The Individuality of Men and of Drugs
BY J. C. HOLLOWAY, M. D., GALESBVRG. ILL.
The Homeopathician, February 1912
« There is, therefore, no other possible way in which the peculiar effects of medicines on the health of individuals can be accurately ascertained – there is no sure, no more natural way of accomplishing this object, than to administer the several medicines experimentally, in moderate doses, to healthy persons, in order to ascertain what changes, symptoms and signs of their influence each individually produces on the health of the body and of the mind. »
ORGANON § 108.
This is the plan introduced by the founder by which we are to ascertain the « peculiar effects of medicines » what changes each, individually, produces and, hence, what individual sickness each will cure. To me there is nothing more remarkable than the fact that Creative Power has made no two men alike; and equally worthy of our notice is the fact that the Creator of therapeutic agents has made no two drugs alike. Each man and each drug has an individuality; and by this we distinguish one man from another, and one drug from another.
The object in testing medicinal substances in the human organism is that the individuality of each may be revealed; and the object in testing them in the healthy human organism is that the individuality thus revealed may not be mixed up with symptoms of natural disease. Many drugs produce some symptoms in common; but each and every one, when known in its whole pathogenetic effects, possesses the inherent power of producing something of which no other is capable. It is this that marks the individuality, and without a knowledge of this no drug can be prescribed homœopathically.
All the curative power of medicines lies in their power to alter the normal activities of the body, to change the state of man’s health. But, in order to utilize this power, their inner natures must be unfolded and developed into the highest dynamizations, and in each case the individuality of the medicine must be similar to the individuality of the patient; and the dynamization of the medicine in each individual case must be similar to the patient’s susceptibility. If, in any given case, the aggravation is too great, a lower potency of the same remedy must be administered.
INDIVIDUALITY OF THE PATIENT
The individuality of the healthy man is marked by individual characteristics, manners, tone of voice, contour of the face, etc.; but what we mean by the patient’s individuality, is this: the peculiar, unusual, characteristic symptoms which he has as an individual, which mark his individual sickness, in contradistinction to those which indicate the diagnostic name of his malady.
The symptoms by which a diagnosis is made are not the symptoms upon which we base the homœopathic prescription. It is high time that it were well understood by the profession and by the public that to know the nature of a disease is not necessarily to know how to cure it. To know the pathology of pneumonia, rheumatism, or dysentery, gives no clue to their therapeutic treatment. The special stimulus which must be brought to bear on the vital force, in order to overcome its derangement and thus lead the diseased organs back to healthy action, must be discovered by quite another method. Its discovery must be by a distinct process, and its administration must be guided by science and art.
A man’s individuality is his quality of distinct existence; and the individuality of a drug is its quality of individual character by which it may be singled out from its fellows. The man who has no individuality is a personal blank; and that which is prescribed as a medicine, if without individuality, is inert. Hence, the individualizing symptoms in any given sickness, matched by the individualizing symptoms of a drug, render the prescription homœopathic in the truest sense, and here lies the secret of successful prescribing: Choosing the medicine which is homœopathic to the individual sickness. A medicine can be specific only for the individual case; and the physician who can grasp with accuracy the individual image of sickness possesses a sure guide. Referring to this subject, the founder said: « Without the most minute individualization, Homœopathy is not conceivable. » When the striking symptoms in a given case are numerous, a homoeopathic remedy can be more easily and certainly found; but when the symptoms are of a general nature, they demand but little attention. They are too vague and indefinite. Clear up the case.
But I would impress upon your minds that signs and symptoms which are striking, singular, uncommon and peculiar, are individualizing. They grow out of the personality of the patient, rather than the nature of his disease per se. And it is these, the founder said, which « are, chiefly and almost solely, to be kept in view. » If however, such symptoms are scarce or impossible to discern, it is no compensation to guess at a remedy by the name of the disease, and then, when the patient fails to improve, give that medicine a little stronger – and still a little stronger! That idea of wanting to inject into the prescription material power is not Homœopathy; and I have no toleration for pretenders, mongrels and traitors. I like to see any nation float its own flag, and every man true to his colors.
