UNDER this characteristic Americanism, Dr. Garth W. Boericke, of the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia, contributes an interesting article to the June, 1931 number of The Journal of the American Institute of Homoeopathy. Dr. Boericke comes of an illustrious family of homoeopathic physicians, and, as head of the Department of Materia Medica in the Philadelphia college, his ideas on the subject of homoeopathy are entitled to consideration and respect. In the opening paragraph he states: “It goes without saying that first the patient must have confidence in you, or to use a vulgarism, first you must sell yourself, for I should say that the great majority of people go to a doctor because they like him.
The laity assume that the medical degree is a guarantee of sufficient medical knowledge and the rest depends on that physicians personality.” Lest some of the readers of the HOMOEOPATHIC WORLD may not be familiar with the language of American high-pressure salesmanship, let it suffice that to sell oneself, means to inspire confidence in the person upon whom one wishes to make a favourable impression. It is evident that thus far, at any rate, homoeopathy plays no part in the process of inspiring enthusiasm, for the doctor who presumably practises it.
Further on the author says: “You do not need to practise homoeopathy to be successful, especially if you have certain qualities (an air of sureness and infallibility) spoken about above and regard the monetary recompense as all- sufficient. But a knowledge of homoeopathy, if capitalised, has made many an average brain an outstanding figure in his community. At the same time it cannot be denied that we have many graduates who have never been able to practise homoeopathy and establish an intelligent homoeopathic following.”.
Observation and experience during many years leads to a substantiation of the truth of Dr. Boerickes statement. Obviously, we here have a serious condition to consider, so far as the future of homoeopathy is concerned and by homoeopathy is meant, the faithful adherence to the major Hahnemannian principles and not mere active and more or less theatrical membership in a homoeopathic society, which, unfortunately, too frequently bellies its honoured name by presenting programmes which are anything but homoeopathic.
With all the hue and cry now indulged in, by many who appear to believe that the millennium of homoeopathy is close at hand, in reality this is very far from being the case; a negligible number of graduates of our remaining homoeopathic college practise the art of homoeopathy after graduation and internship; the frequent excuse for this omission is, that “I cannot afford to practise homoeopathy, as the people among whom I have settled demand quick results, tangible medicine and that something be done!” The inference here is, that homoeopathic is something too vague, ethereal, too slow and not striking enough to be accepted by the average layman.
It probably is, in the hands of the vast majority of homoeopathic medical graduates, whose entire undergraduate training falls far short of imbuing them with that unswerving faith and confidence which characterised an older generation and which is characteristic of those comparatively few men, who have come over from orthodox medicine, after a recognition of its futilities and an insight into the stupendous truths of Hahnemannian homoeopathy.
In spite of the recent pronouncements of Bier and other prominent Old School authorities who are investigating and passing upon homoeopathy, there is no real evidence that these men or those to whom they are endeavouring to appeal and for whom they are attempting to rehabilitate homoeopathy in modern scientific garb, are advancing the art of the homoeopathic prescriber, upon whom, in the last analysis, must depend the perpetuation of the basic principles of Hahnemanns philosophy, science and art. After all, homoeopathic prescribing is an art, which, though based upon the concrete finding of drug proving, cannot be reduced to the terms and equations of laboratory methods.
American homoeopathy especially, at the present time, is in great danger of losing its very soul and of sacrificing a time-honoured spirit, for an unwieldy mass of laboratory, pseudo-scientific findings. The greatest need of the homoeopathic school today, is artists who possess not only a knowledge of Medicine in the ordinary sense, but also a reverence for tradition and principle. Such men require a somewhat rare type of mind, willing and eager to strive for an ideal and removed from the machine-age methods which today are dominating this sordid world, with such depressing effects.
So far as observed, very few medical students possess these qualifications, at least in the colleges of our acquaintance; modern educational methods may here be at fault, especially in the United States, where superficiality in teaching is far too common and academic degrees are obtained upon the childish methods of “marks” and “points” in a majority of undergraduate educational institutions.
The late Stuart Close, with his marvellously cultured and trained mind, often said that homoeopathy could not be successfully taught in our undergraduate medical schools and the evidence is more than compelling, that he was right; certain it is, that those now in existence, are falling far short of this highly desirable result.