Blogging the Organon

January 18, 2008

16-17: Hahnemann’s Organon Of Medicine

Filed under: Hahnemann,homeopathy,homoeopathy,organon — gimpy @ 11:11 am

§ 16 Fifth Edition

Our vital force, as a spirit-like dynamis, cannot be attacked and affected by injurious influences on the healthy organism caused by the external inimical forces that disturb the harmonious play of life, otherwise than in a spirit-like (dynamic) way, and in like manner, all such morbid derangements (diseases) cannot be removed from it by the physician in any other way than by the spirit-like (dynamic1, virtual) alterative powers of the serviceable medicines acting upon our spirit-like vital force, which perceives them through the medium of the sentient faculty of the nerves everywhere present in the organism, so that 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, after the changes in the health of the patient cognizable by our senses (the totality of the symptoms) have revealed the disease to the carefully observing and investigating physician as fully as was requisite in order to enable him to cure it.

1 Most severe disease may be produced by sufficient disturbance of the vital force through the imagination and also cured by the same means.

§ 16 Sixth Edition

Our vital force, as a spirit-like dynamis, cannot be attacked and affected by injurious influences on the healthy organism caused by the external inimical forces that disturb the harmonious play of life, otherwise than in a spirit-like (dynamic) way, and in like manner, all such morbid derangements (diseases) cannot be removed from it by the physician in any other way than by the spirit-like (dynamic1, virtual) alterative powers of the serviceable medicines acting upon our spirit-like vital force, which perceives them through the medium of the sentient faculty of the nerves everywhere present in the organism, so that 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, after the changes in the health of the patient cognizable by our senses (the totality of the symptoms) have revealed the disease to the carefully observing and investigating physician as fully as was requisite in order to enable him to cure it.

1 Most severe disease may be produced by sufficient disturbance of the vital force through the imagination and also cured by the same means.

§ 17 Fifth Edition

Now, as in the cure effected by the removal of the whole of the perceptible signs and symptoms of the disease the internal alteration of the vital force to which the disease is due – consequently the whole of the disease – is at the same time removed,1 it follows that the physician has only to remove the whole of the symptoms in order, at the same time, to abrogate and annihilate the internal change, that is to say, the morbid derangement of the vital force – consequently the totality of the disease, the disease itself.2 But when the disease is annihilated the health is restored, and this is the highest, the sole aim of the physician who knows the true object of his mission, which consists not in learned – sounding prating, but in giving aid to the sick.

1 A warning dream, a superstitious fancy, or a solemn prediction that death would occur at a certain day or at a certain hour, has not unfrequently produced all the signs of commencing and increasing disease, of approaching death and death itself at the hour announced, which could not happen without the simultaneous production of the inward change (corresponding to the state observed internally); and hence in such cases all the morbid signs indicative of approaching death have frequently been dissipated by an identical cause, by some cunning deception or persuasion to a belief in the contrary, and health suddenly restored, which could not have happened without the removal, by means of this mortal remedy, of the internal and external morbid change that threatened death.

2 It is only thus that God the preserver of mankind, could reveal His wisdom and goodness in reference to the cure of the disease to which man is liable here below, by showing to the physician what he had to remove in disease in order to annihilate them and thus re-establish health. But what would we think of His wisdom and goodness if He has shrouded in mysterious obscurity that which was to be cured in diseases (as is asserted by the dominant school of medicine, which affects to possess a supernatural insight into the nature of things), and shut it up in the hidden interior, and thus rendered it impossible for man to know the malady accurately, consequently impossible for him to cure it?

§ 17 Sixth Edition

Now, as in the cure effected by the removal of the whole of the perceptible signs and symptoms of the disease the internal alteration of the vital principle to which the disease is due – consequently the whole of the disease – is at the same time removed,1 it follows that the physician has only to remove the whole of the symptoms in order, at the same time, to abrogate and annihilate the internal change, that is to say, the morbid derangement of the vital force – consequently the totality of the disease, the disease itself.2 But when the disease is annihilated the health is restored, and this is the highest, the sole aim of the physician who knows the true object of his mission, which consists not in learned – sounding prating, but in giving aid to the sick.

1 A warning dream, a superstitious fancy, or a solemn prediction that death would occur at a certain day or at a certain hour, has not unfrequently produced all the signs of commencing and increasing disease, of approaching death and death itself at the hour announced, which could not happen without the simultaneous production of the inward change (corresponding to the state observed internally); and hence in such cases all the morbid signs indicative of approaching death have frequently been dissipated by an identical cause, by some cunning deception or persuasion to a belief in the contrary, and health suddenly restored, which could not have happened without the removal, by means of this mortal remedy, of the internal and external morbid change that threatened death.

2 It is only thus that God the preserver of mankind, could reveal His wisdom and goodness in reference to the cure of the disease to which man is liable here below, by showing to the physician what he had to remove in disease in order to annihilate them and thus re-establish health. But what would we think of His wisdom and goodness if He has shrouded in mysterious obscurity that which was to be cured in diseases (as is asserted by the dominant school of medicine, which affects to possess a supernatural insight into the nature of things), and shut it up in the hidden interior, and thus rendered it impossible for man to know the malady accurately, consequently impossible for him to cure it?

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53 Comments »

  1. I’m struck by how dated the concept of a vital force is. Surely even around Hahnemann’s time people must have been questioning its existence? I find this footnote to section 16 very interesting.

    Most severe disease may be produced by sufficient disturbance of the vital force through the imagination and also cured by the same means.

