Belief Versus Knowledge.
By C. Pearson, M.D., Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
« The inquiry of truth which is the love making or wooing of it, the knowledge of truth which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth which is the enjoying of it, are the sovereign good of human nature. » — BACON. »
« To argue with a man who has renounced his reason, is like giving medicine to the dead. » — PAINE.
IN a notice of the appearance of the Organon, published in the December number of the Homeopathic Review, we find the following language; the italics, with one exception, are my own « Many undoubtedly remarkable cures have followed the use of medicines potentized to an extraordinary degree of dilution. If thirtieths and two hundredths act in a curative manner, it is impossible to say where the curative property of a drug ceases. What we want is proof of the efficacy of the extremely high dilutions in use by the Hahnemannian school. We have before now asked for cases clearly reported, about the diagnosis of which there can be no doubt, the progress and result of which are fully given; but, with very few exceptions, those that have been published do not carry conviction to our minds that their happy termination was connected with the medicine they bad received. »
Whether these remarks rare original with the editors of the Review or not we cannot say; certain it is, however, they read very much as though they had been copied from some Allopathic publication. If we except the first sentence, there is nothing to direct us as to what school of therapeutics the writer belongs; and even the declaration, that undoubtedly remarkable cures have followed the use of highly potentized medicines, is contradicted in the concluding paragraph, where such results are called « happy terminations, not sufficiently authentic to carry conviction to his mind that such termination could lightly be attributed to the medicine, and therefore not cures in the proper acceptation of that term. He calls for proof of the efficacy of the extremely high attenuations in use by the « Hahnemannian School » Query. To what school does he belong? Evidently to some other; and all Homoeopathists know how extremely difficult it is to convince such men.
If the thousands of well-authenticated clinical cases that have been published from time to time are not sufficient, we despair of the task of furnishing any evidence that will be satisfactory. It would be difficult to report all the cases cured with high potencies during a constant practice of thirty years; these have been sufficient to carry conviction to my mind. It may be, however, that the writer in the Review might not be satisfied with the same amount of evidence. But does he really believe that physicians of the « Hahnemannian School », who seldom, if ever, prescribe low dilutions, are all stupid or dishonest? In other words, does he think us all either fools or rascals? He will say, no doubt, that he has made no such accusation; and yet he certainly has, indirectly. Does he believe that, if these dilutions are inert, any one with ordinary discernment could not, after having prescribed them for a quarter of a century or more, have made the discovery? And if we have made such discovery, and still persist in giving them, are we honest? Does he believe that he ever cured a case of disease with medicine at all? If so, we demand the proof; and if he asserts that he did it with the lower dilutions, or with the crude drug, we beg leave to use his language by saying, « Such cases do not carry conviction to our minds that their happy termination was connected with the medicine they had received. »
And while we might be charitable enough to apply the term « happy ! » to such terminations, we think « lucky » a much better word, for certainly the patient who, with any serious disease, escapes under such treatment with his life, should consider himself lucky.
But, then, the writer himself would not, of course, term such cures Homoeopathic; and in this he would be right, as he claims not to belong to this (Hahnemannian) school; and this at once opens up the old controversy between the two schools–the Antipathic, or Allopathic, with their contraries, on the one hand, and the Homoeopathic on the other, with its similars, and drugs so highly potentized as to escape their toxical or primary action.
To propose the union of two such schools is as preposterous as to talk of uniting the sides of a parallelogram. Any movement in this direction is a step towards dissolution by the merging of the one into the other. It is true there are practitioners of both schools, taking the name alone for a standard, who approximate each other to such an extent in their mode of prescribing, that nothing but the name seems to divide them; and to such we would say, Why not « doff that name? » Whoever prescribes Morphine for pain or diarrhoea, Quinine to « brake » chills and fever, or Podophyllum to move the bowels, or any other drug for any other disease where symptoms are suppressed by their primary action, is prescribing Allopathically to all intents and purposes. And why should a name keep such physicians apart? For if the disease does not yield to drop doses of the tincture, ten drops may be given, without any sacrifice of principle; the number of drops or grains, depends on the judgment of the prescriber. This mode of treatment, being wholly Antipathic or Eclectic, is not calculated to strengthen the confidence of the prescriber in dynamized, medicines, or in cures purporting to have been effected thereby. For if a medicine be given too low, say the third or the sixth, to effect an improvement Homoeopathically, and too high to do so Antipathically, and the dose is increased to ten drops of the tincture, or to two or three grains of the crude drug, and the symptoms are suppressed or changed by these poisonous quantities, the conclusion is that, if the larger dose had been at first given, the response would have been that much more prompt.
