Homoeopathic Mind Cure
Hahnemann introduced the subject of homoeopathic psychology in the Materia Medica Pura and The Spirit of the Homeopathic Medical Doctrine (1813). The latter work is a wonderful dissertation on homoeopathic philosophy and the healing arts. Most interesting is Hahnemann’s application of the homoeopathic principles of similars to cure by psychology. Vide Materia Medica Pura, page 15.
“Such a spiritual reacting being is our living organism, which with automatic power expels from itself a weaker derangement (disease), whenever the stronger power of the homeopathic medicine which, on account of the unity of its life, cannot suffer at the same time from two similar general derangements, but must discard the primary dynamic power (medicine), more capable of deranging it, that has a great resemblance to the former in its power of affecting the health (its symptoms). Something similar takes place in the human mind.”
For example; a girl plunged in grief by the death of her companion, if taken to see a family where the poor, half-naked children have just lost their father, their sole support, does not become more sorrowful from witnessing this touching scene, but is thereby consoled for her own smaller misfortune; she is cured of her grief for her friend, because the unity of her mind cannot be affected by two similar passions at once, and the one passion must be extinguished when a similar but stronger passion takes possession of her mind, and acts as a homoeopathic remedy in extinguishing the first.
Through the power of sympathy for the grief and suffering of others, one’s own healing process begins. The power behind such cures is compassion. The old homoeopathic psychologist notes that the suppression of grief by heterogeneous influences like anger or strictness only caused more distress as does palliative methods like trying to make someone artificially happy. The Hofrath continues:
“But the girl would not be tranquilized and cured of her grief for the loss of her companion, if her mother were angrily to scold her (heterogeneous alloeopathic influence), but, on the contrary, her mind would be still more distressed by this attack of grief of another kind; and in like manner the sorrowing girl, if we were to cause an apparent but only palliative alleviation of her grief, by means of a gay entertainment, would subsequently in her solitude sink into still more profound sadness, and would weep much more intensively than previously for the death of her friend (because this affection would here be only of an opposite enantiopathic character).
And as is it here in psychical life, so is it in the former case in organic life. The unity of our life cannot occupy itself with, and receive, two general dynamic affections of the same kind at once; for if the second be a similar one, the first is displaced by it, if the organism be more energetically affected by the latter.”
The combination of heterogeneous psychology, palliative suggestions and allopathic drugs greatly complicates mental disorders. Hahnemann founded homoeopathic mind cure on the homoeopathic principles, psychology, philosophy and metaphysics. Homoeopathic mind cures must be homogeneous to the symptoms of the individual. This field is closely related to the master’s experiments in magnetism and Mesmerism in which the human mind/body complex is viewed as a bio magnetic field phenomenon.
Hahnemann integrated his understanding of theology, philosophy and psychology into the Organon of the Healing Art. The main sections on homeopathic psychology and the treatment of mental disorders are found in aphorisms 210 to 230.
There are, however, many other references to the use of mind cure. In §17, note 17a, the Founder points out that disease mistunements can be caused by imagination, and therefore, similar imagined remedies can cure them. In aphorism 26 the Founder says that homoeopathic healing takes place because a strong similar power extinguishes a weaker similar power. Vide the footnote to aphorism 26.
“Both physical affections and moral maladies are cured in this way [i.e., by very similar, but stronger dynamic affections].
As an example Hahnemann offers one of the central methods of homoeopathic psychology: Mourning and grief are extinguished in the emotional mind on hearing an account of another’s still greater bereavement, even if the account is only fictitious.”
The death of Hering’s second wife, Marianna Husmann, the mother of his children Max and Odelia, deeply affected the bereaved doctor. He loved her very dearly and felt he had not appreciated her enough while alive. He did not know how to go on without her. At the funeral he fell into an exalted state of mind where he spoke inordinately without being aware of what was happening around him. After this he developed a deep melancholia with a concomitant aversion to women. His personal loss was too much for him to bear. This mental torment became so serious that it began to disturb his practice of homoeopathy. Hering was cured through seeing a ballet based on the ancient Greek theme of tragedy. These dramas are based on the old Greek mystery school plays that purifies the spirit through awe and sympathy. Of this experience Constantine said:
“Fortunately I was cured in a way corresponding to the law of SIMILIA.”
While Hering was in his deep melancholia he heard that a famous German dancer, Fanny Ellsler, had arrived in New York. Constantine was drawn to see his countrywoman perform in the USA even though he disliked ballet. A friend named Professor Knorr accompanied Hering to the Academy of Music in Philadelphia to see a dance drama. The story was a fairy tale in which a goddess descends to earth in the form of a mortal and falls in love with a man whom she marries. Her husband mistreats her and ‘clips her wings’ so she dies and the angels come to take her back to heaven. Of this Hering said:
“This beautiful exhibition of woman’s tenderness and devotion, so often unappreciated by ordinary husbands, who too late discover the worth of those who have loved and cherished them when on earth, now left to grieve and wonder why they could have been so cruel, with only the hope left them of a reunion in a better world, which should lead every man toward heaven, all of which made a deep impression on my sick mind.”