When a family desiring Homœopathy calls a physician who is ostensibly a homœopath, but who, in fact, is practising allopathy under the homœopathic name, such deception and duplicity detracts from pure Homœopathy. So long as a man does not know he has received a counterfeit dollar, hie values it at one hundred cents; and, when you offer him a genuine dollar in lieu of the counterfeit, he sees no inducement.
When a physician once comprehends Homœopathy, when he once catches the homœopathic spirit, he will have implicit confidence in it; and he will have confidence in himself, and his patients will have confidence in him and the system he represents. This will elevate him to the plane of practical practice, and when he tells a man he can cure him, that man reads in his face the truth of his statement. Half-hearted endeavor, blind methods and physiological drugging, leave the patient sick and the doctor in despair.
The curative process of disease is by the dynamic action of medicinal substances, through the nerves, upon the vital force. The crude, material elements of a drug can act only upon the organs and tissues of the body, producing physiological results; but the dynamis of that same drug, unfolded and developed, its inner nature dynamized, reaches the inner nature of man, controlling his thoughts and emotions, his loves and hates and all that pertains to his innermost being.
The potential power of a drug can never be known until potentized and thus tested; for only the dynamis can penetrate to the affections and the will. It is a crude conception of disease and of drugs that calls for crude medicine.
It is to be expected, judging the future by the past, that certain journals, homœopathic in name at least, will call all this in question and tell their readers how Hahnemann used low potencies and tinctures. But it is always noticeable how silent they are respecting Hahnemann’s apology, written by his own hand, touching such practice, viz., that this was at a time in his life when he « did not know any better. »
Hahnemann’s method of prescribing is to be commended. He states, under a given medicine, certain peculiar symptoms, and says « this medicine has proved especially useful, when after a choice otherwise agreeing with the symptoms of the disease » (and hie means the individual disease), « one or another of the following ailments were also present. » Then, under Sepia, for instance, he mentions symptoms like these : « The head jerks forward. » « Sensation of a gauze before the eyes. » « Flow of yellow water from the vagina. » « Acidity in the mouth after a meal. » « Cough in the morning and evening with salty expectoration. » « Running along in the leg as from a mouse. » « Sensitiveness to the open air. » This last symptom separates Sepia from Pulsatilla, which, in some respects, has a pathogenesis very similar. It is thus the master individualized the patient and the remedy.
The founder of Homœopathy, throughout his works, took every opportunity to urge the insufficiency of pathological prescribing. Still, very many of his professional followers have endeavored to blend with the homœopathic form of medicine, an application of pathology as the basis of treatment. This must forever prove futile for the reason that successful « treatment based upon a pathological consideration, if such were possible, must depend upon the correctness of the pathological hypothesis – a matter in which no man can be certain. On the other hand, the trained homœopathician can discern symptoms and signs of individual sickness without speculation; and the only sure indication for every case is found in the totality of these signs and symptoms which each case presents.
It is not enough to say, « Here is a remedy which has produced an artificial disease very similar to diphtheria, and we all know this child has diphtheria. » We must be more particular and individualize by saying, « Here is a remedy which has produced in the healthy human organism a series of symptoms which correspond most closely to the odd, peculiar, unusual symptoms observed in this individual case. » Then, and only then, we shall have reached the utmost possible certainty of correctly selecting the curative remedy.
Those symptoms which are most commonly found in all cases of diphtheria, to carry out the illustration, are the most worthless when we come to choose the indicated medicine; and those signs and symptoms which have seldom or never been seen before in this disease should be written in living capitals, indicating their therapeutic value in the case in hand.
Every now and then you will encounter a case of disease in which, when you compare the symptoms and signs with the therapeutic hints and directions of the best works on theory and practice, you perceive at once that not one medicine suggested covers the case. This is because the writers did not know this individual patient and had not observed his individual sickness. And, this is equally true of any so-called disease.
