in some of our previous newsletters (#11 and #12), we have alluded to the problems of variable meaning of the words used to capture the symptoms in materia medica and how these make the job of a homeopath somewhat challenging.
This is directly connected to the problem of CASE TAKING, which is possibly the sorest point of any homeopath's practice. As far as we are aware, there is no written material available which concerns itself with thorough and systematic case taking of all areas potentially useful in homeopathic prescription process. Instead of creating such a system, homeopaths prefer calling it an "art". We do not deny there is SOME art to it, but we'd prefer to see more science and system in the process, if you ask us. In the end, it's only about collecting symptoms which you can match to those recorded in our materia medica.
Patients can easily tell you symptoms which they can observe without too much effort, e.g. headache and if they are observant, they will add a few details too. But contrary to common belief (e.g. not interrupting the patient while they speak), patients rarely tell you ENOUGH details, so unless you stop them and interrogate them on the specifics of their headache, you will end up with partial information which will most certainly be useless as IT DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY CHARACTERISTICS which enable us to find the curative remedy. Perhaps every remedy in our books causes some sort of headache, so we need to rely on much finer points than location, to be able to differentiate.
Unless questioned or trained beforehand, the patient will but rarely volunteer the information such as the type of pain (first a general kind i.e. dull, sharp, burning, cramp-like, raw pain, electric, rheumatic, neuralgic etc., then the finer shades, if possible), the intensity of the pain, whether it extends to some other location, how the intensity of the pain varies in time, how it is influenced by various factors (motion, the position of the body, factors concerning eating and drinking, temperature of the surrounding area etc.)
As it is not realistic to expect from a patient to tell their symptoms in a systematic manner, it is the task for a homeopath to guide them and question them systematically, area by area, while at the same time noting all the OBJECTIVE SYMPTOMS by direct observation (e.g. expression on the face and general impression of the patient, how they speak, how they look, what they do, any gestures etc. – this is arguably the ART part, but it can also be learned, if suitable structures are made available to the student.)
If you just thumb through the pages of Hahnemann's Materia Medica Pura and pick any random symptom you find, please ask yourself a question – would I be able to obtain this symptoms from the patient, IF they had it? Do that a few more times and you'll have a fair idea of the state of your case-taking methods.
We believe there are several things greatly necessary to improve our case-taking abilities:
- We need clear STRUCTURES that will induce CLARITY and ORDER into apparent chaos of symptoms. As an example, take any kind of fever. How many have taken pains of studying all kinds of fevers recorded in our books and DISTILLING the points of reference from these? If you consider FEVER, you can see the major differentiating points include presence or non-presence of internal coldness (chilliness), external coldness, internal heat, external heat, perspiration, shivering AND the order in which they appear in relation to each other. The problem is, such DISTILLATION takes a lot of time and there is little reason why every homeopath should go through the process alone. We don't ask every homeopath should create their own repertory so why don't we have such a system already?
- We need to practice the art of observation on ourselves – recognizing and noting our own symptoms. Study materia medica and compare with your own experience. Do provings!
Educate your patients! Many symptoms remain unobserved and unreported because to patient 1. they became so natural they hardly consider them a pathological state (e.g. stuffed nose), or 2. they are so insignificant and inobtrusive in daily life they hardly deserve special attention. It is you, the practitioner, who needs to provide your patients with advices and tips what to watch/observe and how, where to focus their attention and how they should go about observing and noting their symptoms. Provide them examples – either based on your experience and your own symptoms, or based on the symptoms you were able to identify on them.
The argument for the existence of many "modern systems" of homeopathy (i.e. deviations from Hahnemannian homeopathy) is an assumption there is always a lack of symptoms to prescribe upon and that's why relying on so-called classical homeopathy is so difficult in practice. This is hardly and rarely true! Instead of focusing on the proper case-taking methods, speculative theories are introduced where science and fact-based methods should prevail.
Homeopathy versus Speculative Medicine – The Causes of Failure in Homeopathy
Instead of the usual question and answer by André Saine, we are offering you one of his older texts, which concerns the causes of failures in homeopathy. The original talk was presented at the Nash Conference in New York City, September 9, 2000. It analyzes common misconceptions in homeopathy, elucidates the key steps of Hahnemann's method and outlines suitable solutions. Read the full article here »
Recommended article – DRUG PROVING
Following on topic of this newsletter, we recommend Lippe's concise yet informative article on drug provings. Dr. Lippe concerns himself with answering many pertinent questions: Why should we make provings? Who should do provings? What dose to use? and other issues regarding the drug itself, the regimen during the proving and how to note the observations made during the proving.
Read the article here. »
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