The Theory of Miasms – Personality Types

This article is a psychological perspective of Hahnemann’s miasamtic theory of the four well known miasms – Psora, Sycosis, Tubercular and Syphilis, based on various well known perspectives from modern psychology like Freud, Pavlov, etc.

After the discovery and application of homeopathy for 30 years (1790-1820), Hahnemann realized that although he had very good results with intense diseases, he did not have drastic results with the treatment of chronic diseases. He noticed that those diseases, after their removal with the use of homeopathic medicines, they always relapsed in a variable form and with new symptoms or reappeared on a yearly basis with an increase of the ailments.

After careful observation and study, Hahnemann reached the conclusion that there is an obstacle in the organism that cannot be fought with medicines or the healthiest diet or disappear by itself. He named this obstacle a “miasm”. The word miasm means infection, stain, dirtiness, and blotch. Hahnemann thought that the life power is infected by certain factors and that this infection creates the disease. He observed three miasms, the psoric, the sycotic and the syphilitic.

According to Hahnemann, those three miasms are the base of every disease. Any disease whatever its external symptoms are, can be “found” in a miasm or in a combination of the above miasms. Although the above miasms are the basis for any disease producing process, the combination of psora and syphilis has been described as the tubercular miasm. Therefore in the homeopathic bibliography there is differentiation. Other authors prefer only the description of the three main miasms and others prefer to describe the tubercular miasm as one of the main miasms.

I was taught the theory of miasms from Aristarchos Tsamaslides. Aristarchos had a very good knowledge of the theory of miasms and he used to apply it systematically in the practice of homeopathy. He used to tell us, in the lessons that he gave us, that if we could not understand it, we would limit our ability to the treatment of chronic diseases. Watching the examination of patients in his office, I had realized this myself many times in practice.

On the other hand it is difficult to talk about this theory in our days. Others look at you in a weird way. I remember that when I mentioned it to certain colleagues, most of them treated me as a “colorful” character. A few were benevolent and wanted to understand it. In order for this theory to be understandable it had to be enriched with modern knowledge. But such a correlation was very difficult for us at the time. Therefore the only thing we could do was to learn the theory of miasms as a method of grouping diseases, which we, homeopathy doctors, could use only among us, avoiding reffering to it in our discussions with other doctors.

At this point I must mention an author who helped a lot in the understanding of the theory of miasms. It is P.S. Ortega who in his book “Notes about miasms” provided a very nice description of the basic psycho synthesis of the three miasms.

Fruedian Perspective:

However, the desire to find more information on the theory of miasms through modern scientific opinions was strong. I did not know how to do this. One day I was in the doctors’ office of the neurological clinic of the military hospital. A patient’s escort came in to ask for something. The way he asked for it was very characteristic. This man was very demanding, looked to be very angry and his speech had a strong tone of aggressiveness. I thought that this man was syphilitic. As soon as we helped him one of the psychiatrists present asked us: “colleagues, what do you notice about this man’s behavior? He is angry. He bites. He is orally fixed according to Freud’s theory”. This observation was very useful to me. I made the first correlation that could help in the deeper understanding of the theory of miasms. The syphilitic miasm was related with the oral fixation of the Freud’s theory.

According to the Freudian thinking, three stages play an important role in the development of a person’s personality.

The first stage is the oral which starts from the moment of birth until the age of one and a half years. The main subject of this stage is lactation and the progressive vacillation of the person from a situation of dependence from the breast to a situation of independence.

The second stage is the anal. It succeeds the oral until the age of two and a half to three. The main subject of this stage is the control of the sphincters.

The third stage is the oedipal. It succeeds the anal and starts from the age of two and a half until the end of the fifth year. Main subject of this stage is the unfulfilled love of the child to the parent of the opposite sex.

A Miasmatic Corelation with Freudian Stages:

The person that did not normally go through one of those stages has a fixation to that stage. Therefore, depending on the type of fixation, three types are observed: the oral, the anal and the oedipal.

The oral type is characterized by demanding behavior, nagging, greed, rush, insulting behavior, tendency to dependence, strong tendency to aggressiveness and disaster. These elements fit the syphilitic type of the homeopathy thinking.

The anal type is characterized by neatness, tendency to niceness, perfectionism, and exactitude. He has a tendency to miserliness, is stubborn and dogmatic. He controls all his feelings. These elements fit the sycotic type of the homeopathy thinking.

The oedipal type is characterized by the continuous search of an ideal and unfulfilled target and during the effort to find it there are many obstacles. The story of the little boy where his father is an obstacle to his erotic desire for his mother is repeated. The oedipal type corresponds to the tubercular type of homeopathy.

