Diseases of the Spleen

Last modified on January 26th, 2019

Diseases of the Spleen [Intro]




From the time of Morgagni’s De Sedibus, etc., but more particularly with the introduction and generalization of physical and regional diagnosis by Auennbrugger, Laennec, Skoda, Piorry, and the mighty host of their disciples, practical medical men have been led to consider each organ by itself much more than ever before, and this often apart from medical doctrines. We may say the first half of this century thoroughly established the absolute essentiality of regional diagnosis. This separatist practice has gone so far that the organism has not unfrequently been lost sight of altogether.

Piorry in his Traite de Plessimetrie et de l’ Organo-graph- isme, etc. (1827 to 1851), very justly remarks: “Le pathonomisme n`a donc ete possible qu’a cause de la doctrine sur laquelle il est fonde.”

With the direct diagnostic delimitations of the various organs by palpation, percussion, and auscultation came the coining of the words organopathy, organogeny, organography, and such like terms, which, we must say, are both sensible and useful, though organopathy had with and ever since Hohenheim constituted the backbone of the medical practice of certain, in their days mostly heterodox, practitioners, and some of them great masters of healing.

If it be asked, what is here meant by ORGANOPATHY? my reply is that organopathy is the specific local action of drugs on particular parts or organs, as first systematized by Rademacher in the early part of this century. It is thus, a very convenient term in therapeutics as well as in aetiology and pathology. In pathology the term organopathy has long been in general use, particularly on the Continent of Europe. The French understand by Organopathie an organ disease, and as such it is an accepted term in pathology. The same is true of Organleiden in the German language. All this by the way.

In this little work, therefore the word organopathy is used as a technical term of drug therapeutics; it was copied in this country some years ago from Rademacher, and from the Rademacherian writes of Germany, without a single word of acknowledgment. But the real father of organopathy in essence and substances is Hohenheim, an eminent and learned physician commonly called Paracelsus, for proof of which see his works, and hereafter in this little volume on Diseases of the Spleen, if space permits. Organopathy is included in the wider generalization known as homoeopathy; for whereas organopathy claims only that certain drugs affect certain parts curatively, preferentially, or specially, as, for instance, Digitalis the heart (therapeutic organopathy), homoeopathy claims that not only dose Digitalis, e.g., affect the heart specifically (therapeutic organopathy), but to be curative the natural disease of the organ (nosological organopathy) must be like in expression to the therapeutic organopathy or drug-action.

Homoeopathy may be said to be based upon organopathy, for a drug to cure the heart of its disease specifically must necessarily affect the heart in some manner. But the homoeopath specializes, and says further: The drug that is to cure the heart must affect the heart, certainly-that is one of the foundations of our whole therapeutic edifice, but that is not enough; the nosological organopathy and the therapeutic organopathy must be and are similar. And in as much as we can know disease only by its subjective and objective symptoms (its language), it follow that the two organopathies must be symptomatically alike, though possibly antipathic in their mode of action as against one another.

My reason for considering Diseases of the Spleen from the organopathic standpoint lies not only in the fact that I already worked on the same subject ten years ago, but because I believe my experience in this field is somewhat unusual, and likely to be instructive to my readers; and incidentally I wish particularly to emphasize the fact that organopathy was a well-established system of medicine long year ago, and is no child of our time.

No doubt it wants precisioning and developing, and I trust this little volume will work a little in this direction; but for any man to come forward nowadays and post as the discover of organopathy, in either name or substance, presupposes an amount of ignorance that makes one fairly stagger with amazement. I am not maintaining that treating an organ affection by an organ remedy after the manner of Hohenheim, Rademacher, and their respective codoctrinaires, will stand as a medical system sufficient in itself, but that it is eminently workable, and is largely of the nature of elementary homoeopathy, is, in fact, specificity of seat.

Neither am I unmindful of the part played by the universalia in Hohenheim medicine nor of the genius epidemicus morborum. I leave them here largely out of consideration, on the principle of doing one thing at a time.

Finally, I am very far from supposing that in the vast majority of cases an organ disease exists primarily and permanently by itself independently of the organism; on the contrary, I know well from close observation of nature that the part and the whole are commonly qualitatively the same. The organ which, to my mind, is the most systemic is the skin; and, on the other hand, the spleen has clearly a very distinct life of its own, and its own sufferings may be and are well pronounced.

Whether any particular value is to be attached to the doctrine lately proclaimed by certain clear seeing people that the spleen is the store house of vital energy I am unable to say; but I am much struck with the teaching of Rademacher that a very a large percentage of dropsies are curable by spleen remedies.

I beg no one of my readers will confound what I here say with local treatment of disease. I am thinking and writing about self-elective specific treatment, not local treatment.

The whole organism may suffer, or a part of it, and when such part or organ is wrong in its life and being, it generally speaks and lets its owner know, and that its own way. The altered state of the organ sometimes produces a sense of tightness, or fulness or pain in its own immediate vicinity; at other times, it expresses itself vicariously through another neighboring or distant organ. First come first served is a good maxim, and is generally acted upon also in diagnostics. If a man coughs, his lungs are wrong; if he gets palpitation, his heart is at fault, always to the extent of being the seat of the symptom, though not necessarily its primary one, for the symptom COUGH, PALPITATION, may rise fro the prompting of another organ or part either near or distant. In other words, an organ may speak out complainingly, either because it is wrong itself-organopathically; or may be moved to express itself on behalf, or at the instigation of another organ-synorganopathically; or of the entire organism- holopathically.