But he does not for one moment think that these cures (?) are not Homoeopathic, and that, where an apparent improvement follows the administration of such massive doses, it is because the medicine is Antipathic to the disease. There can be no doubt but scores of cases, reported as cures in our journals, are brought about in this way; and yet, on every hand, month after month, comes from such practitioners the cry for help ! They have exhausted their fund of knowledge and of medicine, and now call for that advice they should have obtained before assuming the responsibilities of practice. But are they as willing to be instructed as they seem? This greatly depends on the quality of the advice given. If they are advised to give a low potency of some one or more medicines untried, and perhaps unproven, they gratefully accept the suggestion, and go plodding on their dark uncertain way as before; but if they are directed to give a remedy Homœopathic, both as regards selection, preparation, and application to the disease —say at the 200th or upwards— they immediately lose confidence; perhaps not lose it, for they could not lose what they never had; but they have no confidence in the prescription, because it does not accord with their judgments. To such persons we might say, as the servant said to the Leper who was disgusted with the advice of the prophet to bathe seven times in the Jordan— »If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? » What test or what sign, then, are these men waiting for? What evidence will satisfy them? If the record of the « Hahnemannian School » in the past is not sufficient, we cannot see that the future will be likely to be any more convincing, « even though one rose from the dead. » So many exceptions may be taken to reported cures, so many objections urged, that no amount of such evidence would be sufficient to « carry conviction to the mind » of any one disposed not to believe. But we will suggest another test to the Editors of the Review, and to all others who, like them, speak disparagingly of the « Hahnemannian School »; that they use any one of the four remedies we enumerate at the 200th attenuation for the class of symptoms described, and after repeated trials, have the goodness to publish the result in « THE ORGANON. » The disease we select is pneumonia; and while it may be urged that many spontaneous cases of recovery from this disease occur, it cannot be denied that few acute maladies are more rapid, painful, or fatal. We desire to make the number of remedies and their characteristics as brief as possible, knowing that there is such a tendency on the part of the non-Hahnemannian School to get back to pathology, and to apply the remedy to a name rather than to symptoms.
Pleuro-pneumonia left side (though not necessarily), quick hard pulse, position on the back, with head well elevated, face red while lying, pale on rising; dry cough that would be hard but for the severe stitching pain which to some extent prevents it. The little sputa that is raised is tenacious, falling in a round lump, and of a cherry red colour. Other symptoms might be given, but I desire to simplify the treatment as much as possible, and will therefore say—ignore all other symptoms if you like, except those in italics, repeat the medicine every two hours until the pulse has fallen ten in a minute, then at longer intervals, or leave it off as long as improvement continues.
Where the fever and cough are quite similar to those of Aconite, but less inflammation in the pleura, consequently less pain, enabling the patient to cough harder and to raise more, though with a good deal. of difficulty; expectoration, like that of Aconite, is tough and hard to separate, falling the same way in a jelly-like lump, but much lighter in colour—a common brick shade.
Right side most affected, the cough loose, full and deep sounding, as though the entire parenchyma were softened, raising whole mouthfuls of mucus at a time, which is a light rust colour, not so dark or thick as that of Bryonia, and easily separated.
Where the cough is not so loose and rattling as for the latter remedy, or so close and tight as for the former, the secretion also being much less, but more profuse than for either Aconite or Bryonia, and in colour and consistency different from all the others. It is more muddy in appearance, somewhat resembling pus, but thinner; and when falling on any hard smooth surface, will break and fly like thin batter. Repetition the same for all four remedies. These symptoms are not unusual in pneumonia; on the contrary, they are very common; and where they occur, any physician can satisfy himself in twenty-four hours as to the power of the 200th of these remedies to control them, provided always the preparations used are not spurious.
Should there be any disposition to attribute the improvement to other causes than the medicine, treat other similar cases with whole dilutions, and leave others still without medicine, giving unmedicated powders instead; dispute every inch of ground as long as possible; but when all other explanations are found to be fallacious, as they certainly will be, then be candid enough to admit the curative properties of dynamized medicines and a conversion to Homoeopathy. That the result will be surprising to the experimenter there can be no doubt, for Homoeopathic cures are always so to those who witness them for the first time; and yet there are those who bear our name who have yet to experience their first surprise of this kind. Hundreds of young physicians graduate at our medical schools, and, with very limited clinical experience, commence practice. Being over-anxious to cure their patients, they are disposed to force nature into a compromise by the administration of large doses of medicine; thus a system, or rather a habit, of prescribing is established that may continue through a long professional life.
It is not because of a superior or inferior intellect, medical education, or judgment of one class of prescribers more than another that causes one to be Allopathic, another Eclectic, and another still a Hahnemannian; but it is wholly owing to the fact that the latter has had evidence from his clinical experience that the others have not, and never can have without resorting to the same means to obtain it. But this, in most instances, they show no disposition to do, hence the schools are separate, and must for ever so remain, until all embrace the true art of healing; for while we have instances enough of men trying to occupy a middle ground between what they regarded as two extremes, they soon drifted further and further from the truth, until the name « Homoeopathic » was either discarded or disgraced by being retained.