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The doctrine of Hahnemann happily provides the means of resisting the dreadful effects occasionally resulting from unknown causes. For this we are indebted to the great fundamental and guiding law, similia similibus.
Of late years, physicians have entered upon a new branch of medical science to perfect their knowledge of disease. I allude to pathological anatomy.
Pathological anatomy exhibits, after death, the most striking and remarkable results of disease, and the changes which the affected organ has undergone. It enables us to compare the abnormal tissues with the healthy ones, and by a scientific estimate of those changes, it may, by induction, and by a comparison of those lesions with the symptoms during life, lead us to determine how those organs are affected, and will become a safe guide in simi
In a majority of instances, pathological anatomy can accomplish nothing beyond this, for it frequently happens that an autopsie yields but very imperfect information.. This is especially the case in nervous affections.
whose chief remedy and sole hope consists in leeches to the head, or some part of the abdomen, etc.,—is but a fair specimen of the uncertainty and fluctuation that has ever attended the practice of the healing art. Such an aspect of affairs may well excite the attention of a philosophic mind, and raise the trite but important query, "Who shall decide when doctors disagree.” It is needless, in this place, to take a more extended view of the multitude of theories that have prevailed since medicine became a science. They have all shared the same fate; and, like other remnants of antiquity-like the Indian mounds in the distant west of our country, or the crumbling walls and moss grown ruins of other lands,-serve as mementoes of past ages.
In most instances, pathological anatomy becomes supplementary, leading its aid in the diagnosis.
The assemblage of symptoms, the circumstances under which they appear and disappear, are aggravated or relieved and the causes producing disease constitute what the homœopathic physician denominates the nature of the affection; and no other method can exemplify it so completely, and with so much fidelity. In this system nothing is left undetermined—nothing left unoxplained; neither is there any useless hypothesis, rigid observation being the basis upon which the judgment is established.
Having proceeded thus far in his research, the physician can determine whether the affection is general, or merely local; whether acute or chronic; or whether participating in both these characteristics. Those diseases may be considered acute which are, for the most part, sudden in their appearance, and brief in their duration; and which are referable to atmospheric phenomena, ingesta, and moral impression. Over those diseases, the vital energies alone will frequently triumph. Occasionally, however, from their intensity, the vital powers are overpowered, and, in default of prompt assistance, life would be destroyed.
Chronic maladies require great skill to eradicate the cause of the malady.
The symptoms produced by these diseases change their seat and character not only in different individuals, but in the same person at different periods of life.
The third class is but a complicated disease, and comprises, as the name explains, a combination of acute with chronic affection, and therefore requires no farther explanation.
In this classification, the physician, invariably guided by observation, lays down for himself new divisions and subdivisions. Thus an acute disease may be either sporadic, infecting but few individuals at a time, or it may be endemic, confining itself to a particular locality, or epidemic, spreading its contagion over large districts, whether the exciting cause be apparent or concealed: moreover, it may be produced by the abuse of certain medicines, or by the voluntary or involuntary exhibition of poisons.
From what has been stated, it will be seen that the system of Hahnemann does not exclude classification of diseases, so far as it is subservient to the choice of a remedy: but in this the predominant symptoms and necessary circumstances, rather than the existing nosological classification, must be the guide to the homeopathic practitioner.
It is possible that homoeopathy will, at some future period, cease to be limited to the classification it has already adopted, and will possess a systematised nosology suitable to its advanced position in medical science.
Hahnemann, however, acted judiciously in rejecting the minuter classifications of the present day, as their tendency is to mislead the student, by teaching him to rely more on names given to certain groups of morbid
symptoms, than to the actual character and individuality of each malady; and moreover, diverts his views from the perceptible manifestations of disease for the vain search after its nature or essence, (causa proxima.)
It must here be stated, that neither Hahnemann nor his disciples have ever denied that there are certain groups of symptoms denoting such diseases of nosologists as pleuri sies, pneumonia, diabetes, etc., but only that these denominations are too vague and too general, and therefore insufficient to mark the individuality which ought to distinguish each case, and consequently are inadequate to direct the homœopathic practitioner to the choice of the specific remedy. It must not, however, be inferred, that we presumptuously and absurdly reject, as useless, the important discoveries of our predecessors in pathologi. cal investigation. On the contrary, the valuable store of facts which they have accumulated, are as fully appreciated by us, and are as essential to the homoeopathic physician, as to any other school of medicine.
We dissent from their nosological nomenclature, wherein particular groups of symptoms receive names which suggest erroneous ideas, and consequently lead to the blind administration of remedies. Homoeopathy requires a well digested and methodical symptomatology, of which a brief and imperfect sketch has been attempted in the preceding pages, but which, nevertheless, serves to show that each case of a complicated disease is marked by its own
peculiarities, and therefore requires medicinal treatment in accordance with its particular diagnosis.
It is manifest, that by the rigid investigation which is here enforced, the homoeopathic practitioner will not only escape the errors incidental to the allaopathic school, but will, moreover, obtain a faithful image of the malady, however complicated or deeply seated it may be; the cause, if attainable; and the symptoms, with their infinite variety and shades; the circumstances which influence them; the idiosyncrasy of the patient, are all tributary to this object. It is only by subscribing to these rules that the practitioner can arrive at the successful applica. tion of the grand law of nature, similia similibus curantur.
In reviewing what has just been stated, as regards the invalid, it will be seen that the different symptoms may be classed under three important heads, viz:
1. The symptoms affecting his moral tendencies.
It is impossible to institute a careful examination of the patient without admitting this three-fold tendency of his symptoms. These receivo endless modifications from the disease. It is for this reason that we observe a man of the mildest temperament become irritable, haughty, passionate and implacable when under the influence of ill health. What are the data by which the physician ought to be governed in the application of his remedies?