    I wonder if Hahnemann is talking about psychosomatic illness, which is particularly susceptible to the placebo effect. I will refrain from making an obvious joke about homeopath’s imagining diseases then imagining they’ve cured them. Obviously the idea that most disease is the product of the imagination is quite ludicrous and I assume that no homeopath reading this today would think so.

    Comment by gimpy — January 18, 2008 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  2. I understand the vital force as one’s soul or Inner being, or Higher Self. I believe that we all have one………. and if you don’t think you have one, well yes, you may have trouble understanding this material.

    In essence, I understand Hahnemann as saying that all dis-ease is psychosomatic on some level;in other words, on a soul level, we are in perfect health. Some outside force or influence (viruses, bacteria, toxins, “stinking thinking”) causes this dis-ease, our vital force is disrupted, but the goal is to return to our perfect health. Somehow, homeopathy can accomplish that.

    I know that when I have had a homeopathic remedy for a physical ailment, once the healing has begun, not only have the physical symptoms abated, but I have had a general feeling of well-being and enthusiasm for living that was not there before the dis-ease occurred.

    H4H- this is fascinating. I hope you are holding up alright!

    -GG

    -GG

    Comment by GaleG — January 18, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  3. I believe that we all have one………. and if you don’t think you have one, well yes, you may have trouble understanding this material

    So, it’s an article of faith and as valid as Russell’s porcelain teapot in an elliptical orbit between the Earth and Mars.
    And GG, what physical ailments? You keep mentioning them but you always seem to omit naming them. Can’t think why.

    Comment by pv — January 18, 2008 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  4. My particular physical/mental/emotional ailments are not pertinent to this discussion.
    I am only posting as part of the ongoing discussion about the Organonin trying to understand it better. It seems to me that your agenda is to discredit it using sarcasm and being dismissive.

    Comment by GaleG — January 18, 2008 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  5. GaleG, pv’s summoning of the spirit of Bertrand Russell has a serious purpose behind Russell’s flippant tone. You have introduced a concept that there is no way of proving its existence or non-existence. Its existence is therefore an article of faith for you which lends considerable strength to the argument that both pv and myself have advocated that homeopathy is a religious in nature.

    Comment by gimpy — January 18, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  6. pv said “And GG, what physical ailments? You keep mentioning them but you always seem to omit naming them. Can’t think why.”

    GaleG replied “My particular physical/mental/emotional ailments are not pertinent to this discussion.”

    We (at least I) have absolutely NO interest in your ailments. We (or at least I) want you to name which ailment is better served by homeopathy than by real medicine. You keep making the claim that it works, just give us some actual verifiable evidence.

    (By the way, have you found any answers to your moon and tides question?)

    Comment by HCN — January 18, 2008 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  7. Again,this has no relevance to the current discussion of the Organon 16+ 17. Why don’t we stick to trying to understand it. If that is not your intention, then go somewhere else.

    Comment by GaleG — January 18, 2008 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  8. Quote 1
    “the physician has only to remove the whole of the symptoms …………….the totality of the disease, the disease itself”
    This seems to be suggesting that a disease is a self-contained entity consisting of the sum of its symptoms. Since every individual manifests a very slightly different set of symptoms, there must be an infinite number of possible diseases. This makes it impossible to develop any kind of systematic theory of disease, and it also seems impossible to move from Hahnemann’s position on to disease prevention and control.
    I’m wondering if there is an element of the Biblical concept of disease being “possession by devils” (Mark 9:18-29)?

    Quote 2
    “God …… could reveal His wisdom and goodness ….. by showing to the physician what he had to remove in disease in order to annihilate them and thus re-establish health”
    This quite definitely indicates a belief that disease was created and designed by God, and the the curing of disease is evidence of His existence!

    Comment by mugsandmoney — January 18, 2008 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  9. GaleG said “Again,this has no relevance to the current discussion of the Organon 16+ 17. Why don’t we stick to trying to understand it. If that is not your intention, then go somewhere else.”

    Part of understanding it is to find out which ailments that homeopathy has been shown to be better than modern medicine. You keep bringing up that in your experience that there are ailments that homeopathy is better, but you refuse to identify them. So please help us by identifying those specific ailments.

    If you don’t think your anecdotes are part of the discussion, then cease explaining that it must work because it worked for youe un-named problems. Try to use actual evidence.

    Right now, we are at the part of the Organon which is dealing with some kind of “dynamic force”. This is pretty much a bit on spiritalism and religion.

    It seems that much of the money quotes are in the footnotes like “1 Most severe disease may be produced by sufficient disturbance of the vital force through the imagination and also cured by the same means.” This seems to say the illness is in a person’s mind, or are imagined.

    And then there is the section that says in one long run on sentence that the physician needs to remove the symptoms to remove the disease in the order they occured “Now, as in the cure effected by the removal of the whole of the perceptible signs and symptoms of the disease the internal alteration of the vital force to which the disease is due – consequently the whole of the disease – is at the same time removed,1 it follows that the physician has only to remove the whole of the symptoms in order, …”

    So there is no indication that Hahnmann would know about bacteria and viruses, plus the vast numbers of diseases that are genetic (cystic fibrosis, diabetes, etc). Only spiritual forces… but with a nod to imagination, or basically psychological based illnesses. The ones that are in your head. So at best the ailments that may be helped by homeopathy are those that can be dealt with “talk therapy”, things like mild depression (the “blues”), hyperchondria, and other ailments of the “worried well”.

    Comment by HCN — January 19, 2008 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  10. GG – I am back, been having time with family and friends, chillin. It’s not a job this blogging.

