When the totality of the symptoms that specially mark and distinguish the case of disease or, in other words, when the picture of the disease, whatever be its kind, is once accurately sketched*, the most difficult part of the task is accomplished.
The physician has then the picture of the disease, especially if it be a chronic one, always before him to guide him in his treatment; he can investigate it in all its parts and can pick out the characteristic symptoms, in order to oppose to these, that is to say, to the whole malady itself, a very similar artificial morbific force, in the shape of a homœopathically chosen medicinal substance, selected from the lists of symptoms of all the medicines whose pure effects have been ascertained.
And when, during the treatment, he wishes to ascertain what has been the effect of the medicine, and what change has taken place in the patient’s state, at this fresh examination of the patient he only needs to strike out of the list of the symptoms noted down at the first visit those that have become ameliorated, to mark what still remain, and add any new symptoms that may have supervened.
*The old school physician gave himself very little trouble in this matter in his mode of treatment. He would not listen to any minute detail of all the circumstances of his case by the patient; indeed, he frequently cut him short in his relation of his sufferings, in order that he might not be delayed in the rapid writing of his prescription, composed of a variety of ingredients unknown to him in their true effects.
No allopathic physician, as has been said, sought to learn all the circumstances of the patient’s case, and still less did he make a note in writing of them. On seeing the patient again several days afterwards he recollected nothing concerning the few details he had heard at the first visit (having in the meantime seen so many other patients laboring under different affections); he had allowed everything to go in at one ear and out at the other. At subsequent visits he only asked a few general questions, went through the ceremony of feeling the pulse at the wrist, looked at the tongue, and at the same moment wrote another prescription, on equally irrational principles, or ordered the first one to be continued (in considerable quantities several times a day), and, with a graceful bow, he hurried off to the fiftieth or sixtieth patient he had to visit, in this thoughtless way, in the course of that forenoon.
The profession which of all others requires actually the most reflection, a conscientious, careful examination of the state of each individual patient and a special treatment founded thereon, was conducted in this manner by persons who called themselves physicians, rational practitioners. The result, as might naturally be expected, was almost invariably bad; and yet patients had to go to them for advise, partly because there were none better to be had, partly for fashion’s sake.