The psoric type of homeopathy does not have a corresponding type in the Freudian theory. This can be explained by the fact that Freud worked with patient who had a strong psychopathology. The psoric type has the minimum psychopathology. Therefore there was no apparent reason for a psoric to follow psychoanalysis.

The above correlation widened my knowledge for miasms. According to this new thinking certain basic concepts were clarified. In order to define miasms, Hahnemann used certain nosological entities, which may have been well-timed in his time but did not last through the years. Even the term miasm proved unsuccessful. The use of nosological entities for the naming of miasms caused confusion. Therefore certain authors got into discovering new miasms according to various serious diseases.

According to the new evidence, a new general typology started to appear. Each type has its own characteristics and its own tendencies for a disease. It is not restricted to one disease but may produce a group of diseases. But their understanding needed to be widened through other theoretical systems.

Pavlov’s Perspective:

In one of my trips to India, I met the homeopathy doctor Jawahar Shah who had started a similar study as I but from a different angle, Pavlov’s psychology. Shah was working with a team of psychiatrists and had introduced elements from the Russian Pavlov’s theory to the theory of miasms. Pavlov had developed a typology of his own thus: the active balanced, the weak balanced, the powerful stimulating and the weak repressed. He had also correlated those types to the Hippocrates typology which included four types: the bloody, the phlegmatic, the choleric and the melancholic.

As I continued the study I could make more correlations relating to the typology of the four types. In the total study for diathesis I presented a common model, including elements from different theoretical systems.

The table below provides a scheme of correlations of the various theoretical systems.

There is mo direct correlation. The concepts of psychological conflict and repression are classified here.ANAL FIXATIONORAL FIXATIONOEDIPAL FIXATION

After the presentation of the unifying theory of the diathesis the field of the theory of miasms started to be clarified. It was clear that the concept of miasms existed prior to Hahnemann but with different terminology and by different authors. After certain clinical observations Hahnemann used his own terms and he presented it as his own theory. For someone that knows homeopathy it is obvious that Hahnemann was influenced by the theories of Paracelsus because for Hahnemann, Sulfur is the main anti-psoric medicine and Mercury is the main anti-syphilitic.

The unifying theory of diathesis is not a static theoretical model. Its teaching in the University of People’s Friendship in Moscow has helped in its amplification. Certain doctors that were taught this theory are already working towards this direction. As it is obvious, such a subject can not be elaborated on in the framework of this book. Anybody who wants to read more on the subject should refer to my book “Roots, principles for a unification of the human sciences”.

Some summarized clinical characteristics on the four types of the theory of miasms will be provided below:

The Psoric miasm

By using the word “psora” Hahnemann meant an original unhealthy condition, whereby after the internal infection of the whole organism is completed, there appears a peculiar skin exanthema. He argued that, “Psora is the oldest, the most universal, the most devastating and most little known miasmatic disease, which has disfigured and tormented nations for thousands of years”. For Hahnemann, psora is a disease or the susceptibility to a disease which has been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years and it is the breeding ground for every sickly condition. At the same time it is the most contagious and infectious disease of all.

If one wants to describe the common characteristics of hundreds of symptoms of psora, two properties should be mentioned: hypersensitivity and lack. Lack is stressed in some books and hypersensitivity in others.

We can understand the concept of hypersensitivity with a simple example: If we stimulate externally two different individuals they will react differently. The psoric individual reacts more strongly than the supposedly “normal individual”. That is to say there is a fall of limen and there is an excessive reaction. This reaction is towards the right direction but it is strong. This hypersensitivity is present in all aspects of the psoric’s life. He is very observant and aware of his immediate environment. He is sensitive. He also gets angry easily. After he has expressed his anger and has had a good sleep he is not hateful. He also cries easily. After crying he feels better. He is temperamental due to the hypersensitivity. His hypersensitivity comes with genuine expressiveness. He is very rich in the expressions of his feelings. He conveys sentiments. The psoric can be a scientist or an artist. He is hypersensitive to light, sound and smell. He gets scared very easily from unimportant causes. The most typical expression of the hypersensitivity in the body is itching. An external or internal itching, like tickling for example, is a sign of psora. The suppression of the external bodily manifestations of psora, because of the wrong medical treatment, results in the appearance of an internal or psychic itching, which is even more troublesome to the individual. Such suppressions led Hahnemann to the discovery of the psoric miasma and its description.