    Gimpy: ‘You have introduced a concept that there is no way of proving its existence or non-existence’ but it may still exist, we just don’t have the means. Well actually I do know a homeopath who is developing and using a machine to take energetic pictures but I am not going to mention the name for the obvious reason of letting loose the dogs of sceptics (Shakespeare:Julius Caesar) on them. And just because there may be something we can’t measure doesn’t mean we have to have faith in it, and just because you think there needs to be faith doesn’t make it like religion. The logic steps you take are tortuous.

    I personally don’t refer to vital force usually, I try to assess whether people’s reactions (mind and body)are reasonable and healthy or not. If not, there is usually an inherited reason for it or a learned response or due to a shock.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 19, 2008 @ 12:26 am | Reply

  11. On the vital force see post 17 on chapters 10-15. Also be aware that you are reading a translation, and “most severe disease may be produced by …” does not mean ‘the majority of severe diseases may be produced by …’ but ‘a most severe state of illness may be produced by …’ An example is shock, which can be fatal.

    Hahnemann was very careful about his choice of words, and the translator is also being careful, but people have become very slack about reading carefully. A number of the posts on the Organon blogs betray a serious failure to read what is written and a corresponding tendency to respond to what Hahnemann is assumed to be saying. Since the assumptions are based largely on ignorance and prejudice, they are far from accurate representations of Hahnemann’s analysis.

    Hahnemann was the first doctor to identify that tendencies to illness could be inherited, and the first to research their nature. You will see later that his research was extensive in the medical literature of his time, including the most up-to-date research from many countries.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 19, 2008 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  12. Hahnemann said “2 It is only thus that God the preserver of mankind, could reveal His wisdom and goodness in reference to the cure of the disease to which man is liable here below, by showing to the physician what he had to remove in disease in order to annihilate them and thus re-establish health.”

    By the Hammer of Thor, which “god” is he referring to? And how do we know that this “god” has any effect on any disease?

    Then Ohreally said “Hahnemann was the first doctor to identify that tendencies to illness could be inherited, and the first to research their nature.”

    Well, how does this cure inherited diseases? Does this mean that homeopathy has a cure for cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, Fragile X, cri du chat, Down’s Syndrome, hemophilia, Tay-Sacks, progeria or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? If this is true, where are the documented evidence of this?

    Also, What kind of “God” decides which children should inherit a disease but fail to give a proper cure? Benevolent or malevolent?

    Also (as noted before) Hahnemann said ” Most severe disease may be produced by sufficient disturbance of the vital force through the imagination and also cured by the same means”.

    So this means that the vital force works through the imagination, or the mind. Which is where Homeopathy4health thinks that ones attitude effects the health… but does it include inherited disease? Or does it mean that really the only think that homeopathy is good for are the conditions that are only part of the imagination.

    Comment by HCN — January 19, 2008 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  13. HCN: As I said, if you cannot read what is actually written but only what you imagine to be written, anything you say about it will only be gibberish.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 19, 2008 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  14. HCN: I see the references to God as a product of the non-secular times in which Hahnemann wrote his works. At that time there was no compelling evidence base, as opposed to philosophical argument, to argue firmly against the existence of the supernatural. A strong belief in the supernatural was not necessarily a barrier to understanding nature, as Isaac Newton demonstrates. However, the concept of a vital force is a piece of mysticism that does not stand up to modern day scrutiny and it is interesting that homeopaths have not rejected this piece of dogma.

    Comment by gimpy — January 19, 2008 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  15. Homeopaths generally do not have the culture of ‘rejecting’ ideas and notions. Why is there the need to discredit, to make some things ‘bad’, to make the sum of what is ‘allowed’ smaller and smaller and become a ‘dogma’ of its own?

    To be healthy all kinds of expression are required, the more you can ‘allow’ (within good reason and context) the healthier you are.

    We can’t possibly *know* everything that can possibly be known, why beat yourselves up about it?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 19, 2008 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  16. Wrong, homeopathy4health. Homeopaths reject the notion that ebvidence based medicine works. They reject known laws of physics and chemistry. Many reject vaccination.

    Comment by jaycueaitch — January 19, 2008 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  17. “Homeopaths generally do not have the culture of ‘rejecting’ ideas and notions. Why is there the need to discredit, to make some things ‘bad’, to make the sum of what is ‘allowed’ smaller and smaller and become a ‘dogma’ of its own?”

    ‘The sum of what is allowed’ does not become smaller when ideas and notions are rejected because they are usually rejected in favour of better ideas and notions. This is called ‘progress’ and seems to be an entirely alien concept to homeopathy where everything that has ever been suggested in the field is held to be true.

    Do homeopathic remedies ever drop out of use? Is there any instance of a homeopathic remedy being accepted as effective by most homeopaths then later being dropped from common use because it has been shown to be either ineffective or less effective than something else?

    Comment by M Simpson — January 19, 2008 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

  18. JQH: I see we have a logic problem here and also a repeating an opinion as if it is fact mantra problem. Just because homeopathy does not appear to fit in with current understanding of chemistry does not mean that homeopaths reject chemistry or one of its ‘laws’. Physics may have the answer, we just don’t know what it is yet.

    There is plenty of real-world evidence that EBM and vaccination have issues with effectiveness and side-effects so no I’m not a fan of the current medical model, good point.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 19, 2008 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  19. Thing is, homeopathy4health, Hahnemann’s Organon was written before we knew much of the laws of physics or chemistry. I am honestly confuddled as to why, when current knowledge contradicts Hahnemann, you don’t adapt your beliefs. Instead you claim that there is some mystical undiscovered property of homeopathic remedies and flat out reject modern scientific explanations for homeopathy. Why? What is it about the Organon that is as firm and unyielding as the 10 Commandments?

