we have concerned ourselves with case taking in the previous issue. When we have gathered all the available symptoms of the patient, we are ready to analyze the case and make a prescription. In § 7 of The Organon we find Hahnemann's direction concerning the TOTALITY OF SYMPTOMS of disease which is to be the basis of the prescription:
"Now, as in a disease, from which no manifest exciting or maintaining cause (causa occasionalis) has to be removed, we can perceive nothing but the morbid symptoms, it must (regard being had to the possibility of a miasm, and attention paid to the accessory circumstances, § 5) be the symptoms alone by which the disease demands and points to the remedy suited to relieve it – and, moreover, the totality of these its symptoms, of this outwardly reflected picture of the internal essence of the disease, that is, of the affection of the vital force, must be the principal, or the sole means, whereby the disease can make known what remedy it requires – the only thing that can determine the choice of the most appropriate remedy – and thus, in a word, the totality of the symptoms must be the principal, indeed the only thing the physician has to take note of in every case of disease and to remove by means of his art, in order that it shall be cured and transformed into health."
The selection of the words "totality of symptoms" caused and still causes a lot of confusion among homeopaths as it DOES NOT mean just all the symptoms taken together, as it would seem. It is important to keep in mind that the original Organon was written in German and the translation makes it sometimes difficult to understand the real MEANING which Hahnemann attempted to convey – and took great pains to do it as precisely as possible. Where the translations (Dudgeon's and Boericke's) use the single term "totality of symptoms", Hahnemann uses not only die Gesammtheit der Symptome (of which totality of symptoms is a fair translation) but also der Symptomen-Inbegriff (§ 16, for example), which translates more like the ESSENCE of the symptoms – that part of the symptoms which BEST represents the disease.
Further, and quite clear allusion to the importance of considering ESSENCE rather than the SUM TOTAL of the symptoms, is found in § 153:
"In this search for a homœopathic specific remedy, that is to say, in this comparison of the collective symptoms of the natural disease with the list of symptoms of known medicines, in order to find among these an artificial morbific agent corresponding by similarity to the disease to be cured, the more striking, singular, uncommon and peculiar (characteristic) signs and symptoms of the case of disease are chiefly and most solely to be kept in view; for it is more particularly these that very similar ones in the list of symptoms of the selected medicine must correspond to, in order to constitute it the most suitable for effecting the cure. The more general and undefined symptoms: loss of appetite, headache, debility, restless sleep, discomfort, and so forth, demand but little attention when of that vague and indefinite character, if they cannot be more accurately described, as symptoms of such a general nature are observed in almost every disease and from almost every drug."
You can find great articles from various authors here on Legatum Homeopathicum, all attempting to explain the meaning of that mysterious totality of symptoms. We recommend to read some of those – it is a time well-invested.
Question for André Saine
Q: When updating our repertories, I understand it is a usual practice to add remedies to rubrics (or up their grade) corresponding to symptoms cured by the remedy, even if these were not produced in the proving. If, for example, we take this Lippe's case, complying with usual practice, we should add Lycopodium to all the rubrics corresponding to the cured symptoms of the case (lying on his back perfectly unconscious, his eyes wide open, glaring, fixed on the ceiling, pupils dilated, cheeks red and hot, mouth wide open, the lower jaw hanging down, tongue and lips dry, black and cracked; picking of bed coverings; rapid pulse), although the prescription was based on a very different symptom (deposit of red sand, resembling brick dust, in the urine). I find this a dubious practice which, eventually, will lead to all remedies being present in all rubrics, making the repertory a useless tool. What is your opinion on this? Or, more generally, how do you think we should consider / value symptoms produced in proving, cured but not produced and cured AND produced in proving?
A: Symptoms that make their appearance during provings, even though it is only once, must be recorded in our materia medica and repertories. Similarly, well-established symptoms that unmistakably disappear in the sick under a certain remedy must ... Read the full answer »
Do you have a question of your own? You can submit it here.
Recommended article – TOTALITY OF SYMPTOMS
Touching the topic of this newsletter, we recommend one of Lippe's renowned "Fatal Errors" articles which should bring more clarity into the meaning of "totality of symptoms" referred to by Hahnemann as the basis of homeopathic prescription.
Read the article here. »
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