What is Susceptibility?
To establish what susceptibility is, it is wise to look at conventional definitions as well as the homeopathic perspective. We must include the views of founding fathers Samuel Hahnemann and J.T. Kent; after-all they laid the groundwork of homeopathic philosophy to which we still adhere today. The Oxford Dictionary definition of susceptibility is “the state or fact of being likely or liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing”. Allopaths are more likely to focus on external factors that make us susceptible to illness such as infectious diseases, germs, allergens, living conditions or pathogenic agents and would say that we lack immunity or resistance and thus are more likely to become attacked with a sickness – hence conventional medicines focus on healing with opposites. Whilst taking this stance into account, homeopaths also will focus on internal factors which make us susceptible to certain illnesses. Simply put, susceptibility is the reaction of the person to external and internal influences. This predisposition can make us more inclined to becoming ill.
Hahnemann said our vital force will “express itself through disease symptoms in the organism” – Aphorism 11 p11 Organon Unfolded. He talked extensively on the subject of susceptibility and provided the view that our miasmatic taint, constitution, physical and psychological makeup will also contribute to our predisposition to certain illnesses. Aphorism 31 p15 of The Organon Unfolded states: “Morbific disease agents do not derange health unconditionally. We fall ill only when our organism is susceptible. They do not produce disease in everyone at all times.” In other words to be susceptible to a certain disease our individual vital force must be disposed to it on a physical, mental and emotional level. If our vital force is not susceptible to it, there will be no disease. In Aphorisms 32 and 33 Hahnemann also points out that Allopathic medicine will affect all people at all times, whereas natural disease will not affect all people at all times i.e. “People are therefore unconditionally susceptible to medicinal forces. Natural diseases affect people conditionally” – Aphorism 33 The Organon Unfolded p15. Even Hippocrates (c460 BC – c370 BC) acknowledged that genetics or what Hahnemann called ‘Miasma’ had an influence on our susceptibility to illness in his tome ‘Sacred Diseases’. He said that diseases found in a mother and father are often found in their children. However it should be noted that even siblings within a family can be very different and have different susceptibilities taken from either the maternal or paternal side or both.
Kent expanded on Hahnemann’s writings on the subject:
“Because of these varying degrees of susceptibility some are protected from disease cause and some are made sick; the one who is made sick is susceptible to the disease cause in accordance with the plane he is in and the degree of attenuation that happens to be present at the time of contagion” – Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy p121. Here he is saying that we all have different degrees of susceptibility and that some people will become ill when exposed to certain internal or external factors and others will not. He also states that when we are exposed to natural disease and recover from it, we will not be susceptible to that same disease. For example if we get a normal childhood illness such as chicken pox once, we recover and will then no longer have susceptibility to it. Kent continued “When a violent epidemic is raging we all know that, although the number of victims is large, they are few compared to those who go through the epidemic unscathed…we suppose…that a large number of the immune have escaped because they were usually strong and vigorous…but we find among those that have escaped the epidemic are a large number of persons who are anything but strong…the reason is that they have a sickness that is impossible for the epidemic to suppress…if the chronic disease is stronger than the epidemic disease…it cannot be suppressed” – Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy p127-128. Here Kent is saying that the reason these people lack susceptibility to the epidemic disease is because the disease with which they are suffering is dissimilar to the epidemic and stronger.
What make us susceptible?
Susceptibility in a person can be inherited from parents. It depends on the miasmatic background of both parents. It is also influenced by the mental condition and circumstances during the production of sperm and ovum. An interaction of all these determines the miasmatic background of the individual.
Early and late environmental factors may also influence the development of susceptibility. Early environmental factors involve conditions pertaining to intra-uterine life. Any influence or indulgence during the gestational period may affect the development of susceptibility of the individual such as worries, diseases, tension, smoking, alcoholism, or malnutrition.
Late environmental factors also affect the development of susceptibility. These involve the influence during childhood and adulthood. H.A. Roberts wrote “Everything that has life is more or less influenced by circumstances and environment.” We see very frequently the susceptibility to climatic conditions, as well as all other phases of environment. One person will thrive in a rigorous climate where another will become seriously ill; one will thrive in dampness to which another would succumb. Altitude affects some individuals kindly and some adversely. The seashore improves one man’s condition while it makes another man ill. The power of assimilation and nutrition is one of the phases of susceptibility. One easily assimilates a certain kind of food while another finds the same food indigestible.
Human beings are susceptible to infection and contagion in varying degrees. One man will become infected in with diseased individuals while another will experience no ill effects. One person is made ill by noxious plants, while another man can handle them with impunity.
Thus both genetic and environmental factors determine the susceptibility of the individual. This is why pathogenic agents do not affect every person nor the same person all of the time. The patient must be sufficiently susceptible according to the time and circumstances. Susceptibility varies in degree in different patients, and at different times in the same patient.
Miasms can be active or dormant. When the vital force is relatively balanced, a chronic miasm will remain dormant. This is our aim as practitioners. We will never eradicate a chronic miasm because it is part of our genetic makeup, but we can keep it dormant. Dormant miasms can be activated by adverse conditions or events (exciting causes). Each time this happens, the condition is worse than the previous exacerbation.
Events that can augment the disease and increase the difficulty of curing are exciting causes. These can be environmental factors such as pollutants, microbes, stress or weather, or internal factors such as strong emotions. By far the most frequent excitement of miasms into chronic diseases is by grief and vexation. Other obstructions to the cure can be long-lasting chronic allopathic remedies or bad habits in lifestyle (gambling, sex, sedentary life).
The good prescriber has to pay close attention to his patient’s whole history, especially his habits, age, occupation, mode of living, cravings and character. Everything is a manifestation of his own vital force which has changed by an external cause due to the susceptibility of the individual in this particular point of his life. Taking a deep and detailed case history lets the homeopath establish what miasms he is dealing with.
