Organon & Philosophy

The Dynamis of the Homeopathic Art

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A reply to Amir Cassam’s article ‘Was Kent a Hahnemannian’?

I consider myself fortunate to be practicing homeopathy today, for we are experiencing an exciting expansion in the depth and range of both theory and practice of our cherished healing art. Homeopathy is changing, growing, expanding, and differentiating.

As practitioners we have both the opportunity and the responsibility of assessing the validity, utility, and practicality of new ideas, of exploring new methodologies and new provings for those patients who have not been helped by tried-and-true techniques and understandings. As a whole, the homeopathic community has been fractured by the varied responses to these changes. At one extreme are practitioners, sometimes inexperienced, who embrace a new technique unquestioningly and practice it without real depth or understanding. At the other extreme are those who condemn new ideas without taking the time to properly explore them.

Cassam’s article “Was Kent a Hahnemannian?” (Hpathy Ezine Feb. 2006) is an excellent example of the latter. Cassam appears to be a bright, intelligent, and committed homeopath, but this article seems singularly successful in embodying almost everything that is divisive, negative, and retrogressive within our homeopathic community. Furthermore, the valid points he makes are superseded by much greater truths of which he seems unaware. Cassam commits the absurdity of condemning Hahnemann himself for deviating from “true Hahnemannianism” in his later years.

Citing Anthony Campbell as his source, he writes that Hahnemann increasingly lost his way into metaphysical homeopathy as he grew older. He then goes on to castigate Kent for having the prejudices of his time (Christian moralism) and for importing into homeopathy irrational and dogmatic spiritual and metaphysical assumptions.

He concludes his article with an attack on some contemporary homeopaths for placing too great an emphasis on the mind aspects of a case and ignoring “objective” and pathognomonic signs of disease.

The questions we ask are often more indicative of our state of mind than the answers we give. Why would a homeopath ask the question “Was Kent a Hahnemannian?” Kent, of course, was a Kentian, and I hope that Cassam is in the process of becoming an even better Cassamian! Just as there is no one-and-only path to God that contains all human spirits, there is no one-and-only path to the correct remedy that will serve all homeopaths in all times and settings. Hahnemann was our art’s founder and our inspiration; he should not be taken as a model for inauthentic imitation. All of us need to develop along our own paths to become even better at being ourselves, and even better at healing homeopathically.

Let me propose the following corrections to Cassam’s one-sided assessment of Kent’s incredible contributions to homeopathy and to his conclusions.

1) Both Hahnemann and Kent, in spite of their differences in social, religious, intellectual, and personal temperaments, were profoundly awed by the ultimate sway of nonmaterial forces in the health and consciousness of their patients. Whether it was called “vital force” or “simple substance”, neither would have been concerned that “objective evidence” for this reality could not be found by the “crude empiricists” like Campbell.

2) No one who has studied Kent’s rich Lectures on Materia Medica can accuse him of ignoring physical symptoms and diseases.

Let’s turn to the issue of “relying too much on mental symptoms.”

While it is true that somatic manifestions of an individual’s state cannot be ignored, it is even more important to recognize that physical disease and the mental/emotional state of the patient are two indivisible aspects, two related manifestations, of the same underlying state. It is by understanding the relationship of the language, perceptions, behavior, and outlook of the patient to his or her experience of pathology that leads the way to the correct remedy. “Pathognomonic” signs of disease are allopathic keynotes that lead algorithmically to pathological diagnoses. They do not lead to a subtle, sophisticated understanding of how this specific pathology resulted as an expression of the patient’s state.

In contemporary society we find the center of gravity of most cases to be in the emotional and mental sphere, and it is here that our patients often are most articulate about their inner state. But whether the chief complaint is physical or emotional or mental, it is incumbent upon us to arrive at an understanding of how EVERY symptom of the patient, at every level, is a manifestation of the underlying state.

Homeopathy itself is a dynamic, evolving, revolutionary discipline that radicalizes the perceptions and understandings of all those who truly seek to come to grips with its implications regarding the nature of reality. Nobody who witnesses the kind of radical healing that goes on in our consulting rooms can fail to feel awe and wonder. What do we do with this awe and wonder? Do we use it to fault our predecessors and our contemporary thinkers from deviating from the 18th century methods of our forbears? Do we criticize Hahnemann himself for changing his ideas as he continued to grapple with the implications of his own discoveries? Or rather do we seek to contribute in a positive way to our ongoing development as a community? For we are not only a community of healers in a broken and troubled world, we are a community of healers who ourselves need to be healed.

It is curious to me that some of the same homeopaths who cry out that homeopathy is a science (and not shamanism nor mysticism) are those who are also most resistant to exploring new ideas, experimenting with new remedies, or trying out new methodologies. What exactly is science? Does it not require an open-ness to wonder, to question, to discovery, to change?

