THE “BETE NOIRE”.
A while ago, someone writing in the Recorder referred to skin diseases as the “bete noire” of the homoeopath. This took the writers by surprise. Personal experience had fostered the belief that in general skin diseases are about the easiest of the chronic conditions to do away with and we feel sure that many other persevering homoeopaths would agree with the latter proposition.
The reason that this is true, and the principles of vital action and reaction would seem to accord with it, is that, with certain critical states excepted, skin patients have a tougher vital set-up than those whose complaints are more internal. When skin patients are really cured they go for long periods of time, usually many years, with better health than the average patient, certainly better than most other chronic subjects. They return to the doctor but seldom and their complaints are trifling, whereas the patient with internal conditions and a fair skin has much more difficulty than the others in developing a vitality as well balanced to environment.
Why should some homoeopaths find it more difficult to cure skin diseases than others? One reason could be that the prescriber might be actually thinking of curing a part or parts of the whole person and when such phases disappear after the action of the remedy or remedies they might be erroneously noted as cures especially when the nomenclature accords or the popular diagnostic entity has passed.
Cures of this temporary sort might thus outnumber the skin cures merely because it is necessary to cure the whole to cure the skin; the relative number of skin cures would spuriously seem to be fewer. Or worse yet, one might actually be removing certain symptoms or groups of symptoms without bringing out a thoroughly progressive improvement of the individual.
It was this little bete noire that sent Hahnemann on his twelve-year hunt for the great bete noire, chronic disease. This he found, examined, described and termed “miasm.” As we know, the skin is extensively involved in the theory, being the farthest outpost in the clash of forces. (See The Nature of the Chronic Diseases, Boericke & Tafel, 1904 pp. 27-92.) In short, a conception of the whole or totality is necessary for the best success in dealing with any homoeotherapeutic problem.
Again, not recognizing the individual totality of the patient could lead to failure in another way, the inability to estimate how much vital energy the patient has, therefore what potency will set the whole to rights. As stated before, most “skin” patients have strong vital energy. Therefore, they will endure the jolt of a strong (high) potency and get a great cleansing in the process. Depending somewhat on the effects of former treatment and history, a strong potency at the start is to be seriously considered.
The foregoing suggestion does not include patients whose latent energy is critically weak nor those who have one or more crippled organs although skin lesions may be present. The appearance of eruptions while a person is constitutionally breaking form age, advanced or premature, is a malignant prognomen any how.
Another cause of failure is the inability to hold the patient when after a fortnight or two or three the apparent progress has been nil, or when a severe aggravation has occurred. At this crucial point the writer would hold the physician entirely responsible. Such patients should not be expected to do the right thing unless they understand the process of cure.
The physician should know absolutely that he has made them understand and that he has imparted resolution. Moreover, he should prepare the patients mind and will beforehand for possible emergencies. The patient up to and beyond middle age should be made to understand and have the conviction that even the most severe aggravation in a viable person will be resolved as cure.
As to the physician himself, he should know by the direction of symptoms and trend of vital energy whether that which he is emphasizing is true. If personal experience is moderate there is plenty of other experience in the literature; for this is all a matter of perception, vision and reason. With it a firm resolution should be imparted to the patient. One cannot expect to produce many cures when fear of losing him allows other treatment to come in; and when the patient is catered to in that way he is not so apt to stick nor to recommend others.
Another possible way of stumbling toward failure is neglect of a pertinent although confidential excursion into the ramifications of the mental state especially. The homoeopath should not need a modern psychiatrist to remind him of the intimate affiliation of mental propensities and skin. Also the modes and times of all symptoms should be well brought out.
So we see that the storm center of the affair is mostly dynamic and psychic. The vicious attacks with X-ray, radium and other “scientific” modalities are the climax of a passing age in medicine. We see the same clash of orderly thinking and brute force in the theory of livelihood. Poor old King Marx, confused with superficial phenomena, could not even make a definition that would stick. Neither can the modern medicine man construct a therapeutic hypothesis that will hold water. We should recognize order in natural processes and respect it. Like Thoreau, we should “pray for such inward experience as will make nature significant”.
The writer can recall at the moment about a score of cases of the eczematoid or dermatoid type which have remained cured (if “cure” can be applied to cases finished up from a few months to a few years ago), not to mention the impetigo, boil series, tineas, warts, and less stubborn conditions, many of which vanish so promptly; although some of the fungoids have a stronger tendency to relapse because the patient is more often complicated miasmatically. But these also yield when due attention is given to the individual complication in the selection of remedies and potencies.
