EDITORIAL


In an editorial in the may 1936 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 thorough instruction in the fundamentals of homoeopathy.


THOUGHTS CONCERNING THE PROFESSION OF HOMOEOPATHY.

What does it means to us to be known as homoeopathic physicians ? Have we ever asked ourselves that question ? And, if so, have we ever answered it satisfactorily ? It is time, we think, that the profession took stock of itself, individually, to learn what are its assets and what are its greatest liabilities.

In a broad sense, its assets are those sincere, earnest and enthusiastic men who practice their art in accordance with the principles enunciated by our great Master. In the same way, its liabilities are those hypocritical and lackadaisical men who give lip-service only to homoeopathy and have bastardized their art by an unorthodox and illogical recourse to the methods of so-called “modern scientific medicine.” We must ask ourselves into what class we fall. Can each one of us, after careful personal analysis, truthfully, assert that he is an asset ? Or must some of us, after honest thought, shamefacedly admit that we are liabilities ? Each of us must undertake an earnest self- examination with respect to these questions, realizing that the credit in which homoeopathy is held is in direct relationship to the professional practices of its individual members.

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:.

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 we are 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 of the term, “regular physician” had come to mean a member of the so-called “regular school” of medicine in contra- distinction 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 s 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 of homoeopathic therapeutics, but, for the purposes of defining a homoeopathic physician, we believe 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 art of homoeopathy should be insisted upon as the first requisite of a homoeopathic physician, to which should be added a 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 back-sliding. “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.

The point of all this is that a homoeopathic physician can not 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 n 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 we 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 graduates have but a superficial knowledge of all that pertains to that great science. This is a fact to which, we, 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 ? We are unable to recall a single instance during our 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 then at our command this indicates with what seriousness was assumed the responsibility of training us in homoeopathy. What wonder that the ranks of our profession are filled with men who have little or no enthusiasm for, and faith in, homoeopathy ! What wonder that homoeopaths boast that they practice both kinds of medicine ! as if that was 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 of its art.

In an editorial in the may 1936 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 thorough instruction in the fundamentals of homoeopathy. This statement is undoubtedly true, yet we take exception to it on the grounds that the departments intrusted with this subject do not take full advantage of whatever opportunity they do have. So we 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.

We believe that the failure to graduate physicians who have been adequately trained in homoeopathy can be traced to the quality of the instruction received in that subject, rather than to the quantity. We believe that homoeopathy can be properly taught only by men who are thoroughly and enthusiastically conversant with the entire field, who understand fully the difference between it and general medicine, and who recognize the place homoeopathy should hold in relation to general medicine.

In addition to all this, the teachers of homoeopathy should be men of established ability in the practice of homoeopathy. Furthermore, we are of the opinion that the clinical side of homoeopathy is not enough stressed, or rather not adequately stressed. The real effectiveness of homoeopathic therapeutics can be shown only by the results obtainable at the bedside. The curricula of our medical schools surely can not be so crowded as to exclude clinical demonstration of pure homoeopathic cure.

Eugene Underhill