Therapeutic Nihilism

Stuart Close



Although it has spread to all parts of the civilized world, numbering practitioners by thousands and its patients by millions, the principles of Homoeopathy have never found open and general acceptance in the so – called regular medical profession. Occasional conversions of individuals from the ranks of the dominant school have apparently made little impression on the profession as a whole, but the influence of Hahnemann principles is increasingly perceptible as time goes on. By long, tedious, circuitous routes medical science appears to be approaching the goal attained over a century ago by Hahnemann.

It is only another illustration of the fact that poets, prophets and philosophers often perceive great truths and announce them to the world long before slow moving scientists succeed in proving them to their own satisfaction.

Intuition, the highest faculty of the human mind, wings its aerial way home, while research and investigation laboriously plod their way along the ground.

The main subjects of controversy in the past have been the idea of a general principle of curative medication; the doctrine of potentisation and the minimum dose; proving medicines on the healthy and the single remedy.

Refusing to submit these questions to the best of competent, systematic investigation and experimentation, and baffled in their efforts to find a successful way of treating the sick by medication, leaders of the dominant school have practically abandoned drugs, and now rely mainly upon hygienic methods, supplemented more recently by the use of sera and vaccines.

In pathology and physiology there has been a gradual breaking away from the tyranny of authority that has so long held the medical profession in its grip. But in therapeutic medication this nihilistic tendency has carried them almost to the point of complete negation.

Osler, writing in 1901, said: “He is the best physician who knows the worthlessness of most medicine.”

Barker, this successor at Johns Hopkin says: “The death blow came first to polypharmacy; to-day with many, pharmacotherapy as a whole is almost moribund.”

Billings in his address as president of the American Medical Association says: “Drugs, with the exception of quinine in malaria, and mercury in syphilis, are valueless as cures.”

Musser, of Philadelphia, two years later, from the same chair said: “One sees less and less of the use of drugs.”

Cabot, of Harvard, in his notable address before the Boston Homoeopathic Medical Society said: “I doubt if you gentlemen realize how large a proportion of our patients are treated without any drugs at all, and how little faith we have to-day in the curative power of drugs.”

These extracts indicated the extremity to which some keen observers, clear thinkers and honest men of the dominant school have been driven, in the absence of a general principle of therapeutic medication. In the meantime, the rank and file have gone on solidly in the same old course of pernicious drugging.

Blinded by professional pride and prejudice, the dominant school as a whole has ignored the principle clearly enunciated by Hahnemann a century ago and demonstrated by him and his successors continuously ever since.

In no, profession, perhaps, has been so little openmindedness, so little of the impersonal, so little of the true scientific spirit, as in medicine. Few indeed have there been, in either school, who could rise above the petty personal and professional jealousies which have hampered them, into the freedom of the higher, impersonal realm of pure science. The controversial spirit, rather than the scientific spirit, has ruled too largely on both sides.

In one respect, as lest, the leaders of the old school a in perfect accord with the followers of Hahnemann, who have always maintained that the use of drugs in the treatment of disease except in minimum doses and in accordance with the law of similars is both useless and injurious.

One of the first and most important truths taught the homoeopathic students is that drugs, in crude form and ordinary so – called physiological doses, have the power to make even well people sick. It is demonstrated by the pathogenetic record of every drug in our materia medica. How much more injurious drugs are to sick persons, with their lower power of resistance and increased irritability, might easily be inferred theoretically, if the comparative mortality rates did not continually furnish proof or their deadly influence and make such inferences superfluous.

There have been signs of a beginning change of base in the ranks of the dominant school of medicine within the last few years. The wide acceptance and practice of serum and vaccine therapy, the hospitality of many of its advocates to the suggestion that the underlying principle of this form of treatment is analogous to, if indeed it be not the actual homoeopathic principle, tends to show a more tolerant spirit toward the acceptance of the idea of a general therapeutic principle governing the curative action of the drugs in all diseases by medication.

General medicine has made great advances since the days of Hahnemann; notably in the sciences of biology, physiology, pathology and bacteriology. Research and discovery in these fields have revealed facts which not only tend to confirm, but to elucidate the essential principles of Homoeopathy. This has not escaped the notice of certain of the leaders in the dominant school of medicine, although, for obvious reasons they prefer not to enlarge upon it publicly. Having made and announced an important discovery in medical science, it is not flattering to ones vanity to be shown that the essential points of the discovery were made, announced and put to use more than a century ago, by one who has been help up to obloquy and scorn by a large part of the profession ever since.

Modern biological science has confirmed homoeopathic anew, in their belief that in Homoeopathy, they have not only the basic law of therapeutic medication, but also of all tissue reaction. Study of the reactions of protoplasm to stimuli – chemical (drugs), electrical and mechanical, has led to the formulation of the biological law now universally accepted, that “the same agent which in relatively large quantities damages or destroys vital activity, will in relatively small quantities stimulate it.”

This is substantially a statement of the well known law upon which Homoeopathy is based. It establishes a firm foundation for a practical system of therapeutic medication, formulated by the methods of pure experimental science. It leads naturally and logically to systematic experimental science. It leads naturally and logically to systematic experimentation with drugs upon healthy, living subjects to determine their natural tissue relations and organic affinities and the kind of reactions their administration arouses.

Reactions in the living subject manifest themselves in perceptible functional and tissue changes which, in the case of human beings, may be felt and intelligently observed, described, measured and recorded. In medical parlance, reactions are expressed by symptoms, subjectively and objectively. Under this principle and by this method, have our homoeopathic provings been conducted and from these provings, our materia medica is constructed.