The other main characteristic of psoric miasma is lack. This lack is expressed as a feeling of inadequacy. There is a deep feeling of inferiority. It can be seen in the successful businessman who is intelligent and hard-working but who always wants to rely on somebody else. He is always looking for a partner. His partner, if he is a crook, can easily take advantage of him. He always needs support; he always seeks protection. This feeling of inferiority can also be seen in the scientist, who continuously asks for the support of his teacher or his colleagues despite the fact that he knows his subject well. He seeks for care and sympathy in his relationships. This is due to his reticence which is caused by the feeling of inferiority. He has a lot of inhibitions. Each of his actions is stopped by an internal voice. He is anxious and gets scared easily.

This sense of inadequacy forces him to live in a world of fantasy which however is not the autistic world of a schizophrenic. It is simply the feeling of inadequacy that stops him from fulfilling his dreams. Thus his rich inner world has to be expressed through fantasy. This can be seen in the individual who goes to a lecture and instead of paying attention he spends most of his time day-dreaming. There is a loss of contact because of certain deep emotions due to his hypersensitivity and on the other hand in the non expression of these emotions due to his feeling of inadequacy.

Thus, psorics are people with a rich inner world, which is not expressed and is not completely realized, because they lack boldness. Because of their feeling of inferiority they become stagnant, immobile and reserved. If this feeling of inferiority was absent they would be much happier people and would offer more to society. The awareness of their “helplessness” causes them sadness. When they feel sad they look far into the future and see happier days ahead. The words of a popular Greek song express very well the psoric sadness: “Be patient and the sky will become bluer…” There is hope in them; it has not been lost.

The psoric is particularly concerned with what others think of him, he respects society’s customs and traditions and feels guilty if he does not abide by the rules. This is easily explained by the feeling of inadequacy. It is this feeling of inadequacy that makes him always seek support from someone else. He creates relationships of support, bonds of support and he does not want them to break because he will be left alone without them. Behind the socializing of people lies the need for support from the group. He fears rejection.

These needs of his continuously inhibit his desires. “I must” is stronger than “I want”. For example before the psoric acts he asks himself if it is socially acceptable and if it is not, he usually does not act. He is very generous with his relatives. He is easily hurt by the remarks of others. It takes him time to express his anger but once it is expressed the incident is forgotten.

The psoric individual has a tendency towards platonic love. Let’s say that a psoric man likes a woman. He thinks: “What a beautiful woman … What an amiable person … I wonder if she likes me. Well, so many men are after her, I doubt that she wants me … What if she rejects me?” Here also there is an inhibition. An inhibition caused by his sense of inadequacy on one hand and on the other his fear that his behavior could be rejected by society. This makes him experience love through fantasy. He is a person who has fallen in love many times but who has very rarely fulfilled his fantasies. He is also emotional, he gets worried easily and he gets hurt easily. His love fantasies are heterosexual. He is pure in his feelings. He falls in love with the whole person not with a breast or a thigh. He sees the personality and does not see his partner as a sex object.

The psoric is also religiously inclined. He is religious in a broad sense. His faith is of a philosophizing nature, is the need for search, and is the agony of existence. In other words it is the sense of inadequacy towards the vastness of universe.

Generally the psoric human has a tendency to comply with the customs and traditions and social laws and has a developed social sense. Thus he believes in concepts like the family, work etc. He wishes to create a family, he likes work, and he patiently fulfills his social obligations as for example the military service. He considers the community service as an honor and does not prioritize his personal interest above all.

The lack, characteristic in the body, appears in various ways as for example by inadequate nourishment. He eats constantly but the organism cannot absorb the food. Thus lack appears.

Those who mention that the lack of vitamins and trace elements are responsible for the various diseases agree with the homeopathy thinking because they focus in the point that is related to the psoric miasm. For example the lack of vitamin A causes dryness. Dryness is one of the basic symptoms of the psoric miasm. Hahnemann did not know the existence of vitamin A when he wrote about the psoric miasm.

Deficiency of minerals causes a disorder to the normal function of the organism. Calcium deficiency causes osteomalacia, cardiac disorders, and neuromuscular excitability. Potassium deficiency causes cardiac dysfunction and disorders of the acid-base equilibrium. Sodium deficiency causes withholding or loss of water of the organism. Iodine deficiency causes goiter. Magnesium deficiency causes neuromuscular disorders, cardiac dysfunction and osteomalacia. Ferrum deficiency causes anemia. Zinc deficiency causes dermatological disorders, dysfunction of retina, diabetes, azoospermia, abortion, senility. Copper deficiency causes hepatolenticular degeneration, osteoporosis, and anemia. Cobalt deficiency causes anemia and general weakness. Selenium deficiency causes muscular dystrophy and cardiac dysfunction. According to the above Hanhemann’s theory is confirmed, by which he considered psoric miasm to be the basis of the entire human disease.