    Comment by gimpy — January 19, 2008 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  20. Gimpy: “the concept of a vital force is a piece of mysticism that does not stand up to modern day scrutiny”
    Sorry, that is not true. Firstly Hahnemann does not posit the mystical version of the vital force, that is as a separate ethereal entity, nor does he posit a purely mechanical version of a living organism, the position of the biochemic model of organisms; what he did was combine these ideas, maintaining that the vital force was non-material property of living organisms, just as gravity and magnetism are non-material properties of matter.

    That the human body has non-material properties is beyond dispute, since the changes in electromagnetic fields in the brain, for example, are used to pinpoint the location of epileptic attacks. The problem is that these properties have not been fully explored because the biochemic model rejects their significance to a general analysis of health and disease. As usual Hahnemann was not only ahead of his time, but in some ways is still ahead of ours.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 19, 2008 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  21. M Simpson:

    Re: ‘everything that has ever been suggested in the field is held to be true’ There are some aspects of Kent’s teaching which I disagree with personally: his method works when there are clear symptoms but he claimed that if his method didn’t work such patients were ‘incurable’. Homeopaths such as Eisayagar (can’t remember exact spelling) take a different approach to Kent particularly when there is severe pathology: treating very locally first rather than the whole picture and working up to the whole picture (totality). This goes against H’s teaching about totality (will come later in the Organon).

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 19, 2008 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

  22. Re: ‘Do homeopathic remedies ever drop out of use? Is there any instance of a homeopathic remedy being accepted as effective by most homeopaths then later being dropped from common use because it has been shown to be either ineffective or less effective than something else?’

    Good question but it reflects the unfortunate situation with pharmaceuticals that what are believed to be ‘wonder drugs’ later fail to perform or need to be withdrawn/modified due to side effects.

    Remedies don’t drop out of use, the number of remedies available increases all the time as more are proved. All are potentially useful and will be used if the situation/symptom picture is appropriate.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 19, 2008 @ 10:23 pm | Reply

  23. Re:’when current knowledge contradicts Hahnemann, you don’t adapt your beliefs’.

    It’s because I believe homeopathy is still ahead of its time.

    It’s down to my experience. Gimpy is your knowledge of medical science theoretical or experiential? From what you have told me you don’t take any medicine at all and it sounds like you have never had a serious medical situation that needed treatment.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 19, 2008 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  24. ohreally,

    just as gravity and magnetism are non-material properties of matter.

    Could you explain what you mean by this? It is my understanding that the electrical activity in the brain is wholly explicable as a result of the flow of charged particles within and between dendrites. There is no mysticism involved.

    homeopathy4health, but you don’t understand enough about science to know that Hahnemann is wrong. You have closed your mind to conflicting evidence and insist on asserting, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that Hahnemann is right. I also do not understand what your obsession is with my knowledge and experience of medicine. My personal subjective experiences don’t really count as evidence you know, you have to look at the big picture.

    Comment by gimpy — January 20, 2008 @ 11:43 am | Reply

  25. I don’t recall ever saying literally ‘Hahnemann is right’, don’t put words into my mouth. It worries me that sceptics disregard their subjective experiences, they can be very informative. I am pleased to hear that you are looking at the big picture, keep looking.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  26. He must be right, because you don’t hold with the idea that things can be wrong. Remember?

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 20, 2008 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  27. If you check Andrew Taylor, I did not use the word ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ either.

    Ok so I notice that sceptics:

    1. Use logic to generate facts (probably not a good idea)
    2. Repeat facts as mantras (without checking said facts)
    3. Tell you you said something you didn’t actually say (deluded!)

    I thought scientists checked facts or do they just jump to conclusions? Aah but I am assuming sceptics are scientists and this does not appear to be correct.

    And I am at that point of irritation where I will not be making any further contribution to this post. I was thinking of giving a *YELLOW CARD* at this point as a warning so that whoever had annoyed me could reconsider, but this dialogue is just getting to ‘you said’ ‘I said’ so it is pointless to continue.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  28. homeopathy4health, 27, could you please explain to us what the problem with logic is?

    Comment by gimpy — January 20, 2008 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  29. It’s something like this:

    I might say ‘I like yellow’.

    You as a result of this, using logic would say: ‘H4H doesn’t like rwhite, red, blue, green, black, purple, orange or brown’

    It isn’t necessarily true.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  30. I think I shall call logic-derived ‘facts’: ‘flacts’ from now on!

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  31. You did say that: you said “Homeopaths generally do not have the culture of ‘rejecting’ ideas and notions. Why is there the need to discredit, to make some things ‘bad’, to make the sum of what is ‘allowed’ smaller and smaller and become a ‘dogma’ of its own?”. If you never reject an idea, presumably you don’t consider any idea wrong (or, alternatively, you choose not to reject wrong ideas, which really removes the distinction).

    And no amount of logic would say you don’t like colours other than yellow. That’s not logical — if it was it wouldn’t come up with conclusions that aren’t necessarily true. Logic simply can’t do that unless you start with invalid assumptions.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 20, 2008 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  32. These are the FLACTS I was referring to:

    jqh: ‘Homeopaths reject the notion that ebvidence based medicine works. They reject known laws of physics and chemistry’ which I answered above.

