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Precursor to the Organon: Hahnemann’s Occasional Writings Part V – The Medicine of Experience (1805)

In this work, Hahnemann identifies the divine nature of the human mind and its ability to discern the curative powers of nature. He sees that the divine design was “to bring to unlimited perfection our whole being, as also our corporeal frame and the cure of its diseases.” (Lesser Writings, p. 438) He states clearly that man must not imitate nature in its efforts to get rid of disease, as these methods are crude and ineffective.

The great Instructor of mankind did not intend that we should go to work in the same manner as nature…

I am therefore astonished that the art of medicine has so seldom raised itself above a servile imitation of these crude processes…Never, never was it possible to compel these spontaneous endeavours of the organism by artificial means (the very notion implies a contradiction), never was it the Creator’s will that we should do so.” (Lesser Writings, p.435-437)

The object of medicine and the knowledge of the physician:

Medicine is a science of experience; its object is to eradicate diseases by means of remedies.

The knowledge of diseases, the knowledge of remedies, and the knowledge of their employment, constitute medicine.(Lesser Writings, p. 439)

The Creator permitted diseases, but he also ‘revealed’ to man a ‘distinct mode’ to know these diseases, the curative properties of medicines. This knowledge is not to be found in discovering invisible internal changes in the organism in disease or in searching for proximate causes (e.g., the person is sick because their liver is inflamed). We must seek, however, the exciting cause, even if this may be hidden in most diseases.

We observe a few diseases that always arise from one and the same cause, e.g., the miasmatic maladies; hydrophobia, the venereal disease, the plague of the Levant, yellow fever, smallpox, cow-pox, the measles and some others, which bear upon them the distinctive mark of always remaining diseases of a peculiar character; and, because they arise from a contagious principle that always remains the same, they also always retain the same character and pursue the same course, excepting as regards some accidental circum­stances, which however do not alter their essential character.

These few diseases, at all events those first mentioned (the miasmatic), we may therefore term specific, and when necessary bestow upon them distinctive appellations.

If a remedy has been discovered for one of these, it will always be able to cure it, for such a disease always remains essentially identical in its manifestations (the representa­tives of its internal nature) and in its cause. (Lesser Writings, p. 440)

All the other innumerable diseases exhibit such a difference in their phenomena that we may safely assert that they arise from a combination of several dissimilar causes (varying in number and differing in history and intensity).

Hence it happens that with the exception of those few diseases that are always the same [tonic], all others are dis­similar [pathic], and innumerable, and so different that each of them occurs scarcely more than once in the world, and each case of disease that presents itself must be regarded (and treated) as an individual malady that never before occurred in the same manner, and under the same circumstances as in the case before us, and will never again happen precisely in the same way! (Lesser Writings, p.441-442)

The problem then is essentially those diseases of variable nature, those individual diseases, which cannot be discovered by means of speculation or examinations of the organism in disease, but only through the symptoms. Thus, this type of disease is identified in name only through the remedy that will cure it, in contrast to those few constant diseases that can be given a distinctive name, such as measles.

The internal essential nature of every malady, of every individual [versus typical] case of disease, as far as is necessary for us to know it, for the purpose of curing it, expresses itself by the symptoms, as they present themselves to the investigations of the true observer in their whole extent, connection and succession.

When the physician has discovered all the observable symptoms of the disease that exist, he has discovered the disease itself [that is, the individual disease or the constant disease for which no remedy has yet been discovered clinically], he has attained the complete conception of it requisite to enable him to effect a cure. (Lesser Writings, p.443)

Regimen is necessary to prevent a relapse where there are predisposing or exciting causes, both of a physical and of a moral nature.

Instruction is given in how to take the symptoms of the patient.

Two dissimilar diseases cannot remove each other, but two similar ones cannot occupy the same organism and the stronger annihilates the weaker. Medicines are stronger (being artificial diseases) than the natural disease.

Equally astonishing is the truth that there is no medicinal substance which, when employed in a curative manner, is weaker than the disease for which it is adapted, no morbid irritation for which the medicinal irritation of a positive and extremely analogous nature is not more than a match.(Lesser Writings, p. 455)

Dual nature of medicine in its action: initial action, here termed the “positive primary effect”, and counter-action, “opposite (negative) symptoms constituting this secondary effect”.

Thus, to the abnormal irritation present in the body, another morbid irritation as similar to it as possible (by means of the medicine that acts in this case positively with its primary symptoms) is opposed in such a degree that the latter preponderates over the former, and (as two abnor­mal irritations cannot exist beside each other in the human body, and these are two irritations of the same kind) the complete extinction and annihilation of the former is effected by the latter. (Lesser Writings, p. 454)

The new, artificial disease now expires “in a shorter time than any natural disease.”

The duration of the initial (direct) action, the primary medicinal symptoms, is “the first few hours, which are the duration allotted by nature.”

The remedy produces, in the first few hours, a ….

…kind of slight [homeopathic] aggravation (this seldom lasts so long as three hours), which the patient imagines to be an increase of his disease, but which is nothing more than the primary symptoms of the medicine, which are somewhat superior in intensity to the disease, and which ought to resemble the original malady so closely as to deceive the patient himself in the first hour, until the recovery that ensues after a few hours teaches him his mistake. (Lesser Writings, p. 455)

Too large doses of the remedy will produce a greater disease than already present.

The sensitivity or receptivity of the body to medicine (medicinal irritations) is increased remarkably in disease. What would not affect a healthy person can have strong effects in disease.

The Medicine of Experience represents the culmination of this period of Hahnemann’s searching for a new system of medicine (1790-1805). Five years later we see the emergence of that seminal document, the aphoristic Organon der Heilkunst, whose seeds lay in the earlier occasional writings. He had developed, by this time, sufficient certainty of insight and experience that he could present his discoveries in the form of a formal argument, highly structured and legalistic, as if presenting his submission to the high court of truth and wisdom.

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Rudi Verspoor is Dean and Chair Department of Philosophy, Hahnemann College for Heilkunst, Ottawa. He has written extensively on homeopathy and created the only college in the world offering a full program of study in Hahnemann’s complete medical system, Heilkunst. More details on studying Heilkunst can be obtained from .

Rudi founded the National Association of Trained Homeopaths (NUPATH) in Canada, as well as the Canadian/International Heilkunst Association (C/IHA). He has advised the Canadian government on healthcare issues, made presentations to various federal and provincial governments on homeopathy, and has written for various journals as well as lectured around the world.

His publications include: Homeopathy Renewed, A Sequential Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Illness (with Patty Smith); A Time for Healing; Homeopathy Re-examined: Beyond the Classical Paradigm (with Steven Decker); The Dynamic Legacy: Hahnemann from Homeopathy to Heilkunst (with Steven Decker)

The website at has more articles and resources about Heilkunst.


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