Part 5: Dual Nature of Disease
Dr. Hahnemann’s medical system is replete with dynamic or functional dualities that derive from the fundamental duality of our life force, which itself is a reflection of the duality built into nature herself. One duality that Hahnemann discovered is the dual nature of disease, namely between those diseases that have a constant wesen or nature, which he termed the primary diseases, and those that have a variable nature, which he termed secondary diseases. The constancy of the primary diseases permits a specific medicine to be found for them, one that is always the same for the same disease, regardless of the person or their symptoms. However, the individual, or variable nature (wesen) diseases have individual specifics, that is to say that the specific medicine is to be individually determined in each case depending on the particular symptoms of the disease as it emerges out of the primary disease in interaction with the constitution of the patient.
Thus, for example, all patients with measles should receive the specific medicine for measles, Morbillinum. However, if this is not done, then the measles disease will give rise to a secondary, variable nature disease that is not predictable in a given case, but needs to be determined by waiting for the symptom picture, the image of the disease, to emerge in each case. In one chickenpox case the symptom picture might point to Antimonium crudum, and in another case, to Pulsatilla.
In most primary diseases, the number of initial secondary diseases that emerge is limited, which allows for general lists of possible medicines for those diseases as one finds in most first-aid and home handbooks. While epidemics reduce the number of diseases likely to emerge given their intensity, even here there can be a number of remedies possible, as Dr. Hahnemann discovered in the case of scarlet fever.
This important distinction between the types of disease is made by Dr. Hahnemann very early on in his Heilkunst writings, most notably in the 1796 essay, Essay on New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Power of Drugs and The Medicine of Experience of 1805, the precursor to the aphoristic Organon.
It is only the very great simplicity and constancy of [constant nature diseases, such as] ague and syphilis that permitted remedies to be found for them, [that] are, however, probably specific in both diseases… Our great and intelligent observers of disease have seen the truth of this too well, to require that I should dwell longer on this subject.
Now, when I entirely deny that there are any absolute specifics for individual diseases, in their full extent, as they are described in ordinary works on pathology, I am, on the other hand, convinced that there are as many specifics as there are different states of individual diseases, i.e., that there are peculiar specifics for the pure disease [tonic], and others for its varieties [pathic], and for other abnormal states of the system.” (Lesser Writings, p. 260-261, bold and parentheses added).
We observe a few diseases that always arise from one and the same cause, e.g., the miasmatic maladies; hydrophobia, the venereal disease, the plague of the Levant, yellow fever, smallpox, cow-pox, the measles and some others, which bear upon them the distinctive mark of always remaining diseases of a peculiar character; and, because they arise from a contagious principle that always remains the same, they also always retain the same character and pursue the same course, excepting as regards some accidental circumstances, which however do not alter their essential character.
These few diseases, at all events those first mentioned (the miasmatic), we may therefore term specific, and when necessary bestow upon them distinctive appellations.
If a remedy has been discovered for one of these, it will always be able to cure it, for such a disease always remains essentially identical in its manifestations (the representatives of its internal nature) and in its cause.
All the other innumerable diseases exhibit such a difference in their phenomena that we may safely assert that they arise from a combination of several dissimilar causes (varying in number and differing in history and intensity).
Hence it happens that with the exception of those few diseases that are always the same [tonic], all others are dissimilar [pathic], and innumerable, and so different that each of them occurs scarcely more than once in the world, and each case of disease that presents itself must be regarded (and treated) as an individual malady that never before occurred in the same manner, and under the same circumstances as in the case before us, and will never again happen precisely in the same way! (Medicine of Experience, Lesser Writings, p. 440-442, bold added)
The primary diseases are due to a particular cause, such as a physical or emotional trauma, an infectious disease agent (wesen), a drug or even a false belief or “superstition” (footnote to Aphorism 17), derived from what Dr. Hahnemann termed the “highest disease” – ignorance, or lack of knowing. These primary diseases are identified by the cause, where known, and, as we shall later see, for each of these diseases, there is a specific medicine. Since the disease wesen remains the same, such as in the case of the measles or a contusion disease (as Dr. Hahnemann termed it), the curative similar medicine also remains the same. This Dr. Hahnemann expressed by the principle he formally set out in 1817 (Examination of the Sources of the Common Materia Medica): Only for a want of a constant character can we suppose a supply of a constant character.
In this important essay, Hahnemann further sets out the dual nature of disease:
These few diseases, at all events those first mentioned (the miasmatic), we may therefore term specific, and when necessary bestow on them distinctive appellations.
If a remedy has been discovered for one of these, it will always be able to cure it, for such a disease always remains essentially identical, both in its manifestations (the representatives of its internal nature) and in its cause. (Lesser Writings, p. 440)
By an infinite number of trials of all imaginable simple substances used in domestic practice, in a well-defined disease, which shall constantly present the same characters, a true, certainly efficacious, specific remedy for the greater number of individuals and their friends suffering from the same disease might certainly be discovered, though only casu fortuito…
…The constant specific remedies in these few diseases were capable of being discovered by means of trying every imaginable medicinal substance, only because the thing to be cured, the disease, was of a constant character; – they are diseases which always remain the same; some are produced by a miasm which constitutes the same through all generations, such as the venereal disease; others have the same exciting causes, as the ague of marshy districts, the goitre of the inhabitants of deep valleys and their outlets, and the bruises caused by falls and blows…
Only for a want of a constant character can we suppose a supply of a constant character.
