That year opened upon us, active indeed, each in his individual professional sphere, but with our National and State and smaller organizations suspended or only meeting pro forma, and with our minds and hearts only half devoted to the work of our profession.
For, on the great battle fields of Virginia and of the Southwest, were being waged those conflicts which were to determine whether we were to continue to be States and a Nation, and to become indeed a Free People. And in the shock of the battles, hardly one of us but knew that the blood of his own kinsmen was being shed. What wonder, that, from the contemplation of interests like these, even our venerated science had no power to avert our eyes.
With heartfelt gratitude to these living heroes - with a benediction on those who, in the storm of war, died that the nation might live for us - with grief for the great and good father and friend, our President, so suddenly taken from us, - a grief that is mingled of tears for the personal loss which comes home to every heart and every fireside throughout the land, of vows to detest still more implacably that infernal institution of Slavery, to the last expiring blow of which he fell a victim and of thanks to God that there was granted us, at this time and for so long in our sore need, a leader, great in intellect, and greater still in goodness - we turn again to the work of our profession and consecrate anew our time and our faculties to the advancement of that particular branch of the science of medicine to which we have devoted ourselves.
The American Institute of Homoeopathy, our national representative organization, suspended from the first year of the war, has met again this year and henceforth it is to be expected that a new activity and interest will be infused into all of our associated operations.
Taking a lesson from the times in which we live, let us cherish, as a guiding principle in our scientific career, these golden words of President Lincoln spoken in 1860 and which give the key to his life.
“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces. * * Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
In our retrospect for 1864, (Vol. V., 1.,) we took occasion to remark that the fundamental principles enunciated by Hahnemann, as the basis of his new system of Therapeutics, were utterly repugnant to all the received doctrines of his day; but that, being founded on exact observation, they had triumphantly endured the test of time and experience. And we showed that those who had accepted these principles, and had shared with Hahnemann the obloquy and reproach which resulted from such acceptance, are now participating in the final triumph of these truths. Those, on the other hand, who, though convinced that, in the main, Hahnemann was right, yet could not sustain themselves under the ignominy which attached to his followers and who, therefore, sought to find a middle course which should reconcile their adhesion to Homoeopathy and their maintenance of good standing in the ranks of the old school, discover that, in proportion as they come short of the measure of a true disciple of Hahnemann, so are they now behind the foremost mark of accepted medical truth. For we showed that the progress of philosophy and of research in the science of medicine has caused the leading minds of the profession in the old school to adopt and advocate (though without acknowledgement), one after another, nearly all of the essential fundamental principles of Homoeopathy, as Hahnemann propounded them.
Thus we showed that the doctrine of the power of small doses, the fact that in the action of drugs in disease, power is not in direct proportion to quantity; but that infinitesimal doses act often much more powerfully to cure disease than large doses do-this doctrine has been admitted by Professor Hoppe, and pronounced by him to be Hahnemann's most brilliant discovery.
Again, Wunderlich states, as the most decided forward step of the last decade in medical philosophy, the discovery, that a plan of treatment for any given case is to be constructed, not upon a general notion of the disease based upon its pathology, but upon the phenomena of the individual patient, no matter what name we may give to his malady. Wunderlich ignores the fact that this was one of Hahnemann's great principles, but we know it right well. It is becoming generally accepted now as a great truth in medicine and so the strict Hahnemannians find themselves in the van of medical philosophy.
lst. His doctrine. of Diseases, viz.: that, instead of being a new and hostile entity which had intruded itself upon the organism, and which must, in the process of cure, be expelled there from; disease is “altered or perverted health;” that the processes of disease are simply “perversions of the normal physiological processes of the healthy body,” and that consequently there is no call for expulsion or elimination of any kind, but rather for such an influence to be exerted on that force which keeps the different organs of the body in activity, as shall restore it to its normal working.