Permit mention of four cases which were rather lively under the stress of treatment. Jean V., 4, had four exanthemata; born with mother cancerous, began on abdomen, then front of elbows, neck, behind knees; eczema since six months of age; much local treatment and several partial suppressions. Itching worse at night, aggravated when given laxatives, worse warm room. No appetite, averse to sweets; craves tomatoes and oranges. Hands and feet cold when nervous or excited. Is much frightened, she has had so many inoculations and sera. Nocturnal enuresis. Mild, gentle disposition. Very fond of bath. Sul. 10M d.u., Dec 7, 1945.
Four days later, eruption much worse. Child irritable and persistently perverse, enuresis now diurnal; feet icy S.L. A week later still worse, skin now acute, red, sore discharging, bad nights, especially the first part; urine ammoniacal. At this point the father refused to have anything more to do with doctors but I argued more and more urgently and finally demanded as my right (sic?) that he bring that child to the office. By that time she was a little better mentally and eating like a little pig. She improved till January 22. Always cold and feet. Stools hard, foul. Anorexia again. Weary and sleepy the later part of the day. Nocturnal enuresis. Psorinum 10M. d.u. Improved gradually eleven months, lost her enuresis, trace of eruption in front of right elbow. Psor. 200. Perfectly well since.
Mrs. A., 32. Had “rubber poisoning” ten years previously. Dermatitis (?) of hands a year (why add another diagnosis to those she had collected from the specialist) mostly on fingers, worse right, denudes, leaving red surfaces, itching, burning, worse scratching, worse and more sore in the morning. The scratches become infected. Stool three days apart, large, hard, knotted, no urging. Fond of sweets though averse to ice-cream, appetite comes only with eating. Noise aggravates, impatient with the children; people annoy, wants to get away. Sepia 10M. d.u. Ten days later-what a mess! Great green crusts over entire hands, dreadful odor, pus oozing and running, but patient resolute and expectant. Three months later eruption all gone but claims the mental state is no better. Sepia 200., d.u. This potency improved the mental state, strange to say, and no trouble since. Three years.
John G., 16 or so. Tinea feet left to right, sanious and cream colored pus with blood, swelling and redness up legs, almost constant faintness, pallor, emaciation, very sore, and burning locally, inguinal glands involved, exhausted toward evening. Always had foot sweat. a bureaucratic doctor had put something on at school. Silica 200., d.u. In six weeks all cured and in fine general condition.
G.S., 18 P.H. : Eczema began on cheeks at four weeks of age. Impetigo at 4, tonsillectomy at 6 styes, boils and violet ray at 8, vaccination at 12, warts on soles treated with radium; also thuja ointment and Antimony crud. domestically. The mother is a “homoeopaths” and sticks in 3xs and other “homoeopathic” adjuncts on occasion. Hay fever since the eczema had disappeared in early years. Tubercular, tetanus, and diphtheria shots; ringworm suppressed.
Now in college,he is greatly depressed and irritable no courage at all because of the dreadful appearance of the hands and neck; partly suppressed by external assaults, “homoeopathic” ointments, etc.; acute flare-ups, circinate type, probably a mixture, worse winter, sleep; burning and soreness after scratching. Anorexia mornings, emptiness 11-12, craves red meat, beer cigarettes, ice cream. Averse fats. Tumbles in sleep. Unremembered dreams, apprehensive about illness. Taking TB shots at the college. Sul. 10M d.u. November 7. Was a little better then worse after another TB shot. I sent request for hands off. Cracks in skin, and nails being destroyed. Petrol. 10m. d.u. Two weeks later eruption worse but mentally brighter.
Two more weeks locally and mentally down again. Weeps (Strep.). Streptococcin 10M d.u. Great improvement for six weeks. Eruption spreading, nails worse again, crusts now pale yellow, powdery. Itching worse. Graph 10M d.u. Better five weeks. Sepia 1M d.u. This was given on what I perceived to be his constitutional mental attitude; offish to relatives, sharp to the younger ones, critical, contrary, cynically deferential to strangers, partly the effects of 18 years of pampering. Sepia 1M d.u. Better six weeks, then worse.