A little boy, age 2 ½.
Blonde hair, blue eyes, very slim.
Presenting symptoms: Parents have brought the child for homeopathic treatment. They are at their wits end and can’t cope on their own any longer. They have seen homeopathy work over many years and hope it can help with R.
1) Molluscum warts. In excess of 150 warts, presenting as little round white head warts, on the left side of the child’s torso, under armpit and down the arm. His sister has a few warts. R got one or two and then started picking them. They spread rapidly over his torso. GP advised that it may take two years to clear naturally.
2) R has an obsession with his bottom region and what comes out of it. He will at any opportunity try to remove faeces from his anus and eat it or smear it on walls or people. This makes helping him with toilet training extremely difficult. He sits and tries to access the area as often as he can. He laughs and enjoys doing this. It becomes even more difficult as R will not wear clothes. He strips them off and will fight if being dressed. He will be naked as often as he can. He has named his penis and he refers to it as a human, with thoughts and feeling.
3) Obsessional behaviours: these include repetitive swearing. He has an acute sense of hearing and will pick up a word said by a passer by or on the phone perhaps and will repeat this for days. He has a few favourites that he will repeat to his siblings and parents over and over.
4) Spitting: will spit and hiss at passersby if anyone says anything he does not like.
5) Hitting and biting : He will hit out and bite for no apparent reason. He also throws objects at people trying to discipline him or bring him to safety.
6) No sense of Pain: R will constantly try the boundaries even on occasion holding the element of the oven when on, resulting in burnt skin. No pain felt. He is de-sensitised to both hot and cold also. He has no sense of pain, so will continually do things, which result in bumps bruises and cuts/burns.
7) No sense of danger : Will climb on everything, kitchen cupboards, parked vans, drain pipes, supermarket shelves/freezers; anything he can climb he will.
8) Recurrent chest infections and a constant snotty discharges. Yellow / green snot always and he always sounds crackly and congested on the chest.
9) Eats no food unless forced: Parents are feeding smoothies to try and get some nutrients in to him, but he eats, stones, cigarette butts, chewing gum, wood, charcoal, metal objects. Anything that is not food, will be put in his mouth.
Pregnancy and conception: M = mother F= Father
M had 3 other children, all pre- term, all healthy, no problems.
M Decided she would like a fourth baby, F did not agree.
M had mire Coil removed anyway. F had pneumonia really badly and had been suffering for 3 months at time of conception. Had had 3 courses of strong antibiotics and was extremely weak; chest had been fully congested (R lung was especially bad.) Was bed ridden for a long time.
Stress levels were very high, Parents were struggling with their business and financial difficulty was immense. No signs of improvement, only deterioration.
House was placed on the market for less than was anticipated, but the need for it to sell was immense. M was suffering regular migraines – L sided. Pain intense, then vomits must sleep to end them. Within days of conception M was suffering with sickness, vomiting constantly. GP said tummy bug, however 2 weeks later period skipped and positive pregnancy test showed it wasn’t a tummy bug. As pregnancy progressed over next week, sickness increased and M was not able to eat anything; spent all day in bed too weak to move. Room was spinning and GP prescribed some tablets; these helped slightly but not totally so suppositories were also prescribed and Hyperemesis gravidarum was diagnosed. M had suffered this with first pregnancy and was this sick all the way through pregnancy and after the baby was born.
All of this started an emotional few weeks, where the parents were torn between keeping the baby and termination. They were advised that termination was an option as the sickness would not stop and M would be bedbound most of the pregnancy. Parents thought that as they had three healthy children, could they cope with M this ill for the next 35 weeks? Decision made and termination date set. However this meant that M spent the whole time crying and was extremely upset as she really wanted this baby. This emotional turmoil continued over the next two weeks. Date of termination arrived and M refused to go and did not proceed. Sickness stopped a few days later.
At 35 weeks, water broke. M went into hospital and labour started. However there was no room in the neonatal units in the southwest and so labour was stopped. M was given and antibiotic drip for next 10 days until 37 weeks when
she would be induced for labour. This was to make sure that R did not get an infection.
At 37 weeks labour was induced and was natural- no interventions needed. R was born and all was ok. Attached to breast instantly.
1 week old R was admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis. Needed oxygen in hospital for 5 days. Never well since and always prone to mucus and chest infections (many since birth).
DPT vaccine at 15 months old and started screaming within a few hours of this vaccine. Eye dropped within 24 hours of having vaccine. Child instead of being a happy babbling chirpy became suddenly angry and very unsettled. Symptoms as above progressed rapidly. Behaviour has never been the same since.
This child was born with a very weakened vital force and due to parents physical and mental health in time during conception and pregnancy, his susceptibility was also affected. He was more susceptible to chest complaints ( conceived with father having pneumonia). He became weaker his susceptibility to recurrent infection increased and the vaccination was the final trigger.
After two years of homeopathic treatment the child, now 4 years old, has been removed from the autistic spectrum classification. In all ways he is a changed child. He remains in monthly with the homeopath who helps keep him at full vitality. The full potential of his abilities are now able to shine through and he has an extraordinarily high IQ. This just goes to show that susceptibility is what creates our vulnerability to a disease or toxic exposure. When we treat our susceptibility we strengthen ourselves.
Treating susceptibilities is actual healing. If a therapy treats only the symptoms of without also healing the individuals overall resistance, then the treatment will only allow temporary wellness, until health crashes again.
Lecture on suceptibility Linda Lester
Unfolded Organon & The Organon 6t edition Samuel Hahnemann
The principles and Art of cure of homoeopathy H.A. Roberts
Lectures on homoeopathic philosophy J.T. Kent