Individualization is the process of differentiating an object or a person from a class or group of similar objects or persons.
It is a character of homeopathy that all its practical processes are governed by the process of individualization. In its drug-proving, its study of the materia medica compiled from those provings; its examination of the patient and study of the case; its selection of the remedy and its conduct of whatever auxiliary treatment is required, it always seeks to individualize.
Individualization of Drugs
Homeopathy recognizes the individuality of each drug and substance in nature. Its method of testing or ‘proving’ drugs upon the healthy human beings is designed and used for the purpose of bringing out the individuality of each drug so that its full power and relations are established. During a homeopathy drug proving the effect of a drug is closely studied on all parts of the body and in large number of people. This gives us the full range of action of the medicine.
The crude sensations and symptoms like headache, colic, diarrhea etc. are not of much use to a homeopath and in homeopathy drug provings much finer symptoms are elicited. For e.g., if a medicine produces headache during a homeopathic drug-proving, then the symptom is completed with the location of pain, type of pain (throbbing, aching, bursting, burning etc.), aggravating and ameliorating factors, concomitant symptoms etc. The complete information allows us to differentiate various medicine producing headache in drug-provings or to say in other words the information allows us to differentiate various medicines capable of curing headache.
In aphorism 118 of Organon of Medicine, Dr. Hahnemann writes:
“Each medicine exhibits peculiar action on the human frame which are not produced in exactly the same manner by other medicinal substance of a different kind.”
Again in the footnote to the aphorism 119, Dr. Hahnemann writes:
“Anyone who has a thorough knowledge of, and can appreciate the remarkable difference of, effects on the health of man of every single substance from that of every other, will readily perceive that among them there can be no equivalent remedies, no surrogates.”
It means there are no substitutes in the selection of a remedy. Either a medicine is indicated in a case or it is not. Symptomatic comparison between similar drugs are carried out to find their individuality.
Individualization of a Case / Patient
No one would argue that all healthy human beings are anatomically and physiologically alike. And no one would argue that inspite of that similarity in our structure and functions, we all have our individuality. We all have our way of thinking, reflexes, emotions, expressions, built, desires, aversions, likes, dislikes, hobbies, thermal reaction; patterns of sweating, salivation, sleep, dreams; susceptibility to various external influences and diseases etc. These and many other traits help to create our individuality.
As we all have an individuality in health, we also have an individuality in disease. The signs and symptoms of a disease are nothing but the reaction of a person to the disease causing morbific agent or stimulus. Every person reacts to any external agent according to his/her individuality and so a persons individuality is reflected in his/her disease too.
In every case of a disease, a person gives two types of symptoms – Common and Uncommon. Common symptoms are those symptoms which are found in most cases of a particular disease. For e.g.; Fever with shivering is a common symptom of malaria, burning pain in esophagus and sour eructation are common symptoms of gastric acidity. Common symptoms help us in disease diagnosis and in suggesting the prognosis and general management to a case. Uncommon symptoms are those symptoms which are found in very few patient suffering from a particular disease / condition. They reflect the individual reaction of a person to a morbific agent. Such symptoms help us in individualizing a patient and selecting a similar remedy for him. For e.g.; a person suffering from fever can be restless or dull, may have perspiration on a specific part like face or soles, may have thirst for cold or warm drinks, may feel better in the evening or in morning hours etc. Such characters reflect the individuality of a patient and are of great use to a homeopath in selecting the right remedy.
Homeopathy recognizes the individuality of each patient. The entire examination of a patient is conducted with a view to discover not only the common symptoms of a case/disease by which it may be classified diagnostically and pathologically, but the special and particular symptoms which differentiate the case from others of the same general class are sought to find out the individuality of the patient..
It recognizes the fact that no two cases or patients, even with the same disease, are exactly alike. It maintains that a true therapeutic science must enable the physician to recognize these differences and find the needed remedy for each individual. In clinical practice these ‘differences’ are usually the deciding factor in the choice of the remedy. It is said that homeopathy does not treat disease, it treats the patient. In other words, it individualizes!