The grief and suffering of the heroine combined with her devotion and love resonated so deeply with Hering that his pity and pain for her cured his own melancholia with aversion to women.
“It was Fanny Ellsler, the woman, faithful to her nationality, the charming talented artist, who, with her inimitable interpretation of the fairy tale, brought back my health and reason to me, the bereaved physician. In earlier days I had disapproved of the ballet; could see neither art nor reason in its artificiality as I then considered it”
Hering never forgot this homoeopathic cure by drama and music. It deeply changed the negative opinion of the performing arts he had gathered in his youth when witnessing a dance in Amsterdam before departing for South America. Six years after the loss of Marianna, Dr. Hering married his third wife, Therese Bucheim, and fathered several more children. Hering remained sound in body and mind until the age of eighty when he retired to his Heavenly Home after returning from a house call. Hering died with “his boots on” after practicing homoeopathy for fifty-four years.
Kent on Mind Cure
Kent comments on homeopathic psychology in his writings and offers Hahnemann the credit for introducing homeopathic mind cure. Vide Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy by James Tyler Kent, Lecture XIII, The Law of Similars on page 119.
This law of similars is seen prominently in the natural world. We see it from man to man. It is easily illustrated among the insane. It is the secret of mind cure, and there are many instances of mind cure that are based on the laws of similars. One example of this is seen in the young girl who has lost her mother or lover and is ill as a consequence, is depressed with grief, is constantly sobbing and has become melancholy. She sits in a corner, hears nobody, and thinks no one can pity her because no one has had just such grief. Let us apply allopathic treatment to her.
“Come, there is nothing the matter with you; why don’t you brace yourself up; why don’t you try to arouse yourself?’ But this only throws her into a deeper state of melancholy. Scolding and harsh treatment do no good.”
But introduce the homeopathic treatment, employ a nurse if you will who is a good actress and who has gone through the same identical grief, and let her make a big fuss in the other corner. Pretty soon the patient will say, “You seem to have the same grief that I have” “Yes, I have lost a lover.” “Well, you can sympathize with me”, and the two fall to bellowing and weep it out together.
There is a bond of sympathy. Sometimes a curable case of insanity can be reached in this way, and thus we have a mind cure. Hahnemann made use of this plan in curing insanity. When a patient would exert her will, but is unable on account of physical encumbrances, the homoeopathic remedy will restore order.
Once a women came to the Buddha with her dead baby whom she carried with her. She asked Buddha if he would resurrect her child. The Buddha said ‘Yes, under one condition. Find a house where no one has died and I will restore your child’. She went from house to house and soon she realized the universal nature of death and impermanence and gained insight. She returned to the Buddha to offer thanks, and then allowed the baby to receive its funeral rights and found peace. This homoeopathic mind cure was performed more than two thousand five hundred years ago.
The homeopathic principles hold the key to a deeper study of psychology than is commonly understood. Sympathy and similars can go a long way in the realms of the psyche. The combination of homeopathic psychology and Mesmerism represents a largely unexplored region of the Organon of the Healing Art. Today homoeopaths are a very conservative lot who think of homoeopathy only as little white pills. They often talk against all the other healing arts. The early homeopaths were great experimenters who applied the homeopathic laws into many areas of healing. Such techniques have only been mastered by a few strange, rare and peculiar homeopaths!
A homeopathic colleague who worked in a mental institution used psychological similars in the following case. There were two very nice ladies who both thought they were ‘Mother Mary”. After observing their benign character, he decided to introduce them so they could talk and get to know one another. After becoming comfortable they shared their true identities as Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This led to a long conversation that cured them both of this fixation. They became good friends through the healing process and regained their health. The entire experiment was closely monitored but no intervention was needed. This was a single dose mind cure.
The study of the human mind and psychology predate Freud. Many of the techniques used for generations have made a great come back in our times. Hahnemann practiced Mesmerism and included it in the Organon. The use of suggestion, guided imagery, and hypnosis find their origin in the Mesmerists. Talking about, reenacting, and reviewing under hypnosis a distressing experience, is similar to the original complaint but certainly not the same. If a person were traumatized by a car accident one would not put them through a new car accident (isopathy). The remedy must be similar in kind; slightly more dynamic, and the treatment given in minimal doses.
Many group therapies make use of the similar sufferings of the greater group to cure the smaller individual suffering of a person. This is a type of homeopathic mind cure. Certain forms of encounter techniques are also homeopathic. This is the basic concept of support groups. A patient of Dr. Dixon, a homoeopath, founded Alcoholic Anonymous.
The spirit-like mistunements of the vital force need spirit-like homoeopathic remedies. Psychologically dynamic remedies should be applied in a single remedy in small doses, and not repeated unnecessarily. All the rules of the Organon apply to homoeopathic psychology. Many therapists do not understand how important it is to use dynamic psychological methods in a minimal dose and then wait and watch for improvement. They continue to make more appointments and use too many techniques at once until they shatter the mind and body of the patient and turn them into therapy junkies.
I’m very taken with this story about Hering’s cure by ballet. It shows the power of art and also that dance is a genuine art capable of expressing the spirit, a discovery which was an eye-opener for the good doctor.