[ Presidential address at the Geneva 1931 Congress of the International Homoeopathic League].
PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL HOMOEOPATHIC LEAGUE.
“When we are dealing with a science which is concerned with the saving of life, it is a crime to neglect its study.”.
We, born and coming from different lands, trained in different schools of medicine, whose opinions vary as much as our professors, moulded in practice which is more or less rational, more or less empirical, according to the circles in which we find ourselves, we each have come to the work with thoughts, customs and prejudices, which are different, and few are the men who can entirely abandon prejudices and preconceived ideas.
Only a few are they who know when they must observe, verify or reproduce a fact to put themselves in a state of perfect poise and abstraction to say to themselves: Here I am, presenting myself with my sole faculty of seeing and comparing. Until this moment I have recognized nothing within myself, I have seen nothing, I have heard nothing, I know nothing; I am a child facing the east reaching out for all things and longing to accept and to perceive the thoughts that my faculties and sensations can perceive and suggest to me.
This difficulty of stripping oneself of the old man and of being born in the morning of all new things, worthy without hesitation and procrastination, was always one of the principal stumbling and procrastination, was always one of the principal stumbling blocks of new truths, discoveries and highest attainments. The rewards for our forbears were terrible persecutions for the truths they tried to advance.
In this bright morning of the 20th century, things are different, we are at liberty to think and free to promulgate those truths, framed in laws that are eternal and blessed. Nevertheless, the influence of preconceived ideas, and prejudices, I regret to state, is far from being destroyed even in our day.
With Dufresne, the pioneer of homoeopathy in Switzerland, the unequaled President of the former Gallican Homoeopathic Society, we can repeat that we must have the same spirit in our Congress, we must equal this spirit of homoeopathy. It must be a spirit of kindness, conciliation, perfect understanding.
It must be a spirit of exact observation, a faithful exposition of facts, but not a spirit of sophism, unkindness and hair-splitting over unknown causes impossible to determine; it must be a spirit of constant study and humility before the immensity of the art and the facts, but not a spirit of arrogance, of contemptuousness with which we whip others by science to satisfy our selfish selves and thus neglect the true and unique purpose of our high calling, that is to cure; it must be spirit of wisdom, probity and rigorous impartiality in the examination or control of facts advanced by others, not the spirit of remoteness, disdain and negation by others, not the spirit of remoteness, disdain and negation the formerly the corporations have opposed to all who have not been of their making.
Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of our Congress must be a spirit of benevolence, of reciprocity and mutual teaching. A science built only on facts. The man who can best instruct others finds many precious and useful lessons in the conversations and practical communications of his confreres. Assembled here in good faith and frank cordiality, all physicians must feel like saying: I am grateful for the many things you have given me.
Let us strive to be supermen of his 20th century. If details, nevertheless, please do not criticise those who do not think just as you think, but expose your point of view and motive by an impeccable logic through precise facts which are laws. We shall avid absolutely at this Congress the frequent danger of having controversies without purpose, and our purpose should be to show facts in all simplicity, justifying the procedures which have conducted us to obtain, to provoke or to modify them. It is only in this spirit of reciprocal esteem that we will make our work excellent, useful, choice, complete.
But it is not only in a Congress, that one can make homoeopathy prosper. There is a stronger way than this one, the only one able to show all its value, the only one ready to gain the entire confidence of the public and to attract the consideration of physicians who practise it. It is to never wander from the road that homoeopathy outlines, it is to never apply any remedy except according to the principles of homoeopathy.
These principles being deducted from a fixed and immutable law as are all those of nature, one could not abandon them without being compromised, without showing that one is without confidence, as well as without medical probity, because to make the application of homoeopathy on a certain number of pathological cases and to neglect it in others, is to put oneself in opposition with himself, it is to show an absolute incapacity of knowledge of the action of medicaments, it is to show at the same time indifference and ignorance in the exercise of an art touching directly the life of others. Pathology is the result of disease not the cause, why not treat the characteristic symptoms, the cause, the man himself. But one can say, it is a transition time for those who wish to conquer homoeopathy.
