The first time I saw Dr Paul Herscu present his idea of analysis by Cycles and Segments nearly 20 years ago, I must confess to being somewhat perplexed. Why do we need to look at a case in this way? Why do we need to group symptoms together? When faced with something new, our first thought is to question it (rightly so), then to either dismiss it or embrace it. Sometimes we dismiss a new idea without understanding it. Homeopaths know all too well this approach. I liken this to a sports person learning a new skill. The coach will encourage the player to work at a new technique that will enhance his game. The player will resist at first.. “Why do I need to do this? I’m doing alright as I am”. When the coach sees a weakness in the player’s game he will encourage the player to improve his skills by doing a certain maneuver or changing a certain aspect of his game, looking at doing things in a different way to improve his game. The player will then work on his weakness until he has mastered the skill and improved his game.
I was the player who dismissed the new technique. In fact, I didn’t see Paul again for another 5 years. I plodded on in my practice, getting fairly good results but also getting frustrated at times when I couldn’t seem to help my patients. Even taking into account obstacles to cure, there were some cases that I felt should have been helped better. Then I saw Paul again at a seminar in London. There he was once again explaining how the Cycles and Segments approach had helped him tremendously in his practice. This time I listened to the Coach!
He talked about Stress and Strain. How the person receives a stress and how the person strains against that stress. The straining process being the symptoms that are produced. How certain individuals are predisposed to certain stresses and that we all strain in a different way depending on our susceptibility and predisposition.
When we give a remedy, the remedy is a highly specific stress on the individual which creates healing. He explained how a case could be divided up into segments. Each segment containing rubrics that mean the same thing. This way you will not lose the remedy, especially if you use too small a rubric. It’s probably best to give you an example at this point from a live case taken by Paul Herscu at a recent seminar the YCCH organized here in Yorkshire
Chronic inflammation of the throat
Inflammation of the skin
Easily becomes irritable
These symptoms all mean the same thing : INFLAMMATION
Yelling, throwing things
These symptoms all mean the same thing : DISCHARGES
For the sake of brevity I have not included all the segments here in this article but basically we then go on to find more symptoms that mean the same thing and create more segments that eventually form a CYCLE of disease. We can then find a remedy that most closely matches the patient’s cycle, or in other words the patient’s totality.
Another aspect of Paul Herscu’s work that has not only inspired me but has helped me tremendously in my practice is his ‘hierarchy of remedies’. Basically he says that remedies can be categorized into a hierarchy, not dissimilar to how Hering’s law of cure works, but in terms of remedies. There are four phases and each phase represents a deeper state of pathology progressing from left to right. Polychrest remedies in phase one, Nosodes in phase two, more intense remedies in phase three. The fourth phase becoming even more intense with deep acting remedies such as Aurum, Veratrum, and Mercurius
The YCCH have organized several Herscu seminars over the past few years and we continue to do so, introducing many homeopaths to his system of analysis through cycles and segments. On our three year professional training course we teach other systems of analysis in order to give our students a broad foundation, but we love following the cycles and segment approach. We have found over the years that our students very quickly embrace this method, as it is a truly holistic way of understanding the patient.