Hahnemann’s Mission in Relation to Modern Homeopathy.

Peter Morrell

When we look at homeopathy growing in the world today, this raises a
number of important issues, some more recent and some embedded in
Hahnemann’s own times two centuries ago. This article explores
centrally relevant issues of today that also troubled Hahnemann
himself, which derived from his own scathing analysis of Old Physick,
and upon which homeopathy was largely constructed.

Finding Definite Proofs Against Old Physick

Although Hahnemann spent over twenty years as a translator of medical
and scientific texts, he was nevertheless simultaneously using this
time to study the causes of the failure of the medical system of his
day – a puzzle his conscience refused to leave unsolved. He never gave
up searching for new medical truths. Therefore, although superficially
he appeared to have abandoned medicine completely, yet in essence he
was biding his time and actively searching for medical enlightenment.
During these “restless years of wandering,” [Haehl, vol. 1, 13] Even
during “this restless inclination for travelling,” [Haehl, vol. 1, 47]
Hahnemann was quietly developing his ideas and publishing essays based
upon his studies.

Hahnemann’s searches of the medical literature were not primarily
conducted to obtain theoretical ideas and to back-up his own evolving
medical views, but as a crucial means by which he could trawl the
medical past and present for detailed case reports concerning diseases
and drugs and their various specific effects on the human organism, as
well as interactions between them, cases of poisoning and cures of all
types. Literary work thus provided him with a precious window through
which he could view not just medical ideas, but also the practical
clinical activities of hundreds of fellow physicians scattered through
time, the cumulative experiences of whom Hahnemann could draw on to
fertilise his growing views about drugs and diseases. Through cunning
use of this approach, he was soon able to distil down a huge mass of
material into a few basic principles governing the actions of diseases
and drugs, which methods work and which do not. In brief, this was his
‘big idea,’ and was his true mission in life.


He obtained various medical positions during 1780-83, but soon after
his marriage [1782] he became increasingly disenchanted with the
imperfections of medical practice, [Haehl, vol. 1, 29, 33; Cook, 47,
52] and turned once again to translation work to enhance his modest
income and to feed his growing family. On moving to Dresden in 1784,
and by this time hugely dissatisfied with the harmfulness and
inefficacy of medicine, he gave up medical practice entirely so as to
devote himself to translation work on a full-time basis. In Dresden,
“Hahnemann…practised his profession only to obtain definite proofs
against it.” [Gumpert, 49] He already knew it was harmful and
uncurative. Now he wanted to reform it, to wrest victory from the jaws
of defeat.

He then embarked on many travels. For example, in 12 years from
1792-1804, he lived in fourteen different towns. During this important
phase of “his restless wandering life,” [Haehl, vol. 1, 23] he was a
lonely figure, thoroughly disgusted with medicine [Cook, 52; Haehl,
vol. 1, 64] and completing many translations for his sole income.
Between 1777 and 1806 he translated 24 large textbooks and numerous
articles into German, usually accompanied with extensive footnotes and
detailed corrections of his own. What we might term ‘Hahnemann’s
mission,’ formulated mostly in the ‘wandering years,’ [1783-1804] was
to find out why the medicine of his day was such a total failure and
what useful things could be gleaned from a sustained study of the
medical past, so as to piece together, hopefully, some salvaged scraps
and build something that both ‘worked and made sense;’ he craved a
medical system that did both.


After finally settling down in Torgau in 1804 he started to commit to
paper those ideas that had been troubling him during his wandering
years and the results of his many experiments. In 1804, with “this
restless inclination for travelling,” [Haehl, vol. 1, 47] finally
expended, he settled in Torgau, “for seven whole years,” [Haehl, vol.
1, 72] – 1804-1811 – and began to write a series of important essays:
all “his chief works were produced in the Torgau period,” [Haehl, vol.
1, 74] within which every detail of his new system was taking shape.
Into these essays were instilled everything he had discovered in his
restless wandering, deriving from his provings, his thinking and his
extended studies.

What he Roundly Condemned

It is quite obvious and beyond any reasonable doubt that Hahnemann had
thoroughly scoured all prior medical systems for truth. Knowing this
gives us a key to unlock many mysteries. This especially occurred
during the time when he was most fully absorbed in translation work,
roughly between 1783 and 1804. As a result, he specifically rejected,
and often roundly condemned, Galen, Paracelsus, contraries,
signatures, astrology, mixed drugs, strong doses, prayers, spells,
incantations, purging, bleeding, enemas [clysters], and the prevalent
notion of cleansing or purifying the blood or bowels of alleged ‘toxic
material.’ He “was a most passionate opponent of mixed doses that
contained a large number of ingredients.” [Gumpert, 96] He sought to
“do away with the blind chimney sweeper’s methods of dulling
symptoms,” [Gumpert, 99] then so much in vogue.

