Books are born for many different reasons and purposes. They also appear to have as varied a destiny about how and where they will end up. Which books will be read once and then again and again? Which books will enthrall us with their well-presented and deep content? Which books will calm us by bringing to us a mellow and soothing message? Which books will make us think, and call upon us to act? And then of course, there are some books for which we must say, “No comments”.
When Ewald Stoteler’s book on Hahnemann’s Homeopathy – the Classification and Treatment of Disease According to Dr Samuel Hahnemann” arrived for me, I was social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing mail. Let me tell you, a hard-bound, shrink-wrapped book is a good one to receive during the pandemic – it is easy to wipe down and sanitize. Over with this ritual, I am sitting down to look through the book, and saying, ‘When am I going to read this book?’ It has 551 pages! You guessed it right, the book remained on my desk, for several days, waiting to be read.
Once I gathered my courage and began reading it, I had to put several other books and projects aside, and devote major chunks of time to reading this book, simply because I could not help doing so. The book pulled me in, in a comforting, calm sort of way.
Now that I have completed reading it once, I have placed it in a section of my book case that is reserved for books “to be read again and again”. These types of books give me a nugget of truth, a fresh perspective every time I read them. Next to this book, stands “The Organon of the Medical Art by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, 4th edition. After reading Stoteler’s book, I have also ordered the 6th edition of the Organon and the two volumes of the Chronic Disease.
As students and practitioners of homeopathy, we study hard to pass the tests, struggle to set up a practice and earn a livelihood from it. These formidable goals compel us to stay focused on the most exciting and magical new remedies and equally magical ways of finding them.
In this race, we keep getting farther and farther from our roots. Very proudly we say that homeopathy has 250 years of history, and a sound philosophy on which it is based, but our pursuit of the latest spares us no time to look in the rear-view mirror, revisit history and see for ourselves where homeopathy comes from, and what were the struggles and victories of our homeopathy ancestors.
Many contemporary masters quote Hahnemann liberally and cajole us to read Hahnemann’s original work. We agree with them politely but when we return to our routine, the agreement fades in comparison to the thrill of chasing the latest. Who wants to be bogged down by history when the present and the future are so full of action? If you find yourself nodding your head as you read these lines, you are welcome to the club.
But I can tell you, this behavior will change when you get hold of Stoteler’s book, ‘Hahnemann’s Homeopathy- the Classification of Disease and Treatment According to Dr Samuel Hahnemann’. I urge you to get your copy today, and here is why.
For over 35 years, Stoteler has immersed and soaked himself, in the original work of Hahnemann. The knowledge and awareness thus gained have seeped right into his bones. Stay with me to see where I go with this analogy in a book review.
If Stoteler had simply read the original work because he had to, his recounting of Hahnemann’s work would have been as boring as a piece of dry bone. But Stoteler has absorbed Hahnemann’s work and teaching, metabolized it in his psyche and heart, applied it in his daily practice, seen the results, and then he has written this book.
As a result, the book is vibrant, and it has a sharpness, coherence, appeal and focus that comes from a ‘lived experience.’ Also, as a result, this book is a pure joy to read and it has got into my ‘to be read again and again’ list.
Essentially, Stoteler follows a simple style throughout this book – he touches a topic, and then he connects it straight to either the two volumes of the Chronic Disease or, the 6th edition of the Organon. Reading this book is a lovely experience by itself. At 551 pages, this hard-bound book has a classic look of a serious book.
I love that the opening page has a sample of Hahnemann’s handwriting. I recognize this as a writing done using a pen with either a metal nib, or sharpened tip of a bird feather that was dipped into an ink pot. This technology was used before fountain pens and ball-point pens came around. Now so long as you are good at using two thumbs on a tiny screen, why bother with pen and paper, right? With a gradual vanishing of the very art of writing by hand, it is so soothing to see that Hahnemann wrote by hand and samples of his meticulous penmanship are still around, if we care to see.
In a foreword, Frans Vermeulen has written about Stoteler’s book, “Forgotten building blocks of Hahnemann’s teachings, such as the doctrine of miasms, classification of disease and application of Q potencies have been put back into their rightful place as fundamental principles.” Stoteler has accomplished this feat by focusing on the Chronic Diseases and the 6th edition of the Organon, and I must add, he has done so in a systematic and very interesting manner.
Stoteler makes a point that curing the patient ultimately with just one remedy is a myth. It was not possible in Hahnemann’s time and it is most certainly impossible in 99% of our cases today. But he is confident in saying that Hahnemann has taught us how exactly to succeed.
If only we will actually practice homeopathy as Hahnemann intended us to, our success rate will be sky-high. Hahnemann’s tricks are all given in the 6th edition of the Organon, and the Chronic Diseases show us how to classify diseases. The 6th edition was not published for almost 80 years after Hahnemann’s death. Many generations of homeopaths knew nothing about it. When it was finally published in 1921, the use of the Q potencies that Hahnemann wrote about in the 6th edition, did not gain an easy traction amongst the homeopaths.
