The Role of Psychology in Homeopathy
by Livia Tiba, Classical Homeopath
Homeopathic medicine was first discovered in the early 1800's by a German doctor and chemist, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). His homeopathic healing methods were inspired by the so-called law of similars: Similia similibus curantur [like cures like]. Homeopathy is a holistic approach to disease, based on the Gestalt theory, and asserts that no disease is local without affecting the whole body. It addresses the cause of the disease and strengthens the entire body to eradicate the disease by itself.
Homeopathy is based on stable laws and principles. Over time many non-classical points of view developed and also different ways of approaching. Many homeopaths developed their personal way of treatment, embedding new ideas as psychoanalysis and dream interpretation. There are new schools of thought which insist on a psychological causation behind every physical ailment. The classical Homeopathy of Hahnemann, based on Gestalt, does not automatically assume this psychosomatic dynamic, although it does recognize such aetiology in particular cases, when it is evident (e.g. fainting caused by a fright, or ulcers from anxiety). It also emphasizes the mental/emotional symptomatology in correlation with the totality of existing symptoms.
This study will discuss three aspects:
1. Why is there such a lack of familiarity and acceptance of Homeopathy?
The controversy of Homeopathy continues even today, 200 years after its discovery.
2. The classical Gestalt approach of Homeopathy: Hahnemann based this healing art on two strong principles: the Law of similars (“Similia similibus curantur”) and the Gestalt theory that the body is more than the sum of its parts.
3. The modern non-classical approach of Homeopathy: There are new schools of thought embedding new ideas as psychoanalysis and dream interpretation and insist on a psychological causation behind every physical ailment.
The purpose of this study was to elucidate the place of psychoanalysis in homeopathic case taking. It attempted to demonstrate that a proper balance should be found in using this concept in Homeopathy.
1. Why is there such a lack of familiarity and acceptance of Homeopathy?
Homeopathic medicine was first discovered in the early 1800's by a German doctor and chemist, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). After studying and practicing medicine he became dissatisfied with the conventional treatments and looked for better ways to help his patients. Hahnemann dedicated his whole life in discovering and perfecting this true healing art and he wrote and published six editions of ‘The Organon of Medicine’ exposing the laws and principles that form the base of Homeopathy.
His homeopathic healing methods were inspired by the so-called law of similars: Similia similibus curantur [like cures like] which was first postulated by Hippocrates, the father of the Western Medicine: “Through the like disease is produced and through the application of the like it is cured.” This means that a remedy that produces symptoms in a healthy person will cure those same symptoms when manifested by a person in a diseased state.
Homeopathy is a holistic approach to disease, based on the Gestalt theory, and asserts that no disease is local without affecting the whole body. It addresses the cause of the disease and strengthens the entire body to eradicate the disease by itself. Homeopathy strongly believes that all disease’s symptoms are natural body healing signs, where the vital force struggles to reestablish the homeostasis, the health state, in the body. The body can heal itself from minor or mild diseases where our natural vital force is strong enough to deal with that disease. In strong powerful diseases where the vital force is overwhelmed by the disease, it needs help or stimulation in dealing with the disease. Homeopathy does this by providing the vital force with the smallest necessary degree of ‘information’ or ‘guiding’ translated by remedial symptoms similarity.
Homeopathic medicines are made from plants, minerals and animal products in successive dilutions and succussions. A point is reached when the dilution passes what is referred in chemistry as the “Avogadro’s number” and not even a molecule from the original substance can be found in the remedy. Beyond science explanation, the remedies are even more deep-acting treating at a deeper level. Through the homeopathic method of preparation, by trituration and succussion, only the substance’s energy is taken and worked on through ‘potentization’ and used to treat the disease.
Clinical trials are very difficult to be conducted because of the individualization of the homeopathic treatment. A specific case cannot be duplicated because the same chronic disease usually needs a different remedy in a different person.
The controversy of Homeopathy continues today because the mystery behind its mechanism of action eludes our understanding. But as at one point, we believed that the Earth is flat, that we cannot fly or have distant communication by talking, in time all these were beaten by discoveries. The same is now in regard of what exactly is happening at the subatomic level, what are the mechanisms in which energy can be transferred at this level. We know about transmission by particles and waves , but many unknown events are produced at this level.