Hahnemann frequently condemned many aspects of ancient medicine, such
as speculative metaphysics: astrology and theology, and their medieval
supernatural garb, with which he had only limited patience:
“…metaphysical, mystical, and supernatural speculations, which idle
and self-sufficient visionaries have devised;” [Dudgeon, The Lesser
Writings of Samuel Hahnemann, 491] “…now the influence of the stars,
now that of evil spirits and witchcraft…” [Lesser Writings, 1805,
421] In an especially contemptuous blast, Hahnemann even questions how
“old astrology was to explain what puzzled modern natural
philosophy.” [Lesser Writings, 490] And, “…we were fooled by the
natural philosophers….their whole conception – so unintelligible, so
hollow and unmeaning, that no clear sense could be drawn from
it.” [Lesser Writings, 1808, 494]

Medieval medicine regarded disease and cure as God’s work and an
aspect of His plan for each person. Cure would come through
purification, abstinence, repentance and doing good works, as well as
the deployment of herbal simples: “…above all, sickness was regarded
as the finger of Providence. God used illness for a multitude of
higher purposes…as a punishment…” [Porter, 1987, 27] Although
medieval medicine portrayed itself as ‘Christian healing’, yet it
still retained, even towards 1700, many of its more ancient magical
ideas and practices: “…in the world in which the ancestors of modern
medicine practised…religion and medicine can scarcely be teased
apart.” [see Lawrence]

Disease was therefore seen as “a supernatural phenomenon governed by a
hierarchy of vital powers…disharmony in these vital powers can cause
illness. Thus, ancestral spirits can make a person ill. Ingredients
obtained from animals, plants, and other objects can restore the
decreased power in a sick person and therefore have medicinal
properties.” [Kale, BMJ 1995]

There is no doubt that “throughout the Middle Ages and into the 16th
and 17th centuries…disease [was] associated with the work of Satan and
with demonic possession. Plagues and pestilences were believed to be
visitations from God, to punish or try sinful people. Protestants long
continued to see disease as the finger of Providence.”[Porter, 1987,
14] In terms of the nature of pathology and the real causes of human
sickness: “God heals and the doctor takes the fee,” [Benjamin
Franklin] or “God heals and the physician hath the thanks.” [George
Herbert] These topics are just as alive today as they were in
Hahnemann’s time.

Goethe “rejected mechanistic views of life in favour of a philosophy
of holism.”[Porter, 1998, 249] Paracelsus “saw the essence of disease
as spiritual;”[Porter, 1998, 203] according to him, “living processes…
depended upon what he called ‘archei’, the internal living properties
controlling processes like digestion…and ‘semina’, or seeds deriving
from God…who orchestrated nature.”[Porter, 1998, 202] He saw the
causes of disease in “poisonous emanations from the stars or minerals
from the earth, especially salts.”[Porter, 1998, 203] The medieval
physician had always felt that “he had dressed the wound but God had
healed the patient.”[Porter, 1998, 188] Ancient physicians generally
adhered to the view of medicine as one of “supporting the patient and
trusting the healing power of nature.”[Porter, 1998, 260]

Lest we forget, “Hahnemann took ten years to test his general rule
[similia] before he used potencies at all…the infinitesimal dose…is
not laid down on theoretical grounds…[he] developed it…from experiment
alone…[which was] Hahnemann’s doctrine and practice throughout his
life,” [Dr Charles Wheeler, 1944, 169]. As late as “the 1650s, doctors
still spoke largely of the sick man’s humors rather than of any
particular entity from which he suffered.” [Shryock, 12] And even in
Hahnemann’s time, the continued domination of medicine by the Greek
theory of humours also gave some sanction to the strong purificatory
measures preferred by all physicians, even extending down to the

Rather Sweeping Condemnations

He therefore rejected outright the tenets of medieval Galenism and
most of its underpinning theoretical support structures [what we might
term ‘medical theology’]. He specifically condemned them not only as
antiquated, outdated and useless therapeutic measures, but also as
unhelpful, inaccurate, ineffective, misleading and endangering to
patient health.

We need to ask how valid his condemnations actually were. Some of
these objections were theoretical and some were based in his own
dismal medical practice, his own first-hand clinical experience. Added
to these were also the combined experiences of many other physicians
he knew and those whose medical casenotes he had read about in the
vast medical literature to which his translation work had given him
such detailed access. As a result, he denounced the medicine of his
day as useless, uncurative, dangerous and at best only palliative.

Hahnemann did not believe in the entrenched and unquestioned ‘impurity
theory’ of disease, upon which medieval medicine was very largely
based, because medical practice had very painfully taught him that its
methods were useless and dangerous. Thus he probably felt wholly
justified in condemning, just as forcefully, the theories upon which
those methods rested. He could see that behind those methods and
theories there existed a subtle and mysterious internal ‘genotype’ of
disease cause from which chronic disease still inevitably springs even
after the use of palliative drugs have improved symptoms or subdued a
condition. He could see that strong drugs never actually cure sickness
or remove this deeper, innate tendency to sickness. They may delay
things or modify them, but they do not stop disease from arising.

It is likely that 1782-85 he only conceived of himself as a translator
of medical texts and a disgruntled critic of orthodox medicine – he
unleashed “uncontrolled and abusive attacks on contemporary
medicine.” [Cook, 105] We need to understand why. It is doubtful that
he could at that stage see beyond such a role. Apart from being an
open critic of medicine, or that he was soon to become a great pioneer
of a new system and a medical prophet. He saw drugs as at best only
palliative because they could not stop disease arising from its deeper
hidden source, from which it seems to spring relentlessly in each one
of us sooner or later. He maintained a constant dialogue between the
theory and practice of medicine and saw them both as fertile sources
always interlocked and influencing each other. Ideally for him, they
had to reflect each other; he was an intensely pragmatic man, rarely
allured solely by a theory. In this respect, he was genuinely quite
scientific in believing that something worked because it was the right
theory, and that useless methods were useless because the theory they
rested on was wrong.