    And my point is that sceptics need to ‘reject’ outright homeopathy. I have said on my blog that conventional medicine does have it’s place: http://homeopathy4health.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/what-is-good-about-conventional-medicine/ : why not consider homeopathy for the many conditions deemed ‘without known cause’ or any effective treatment, of the ‘put up with it’ variety.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  33. homeopathy4health in 23 said

    “It’s down to my experience. Gimpy is your knowledge of medical science theoretical or experiential? From what you have told me you don’t take any medicine at all and it sounds like you have never had a serious medical situation that needed treatment.”

    I really don’t see the relevance of gimpys health.

    As a point the same could be said to you? Is your knowledge of medical science theoretical or experiential? From what you have told us you don’t any medicine at all and it sounds like you have never had a serious medical sitiation that needed treatment.

    If on this basis you imply that gimpy can’t comment on H, then what makes you fit to comment and think you are qualified to attempt to heal people?

    Comment by nash — January 20, 2008 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  34. As an addition to the above. homeopathy4health can you stick to teh arguements, rather than question the integrity of gimpy (or anyone else)

    Comment by nash — January 20, 2008 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  35. ‘From what you have told us you don’t [take] any medicine at all and it sounds like you have never had a serious medical sitiation that needed treatment.’ is a FLACT.

    my blog details my issues with the conventional medical treatment I and my family had:http://homeopathy4health.wordpress.com/about/.

    Why so touchy? Is it because YOU think that issues of health should be determined by logic alone?

    btw – find any good facts about homeopathic treatment at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital when you visited, Sam?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  36. homeopathy4health, I’m reluctant to discuss my medical history unless my experience has direct relevance to a post. Nevertheless I am happy to confirm that yes I have taken medicine and yes I have been in medical situations that would be serious without conventional medical treatment. However this blog is about the Organon and not directly about medical matters so could we keep the conversation on track.

    Comment by gimpy — January 20, 2008 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  37. ‘not directly about medical matters’: the whole Organon is about medical matters.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 20, 2008 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  38. “It’s something like this:

    I might say ‘I like yellow’.

    You as a result of this, using logic would say: ‘H4H doesn’t like rwhite, red, blue, green, black, purple, orange or brown’

    It isn’t necessarily true.”

    That’s not logic. Anyone attempting an argument like that would be flattened in a second. The second statement would only flow logically from you saying “I only like yellow.” It’s no good complaining about logic if you don’t know what it is.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 20, 2008 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

  39. “Re: ‘Do homeopathic remedies ever drop out of use? Is there any instance of a homeopathic remedy being accepted as effective by most homeopaths then later being dropped from common use because it has been shown to be either ineffective or less effective than something else?’

    Good question but it reflects the unfortunate situation with pharmaceuticals that what are believed to be ‘wonder drugs’ later fail to perform or need to be withdrawn/modified due to side effects.

    Remedies don’t drop out of use, the number of remedies available increases all the time as more are proved. All are potentially useful and will be used if the situation/symptom picture is appropriate.”

    Thanks for the honest answer. Two points. This isn’t about side-effects from wonder drugs, it’s just that in pharmacy – as in any industry – new products are constantly developed which do the same as previous ones but do it better (which could mean more efficiently, more safely, more cheaply or whatever). These new products – or improved versions of existing products – supercede the old ones in standard usage. That’s called ‘progress’ and you see it everywhere – in agriculture, in transport, in food, in textiles, in every conceivable type of industry. And it’s been going on ever since prehistoric man discovered that sharpened flints were better for killing and skinning things than ordinary rocks off the ground.

    So (second point) doesn’t it strike you as odd that homeopathy is apparently unique in being the only aspect of human experience where no product has ever (by your own admission) been superceded by a better or improved product?

    Comment by M Simpson — January 20, 2008 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  40. Gimpy said “Thing is, homeopathy4health, Hahnemann’s Organon was written before we knew much of the laws of physics or chemistry. I am honestly confuddled as to why, when current knowledge contradicts Hahnemann, you don’t adapt your beliefs.”

    Because it is a religion, not a medical science.

    Comment by hcn57 — January 20, 2008 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  41. Ohreally re. comment #20: this is just nonsense and although gimpy has called you on it (conspicuously without response) I think it’s worth reinforcing.

    “That the human body has non-material properties is beyond dispute”

    I think it’s being quite hotly disputed here. The electromagnetic fields in the brain that you refer to are perfectly explicable as a result of neuronal action. They are a result of a purely mechanical description of a body and therefore fit in perfectly with the “biochemic model” which in no way “rejects their significance”. In fact, that they are used, as you say, to pinpoint the location of epileptic fits rather shoots down your claim that these are not condsidered by the modern biochemic model. Quite a bizarre claim really, I’m not sur why you made it.

    The relevance of this to homoeopathy is in terms of the “vital force”. Despite all the progress made with measuring things that you (incorrectly) claim are non-material aspects of our bodies, the “vital force” remains stubbornly immeasurable. As the “biochemic model” gives a more and more comprehensive explanation of the function and dysfunction of the human body there is less and less for the “vital force” to explain. The obvious conclusion is that “vital force” is actually just a placeholder term for various combined biochemical functions and should be abandoned because it actually contributes no explanatory or predictive power (since it can’t be observed , measured or altered).

