A cursory examination of medical writings from the earliest records, reveals the same inveterate spirit of bigotry, egotism and intolerance, which characterizes and disgraces the schools of the present day.
Medicine seems to form an exception to the other learned professions; we find prevailing in them, a sort of genuine, fraternal bond, which insures not only all the common courtesies and civilities of life, but extends to generous and sympathetic expressions of respect and esteem beyond the grave; while with us, on the contrary, it is an exception to the rule to find a physician exalting his colleague, especially if he be a neighbor and competitor, and almost equally rare, to find us heartily eulogizing the memory of a professional brother, even after he has been removed from our midst by the inevitable fate which awaits us all.
Why is this so? Does the study of our profession necessarily dwarf the humanity within us and develop the Ishmaelite and the bigot? Does the professional experience of the practising physician - do his peculiarly confidential relations to his patients tend to blind his eyes, stop his ears, warp his intellect and stifle his generosity until there is no possible escape from the petty egotism of his own circumscribed standpoint?
I am led into this vein of thought, by a survey of our own chosen field of Homoeopathy as it presents itself to us today. In point of intolerance and egotistical assumption, it affords but slight exception to the sad experience of the past. With a profound conviction of its substantial basis, its scope and its opportunity, let us take heed and avoid the dangers which beset us.
In Homoeopathy, based upon an immutable natural law, we find the first real union between science and the healing art. It is the first successful step towards establishing a system capable of philosophic demonstration. By it, the chaotic vagaries of the past, held together by no central principle are reduced to comparative order, and the art of medicine aspires to a position among the exact sciences.
We claim for Homoeopathy an approximation to the exact sciences, because it is based upon a fixed law. Thus, a complete analysis of all the phenomena presented by a given malady and a thorough knowledge of the pathogenesis of drugs, will guide each practitioner to the selection of the same curative remedy. It teaches us by a simple and undeviating rule, without cruel and hazardous experiment on the sick, what remedies are adapted to the cure of certain morbid conditions.
No wonder its early advocates full of zealous enthusiasm, saw in the ultimate perfection attainable by this new science, a system so complete, so harmonious and so irresistible as to, promise a millennial future, wherein the fugitive evils, errors, and absurdities of the past would be bound together and cast into the pit of oblivion, forever.
How bitterly have they been disappointed! We behold today, instead of a united brotherhood, advancing sturdily and triumphantly, shoulder to shoulder in one common cause, bitter rival factions, yet lingering upon the very threshold of the temple, squandering their precious time in furious contention over minor features, with scarcely a ray of that magnanimity which should distinguish the noble profession to which we belong.
Homoeopathicians are divided into three classes, viz., high-attenuationists, low attenuationists, and those who, without exclusiveness, believe in the efficacy of the entire range of potencies, each under proper circumstances.
The exclusive high-attenuationist is subject to the charge of fanaticism, (the term fanatic is often but the synonym for pioneer, his chief offence is in being in advance of his contemporaries). In his zeal, he may occasionally indulge in the self-confident assumption, “I am holier than thou;” yet he at least, merits commendation and praise for his unflinching and fearless advocacy of his opinions - with him there is no skulking - he may in his earnest devotion to his ideas, indulge in terms of indignant denunciation against those who willfully and utterly decline to follow him in his pathway of exploration; but one significant fact may always be observed, he never palavers of compromising with Allopathy, he never falters ill his loyalty to the fundamental principles upon which the whole science of Homoeopathy is built.
Upon the other hand, the exclusive low attenuationists is apt to sink into a method so loose and unprincipled as to even involve his confidence in the law similia similibus curentur, and to permit his practice to degenerate into more eclecticism.
This assertion is verified by the practice of too many low attenuationists, even in the circle of our own acquaintance. Their disregard of Hahnemann's precautions, their frequent departure from our law of cure, their habitual resort to cathartics, anodynes and other palliatives, is not only disgraceful to their intelligence as Homoeopathicians, but dishonorable to them as men. They claim to be Homoeopathicians when they are but mongrels.
Many of them serve under the banner of Homoeopathy because of its popularity and for mere mercenary and selfish purposes. They do not elevate it, they do not sustain it, but, like the horde of camp followers which hang around, disgrace and encumber an army, they are ever ready to trample the sacred symbol under foot, to riot in the spoils.
As an apology for a mongrel practice, the humiliating excuse is sometimes made, that, having tried homoeopathic remedies and failed, they have no alternative but to resort to Allopathy or see their patients go elsewhere for treatment. Oh rapacious pocket! They have not yet even found, much less tried the true homoeopathic remedy, if Allopathy is capable of affording relief.
Such an apologist (when not too far gone) will generally acknowledge the universality of our law of cure, but remonstrates thus, “If I do not know the appropriate homoeopathic remedy, it is as unfortunate for my patient as though no such remedy existed.” It is unfortunate for his patient — unfortunate to have such a physician!
Study, laborious, persevering, self-sacrificing study, unswerving and inflexible fidelity to our law, have made Homoeopathy what it is. Without these, we should still be groping in the obscurity and uncertainty of old physic.