Of course, he was right to condemn what he knew to be bogus – mostly
18th century ideas and methods – but was he right to condemn what he
could not know for sure if he so obviously did not fully appreciate
the theories it was based upon? At times he seems to have impatiently
condemned some practices and theories automatically, in broad brush
terms, when a theory or method that applied well to one case may not
have applied quite so well to another. Such was the nature of medieval
Physick. Thus, at times he may have committed an unworthy averaging
process in some of his more sweeping condemnations. He probably
condemned such body-purifying measures as clysters, purging, bleeding
and emesis, more on principle rather than because he had personally
investigated each of them very thoroughly through first-hand use and
found them wanting.

It is unlikely that he had tried and tested them all. He was perhaps
too sweeping in this than he could have been and so some things were
probably wrongly condemned by him in haste as useless that plainly
aren’t. As he spoke so often in such absolute terms, we are entitled
to conclude that is how he predominantly thought. Hahnemann reasoned
that because crude drugs were mainly palliative, then that was all
they could ever achieve. His reasoning was that being used habitually
in complex mixtures and in strong doses, on the basis of the invalid
principle of contraries, meant that they were utterly doomed in every
respect. If the theories were wrong, then all methods based on them
were also wrong. This is flawed reasoning, however, as some methods
might have worked but for very different reasons. Furthermore, their
true healing properties were largely obscured or unknown by their
improper mode of use and thus any healing properties single drugs
really did possess should be ascertained beforehand by provings on
healthy volunteers. His view that they should only be used singly and
in moderate doses on the basis of similars also follows from the same
line of argument: Hahnemann had noticed that “a drug imposes its own
disease on the patient and wipes out the natural disease.” [Charles
Wheeler, 170]

However, in medieval medicine the composition of mixtures of drugs
were constantly rotated by physicians to fit each individual case and
not always fixed by rote as Hahnemann implied in his harsh judgement.

Yet, in Hahnemann’s day the fine-tune technique of ancient medicine
had been abandoned in favour of more brutal methods and a heavy-handed
reliance on Greek-driven measures like purging, cupping, leeches and
opening a vein. Increasingly, these generalised and brutal methods of
treatment were used on an unquestioning, rote basis for every case, in
ignorance of individual symptom totality; fine-tuning was abandoned.
The idea of specifics came to dominate the concept of ‘disease’ and
the idea of ‘matching drug’ such that the previous medieval fine-
tuning approach became eclipsed by crude application of the same
brutal techniques to every case and a medical practice dominated by
treatment of small symptom groups conceived of as ‘diseases’ using any
drug that could subdue them.

The upshot of all this was chaos – the dangerous inefficacy of medical
practice and a deplorable explosion of theoretical nonsense.
Speculation was allowed to dominate medical theory at the same time as
barbarity dominated its technique, and for the same reasons – medicine
meandered like a rudderless ship. It was this gradual meltdown of all
common sense and gentle methods that made raised Hahnemann’s blood to
boiling point.

Experiments of his own and direct clinical experience, always his most
reliable and enduring beacons, had led Hahnemann to entirely validate
his own approach and to condemn the ancient methods: he ranted and
raved like “a raging hurricane against the old methods.” [Haehl, vol.
1, 98] Through further experiment, he refined his views towards single
drugs in minute dose, used as per similars and based upon provings,
these becoming in turn the core axioms of the homeopathic system. Such
is certainly how homeopathy came into being. It was not dreamed up
overnight or all in one piece; by contrast, it emerged in pieces over
a long period: Homeopathy, therefore, had a somewhat protracted
‘birth,’ emerging in pieces: between “1790 and 1805…homeopathy was
slowly coming to birth.” [Haehl, vol. 1, 48]

The maxim of “everything that can hurt is something that can
heal,” [Anon, Jan 1932, 135] though Hahnemann was mindful of the
nature of poisonings, [Examples of his interest in poisons include his
publications: On Poisoning by Arsenic, 1786, Directions for the
Preparation of Soluble Mercury, 1790 and What Are Poisons? What Are
Medicines?, 1806] for the same reason Shakespeare once observed: “in
the infant rind of this small flower, poison hath residence and
medicine power,” [Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3] and
although it is self-evident that “drugs, in crude form…[do] have the
power to make even well people sick,” [Close, 54]

Mere Palliation

Hahnemann’s denunciation of crude drugs in strong doses and mixtures
as only doomed palliative measures, needs greater scrutiny. Drugs were
palliative in the sense that the most they could achieve was to subdue
symptoms and shift them around the organism, rather than eliciting
true and gentle cure by their safe removal. Even if they ‘cured’ in
the short term or in the ordinary sense of improving sickness,
Hahnemann saw later sickness episodes, of predictable types, to always
make their subsequent appearance and thus that such allopathic ‘cures’
often in truth meant only the temporary suppression of symptoms, not
the true cure he envisaged, which would involve removal of the root
cause. As ‘cures,’ they were inevitably always somewhat temporary and

Hahnemann’s conception of true cure involved the gentle removal of the
most subtle, invisible and intangible causes of sickness at the
ultimate and most fundamental level of organism functioning, not just
the removal of the main symptoms, the gross molecular and
physiological dysfunctions that preoccupied most ordinary medical
practitioners. This at least was implicit to his line of reasoning.

