29 December 2017 (online)
A great deal of interest has been directed during the last few years to the auto-immune phenomena in disease, in which immune reactions of antigen antibody type take place between the organism and one of its own tissues or organs. The research workers have been busy unveiling these immune phenomena, originally discovered in relation to Hashimoto’s disease of the thyroid, in an ever widening range of diseases, notably the so-called collagen diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, periarteritis nodosa, lupus erythematosus, and in certain non-specific granulomata, particularly ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, as well as in such conditions as virus hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. Certain problems of carcinoma are also being studied from this point of view and there are reports from Japan of successful results following the transplantation of portions of a patient’s turnout into another and healthy part of the same patient. There is a divergence of opinion as to whether these auto-immune reactions are the cause of or merely attendant phenomena to the disease processes. A considerable amount of evidence supports the view (certainly in respect of the collagen diseases) that these phenomena arise subsequent to the disease, and depend on the same causes, perhaps disturbances of enzyme systems, as do the rest of the disease phenomena. That the enzyme disturbances themselves are only an effect and not causative in any ultimate sense is also obvious and so long as we stay within this essentially mechanical realm we will remain outside the realm of real causes.
It has also become well established that arthritis clinically very similar to rheumatoid arthritis may manifest in the course of carcinomatous disease, not only in cancer of the lung, but also in cancer of practically any organ. Following the removal or control of the primary tumour, all the joint symptoms may clear up in a few days. It has been suggested that these phenomena also belong to these auto-immune reactions, as well as the arthritides associated with colitis and other conditions.
Now all these phenomena have forcibly posed the question as to how the organism distinguishes between self and not-self, and how it comes about that some of the self becomes, in the course of disease processes, not-self. This is, of course, the old question of the wholeness of the organism turning up in a new and most interesting form and we arc learning that in certain diseases an organ, or tissue, or perhaps cell, can emancipate and behave, judged by these immunological reactions, as a foreign body. Obviously all these problems are also involved with the question as to how the foreign stuffs which we eat and digest are transformed from foreign into integral elements within the organism. It is indeed interesting how these refined immunological techniques may display whether the wholeness of the organism is dominant or whether subversive elements leading to autonomy are triumphing. The notion of self as used in these researches signifies the wholeness of the organism. Modern scientific research, directed essentially to discovering mechanisms of ever-increasing refinement and subtlety, is leading one nevertheless to the observation of these distinctions of self and not-self, with which philosophy has wrestled for thousands of years. These researches remain entirely mechanical in conception and great inventiveness is displayed-one may mention the clonal selection theory of Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnett-in producing theories of a mechanical nature to explain these phenomena. The great weakness of all such mechanical approaches is that they never approach anywhere near the world of actual human experience and the body and its processes remain divorced from the essential human being.
Leading researchers into the physiology of the nervous system, for example Lord Adrian and Sir Charles Sherington, have admitted that if all their unsolved problems were solved they would be no nearer to the problem of how changes in the nervous system are transformed into the subjective experience of sensory phenomena. Not that this is surprising, since what they are studying is the refined extension of the outer objective world which they conceive as mechanical and without consciousness. If one studies the nervous system as a part of the external world, one will only find external world in it, and not the inner world. To discover the inner world one must observe inwardly. The problem is on a level with the Russians’ failure to discover God in his heaven when they go space travelling.
Now I suggest that in these auto-immune processes the outer mechanical overwhelms the inner organic, whereas in the processes of digestion and nutrition the inner and organic subdues the outer and mechanical. Can we not see in these contrasted and yet related phenomena the conflict of inner and outer as organic and mechanical respectively? What then is the relationship of the self which I inwardly intuit as myself, the focus and core of my personality, to the self which in digestion changes the foreign food into my own flesh, which then does not stimulate immune reactions? My intuition of myself is as an idiomatic being, unique, if not in content then in style or form. One may compare the uniqueness of a biological species which makes itself visible in its form. The uniqueness of my tissues is displayed in their rejection of all other foreign tissues in the immune reactions. It seems to me that the same self, my very self, which I inwardly intuit, is the actual force or power involved in all these phenomena, that myself is not merely an abstract focus of consciousness, but a reality which creates the wholeness of my organism, maintains it, and in an actual sense is the wholeness and uniqueness of it. It appears to me that whether we speak about the wholeness of a man (thinking probably more of his bodily organism), or of his spirit, we are speaking of the same reality.
Now in Homoeopathy we aim to treat the whole man and so these issues must be of great importance to us in attempting to clarify our own position.
Contrasted with all these brilliant researches into physiological and pathological mechanisms are the psychological approaches in modern medicine, particularly those of the various depth psychologies whose aim is to approach the actual inner world and experience of man and which have therefore taken even the world of dreams seriously. Here things do not work according to mechanical laws. We move into the future as easily as into the past, and distance no longer separates; different things become united in identity, and singles become divided. Everything means several things at the same time and ambivalence is the rule. Does not this strange, unreliable, bewildering chameleon-like world appear to us males like the world of women, enchanting but dangerous? In this world, the symbol is reality and as in a dream everything is in constant metamorphosis. But when we look into living nature, there, too, everything is in metamorphosis, and when caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies and tadpoles become frogs, or when from the ugly cactus there bursts a blossom, are not all these more like a dream than a machine? When we study symptoms, are they not more like a dream, must we not study symptoms as dreams?
