In all departments of knowledge nowadays there are students who devote themselves to some one aspect of the subject-matter and thus gain a deeper-if a narrower-insight into the subject in hand.
This tendency is very marked in the study of medicine and the general public is apt to place great confidence in a physician who is considered-or considers himself-a specialist in some one field, because he has given a good deal of time to the study of that subject.
The special knowledge is most valuable date consultation of such a specialist may be all to the good, of it does not lean to a one-sided view of the case in hand, the paying attention to one set of symptoms only, instead of to the general condition of the patient. Homoeopathy teaches the necessity of getting the symptoms of the whole patient in order to find the curative remedy for the existing disease.
This is no easy thing, especially wit a new patient-one not accustomed to homoeopathic treatment. Such a person will often resent the physician’s careful questioning about his general condition, saying that the special trouble for which he sought relief is all that matters. The physician is wise who sees, and is able to make his patient see, the need for general investigation.
Hahnemann, in the Organon, given very careful directions for such questioning, beginning with paragraph 82 and going on to paragraph 104. He makes a distinction between acute and chronic cases in the matter of examination in paragraph 82-last part.
In this investigation some difference is to be made when the affection is an acute and rapidly developed disease and when it is a chronic one, seeing that, in acute disease, the chief symptoms strike us and become evident to the senses more quickly, and hence much less time is requisite for tracing the picture of the disease and much fewer questions are required to be asked, as almost everything is self-evident, than in a chronic disease which has been progressing for several years, in which the symptoms are much more difficult to be ascertained.
The paragraphs that follow, giving directions for the Presented for I.H.A. Bureau of Homoeopathic Philosophy, 1943.
“taking of the case” are so full of sound common sense that a physician should read them frequently in order to test his own performance in that direction.
In taking the case, the physician lists the subjective symptoms as given him by the patient but at the same time and late by physical examination, notes the objective symptoms-the expression and manner of the patient, his color, general nutrition, the condition of the tissues, blood vessels, and organs. This physical examination is essential, not only for the diagnosis of the patient’s condition, but also for the choice of the remedy. The drug chosen should be on that has produced the same general condition in the provers.
As an illustration of the need for a correct diagnosis in order to make a really accurate prescription, consider the symptom of oppressed breathing. If the cause is a weak or otherwise abnormal heart, the remedy will be one that affected the heart of the prover. Or, if the lungs themselves are a t fault, another remedy would probably he indicated. In case the cause was a general weakness, due, perhaps, to anaemia, still other symptoms would especially help in making the choice.
Mental symptoms which are most important in getting the totality may be both subjective and objective. Often a patient is
unconscious of some peculiarity, as irritability, hesitancy, tendency to repeat, etc., and very few would confess to pride, selfishness or self-assertiveness. People are apt to take themselves for granted and not to realize any departure from the normal.
Getting the totality of the symptoms demands time, patients, and persistence with the ordinary practitioner, but Hahnemann would make it seem easy in paragraph 83:
This individualizing examination of a case of disease demands of the physician nothing but freedom prejudices and sound senses, attention in observing and fidelity n tracing the picture of the disease. NORTHAMPTON, MASS.
DR. PLUMB BROWN: Dr. Stevens’ paper with quotation is most lucid and complete. There is little left for me to say, simply thank you, Dr. Stevens, for reminding me of my besetting sin and tendency of neglecting my daily opportunity as well as duty of gaining inspiration, wisdom and strength from great men and good books, especially the Organon.
If we prescribe for the whole patient, homoeopathically, is pathology ever a real and reliable and in selecting the similimum?.