Homeopathy Papers

Analogies between Freud, Hahnemann and Homeopathy

The author discusses Sigmund Freud’s life and finds similarities between the lives and life work of Freud and Hahnemann.

Translated by Katja Schütt and Alan Schmukler

When Dr.Bronfman was organizing the lectures, I suggested the title “Freud from the homeopathic point of view”, with which he agreed. But when I received the scientific program I noticed the title had changed to “Homeopathize Freud”. I don’t believe in coincidences and less in this case, and I imagined Dr.Bronfman saying to me, as if in a dream: “Sergio, look, Freud is not Marilyn Monroe, you cannot undress him as you have done with her”. [1]

In this moment I realized that Freud’s lifework is truly much more important than the detailed analysis of his sufferings. I have to admit that I could not resist this temptation with Marilyn.

I met Freud by first reading his biography, to introduce myself to the topic. Sigmund Freud was born at 6.30 p.m., on May 6th, 1856, in Freigberg, Moravia, and died on September 23rd, 1939, in London. He was born with abundant black, curly hair, so that his young mother gave him the nickname “my blacky”. At birth his head was covered with a fetal membrane, which was interpreted as a sure omen of happiness and fame. When his young mother met by chance an old woman in a pasta shop, this belief was reinforced. The woman told her she had born a great man, which caused the proud and happy mother to firmly believe in this prediction.

Freud had inherited the humor of his father, his astute skepticism towards the uncertain vicissitudes of life, his moral principles which were supported by a Judean anecdote, his liberalism and free thinking, and possibly also his tendency to be lead by his wife. Freud’s father, named Jacob, was a trader and died on October 23rd, 1896. From his mother he inherited sentimentalism, as he himself reported. Freud also wrote: “When a man has been the undisputed favorite of his mother he will have the feeling of being a winner during his whole life. This confidence in success is what often really leads to success”.

He received his first lessons from his mother, then his father took care of his education before sending him to a private school. Freud reported that from age 12, he used to accompany his father, in walks around Vienna. He also enjoyed ice skating and was a great swimmer and walker.

The only dissidence with his father was apparently caused by his love of buying books, which his father could not afford. His father educated him as a Jew. He was a man well versed with Jewish habits and parties, although it is known that Freud’s nanny was Catholic and taught the Christian cult. Freud rewarded the education received by his father by helping to raise his siblings, and even selected the literature they had to read.

There is no doubt that the young Sigmund lived through his books and was a great worker. Reading and his studies seemed to have filled the greater part of his life. This young man also had a notable aptitude for languages. Besides being completely familiar with Latin and Greek, he also had knowledge of French and English. He taught himself Italian and Spanish, and of course he was taught in Hebrew at his home. He read his first literature from Shakespeare at the age of 8.

Freud suffered from anti-Semitism which prevailed in Vienna at that time, and caused him to suffer in various ways. In a letter Freud wrote about himself:

“After forty one years of medical activity, my self-knowledge tells me that I have never really been a doctor in the proper sense. I became a doctor through being compelled to deviate from my original purpose; and the triumph of my life lies in my having, after a long and roundabout journey, found my way back to my earliest path. I have no knowledge of having had any craving in my early childhood to help suffering humanity. My innate sadistic disposition was not a very strong one, so that I had no need to develop this one of its derivatives. Nor did I ever play the ‘doctor game’; my infantile curiosity evidently chose other paths. In my youth I felt an overpowering need to understand something of the riddles of the world in which we live and perhaps even to contribute something to their solution. The most hopeful means of achieving this end seemed to be to enroll myself in the medical faculty. Afterwards I continued to experiment with zoology and chemistry, although unsuccessfully, until I finally turned towards physiology, influenced by Brücke (the greatest of all authorities which have had an influence on me). But this did not go beyond the narrow limits of histology of that time. At this time I had already passed all exams in medicine, but did not show enough interest to relate with medicine, until the day when a teacher, whom I deeply respected, told me, that it would not be possible for me to pursue a mere theoretical carrier in view of my reduced material possibilities. In this way I came to dedicate myself to the histology of the nervous system, neuropathology, and later, due to new influences, to occupy myself with the neurosis. Nevertheless, I was hardly inclined to believe that my lack of an authentic medical temperament had caused much damage to my patients. It is not a big advantage for the patients that the therapeutical interest of the physician with regard to applied methods reaches an exaggerated emotional tone. For them it is more advantageous when the physician relates his task objectively, and if possible, with precision.”