It is a clear and peculiar fact that Hahnemann was innately very
disinclined to accept purely chemical or physiological factors as root
causes of sickness, as most physicians still do, and he always tended
to look beyond and behind them to a more rarefied, subtle, spiritual
and non-physical realm of disease causation resident not within the
tissues but within the vital force and the case totality. This
tendency cannot have come from Vienna, Erlangen or Leipzig, but more
likely from Brukenthal and Freemasonry. For example, it became
encapsulated in Aphorism 9 of Hahnemann’s Organon, where he speaks of
the material organism being governed by a “spiritual principle…that
rules with unbounded sway.” [Organon of Medicine, 1922, Aph. 9]

The vital force literally ‘runs the show’ and elicits every change in
the case. Hahnemann’s central axiom in homeopathy is that the organism
is controlled by the vital force, which ‘rules with unbounded sway and
dominates the organism in sickness and in health’ [Organon of
Medicine, Aph. 9]. Kent then elaborates this further: “We do not take
disease through our bodies but through the Vital Force; likewise with
a true cure;” and “the law of similars is the law of similars, whether
produced by drug or disease. It is the law of Influx;” and “one who
thinks from the material, thinks disease is drawn in from without, but
it is drawn out from within.” [Kent, 1926] Hence, homeopathic
treatment always aims to strengthen the innate healing power or vital
force. [Haehl, 1922; I, 64, 284, 289]

Because the vital force ‘runs the whole show,’ so it is also that
which cures disease, not the homeopath and not the remedy – it truly
is the ‘innate healing power’. We should always “remember that it is
our duty to help nature as far as possible do her job.” [Bodman, Sir
John Weir Obituary, 1971, 225] Medicine involves an attempt “to
restore health…an attempt to restore balance,” [Dr Charles Wheeler
Obituary, 1947, 1] for true “health is simply the balanced
life.” [ibid; 4]

Such innate self-healing powers, “the self-rectifying powers of the
vis medicatrix;”[Simpson, 82] the “natural sanative powers of the
constitution,”[Simpson, 81] “the curative powers of nature,”[Simpson,
88] and “the vital dynamism,”[Simpson, 23] are valid forces at work in
every one of us and the enhancement of those powers is the primary
task of all natural healing. Homeopathic remedies do not heal
directly, but, like other natural healing modalities, act indirectly
by stimulating these innate healing powers of the organism: “remember
that it is our duty to help nature as far as possible do her
job,”[Bodman, op cit, 225] Yet, allopathy is saddled with a ‘quick
fix’ mentality, what Maizes and Caspi call “the fixing paradigm,” that
blithely ignores the innate healing powers.

The innate self-healing powers are discussed at length in The Organon:
“it is only this spiritual, self acting (automatic) vital force,
everywhere present in his organism, that is primarily deranged by the
dynamic influence upon it of a morbific agent inimical to
life,”[Organon of Medicine, Aph. 11] for it is “the morbidly affected
vital force alone that produces disease,”[ibid; Aph. 12] and cure must
remove, “all such morbid derangements (diseases)…by the spirit-like
(dynamic, virtual) alterative powers of the serviceable medicines
acting upon our spirit-like vital force,”[ibid; Aph. 15] for, “it is
only by their dynamic action on the vital force that remedies are able
to re-establish and do actually re-establish health and vital
harmony.”[ibid; Aph. 16]

There is thus a strange ambiguity in his mentality, an inconsistency
in his approach to medicine, that strongly condemn signatures,
astrology and life-meaning theology, incantations, etc on one side [as
did most of his contemporaries], but on the other side resist the
enchantment of the materialistic philosophy of chemical and
mechanistic ‘machine patter’ of the iatrochemists and the pneumatists
[unlike his contemporaries]. He therefore reveals an ambivalence,
giving homeopathy firm roots in both camps of medical thought, but not
wholly committed to either. He wished to render homeopathy into a
truly curative system that gently subdued disease, but that also went
straight to the root of disease causes and removed them. Experience
had robbed him of what little faith he once had that chemical drugs
could ever achieve such a noble aim.

The Subtle Realm of Disease Cause

In his slow and quiet way, Hahnemann made some startling discoveries,
which are still perfectly valid today. Apart from finally confirming
the superiority of similars, single drugs, moderate doses and
provings, by the 1790s his single most important discovery might well
have been that all ordinary medical treatments could only ever
palliate, alleviate or suppress symptoms and never truly cure at the
deeper, fundamental level. This revelation suggested to him that no
previous medical system had ever gotten to the bottom of disease, or
reached the true, deeper, innate causes of disease, let alone ever
removed them. He saw that sickness just keeps coming back over and
over often in new mutated forms [the hydra-headed?]. The source from
which it springs had thus never been severed.

They have always regarded drug-induced changes in cases as
fundamentally uncurative acts: any “removal of the tangible products
of disease…does not cure the disease, but does the patient a positive
injury.” [Close, 73] As Close then adds, “the suppressed case always
goes bad,” [Close, 75] to which Kent adds: “all prescriptions that
change the image of a case cause suppression.” [Kent, Lesser Writings,
661] For Van Helmont too, “every disease had a vital principle of its
own [archeus] which could be treated by a specific medico-spiritual
response.”[Porter, 1998, 208] He believed that “all objects, minerals
included, were alive…matter was charged with a specific disposition
[archeus], which created life.” [Porter, 1998, 208] He also
“postulated the existence of ‘blas’…the heart of the human body…[a]
life-force dominated all corporeal processes…a health-defending
property.”[Porter, 1998, 208] All these views can be seen as the
conceptual precursors to homeopathy, ground already laid out for the
foundation of another building – vital force and miasms.

