A Homoeopathic Physician is one who adds to his knowledge of medicine a special knowledge of Homoeopathic Therapeutics and observes the Law of Similia. All that pertains to the great field of medical learning is his, by tradition, by inheritance, by right.

Before me is a group of men calling themselves homoeopaths, which, though small, is doubtless a representative cross-section of our great profession. I am wondering what the word homoeopathy means to you. What does it mean to you to be known as homoeopathic physicians ? Have you ever asked yourselves that question? And, if so, have you ever answered it satisfactorily?.

What is a homoeopathic physician ? The definition authorized by the American Institute of Homoeopathy, and ordered published conspicuously in the Transactions of each year, is as follows:.

A Homoeopathic Physician is one who adds to his knowledge of medicine a special knowledge of Homoeopathic Therapeutics and observes the Law of Similia. All that pertains to the great field of medical learning is his, by tradition, by inheritance, by right.

June, 1899, saw the beginning of the yearly publication of this definition and it was doubtless considered a great step in the direction of clarifying, once and for all, just what class of physicians should be called homoeopathic. Eighteen years previously, in June, 1881, the American Institute of Homoeopathy, under the presidency of J.W. Dowling, M.D., authorized the publication of the following definition of a “regular physician”:.

A Regular Physician: A graduate of a regularly incorporated medical college. The term also applies to a person practicing the Healing Art in accordance with the laws of the country in which he resides.

What purpose prompted the authorization of these two definitions I am unable to state. Whether it was sought to distinguish between what constituted a homoeopath and what constituted an allopath is not at all clear. At any rate the definition of 1881 does not distinguish anything and gives both allopaths and homoeopaths an even “break”, since obviously it can be applied to members of either school without discrimination. From common usage the term, “regular physician” had come to mean a member of the so-called “regular school” of medicine in contradistinction to a homoeopath, a member of the homoeopathic school of thought. Terms synonymous with “regular physician” were “member of the dominant school” and “allopathic physician”.

With the official recognition given to a definition, applicable with equal force to members of both schools of medicine, the connotation given by common usage to the term, “regular physician”, was lost. And thus, quite effectively, was breached the wall which hitherto had separated the two schools. The result has been an insidious weakening of the virility of the homoeopathic profession, a virility which to that point had thriven upon antagonism and grown sturdy from abuse.

Nor did the officially authorized definition of a homoeopathic physician, which appeared nearly two decades later, do much to bolster the ebbing strength of our noble profession. Even a superficial analysis shows it for what it is: the anaemic offspring of an emasculated homoeopathy. Let me quote that definition once more.

A Homoeopathic Physician is one who adds to his knowledge of medicine a special knowledge of Homoeopathic Therapeutics and observes the Law of Similia. All that pertains to the great field of medical learning is his, by tradition, by inheritance, by right.

Cloaked in lofty phrases this seems at first glance to be an accurate description of what a homoeopathic physician really is. But if the outer covering is removed, several flaws immediately appear in the body of this definition. First of all, knowledge of homoeopathic therapeutics is made subordinate to a knowledge of medicine in general, in the wording of the definition, and observance of the Law of Similia is made subordinate to both. It is true, of course, that a general knowledge of medicine should go hand in hand with a knowledge to homoeopathic therapeutics, but, for the purposes of defining a homoeopathic physician. I believe that that knowledge should be made subordinate to a thorough understanding of the Law of Similia and the entire body of philosophy and therapeutics derived from and predicated upon it. So that the wording of the first sentence of this definition should be made to express our belief in the prime importance of homoeopathic learning in relation to general medical knowledge. In other words, a thorough acquaintance with the principles and practice of the science and arts of homoeopathy should be insisted upon as the first requisite of a homoeopathic physician, to which should be added to general knowledge of medicine in order to make his training complete.

