Adolph Lippe

A Sketch of His Life
by Harvey Farrington, MD

Several years ago, in my ninety monthly contributions to the special department of "Homeopathic Philosophy", in the Institution Journal, I sketched the life and accomplishments of some thirty-five of our noted homeopathic physicians, among them Adolph von Lippe. I quote from the April number of 1942:

Lippe was the son of Count Ludwig and Countess Augusta zur Lippe, scions of an old and illustrious family, whose estate lay near the town of Goerlitz, Prussia. Here Lippe was born on May 11, 1812. His parents tried to persuade him to study law, but he had made up his mind to become a homeopathic physician. He received his medical education in Berlin and shortly after his graduation in 1837, he sailed for America and matriculated in the Allentown Academy, the only homeopathic college then in existence.

On July 27, 1842, he received his diploma from the hand of Constantine Hering. After practicing for a short period of time in Pottsville, Pa., then in Carlisle, where he distinguished himself by the brilliant cures he made in an epidemic prevailing in the Cumberland Valley, he moved to Philadelphia where he practiced till the time of his death on January 24, 1888.

Lippe was a staunch and uncompromising champion of strict Hahnemannian homeopathy. To him the Organon was the last word in the science and art of healing the sick. In his opinion, homeopathy, as taught by Hahnemann, offered the sole means of cure and was universally applicable in both acute and chronic diseases. All other methods were palliative, vicious and harmful.

He minced no words in defending this position and vigorously assailed all who advocated what he termed the "Pathologising" of the Materia Medica, those who practiced the alternation of remedies or scoffed at high potencies.

As a boy of eleven years of age, I was the bearer of a message to Lippe from my father. The sixty intervening years failed to dim my vivid recollection of the distinguished doctor as he stood reading the note that I handed him. His keen, piercing eyes, his shock of white hair, high forehead and long gray beard, are still a clear picture in my memory.

Although Lippe was the author of a few books, the number of his contributions to homeopathic literature is unsurpassed by those of any writer in this field, with the possible exception of Hering. Many of his papers are devoted to the elucidation of homeopathic philosophy; others to the methods and rules of correct homeopathic practice. Still others deal with the finer point of the materia medica and reports of clinical cases.

A long series entitled "Fatal Errors" appearing chiefly in the American Homeopathic Observer, are vigorous polemics aimed at what he considered unhomeopathic opinions and practices that were vitiating homeopathy and causing its gradual downfall. His style was clear and forceful, his argument logical and, at times, irrefutable. If at times he seems dogmatic, it is due to the profoundness of his convictions and, perhaps to the influence of his early education and Prussian heredity.

The late E. A. Taylor, who was a great admirer of Lippe, presented me with a full set of the Observer with the request that I proceed to have all of Lippe's writings published in book form, but the cost of printing and the possibility that the books would have but few purchases prevented my fulfilling his ardent desire. Yet the book would have been a veritable gold mine to those who were endeavoring to perfect themselves in the art of prescribing according to the law of similars, for this remarkable man was on of the most accomplished prescribers in the history of our school.

He not only possessed a deep knowledge of the materia medica, but a keenness of observation seldom equaled. With uncanny accuracy, he picked out the essential indications of the case, frequently making use of symptoms, which seemed trivial or having no evident connection with the patient's ailment. By far the most important of his contributions to homeopathy are his reports of clinical cases. He was a past master in the art of presenting the essential indications and, what most writers neglect to do, he always tells why he gave the remedy that cured the cases.

For more information about Adolph Lippe, read his Timeline biography.

Books by Adolph Lippe in our bookstore:

Keynotes and Redline Symptoms

Textbook of Materia Medica