Hahnemann describes the development of diseases in the ongoing life of
the person [or family, or race, or humanity] mutating through time
[“the hydra-headed miasm”] and able periodically to throw to the
surface very different ‘disease events’ springing forth from the same
hidden root cause in the invisible and intangible realm of the non-
molecular. This describes very clearly his depiction of the true
nature of the miasms: a hidden realm of disease cause, and a genotype
from which the expressed and visible symptoms, the phenotype of
disease, periodically erupt at the surface and which we tend to see
before us as separate ‘diseases’. From “frequent observations,
Hahnemann had discovered that chronic maladies…had some connection
with a previous outbreak of Psora.” [Haehl, vol. 1, 138] To Hahnemann,
Psora was “a disease or disposition to disease, hereditary from
generation to generation for thousands of years, and…the fostering
soil for every possible diseased condition.” [Haehl, vol. 1, 144]

It seems natural for homeopaths to be suspicious of and unsatisfied
with the solely molecular, mechanistic and tangible explanation or
technique of crude drugging for specifics [allopathy]. Being daily
used to seeing into the realm of the subtle and intangible, with their
more subtle form of vision, it is only natural for them to seek out
deeper root causes in such a realm that lies behind and beyond the
solely molecular realm, which seems so satisfying to allopaths and
scientists. By employing intangible and non-molecular remedies and
seeing their often spectacular effects in the clinical sphere, it is
not so surprising that they have come to develop such deep respect for
non-molecular theories of life, disease causation and cure.

For “what we cannot see directly with the corporeal eye, we may yet be
able to perceive indirectly, by the eye of reason,” [King, 1963; 23]
It is similarly true in homeopathy that “the distinction between
observation and inference, between empiricism and rationalism, is
basically artificial, since neither can exist without a substantial
share of the other…in almost every statement, some observation and
some inference are involved…the further we get from direct
observation, the more we depend on inference and reasoning,” [ibid;

Hahnemann basically agrees with van Helmont and Paracelsus that the
root causes of sickness do not reside in the outer, tangible and
visible aspects of disease manifestations, the phenotype, but rather
in the deeper essence or genotype. Symptoms are not seen by homeopaths
as the disease, but as the results, the end-products, of deeper
dynamic disease processes: “tissue changes…are but the results of
disease;” [Kent, 1926, 672; Pagel, 1972, 419-454; see also Pagel,
1944, 44 pages] “a cure is not a cure unless it destroys the internal
or dynamic cause of disease.” [Kent, 1926, 673]

Homeopaths have generally, interpreted the phenomena of life, disease
and cure through essentialist eyes: “the outer world is the world of
results.” [Kent, 657; see also Coulter, iii, 334 re essence; also
Mayr, 1982, 38, 87, 304-5; Bullock & Trombley, 1999, 282-3]

Close states that “the gross, tangible, lesions and products in which
disease ultimates are not the primary object of the homeopathic
prescription.” [Close, 38] Close goes right to the heart of the matter
in stating that it is not symptoms that need correction, but function.
“Function creates the organs…function reveals the condition of the
organs,” [Close, 38] and he further reveals that “the totality of the
functional symptoms of the patient is the disease.” [Close, 38] This
somewhat flies in the face of the Hughes/Dudgeon claim that disease is
a localised affair, a material affair that must be treated with
material doses – tinctures, 1x and 3x. But, seizing his quarry firmly,
Close deepens the real focus of homeopathy not upon the tissues, but
into “the realm of pure dynamics;” [Close, 39] what he calls the
“sphere of homeopathy is limited primarily to the functional changes
from which the phenomena of disease arise.” [Close, 40-41]

Symptoms have never been seen by homeopaths as the disease, but as the
results, the end-products, of deeper dynamic disease processes:
“tissue changes…are but the results of disease;” [Kent, Lesser
Writings, 672] “a cure is not a cure unless it destroys the internal
or dynamic cause of disease.” [Kent, Lesser Writings, 673] When Close
states that the “real cure…takes place solely in the functional and
dynamical sphere,” [Close, 42] we can see that his emphasis has
shifted away from any visible pathology resident in the organs,
tissues and cells, to the underlying vital and dynamic processes that
underpin and derange the cells and tissues.

Close validates this view by tracing it back to its true source:
“Hahnemann introduces us into the realm of dynamics, the science…of
motion. In medicine dynamical commonly refers to functional as opposed
to organic disease.” [Close, 59] Power does not reside in the body, in
the tissues or the cells themselves, it “resides at the
centre;” [Close, 61] disease “is the suffering of the
dynamis.” [Close, 72] Close devotes considerable energy to clearly
defining disease; an effort which repays close study. For example, he
says that “homeopathy does not treat disease; it treats
patients.” [Close, 51] Disease, he claims, is “an abnormal vital
process;” [Close, 60] “a dynamic aberration of our spirit-like
life;” [Close, 67] “a perverted vital action;” [Close, 70] it is “not
a thing, but only the condition of a thing;” [Close, 70] that in the
last analysis disease is “primarily only an altered state of life and
mind.” [Close, 71] This is akin to Kent’s likening of cure to a
qualitative re-tuning of a piano, [Kent, Lesser Writings, 664-5] and
is all a very far cry from using remedies in material doses [1x or 3x]
for named conditions.