Our homoeopathic initiation submits the same periods as our proper development. First, it is the period of infancy, when we open our senses to all the wonderments of the new method, desiring ardently to know, but also it is the period when we criticise severely. Then follows the period of puberty, which is one of doubt. Here our individuality allows, after the first observation, the examination of the observed facts. Now comes the adult period when intelligent and impartial judgment develops itself to enable us to comprehend, and then comes the last phase, that of maturity, when we can enjoy the accomplished efforts, it is the period of ripe conviction.
In the first phase, we mix allopathy and homoeopathy, give remedies in tinctures, without strict rules or according to the principles of our traditional studies, then in the second phase, we refine already and abandon the coercitive allopathic doses, engaging ourselves in the 3d, 6th and sometimes hazarding a 12th dilution. At this period, the mixture seems to us ideal. Then after some failures but also some encouraging results, we try timidly the 30th dilutions. Not yet convinced we make alternating or complex homoeopathy, applying the homoeopathic remedy according to the principle learned in our studies of regular medicine, all the indications being based essentially upon pathological and diagnostic manifestations, on the results and end products of disease.
Such a remedy for the heart, such a one for the lungs, others for liver or some other part of the body. So we find Bryonia and Phosphorus for pneumonia, Silica for leaf joint disease, Arsenicum for asystolia, Belladonna or Bufo for epilepsy, Sulphur and Graphites for eczema. “That is not homoeopathy. It is a travesty upon homoeopathy,” writes Kent in his remarkable 10th lecture upon the vital force. Some never pass over this phase, because the results, that this way of doing brings, are already superior to those of the usual allopathic practice. Some others may never surpass the 30th dilution, further dilutions appearing to them a fantasy and illusion of the imagination.
But science has not limitation and no matter how paradoxical or strange the results or procedure may appear, it can only count upon the facts, upon the facts that can be repeated.
Kent wrote in his 11th Lecture on Homoeopathic philosophy. [ Memorial edition, 1919, pp. 105-106].
I remember when I first read from Hahnemann that potentized medicines would cure the sick that it seemed to me a mystery. I had no knowledge upon which to found belief in such things. I began to practise with the lower potencies and with crude drugs in attempting to carry out the law, but with these means i was able to cure only superficial complaints. My work was far from satisfactory, yet it was somewhat better than the old things; it was milder than physicking and purging and emesis. Of course I rested upon my opinions and beliefs for my knowledge; everyone does that.
Later, I resolved to test the 30th potency to se if there was not yet medicine in it, and I prepared with my own hands the 30th potency of podophyllum with water on the centesimal scale, after the fashion of Hahnemann having been told that water was as good as alcohol. This was during an epidemic of diarrhoea that looked like Podophyllum, but I had no courage to give the 30th and still continued to use my stronger medicines.
One day a child was brought into my office in the mothers arms. She brought it in hastily, and it did not seem as if it could live long. It was an infant, and while it lay in her arms a thin yellowish faecal stool ran all over my carpet. The odor struck me as like that I had been reading about as the odor of the Podophyllum stool; it was horribly offensive, stinking, and the stool was so copious that the mother made the remark that she did not know where it all came from.
I said to myself, this is the case upon which to test Hahnemanns 30th potency. So i fixed up some of the Podophyllum 30 and put it on the childs tongue, and sent the mother home, fearing that the child would soon die, as it was very ill, face pinched and drawn, cadaveric, and had a dreadful odor about it.
Next morning, when making my rounds I had to pass the house. I expected to see crape on the door. I did not dare to call, though I was very much worried about it, so I drove past; but there was no crape on the door. I drove home again that way, although it was quite a distance out of the way, and still there was not crape on the door; but standing in the doorway was the grandmother, who said: “Doctor, the baby is all right this morning.”.
Then I began to feel better, thinking I had not killed the child. (Perhaps some of you have been in the same state of mind).
That little child did not need any more medicine. After that I had quite a number of Podophyllum cases, and the 30th did the work to my astonishment. It was different from anything I had ever seen; the cures were almost instantaneous, it seemed as if there would be no more stool after the first dose of medicine.