That it was requisite, in order to find out empirically the proper remedy, that all diseases, for which the specific was sought should be identical and preserve an invariable fixed character, appears not to only have been surmised, but to have been deeply felt by the medical community of the old school. They imagined that they must represent to themselves the various diseases of humanity in certain fixed forms, before they could hope to discover for each a suitable, trustworthy remedy, and this (as they knew no other better – scientific – way of finding the fitting medicine in diseases) by means of experimenting on them with all possible drugs, – a method which had succeeded so well in the few fixed diseases above alluded to.” (Lesser Writings, pp. 687-689)
It is important to note that each of the primary diseases could give rise to secondary diseases as a result of the interaction of the initial disease wesen with the human wesen. Which secondary diseases emerge in a given person out of a primary disease depends on the nature of that person, and thus, such diseases are of a variable nature, as they are relative to the circumstances of each person. For such diseases, the medicine is not specific, but individual, and must be determined through the symptom picture alone, which is the basis for homeopathy. This engenderment of secondary diseases out of the primary disease is most clearly seen and described by Dr. Hahnemann in his work on chronic diseases. Here Dr. Hahnemann distinguishes clearly between the constant nature of the chronic miasms, as noted earlier, and the variable nature of the secondary chronic diseases.
13.2 … The Chronic Diseases, which spring from miasms…
14.1… the chronic diseases arising from miasms directly…
57.1 All chronic diseases of mankind… must therefore all have for their origin and foundation static chronic miasms…
183.1 …then the slumbering psora awakes and… one or another of the nameless (psoric) chronic diseases breaks out…
243.1 …psora… become internal and… changed into chronic diseases of various kinds…*
243.1* Applied in small dosage, sulphur, as one of the antipsoric medicines, will not fail to make a brief beginning of a cure of the chronic (non-venereal and therefore psoric) diseases…
The determination of the specific remedy for the constant nature (wesen) diseases is not homeopathy, but another form of the application of the law of similars. Since the specific remedy is more similar than the individual remedy, we know that there are degrees of similitude. We could say that this initial similitude is “homo” as opposed to “homeo.” The term “homo” comes from Hahnemann’s use in the Introduction to the Organon of the term “homogenic” to refer to constant nature diseases that relate to a particular disease irritation, such as Arnica for contusion disease (bruises). And given that the primary disease is the initial and fundamental impingement, as Dr. Hahnemann terms it, of the generative power of the Dynamis, we can say that it affects the soundness (gezondheit) of the patient. This deranged soundness shows up in disturbed tone: muscle tone, skin tone, lung tone, etc. Thus, we can say that the primary, constant nature diseases are tonic diseases, and that the approach to treatment of the primary diseases is homotonic, whereas the approach to the treatment of the secondary diseases is homeopathic.
A short note is in order here concerning the terms medicine and remedy. Medicines are curative agents in the case of disease (involving the law of similars), whereas remedies are broader in nature and use. Thus, for example, the use of a vitamin or mineral to remove a deficiency (imbalance) remedies the imbalance, but involves the use of the law of opposites. We can thus say that there are two forms of similar medicines, or simillimums.
Glossary Contribution 5
Those diseases that have a constant, fixed nature (wesen or essence) and are idiopathic (not caused by another disease, but from a known disease cause); because of this constancy of the wesen (or dynamic element) of such diseases, there is a single medicine that will cure the disease once and always, known as the specific remedy or specific. Tonic diseases are identified normally by identification of the proximate cause, such as a blow from a blunt instrument or object in contusion disease, the specific of which is Arnica montana. Such diseases are limited in number and are to be treated first. Tonic diseases can be given a distinctive name, because of the constancy of their wesen, such as measles, cholera, tuberculosis, syphilis.
Those diseases that have a variable wesen, and are created by the interaction of the initial tonic disease wesen with the human wesen (generative power aspect), producing secondary diseases. The curative medicine is determined by means of the symptoms of the disease and the name of the disease is derived from the curative medicine, such as a “Belladonna-like” disease for a pathic disease cured by Belladonna.
Specifics or specific medicines:
Those medicines that are curative in the case of tonic diseases, and generally chosen based on the direct cause (genesis) of the disease.
Those medicines that are curative of pathic diseases, and are generally chosen on the basis of the symptoms produced in the patient by a given disease.
The curative medicine based on the law of similars, either of a specific nature for tonic diseases or individual nature for pathic diseases.
The curative agent for disease, whether tonic or pathic.
The medicine or other substance or therapeutic approach that resolves the disease or imbalance.
# # #
Rudi Verspoor is Dean and Chair Department of Philosophy Hahnemann College for Heilkunst, Ottawa. He served as the Director of the British Institute of Homeopathy Canada from 1993 to early 2001 and helped to found and is still active in the National United Professional Association of Trained Homeopaths (NUPATH) and the Canadian/International Heilkunst Association (C/IHA).
Part of his time is spent advising the Canadian government on health-care policy and in working for greater acceptance of and access to homeopathy. His publications include:
Homeopathy Renewed, A Sequential Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Illness (with Patty Smith);
A Time for Healing; Homeopathy Re-examined: Beyond the Classical Paradigm (with Steven Decker);
The Dynamic Legacy: Hahnemann from Homeopathy to Heilkunst (with Steven Decker).
Visit his website at http://www.heilkunst.com/