It is an objection often urged against homœopathicians, that, following their system of therapeutics, they dispense with the necessity of diagnosis: This is not true; for we are as painstaking in prognosis and hygienic management as our brethren of the old school, and hence for these purposes need diagnosis as much as they. But, to meet the objection, some pseudo-homœopaths have made this argument: « Hahnemann taught us to prescribe upon the totality of the symptoms; and this totality is made up of idiopathic and sympathetic symptoms, and we must consider every symptom in order to obtain a picture of the disease. We must not only consider a sympathetic, but we must consider it as a sympathetic symptom. In order to do this, we must make a diagnosis, and attribute each symptom to the organ or tissue which is responsible for its existence and is its seat ; and in doing this we form a just notion of the pathology of that organ or tissue. »
That sounds learned, but we must pause and mark the defects of the argument:
First, what is supposed to be a just notion of the pathology is only a guess; and
Second, separating the symptoms by means of diagnosis and saying, « This is sympathetic and that is idiopathic, » is another guess.
Third, in paragraph 105, Hahnemann explains his meaning of « the totality of the symptoms, » as follows: « As similar as possible to the totality of the principal symptoms of the natural disease sought to be cured. »
The totality of « principal symptoms. » This knocks the bottom out of the aforesaid theory; for the principal symptoms of each individual case of disease, which « are chiefly and most solely to be kept in view, » are « the more striking, singular, uncommon and peculiar, » and we need not worry ourselves over the perplexing guess as to whether these are idiopathic or sympathetic.
Homœopathy can survive without affiliation with allopathy; without incorporating allopathic customs, and even without reconciling its principals with traditional medicine. Why should practitioners with therapeutic law truckle to those without law? Our brethren of the old practice divorced themselves when they stoned the founder of Homœopathy out of Germany; now let them do the wooing, or let the separation remain. The sooner the practitioner of Homœopathy learns to stand alone in the community which he has chosen for active service, adhering rigidly to homœopathic principles and following the master with exactness, the better for him and the better for the system.
The reports of these convention committees, armed with a self-imposed authority, ostensibly to look after the interests of scientific medicine, but in fact to oppose Homœopathy, are repugnant to the common sense, decency and good taste of the better element of society. One would think that said committees were appointed by the Legislature or by the Congress of the United States, as guardians of homœopathic colleges and homœopathic practitioners. What assumption, arrogance and unparalleled effrontery! If egotism were an explosive, some « small heads » in the allopathic ranks would have been blown to atoms long ago.
Let me appeal to the members of this society: Stand by your guns! Nothing hurts the opposition worse nor stings longer than our homœopathic cures. They well know that those who imitate traditional medicine can do them no damage; but they also know that those who adhere to the Hahnemannian law in theory and practice make the cures and expose to public view the defects, unscientific features and worthlessness of allopathic therapeutics. Pure Homœopathy has withstood their slander and unwarranted attacks for more than a century and thrived on them. The system may be denounced, but it cannot be disproved or overthrown. So stand by the Hahnemannian doctrine and never flinch nor deviate. They cannot harm you if you follow Hahnemann; for the homœopathic cures which we make all over this country are the hardest arguments which they have to meet. The public will note the cures, and the gentleness, rapidity, certainty and permanency which characterize them.
Now as to the modus operandi: The true theory is to individualize and prescribe for the patient; but just how to reduce this theory to practice is not considered an easy task. If, therefore, I can drop a hint that will aid a fellow physician, this paper will not prove wholly worthless. First, then, I will suggest that no man will ever be able to cure conformably to nature, and hence, homœopathically, who does not, in every case, whether acute or chronic, consider the changes in the state of the mind and disposition.
