Homeopathy Papers Organon & Philosophy

Collective Maintaining Causes

Homeopath Katherine Dehn reflects on collective maintaining causes, good and evil and more.

Excerpted from “Mental Symptoms and Maintaining Causes” –Kathrine Dehn

Obviously, it is a matter of idiosyncrasy by which causes each individual may be affected. There are, however, things that affect us all to a greater or lesser extent; i.e. pollution, preservatives in foods, or GMO foods etc. In another way we may become affected indirectly by some people’s choices, choices that may have far-reaching effects on life as a whole – and thereby become collective maintaining causes. They are maintaining causes which may be impossible to remove, but to which each individual has to adapt – maintaining causes sometimes also called evolution.

Kent writes: “So if a man is evil in his very interiors, i.e., in his will and understanding, and the result of this evil flows into his life, he is in a state of disorder”[1]. This Kent relates back to original sin. Psora relates back to original sin.

Socrates’ definition of sin is ignorance, but as Kierkegaard puts it[2] ”If sin be ignorance which in one sense cannot be denied, we have to ask, is this an original ignorance? Is it always the case that one has not known and hitherto could not know anything about the truth, or is it a super-induced, a subsequent ignorance? If it is what the last question implies, then sin must properly have its ground in something else, it must have its ground in the activity with which a man has laboured to obscure his intelligence… If it is assumed that when he began to obscure his intelligence he was distinctly conscious of it, then sin (even though it be unconsciousness, seeing that this was an induced state) would lie not in the intelligence but in the will, and the question which must be raised is about the relation of the intelligence and the will to one another.”

And further on page 151:” In pure ideality, where there is no question of the real individual man, the transition is accomplished by necessity (in the system indeed everything comes about by necessity), in other words, there is no difficulty at all connected with the transition from understanding to doing. The same thing is really the secret of the whole recent philosophy: cogito ergo sum, to think is to be.” And on page 152:” In the life of spirit, on the other hand, there is no stopping [tilstand] (nor in reality is there any condition [tilstand], everything is actuality): in case then a man the very same second he has known what is right does not do it – well then, first of all the knowledge stops boiling. And next comes the question how the will likes this thing that is known. If it does not like it, it does not follow that the will goes ahead and does the opposite of that which the intelligence understood, such strong contrasts occur doubtless rather seldom; but the will lets some time pass, there is an interim, that means, “we’ll see about that tomorrow.” All this while the intelligence becomes more and more obscured, and the lower nature triumphs more and more. For, alas, the good must be done at once – at once the moment it is known (and hence the transition goes so easily in the pure ideality where everything is “at once”), but the strength of the lower nature consists in dragging a thing out. The will has no particular objection to it – so it says with its fingers crossed. And then when the intelligence has become duly darkened, the intelligence and the will can understand one other better; at last they agree entirely, for now the intelligence has gone over to the side of the will and acknowledges that the thing is quite right as it would have it. And so there live perhaps a great multitude of men who labor off and on to obscure their ethical and religious understanding which would lead them out into decisions and consequences which the lower nature does not love, extending meanwhile their aesthetic and metaphysical understanding, which ethically is a distraction.”

In homoeopathy we have different remedies treating exactly this kind of dilemma for instance Mercurius: “ The patient will not tell you about his impulses, but they relate to deep evils of the will, they fairly drive him to do something. Given a Mercurius patient, and he has impulses that he tries to control, no matter what, Mercurius will do something for him”[3], in which the picture includes the fight against one’s own impulses, and Anacardium which has the struggle between right and wrong,:” He is in continuous controversy with himself. Irresolution marks his character. He cannot settle between doing this and that, he hesitates and often does nothing. He cannot decide, especially in an action of good or evil. He hears voices commanding him to do this or that, and seems to be between a good and evil will. He is persuaded by his evil will to do acts of violence and injustice, but is withheld and restrained by a good will. So there is a controversy between two wills, between two impulses. When this is really analysed by one who knows something of the nature of man, it will be seen that the man is disturbed in his external will, but the internal will cannot be affected by medicine. His external voluntary is continuously excited by external influences, but his real will, in which his conscience restrains that and keeps him from carrying the impulses into effect. This can only be observed when its action is on a really good man. He has a controversy when his external will is aroused, but in an evil man there is no restraint and he will not have this symptom” and further: ” Internal anxiety, i.e., the internal will is in turmoil over this external disturbance.. ”Contradiction between will and reason””[4].

Morals have changed over the years. Things that were perhaps immoral during Hahnemann’s life are now fully acceptable. Things that were considered maintaining causes then as a general rule (without looking at people individually i.e., extramarital sex, exploration of one’s sexuality by having sex with one of the same gender etc.) are now considered as being part of the norm. It certainly is not considered as being damaging to the health of the individual, unless we are talking about specific situations that may be harmful to a particular person. Why this change? Why this acceptance of something that was once considered harmful or immoral? The answer lies in the question between the understanding/ intellect and the will.

Over the years the way we look at ourselves and our food has also changed dramatically. If some people with a great deal of power in society, often marketing people, get an idea, they are sometimes able to impose this particular idea on less strong people, people with a susceptibility to suggestions, so that they adopt this idea and it may then turn into a symptom. Suddenly it may be unhealthy to eat potatoes, or drink milk. At the moment the big thing is fat. One should not eat fat – so very suggestible persons completely abstain from eating fats in any way possible. In Denmark there have been cases of people who have become completely malnourished because they did not have any kinds of fat for a considerable period of time. This becomes a collective maintaining cause reinforcing itself as more and more people adopt the idea that all kinds of fat are unhealthy.

