostic methods at our command, but has not as yet seriously interfered with function. It is of course axiomatic, that so soon as pathology has completely overwhelmed function, the organ or organs involved are of no further use to the body; so far as they are concerned, they may as well be foreign bodies, to be speedily removed by surgical procedure where and whenever this is possible.
To be sure, such removal is not always possible or even feasible; on the other hand, a physiologically useless or dead organ may be and frequently is, capable in itself or by its very presence of arousing dangerous symptoms demanding the physicians attention. Here, the prescribing of alleged homoeopathically indicated remedies is not only futile, but foolish. It may be granted that such prescribing will at times have a temporary, palliative effect, but one which is of no value to the patient and may lull him, as well as the physician, into a sense of false security. In other words, symptoms which are directly referable to the presence of a physiologically dead organ, are of no value to the prescriber and nothing is to be gained by attempting to base a prescription upon them.
Yet this very thing is often done and suggests the observation that patients presenting such conditions are literally cured into their graves. Now, the animal body is so constituted that it does not die all at once, it dies gradually, and when in later life the process of gradual ageing or dying becomes greater than that of tissue regeneration, the descent to Avernus is usually not far off and ultimate, complete, final death may be looked for. It is for this reason, that in older people, especially those in whom cardiovascular or real changes are evident, prescribing of remedies is so frequently unsatisfactory. Here we have an advancing pathology, a cause of symptoms directly attributable to this pathology and one which is usually incapable of removal.
From what has been said it is evident that the homoeopathic prescriber must or should exercise a keen judgment and a nice discrimination, which, unfortunately, he cannot or does not always do. It is, however, incumbent upon him that he differentiate carefully between the symptoms of the patient and those of the patients disease. Now, this is precisely what we so many times fail to do. Instead, we think in terms of pathology and diagnosis, we prescribe with this conception in mind and get nowhere.