That everything pertaining to the great field of medical learning is the traditional inheritance and right of every physician is so obviously true that its insertion as a part of the definition of a homoeopath seems entirely unnecessary and redundant. It in no way, however, sets a homoeopath apart from any other physician. Its use here further weakens an already flimsy description. The renegades and heretics among us have eagerly seized upon this second sentence in the authorized definition to excuse their backsliding. “Since all that pertains to the great field of medicine, ” they argue, “has officially been declared to be ours, then why should we not take unto ourselves that which is also ours by tradition, by inheritance, and by right?” So an already growing tendency to stray from the fold of pure homoeopathy was given an added impetus by this inaccurate and badly worded definition. I do not need to give you specific instances in support of this statement. The proof appears in black and white in almost every number of our homoeopathic journals. I am acquainted with but one periodical that devotes its pages to the exposition of true Hahnemannianism. This is the official organ of an association of sincere and earnest homoeopaths whose ranks are recruited from among the faithful followers of the great Hahnemann all over the world. I refer to The Homoeopathic Recorder. Too much cannot be said in praise of this organization and of the magazine which it sponsors, both of which do much to further the cause of homoeopathy both here and abroad. If the rank and file of the profession could be leavened with this kind of faith and could be heated in the fire of this kind of enthusiasm, then indeed would homoeopathy become the staff of our professional life. With every homoeopath practicing homoeopathy in accordance with a full understanding of the Law of Similia and the philosophy derived from it, no need then to fear for the future of our school of medicine.

The point of all this is that a homoeopathic physician cannot be created by definition. If that were possible, then Hahnemann has labored in vain. But a homoeopathic physician can be created by education and training, and in that way only can he be made. The doors of our medical schools are besieged by hundreds of young men who are clamoring to be taught homoeopathy, and the responsibility for endowing these youths with the great heritage of Hahnemann is squarely in the hands of the institutional authorities. Whether or not this responsibility is accepted, and discharged in an adequate and conscientious manner, is a question which I believe must be answered in the negative. In the effort to give their students a standardized medical education our colleges have apparently so regimented the teaching of homoeopathy that their graduated have but a superficial knowledge of all that pertains to that great science. This is a fact to which, I, personally, can testify. The students and graduates themselves should not be blamed. Can a man be expected to appreciate the value of something of which he is almost entirely ignorant? I am unable to recall a single instance during my four years at Hahnemann in Philadelphia which demonstrated the superiority of the homoeopathic method over any other type of prescribing. In view of the vast amount of clinical material at our command this indicates with what seriousness was assumed the responsibility of training us in homoeopathy. What wonder then that the ranks of the profession are filled with men who have little or no enthusiasm for and faith in homoeopathy! What wonder then that homoeopaths boast that they practice both kinds of medicine! as if that something to be proud of. The true Hahnemannian does not practice both kinds of medicine because he knows that homoeopathy is the only effective means of combating disease. Not until our homoeopathic institutions awake to a realization of their full responsibilities in the teaching of homoeopathy will the profession ever be purged of the impurities now existent in the practice of its art.

In an editorial in the May number of the Hahnemannian Monthly concerning the postgraduate teaching of homoeopathy a statement is made to the effect that there would be less need for courses of this kind, if the crowded curricula of the colleges allowed opportunity for more through instruction in the fundamentals of homoeopathy. This statement is undoubtedly true, yet I take exception to it on the grounds that the departments instructed with this subject do not take full advantage of whatever opportunity they do have. So I consider the assertion referred to above as merely an example of the “old army game.” Unless the curricula of our homoeopathic colleges have greatly changed during the past ten years, the time allotted to the teaching of homoeopathy is quite ample for the purpose.

Allan D. Sutherland
Dr. Sutherland graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia and was editor of the Homeopathic Recorder and the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy.
Allan D. Sutherland was born in Northfield, Vermont in 1897, delivered by the local homeopathic physician. The son of a Canadian Episcopalian minister, his father had arrived there to lead the local parish five years earlier and met his mother, who was the daughter of the president of the University of Norwich. Four years after Allan’s birth, ministerial work lead the family first to North Carolina and then to Connecticut a few years afterward.
Starting in 1920, Sutherland began his premedical studies and a year later, he began his medical education at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia.
Sutherland graduated in 1925 and went on to intern at both Children’s Homeopathic Hospital and St. Luke’s Homeopathic Hospital. He then was appointed the chief resident at Children’s. With the conclusion of his residency and 2 years of clinical experience under his belt, Sutherland opened his own practice in Philadelphia while retaining a position at Children’s in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department.
In 1928, Sutherland decided to set up practice in Brattleboro.