I used the 30th all the season, and then made up my mind that if the 30th of Podophyllum was good other 30th would be also, and I ought to have as many of them as possible. I made a good many 30ths by hand, and finally succeeded in making up one hundred and twenty-six remedies, some of them in the 200th potency, and these I used. Then I produced a set of 200th and higher and practised with then. I followed on in this way and in a few year I discovered that by giving higher and higher potencies the remedies seemed to operate more and more interiorly.
I found that a chronic case that would be relieved by moderately high potencies would only improve for a matter of weeks, but on the administration of much higher potencies the work would be taken up, and in that way the same patient could be carried on from one potency to another.
After repeated and renewed experiments with the greatest care, Kent elaborated his Law of Series and Degrees.
These experiences of Kent are most interesting. We all have passed or will pass through similar experience, if our aim is to progress, and if we have the ambition to be able to do as well as such masters.
It is only later, moved by the desire for a deeper and better knowledge for the desire to taste the joys felt by our founder, that we search, in the period that I called adult, to copy him in his method in the must faithful possible way: to give only one remedy at a time, to give it in the most minute dose, and not to base our prescription upon the diagnostic or pathological symptoms but upon the symptoms which reveal the patient himself, his desired and aversions, his character, his subjective reactions and all the precious modalities which so well characterizes the thinking and living human being, but not that morbid label, theoretical, impersonal and dead entity that one calls malady! Then only we feel the value of this way of practising by the results which it brings to us, we know by the reactions observed if the effect produced is really the natural progress of the morbid affection.
We feel the same satisfaction as the sportsman from whom we, as sons of William Tell, try to model, not like those gunners who use a shotgun and therefore take by hazard their prey, but we must be like the good marksman using prudently and slowly his rifle which makes him sure of his marksmanship as only one bullet hits. Here is the reward of the unique prescription according to Hahnemann, here is the goal which we shall try to attain.
This goal is perfectly possible, and can, by this exact way of doing, truly authorize us to seriously interpret our results, because, as says our Master Hahnemann apropos of the necessity of the unique remedy in the paragraphs 273 and 274 of the Organon:.
The true physician never thinks of giving as a remedy any but a single, simple medicinal substance; for these reasons also, because even though the simple medicines were thoroughly proved with respect to their pure peculiar effects on the unimpaired healthy state of man, it is yet impossible to foresee how two or more medicinal substances might, when compounded, hinder and alter each others actions on the human body.
But we must respect each of these phases, low, middle and high dilution, eclectism complex homoeopathy, alternating then pure, as we are all passing through these transition stage and these are necessary according for our upbuilding.
Therapeutics phases to schools, said Dufresne of Geneve, 100 years ago, is a vast unequal plane, hilly and uneven, cultivated in few areas, cleared up only in some others, and in the most pat rough and uncultivated, travelled over all its points, it everywhere presents evidence of man. But nobody before Hahnemann was able to stake out a grand road. Without fixed points, without assured landmarks, the greatest physicians have only been able to trace successively some footpaths, which were more or less rapidly effected by time, according as their directions were more or less good. Hahnemann has done better.
He has effected a complete and regular outline and pattern, and furthermore he has cut his road on many points; but one cannot dissimulate that, in spite of the force of his genius and his indefatigable activity, despite the aid and cooperation of his learned and zealous disciples the road remains still difficult and laborious to travel. The difficulty is positive; it is the principal cause of the length of our progress. But does the difficulty rebuff the man of science and purpose? Does he abandon a sure way to err in all directions without means of orientation, and leaving everything to hazard? Should he act like that when the result of his conduct can be the death of his brothers?.
Attention, please, to what was said by the philosopher Dufresne, who so well pictured your institutions and customs, during the solemn session of the Gallican Homoeopathic Society in 1835 when Hahnemann, then 80 years old, sat in the middle of this imposing assembly, numbering more than 500 person, who had come to contemplate and to render homage to the illustrious and learned old man:.
Hark, lend me ears, please, ladies and gentlemen, especially you from Paris.
When shall come the generous and enlightened man who will open again the temples of old Aesculapius, who will break the dangerous lancet of the surgeon, who will close the apothecary shops and who will destroy this conjectural medicine accompanied by drugs, fasting and diet? What friend of man will at last announce a new medicine, since the ancient kills and depopulates.? [ Tableau de Paris de 1886, Soc. de Med].