The Sycotic miasm

The word sycosis derives from the word “syco” (Greek word for fig). Hahnemann used this word because the sycotic person tends to make warts that may reach to the point of looking like a fig. In other words sycosis means verrucose.

Let’s begin with the sycotic person’s mental sphere: The sycotic person has an inclination to show off. A sycotic woman walks in the street and cuts a dash. Heads turn around when she walks by and that is what she seeks, consciously or even unconsciously. A sycotic man walks with a swagger and puffs himself up to show his muscles. Expensive clothes bought at “trendy” shops also have to do with sycosis. Buying an expensive car (though it is not necessary for professional use) is also related to sycosis.

Medicine and “trendy” professions, such as journalist, lawyer, politician, have much appeal for sycotic persons. The shinny shingle on the door, the glamorous surface, the worldwide recognition appeal to the young student. A sycotic scientist thinks of himself to be an exceptional case in his field, even though he is mediocre. He calls himself an expert or an adept in his field. He likes to put many titles on his shingle. As a patient he prefers distinguished and highly qualified doctors, who sound omniscient to him. He has a mistrust of doctors who are simple and straight.

This inclination to show off marks every sycotic behavior and most times it is unconscious. When he is sad, for instance, the way he cries, the way he sighs draws everybody’s attention and sympathy towards him. The way a sycotic person gets angry is also flamboyant. The person screams, shouts, and makes a great fuss. It is some kind of “puffing up” that draws other people’s attention. When the sycotic person is happy, he roars with laughter and also makes a great fuss.

Another major feature of the sycotic person’s mental sphere is a tendency to keep things to oneself. In general the notion of keeping overweighs that of giving. Therefore the sycotic person is not keen on giving. The sycotic teacher is rather unwilling to give his knowledge; he is not the kind of person to communicate knowledge. He will try and keep it to himself. He may even try to mislead other people so long and he does not give it. Most times there is ambivalence about giving-keeping.

As for emotions he keeps them inside him as well. Although he himself wants to be the focus of everyone’s attention, he does not open his heart to his partner when he is in trouble. It is the case of a mother who gives her child the cold shoulder. There is no emotion in her caress, which is rather straight-laced.

The sycotic lover is reluctant to convey emotion. Passion is not among his characteristics. Sycosis is secret. The sycotic person tends to keep everything secret, out of sight. This may happen either consciously or unconsciously. For instance, he may keep his aims secret, he acts deviously, he does not reveal much about himself and he hides his real intentions. He also hides his real feelings. When he is sad, he does not look as sad as the circumstances require. That’s why he seems to be strong in other people’s eyes. He may dislike someone and still smile at him and be very friendly with him.

When the sycotic person gives, he certainly means to receive something in exchange later on. Avarice is an expression of the need to keep things to oneself. An avaricious person is “stingy”, he does not give. Collecting objects is a sycotic manifestation too.

In general, when a sycotic person responds to stimulation, his reaction is in the right direction but has a reduced intensity. This is due to the fact that he ‘keeps things to himself”, he absorbs only a part of intensity of the given stimulation. This shows that the person is strong in appearance only. For instance, when he is subjected to a sad stimulation, he does not seem to be sad.

In fact, however, this sort of strength is weakness and this is due to the fact that this kind of person has a limited width of response. He shows inflexibility in the way of functioning, that is to say. This stiffness coexists with a tendency to have control. The sycotic person wants to have control over other people and over himself as well. He keeps every expression, every emotion of his under control. He cannot stand the spontaneity of emotions and acts.

Pedantry is another feature of sycotic miasm. The housewife who gets annoyed at finding a speck of dust on the furniture, who sweeps and mops the floor three times a day, who forbids her husband to enter the house with his shoes on, is an example of sycotic pedantry.

In general the sycotic person is straight-laced prim and proper, orderly, he concerns himself too much with schedule, so much that he lays more weight on the schedule that on the essence of things. He wants all the objects on his desk to be in alignment, he wants his car to be perfectly clean, he sees that its color does not fade; he protects it against the rain and the wind. He worries about small details.

Religiosity is another example of sycotic pedantry. A religionist focuses his attention not on philosophy and the deeper meaning of religion but on the ritual. It is very important to him that the sign of the cross is made three times, not two, that the fasting is observed for exactly forty days, he is very strict on the observance of the schedule. Religiosity, along with the other features of sycotic miasm, were typical of the Scribes and Pharisees, who always abided by the letter of the law but could not understand what purpose the existence of the law served in the first place.

