Times change. Twenty years ago, few indeed in the profession favored acquainting laymen deliberately with much of the why and wherefore of medicine. Patients, too, were content with faith in their doctors, and not inclined toward curiosity. But recently physicians have been giving the matter serious thought, and laymen have been newly discovered as eager and not inept pupils when the subject touches their own health.
It is believed, therefore, that two purposes are served by opening in The Homoeopathic Recorder a department for laymen:.
One is that laymen who so desire may find principles in homoeopathy useful when it comes to selecting a competent physician, useful in answering for themselves and for friends the questions about homoeopathy that so often are asked, useful in distinguishing between homoeopathy and other kinds of treatment.
When a layman is heard, as so frequently one is, to refer to a doctor as “awfully good for gallstone colic”, or what have you, that layman confesses without realizing it that he has acquired no grasp of principles; for principles, as homoeopathy knows them, apply in all cases whatever the illness.
The second purpose to be served is that laymen may become better patients by understanding what to report to their doctors and how to report it, and by knowing how to cooperate intelligently when under treatment.
Vital to human welfare are both these aims, and to help fulfil them The Homoeopathic Recorder invites laymen to ask their own questions, make their own suggestions, comment and criticize freely. Address THE EDITOR FOR LAYMEN, 38 Elizabeth Street, Derby, Connecticut, U.S.A.
It will surprise many to know that the word homoeopathy came not from the Latin homo, meaning man, but from the Greek homoeo, meaning like or similar. The idea of treatment is in the latter part of the word. The word was devised by Hahnemann, who wished to record in one name the principle which he more fully expressed in Latin: Similia similibus curentur, or, in English, Let likes be cured by likes.
Samuel Hahnemann was first of all a well trained physician, learned in all the sciences then open to him, and secondly a translator of ancient and modern languages, who crossed the boundaries of language and time in search of facts. This idea that sick persons maybe treated by a law of similars he had found suggested in ancient literature, had kept it in mind until circumstances favored an adequate investigation. Hence, when he brought it to the attention of the reading public about 1790, it was by no means new to him.
It will surprise many a physician, as well as laymen, to know that Hahnemann himself never intended to create a whole system of medicine. He enunciated a method, radically new at the time, of administering medicines to the sick. He devoted the rest of a long career to developing the method, working out its corollaries, building up a materia medica suitable for it. He craved peace and quiet for his studies. Instead he found himself abused at the hands of most physicians for his audacity, and all pharmacists abused him because he prepared his own remedies. Sensitive to injustice, he fought them back, and fought bitterly. Dramatic, exciting, and pathetic is the story of his life, but the story of his accomplishment is sublime.
It was the group of devoted followers, rallied about Hahnemann to help in his fight for principles, who came to regard homoeopathy as a whole system of medicine, not Hahnemann himself. They talked of a “new school of medicine”, struggled for recognition and aroused the antagonism of all the medical profession, which has followed homoeopathy ever since.
Medical colleges, medical societies, hospitals, have grown up attempting to cover the whole field of medicine including homoeopathy, especially in the United States. But homoeopathic ways of thinking do not fit with the rest of the medical courses as they happen now to be developed. The result is a body of physicians well trained in certain of the medical sciences and in certain specialities,but, as the profession begins to recognize poorly trained when it comes to giving medicines to the sick. This is a serious mistake. If homoeopathy, instead of trying to stand as a whole school of medicine, had asserted itself at once as a postgraduate speciality in drug prescribing, this mistake need not have occurred.
Homoeopathy rightly comes after the ordinary training in medicine, an intensive study for the medically mature. WASHINGTON, D.C.