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 21, 2008 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  42. I think there’s a bit of a definition problem here. If you say an electromagnetic field is “non-material” then most people will agree, but a physicist will get annoyed because we don’t see that there’s any fundamental difference between waves, particles, fields, forces and what-have-you. It’s all just physics to us, and dividing it into “material” and “other” will only cause problems discussing things like virtual particles, Hawking radiation in relativity, photons, and the momentum of radiation. But if we choose to define “non-material” as “without mass” (or whatever) then saying things like “That the human body has non-material properties is beyond dispute” becomes tautological: all “material” objects (by definition) have a gravitational field which we’re now calling a “non-material” property. Going from there to a semi-mystic “vital force” is a simple exercise in inappropriate equivocation, optionally coupled with inappropriate generalisation (“if one non-material force is accepted, surely all should be?”). It falls down because the electromagnetic fields the body produces are expected, indeed predictable, results of the processes we knew to take place in the body. It would be a surprise if they weren’t there. The “vital force” is a special thing, invoked solely for the bodies of living things — that’s 15th century thinking. Newton put paid to that way of doing science. It’s all about unifying theories now: finding general rules that can describe bodies, planets, stars, atoms and radios all in one.

    We’ve got it down to 4 fundamental forces now; possibly three. Please don’t add a new one unless you can somehow prove it exists. That would be the opposite of progress.

    Comment by Andrew — January 21, 2008 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  43. #15 [quote]Homeopaths generally do not have the culture of ‘rejecting’ ideas and notions. Why is there the need to discredit, to make some things ‘bad’, to make the sum of what is ‘allowed’ smaller and smaller and become a ‘dogma’ of its own?[/quote]
    Semantics here methinks. Using the word ‘refine’ rather than reject and ‘disprove’ rather than discredit shows more plainly what is happening. The ideas of the past are used as a base to further current understanding where from these ideas can be completely refuted. It is necessary to have the (potentially incorrect) idea, to investigate whether it is correct and so further add to the current model/theory/understanding. This is called science.
    #18 [quote]Just because homeopathy does not appear to fit in with current understanding of chemistry does not mean that homeopaths reject chemistry or one of its ‘laws’. Physics may have the answer, we just don’t know what it is yet.[/quote]
    This appears to be saying that an idea thought of before scientific method, that has meanwhile been thoroughly debunked through scientific method, will in the future be incorporated into scientific method. Can you attest to another idea/theory which follows this pattern? This could be seen as dangerously close to the ‘you can’t disprove, therefore it can never be disproven’ tactic used ad infinitum by Creationists.
    #21 [quote]Re: ‘everything that has ever been suggested in the field is held to be true’ There are some aspects of Kent’s teaching which I disagree with personally: his method works when there are clear symptoms but he claimed that if his method didn’t work such patients were ‘incurable’.[/quote]
    This demonstrates a methodological (or philosophical – can something be ‘incurable’?) disagreement, with apparently neither of you having different ideas with regards to how it works, simply when it should finish.
    #23 [quote]Re:’when current knowledge contradicts Hahnemann, you don’t adapt your beliefs’.
    It’s because I believe homeopathy is still ahead of its time.
    #30 I think I shall call logic-derived ‘facts’: ‘flacts’ from now on![/quote]
    2+2 = 4 that’s right kids, it’s a FLACT!
    #32 [quote]…conventional medicine does have it’s place… why not consider homeopathy for the many conditions deemed ‘without known cause’ or any effective treatment, of the ‘put up with it’ variety. [/quote]
    This is a ‘getting the best out of the worst’ situation. You are postulating homeopathy as a treatment to be sought if your ailment falls between the cracks in the NHS and/or conventional, evidence based medicine.
    {That is an important distinction, if everyone were treated to the one-on-one, long consultation of the alt.med fraternity, many people of the type ‘they just weren’t listening to me/tried everything/no one cares’ would not need to turn to alternatives, regardless of the particular (“allopathic”) treatments received.}
    You need to pick a stance and stick with it. Either Homeopathy is the great healer you have claimed it is (through extensive anecdotes), or it is a complimentary therapy to be used only when all else fails (eg for palliative care and self limiting conditions).
    The key is that this position on Homeopathy is malleable to fit the situation, audience, or strength of opposing argument.
    #10 And finally, a gentleman with too much time needed to point out the infinitude of his own pedantic behaviour through a critique of the line:
    [quote] letting loose the dogs of skeptics [/quote]
    The actual quote is of course, “Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.” Now here the ‘dogs of war’ are a group (dogs) assigned to a concept (war). In the pun, the concept (war) is replaced with another group (skeptics). As such the pun fails as you are encouraging mass pet exile rather than analogising skeptics to our canine friends. Admittedly the pun just about holds together (by the skin of its teeth), but I thought in the interests of accuracy I should open myself up to the barrage of abuse in this way.
    [/’humour’][/book]

    Comment by Plebian — January 22, 2008 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  44. That’s it, just explain it all away…..

    ‘Semantics here methinks. Using the word ‘refine’ rather than reject and ‘disprove’ rather than discredit shows more plainly what is happening. But sceptics don’t use those words, tell them will you?

    ‘You are postulating homeopathy as a treatment to be sought if your ailment falls between the cracks in the NHS and/or conventional, evidence based medicine.’ The cracks are VERY WIDE, there are plenty of people whose ailments have been ‘explained away’ very nicely and are putting up with them as best they can, having been told there is no treatment for them. You just don’t seem to be aware of this state of affairs.

    ‘Either…blah blah…or…’ I’m afraid there is too much ‘either or’ with sceptics they don’t seem to be able to do simple Venn Diagrams where there can be overlaps or (well I never!) things which exist outside the set.

    Well done for finding the fault with the pun – you are a true sceptic – congratulations! May it bring you much joy and contentment.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 23, 2008 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  45. “The cracks are VERY WIDE, there are plenty of people whose ailments have been ‘explained away’ very nicely and are putting up with them as best they can, having been told there is no treatment for them. You just don’t seem to be aware of this state of affairs.”