To me this letter, which describes this period of his life with his own handwriting, appears to be very eloquent.

At this point, nobody will be surprised that his medical career, which began in a rather unorthodox way, then became irregular and excessively long. Freud took a lot of time to finish his medical studies, three years more than necessary. He was criticized by his colleagues for the delay, but he was not tardy due to laziness, but because he studied those topics profoundly in which he was really interested. His great teacher was the eminent physiologist of the time, Brücke, and Freud joined the institute as a student researcher. When the council met to suggest Freud as a teacher, Brücke described him in the following way: “Dr. Freud is a man with a good general education, of a quiet and serious character, an excellent worker in the field of neuroanatomy, with fine skills and a clear vision, immense knowledge, and a cautious method of deduction, and gifted with the talent to write in a well-organized manner. His findings enjoyed approval and confirmation. His style in conferences is clear and secure. The condition of being a scientific investigator and a gifted teacher join in such a way that the commission makes the suggestion to the honorable college to accept his proof of suitability”.

In voting acceptance, there were 21 votes for and only one dissent. There were a lot of problems to overcome before getting a scholarship, but 1885 was a successful year for him. He realized his intention to visit Charcot in Paris and present himself as a “private lecturer” in neuropathology.

An interesting episode in his life is the one with cocaine. To demonstrate this I’m using the following letter in which Freud wrote:

“I may here go back a little and explain how it was the fault of my fiancée that I was not already famous at an early age. A side interest, though it was a deep one, had led me in 1884 to obtain from Merck some of what was then the little-known alkaloid cocaine and to study its physiological action. While I was in the middle of this work, an opportunity arose for making a journey to visit my fiancée, from whom I had been parted for two years. I hastily wound up my investigations of cocaine and contented myself in my book on the subject with prophesying that further uses for it would soon be found… When I returned from my holiday I found that not he [Konigstein], but another of my friends, Carl Koller (now in New York), whom I had also spoken to about cocaine, had made the decisive experiments upon animals’ eyes and had demonstrated them at the Ophthalmological Congress at Heidelberg. Koller is therefore rightly regarded as the discoverer of local anesthesia by cocaine, which has become so important in minor surgery; but I bore my fiancée no grudge for her interruption of my work.”

At this time the young Freud was a real threat for the publicity. He supplied cocaine to his girlfriend, friends, etc. and suggested to them that there were not any contraindications at that time. He used it with great success for depression and indigestion. I remember a case which Freud described, about Fleish, a famous physician, who was strongly addicted to morphine. Freud started to give him cocaine in the hope of weaning him off morphine, and was very successful. About that time, in June 1885, he started to explore the subject of addiction. The French scientists Jean Mari Charcot and Joseph Breuer were some of his greatest teachers. With hypnosis these two used a method of free association, which Freud later evolved to psychoanalysis. At conferences in the United States, in 1910, Freud declared that psychoanalysis was born in the twentieth century.

The unconscious as a theoretical concept was still not defined and an object of disagreement among philosophers. But it was already noted and tangible, and an object of experimentation within the phenomena of hypnotism. The cathartic method is the predecessor of psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud himself provided the most complete and now most classical definition for his invention, psychoanalysis: “Psycho-analysis is (1) A procedure for investigating mental processes which are almost inaccessible in any other way, (2) A method (based upon that investigation) for the treatment of neurotic disorders and (3) A collection of psychological information obtained along those lines, which is gradually being accumulated into a new scientific discipline.”

Freud wrote many books:

1893/5 Studies on Hysteria
1900 The Interpretation of Dreams
1901 Psychopathology of everyday life
1901 Case of Dora (the fragment of an analysis of hysteria)
Three Essays on the theory of sexuality
1905 Jokes and their relation to the unconscious
1906 Delusions and Dreams in Jensen’s Gradiva
1906/8 The case study of “Little Hans” – Phobia – The Rat Man
1909/10 Five lectures on psychoanalysis
Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood
1911 A case of paranoia (Schreber)
1913 Totem and Taboo
1914 Introduction to Psychoanalysis
1917 The Wolf Man
1920 Beyond the Pleasure Principle
1923 The Ego and the Id
1925 Inhibition, Symptom and Anxiety
1927 The Future of an Illusion
1937’s Moses and Monotheism

At this point, you may wonder why I want to speak about Freud. To suggest the idea, which I’ve had several years, that homeopathy and psychoanalysis have more commonalties than differences, may appear daring. But let me try to point out several analogies.

