Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or: Who Guards the Guardians?

On provings

Vera Resnick IHM DHom Med (Lic)


This is perhaps less of an article, more of a musing and a challenge.   Part of the questions raised here are based around thoughts resulting from conversations I have had with Dr Gary Weaver and Dr George Dimitriadis, although I will not be quoting them directly in this article.

The harnessing of the Law of Similars within Hahnemann’s plan as set out in the Organon is totally dependent on provings.  The only way we can reliably get information about what remedies can do is through giving them in an organized way to healthy people, and getting reports, in an organized way, as to the results.  Poisonings, although usually inflicted on healthy people and drastically changing their state, do not show the influence of highly dilute potentised substances on healthy people.  Clinical symptoms can demonstrate effectiveness of homoeopathic treatment, but cannot demonstrate a certain homoeopathic relationship between the remedy and the clinically named disease that was cured.  If we are to work using Hahnemann’s methods, basing ourselves on the Organon, we need provings, we need that central body of Materia Medica that is a primary source and not subject to interpretations by homoeopaths.

But how objective are provings?  How certain can we be of the long, soporific (it is, be realistic) shopping list of symptoms presented by the provers on taking remedies?  How sure can we be about those who edited the provings, about their work and interpretations?

Inevitably when a person describes a sensation he or she is experiencing, something will be lost in translation between the experience and the words the prover finds to express that experience.  Just in the same way, when a patient tries to describe his or her condition, something is lost too.  This means that we must cast a critical eye on even the best of provings, and be aware that we may not be able to understand the full range of nuance in terms of the language used to describe the experience.  I have not even touched on the difficulty in understanding language, the way each one of us, even within a similar culture, will understand words differently.

This underscores the need to look for certainty in the choice of symptoms which we take to guide us into a case.  But even more so, it emphasizes the problems inherent within the proving process itself, even in the best case scenario of provings in Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases and Materia Medica Pura.

If provings done under the best of conditions, with full care and correct approach, can be flawed – it seems clear that provings on the other end of the scale, carried out through meditation, dreams, pendulums or similar must be completely flawed if our goal is certainty in prescribing and results.

But what about all the provings in the middle range of the scale?  All the provings carried out since Hahnemann’s time?  Which ones were reliable?  Which ones were clearly unreliable?  What about modern provings, carried out by homoeopaths who profess to be following Hahnemann’s injunctions to the letter?

There are homoeopaths on the front line, working constantly with patients using the tools available, the most important of which are reliable materia medica based on provings.  There are homoeopathy teachers (not all of whom are on the front line) who send their students out to the front line without sufficient tools to work.  Without serious, considered appraisal of provings since Hahnemann’s time – no homoeopath can be considered truly able to avail him/herself of the information offered, to assess what provings can be employed usefully in prescription.  Which leads to guesswork.  Which is unhealthy if the goal is certain prescribing, not to mention the damage it does when it becomes entrenched as acceptable practice, which we have witnessed in our times.

The alternative is to stay within the confines of Hahnemann’s materia medica, but at what cost!  Gelsemium, Medorrhinum, Kali-Bichromium, Hypericum, and many more.  That is the cost.

And this is the challenge (which can also be read as an impassioned plea):  Some of you have the tools, skills and experience to appraise provings.  Please do it.  Please teach it.  Please present your opinions on sites such as this.  If you have the knowledge – please share it.  This is a subject that should be part of the teaching curriculum of every homoeopathy school that takes itself seriously.  It has been sorely neglected and this must be remedied if homoeopathy is to survive as a medical art and science, rather than as a rather weak, ineffectual new age healing modality.

One response to “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or: Who Guards the Guardians?

  1. Pingback: מדע או "ניו אייג'"? « Polony & Weaver Homoeopathy Israel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.