It seems paradoxical to say that the patients of a homoeopathic physician need instruction in homoeopathy. As a profession we are prone to look upon patients as already converts to the great truth of Similia from the mere fact of their seeking out aid. In this attitude we take too much for granted. That we have misjudged the motives which actuated their coming to us is often startlingly shown when a patient of some years standing says: “Doctor, just what is homoeopathy?”
Woe betide the man who can not give a satisfactory answer to that one! One should never beggar this question and lest one be unprepared, one should make a point of reviewing his knowledge of homoeopathy from time to time. The man who can talk extemporaneously is at a distinct advantage in the situation. If he can talk convincingly as well, imparting some of his own enthusiasm for the Law of Cure, he will surely make a convert who will remain ever a staunch supporter of homoeopathy.
It is much easier, of course to explain homoeopathy to a regular patient because he has already experienced its benefits. He does not need to be convinced that it does work, he merely wants to know why. A new patient, on the other hand, requires a somewhat different approach which is predicated upon ones estimation of the individual himself and the circumstances attendant upon his illness.
In acute conditions one can simply prescribe; if no questions are asked, none need be answered. The early and successful termination of the sickness is answer enough as regards the new doctors ability. This established one in the familys confidence; the chances, therefore, are good that one will be called in again. Eventually the question as to the nature of homoeopathy will come up and can be answered at leisure.
Often enough, however, an opportunity to discuss homoeopathic treatment will present at the first visit. I think this is especially true when called in attendance upon sick child in whom temperature is an outstanding feature of the illness. There are still many parents who are more concerned about the fever than about the more serious condition of which it may be a part. The 3-year-old who awakes from the afternoon nap “burning up” and “glassy-eyed” is enough to set a flutter with fear the heart of even the most phlegmatic of mothers. Father eyes you askance as you put a tiny powder in ten teaspoonful of warm water and carefully stir it. Mother does the same; both with one voice ask, “Is that something for the fever, Doctor?”
And here, right at hand is the golden opportunity no true homoeopath should willingly forego, however late the hour or weary the feet. It takes but a tiny minute to explain that fever isnt a disease; that children do not die of it; that temperature really has no more significance than any of the other symptoms. It takes but a few seconds more to show the foolishness of treating one symptom, the fever, when that is not making the baby sick; that the baby has fever because he is sick and that therefore you are prescribing for the baby.
You wont be any more tired if you use an additional minute or two in stating that your medicine is chosen to combat all the symptoms present because it is capable of producing similar symptoms in healthy people; that it works by stimulating the natural disease-resisting forces in the babys body and thus aids nature in driving out the sickness. Mother and Father can understand that explanation and appreciate its reasonableness; they are grateful, too, that you have made things clear to them and thus helped to allay their fears for the baby.
Still another situation requires the teaching of homoeopathy, when one is in attendance upon an acutely ill person, in which one creates the opportunity for discussion instead of leaving it to chance. I refer to illness in the so-called “up-to-date” family whose home is furnished with all the latest in furniture and mechanical gadgets and whose minds are equally cluttered with all the latest in medical knowledge. They read all the pseudo- scientific articles in the popular magazines; they subscribe to Hygeia and Parents; they listen to medical talks on the radio (none of which are homoeopathic, by the way; a lack which it is my fond hope will some day be supplied).