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DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF THE SIMILE PRINCIPLE
Homoeopathic therapeutics is based on the principle of matching the clinical features of a natural disease condition with that of an artificial disease – condition produced by a drug in a healthy individual and which drug is curative for the former condition. But it is to be noted as Dr. Clarke writes in his introduction to the Prescriber that there are many different Kinds of similarity, as well as of degrees, and every kind is available for the prescribers use.
There is similarity between drug and disease in respect to site of lesion e.g., organ – affinity, tissue – affinity, etc., there is similarity of diathetic condition and aetiological factors; similarity of perceptible sensations and functions in relation to their location, character, modalities and concomitant features – all these and other kinds of likeness are available for the prescriber to find his correspondence in. Dr. Clarke asserts that he is no friend of Hahnemann or of Hahnemanns system who would like to bind the practitioners to take recourse to any one of them.
We like to confine our discussions here, to the principle of symptom – similarity for selecting a drug for curative purposes. Hahnemann ascertained the positive effects of a drug by proving it on a healthy human being. Each prover was supplied with a book in which he could record any deviation from his state of health which he noticed from day to day after taking drugs in regulated doses or wherein the doctor in-charge of proving used to note down the symptoms communicated to him by the prover from day to day. In this way the same drug was proved on several people and the individual day – books were collected when the drug was considered to be completely proven.
But Hahnemann did not keep his provers day-books and publish them as such. On the other hand he assorted the symptoms belonging to each remedy in a certain order, namely, under the headings of the different anatomical sections in which they have occurred (which is known in Homoeopathy as the “schema”) so that the homoeopathic practitioner can find all the symptoms which a particular drug is capable of eliciting in a healthy individual (not necessarily one and the same individual) in any particular organ. tissue or particular part of the body. This is known as the Anatomical schema which constitutes the Homoeopathic Materia Medica; and this is the method followed by all the successors of Hahnemann.
Now this method has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Those, who are opposed to this method, argue that by this schematic method the underlying unity of symptoms and the evolutionary order in which symptoms occur in a prover in connection with a particular artificial drug – disease, are missed; and as such, a concrete individual drug – picture fails to be grasped. But this is essential for treating a concrete sick individual. For successful application of the law of similar we must have wholes to compare with wholes.
Hahnemanns anatomical schematic method tears a particular symptom out of its sequential context and the result is a mass of “Disjecta Membra” which fills a prospective homoeopathic student with a sense of bewilderment and frustration to acquire a mastery of that stupendous documentary record which goes by the name of Materia Medica Pura. It has been humorously remarked and not without some justification that a student of Materia Medica, begins very often with vertigo and ends with rage.
The chief defect of the Hahnemannian schematic method has been very ably put by Dudgeon in this way: “It is as unnatural and artificial an arrangement of the features of many allied morbid portraits as though an artist should paint a family group, arranging all the eyes of all the members of the family in one part of the picture, all the noses in another, the ears all together, the noses all together, and so on. From such a picture, correct though each feature might be, it would be a difficult matter for us to build up each separate portrait, and it is equally difficult for us to ascertain the various morbid portraits from the Tableaux Hahnemann has presented us with in his Materia Medica.”
This schema might have been helpful to Hahnemann himself who had the first – hand knowledge of original provings; but it might degenerate into a mere mechanical symptom – covering in the hands of his followers who are liable to go astray and find out false resemblances without end. It might be as likely to miss as to hit the mark. The greatest exponent of this line of argument was Dr. R. Hughes. “Who,” writes Dr. Hughes in his preface to the cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy, “if he had to learn disease from books, would be content to have the symptoms of a given malady presented to him in the Hahnemannian Schema?
We have so to learn drug – disease; and as he would crave for clinical cases illustrating the evolution of each disorder in its various forms, so is our need here.” According to him the similimum remedy must have not only similarity with the totality of symptoms in a disease – condition but also must have the similarity with the evolutionary order in the appearance of symptoms.
With this ideas four volumes of cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy were compiled and published in 1886 under the auspices of the British Homoeopathic Society and the American Institute of Homoeopathy under the editorship of Richard Hughes and J.P. Dake with the aid of a consultative committee consisting of three British and three American Doctors. It is a pity that this monumental work is long out of print. We wish some Homoeopathic Publishers would take up the generous task of publishing this work and helping the future Homoeopaths to study the drugs from a new angle as envisaged by Hughes and his colleagues.
But there is another side of controversy regarding adapting the anatomical schematic method in the presentation of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica. In support of the Hahnemannian schema Dr. Clark writes that objection to this method would be justified “if the symptoms were not available in their individual capacity and did not admit of re-combination to an infinite extent. But a definite symptom is available for its value, just as a definite coin is, independently of the particular mint from which it may have been issued.
It is this which renders Homoeopathy the flexible and adaptable instrument that it is furthermore, the symptoms are not only available in their individual capacity, they will bear reducing to their elements and still be available, just as the symptoms of a patient will bear the same reducing. And the experience and therapeutical success of a host of Homoeopathic, stalwarts justify the practical suitability of the Hahnemannian schema.
Non – the – less the approach to the study of drugs as delineated in cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy may be found to be useful in selecting a similimum remedy where other methods as well as the commonly accepted method fail to give the desired result. We are glad to publish in this issue, an article by Dr. Sachimohan Choudhuri B.Sc., wherein he has given a summary of proving of certain drugs as recorded in the said cyclopaedia. We hope further application of this approach to study of drugs in selecting the similimum would assess the relative merit in respect of its therapeutic efficacy.