The mind dominates the body; and mental symptoms, more than any other class, demand attention. If you have a cross patient, who in health was affable and pleasant, you must find the curative medicine in the rubric of cross remedies. That much is certain. Every medicinal substance notably alters the state of the disposition and the mind when tested in the healthy prover, and no two medicines do so in the same manner. Hence, in a case of disease before us, we must choose a remedy which shows, by the symptoms which it has caused in the body and mind of a healthy subject, a power of producing a morbid state as similar as possible to the individual case of disease to be cured. In no other way can it be cured. If, for instance, a patient wants to be alone; if he persistently avoids company, even his own family, and says he does not want to see anybody nor talk to anybody, that symptom must be considered and must appear as a prominent symptom in the pathogenesis of the medicine selected. « Cannot endure being alone. » These two cases, with two mental symptoms diametrically opposite occurred in my individual practice within the last year, and I treated the two at the same time-but not with the same medicine!
When Hahnemann said, « The most minute individualization, » he did not shade the picture too delicately to cure.
Let the similar remedy be always found for the existing symptoms and the conditions of each individual case.
Let those symptoms be the « principal ones » – the peculiar, striking and unusual ones.
Let the remedy be given which bas as its own characteristics the characteristics of the patient.
Let it be given in the best form – highly dynamized, or at least not too low.
And let this medicine be repeated only when improvement ceases, and a cure is certain.
It is well enough that the selected remedy has the particular form of structural disease which presents, but it is far more important that it has all the constitutional and individualizing symptoms and conditions of the patient.
We all know that practitioners of the old system are taught to ignore subjective symptoms. They say they have no means of knowing when the patient is telling the truth. Hence they consider it sale to give him credit for lying all the time! But the homœopathists who undertakes to imitate in this particular loses all right to the name and will make dismal failures in all his attempts to cure. Subjective symptoms point out the individuality of the patient; and, these symptoms which mark the individual sickness are characteristic. The term « characteristic » is often used in a very loose sense. I rather hold to Dunham’s conception, viz., that the term should be applied to a symptom which points out a character peculiar to a given drug. To illustrate: The patient has the fixed idea that the limbs are made of glass and will readily break. This is characteristic of Thuja, and individualizes the remedy and the patient for whom it is indicated; for this symptom is not common to patients in any particular disease, and not common to many drugs. It is one of those peculiar symptoms belonging to Thuja and to no other drug. Hence, it is characteristic of Thuja.
When you find a characteristic like that, you will find a group of symptoms clustering around it pointing to the same remedy. We may easily find a symptom characteristic of a group of remedies, such as warts on the right hand, and here Thuja would occupy a conspicuous place, but such a symptom would not be characteristic of Thuja or any other medicine in the group. But the fixed idea that the limbs are made of glass, is characteristic of Thuja, because this symptom is produced by no other medicine in the Materia Medica. It is this class of symptoms we must be quick to catch in the symptom-image, and then use the repertory when necessary in order to find with certainty the corresponding drug.
It must never be forgotten that without such characteristics there can be no individualization; and without individualization there can be no homœopathic prescribing with accuracy and certainty. And yet, certain of Hahnemann’s professed followers raise a cry about eliminating « trivial phenomena, » and try to create a sentiment looking to a revision of our Materia Medica, which means to discard subjective symptoms and retain only the objective, organic symptoms. Scientific policy along « regular » lines wipes out subjective symptoms, without which we lose the means entirely and absolutely of distinguishing individual drugs and individual patients. We need no surer proof that the physician suggesting this philosophy – the philosophy which led originally to the fashion of prescribing a specific for a disease – does not understand the doctrine of Hahnemann, nor appreciate the science of Homœopathy. These are the gentlemen who have one or two remedies for La Grippe, one for croup and one for worms!