    You’ve done a lot of mocking H4H, but you’ve actually completely dodged the point (and in fact you’ve rather reinforced your appearance of sitting on the fence). The question that plebian put to you still requires an answer: What is your stance? Should homoeopathy be a first-line treatment on the NHS or is it only suitable for those conditions which evidence based medicine has insufficient treatment?

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 23, 2008 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  46. Oh, was there an actual question in all that rambling? I do suspect that sceptics don’t express themselves very well and cause misunderstanding and bad feeling as a result. English not your favourite subject at school?

    Here is one: ‘Can you attest to another idea/theory which follows this pattern?’ No I can’t. Why can’t it be the first? Is there a rule against it somewhere?

    These are two statements:

    ‘This is a ‘getting the best out of the worst’ situation. [Is there something wrong with that?] You are postulating homeopathy as a treatment to be sought if your ailment falls between the cracks in the NHS and/or conventional, evidence based medicine.’

    {That is an important distinction, if everyone were treated to the one-on-one, long consultation of the alt.med fraternity, many people of the type ‘they just weren’t listening to me/tried everything/no one cares’ would not need to turn to alternatives, regardless of the particular (“allopathic”) treatments received.}

    I disagree. I listen to my mother-in-law quite extensively quite often. I sent her a remedy last week. She rang me in surprise to tell me that after a couple of days her sciatica was completely better (after having previously visited the doctor with no joy and having put up with it for several months). The previous conversations had no effect at all.

    ‘You need to pick a stance and stick with it.’ Do I? Is there a rule about this as well? Oh yes, in the world of sceptics you have to have ‘an argument’, the trouble is they tend to be linear. So Plebian is asking for ‘my argument’ it’s not clear to him. Now I get it , I’m not talking ‘scepticese’, I’ve long suspected that science is a language and its speakers come from another country.

    ‘Either Homeopathy is the great healer you have claimed it is (through extensive anecdotes), or it is a complimentary therapy to be used only when all else fails (eg for palliative care and self limiting conditions).’ It’s not either/or it’s all of those but does have its limits (see below).

    ‘The key is that this position on Homeopathy is malleable to fit the situation, [audience, or strength of opposing argument].’ Apart from the bit in brackets, EUREKA you have mostly ‘got it!’. Homeopathy can heal, or contribute to the healing of many ‘situations’. Of course I wouldn’t advise ONLY using homepathy to mend a broken leg, restart a heart, perform a blood transfusion and several other surgical situations, but PARTICULARLY for many everyday complaints ‘dogging’ people’s health day in day out homeopathy offers help.

    Having said all that, I do think that Plebian is quite a pussycat compared to some of the rottweilers here.

    Meow.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 24, 2008 @ 12:42 am | Reply

  47. Hmmmmm. H4H I think you’ve missed the point again (is there a smiley for complete lack of surprise). I believe that Plebian’s crticism was not primarily that homoeopathy is malleable, but that your position on homoeopathy is malleable (to fit the audience). In other words, if you have a receptive audience then you argue that homoeopathy is a universal panacea and can cure everything from a runny nose to rabies, if your audience is less receptive then you argue that, ok homoeopathy can’t cure everything, but should be used on all those conditions that are self-limiting and fall through the gaps in the NHS. This is slightly disingenuous because it indicates that you don’t really have a strong opinion on the actual efficacy of homoeopathy, but are simply applying whatever argument you think will be most effective in promoting the use of homoeopathy as much as possible.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 24, 2008 @ 11:57 am | Reply

  48. Ok, well I did my best. Can we get Plebian to state his ‘question’ in as clear English as possible, rather than go through your ‘understanding’ of his ramblings?

    Oh no, you have changed YOUR stance: it wasn’t a question then, it was a ‘criticism’.

    ‘you argue that homoeopathy is a universal panacea and can cure everything from a runny nose to rabies’. No, I haven’t.

    ‘if your audience is less receptive then you argue that, ok homoeopathy can’t cure everything, but should be used on all those conditions that are self-limiting and fall through the gaps in the NHS.’ No.. My argument was that there is a place for both conventional and homeopathic medicine and the ‘can’t cure everything’ was related to surgery and emergency conditions.

    Ok this is turning into an argument based on you putting words into my mouth, another skeptic method, and when we get to the point of ‘oh yes you did’, ‘oh no I didn’t’, I say goodbye.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 24, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  49. “Can we get Plebian to state his ‘question’ in as clear English as possible, rather than go through your ‘understanding’ of his ramblings?”

    That’s up to Plebian, not me.

    “Oh no, you have changed YOUR stance: it wasn’t a question then, it was a ‘criticism’.”

    It was both. The criticism (or at least my understanding of it) was that you change your stance on homoeopathy according to the audience and strength of opposing argument. The (related) question was “What is your stance on homoeopathy? I think you’ve given an answer to that, but not one that’s terribly clear: “there’s a place for both” is hardly specific. What is the place for homoeopathic medicine in relationship to conventional medicine? For what range of problems is it applicable? Are there any maladies for which homoeopathy alone is effective? Should homoeopathy be used as a front-line NHS treatment?

    My reason for repeating (and rephrasing) Plebian’s question (and his criticism) was that I believed you had either missed it or were wilfully ignoring it, and I think it would be useful for you to express clearly what you believe the efficacy and limits of homoeopathy to be. You are developing a habit of ignoring awkward questions.

    ” ‘you argue that homoeopathy is a universal panacea and can cure everything from a runny nose to rabies’. No, I haven’t.”

    True, my apologies. I was a bit free with my rephrasing. The phrase Plebian used was “great healer”.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 24, 2008 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  50. What is the place for homoeopathic medicine in relationship to conventional medicine? For what range of problems is it applicable? Are there any maladies for which homoeopathy alone is effective? Should homoeopathy be used as a front-line NHS treatment?