As a result, this edition is generally not taught at the schools. The majority of practitioners simply practice Kentian style of repertorization, look for the essence of the case in the mental symptoms, use C potencies, give a dose and wait for cure to happen. If cure does not happen with a single dose of one remedy, they consider themselves ‘bad homeopaths who are unable to find the exact simillimum’.
The 23 chapters that make this book, are Stoteler’s way of demystifying homeopathy and re-educating us. Take for example, chapter 3. It begins with an explanation about the law of similars and then we relearn about functional material symptoms, location, sensation, modalities, concomitants, particulars, emotions and feelings, causation, symptoms of the rational mind, examples, generalities, biographical events, incidents, hereditary predisposition, blockages, and use of medication. Each of these are described with much patience and in many instances, a relevant quote from the Organon is given in a decorative box.
Chapter 5 is an eye opener for the American Homeopaths. Since an overwhelming majority of us are not medical doctors, we are required to say we do not diagnose or treat any disease and we do not give any medicines. But back in the days of Hahnemann, people went to the homeopaths to get their diseases treated with homeopathic medicines.
Even now, people go to homeopaths with some or the other illness for which they need an alternative treatment. In his book, Stoteler has done his very best to build up our confidence by opening the treasure chest of Chronic Diseases in which Hahnemann has classified diseases as acute diseases, morbid incidents, epidemic diseases, chronic diseases and miasmatic diseases.
In our case taking process, we can understand the entire disease process that the patients are describing. We can classify them as Hahnemann taught, and choose not just one, but a few remedies from five different groups (plants, animals, minerals, nosodes and tautopathic remedies) and successfully treat our patients using Q potencies.
Just like each one of my peers, I have seen my fair share of cases where symptoms are coming up in many different areas. On repertorization, I get the well-known polychrests, and one dose of the most highly indicated remedy does nothing! In my darker moments, I have even reached out to my wise mentor and vented my frustration, confessed even that I do not know what to do, or how to solve the case.
Reading page number 96 made me misty-eyed, brought me much consolation and relief; in fact, it hit me with a lightning bolt of clarification. The author has used a flower diagram to show that every sphere of life is like a petal of a flower. All these spheres of life carry energy and are capable of producing a disease state that can throw the patient off balance.
The flower develops and changes continuously throughout life and at any given time, the disruptive energy of one or a few petals would be dominant. This dynamic interplay of various spheres of life calls for various remedies to address the resulting disease, and often times we need to use a few remedies, together, in alternation or in a sequence, that would address the disruption to health.
Just this one reassurance from Stoteler is all I needed to once again become my sunny self, deal with whatever petal is predominant, and choose remedies to address the disruption. No more I will yearn for that “one and only remedy that is a grand panacea for every disruption and derangement in health” and beat myself up if I cannot find it.
My recommendation is that you do not rush through this book. Give your full attention to every chapter. You will have a much richer experience of this book if you read it with patience. Definitely read and think about the summary given at the end of each chapter.
After you have spent sufficient time with the content of this book, you get to read chapter 23, where the author gives his own cases that he has solved by meticulously following the Chronic Diseases and the 6th edition of the Organon.
The repertorization is very interesting indeed and is done under various subheadings, (recall the flower and petals analogy from page 96, each petal indicating a sphere of life that produces disruption in health and elicits symptoms). In one case, the author has repertorized as follows:
- Inherited symptoms— 8
- Iatrogenic symptoms —6
- Biographical symptoms — 3
- Acute miasmatic symptoms — 8
- Constitutional symptoms — 21
Total number of repertorized symptoms — 46.
Prescription is based on the dynamics of the disease process:
Sulphur 0/1, 5 successions, olfaction, once a day in the morning
Tuberculinum 0/3, 5 successions, twice a day, olfaction, morning and evening
Apis 0/2 5 successions, two to four times a day, olfaction spread throughout the day
I understand this as Sulphur 0/1 being under the protection of the higher potency 0/3 of Tuberculinum. All three remedies have a complimentary effect and together they bring about a peaceful cure.
In all there are five elaborate cases that the author has presented and these cases beautifully summarize the entire approach that is based on classification of disease as given in the Chronic Diseases and use of Q potency as described in the 6th edition of the Organon.
For a book review, this is a long one, going on and on. I could not help it. Instead of giving you a mechanical nuts and bolts description of the physical book, I have gone into what this book means to me, what it is saying to me, and how I will use it going forward.
If you are a normal homeopath like me who gets cases that call for several different remedies then definitely, this book is for you. Once you read it and learn to love it, you will realize that indeed you can draw from the teachings of Hahnemann and apply it diligently in your day to day work, thanks to Edward Stoteler and his lovely book, “Hahnemann’s Homeopathy – The Classification and Treatment of Diseases According to Dr Samuel Hahnemann.”