Creating Waves of Awareness
The principles and Art of Cure by Homœopathy by HERBERT A. ROBERTS, M.D.
CHAPTER XXXIV THE DEFLECTED CURRENT
We are told that light waves travel in a certain direction until they meet some obstacle, when they are deflected at an angle proportionate to the angle of interference. We are told that our remedies are curative in conditions closely similar to those produced by the remedy in a healthy human being.
The science of optics can give us, with a very small percentage of error, the measurement of the light waves, their angles of deflection and the measurements necessary to correct vision or to utilize the light waves in some practical manner. In other words, there is a definite measurable approach through known laws to the application of light waves to our modern needs; and we may be assured that with growth in our needs, and a greater understanding of those laws and measurements, future generations will be able to utilize light waves to a far greater degree than is thought of at the present time.
The homœopathic laws are fundamental; we understand many of them; we utilize them. Unfortunately, we have no such instruments of precision by which we can measure the obstacles to the curative waves of our remedies. Therefore we have no uniform results from our remedies such as we might expect from the vast armamentarium of remedies and the compilation of knowledge and experience garnered by successful homœopathic students since the time of Hahnemann.
Some of our confreres will say, at this point, that such instruments of precision are being used by homœopathic physicians at the present time; that they are daily being perfected and that the results are increasingly satisfactory. No doubt all of this is true; yet for the average homœopathic student we feel that such means are not yet available, or if available, the technique has not been sufficiently mastered by the average physician to be handled with accuracy; or perhaps the degree of perfection (or imperfection) of such instruments interferes with capable usage.
However this may be, our thesis has to do with the average homœopathic physician, and may be reduced to that all too well known question: why are our results not uniformly satisfactory? Why doesn't the seemingly indicated remedy always work?
Of course there are the answers known to every physician of whatever school, and some that only the homœopathic physician recognizes.
One obvious reason is the pathological condition of the patient. The röentgenologist and the surgeon are most apt to known about such pathological obstacles than is the homœopathic physician, but they so lack the means to cure that their knowledge teaches them only to remove offending tissue; perhaps the patient recovers by the aid of beneficent nature. It is trite but true that more mistakes are made by not looking than by not knowing.
On the other hand, there are serious homœopathic students who have come to believe that treatment of pathological conditions by X-ray or radium dissipates, rather than cures, the pathological tissue. Certainly we have seen the results of over-exposure to such treatments, with the insuperable obstacle to cure that has been thus raised. Destruction of normal tissue, under such treatment, may prove as dangerous to the patient's health as lack of treatment; and the relation of metastasis to surgery, X-ray or radium treatment is still an open question in the minds of many close observers.
Then there are the states which arise from mechanical obstruction, non-pathological but the actual presence of a foreign body, which gives rise to reflex symptoms of exceedingly troublesome nature. Of course the remedy does not and cannot cure such symptoms so long as the causative factor remains. Persistent earaches or coryzas in children who have inserted small objects into the ear or nose have their counterpart in the suffering of adults, often from unusual minor accidents.
Psychic trauma, emotional stresses of varying degrees and insistence, are factors that we, as homœopathic prescribers, should understand and weigh thoroughly in view of the patient's symptomatology. However, frequently the patient does not consider his private affairs the business of any outside, even of the physician, and keeps these important items to himself. Or he may be so used to bearing his own burdens that he does not recognize them as having any weight in the case; or he may (consciously or unconsciously) distort the picture of his own mental stress so much that even if he reveals the difficulty under which he is labouring, the whole picture may be of little help to the physician in analyzing the case.
It was Hahnemann himself who emphasized the fact that nothing was so deleterious to health as unhappy domestic conditions; that these conditions could, and often did, prove insuperable obstacles to cure. It is fortunate that the simillimum often can take the additional tension from the patient, or may lift off one series of symptoms; but so long as these strains persist under the surface, one cannot expect cure. Nevertheless, if the physician does not realize that these underlying influences exist, he may fall so far short of helping the patient that he may imperil his own belief in the homœopathic possibilities of cure, as well as the confidence of the patient.
Over-anxiety, worry, constant financial stress, the tension of maintaining speed in one's work, peculiar industrial demands-all these and many like stresses have developed unusual influences upon our patients during the past few years, and have correspondingly lowered the percentage of possible cures. They have served to deflect the current of cure in whole or in part; and the homœopathic system of medicine is not at fault in such deflection of cure so long as these conditions remain a vital part of the patient's life.