This man is here, he presides over your Society, his name impose silence, he is above all praise, it is our master, Samuel Hahnemann! Upon the provision of the French Minister, he receives the royal authorization to practise in France. Ladies and gentlemen, it is because of him, and because of him alone that we are all here today. His torch has lost no brightness in one hundred years.
Let it lead us to higher ideals in our daily lives work. A system of empty and queer thoughts, a method without serious bases, a doctrine which affects the imagination only and has no foundations, not constructed has won the love of all nations, but if homoeopathy is to live, if it has continued to cure since 1796 in all countries of the world, if it saves cases where regular medicine has been revealed impotent and worthless, if it has great success in veterinary art, it is because it possesses imperishable foundations, because it is based upon a natural law. And its veritable force, its real secret is its cures, its golden key is not death but health, not pain and sorrow but jay and relief.
During this session of welcome, when the homoeopaths of Paris honoured the coming of the master who had definitely left Germany, his country, the address of Hahnemann was of such merit that it should be remembered, at least in part:.
I came to France for the propagation of homoeopathy. In the name of all the homoeopaths, I thank the French Government for the liberty that it accords to our reunions and to our works. in a writing which very soon will be published, I will speak to the public of homoeopathy. I will tell them what one must be to be a homoeopathist and which virtues one must bring in the practice of such a beneficent act. I only recognize as disciples those who practise pure homoeopathy and whose medication is absolutely exempt of all mixture, with the means used until the present time by the old medicine. Regarding the Society of Paris, if it was till now, save some exceptions that I am pleased to recognize, possible to find that it left to desire a more deep and thorough instruction of our art, the fault is due, without doubt, to the innovation of the appearance of homoeopathy in Paris.
By exhorting the members of this society to an indispensable redoubling of this study. I would make them observe as well as all that: When we are dealing with a science which is concerned with the saving of life, it is a crime to neglect its study. Also, I am convinced that this reproach would never apply to you, because, animated as you are for the love of humanity, you will neglect nothing to attain the goal that we propose to you and to which you certainly will reach, if as I very much hope, you remain united in heart and doctrine.
And you studious French youth, you who have not fallen into the old errors and who in your laborious vigils search only the truth, come to me because i bring to you this sought for truth.
It is to the existing facts that I appeal to convince you, but do not try to accomplish those facts yourself until you have had a complete and conscientious study which will assure success. Then, like myself, you will bless the Providence for the immense benefit that has descended upon the earth through my humble medium, because I have only been a feeble instrument of its power before which all must humiliate.
We who treat sick patients who have been given up and left by others, those old asthmatic, those chronic eczematous cases, these arterio-sclerotics in whom remedies have no more action, those suffering from cardiac deficiency, those neurasthenics who have tried everything, and those gastro-enteropathics who have followed all sorts of cures and diet, what bitterness and discouragement we would avoid if we only knew the incontestable possibility of homoeopathy.
Are we curing all these case? No, certainly not, but we assist in curing where the official medicine can do nothing more, we obtain unexpected ameliorations, often sometimes incredible, and almost always bring about a lessening of pains and complaints of the patients who come to consult us. Our results demonstrate the value of this insufficiently known method.
How much more armed we feel in those prodromal stages of the great diathesis and in the beginning of diseases, when the intoxication through drugs, surgery and rays of all kind have not yet exhausted the force of reaction of the organism in distress. How many marvellous cures are there to attest to the superiority of our art!.
You all, do you not hear the daily sad story of these poor sufferers who give you the name of five to ten of the best doctors and bring to you as many difficult prescriptions which have neither cured nor relieved but rather have complicated the case and aggravated the sick! Is it the fault of the physicians themselves? Because between those names, do we not often recognize certain of our comrades of studies, or even the name of our own professors, perfectly serious? No, it is neither the devotedness nor the knowledge of those confreres that is the cause of failure but it is the method that we incriminate. But there, when they say we can do nothing, they commit a crime of ignorance, for how many lives could be saved and alleviated if they only knew the value and possibilities of homoeopathy.