Close lays bare its deeper nature when he says disease is “primarily a
morbid disturbance or disorderly action of the vital powers and
functions,” [Close, 74] or “purely a dynamical disturbance of the
vital principle.” [Close, 74] Furthermore, he logically pronounces
that because “disease is always primarily a morbid dynamical or
functional disturbance of the vital principle,” [Close, 88] so in turn
it is clear that “functional or dynamic change always precedes tissue
changes,” [Close, 71] and that cure has been established only “when
every perceptible sign of suffering of the dynamis has been
removed.” [Close, 73] For Close, it is precisely upon such reasons and
definitions that “the entire edifice of therapeutic medication
governed by the law of Similia,” [Close, 88] has been conceived and
constructed. All these insightful statements elaborated by Close might
be said to derive from Kent, but, as he insists, they also flow
naturally from Hahnemann’s own sentiments in the Organon: [Hahnemann,
Organon, Aphorisms 11 [9, 10], 15 and 16] “let it be granted
now…that no disease…is caused by any material substance, but that
every one is only and always a peculiar, virtual, dynamic derangement
of the health.” [Organon, Introduction, 10]

As Close says, disease cause therefore also exists solely in “the
realm of pure dynamics;” [Stuart Close, The Genius of Homeopathy,
Lectures and Essays on Homeopathic Philosophy, New York, 1924; 39]
what he calls the “sphere of homeopathy is limited primarily to the
functional changes from which the phenomena of disease arise,” [ibid;
40-41] Therefore, the removal [correction might be a better word] of
the internal damage [miasm] is the removal of the cause; which is not
the same as removing the symptoms: “In faithful treatment, it is
sought to accomplish an end far more subtle than the mechanical
removal of bacilli.” [Nichols, 1891, 233-234]

Why Modern Medicine Does not Cure

These same observations Hahnemann made even apply today. Modern drugs
manifestly do not really cure, they only palliate for a time. They
create merely an illusion of cure. There is just as much disease in
the world today as ever there was, if not more. The medicine of today
has indeed “reduced the patient’s autonomy to a therapeutic choice of
drugs or surgery,”[Diamond, 2001; 11] which stands as a chilling
indictment of its claim to cure disease, which is nothing other than a
sorry state of medical dependency masquerading as true cure. This
woeful situation obviously flies in the face of Kent’s insistence that
cure should: “leave the patient in freedom always.”[Kent, 1900, 160-1]
Aphorism 1 of The Organon states the mission of the physician to heal
gently and safely, to place the patient in greater freedom: “to
establish freedom should be the aim of the physician, and if a
physician’s work does not result in placing his patient in freedom he
cannot heal the sick,”[ibid, 79]

Medicine, in spite of the entire scientific advance of two centuries,
is still not curing disease, nor is it reaching behind the molecular
level to remove the innate tendency towards sickness. The deeper
causes of sickness that Hahnemann identified as non-molecular are
still not being tackled two centuries later. His theory of miasms was
a good attempt to explain where sickness originates. He satisfied
himself further that only potentised drugs could reach deeper into
this non-molecular realm of disease cause. Modern medicine is
evidently just as incapable of doing so as its 18th century

When the bullets stop coming, you are entitled to believe the guns
have been silenced or even gone altogether. Thus, when disease stops
appearing, the causes can be assumed to have been removed. This was
his line of reasoning. Hahnemann’s observations of medical practice,
combined with his prolonged analytical studies, convinced him of a
range of new medical truths even before he embarked on a path of
continued original experimentation. What he clearly observed two
hundred years ago is still true today – people show an innate tendency
towards sickness, to sickness episodes that tend to recur, to
conditions that mutate through time, to chronic and serious disease
and this tendency is not in decline, but on the increase, or at least
as active as it ever was. This clearly observable aspect of modern
disease is seemingly unaffected by drug-based treatments and is not
diminishing. Chemical drugs today manifestly do not reach the heart of
the matter; they do not cure.

If medicine were truly working, then we would see a very different
picture. We would see these tendencies on the decline, disease in
retreat, with the mass of disease declining. We would see sickness
going into reverse, being pushed back by medical advance. This is
precisely what we do not see in the world today. Therefore, it seems
safe to conclude, that the innate, deeper, genotypic causes of disease
are just as alive today, just as active in the organism, as they were
two centuries ago. Although the nature of sickness has changed, and
the old infectious conditions have largely disappeared, yet the
overall burden of disease is the same if not even greater than it was.
Who is to say that the removal of the one has been obtained at the
expense of the other?

Yet, there is a contrast when we look at adults and children who are
treated with homeopathy for any length of time. This is especially
apparent when you look at whole families who use homeopathy. They do
not show the same general tendency towards sickness, to simple
recurrent diseases or to chronic or relapsing conditions that are so
evident in the main population who are treated allopathically. Nor do
they show the same tendency towards chronic and serious diseases. They
show less disease, less recurrent disease, less serious disorders,
greater resistance to infections, than their peers, and a general
level of good health and well-being that is considerably higher than
the average population. This is especially apparent in children and
young adults.

This is not simply my own observation. Such observations are common to
all families who use homeopathy regularly and all homeopaths confirm
this same pattern. This applies as much to mental health as to
physical. Therefore, one feels entitled to conclude from this that, as
in Hahnemann’s day, human beings today still react positively to
homeopathic treatment and that it does indeed successfully subdue and
progressively eliminate sickness and above all the hidden, genotypic
predisposition towards recurrent disease. It removes the causes of
sickness that lie buried deep within the organism: the gun is

Origins of Homeopathy

All this modern material ties in very neatly with the main concerns
that Hahnemann immersed himself in two centuries ago. What Hahnemann
was primarily appalled and disgusted by and which he most vigorously
and passionately opposed were strong doses of drugs, bloodletting and
compound drug mixtures conceived and employed along the Galenic lines
of contraries. These were the biggest objections he made against the
medicine of his day. He was implacably opposed to them because he
could see from first-hand daily experience that they were dismally
ineffective measures to be employed against sickness, and they were
also harmful and damaging to patients as well; they caused more
suffering. Thus, he stood alone in having the courage and intellectual
honesty to abandon in disgust such a medical practice, and to commit
himself instead to a search for more gentle, benign and effective
therapeutic measures. Who could possibly stand up and condemn him for
doing that?

