It took me a very long time to fully understand Hahnemann. I got the method down, use of the tools. Even accepted there was a life force, made sense considering how obviously complex we all are and how little we really know. The part I did not get was his discussion of how to use the mind.
Throughout his writings, especially in the Introduction to the Organon, he seems very critical of medicine as it was practiced in his time. He goes so far as to say that the physicians “only imagined” that they could find the cause of disease (as it is not discernible), and that this claim of theirs resulted in “a dark fantasy image.” To use the word “dark” is a pretty heavy thing to say, it sounds evil. So, probably like most people, I passed it off as crankiness, as disappointment that other doctors did not pay much attention to his work.
Little did I know.
Perhaps it was the years of working in this field, that I began to recognize what Hahnemann was referring to. I saw the same imaginations and fantasies being played out in the medicine of our times, and in homeopathy as well. Finally, I saw that Hahnemann was telling us, in his criticisms, that we were using our minds inappropriately. There is no place in medicine for speculation, for imaginations and theories and this continued practice of spinning all this unnecessary complexity is the reason that medicine is ineffective and constantly changing because of this ineffectiveness.
What Hahnemann accomplished was the simplification of medicine, of chucking great carloads of irrelevant mental refuse that clouded the minds of practitioners. What he did throw out — diagnosis, the idea of external diseases, the presumed material cause of disease, the use of palliative treatments, of suppressive treatments, of complex therapeutic methods, of treatments that weakened the patient — left us with a very simple method, that one carefully observes the patient without judgment, that one looks for and finds the medicine which is similar to the patient’s pattern of misattunement. That’s it. All there is to it.
Well, all right, one has to take into account that there are provings, that medicines are first tested. This is the ethical foundation, is it not? We don’t use medicines for which we have no knowledge, and even worse, substances about which we speculate.
In his writings about medicine, how it has gone wrong, he is telling us we are not approaching the problem properly. Instead of looking in a simple way, we see through a filter of ideas, concepts, presumed causes. It is not obvious, but he is telling us not to use the very mechanism which brought the disease into existence in the first place.
I love this quote from Albert Einstein “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
I see Hahnemann telling us that we do not really see the patient if we are seeing that one through a screen of thought.
In this passage, from his article The Medical Observer (1825), Hahnemann makes this clear.
“In order accurately to perceive what is to be observed in patients, we should direct all our thoughts upon the matter we have in hand, come out of ourselves, as it were, and attach ourselves, so to speak, with all our powers of concentration upon it, in order that nothing that is actually present, that has to do with the subject, and that can be ascertained by the senses, may escape us.”
I have emphasized the words “come out of ourselves” in this extract. You need to read this more than once to get the sense of it. He uses the word “thoughts” but the meaning of the passage is actually to leave thought behind, to sit with a very focussed and empty mind, taking in what is present without a screen of concepts interfering. Then, when this is complete, one simply sees what us to be done — no theories, no speculation, no analysis.