The definitions of Webster s Dictionary in regard to allopathy and homoeopathy are a good starting point for the consideration of our subject. Allopathy is defined as “that system of medical practice which aims to combat disease by the u of remedies producing effects different from those produced by the special disease treated”. Homoeopathy is defined as “the art of curing founded on resemblances.”.
A comparison of these definitions at once justifies a striking difference in the method of study. For the purpose of homoeopathic study a different approach other than the accepted pedagogy of the so-called regular school is essential. Briefly, the allopathic physician considers disease and pathological changes, therefore diagnosis first of all. Homoeopathy considers first the patient. It is the individual who is sick. Disease produces such a disturbance of the individuals vital force that symptoms result.
All these resultant variations in the economy represent the reaction of that inner force on which life depends, as expressed in changes which together make up the image of sickness. Note that allopathy is defined as a combat of disease by effects differing from those produced by the special disease treated. Note well that homoeopathy is termed the art of cure.
It must therefore require an unprejudiced and open mind to grasp the knowledge necessary for acquisition of this art of cure. Cure means the restoration of balance in the economy as shown by the disappearance of symptoms. With this freedom of the vital force from the disturbing morbific agent a feeling of health and well being returns. There is a law of life and there is a law of death. Homoeopathy puts first principles first; concerns itself primarily with causes rather than effects; and in this respect is a pure science as well as an art. So much in the way of introduction.
What should be stressed in a study of homoeopathy? Certainly no more authoritative source could be quoted than that of the master mind which gave homoeopathy to mankind. The name of Hahnemann, for this reason, is found again and again in homoeopathic literature. He presented his concept and philosophy with directions for acquiring the art of cure in The Organon. No one can properly study homoeopathy without the sound background of this monumental work. Next Hahnemann leaves his Chronic Diseases and Materia Medica Pura. In the Chronic Diseases he presents his miasmatic concept, clearly defining psora, sycosis and syphilis, not as occasional diseases, but back of the predispositions and weaknesses of the human race. The student cannot afford to attempt homoeopathy without these considerations.
Philosophy is defined as “literally the love of wisdom; in actual usage the knowledge of phenomena as explained by and resolved into causes and reasons, powers and laws”; or more briefly “the science of things evidently deduced from first principles”. As applied to our subject we use the term “homoeopathic philosophy” and stress it in study and practice because it is basic and controlling in all our procedure. You will find this subject amplified and clearly discussed in Kents Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy. It will bear constant rereading as a standard reference.
The materia medica of the homoeopath deals with the action of drugs as proven on the healthy. To the beginner it is a maze of symptomatology, hard to understand. The sick-making power of a drug, its pathogenesy, is revealed in its effects on various temperaments and backgrounds. Upon study the drug pictures are differentiated and their similarity to the images of sickness made comparable. The homoeopathic principle or law of similars has been compared to a weapon.
The materia medica is the ammunition with which we fight the altered states in illness. Unremitting study in materia medica must be the life work of a physician, if he would be well trained and a successful prescriber. No one pretends to remember all of any drug, but we must know where to find accurate and detailed information, as in Herings Guiding Symptoms and Hahnemanns Materia Medica Pura. Gradually we acquire drug pictures and characteristics which make remedies come to mind in a given case, but reference and study must always be made, if any mastery is to be gained.
The student notes a tremendous difference in the taking of the case as compared with the allopathic case history. Hence case taking practice must precede any search for a remedy. Again you will see it is the symptoms of the individual that are noted as revealed by his disturbed inner vital force. Individualization is first and foremost in homoeopathy. When a student has learned to take a case properly so that he has a totality of symptoms which represent the patient, with all modalities and concomitants, he is ready for remedy study. You will have, thanks to your homoeopathic philosophy, a basis for the all important grading of symptoms, that is, a realization of their comparative value.
Now for the repertory study as pointing to a group of remedies for analysis. This arrangements, as Kent points out in his Preface, “built from all sources, is a compilation of the useful symptoms recorded in the fundamental works of our materia medica, both ancient and modern, as well as taken from the notes of our ablest prescribers”. These indexes of symptomatology require much study by the student in order to comprehend the arrangement and use. No study course could be complete without a good deal of repertory work. Again it must be emphasized that the repertory is not an end in itself but a great help in pointing to several remedies for final materia medica study before selecting the single remedy to be prescribed.
From this sketchy presentation you will agree that the study of homoeopathy cannot successfully be purely didactic. It is an inductive method. It must be intensive and thorough to be valuable. The important preceptor system is seldom available in these days so the American Foundation for Homoeopathy in this short post-graduate course attempts to present the subject intensively, with special emphasis on homoeopathic philosophy, case taking, repertory and materia study, supplemented by clinics and clinical papers. But do not consider it as an end in all. It is the best beginning for the student that I know of today. The effort is to give sound foundation in homoeopathic principles as expounded by Hahnemann, and so to stimulate your interest in this law of cure that you will, throughout your practice, strive through continued study to achieve a real mastery in prescribing. DEDHAM, MASS.