Constantine Hering

Section 2

The Goal Of Study

Every medicine has its peculiar characteristic traits which must occur in each of the groups that are mentioned above. There cannot be the least doubt about this fact. But this only shows the goal from afar – a goal that we may reach by a careful study of the materia medica.

Up to this time, only a few fragments of such characteristic traits have been discovered. Anyone may soon learn these by heart; but this can never be called studying the medicines.

Study of the medicines is the road to a fresh discovery

Properly speaking, the study of the medicines is rather the road to a fresh discovery of those traits which, during practice, are continually presenting themselves to us. And, at the same time, it will show the fallacy of many well-known dicta proceeding from some who have attained the reputation of great authorities through the indolence of others.

The homeopathic physician who knows little more than the characteristics of a few polychrest medicines (with the addition, perhaps, of a few other scraps of knowledge which he himself picked up) has only a one-legged stool – we may turn ourselves hither and thither, but it will fall to the ground if not sat on by someone with two legs.

The homeopathic physician who knows no more than this is like a bad chess player – someone who only knows one or two methods of giving checkmate which he has learned from studying the fag ends of games played by celebrated players – put together with but a few other modes he has discovered himself.

The master of the game commands all the pieces in every situation. He shows his skill even when checkmated, and, properly speaking, he never loses.

Even though the physician at the bedside of the patient has ever so carefully compared a medicine with the case before him, this will tend but little to advance his knowledge of it. And such a comparison cannot be termed a study of the medicine, as it is only viewed in connection with the case thus before him.

To study a remedial agent is to attentively observe its symptoms and curative powers, without any reference to particular cases or particular diseases. It is to consider all its effects as connected with one another.

All of a remedial agent's individual symptoms are seen to belong to one morbid picture

All its individual symptoms are seen as separate parts of a whole. The many changes produced in the sensations by its action, which have been separately observed and collected together, are to be regarded as symptoms of one and the same artificial disease. They are seen to belong to one morbid picture.

The proper mode of studying the whole materia medica consists of first making one's self the complete master of a few medicines. Afterwards comes the mastery of those medicines most nearly connected with the first few, and so on.

There is always a comparing of the new ones with those that were first studied. On this account, I call this the diagnostic method.

After one or more families of nearly related substances have thus been worked out, the others follow much more easily. After pursuing the study in this manner with unremitting diligence for several years, then any new medicine may be made available after only one perusal.

By carefully reading it over only once, so much remains impressed on the memory by the unconsciously acquired habit of comparison, that in a case of disease in which it is indicated, it is easily recalled to mind.

He who can do this will not complain of the number of imperfectly proved medicines, or of the fewness of their recorded symptoms, while at the same time finding fault with the large number of symptoms presented by other medicines.

Be the symptoms as numerous as they may, he can make himself be the master of them. Be they ever so small in number, he understands how to avail himself of them.

He who has not the requisite foundation finds all additions to the materia medica a disagreeable burden. He shows by his discontent that he has not yet made himself master of the old matter.

Methinks most of those who complain of our materia medica, are either totally ignorant of, or have but a scanty acquaintance with, our medicines.

Before we proceed to give specific directions, we shall:

  1. Endeavor to defend the method we have proposed
  2. Show how a single medicine is to be studied
  3. Show how the others are to be connected to this one

Next - Section 3

Modernized translation by WholeHealthNow © 2004