The sycotic scientist tends to classify the phenomena. Classifications are sycotic expressions. Excessive adherence to classifying systems, such as DSM or ICDX is sycosis. The notion of specialty and overspecialization is a sycotic characteristic too. The sycotic person focuses his attention on details but misses the general picture. Therefore we can see the evolution of medicine and science in general and how important it is to have a complete and in depth cure of scientists so that science may evolve.

In general the sycotic person is dogmatic. To him it is all black or white. He is inflexible. He is not receptive to new ideas. He rejects a new idea without even examining it. Reclassifications in the system of knowledge and values fill him with anxiety. He wants knowledge and ideas to be well classified inside his head. He wants everything to be arranged and fixed. That causes him a need for control.

He wants to keep control of everything. The complexity and multiformity of nature scare him. The perpetual motion of universe also scares him. Consequently of all this multiformity he picks out what he can classify, what he can put in order. That is usually only the surface of phenomena. Once he has classified it, he will try to keep it steady and fixed. He allows only small changes, which he can control.

In general, there is a tendency in sycosis for exaggeration of the psoric features. For instance, the psoric person has a vague and unconscious feeling of inferiority. When, however the person thinks that he is not capable of anything, that he is not good-looking, that he is not intelligent, that he is lacking in everything, then we notice an excessive expression of the feeling of inferiority and it is the case of sycotic miasm.

As far as the love life of a sycotic person is concerned, he has many fantasies related to the love partner. For example, as soon as a sycotic man sees a woman, he has fantasies about erotic positions. But although he has strong fantasies, he usually does not express himself during love making, does use love talk, is cold and always in control.

In the physical sphere hyperplasies and hypertrophies prevail. As previously said, sycosis owes its name to this feature. Sycosis is also characterized by an increase in secretions. For instance, gonorrhea is a sycotic manifestation. Sycotic eczema shows profuse effusion of fluids. At other times we notice retention of fluids in the organism. Inflammation is a major feature of sycosis as well as formation of cysts.

The Syphilitic miasm

Syphilitic miasm owes its name to the fact that it shows an innate inclination to destruction, which is a predominant feature in syphilis. It has been tormenting the human race before the outbreak of syphilis. We should consider syphilis as one of the most probable manifestations of the syphilitic miasm. Certainly if Hahnemann was alive today, he would pick another name for this miasm.

But let us begin to describe the syphilitic person’s mental sphere. One of the predominant features in syphilitic miasm is the tendency to conquer. He constantly wants to conquer something. After the conquest the object conquered loses its importance, it may even disgust him. He has set himself a new target; he is a hard person to satisfy, that is to say. The syphilitic is the kind of person to be easily envious. Whatever catches his eye, he wants to have it.

About the author

George Loukas

George Loukas


  • Hello George,

    I now live in Knoxville, TN, USA and previously lived in Athens for 12 years (before that Canada. I studied homeopathy for one year with Stouraitis. And here in Knoxville Heilkunst is the only homeopathy available.

    Can you recommend a good homeopath (maybe even yourself) that i can consult with via phone and email?

    I also have a 16 month old boy that i would like to consult for.

    Your article on miasms was great. thank you


  • Hai George,
    Well, Your article about Miasms are well and good.particularly readers should emphasized bold letters.One who want to understand the homeopathy this is enough sir.I appreciate this work,World will appreciate your work.

  • Dear George,
    thank you for your nice article which I enjoyed reading very much. It gives an excellent overview about the basic traits of each miasms and how to recognize them !
    Best regards,

  • Homeopathy is still evolving and progressive. We still have no univerally accepted concepts on miasms, potency, dose, repetition without which we can’t withstand to the onslaught of allopathy. Different people give unempirical interpretation starting from original sin ( conjecture), physical constitutions, body language, facial reading, palmistry, horoscope, pathology, physiology, genes, sensitivity, reactivity, susceptibility and different infectous agents. They correlate to unscietific concepts of midieval and acient writers. These articles add further confusion to already confuesed homeopahts with concepts generated from ortega, Vithoulkas, sankaran etc. Without univeral acceptance, their treatment is practiced as per the individual inderstanding of each doctor. All this make every homeopath feel as a master of miasm and well as idiot of it from the perspective of other’s concept on miasms. When will homeopathy get an univerally accepted international organisation to eliminate this vagueness.

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