HahnemannHahnemann writes: “As to the diet and mode of living of patients of this kind (with chronic diseases) I shall only make some general remarks, leaving the special application in any particular case to the judgement of the homoeopathic practitioner. Of course everything that would hinder the cure must also in these cases be removed. But since we have here to treat lingering, sometimes very tedious diseases which cannot be quickly removed, and since we often have cases of persons in middle life which can seldom be totally changed, either in the case of rich people or in the persons of small means, or even with the poor, therefore limitations and modifications of the strict mode of life as regularly prescribed by homoeopathy must be allowed, in order to make possible the cure of such tedious diseases with individuals so very different.”[5] and further: ” The daily laborer, if his strength allows, should continue his labor; the artisan his handiwork; the farmer, so far as he is able, his field work; the mother of the family her domestic occupations according to her strength; only labors that would interfere with the health of healthy persons should be interdicted. This must be left to the intelligence of the rational physician.”[6]

As society changes or develops so the maintaining causes change too. As habits creep in and are gradually accepted by repetition of action, they become part of the norm. Now, the question is whether those ideas from Hahnemann’s and Kent’s time still hold true today? Is it possible that despite the fact that some of their views are looked upon as being outdated, they still affect our mind and body in the same way and therefore may play a part in undermining our health?

In his Lectures on page 33 Kent writes in regard to § 2 in the Organon:” This paragraph appeals to man’s integrity. Just as soon as you leave out integrity, and believe that a man can do just as he pleases, you leave out everything that pertains to principle and you leave out the foundation of success. But when these principles are carried out, when a man has made himself thoroughly conversant with the Materia Medica and thoroughly intelligent in its application, when he is circumspect in his very interior life as to carrying out of these principles, then he will lead himself into a use that is most delightful, because by such means he may cause diseases to disappear. He has more than that, he has a clear conscience with all that belongs to it, he is living a life of innocence. When he lives such a life he does not allow himself to wink at the notions that are carried out in families, as, for example, how to prevent the production of offspring, how to avoid bearing children, how to separate man and wife by teaching them the nasty little methods of avoiding the bringing forth of offspring. The meddling with these vices and the advocating of them will prevent the father and mother from being cured of their chronic diseases.”

Now, this is of an extreme importance. It is the basis of the whole of our existence. On reading this the first time I remember thinking: “ How old-fashioned, what is wrong with that.”? Now looking at what has taken place over time, sneaking up on us, and seeing how people of today more and more often are unable to rear children, I am thinking: “perhaps Kent was right.” At first we are meddling with nature on a very small scale (from the point of view of Today), then the pill comes along actually making fundamental changes in the individual woman who is on it – but over time also far-reaching changes to nature as a whole. Along with the pill itself comes the mental changes too.

In Denmark certainly it has become very usual for women to repress their feminine urges to rear children when it is most natural physiologically and where the babies are supposed to turn out most healthy. Often they are putting it off so long that it becomes a struggle even to get pregnant, in which case medical intervention becomes necessary in some cases. So a small and seemingly innocent interference with mankind’s reproduction over time turns into a difficulty in reproducing at all, actually becoming a great collective maintaining cause. All in the name of progress.

According to a new report published by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, 60% of all treatment with artificial insemination is being done in Europe, Denmark being the country in the world carrying out most of these treatments. 1 child in 25 has been made artificially in Denmark. In the year 2000 Denmark carried out 1.826 treatments per million inhabitants compared to USA where they performed 250 treatments per million inhabitants.

I think this way of presenting the problem needs to be included as we need to understand why some people carry out the acts they are thinking of. They are actually willing to do immoral things, or things detrimental to themselves while others don’t. Kierkegaard puts it this way: “SIN is this: Before God, or with the conception of God, to be in despair at not willing to be oneself, or in despair at willing to be oneself.”[7]

Whichever way we look at it, that is perhaps a maintaining cause in itself for a lot of people, perhaps remedies such as Sulphur excepted… by getting further and further away from §9 in the Organon instead of living the life intended for the higher purpose of our existence.

To conclude the introduction to this booklet by once again citing Kent: ”If man is in the highest order and rational, he wills to keep himself in continuous order, that his thoughts may continue rational; but he is so placed in freedom that he can also destroy rationality.”


[1] James Tyler Kent: Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy, New Delhi 1989, p. 56

[2] Opium cit. p. 142

[3] James Tyler Kent: Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica, New Delhi 1988

[4] ibid.

[5] Hahnemann: Chronic Diseases, New Delhi 1988

[6] ibid.

[7] Opium Cit., p.123

About the author

Kathrine Dehn

Kathrine Dehn has worked as a homoeopath since 1992 when she qualified from The British School of Homeopathy. Part of her practice has been from her home, in Denmark. She has also been given the opportunity to practise at a school in Copenhagen for several years due to collaboration with the Principal. From 1993-1998 she studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen and in 2010 completed an MSc in Homeopathy from UCLAN in the UK.

Leave a Comment