Christian Samuel Hahnemann was born on April 10th, 1755, in one of the most beautiful regions of Saxony, Germany. One hundred years later Sigmund Freud was born, on May 6th, 1856, in Freiberg, Austria, in one of the most beautiful forests in this country. Both had been endowed with a peculiar linguistic talent and spoke several languages. The knowledge of languages allowed them to make translations, which made certain their survival. Freud first read W. Shakespeare’s literature in English at the age of 8. Hahnemann read Greek at the age of 12.

Hahnemann was a physician, chemist, pharmacist, and the discoverer of the famous wine fermentation. Freud was physician, physiologist and neurologist. Both felt during their first years of medicinal practice that they were unable to practice medicine and that they did not meet the requirements of medical science. This is expressed in their correspondence.

In the pre-homeopathic era, Hahnemann wrote in a letter to Hufeland in 1808: “To treat my fellow men with unknown medicines which had many adverse effects, afflicted my conscience”.
In a similar sense Freud wrote to Fliess in Berlin: “I would like to be a physician, a healing artist, as people use to say, a physician to understand his similars. But unfortunately I’m not as you know”. He already wrote him before: “I have not learned enough to be a physician”.

Both had very aggressive temperaments and were very stubborn. They defended their opinions in an obstinate, zealous and efficient way.
Their parents were both married in second marriages.
Their parents seemed to have a strong influence on them, paving the way for their work: Freud is the creator of the psychoanalysis, Hahnemann the founder of homeopathy. Freud stated in his last years, that the pain of losing his parents never ceased for him.

An inquiring mind seemed to have flourished in both souls. For Hahnemann the foundation for his discovery was a self-experiment with Quinine in 1796. Freud made an experiment with Cocaine in 1880, which relates to the development of psychoanalysis. Bernfeld considers this episode as the first scientific encounter with the neurosis, and a posteriori with the psychoanalysis.

Both experienced during their experiments what Ellen Berger called an “artificial disease”. An artificial disease caused by the occupation with an idea and the search for a definite truth. It is a polymorph condition, which can take the form of a depression, a neurosis, psychosomatic pain, or the form of a psychosis. The patients experienced the nature of a symptom as painful, or even like a torture, as periods of amelioration and aggravation. During the disease the patient never loses the leading thread of his idea. He agrees with the normal exercise of his profession and a stable family life.

Homeopathy was established in 1796, the year of birth for psychoanalysis was 1896. There are further analogies. Hahnemann as well as Freud were Masonics and had an attitude free from prejudice towards religion. Both paid special attention to their theoretical culture.

Both suffered from the rejection of the medical culture at that time. Hahnemann provoked surprise and consternation, and the rejection of many colleagues of his time, when he wrote “The Chronic Disease, Their peculiar nature and cure”. It was and is very difficult for many to understand the miasm theory. Freud suffered from the rejection of the entire society when he wrote his three essays on the theory of sexuality.

Consider: Despite the solitude in their fight and the obstacles they had to overcome, both, at the age of about 40, brought about a change. Hahnemann attacked the whole of traditional allopathic medicine, which supported cure on the principle of “contraria contrariis curantur”, and the bloodletting of his time. Do not forget that only Hahnemann dreamed of the revolutionary method of “Similia similibus curentur” in this pre-antibiotic time. Freud fought against psychiatry’s use of electroshock and the thermal cures of that time.

How does one explain that the unconscious also exists? Hahnemann was the first to view the human being in his psychobiological unity and not merely as the sum of his parts, which he supported by a particular philosophy. The symptoms of the patient are the expression of the disease of the whole being and of the dynamic disturbance of the vital force. Those symptoms of the patient which he called the “strange, rare and peculiar” symptoms constitute the most profound expression of the disease.
Freud approached the psyche of his patient through failed acts, slips, dreams, which he considered as the way to access the most profound conflicts of the unconscious (these are equivalent to the so-called Keynotes).

Hahnemann proposed to listen to the patient with much patience during case taking. He advised not to interrupt the patient when he is talking about his sufferings and pains, and wanted each patient to describe his ailments with his own words.

Freud proposed to listen to the patient with free-floating attention, without interrupting him, and proposed to make afterward, an interpretation of the discourse with the object to reveal its sense.

Hahnemann observed during the curative treatment of his patients that old symptoms, which were suppressed by allopathic treatment, have to reappear, like a movie that is played backwards.