    It sounds like the title of a degree level essay to me (having studied homeopathy to degree level, and having a degree anyway before that). I expect you would like a completely definitive list, and will want to discuss each item ad infinitum and frankly given your ‘why am I not surprised’ attitude you can whistle for it, sonny. You sceptics need to learn that your approaches are insulting and unlikely to be conducive to good communication. I ain’t gonna spend an hour or two defining this for you.

    Briefly:

    What is the place for homoeopathic medicine in relationship to conventional medicine? It is like a Venn diagram where there a two sets partially overlapping. There is a large overlap but there is a portion which homeopathy can do which conventional can’t (e.g. psychiatric states, diseases with no efficacious treatment e.g. CFS) and there is a portion which conventional can that homeopathy can’t (accidents, surgical repair, resus). No-one has defined it conclusively and it always depends on the patient’s case anyway.

    If there was integrated medicine now wouldn’t that be powerful!

    For what range of problems is it applicable? Many. I have given some idea of when it isn’t before. Otherwise: Infectious diseases, childhood infectious diseases, straightforward pregnancy/childbirth/gynae issues, usual childhood growth and development issues, infectious conditions, skin conditions, dysfunction of the organs (too much, too little whatever), mental states.

    Are there any maladies for which homoeopathy alone is effective? Many. Many of the complaints now being prescribed antibiotics or steriods or taking regular over-the-counter medicines would resolve completely with homeopathy.

    Should homoeopathy be used as a front-line NHS treatment? Yes in many cases where pharmaceuticals have not been used so far. Where drugs have been used long-term e.g. steroids it is not always in the patient’s interest to come off them, or when they are literally keeping someone alive.

    ‘I think it would be useful for you to express clearly what you believe the efficacy and limits of homoeopathy to be.’ I think you need to rephrase this, possibly to: ‘It would be useful to me/us if you would express clearly what you believe the efficacy and limits of homeopathy to be.’ My blog posting referred to above covers it

    ‘You are developing a habit of ignoring awkward questions.’ I think we’ve established that the questions were unclear, if they were questions at all.

    I appreciate you are now going to ask for further definitions but as I said I’m not prepared to spend the time to have it thrown back in my face…..

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 24, 2008 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  51. “Sonny”? I can’t work out whether you’re being deliberately provocative. Any reason for the antagonism? I can’t see how my approach is “insulting”.

    Anyway, thanks for the response. I’m just interested to see the degree of clarity with which a single homoeopath can express their take on the role and efficacy of homoeopathy. One very valid criticism of homoeopathy is that it doesn’t have internal consistency i.e., there are fundamental differences between homoeopaths in terms of how they make remedies, how they treat people, what they will treat people for and how they think the treament works. One problem that’s very relevant to this discussion is the variation in the degree to which homoeopaths adhere to Hahnemann’s writings and to which they believe that they constitute immutable truths.

    I have to say that in general, in this type of discussion, the lack of clarity is usually a problem for homoeopaths rather than those criticising homoeopathy. Quite often homoeopaths use terms (e.g., vital force) for which even they can’t provide a coherent description. Often discussions go on and on over some issue and it finally emerges that the homoeopath involved has been using their own non-standard definition of a crucial and specific term (e.g., “placebo”).

    I’m not going to ask for specific definitions because I don’t want to string the discussion out along those lines. I would be interested in you expanding on a couple of points though”

    “There is a large overlap but there is a portion which homeopathy can do which conventional can’t… and there is a portion which conventional can that homeopathy can’t… No-one has defined it conclusively and it always depends on the patient’s case anyway.”

    If it depends on the patient’s case (whether homoeopathy or conventional medicine will be more effective), are you able to determine in advance, on a case by case basis, which type of treatment that would be most effective, independent of the condition that the patient has. If it’s more subtle than simply what type of problem the patient has i.e., accidents are always treated conventionally, psych problems are always treated with homoeopathy, then are there any indications in the nature of the patient themselves, independent of their condition, that suggest that they will respond better to homoeopathy than conventional treatment?

    “Should homoeopathy be used as a front-line NHS treatment? Yes in many cases where pharmaceuticals have not been used so far.”

    If by “pharmaceuticals” you mean conventional (non-homoeopathic) medication, are you saying that homoeopathy is less effective if its use is preceded by the use of conventional medicine? If so, do you have a notion of why this might be?

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 24, 2008 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  52. homeopathy4health, i see you are very proud of your education and think that it grants you expertise in health matters. Would you mind being more respectful of the opinions of others on this blog who are critical of Hahnemann and homeopathy. Many of these people are educated to doctoral and/or degree level in physics, chemistry, biology or other medical sciences and consequently are vastly more knowledgable than you over the impossibilities inherent in homeopathy. You would be well advised to treat their opinions and questions with respect.

    But, everybody, please can we restrict these discussions to the Organon. There is ample squabbling space on my other blog.

    Comment by gimpy — January 24, 2008 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

  53. Respectful? From you Gimpy? Ha ha! I have enjoyed your absence though, thanks!
    Oh I’ll doff my hat to all the lovely doctorate people!

    flimflam – plenty of reason to be antagonistic, have you seen the antagonism directed at homeopaths and homeopathy? Your ‘why am I not surprised’ just took you into the antagonism zone. Why should I put up with it?

    However you were showing signs of asking non-baited questions so although I have no time to answer more questions today, will be back.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 24, 2008 @ 9:42 pm | Reply


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