Along with such conditions the physician has to fight the in-creasing use of sedatives, bromides, narcotics, analgesics-all forms of drugging which offer the patient some retreat from the pressure of the modern age or some measure of relief from pain, either mental or physical. Often the physician does not know of the home prescribing of the patient with such products of the pharmacist, but modern advertising keeps these products before the mind of the public to such an extent that they have proved one of the greatest barriers to cure ever known.
In these cases one must know the obstacle to cure if he is to be able to serve the patient with any degree of real assistance; although it is one of the greatest boons of homœopathy that so many of our remedies have in themselves the power to antidote massive drugs, and so release the vital power inherent in the patient himself, with the corresponding response towards cure.
Cosmetics may prove the obstacle to cure just as surely as narcotics or coal-tar derivatives. Many cosmetic preparations contain substances advertised to suppress perspiration, eruptions, or to remove hair growth. Most physicians see cases definitely traceable to such measures. The suppressed eruptions and their sequelæ are endless. We have seen a case of progressive paralysis in a young woman which she herself traced to the use of a depilatory preparation.
An eminent contemporary prescriber reported a case of a persistent Coccus cacti cough which refused to yield-until he ordered the young woman to stop the use of her lipstick, when the cough ceased.
Even the "old school" pharmaceutical journals are beginning to report a great variety of cases which have been traced to per-fumes or perfumed cosmetics, and even to cite the physiological action of their ingredients. It is notable that some of these cases occurred, not in users of the cosmetic products, but in those associated with them. The homœopathic physician under-stands the power of ambergris, musk, etc., to produce symptoms in the potency. Hahnemann taught the power of olfaction on sensitive patients. Modern medical lore is full of the allergic reactions of sensitive patients to a variety of substances, in the most minute form. When even the dominant school of medicine recognizes this hazard, the homœopathic physician must never neglect consideration of such a deflection of the current.
Then there is the problem of diet. The so-called soft drinks follow closely the record of home drugging in distorting the case. The modern craze for slender figures, with the unbalanced diets prescribed by the laity, may be an obstacle to cure; not because the physician cannot correct the condition with a proper balanced diet plus an indicated remedy, but because of the psychological barrier-the unwillingness to accept a suitable diet with the corresponding normal weight. In other words, the patient who suffers willingly from malnutrition can be brought back to normal only if his co-operation is gained, or if the case comes to the physician before dangerous physiological changes set in. On the other hand, there is the malnutrition resulting from an unbalanced diet directly traceable to depressed budget; this condition has grown rapidly during the depression years and the effects are still shown in many cases. This has to be met not only with the homœopathic remedy but with economic equilibrium and a well thought out diet if the patient is to be cured. Here we meet an economic obstacle that is often beyond the help of the physician.
The question of proper exercise would seem to lie within the province of the physician. We recall one case, however, where the patient, a woman past middle life, was instructed to get out of the house, into the open, and cultivate her interest in wild flowers, thus getting her interests outside herself along with fresh air and sunshine. We supposed the prescription was being filled, as we were greeted with fresh wild flowers every call we made, but she did not seem to gain in strength nor did her color improve. Some time later (after she left us for a more sympathetic physician) we found that her husband faithfully went to the fields and gathered fresh flowers for the vases, while she rested from the prospect of his endeavors in her behalf.
There are patients who cannot take strenuous exercise because of pathological obstacles. There are patients who are so restricted by circumstances that they get little opportunity for exercise in the open air. But such patients are usually chronics with a long history and a poor prognosis; we usually accept the situation and do the best we can toward homœopathic palliation, and surprising as it may be to us, we sometimes approach cure in spite of the difficulties. But the patient who can co-operate, but will not, and perhaps even leads us to believe she has made the attempt, herself deflects the current of cure at its very source. Then we question the value of our prescription and wonder why the indicated remedy failed to work.
One of our hardest problems is the patient who cannot seem to rally-the old chronic, with a long but seemingly not overwhelming history, and with a clear picture of a remedy. Somewhere here there is an obstacle to cure and we must plumb the history -physical, mental, emotional- to remove that obstacle or measure it, and to me sure as well our remedy and its potency, to determine whether it is the simillimum in likeness of symptomatology and energy.
Another obstacle to cure is the ease with which the physician's judgment may be overbalanced in favor of the patient's favourite symptom. This may seem a trifling matter, but frequent repetition of a troublesome symptom may so warp the true picture of the case that the symptomatology seems to reflect an entirely different remedy than those true, but less conspicuous indications, that are actually present. The patient does this unconsciously by remembering the most troublesome factors and forgetting the seemingly minor items that should furnish the clue to the remedy.
We have discussed some of the obstacles to cure as they affect the patient or the physician. Let us discuss the other side of the problem; the remedy.