His starting point obviously suggested that he use single drugs in
moderate doses and not contraries. We should not forget that his
search was rooted in the sombre and very despondent basis of his deep
dissatisfaction with his chosen profession. It commenced 1781-2 in a
fairly lacklustre and haphazard manner, into the medical past for any
evidence of true cures attributable to using single drugs on the basis
of similars and in moderate doses. He found evidence for all these
principles and also some for the curative effects of one similar
disease upon another, but not for dissimilar diseases. Together with
the records of poisonings, he soon amassed considerable evidence not
only for using moderate doses of single drugs, but that they should be
employed on the basis of similars rather than contraries. He also
accrued abundant evidence of the health damaging effects of contraries
and high doses.

This mass of evidence gradually convinced him to use similar drugs in
moderate doses and to commence provings [1790] to ascertain more
precisely [than signatures] the real therapeutic properties of drugs.
This was his attempt to cast aside and move beyond the entrenched and
centuries-old ‘doctrine of signatures,’ which was, to his mind, a
ridiculous, hit-and-miss method that was vague and often thoroughly

He was also disparaging about the doctrine of signatures. [Hobhouse,
137-8; Hahnemann’s Lesser Writings, 502-3, 670; Haehl, 1, 23; & 2,
10-11] In his Materia Medica Pura we read under Chelidonium: ‘The
ancients imagined that the yellow colour of the juice of this plant
was an indication (signature) of its utility in bilious diseases…the
importance of human health does not admit of any such uncertain
directions for the employment of medicines. It would be criminal
frivolity to rest contented with such guesswork at the bedside of the
sick.” [Hobhouse, 138] Hence we behold his fundamental ambivalence.

Even when the Organon insists that “the…virtues of medicines cannot
be apprehended by…smell, taste, or appearance…or from chemical
analysis, or by treating disease with one or more of them in a
mixture…” [Organon; v.110].

The only sane and rational means to discover the actual, pure and real
[repeatable] i.e. scientific properties of drugs was to initiate mild
medical poisonings [provings] and to record in detail their manifold
effects on the organism – their ability to derange health. By proving
drugs on the healthy, he could more clearly establish an area of
compatibility between the health-deranging effects of real diseases on
the one side, and the health-deranging effects of such artificial
diseases [provings] caused by drugs, on the other side. Detailed
comparisons between these two datasets might then yield greater
therapeutic success than continued adherence to the old-fashioned,
haphazard and in his view doomed method of signatures – a battered and
rusty old lamp that seemed to obscure in shadows as many medical
truths as it illuminated. Likewise, he could compare contraries and
similars, strong doses versus small and mixed drugs versus single
drugs. By proceeding precisely in this systematic manner, Hahnemann
uncovered the core truths of his new system.

Hahnemann had actually embarked single-handed upon a radical programme
of medical reform: to clear away the dusty, centuries-old methods, the
outdated dead wood of useless practices that were manifestly
uncurative and harmful and which blocked progress, and replace them
with new methods that were simpler, more effective and thus superior.

When Cooper declares that “all great improvements in science are made
by men who throw off the trammels of previous teachings and begin by a
complete and radical overhauling of the entire subject,” [Cooper,
1894, 389], then he certainly encapsulates Hahnemann’s bold,
freethinking spirit of inquiry. Hahnemann’s original and gargantuan
task had been to “break through the orthodoxy…[and] sweep away the
painstaking edifices of their honourable but limited predecessors who…
tend to imprison thought within their own tidy but fatally
misconceived constructions.” [Berlin, 1986; 72]

His research showed that the whole edifice of official, Galenic
medicine had been founded on entirely wrong premises – upon
contraries, strong doses of compound drug mixtures, instead of
similars, single drugs in moderate doses; upon the shifting sands of
signatures rather than the hard factual rocks of provings. All this
inevitably brought him into conflict with orthodoxy.

Protest against homeopathy

To some extent, the storm of protest that greeted the birth of
homeopathy and which was unleashed on Hahnemann personally, was a
storm of indignation by the mainstream against a single physician who
had the breathtaking audacity to step forward and challenge
officialdom and say its was entirely wrong. Such a damburst of protest
can be seen as the natural and instinctive reaction of orthodox and
well-established vested interest whenever official orthodoxy is
prickled or challenged: something of a David and Goliath situation?

It needs to be made clear that in no sense whatsoever did such a
reaction stem from anything approaching a calm and rational appraisal
of the true merits of homeopathy, or from people who were remotely
intent on conducting a sober and sympathetic investigation of it,
giving it a try and then filing a balanced and neutral report. Quite
the contrary, it signalled a mass emotional response of a slightly
paranoid, defensive profession with a mass closing of ranks against an
obvious enemy, a traitor, which had to be both publicly repulsed and
publicly defeated. The chief method employed to achieve this objective
was a sustained and vigorous campaign of ridicule and condemnation
against homeopathy: attacks upon him and upon homeopathy became
increasingly coordinated, amounting to a “vicious campaign of
persecution,” [Cook, 124].

