Was the historical development of homeopathy an evolution according to Hahnemann’s intentions ? To answer this question we must look not only at what already happened during Hahnemann’s life but especially at how homeopathy evolved after his death in 1843. What we see then is that Hahnemann intended his new revolutionary healing method to be a method based on analysing the original causes, in most cases a miasmatic disease. But the real outcome of the process was a kind of homeopathy that focuses especially on curing symptoms and linking these symptoms to remedies. We can call it “Kentian homeopathy”, but it certainly is not Hahnemannian homeopathy.
Roberts (1853-1931) called this Hahnemannian method “disease classification” in his book “The principles and art of cure by homeopathy”, 1936
A short history
One could say that homeopathy, or more specifically the homeopathic principle as a law of nature, was one of the first inventions of mankind. Although we do not know how long it took for man to find out that something rough can be smoothened with a rough tool (an example of the homeopathic law of nature), it is obvious that the evolution of the human brain soon revealed the important laws of nature of which homeopathy is one. Also the use of plants in a similar way – i.e. according to natural homeopathic laws – is already known almost 2.000 years B.C. as a part of the Egyptian daily life. In the Christian bible we can find several examples of this homeopathic principle. One example: when people came to Moses and told him that the water of the river tasted bitter, he advised them to throw a bitter tasting branch in the river. Although used in daily practice, it is not common to see certain daily routine tasks as part of the homeopathic law of nature. But in our ordinary daily life examples are often at hand, if not “all over the place.” As said before we smooth a rough surface with a rough tool. Also we clean dirty oil on our hands with clean oil, although the cleaning business will try to convince you to use their chemical/synthetic solutions.
Since ancient times winters are very cold in Scandinavia. It is an old tradition there to give the body a stimulus by taking a bath in a ice pool. By exposing the organism to very low temperatures briefly, one encourages the life force to produce more warmth. Another example is this: bakers and blacksmiths already knew in ancient times how dangerous an open fire was, but they also discovered the healing powers of it. A blacksmith who had burnt his hand did not call for his wife to bring a cold package, but held his burn close to the hot kettle for healing.
Homeopathy as a way to heal diseases with homeopathic remedies was invented by Samuel Hahnemann around 1800. It was a revolutionary new medicine compared to the cruel methods, including vein letting and purging.
This symptom-orientated healing was such a part of 19th century medicine, that even Hahnemann could not prevent his followers from having the same orientation. At the end of his “era” Hahnemann already debated with some colleagues who suggested that he was wrong and that only the symptoms should be the guide line for homeopaths. The great homeopath J.H.Allen (1854-1925) states: “I say to Dr. Hering, No, the men who select the similar remedy and who are ignorant of causes and effects are not true healers of the sick and have not the mind of the master.” (“The chronic miasms” pg. 13).
After the death of Hahnemann (1843) even more homeopaths embraced the symptom-based homeopathy. Some of them even judged miasms as a “Hahnemannian delusion.” In fact, symptom-based homeopathy became the sole basis for the homeopathy that conquered the world. But at the same time it became the “booby trap” for its development, because the basis was not scientific. Looking for the “totality” or the “essence” cannot be described as an objective or scientific way to cure people, nor is it possible to realize real cure in most cases. The justified question here is: what is the totality or essence? The answer reveals that we see a very personal and subjective way of practice. If we focus on this so-called “totality” we overlook the main focus for cure: we have to look for the original cause, which in most cases is a miasmatic disease, necessary to start a deep healing process. We must keep in mind that the 6th edition of the Organon was revealed almost a century after Hahnemann’s death. This means that the main homeopathic “tower” we can see now, was built on the homeopathy as practised by Kent. This Kentian homeopathy was not intended by Hahnemann himself. No wonder that this tower became the homeopathic “tower of Pisa”. It cannot keep itself erect because the fundamental basis is not right.
In the USA, this became obvious in the early part of the 20th century, when homeopathy was declining more and more. In my opinion the main reason for this is that when the basis is wrong, the result is a kind of inferior homeopathy that is focusing on the essence of the patient instead of on classifying the diseases.
What is this essence and how can we distinguish it in a scientific way ?
Without the help of disease classification it is almost impossible to cure the real cause of a chronic disease. To simplify it: trying to cure a recurring acute disease, without tracing the underlying chronic miasmatic cause, is like pouring water in a bucket with a hole. Only by fixing the hole can the chronic miasmatic cause of the disease can be cured.
Looking closely at Hahnemann’s method we will notice that he focused on analysing the case by classifying the diseases in acute and chronic diseases.
The chronic diseases he sub-divided in miasmatic, iatrogenic and pseudo chronic diseases. Although Hahnemann tried to stop the symptom-based influence, he was not successful. After his death in 1843, curing symptoms instead of curing the real cause soon became the reigning form in homeopathy. The fact that Hahnemann’s wife prevented the printing of the 6th edition of the Organon did not help here either.
Although the 6th edition was published in English by Boericke in 1922, it wasn’t until 1936 that homeopath Herbert Roberts, in his book “The principles and art of cure by homeopathy” paid attention to what he calls “Disease classification.” In chapter 22 Roberts states: “In order to establish a logical basis for the recognition of disease conditions and their origin and relationship, it was necessary to make many close observations of the then known diseases, and then proceed to deductions and proper classifications. Hahnemann set himself to this task, bringing his logical, scientific mind to bear on the situation, and he made the first classification of diseases that had ever been attempted.” But Roberts’ remarks on this subject had no influence on the homeopathic community, which was, for almost a century, giving attention to the symptoms instead of classifying the disease. To my best knowledge the Indian homeopath Dr. Choudhury, born in 1932, was the first homeopath to pay attention to classifying diseases as being the basic principle of Hahnemannian homeopathy. He also gives a very systematic overview of Hahnemann’s theory. In chapter 1 of his book “Indications of miasms”, 1984, he states:
“According to Hahnemann, acute diseases are divided into three parts: individual, sporadic and epidemic. The chronic diseases he divided into two parts:
A) Diseases with fully developed symptoms, subdivided into
The latter sub-divided into 3 groups:
a) diseases from bad hygienic conditions or living;
b) due to continued application of non-homeopathic drugs or drug addictions;
c) occupational diseases.