The sole argument used by the low against the high attenuationists, that of ridicule and the mathematical demonstration of the absurdity of infinitesimal doses, is the identical one with which the old school has so frequently attempted to demolish Homoeopathy.
It is the self same bludgeon with which Homoeopathy has been so often pounded and crushed, until (like the fresh water polypi, of which, when they are divided and subdivided into a thousand fragments, each part becomes a perfect living whole) it has steadfastly established itself in the confidence of the people throughout the land.
This matter of the dose cannot be evaded by us as a mere trifling affair of personal conviction or caprice. “It is not a matter of theory and speculation but a matter of fact and experiment,” to be decided only after cautious, deep, searching, unprejudiced, and intelligent investigations. Upon it hangs the future usefulness and destiny of our system of cure.
The flippant assertion of Dr. – that he has no confidence in this or that especial attenuation or dose, is of no importance whatever. We must decide for ourselves and our conclusions should be drawn from a thorough and impartial study of the whole range of potencies and their effects.
Every motive prompts the conscientious physician to cure his patients in the most speedy and effectual manner possible. It seems that no one can be so obtuse as to reject that method which experience proves to be the best. The question then is how can we most surely arrive at the truth? It can only be done by a candid, unbiased and thorough examination of all the evidence presented.
Many of our most eminent, profound and discreet physicians, close observers, in this and other countries, after long and critical deliberation have pronounced in favor of the superiority of the higher attenuations. (By the high or higher attenuations, I mean all those preparations wherein the drug is attenuated beyond the recognition of any material test, say, from 5th or 6th cent., upward.)
The mass of clinical experience they have given us cannot be ignored without calling in question either their integrity or their ability. On the other hand, we find opposed to this carefully detailed testimony, the simple, unqualified negation of the unbelievers.
Perhaps the most conclusive and comprehensive testimony yet furnished, is that of Dr. Eidherr of the Leopoldstadt Hospital, Vienna, (see article on “High-Potencies,” by C. Dunham, M. D., published in Transactions of New York State Homoeopathic Medical Society. Vol. II. 1864). [See American Homoeopathic Review Vol. III, P. 259] It should be remembered, that these experiments were conducted by men whose convictions were decidedly on the side of the superiority of the low potencies.
These experiments by Dr. Eidherr are spoken of briefly, as doubtless the report has been read by you all. The paper of Dr. Dunham is one of the ablest arguments yet presented in favor of the high potencies.
In seeking for progress in our science, we should never forget, that it is the imperative duty of each and every one of us to bear his portion of the burden. Indolence is a formidable enemy to our future growth. To be drones is unworthy our high calling, and must necessarily result in professional degeneracy. Let us, therefore, shake off the shackles of apathy and prejudice, and consecrate our hearts and our energies anew to the elevation and improvement of Homoeopathy.
The first can only be determined by careful and continued experiment. The second by a rigid and intelligent compliance with the formula, similia similibus curentur. Want of success in practice arises from neglect of this second precaution, more frequently than from any other cause. In order to make a proper selection of the remedy, we must first make an exhaustive analysis of all the phenomena presented by the patient. Both objective conditions and subjective symptoms are necessary to this end. Second, we must have a thorough knowledge of the true pathogenesis of drugs.
We fail, oftener, through ignorance of the provings we already have than from imperfect ones, yet the most intelligent, diligent and concise student is liable to become bewildered amid the sometimes questionable mass of records furnished us as provings.
Compare Hull's edition of Jahr's New Manual, with the English edition or Curie's Jahr; compare Hull's, Jahr with either the French or the original German editions, and you will be astonished at the disagreements revealed! The differences are so palpable as to awaken unpleasant doubts as to the reliability of the books used by the great mass of American Homoeopathicians. This fault to a great degree lies with the translators, and necessitates new provings and new and more accurate and reliable translations. We have much better data and fuller material from which to create a good Materia Medica than was possessed by the original publishers of the immortal works of Hahnemann and Jahr, for we are now able to introduce much new and corroborative evidence from a wider range of clinical experience.
This desideratum would be accomplished in the most satisfactory manner by the proposed new Materia Medica of our learned colleague, Dr. Constantine Hering, were it not for the proposition to print a bulky, unwieldy and inconvenient double edition, with English and German in parallel columns.
Let Dr. Hering give us a convenient, concise and practical edition in English alone, and we shall be able to go forth stoutly armed and equipped for our work while he will merit and receive the gratitude of every true Homoeopathician and will render a service to humanity second only to that of the revered Hahnemann.
A pernicious disposition with some of us is that insatiable desire for change which allures us to wanderings after new remedies before we half know the old. This over anxiety for new things tends to make us superficial in our study and comprehension of the old. It is more important to the genuine Homoeopathician to have a complete knowledge of the pathogenesis of the polychrest remedies alone than to possess smattering ideas of all the roots and herbs in the Eclectic wigwam. Let us avoid using new remedies except when it can be done in strict compliance with our law of indication.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 06 No. 02, 1865, pages 41-48
|Professional Trials and Dangers.
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