Such has been the official attitude towards homeopathy ever since
those early days and it must be viewed exactly for what it is. It
never has been and is still not a carefully researched and reasoned
response to the claims of homeopathy, nor an impartial assessment of
Hahnemann’s case, his clinical track record or the mass of detailed
evidence he had accrued over many years against the methods and
theories of Old Physick.


To really understand Hahnemann, we must look in the first phase at
that which he condemned in allopathy and why. For in those
condemnations hides his anger and his passion against the betrayal he
felt at being trained in a medicine that was so useless. It was an
embarrassment. The anger he felt simmered like a volcano until it
exploded in rage at what nonsense his colleagues believed in and the
dangerous and injurious medical treatments they dished out to the poor
patient every day. Hahnemann refused to be part of such a blind,
corrupt and murderous form of medicine. Study what he condemned and
what he attacked and you can begin to see the puzzle unfold as it did
for him haphazardly over twenty years. By examining what he condemned
and asking why, we gain great insights into his approach and the
situation he found himself in.

The core principles of homeopathy, each is a shadow of something in
Old Physick or allopathy.

Similars is the shadow of contraries, a dominant concept in allopathy
since the time of Galen [2nd century]

Using single drugs is the shadow of the mixed drugs used in allopathy.

Using small doses forms the shadow of the large doses of allopathy.

Provings are the shadow of poisonings accumulated over many centuries;
a proving is a mild form of poisoning. Provings also displace
signatures as a source of reliable drug information.

Case totality is a product of close observation of cases and also
derives from provings; it is the shadow of specific named diseases, a
concept Hahnemann rejected. Case totality is also a monument to
Hahnemann’s superior observational skills.

The drug picture is a result of case totality and the proving but is
also a distant shadow of the doctrine of signatures.

Hahnemann had great interest in poisons: because of their very great
power to derange health; in the first phase of his research he sought
to find ways of taming these prodigious weapons and so convert them
into gentle healing tools. In this was the maxim that what causes can
also cure.

The contents of the old materia medica were entirely the products of
folk medicine, old wives tales and the doctrine of signatures. These
had been authorised and validated only by a succession of eminent
doctors down the ages, who tended to repeat what their forebears had
said. Hahnemann rebelled both against the drugs selected on such a
ridiculous basis as well as the authorities who had validated them. He
held such authorities in contempt and he blamed them alone for the
appalling state of medicine in his day.

He condemned whatever was ineffective and uncurative; he condemned
whatever was harmful; yet he had in the beginning no alternatives and
simply had to give up medical practice. Most things he saw as both
harmful and uncurative like emesis, purgation, bleeding and sweating.
These core practices of allopathy he regarded as having no value
whatever because they did not achieve cures and they harmed patients.
Or in some cases, they only palliated symptoms without curing them.

His opposition was instinctive; he had no reasons and no alternatives
but he simply felt in his heart that medicine was too dangerous for
him to give his patients. He knew that it was damaging and uncurative
on instinct and this describes his mentality very well. It is an
insight that only comes to us now through prolonged reflection on the
details of his life and conduct; it cannot be seen directly in the
evidence. It is normally hidden. It is a good example of how history
can enrich our understanding of homeopathy.

There are in homeopathy no specific named diseases that affect whole
populations; there is just each case that must be assessed on its own
peculiar merits.

There are no mass treatments that can be given to everyone or to a
disease label; each case must be treated individually.

There are no single disease entities, just the whole person, body and
mind in which diseases and remedies enter and perform like actors on a

The law of similars began innocently enough with examples like Mercury
and Syphilis or Belladonna and Scarlet fever. Hahnemann soon realised
that very close similarity and case totality were required for it to
work best. Each case must be carefully individualised to the single
drug for success. Similars alone was not enough.

Homeopathy was created by Hahnemann in the light of its predecessor,
allopathy, and the main elements of homeopathy are like ghosts or
shadows of the main elements in allopathy.

As we have seen, these shadows or ghosts are in every case the
opposite of the corresponding idea or method in allopathy. Hahnemann
deliberately chose the opposite of things in the useless allopathic
system in order to obtain something better than it.


Isaiah Berlin, The Sense of Reality – Studies in Ideas and Their
History, London: Pimlico, 1986; 72

Frank Bodman, Sir John Weir Obituary, Brit. Homeo. Jnl 60.1, 1971,

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London: Harper-Collins, 3rd Edition, 1999

Thomas L Bradford, Life and Letters of Hahnemann, 1895

Charles Burford, Dr Clarke Memorial Meeting [Obituaries], Brit. Homeo.
Jnl Jan 1932, 135

George Burford, Dr Charles Wheeler Obituary, Brit. Homeo. Jnl 37.1,
April 1947, 1-11

Trevor Cook, Samuel Hahnemann, the Founder of Homeopathy, UK:
Thorsons, 1981

Robert T Cooper, Some Results of Single Doses, Homeopathic World, Sept
1 1894, 389-393

Harris L Coulter, Divided Legacy – A study of the Schism in Medical
Thought, 3 vols, Washington: Wehawken Books, 1973

W John Diamond, The Clinical Practice of Complementary, Alternative
and Western Medicine, Washington: CRC Press, 2001

R E Dudgeon, The Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann, London: Leith &
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Benjamin Franklin, [1706-1790] Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1744

Martin Gumpert, Hahnemann – the Adventurous Career of a Medical Rebel,
New York: Fischer, 1945

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Richard Haehl, Samuel Hahnemann: His Life and Works, 2 volumes, 1922

George Herbert, [1593-1633] Jacula Prudentum, 1620

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Rajendra Kale, Education and Debate, South African Health: Traditional
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