Science demands rigor, yes, but rigor is not the same as stasis! Homeopathy needs to preserve its inner core of truth, absolutely! But let’s not equate that inner core of truth with one particular methodology, one age’s set of remedies, or one kind of proving. The truth of homeopathy goes much deeper; its message is far more subtle, and its message and meaning is much richer than the language and understanding of any one of its practitioners.

Would we respect physics as a science if physicists sought to discredit their colleagues by asking the question: “Was Heisenberg an Einsteinian?” Or: “Was Einstein a Newtonian?” Physics is evolving, and is giving us breathtaking new insights into the nature of reality.* Homeopathy is evolving as well, with not only equally breathtaking insights, but even more importantly, greater opportunities to cure.

While it is important that we not accept every new idea unquestioningly, it is far more important that we not condemn what we don’t understand, that we thoroughly listen to our colleagues and try to understand their ideas, that our criticisms are constructive and not based on a prejudice against a methodology, but upon a failure to achieve a deep cure or perceive an unattended aspect of a case.

Doug Brown, CCH, RSHom(NA), FNP

Portland, Oregon, USA
www.homeopathichealing.org
*For a discussion of the implications of quantum physics on homeopathy see

Read Cassam’s Reply to Brown

About the author

Doug Brown

Doug Brown

Doug Brown, CCH, RSHom(NA) serves as a director for A Promise of Health. He is a former sociologist with Cornell University’s American Indian Studies Program, and a Family Nurse Practitioner educated at Yale University. He graduated from Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in 2001, and currently enjoys teaching and mentoring homeopathic students and practitioners. Many of his articles can be found in Hpathy, Homeopathic Links, Interhomeopathy, the American Homeopath, and on his website, homeopathichealing.org. Doug lives and practices homeopathy in Portland, Oregon.
His website is: www.homeopathichealing.org.

1 Comment

  • Amir Cassam Comments on Douglas Brown’s The Dynamis of the Homeopathic Art.
    The abridged version of my article Was Kent was a Hahnemannian? which was originally published in the British Homeopathic Journal of April 1999, was published in Hpathy sometime in 2006 https://hpathy.com/homeopathy-philosophy/was-kent-a-hahnemannian/. It was followed by the reply by Douglas Brown -The Dynamis of Homeopathic Art https://hpathy.com/homeopathy-philosophy/the-dynamis-of-the-homeopathic-art/.
    What follows are my comments on The Dynamis of the Homeopathic Art.

    The author does not explain exactly what this new technique is that he is practising, and getting such excellent results from that he considers himself fortunate to be practising homeopathy today. But I have an intuition that Douglas Brown might be in sympathy with the ‘new thinking to which George Vithoulkas gave a scathing criticism both in Homeopathic Links and in BHJ. In the BHJ, he questioned the latest types of provings.

    I propose to give just one example of his (George Vithoulkas’) serious concern about some of the methods of proving (in this particular case) by some eminent homeopaths.

    He took the example of the proving of Thiosinamine by Grinney and commented:

    a. It is regrettable that somebody managed to persuade novices in homeopathy that placebo symptoms could belong to the proving of the remedy through a metaphysical medium, which is the communal consciousness.
    b. After quoting the example of ‘Proving of Thiosinamine’ reported by Grinney, Vithoulkas wanted to know, “How can such reactions be noted down as proving symptoms? ‘Under these circumstances anybody would react in the same way’.

    This was followed by the publication of my long letter supporting George Vithioulkas’s contention.

    Or could it be his (Douglas Brown’s) sympathy to an incident described by Dr Edward Whitmont in his two day seminar in April 1991 in London? According to Dr. Whitmont, as they were travelling in his car, the car stalled. He came out and took out a piece of paper, wrote something on it and stuck it to the car and lo and behold, the car started the move. Dr Whitmont was a Jungian psychoanalyst and a homeopath.

    Douglas Brown writes that my article is an excellent example of condemning his new ideas ‘without taking the time to properly explore them’.

    Since he does not divulge what his new ideas are, I shall try to have a second guess what they might be – based on reading views of various authors of similar view. One of them was the author Jorg Wichmann who wrote in Homeopathic Links of 2/2004 that ‘homeopathy really rests on a different tradition from science. This tradition is hermetic which puts homeopathy in the same line as shamanism and alchemy.’

    Maybe this was not what Douglas Brown meant by ‘new ideas’. But then he ought to have described exactly what they were. Yet Jorg Wichman was given the privilege of being assigned the guest editorship of one of their issues by Homeopathic Links. It was then I stopped being its subscriber.

    Contrary to what Douglas Brown alleges, I have thought about the subject a lot during my time and read seminars by the causality-oriented orthodox homeopaths who do not share the new ideas of Douglas Brown – prominent homeopaths like Guekens, Roger Morrison, Jonathan Short and of course George Vithoulkas, among others.