Now, is not modern medicine, the orthodox modern medicine, largely split between these two attitudes? On the one hand the mechanisms, physical and chemical, of disease are laid bare, without reference to a particular person’s subjective experience, and these mechanisms are investigated fundamentally exactly in the same way as inorganic mechanisms. And on the other hand, the phenomena of disease emerge as meaningful within the experience and developing destiny of a person, and are understandable in relation to the emotional and subjective life. On the one hand we have an unenlivened and inanimate physiology and pathology, and on the other a discarnate, unenfleshed soul. This is the schizophrenic condition of modern medicine and the essential conflict is between these two views. And where does Homoeopathy stand? Where is the Allopathy to which it is supposed to be opposed? For this modern medicine of synthetic pharmacy and the rest of it, vaccines, antibiotics and all, is not allopathic, it is in a crude structural sense homoeopathic. Similar molecules are constructed to block or interfere with other molecules in essential metabolic pathways. With one hand Homoeopathy stretches towards modern medicine and joins with it. Moreover, our attempts to unite the subjective symptoms into an intuitively grasped unity which we grasp in the symbol of the remedy is akin to the psychologists’ attempts to unite the elements of a dream and a life’s destiny into a whole, into a mythological unity. Here, with the other hand, Homoeopathy reaches out to psychological medicine and joins with it.
When we pursue classical Kentian Homoeopathy, we approach the psychological standpoint; when we pursue a Homoeopathy which is more orientated on pharmacology and pathology, we approach modern organic medicine. But in modern medicine itself man is not fully present. If we approach medicine biochemically, mechanically, then man, the inner, experiencing patient, is missing; if we approach the inner, experiencing soul psychologically, then the metabolic, digestive realm and the rest of the organic reality is lost. Man himself, the actual, incarnated person, escapes us.
I have entitled this essay “The Recovery of Man in Medicine” to indicate the task which lies ahead. I believe that empirical researches such as the ones I have referred to in auto-immunity should be met with a fresh vision of the organic world. The mythological modes of thought that have been won by the psychological study of dreams should regenerate and enliven the dead bones of chemistry and physiology, so that it becomes the living chemistry that we can see imaged around us in the plants. The empirical researches should give body to psychology, and reveal the organic actions of the soul, so that an enfleshed psychology arises, such as we behold in the animal world around us. CG Jung found it necessary to recover the conception of microcosm and macrocosm, to establish order in psychology, and I cannot escape that this idea is necessary also in physiology. Our organs are the interiorized organisms of the outer world and that which welds them into synthesis, into a whole, is man himself. When this self of man is weakened, the organs tend towards the organism of the outer world, tend to exteriorization and to behave again as external organisms. The phenomena of auto-immunity show simply the weakness of the self and its failure to impose unity on the multiplicity of the organism.
Homoeopathy, with its essential treasure of the Drug Pictures, stands between and above and beyond the divided poles of modem medicine. Its task is to unite them and recover the vision of the whole man for us. There will, however, have to be an earnest grappling with the problems; but should it not be a constructive and reconciling action within the rent world of medicine, and not a fruitless battle against an enemy largely of our own creation? I do not believe that the rent world of medicine can be healed without the magic of the homoeopathic insight; but Homoeopathy itself needs all that modern research reveals, and needs the profound insights of psychology. The strange subtlety of thought by which a patient is grasped in the image of a remedy and a remedy is pictured as a living, enfleshed person is the core of our contribution. The intuitional act by which this is achieved is an example of what in Kantian terms is known as transcendental synthesis. The implications of this method are epoch-making and imply a transformation of our entire established scientific knowledge, with man the active agent in healing both himself and the earth, his mother and home which he has desecrated. Such a view, which regards man as the active and operative principle of synthesis and healing, is opposed to all those tendencies which, manifesting in clinical trials of the double blind type, wish to relegate man to the role of passive and irresponsible onlooker.
Through Homoeopathy a patient is transformed from being a man who has a disease into a whole human person and the physician should be transformed from a calculating machine who gives a prescription for a disease into a whole man who can help to heal another with his whole being, mediated by a remedy.
In spite of widespread theoretical insight into the largely artificial and abstract nature of what we call for convenience a disease, and in spite of the revelations of psychology into the motivations behind the disease processes, modern medicine in practice continues to regard diseases as things, and treats diseases, not persons. Hahnemann conceived diseases as a derangement of the vital principle brought about by dynamic, non-material influences in a manner comparable to that by which our ideas, emotions and will influence it. A separation of the man and his disease is no longer possible; the disease is a metamorphosis of the man and in the healing process the whole man must undergo a metamorphosis. Should one not also grasp the physician and his remedy as a unity? Can one separate the influence of the physician and the remedy from each other? Is it not rather one of the major contributions of Homoeopathy that the activity of the physician in his study of the ease and in the act of reaching a prescription is itself a therapeutic influence in harmony with the remedy? Should not the physician and the remedy be considered together as a unity in relation to the unity of the patient and his illness?
Homoeopathy leads the way to an understanding of disease as a human phenomenon, and impels the physician to be active in his full personality and not only intellectually. For these reasons it is not popular in an age which for all its fevered activity is inwardly lazy and impotent. For these reasons also it shows a way to a recovery of man within our civilization, and a renewal of our endangered life and culture.
*A paper read at the 25th International Homoeopathic Congress, Amsterdam, 1961.
**This article is a reprint of a previously published article. For citation purposes, please use the original publication details; Br Hom J 1962; 51: 16–19.
DOI of original item: 10.1016/S0007-0785(62)80022-2.