Miasmatic chronic diseases are sub-divided into two parts:
– single disease by Psora, Syphilis or Sycosis;
– Compound (multiple) disease by Psoric-Sycotic, Psoric-Syphilitic, Syco-Syphilitic, or Psorc-Syphiltic-Sycotic.
These can also be of three different types: (1) continued, (2) intermittent or (3) alternating.
B) diseases with very few symptoms, which can be divided into:
(1) one-sided diseases with only mental symptoms and (2) diseases with only physical symptoms;
(3) local diseases.
This classification of diseases was the first of its type in the history of medicine, which is of paramount importance for treatment and management of disease. This is one of the greatest contributions of Hahnemann.
Dr. Choudhury did a great job in bringing Hahnemann’s disease classification into a systematic survey. Especially important was the recognition of the multi-miasmatic diseases (Psoric-Sycotic, Psoric-Syphilitic, etc.), which was a great leap forward for the miasmatic-based homeopathy.
My dutch colleague Ewald Stoteler is nowadays the main representative of disease classification as the basis for homeopathic prescribing. After dedicating more than 10 years studying both the Organon and Chronic diseases, he was able to publish the results of this: according to Hahnemann disease classification is the instrument for analysing the case. Only when one analyses the case on this basis it is possible to prescribe appropriately, i.e. based on the real causes of the disease(s).
Essence of Hahnemann’s disease classification
In par. 72 “Organon of medicine” Hahnemann states that “the following will serve as a general preliminary view:
“diseases are either rather rapid morbid processes, i.e. acute diseases, or they are diseases with small beginnings, deranging the living organism gradually, i.e. chronic diseases.”
Further on, Hahnemann subdivides the chronic diseases into:
-iatrogenic diseases, caused by allopathic treatment (par. 74),
-pseudo chronic diseases: inappropriately named chronic diseases, caused by avoidable bad influences such as bad housing, over exertion of body or mind, constant worry, etc. (par. 77);
-true natural chronic diseases, caused by a chronic miasm (par. 78).
In par. 83 Hahnemann states that in “this individualizing examination of a case of disease, the homeopath needs nothing but freedom from prejudice and sound senses, attention in observing and fidelity in tracing the picture of the disease.”
What we notice here is that Hahnemann speaks again and again of the “disease” and not of the patient or the dis-eased person. This confirms that the main focus must be on the disease, instead of the (totality of) the patient.
The following scheme is a survey:
Hahnemann’s disease classification was a revolution in medical development in the 19th century. I would say, too revolutionary for its time. Most of his colleagues did not recognize, or misinterpreted Hahnemann’s true intentions with this miasmatic based disease classification. After Hahnemann’s death homeopathy developed in a way he had never intended and certainly would have rejected.
Homeopaths like Roberts and Choudhury have tried to rehabilitate disease classification as the basic tenet for homeopathy, but did not succeed in their mission. But thanks to my dutch colleague Ewald Stoteler in Holland, in less than 10 years time about 25 percent of all dutch homeopaths are using disease classification as the fundamental basis for practising homeopathy. Slowly, but surely, this approach is moving forward to other countries, like Finland and Japan.
Since 2003 I have been studying Stoteler’s lessons of Hahnemannian homeopathy, by following several of his study-courses on disease classification. My conclusion is that this interpretation of Hahnemanns’ writings is accurate, practical and helpful.
I have been a homeopath since 1998, worked on the Kentian basis for about 7 years and with disease classification for about 6 years now, and in my opinion working with disease classification is helpful in more than one way. It not only gives you better results, but it helps you also in explaining to your patient step-by-step, what you are doing and why. Although this looks like a kind of commercial, that is not my intention. My intention is to ask you as a colleague to read-and re-read Hahnemann’s works and especially the paragraphs 72 to 82 in “Organon of Medicine.” When you look closely at these paragraphs, you will notice that here you find the rocks on which homeopathy was built by Hahnemann and should be built now and in the future. Classifying the different diseases as mentioned before is not a formal action, but an essential action to understand the different “grounds” on which diseases can grow. If you do not recognize these different grounds, you miss the key to open the main door which leads to healing the original cause of the disease.
While your curiosity about learning new things is still there, be inspired by Hahnemann’s approach to analysing a case. And if you want to learn more about it, inform yourself at the Stichting Hahnemann Homeopathy (www.classicalhomeopathy.eu) in Holland.
It is not just another interpretation but the “core business” of homeopathy as meant by Hahnemann. Recently I read an introduction to a seminar in which a well known homeopath stated that “knowing the remedy is knowing the case.”
I would say: knowing the case (by disease classification) is knowing the remedy.
-“Organon of medicine” by S. Hahnemann
-“The chronic miasms” by J.S. Allen
-“The principles and art of cure by Homeopathy” by H.A. Roberts
-“Indications of miasms” by Dr. H. Choudhury
-“Hahnemann begreifen” by E. Stoteler (English version is soon to be published).