The Clinical Application of the Law of the Similars in the Homeopathic Healing Art

"If we are true to homeopathy it will be true to us — that is our experience." —Adolph Lippe

Adolph Lippe M.D.

It is to be presumed that all homeopaths agree on the universal law of cure appertaining to the exclusive therapeutics of our healing art. Hahnemann has fully explained, by logical arguments, to be found in the 53d to 56th paragraphs of his Organon, that there can be no other possible law applied for the cure of the sick than the law of the similars.

Hahnemann tells us, in the third paragraph of his Organon, that we must first discern what is to be cured in each individual case of sickness, that we must also discern the curative powers of each medicine, and if, furthermore, we have learned to so apply the curative powers of medicines for the cure of the discernible, undoubted condition of the sick, so that a cure must follow infallibly, this can only be accomplished if the proper dose is given and if this dose is rightly repeated. If we do all this, he tells us, then we become true healers.

The first question presenting itself to the student of homeopathy is, what is to be cured in each individual case of sickness? In paragraph 12, we find that the totality of the symptoms constitutes the disease, that through them alone an expression of the needed assistance can be given. In this paragraph Hahnemann undertook to, and did, show the utter folly of the materialism of the prevailing school of medicine, which resorts to a symptomatic cure-method and, and how they only succeeded, at times, in suppressing, not curing, single symptoms by contrary remedies; suppressing them only for a short time, to reappear, after the palliation has ceased, with more vigor than before. It is obvious that the totality of the symptoms observed on the sick cannot be met with by a totality of the symptoms known to belong to a proved drug, and it is not supposed that equal attention is to be paid to every one of these symptoms, or that they are of equal value. Hahnemann gives a satisfactory and exhaustive explanation of the value to be attached to the symptoms found in the sick. This explanation we find in paragraph 154. In this paragraph Hahnemann says: The remedy which resembles in its especial, peculiar, and extraordinary (characteristic) symptoms of the diseased condition, in the greatest similarity, and in the largest number, is the specific curative remedy of the case, and generally cures it, without considerable sufferings, in the first dose administered.

These peculiar and extraordinary symptoms, both of the sick and of the remedy, serve as indicators for a cure. These peculiar and extraordinary symptoms are termed characteristic symptoms. In each and every case of sickness the observing physician detects symptoms which are extraordinary, and, as such, peculiar to the sick individual. The observing physician also learns that no two cases of sickness are perfectly alike. Pathology teaches us only such symptoms as must by necessity always be present in a given form of disease, are characteristic of the disease only, but do not include, and, of necessity, cannot include the peculiar, extraordinary symptoms of every individual. For the sake of illustration we may take a well-known form of disease like scarlet fever. In all cases of scarlet fever we find a peculiar eruption with fever, and, finally, desquamation. Each epidemic and every individual have their own characteristic, peculiar, and extraordinary symptoms. The symptoms generally present and constituting scarlet fever, we find under very many remedies, and we also know from clinical experience and from clinical reports, that scarlet fever has been cured by a great many remedies at certain periods, during certain epidemics, in certain localities.

A priori we can draw no correct deductions from the facts on record; a priori we cannot determine what remedy will be indicated in the next case we are called upon to cure. We must be guided, in the choice of a remedy, by the peculiar, extraordinary symptoms we observe in the individual; by symptoms not by necessity belonging to or constituting scarlet fever. These symptoms may be, first, the mental condition of the sick. We find one patient in a deep stupor, unconscious, but perfectly quiet. This condition will call our attention to a similarity of Belladonna, which we would find still more indicated if the patient is momentarily awakened by a violent start of the body. Another patient may, perhaps, be very restless; tumble over the bed in great distress; is also unconscious. This will draw our attention to Apis mellifica and Arum triphyllum. If at the same time diphtheritic symptoms have appeared and the urinary secretion is suppressed, each of these remedies may still be considered; but if, in addition to all the above symptoms, the patient has a very sore, inflamed tongue and mouth, if, furthermore, the patient picks his finger ends and the peeling lips until both bleed, Arum triphyllum will be the remedy.

We might go on in this way and point out the characteristic symptoms, both of the sick and of the remedy, ad infinitum, and still there will appear in some cases new characteristic symptoms never before observed, which, on that very account, and because they are so peculiar and extraordinary, will be an unerring guide in our search for the true homeopathic remedy. An illustration of the many varying, peculiar, and extraordinary symptoms observed in a form of disease, can be found in that laborious work on the treatment of Typhoid Fever and its Analytical Therapeutics, by Dr. Constantine Hering; and even in that very exhaustive work, all the peculiar and extraordinary symptoms we meet with in some cases of that form of disease could not be incorporated. In the same degree, do we find symptoms recorded in our materia medica, which appear, on first sight, useless, because they have not been observed on the sick by the student of materia medica, or because pathology does not mention their existence in any form of disease, they are not considered of any practical value.

Hahnemann, nevertheless, calls our attention especially to these peculiar and extraordinary symptoms; they do not belong necessarily to the form of disease we treat, but to the individual we are to cure. In a given case of sickness, the true healer seeks first to ascertain which of the observed symptoms are the characteristic symptoms of the patient, and for that reason claim to be classified as the most important symptoms of the sick; and he diligently looks for the presence of these characteristic symptoms in our materia medica. This is his first step when he applies the law of the similars to clinical homeopathy. It is only later, after the healer has first determined what he has to cure, that the other requirements, the other methods, can be considered; if the first step has not been properly taken, all the further steps will, by logical necessity, be false steps, and the experiment will fail.

Hahnemann clearly explains all this, as we have shown above and still there exist different opinions among practitioners of homeopathy. It has been claimed that we widely differ on the posological question. This is not denied, but our differences of practice, and our different posological views, find their very origin in a misconception of this very first determination of “what we have to cure.” If we endeavor to apply the law of the similars to the cure of forms of diseases, we commit our first fatal error; we must then, by necessity, pervert our materia medica into a pathological picture book and look into it for the similar remedy, or to express it more scientifically, we first find a hypothesis, a disease, and construct a materia medica on a pathological and physiological basis, create another hypothesis, and then endeavor to apply the law of the similars. The result of such an application of the law of the similars must be a failure. In order to relieve, not cure, the sick, homeopathically, we will be compelled to administer appreciable doses and finally resort to the ordinary palliatives. That small, highly potentized, medicines, as Hahnemann recommends them, will fail to cure the sick under this erroneous interpretation of what we have to cure, is self-evident.

The logical deduction we must really arrive at, is this, that those men who commit this fatal error, rightly assert that in their hands the inappreciable, highly potential remedies have utterly failed. They have failed, and will forever fail, to cure, if they do not heed Hahnemann’s advice, and, irrespective of pathology, allow themselves to ascertain the totality of the symptoms of the sick, and classify them as Hahnemann did; find in each individual case the characteristic, peculiar, and extraordinary symptoms, and make them the most important indications for the choice of the similar remedy. As long as we neglect to do so we will also continue to differ on the posological and other question. We can only become true healers, and we can only cure under the law of the similars, if we implicitly conform our practice to the methods of homeopathy as revealed to us by the founder of our healing art, Samuel Hahnemann


One response to “The Clinical Application of the Law of the Similars in the Homeopathic Healing Art

  1. Errol Klinkerfuss

    Very well said! Maybe if it gets said enough and many, many times it might sink in. Yeah right…

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