Thus I desire to approach the subject of Diseases of the Spleen from the standpoint of organopathy.

From the earliest childhood of healing it has always been more or less known that, e.g., to cure a liver disease you will want a liver medicine, the organ suffering being the organopathy.

But, as I have already said, we must ascribe to Hohenheim the honor of a real practical organopathy;* ( See Rademacher ) that is to say, that a certain internal organs of the body seem at times to be afflicted by themselves primarily, as it were, on their own account organopathically, whereby the very existence of the organism itself may be threatened, other organs or parts being or not being, consecutively involved synorganopathically; and that there are in nature certain remedies that have a more or less pronounced elective affinity for these self-same organs or parts which, indeed have long borne the name of organ remedies. But of this more further on. The Rademacher himself, as we have just seen, is due the formulation and actual clinical demonstration of this organopathy, for which see his work published some sixty odd years ago. Rademacher began to investigate organopathy in the year 1815, and practiced organopathically with immense success for about thirty years and to the end of his life.

Rademacher had a number of disciples who followed him in practicing, developing and defending organopathy. These disciples formed a school, and are known in literature as Rademacherians-at least that is what I call them-for it were almost more in accordance with fact to say that literature has misunderstood or ignored them, though here and there a literary freebooter has “discovered” from their store house. For a time these disciples of Rademacher held together, and published a journal, entitled Zeitschrift fur Erfahrungsheilkunst, which began in 1847 at Eilenburg, being edited by Drs. A. Bernhardi and L. Loffler, and carrying as motto-“Medicina ars experimentalis”-which is very old, very hackneyed, and still as true as ever! I do not know how many years it ran, but not many, as far as soon as the Rademacherians began to try to gain fixity for their indications they wandered off into the fields of experimental pharmacology, but found it already occupied by-whom? by the homoeopaths ! and as an in the case of so many wanderings, the wanders never came back, but remained in the field of provings side by side with the followers of Hahnemann. Of course, before Hahnemann`s time no arrangement of drugs based on provings could be made.

Hohenheim`s organopathy, as interpreted by Rademacher, differs, therefore, somewhat from the organopathy of Rademacher`s followers, inasmuch as these practically gave up the idea that remedies are per se friendly to the organs, and brought into their organopathy the Hahnemannic proving of drugs on the healthy, and this being done, the organopathy (Rademacherians) and the homoeopaths marched side by side, the former giving up their journal.

Rademacher`s work has been both ignored and criticised, but it remains classic for all time; I believe his direct art-cures of disease are unsurpassed, may, never equalled, in the written history of medicine so far as the same is known to me.

I sometimes regret that the disciples of Hahnemann and those of Rademacher became so closely assimilated, for it seems to me that drug provings are not everything, and I cannot help thinking that had the Rademacherians kept by themselves, they would have taught us much of the higher physiology of various organs that we still have to learn. And I am bound to say that some of the organ remedies of Rademacher possess a direct healing power over organ diseases that their provings in no way explain. Perhaps further knowledge will throw light on this; we must accept the fact, and wait for the explanation.

In daily life we make certain acquaintances with our fellow- beings, and some of these pass out of sight for a time, or for ever. Months or years roll by, and we meet with some of them again, and as So-and-so is with us, we introduce our friend to him, remarking that we have known him ever since a certain memorable event. We find that with a physician disease and drugs stand out as so many individual acquaintances along the path of his professional life; if he meet a congenial brother chip he will very soon run off the first subject of conversation and begin to “talk shop”. Most people will join in a very hearty condemnation of “talking shop,” but nevertheless, the genuine man will not be long with you before you can form a pretty correct opinion of his walk in life. Let two medicos meet for a little social chat, and you will not have to wait long for the sign of the leech. And why should it be otherwise? Do we really expect a plant-loving botanist to prefer astronomy as a subject of conversation?

Sometime since I was casually sitting in a pretty garden with a gentleman. Left a few moments together we began to chat, and the gentleman asked if I could discern a bar across the attic window. No, was my reply. “I can,” said he, and almost immediately he inquired whether I had been to the Academy. No, I had not. And then in a twinkling he exclaimed : “Oh, what lovely tints, just look at the shade of the plum-tree across the path, and that green, I mean there just by the nut-tree.” Need I say he is an artist?

I had not noticed any of the pretty things to which he called my attention, but I had seen a small issue-a tiny aperture in his skin covering his larynx.

As a striking clinical acquaintance, there stands out in my professional path a remedy called Ceanothus Americanus, which acquaintance has increased with years, till it and I have become fast friends, to the advantage of not a few. Through my clinical friend Ceanothus Americanus, I have perhaps paid much more attention to the spleen than I otherwise should, and it is of the spleen that I am about to discourse.

As an introduction to “Diseases of the Spleen,” I cannot do better than reproduce a portion of what I wrote on the subject of this ceanothus Americanus in 1879.

About the author

James Compton Burnett

James Compton Burnett

James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.

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