    However, I am not a ‘bright, intelligent and committed homeopath’. I gave up my dental practice in London and took up studying homeopathy and acupuncture in 1984 when I was 57, and only practised them for four years in the early 1990’s with a Czech colleague. He was not a homeopath but rather a highly trained orthopaedic surgeon, neurologist and the head of the limb centre next to Kingston Hospital until he retired. We closed our practice down because I realised that I was not a good homeopath, mainly because I started learning both homeopathy and acupuncture far too late in life. Even beside that, I simply was not a good homeopath.

    Douglas Brown contradicts himself by accusing me of ‘the absurdity of condemning Hahnenann himself for deviating from Hahnemannian practice in his later years’. Yet, he writes later in the same article: ‘ Let’s not equate that inner core (of homeopathy) with one particular methodology, one age’s set of remedies, or one kind of proving’ (such as provings by Hahnemann?)

    Actually, the ‘absurdity’ he accuses me of was expressed by Dr Anthony Campbell. I was just quoting Dr. Anthony Campbell’s views and not mine.
    Dr Anthony Campbell was the Editor of the British Homeopathic Journal, the most prestigious homeopathic journal in the English speaking world, and apparently he knew what he was talking about.

    However, why absurd? There is no absurdity in criticizing Hahnemann. The same criticism of Hahnemann has been made by many authors of repute. The world and knowledge has moved on. Haheneman was the originator of homeopathy but in retrospect, he was wrong in some of his elaborations.

    Douglas Brown’s remark that both Hahneman and Kent were profoundly awed by the ultimate sway of non-material forces in health and consciousness of their patients has nothing to do with my contention about their fundamental differences.
    To persist in confusing Hahnemann’s ‘vital force’ with Kent’s ‘simple substance’, despite these terms fundamental differences, whch I had argued for and substantiated by quoting from the original sources, does not leave room for further fruitful discussion.

    He next misinterprets my criticism of Latha Iyer’s concentration on mental symptoms only by implying that I was in favour of taking pathognomic signs of a disease as the most important. I never said anything of the kind. In fact, in homeopathic analysis of a patient’s symptoms, pathognomic ones are at the bottom of the list.

    Although I did not elaborate on it, from what I have read, the most important symptoms are the general physical ones such as William Boericke’s modalities, and whether the patient was hot or chilly, his reaction to the presence of company or being left alone, his likes and dislikes in foods especially towards salt, whether he was thirsty and if yes, for warm or cold drinks and so on. Next comes the mental ones and not pathognomic ones.

    However, I did not criticise Dr Iyer just for choosing only mental symptoms and submitting to analysis only mental symptoms, but for her choice of the most important mental ones and her explanations of each one. This was totally a subjective choice and subjective analysis.

    I have no intention of elaborating on it, or Dr Jacques Jouanny’s comment in his book The Essentials of Homeopathic Materia Medica – warning about interpreting mental symptoms by those not trained in the subject. Those who are interested are advised to study my article that has been the subject of Douglas Brown’s ire – both in 2006 and again in 2009.

    I think it would be very foolish of any physicist to ask a similar question like the one I posed: Was Einstein a Newtonian? It is a downright disingenuous comparison. Einstein was not a Newtonian because he was the originator of the theory of relativity, which among other proofs, proved that light does not travel in a straight line and curves when it reaches the earth. Whereas Newton believed that every body travels in a straight line when a force is applied to it.

    I got this from Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy by Simon Blackburn as I am not a physicist. But I submit that one could not make such comparison unless one is totally devoid of a rational state of mind.

    Then he asks the question “What exactly is science?’ and he has the audacity to circumvent his own question by saying, ‘Does it not require an openness to wonder, to question, to discovery, to change?’ (Something’s wrong with the English here?) This is not what science is. It is the requirement of all genuine theoretical discussion.

    I searched for a definition of what science was when I wrote my article Science & Homeopathy: Has Science Become ‘One True Religion? – some fifteen years ago.

    Paul Feyerabend, a great philosopher, in his book Science in a Free Society writes: ‘this has not one answer but many. Every school in philosophy of science gives a different account of what science is and how it works.’ But in his other book, Farewell to Reason, he defines what it was widely supposed to be.

    But I do not want to pursue any further this question raised by Douglas Brown, except to comment that one should be very careful of one’s intellectual limitations to even ask such a question that has defied answer even to eminent philosophers.
    As a senior colleague (age wise at least – by a long shot) I would like him to reflect on Naomi Klein’s advice:

    Recognizing ambivalence, uncertainty and self-doubts is the foundation of the mature psyche…

    Dr Amir Cassam (Dental Surgeon) (Retd.)
    [email protected]

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