Kent, one of the foremost homeopaths, said “While Homeopathy itself is a perfect science, its truth is only partially known. The truth itself relates to the divine and the knowledge relates to the man. It will require a long time before physicians become genuine masters in this truth.”
2. The classical Gestalt approach of Homeopathy
Hahnemann, as the great physicians Hippocrates and Paracelsus, was well aware of the importance of the constitution and causation in the art of healing. The great Paracelsus asked healers to return to the roots of things if they wish to cure: “No knowledge is perfect unless it includes an understanding of the origin, that is the beginning; and as all man’s diseases originate in his constitution, it is necessary that his constitution should be known if we wish to know his diseases.”
Hahnemann underlined the importance of constitutional factors, disease state and causation. On the basis of these he introduced in aphorism 6 of the “Organon of Medicine” the concept of complete Gestalt of the disease. The Gestalt is investigated through the objective signs, coincidental events and subjective symptoms. This Gestalt makes up the essence of the totality of the symptoms and must be investigated through the patient, those around him and by the observations of the homeopath. The mental/emotional symptoms and the general symptoms that refer to the whole body, together with the most peculiar characteristic symptoms are the most important symptoms in finding the remedy.
We know that every physical disharmony is accompanied by a change in the mental/emotional state and vice-versa. Any strong mental/emotional state, especially if prolonged is capable of causing physical illness and any physical disease has the potential of producing a change in the mental/emotional state, in both acute and chronic illness. As a disease affects the whole body, physically and metal/emotionally, the full picture of the patient will be needed to match the homeopathicity of a well chosen remedy. The more complete the picture the better the prescription will be. Either exclusion or over consideration of some sort of symptoms as physical, mental/emotional, constitutional or causative in the detriment of other important symptoms will not reflect the true Gestalt of the disease and will not conduct to a well chosen remedy.
3. The modern non-classical approach of Homeopathy
There are new schools of thought embedding new ideas as psychoanalysis, delusions and dream interpretation and insist on a psychological causation behind every physical ailment.
There are homeopathic techniques that reduce the Gestalt to few specific approaches as psychoanalysis, Gestalt awareness techniques, and paradoxical intention strategy without considering the totality of the symptoms.
Another approach is the Jungian psychology where a patient is characterized only based on archetypes which are inherent organs of psyche, a primal form and have a very important role in processes of thinking, living and attitude of all human beings. They come from the collective unconscious and directly manifest themselves in the mind of man, in religion, in myths, in the thinking and behavior of man, but also in the nature and in the world generally.
Using these techniques, the remedy is viewed almost exclusively through its delusional perspective, the core delusion and dream interpretation. There is a tendency in modern Homoeopathy to reduce the totality of symptoms to one core delusion, or to a small essential part or vital sensation, that is suppose to be more important than the whole. As Dr. David Little said “this is a hit or miss method and when someone is wrong he is often very wrong”, of course, in the detriment of the patient.
Homeopathy is a holistic approach to disease and asserts that no disease is local without affecting the whole body, based on the Gestalt theory. Every approach or technique that uses a trimming, shortcut or over emphasis of some symptoms in the detriment of other important symptoms, failing to reflect the essential nature of the Gestalt of the disease, will come up with a poor prescription. The more complete the picture, the more likely the chosen remedy will be homeopathic, and therefore curative.
Homeopathy however is not the same as psychoanalysis because although it needs to find the mental /emotional dynamic in case taking and psychological insights may be revealed, this information together with a multitude of other particular and general symptoms, the essential Gestalt of the disease, is used to find the homeopathic remedy.
- Cehovsky, Jiri, Homeopathy and the related currents of thought, http://www.alternativa.cz/book/hocu15.htm
- Hahnemann, S., Organon of Medicine, Sixth Edition, Introduction p30-p91
- Hippocrates, as cited by The British Institute of Homeopathy, 2008. http://www.bihcanada.ca/homeopathy.html
- Kent, James Tyler, Lecture on Homeopathic Philosophy
- Lindsley Bradford, Thomas, The Life and Letters of Dr Samuel Hahnemann, http://www.homeoint.org/books4/bradford/chapter08.htm
- Little, David, Hahnemann’s Advanced Methods, vol II
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1825800 - British Medical Journal in February 1991