Freud opined that in psychoanalysis, there are to be overcome, certain resistance’s until one gets confronted with those childhood memories which have often produced so much pain.

Elizabeth Wright compared the homeopathic analysis with a photographic plaque, and to me it appears that it is the negative of this plaque that Freud intended to regain.

Hahnemann accomplished the so-called self-experiment and generated the pathogeneses of many remedies. He reminded the homeopath that provings are a learning process of pathogeneses which cannot be achieved in other ways.

Freud pursued his auto-analysis for a long time and recommended this experience as a method to train psychoanalysts and for all physicians who want to apply medical psychoanalysis.

One of the pillars of homeopathy defined by Hahnemann is the Law of Similars. It states, that a substance which can produce symptoms in a healthy human being, is able to cure a patient who exhibits the same symptomatology.

Freud defined the term transference, which is a phenomenon in psychoanalysis characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. One definition of transference is “the inappropriate repetition in the present of a relationship that was important in a person’s childhood.” Another definition is “the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.” It is about the repetition of infantile prototypes which are experienced with a strong feeling in the present.

Continuing the analogies we see that Hahnemann left us this gem: “In order to cure we use substances which are actually not substances, but which seem to contain the message of a primitive substance, which experiences an emptying of the specific through the process of potentization, as if eliminating its character is bringing us a true message”.

We can say about the Freudian method that the interpretation fills the empty place of the discourse caused by resistances or other defense mechanisms such as repression etc.

Hahnemann mentions the theory of miasms when referring to hereditary factors, and described Psora, Sycosis and Syphilis in his miasmatic concept. During curative treatment, suppressed symptoms reappear like a movie that is played backwards. However, Hahnemann also told us that “there are obstacles to cure”.

Freud supports the same. When talking about hereditary factors he describes them through a so-called complementary series. There is an important inherited part and another of childhood experiences, which can be modified during therapy. During the process of analysis it can be seen how childhood situations gradually appear retrogressively. Freud also said that the analysis is an analysis of resistance.

It is an interesting fact that when Hahnemann began to discover the three miasms, he first discovered Psora and later Sycosis and Syphilis. Freud also described three circles in his primary topography to explain the functioning of the psychic system: the unconscious, preconscious and unconscious. The second topography divides the psyche into the three agencies of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego.
Neither Freud nor Hahnemann merely accepted the wisdom of their intellectual ancestors, but became discoverers of virgin soil themselves.

It is essential in homeopathy to respect the speech of our patient, recording the exact words with which they express their feelings. This relates to the language of the materia medica. In psychoanalysis, the unconscious is considered to be structured like a language, based on the function of the signifier and signified, in signifying chains.

The homeopath considers the strange, rare and peculiar symptoms of the patient, as these express the profound suffering of the patient. Psychoanalysis shows the profound nucleus of suffering through accessing the unconscious by means of failed acts, slips, dreams, jokes.

Though finding access in different ways, these two methods converge in the pathogenic nucleus from two different angles, to produce what Kohut called a “transformed inwardness”. Both methods each may arrive at the same place.

When I close my eyes in this moment and imagine a dialogue between Freud and Hahnemann, smoking, and drinking a cup of coffee, Sigmund is asking Samuel: “Could you recommend something for the rigidity of my pupil?”

Samuel replies: Maybe Phosphorus would help you.

And Samuel asking Sigmund: What do you think the rigidity comes from? Which strange relationship does it have with your past ? What happened with our disciples ? We both have permanently made constructions and changes during our work.
Why have our successors not been able to add artifice to our writings?
As you all shall see, when I convey something, I shall use the poet’s voice, and today I propose that you all use it as well.

[1] Comment of the translator: This refers to an article in which Sergio described a homeopathic analysis of the constitutional remedy of Marilyn Monroe (Mind, desires to be naked).

About the author

Sergio M. Rozenholc

Dr. Sergio Mario Rozenholc is a homeopathic physician, practicing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He graduated as a physician at the Medicinal Faculty of the University Buenos Aires in 1991 & as a Unicist Homeopath at Escuela Meodica Homeopática Argentina "Tomás Pablo Paschero" in 1991. He specialized in Psychosomatic medicine in 1996. Since 2000 he works at the Chirurgical center providing for clinical medicinal & psychosomatic care. He is an active member of the Liga Medicorum Homeopáthica Internationalis. He is the founder and director of the journal "El Homeopático", launched in 2001 & serves to distribute homeopathy by means of actual homeopathy articles written by famous professionals from Argentina and Europe.

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