Provings, of course, are conducted with doses only sufficient to arouse characteristic reactions, without endangering or destroying life, since to do otherwise would defeat the end in view.

Knowing, experimentally, the damaging or pathogenetic effects of relatively large doses of a drug upon the healthy living subject; and knowing also that relatively small doses of the same drug exercise a more moderate and stimulating effect, the next logical step is to determine the between drugs and disease.

Reactions to disease producing agents of every kind, tangible or intangible, are observed and studied by the physician under this method in the same manner as the reactions of protoplasm to drugs and other stimuli are studied by the biologist; for the physician is essentially a biologist, as medicine is essentially a biological science.

Reactions to disease producing agents are manifested by perceptible phenomena or symptoms precisely the same as are the phenomena of drugs. In fact, the student of the comparative symptomatology of drugs and disease needs not to progress very far to realize that it is impossible to draw any sharp line of demarcation between them. All diseases are produced by morbific agencies or poisons of some kind, primarily or secondarily generated, and the symptoms of disease are precisely similar to the symptoms of drugs. It is not illogical deduce that the causative agents are identical, and that the differences in effects are merely differences in the size and quantity of the doses.

Modern medical science, in its use of the sera and vaccines, is demonstrating this identity, or at least the similarity of disease producing and curative agents, and in so doing, is demonstrating the truth of Homoeopathy.

The biological law under discussion brings again to the front, as of fundamental importance, the old, old subject of The Dose, which was received so much discussion in the past. Perhaps from this time on the discussion can be carried on without bigotry, acrimony or prejudice, to a point where the two schools of medicine can arrive at some amicable understanding based upon the acceptance of a general principal of therapeutic medication.


The medical profession would have been spared part of the tiresome and unprofitable discussions which have wasted time, paper and printers ink in the past, if would – be critics, before entering the literary field, had at least informed themselves correctly of the derivation and meaning of certain terms used by those whom they attacked. Misunderstanding or misusing a word, they attached an arbitrary or imaginary meaning to it and proceeded to belabour their “man of straw.”

In reviewing the controversial literature of Homoeopathy it is surprising to find so large a part of it thus initiated. Much of it could never have been written by men who had even “a speaking acquaintance” with sciences other than the one they professed to represent.

Men who thoroughly understand a subject rarely misunderstand each other. They have been over the same course and learned the same language. They know the ground work and essentials of their common art or science and they also know is relations with other branches or art and science.

All true sciences are interrelated. They touch one another at many points. Each it dependent upon the others in many respects. They often “exchange works” as well as words.

Entrance upon the profession of medicine has, until recent years, been so easy and unrestricted, that a large proportion of its matriculants had not even the equivalent of a modern grammar school education. With little or none of the cultural and still less of the scientific training which goes into the make – up of a well educated man, they have been permitted to take a course in medicine and enter upon its practice. Innate ability, a studious disposition and hard work have enabled some of these men to make up for their pre – medical shortcomings and earn high honors; but the majority have been medical misfits, without whom the profession and the public would have been better off.

So long as such men confined their attention strictly to the practice of medicine, according to their lights, much could be forgiven them. But when they invaded the literary field and began to write of matters of which they know little or nothing, and even to set themselves up as critics of men who did know, patience ceased to be a virtue. In pillorizing the culprits, the editors of magazines and society transactions who did know, patience ceased to be a virtue. In pillorizing the culprits, the editors of magazines and society transactions who admitted such rash to their pages should not be overlooked. Verify, they have much to answer for!

A striking example of the misunderstanding and misuse of words is found in the voluminous and, for a long time, seemingly endless discussion centered around the word Dynamis, used by Hahnemann in paragraph 9 of the Organon, which reads as follows:

“In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual vital force (autocracy), the dynamis that animates the material body (organism), rules with unbounded sway, and retains all the parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation, as regards both sensations and functions, so that our in – dwelling, reason gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for higher purposes of our existence.”

Swooping down upon this inoffensive word like a hawk upon a chicken, the self – appointed critics fastened their talons in it and proceeded to make the feathers fly. Apparently unfamiliar with the word and ignorant of its derivation and meaning, they turned their imagination loose and assumed that Hahnemann was referring to some mystical, ghostly, “Spiritualistic” sort of a thing which, to their uneducated and crudely materialistic minds, had no existence. Much ridicule and cheap wit, as well as invective, were wasted upon Hahnemann and Homoeopathy.

Had they taken pains to refer to a good dictionary they might have learned that dynamis is a Greek noun meaning power or force; the power or principle objectively considered.

By the use of that word and its adjectives, dynamic and dynamical (of or pertaining to forces not in equilibrium; pertaining to motion as the result of force; opposed to static); Hahnemann introduces us into the realm of Dynamics, the science which treats of the motion of bodies and the action of forces in producing or changing their motion. In medicine dynamical commonly refers to functional as opposed to organic disease. Hahnemann thus opened the way for bringing Homoeopathy under mathematical laws, creating the Science of Homoeopathics and giving it its rightful place in the “Circle of the Science.”

The relation of Homoeopathy to physics, and more particularly to the science of dynamics, is a very important subject with will be taken up briefly in later articles.

S.C. Cattle are fattened for slaughter by being overfed and not allowed to exercise. Many men and women prepare themselves for slaughter by voluntarily adopting the “stall fed life,” says the United States Public Health Service. Dont overeat and take plenty of healthful, outdoor exercise.

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