THE science of homoeopathy is one thing, the art is quite another; the former demands as much knowledge as possible concerning the action of drugs, how they act, where they act and what their ultimate effects may be; a complete pathogenesis of a drug, from the standpoint of homoeopathic prescribing, is a wonderful addition to the therapeutic armamentarium of the physician; it is of advantage, for example, to know which tissues are affected by a drug, which anatomical parts and how these tissues or organs are changed. Such knowledge finds its counterpart in the correct diagnosis of disease and may, therefore, be helpfully suggestive.
In this connection, it may be said that drug provings upon the lower animals furnish us with facts and data impossible to obtain from human provers, for reasons obvious, and no doubt the statement is altogether true; it must, however, always be borne in mind that such pathogenetic effects approach the pathologic or purely objective and that the more objective the case, the less amenable will it be to homoeopathic prescribing; objective symptoms are usually, though not always, of little value to the prescriber, no matter how interesting and useful in other respects they may be.
Up to the present time, no exact method has been discovered of determining just when a given case must be considered incurable, so that some of us dally too long with internally administered remedies, while others of us abandon our therapeutic efforts too soon and consign the patient to extra-homoeopathic measures which are frequently unwarranted and not always to his benefit. This undoubtedly explains why some men get apparently marvellous results with pure homoeopathic prescribing, whereas others fail miserably and then sink into the mire of polypharmacy and futile palliation.
No doubt the truth lies somewhere in between; as homoeopathic physicians we are admonished to prescribe for patients and not for diseases and, theoretically at least, we all subscribe to this injunction; indeed, the injunction is a good one and the more we pay heed to it, the greater our success will be. Practically, however, too many of us prescribe upon a diagnosis, upon a supposed pathology which may or may not be correct; in so doing we forget the patient himself, as well as the fact that any pathology which he may harbour is bounced to be influenced by his own peculiar characteristics.
It is undeniably true that our drug provings have many shortcomings which are embarrassing and are a hindrance to the careful prescriber; the chapters in the repertories with reference to the genito-urinary organs, for example, leave much to be desired, as many of the symptoms recorded are practically worthless; a more exact knowledge of the actual effects of drugs upon the various anatomical localities of the genito-urinary system would be of immense benefit to the homoeopathic prescriber, largely for the reason that the latter is often almost entirely dependent upon the purely local, or, to use the Kentian designation, “particular” symptoms for the choice of his remedy; we all know the futility of prescribing upon such symptoms alone.
After all, those symptoms which Kent called “generals” are our guiding ones in the selection of the remedy, and it is just these symptoms which do not lend themselves to pathological interpretation; unfortunately, these are the very symptoms which most of our modern teachers are failing to sufficiently emphasise in their teaching, too often regarding them as insusceptible of scientific explanation. The result is seen in the yearly crop of homoeopathic graduates who know next to nothing of homoeopathic prescribing, but who are ultra- scientifically trained in the purely pathologic prescribing of the day.
A good diagnostician is usually a poor prescriber and vice versa, the former has to be a technician of a high order, the latter has to be an artist with ideals and an imagination, rising well above a mere knowledge of dry facts; he must be able to visualise, to draw mental pictures, as it were; no doubt all this sounds fanciful, the vapourings of an irresponsible dreamer, yet the fact remains that the dreamers in the homoeopathic school have generally done the best therapeutic work and have at times achieved the seemingly impossible.