The world has grown weary of this kind of Homœopathy, and is calling loudly and earnestly for faithful, loyal and consistent followers of the master; for physicians who individualize and treat each patient independently of all other patients;
Who administer the inner nature of drugs, and not the crude, material elements;
Who prescribe but one medicine at one time;
Who respect what the patient says;
And who utilize characteristic, subjective symptoms as Nature’s language;
For high-minded, clean men, engaged in a clean, legitimate practice;
For the noble-hearted, self-sacrificing and, above all,
For « thoroughbred » homœopathicians, who quickly perceive the individual image of sickness, and know how gently, quickly and scientifically to rescue the patient from suffering and from death.
This is a noble work and one which, when pure Homœopathy is practiced, sharpens the appetite for more knowledge, and creates an ambition to become eminent by mastering the therapeutic science within the reach of all.
I believe in Homœopathy-not mere pretensions thereto – not like children, « play-like; » but Homœopathy; pure Homœopathy; Hahnemannian Homœopathy. I believe in it.
Because, when its principles, are adhered to, it is scientific, certain and satisfying. It cures; and it cures many maladies which other systems can only palliate and suppress, such as chronic cutaneous eruptions, epilepsy, leucorrhœa, gonorrhœa, syphilis, rheumatism, etc., merely by administering on the tongue, or by olfaction, the indicated, immaterial, spirit-like. medicine;
Because it cures gently, without drugging and without injury: and
Because the symptoms which, become our sheet-anchor are unappreciated, often unrecognized or ignored by all others. In Homœopathy there is a fine to hew to. We may fail, but the system, never! – And I thank God that we now have an organization in which no one is to be suspected of even trying to rub out the fine; and one which is honored and made famous in its infancy by having at its head the most eminent homœopathician in the world today.
It is these individualizing, characteristic, subjective symptoms which give individual character to the patient’s sickness, and individual character to each medicinal substance.
When we become familiar with the individual character of a drug, it will seldom be overlooked when needed. For instance, we all know that under Pulsatilla no two stools are alike; no two chills are alike; no two attacks are alike. Now this fluctuation belongs also to the mind and disposition of Pulsatilla – satisfied with nothing, yet not vexed; well one hour, miserable the next; easily moved to tears one hour, and just as easily moved to laughter the next.
These things portray the individual character of this medicine, and when we find the similar character in the individual sickness, prescribing is easy. True, the foregoing symptoms are in part observed; but in giving her symptoms her eyes fill with tears, and she confidentially tells her .physician that she fears she will lose her reason; and this subjective symptom confirms the individual character of her sickness and of her remedy.
This kind of practice may never be recognized as « regular; » may never penetrate the craniums of those trained to guess at pathology; may never command Government positions; and may never have itself legislated into popularity; but it confessedly bas one redeeming feature; one, too, not wholly to be ignored by the intelligent public,
and that is IT CURES THE SICK.
Dr. Thacher finds that all papers here are so self-evident they need scarcely any discussion; there is no possible diversity; they are so plain and evidently true.
Dr. Sherw proposed that this be sent to London for the Congress. What has been said of purity in practice and the need of THE ORGANON appeals to us. The popular expression that the standards of doctors are declining is not true. If we were legislated out, it might waken us to our treasures.
Dr. Campbell enjoyed hearing this paper, coming from the state of Iowa, where she feels much alone in the State Society meeting when offering evidence of the power of pure Homœopathy. Instead of such recommendations as use of silver nitrate in the eyes of all infants, after birth, why do homœopaths not use homœopathic remedies? She stands practically atone in advocating their power, when the other members declare it is a fallacy to give, internally, remedies to cure ophthalmia neonatorum. They consider it impossible, and advocate selection of remedies to act upon certain tissues and cells.
Dr. Austin could not permit such a masterly paper to be passed without thanks. He emphasized the fact that we are not alone, though we sometimes appear to be alone. We must recognize the forces about us to be eternal, and never-ending. We work as in the night, and cannot see the seed that is sown bearing fruit. Our work is to sow the seed. Our school may come to ashes, but from the ashes something better will come; for it is founded on law, and law is lasting. Though the day should come when a few stand alone, they will stand in truth, and truth will make us free.