No itching daytimes but scratches till bleeds at night, the skin very red. Much dreaming. Syphil. 1M., better for a month. Vesicles returning after skin had been smooth. Discouragement prominent. Eruption worse when sweating from exercise. Feels the cold much. Psor. 50M d.u. Three months later, all clear and generally better. But we expect slight recurrences for some time.
Yes we did prescribe seven remedies in eight months but we think the high potencies in the case of a wiry young man not withstanding so much complication, completed their effect so well that the progress was rapid considering the background. Late hours and some dissipation was also against us. Anyhow, we hope these experiences and thoughts may help someone in the discipline necessary to vanquish the “black beast” of the homoeopath. -R.E.S.H.
AUTHORS NOTE-After I wrote the editorial as to whether skin diseases were more or less difficult to cure than other chronic conditions without eruption I referred the question to about a dozen other prescribes who devote special attention to chronic disease. Twelve answers have been received. I soon discovered, however, that my question as stated was too porous. It had not the specificity that it should have had to evoke unqualified replies. Nevertheless it provides a good lesson in logic, that is, not to allow a generality to perform the function of analysis and exception.
The replies received are interesting. One replied “About the same.” Another returned, “Less difficult and the average most rewarding to treat; but some take longer because of the x-rays and salves to which they have been subjected”.
Three others returned “Less difficult,” one without qualifying. One, “Less difficult, but I am not sure of it.” And another, “Less difficult, but those of sycotic origin where eczema, hay fever and asthma chase each other around by the tail are most difficult.” And further remarks that chocolate is a terrible handicap in all chronic diseases.
Another says, “More difficult but depending on chronicity; age; extent of surface affected, depth, sclerotic changes and other kinds of complex pathology of skin. This is particularly due to great area of skin covered, various layers and vascular spread”.
Another, “Skin diseases without other than skin symptoms are very difficult, but nosodes may help a lot and produce more symptoms on which to base further treatment. During this period skin symptoms on which to base further treatment. During this period skin symptoms may return temporarily. Delving into past history may produce a gold mine”.
Another says, “More difficult. The usual skin case presents greater difficulty in obtaining symptoms”.
Again, “The above vote should be qualified for in some cases if eruption comes out say, with the first prescription, cure of internal disorders is prompt. Isnt it a fact that an eruption often represents a complicated psoric taint in which cure moves slowly? Even when the external manifestation is better, it recurs-and in cycles, till internal harmony is established”.
Again, “The question is a real sticker! More difficult because of the strong psoric stigma in most. Also because so many cases have had suppressive treatment. This makes physical generals few and particulars many. Also, one has to “unlock” the suppressions before the basic stigma or stigmata can be helped”.
Lastly, “With the exception of Psoriasis I have found skin diseases more susceptible to cure than most chronic disease with no eruption, such as cancer, TB, and neurasthenia”.-R.E.S.H.
When man was created, it was as a sentient being; later he developed into an articulate one; therefore, when a profound emotion reaches his innermost self, expression may fail him. This is the case with your President. The honor conferred upon me touched that emotional depth beyond expression, so if I fail to express myself adequately in this message may my endeavors on behalf of Homoeopathy be accepted in lieu of vocal thanks. I am not unmindful of the obligations accompanying the office of President and I shall endeavor to discharge them to the fullest of my ability.
In a democratic organization such as ours, the President suggests the policies for the furtherance of its aims and objectives; and it is only through the cooperation of the officers and members with the President that our goal may be attained. Cooperation entails unity of purpose. The question arises, what is our objective?.
I do not presume that I am the only one who knows the answer; but undoubtedly all of us must be aware that the changing times have created a situation in which our identity as a homoeopathic group is seriously challenged; in fact, I may state that the entity of the medical profession itself is now being gravely challenged.
If we have real convictions in the basic philosophy and apply the tenets in practice, the resulting success will be impressive. I, for one do not subscribe to the sporadic and sometimes endemic wails of many, that Homoeopathy is on the wane. It is only by superior results in medical practice that we have the right to expect to preserve what may be designated as an entity or to perpetuate the practice of Homoeopathy.
My impression is that Homoeopathy as well as the general practice of medicine is in an evolutionary state, This phase must be recognized by every medical practitioner, if he is to keep pace with the rapid changes. We, as homoeopaths. must how ever closer to the line of Hahnemannian principles, if we are either to establish or justify our right to a separate existence. -FRANKLIN H. COOKINHAM, M.D. President, American Institute of Homoeopathy.