Here our first problem is the source of the remedy itself. How close to Hahnemann's standard did the source of our remedy approach? In other words, how carefully did the homœopathic pharmacist identify the source of his supply? Is the plant identical with the botanical source of our proving? We cannot expect a Rhus tox. case, for instance, to be cured with some other member of the family, if we have depended upon the proving of Rhus tox. as our guide. Here we enter the field of similars instead of the simillimum. Was the original supply fresh and in good condition? Substances of inferior quality cannot provide a good potency. With what degree of thoroughness did the pharmacist follow Hahnemann's instructions for potentization? With what degree of thoroughness did the provers follow instructions?
We must be able to depend absolutely upon the sources of our remedies, and if there has been carelessness in gathering the original substance, in any part of the process of making the potency, in contamination in handling the potency or in discrepancies in recording the provings, then we cannot but expect that the current of cure will be deflected. All these details are known to the homœopathic prescriber, but we cannot refrain from pointing out that these details may spell the difference between life and death, certainly between cure and failure, in many of our cases where there seems to be no reason to expect a deflection of the current of cure.
We question whether the provings were made under proper control. How many entered into the proving? How accurately was the substance, the origin of the potency, labeled? Inaccurate labeling might be the difference in possible cure or deflection by an insurmountable obstacle.
Weighing the symptoms of the patient against those of the remedy is one of our major problems; but an even more important problem is the weighing of symptoms of the proving itself. How great a value, we ask ourselves, shall we place upon those symptoms occasionally or rarely produced in a proving? We are told, for instance, that the time aggravation which is almost a keynote of Kali carb. appared in only one prover, yet it has been clinically confirmed so frequently that we often think of it as one of the leading symptoms of Kali carb. -or when we think of the 3 a.m. aggravation we immediately think of Kali carb., in spite of the fact that Kent's Repertory lists a number of remedies with this modality.
It is important that we use every means within our power to determine whether or not the occasional symptom comes from the individuality of the remedy or whether it is a deflection of the remedy's dynamis through idiosyncrasies of the patient or through something the patient may do or may use that distorts the reaction. Here is a patient, for instance, who cannot take Hepar Sulph. without producing a symptom not appearing in any of our Hepar provings -a sensation as if a finger and thumb were pressing either side of the larynx. Is this a valuable symptom or is it an individual reaction of no value?
Hahnemann gave us very clear directions for making provings, and instructed us that in every case the usual habits and diet of the prover remain at ordinary level during the proving, so that we might know whether or not the symptoms were produced by the remedy or by changes in the prover's habits. However, it is conceivable that such things as diet, etc., even if the patient had become accustomed to them, might deflect the current of symptoms in like degree to the disturbing element in the dietary. We reflect that such articles of diet as coffee, which we are taught affects the action of certain remedies when prescribed for curative purposes, might in like degree modify the reaction of the remedy in its proving, either to completely nullify part of the symptomatology or to modify it to an entirely different picture. Thus we must use every care in adopting casual provings. In the case of Hahnemann's provings, he reduced them to what approaches a mathematical formula. He carefully weighed the habits, diet and general state of health as manifested by symptomatic reaction of each prover before such prover was accepted for service. This data was subtracted, as it were, from such symptomatology as appeared during the course of the proving or within reasonable time thereafter, and the remaining symptoms were credited to the remedy action. Moreover, this procedure was well controlled by the number of provers for each remedy. These details were watched with the precision characteristic of Hahnemann.
A word about keynotes as a possible obstacle to cure is not out of place. Keynote symptoms have proved themselves as of almost equal degree a bane or a blessing. With our vast array of remedies the average homœopathic physician learns well the polychrests; thereafter, depending upon their relationship to his practice, he tends to depend upon memorizing a more or less brief outline of remedies. Many remedies he knows only by keynotes. If these keynotes are used as a reference to materia medica study they serve well, but they are very dangerous for a basis in prescribing. If he prescribes solely on the keynote he may and often does, remove the conspicuous symptoms; but this may serve only as an obstacle to cure by deflecting the current of symptomatology and thus distorting the picture of the patient himself.
"The physician should distinctly understand the following conditions'; what is curable in diseases in general, and in each individual case in particular... He should clearly comprehend what is curative in drugs in general, and in each drug in particular... He should be governed by distinct reasons, in order to insure recovery, by adapting what is curative in medicines to what he has recognized as undoubtedly morbid in a patient... Finally, when the physician knows in each case the obstacles in the way of recovery, and how to remove them, he is prepared to act thoroughly, and to the purpose, as a true master of the art of healing."