2nd. His doctrine (the direct consequence of the preceding), that disease, being, in its essential nature, a dynamic alteration of the organic forces, it can be recognized and known only by its consequent phenomena. In other words, he held that, disease being perverted or modified health, we can recognize disease, as we recognize health, not as an entity but only by its phenomena; that as we recognize healthy life by the phenomena of the healthy organism, viz.: the functions and tissues of the organs, though we may not understand how these functions and tissues are produced, so we can recognize disease or perverted life only through the modified functions and tissues. It is not essential whether or not we understand how these perverted functions and tissues are produced. This is the doctrine that diseases are known only by their symptoms, that we treat them according to their symptoms and that for their successful treatment, a knowledge of their pathology is not indispensably necessary.
How sternly, for this doctrine, was Hahnemann rebuked, as the “grave-digger of Medical Science.” How few of his followers could brave this storm and could “stand and smile” and still be “symptom coverers!”
“Important nay, essential as is a knowledge of pathology and diagnosis, it must be borne in mind that those departments are but a means to an end. * * * In Therapeutics, important improvements have no doubt been made, but these have consisted rather in the abandonment of time-honored but vicious methods than in the introduction of new remedial measures. * * * A fundamental and most important principle of pathology has only lately been recognized; it is this, that diseases are not new and independent entities, but that they are perversions of normal or physiological processes. * * *
“To sum up, therefore, I would say that the present practice of medicine is this: The physician seldom attempts to cure disease, he endeavors to place and maintain his patient in the most favorable condition for recovery; and he treats symptoms, although he often does not know on what they essentially depend.”
Once more, coming to the subject of remedies, Hahnemann taught that drugs cure by virtue of a specific power which each drug possesses to affect in a certain definite way the functions or tissues of certain organs of the body; that this power is different for each drug, being a specific power possessed by each drug; whence it follows that, in treating disease, one drug may not be substituted for another; that this power can be accurately ascertained only by experiment upon the healthy; that the selection of the specific drug for each case of sickness must be made in correspondence with the symptoms which the drug actually produces on the healthy and not on the basis of any general theory of the action of the drug.
We all know how this doctrine has been denounced and ridiculed as the climax of the iniquities of Hahnemann, the “grave-digger of medical science,” reducing Therapeutics to a mere mechanical “comparison and covering of symptoms!”
It will be asked, how we are to attain a knowledge of the specific properties of medicines and of the circumstances in which they will be useful. My answer is, by experiment. And it is not sufficient that we are acquainted with the physiological effect of a medicine, that is to say, with its action on the healthy.” * * * *
How little have those followers of his to glory in, who shrunk from the obloquy that attached at first to his doctrines and, through deference to prevailing opinion which was adverse, modified and modified them out of all resemblance to their original forms!
How cheering, on the other hand, the position of the strict Hahnemannians who find that the very points of doctrine and practice, for adhering to which they have suffered so much from the old school and even more from the half-hearted of the nominal Homoeopathicians, are being proclaimed and defended, one after another, by the highest authorities of the old school!
How much more solidly would our Science now be established had we all the faith and steady courage to stand on the platform of the great and good Lincoln: “Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces; let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
Within the past year the friends of true Homoeopathy have been greatly encouraged by the re-organization of our oldest homoeopathic college, the “Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.”
This institution which, having once done good service, had of late years languished, began a new life last year under a corps of able and active professors, zealous and pure Hahnemannians. We are now gratified to learn that the load of pecuniary and other embarrassments that hampered its operations has been lifted from its shoulders and we have reason to anticipate from it, henceforth, a wide and beneficent influence on the teaching and practice of true Homoeopathy in our country.
Already we have the announcement of an instrument from which such an influence may be confidently expected, in the form of a new journal, the Hahnemannian Monthly, which will appear in August. It will be “conducted and published by the Faculty of the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania,” and will be the organ of the College. As such, it will, no doubt, embody the results of the joint labors of the faculty and students in the Materia Medica as well as in other departments of Homoeopathy. If so, it cannot fail to be of value to our Science and we heartily bid it welcome! - D.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 06 No. 01, 1865, pages 01-07
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