Viewed through Provers! Platina and Dr. Gustav Wilhelm Gross

420094Any way you cut it, the proving of Platina is problematic.   Hughes’ comment at the beginning of the proving brings its reliability into question:  “To the above-named fellow-observer  (Gross) most of the symptoms of Platina are credited. They are taken from a proving instituted by him, chiefly on “a damsel both bodily and mentally healthy and blooming, though somewhat excitable,” who took does of the 1st trituration equivalent in all to between two and three grains of the mental. The results of this proving were originally published in Vol. I of the Archiv.”

There are modern provers who rely on one “golden prover” for most or all of the information regarding a remedy.  However, common sense decrees that in order to provide a reliable source of information,  more participants should be involved.  There are some very clear modalities in this proving however, which I’ll mention in my next blog post, but I find myself wishing that further provings would be done on Platina (rather than spending time and effort on proving bumblebees, warthog dung or whatever happens to be the next visionary “homoeopathic flavor (sorry) of the month”.)

Some approximate stats:  Of the 527 symptoms in this proving, 52 were contributed by Hahnemann together with at least one unnamed female prover or patient.  Around 40 symptoms contributed by Gross relate to a male prover, possibly Gross himself.  Which leaves us with at least 400 symptoms from one lone prover-ette – the excitable damsel mentioned above.

So at least four provers in total.  Better than just one anyway. It’s also important to note that Hahnemann included this proving in his work, under his name.  And Hahnemann was nothing if not pedantic.  This in itself adds to the value of the proving.  But what of the nature of Gross, the proving master here?

I’ve drawn heavily on Richard Haehl’s work for the following description of Gross, including paraphrasing and direct quotes.  What comes out most strongly in Haehl’s description, is that although he was greatly moved emotionally by events in his life, in his work Gross was highly knowledgeable, with a calm sense of balance and a clearly defined scientific orientation.  Something to bear in mind when reading the proving.  Read on for more on Gross…

Gustav Wilhelm Gross:

Gross was born on September 6th 1794 at Kaltenborn near Juterbog, not far from Leipzig, close to Wittenberg (of Martin Luther fame – the original, not the civil rights hero).  His father was a Pastor.  He studied medicine in Leipsig, which brought him in close touch with Hahnemann, who included him in his provings group.  Gross made his first experiments with Chamomilla.  Under Hahnemann’s supervision, he put his fine faculty of observation to work and acquired a knowledge of remedies such as few homoeopathic physicians possessed.

He received his final medical degree in 1818, having started his practice from the outset as a homoeopathic physician, and set up shop in his native Juterbog, where he remained till his death.  Word of his successful cures spread far and wide, and patients even came to him from Berlin, something that if done by car would take around one and a half hours, less by train – but if done on horseback or by carriage, could have taken two or three days of intensive travel during daylight hours, plus the cost of stopping at inns or hotels along the way.

The State authorities recognized his worth by appointing him a member of the Supreme Examining Board for Homoeopathic physicians (to grant permission for individual dispensing).  He became a zealous collaborator with Stapf on the “Archiv fur homoeopathische Heilkunst” which Stapf founded in 1822.

Gross wrote many scientifically critical reviews of books  of others, and also penned several works of his own.   In addition, Hahnemann’s posthumous writings included two thick volumes of a homoeopathic repertory, each of about 1,500 pages, in Dr. Gross’s handwriting with additions by Hahnemann.

Haehl describes Gross’s articles in the “Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung”, (founded in 1832) to which he was an assiduous contributor, as “distinguished by his calm sense of balance and serious scientific outlook.  He despised fine flourishes of useless eloquence.  In his written work his whole nature is discernible; in his appearance he was almost angular and stiff.  To strangers he seemed gruff and unapproachable.  The impression was intensified by his features, somewhat bloated and bilious.”

Reports written by colleagues, while mentioning his external appearance, constantly echo a central theme:  true, honest, earnest, learned and knowledgeable,  inspired by new ideas and unafraid to speak out – even to the ascerbic and irascible Hahnemann himself – when he felt a point had to be made.  The esteem in which his colleagues held him shines through their comments.  You can read some of them here.

Gross suffered from liver trouble, to which were soon added gout, dropsy and lung trouble.  He treated himself, and was also treated by Stapf.  However the treatments were unsuccessful and he died on 18th September 1847, not long after Hahnemann’s death in 1843.  He was only fifty-three years old.


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