Homeopathy Papers

A Portrait of Geniuses Strongly Affected By Music and Their Possible Associated Remedy

Through analysis of their lives and statements, Gill Graham explores the constitutional remedies of Friedrich Nietzsche and Bob Dylan.

‘Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.’- Socrates



Since this is a ‘musical’ issue of Hpathy, two great figures strongly affected by music will be discussed with reference to their possible constitutional remedy. In each case a key rubric is chosen and linked to the personality profiles of the individual. What is particularly ‘characteristic’ to each person is explored, having being researched and justified as far as is possible.

This analysis suggests that those to whom music is a dominant force, reflect other keynotes of the remedy, demonstrated specifically from a mental and emotional perspective.



There are several rubrics in the repertory which highlight remedies strongly influenced by music. However, each of these rubrics is only a small part of the totality of each remedy. To understand the remedy fully, the range of mind symptoms attributed to each remedy will be explored and related to the original chosen rubric, exposing a certain ‘innate sensitivity’. In other words, those of us deeply affected by music display other emotional traits in keeping with those outlined in the overall remedy picture.

To demonstrate this, I have selected key rubrics and allocated them to a well-known philosopher (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900) and a musical figure (Bob Dylan,1941- ). Music is a fundamental part of each of these characters lives, though in unequivocally different ways. For Nietzsche, his works are strongly influenced by his love of music; musical tones and analogies flow tangibly throughout his writings. From a different perspective, Dylan uses music and song lyrics to vocalise and articulate his revolutionary views. Clearly I have not been able to take the case of these figures, but it is my opinion, based on evidence gleaned; from what they have said about themselves, what they have written and what others have said. What is ‘characteristic’ in the mind symptoms about each figure has been analysed, resulting in a well justified constitutional remedy picture: ‘In this quest for a homeopathic specific remedy…the more striking, strange, unusual, peculiar (characteristic) signs and symptoms in the case are especially, almost exclusively, the ones to which close attention should be given, because it is these, above all which must correspond to very similar symptoms in the symptom list of the medicine being sought.’ (Hahnemann, S, 2003:125) Aphorism, 153.


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 1844-1900

Anhalonium lewinii (anh.)

The Key rubric here is ‘Music: carried by.’

With Peyote Man is alone, desperately scraping out the music of his own skeleton, without father, mother family, love, god or society. And no living being to accompany him. And the skeleton is not of bone like a skin that walks. And one walks from the equinox to the solstice, buckling under one’s own humanity.’ Antonin Artaud (cited by Vermeulen, F: 2002:81)


Given that what follows can only be described as a very basic overview of a brilliant talented philosopher, I attributed one key rubric to this great man: ‘Music, carried by.’ The only remedy in the repertory is Anhalonium. By selecting one key rubric, I feel the mental and emotional indications of this remedy are potentially in keeping with what we know of his overall character.

Background and insight into the personality profile of Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in 1844 in Saxony, Germany, a region rich in musical traditions; Leipzig was known as the home of many well-known composers (e.g. Schütz, Bach, Handel, Schumann, and Wagner). As well as being a brilliant philosopher, Nietzsche was a musician and had the ability to compose music; however it was his passion for music which strongly influenced his writings. What is well known about Nietzsche was his love for Wagner’s compositions, particularly Tristan and Isolde. The two artists who met in Leipzig became friends. Although Nietzsche composed some of his own works, they were gracefully rejected as ‘art’ by the great Wagner; the two artists, remained, however, lifelong friends and allies.

What is particularly striking, with reference to his affinity to music is that Nietzsche would rather have sung his works and not spoken them, hence one of the reasons for attributing the rubric ‘music: carried by’. He revealed this in the preface to his first book The Birth of Tragedy, 1872 (dedicated to Wagner.)

“What spoke here was something like a mystical, almost maenadic soul that stammered with difficulty, a feat of the will, as in a strange tongue, almost undecided whether it should communicate or conceal itself. It should have sung, this “new soul”—and not spoken!” (cited by Liébert: 2004)

It is in the analysis of this short passage that we get a glimpse of Nietzsche’s creativity, and his lifelong relationship with music. Musical themes are ingrained and subtlety diffuse yet unmistakable through all his works. To Nietzsche music was the highest form of art. There is much speculation as to why it was so central to his life. Many say it was a ‘sublimation’ or possible recovery from pain. As a follower and ‘child’ of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, this would make sense. He lost his father at a young age (four) and found this painful in the extreme. In short, music according to Schopenhauer was an expression of will, which has the ability to activate all 5 senses, unlike the written word. The following rubric is illustrative of this idea: ‘Music >: sensation of being carried by music; Flight from reality. Monotony of thoughts. Loss of Will, with increased insight. Self-awareness; feels as if he had two wills.’ (Vermeulen, F: 2004:39).

