By Vera Resnick
I have recently been asked about changing potencies in LMs, with people mentioning using odd numbers, even numbers, going up in steps of 2 potencies (LM1 – LM3 – LM5) etc.
I came across this issue before I started studying with David Little, from a post he wrote on the Minutus list, sometime around 2005. He mentioned that while most people do just fine on a series of ascending potencies (LM1 – LM2 – LM3 etc.) he had noticed that some seem to do better on odd or even numbers of dilutions or succussions. He also noted that Hahnemann didn’t always start with LM 1.
There are two issues in play here, in my view.
The first is the risk of putting theory before experience. The beauty of homoeopathy is that Hahnemann first observed, then developed a way of harnessing the power of the similar stronger artificial disease without harming the patient, and what he thought was the most probable explanation for what he was observing. In Aphorism 28 (and elsewhere), Hahnemann sets out the basis for his thinking on experience versus explanations of how something happens:
“As this natural law of cure manifests itself in every pure experiment and every true observation in the world, the fact is consequently established; it matters little what may be the scientific explanation of how it takes place; and I do not attach much importance to the attempts made to explain it. But the following view seems to commend itself as the most probable one, as it is founded on premises derived from experience.”
The second issue is the sensitivity of the patient, something that is difficult to assess ahead of time. In Aphorism 278 Hahnemann explains that individual sensitivity can’t be deduced through “fine-spun reasoning” or “specious sophistry.” In order to learn the appropriate dose, “pure experiment, careful observation of the sensitiveness of each patient and accurate experience can alone determine this in each individual case…”
To my mind it comes down to “specious sophistry” if we adopt a theory of odds and evens, where there is no solid backing for the theory, or to apply it and then say it worked – especially when there is a body of material showing that many patients do well just going up through the potency scale. On the other hand, some patients do especially well on a particular potency, but we cannot know if it was the potency itself or if the improvement was built up by the work of the previous potencies and only manifested itself with the current one.
And furthermore – although it is natural to look for protocols, for theories which provide rules for action which can be employed in every case, we will then have moved away from the individualization of the patient, and of the patient’s sensitivity.
In my own experience, many patients do very well going up the scale, some seem to advance more with specific potencies in the scale, and if the remedy is going to help it is usually already visible in the patient’s response to LM1.
However, looking for a pattern in the sensitivity of individual patients and developing theories to govern posology rather than drawing on pure experiment, careful observation and accurate experience on an individual case-by-case basis seems to be a case of putting the dazzling cart of theory in front of the plodding hardworking horse of experience. Specious to say the least.