This explanation serves to explain why Nietzsche was drawn to Schopenhauer’s philosophies, and makes sense of his desire to ‘sing’ rather than write his works.

‘Curiously, for the Anhalonium individual, time and space are often spoken of as if they are rhythmical and musical—almost concrete—constituting a rather unusual anchor to reality. In Anhalonium it is common to observe these states of decompensation after a significant loss.’ (Mangliavori: 2010.)

A further example of the power of music to influence his writing is evidenced here. Nietzsche refers to Thus Spoke Zarathustra, as ‘his greatest gift to humanity and this in itself is a strikingly brilliant example of a musical text; justification for this analogy is outlined below:

a)     The work is modelled loosely on Greek tragic tetralogy (three thematically related dramas followed by a Satyr play). As it is known, Greek drama was a musical drama. Therefore, if this speculation is correct, Nietzsche had music in mind (not Greek music but nineteenth century symphonic music) that accompanied the written text.

b)    Zarathustra is a music drama influenced by Wagner and the connection here can be possibly seen at a symbolic level. (Particularly with reference to his connection to the Schopenhaurean philosophy)

c)     The text of Zarathrustra, in structure and form is musical as evidenced in the structure, punctuation, repetition and form including alliterations and assonances, and above all the rhythms and cadences.

(Köhler: 95)

Nietzsche states: “At last we could let ourselves be carried awayby the emotional power of this music, this Schopenhauerian world every corner of which I can see and feel, so that listening to Wagner’s music becomes a joyful intuition, a moment of self-discovery’ (cited by Kohler: 95)

As we are aware in homeopathy, unsolicited symptoms, those offered graciously and spontaneously by the patient are of the greatest value; in other words, what is peculiar and characteristic about the patient. The above is a masterful, beautiful example of this. ‘The physician sees, hears and observes with his other senses what is altered and peculiar in the patient.’ (Hahnemann S, 84) Aphorism 84

In 1889, Nietzsche succumbs to madness, its cause still open to speculation, ranging from having contracted syphilis, due to his apparently wild and adventurous sexual life, to a possible brain tumour. Writing and music flowed in his veins, touched his soul and penetrated the deepest recesses of his being. In his final drugged state in hospital, he would sing The Gondoliers song from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Ultimately, music carried him to death, as it had carried him during his brilliant, creative life.

It is interesting to consider the opinions of others in viewing Nietzsche’s complex character. The following passage (written by a psychiatrist) refers to ‘hypomanic psychosis, depression and somatic complaints’: ‘Throughout his creative life, Nietzsche had been subject to considerable mood swings. I suggest that from 1881, when he conceived the theory he called die Ewige Wiederkehr des Gleichen (‘the eternal return of the same’), he had recurrent, if brief, episodes of hypomanic psychosis interlaced with longer periods of depression, studded with somatic complaints. In the current issue of Hospital Medicine, in a paper called ‘The Madness of Nietzsche: the Misdiagnosis of the Millennium?’ I argue it was not syphilis but a manic-depressive psychosis, followed by multi-infarct dementia.’ (Cybulska, E:2000)

About the author

Gill Graham

Gill Graham

Gill Graham BSc (Hons), BA (Hons), DHMHS, RSHom lives and practices, for most of the time in rural North Buckinghamshire, England. The rest of the time she lives in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from Purton House School of Homeopathy (University of West London) in 2009. She went on to do a 'Special Advanced Graduate Program' at The Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine. Over the last seventeen years she has qualified in, and practiced many other holistic therapies and is constantly updating her knowledge in the field of complimentary medicine. She has a passion for writing, both professionally, and creatively. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada (www.ARHFC.ca).

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    • Thank you Jill! I loved writing it and learnt so much, both about the remedy’s and the ‘characters’ involved. It was quite enlightening all round.

  • Nice work, Gill ! I always enjoyed reading biographies and what people have made out of their life, and your article about Nietzsche and Dylan has been quite enlightening ! Thanks !!!

    • Glad you enjoyed reading this Katja! It was an educational journey, in every sense for me, therefore time well spent..:)