The term patient implies someone in distress and agony or someone who is suffering and is under medical treatment. Every physician from any medical discipline has the same aim i.e. to cure, but the approach differs. Dr. Hahnemann the founder of Homoeopathy was a graduate of the allopathic school of medicine but was not satisfied with the modes of treatment prevalent at that time. Methods like bloodletting, leeching, venesection and many such were resorted to but these led to no positive results; rather they made the suffering even more acute.
Dr. Hahnemann being a linguist supplemented his living by translating books. One day while translating CULLEN’S MATERIA MEDICA he came across the “CINCHONA EXPERIMENT” which led him to discover “HOMOEOPATHY”, the great healing science of today. Homoeopathy being a “SCIENCE OF INDIVIDUALIZATION” is based strongly on the premise that no two humans are alike. Doesn’t it catch your attention that not everyone has diarrheoa on drinking milk; nor is everyone sensitive to pollens; two brothers have same eating habits but one is fat and the other thin; one child on being reprimanded goes into convulsions while the other becomes quiet or weeps; someone sweats more on the head while someone on palms or soles.The examples are endless but the essence is the same i.e. each individual is a separate entity altogether. We all are made of the same flesh and blood but have different sensitivities, different tendencies and accordingly we react to the situations.
For a Homoeopathic Physician case taking begins as soon as he sees the patient for the first time. The patients build, gait, manner of dressing, posture, the way he talks, facial expressions etc. all convey significant information about the individuals unique character and constitution, which are important for remedial diagnosis. The appearance of the patient can say a great deal. A thin delicate woman with black hair is not likely to need Calcarea Carb.Those patients who come in visibly irritated by being kept waiting for ten minutes are likely to be Arsenic, Natrum Muriaticum, Mercurius or Nux Vomica. . A person who sits as far back as he can, or who chooses a chair more distant than the one meant for him is likely to be one of the cautious types. Similarly someone who leans forward in the chair, or even moves it forward, probably belongs to one of the enthusiastic types, esp. Phosphorous. A flamboyantly dressed patient is likely to need Argentum, Medorrhinum, Phosphorous or Sulphur. Certain types are more likely to wear black, particularly Ignatia, Natrum Muriaticum and Sepia. The emotional types respond to Phosphorous, Pulsatilla and Graphites and they often wear pink (especially females). Slovenly dirty or untidy dress sense indicates need for Baryta, Mercurius and Sulphur. A woman who wears a rather manly suit can be classified as Ignatia, Natrum Muriaticum or Nux. Some patients are very precise in listing their symptoms (Arsenic, Calcarea, Kalis, Phosphorous, Natrum mur.), while some are hypochondriac and tend to exaggerate their symptoms (Ignatia, Sulphur, Phosphorous). The kind of situations that provoke anger help to differentiate between the types: - Arsenicum is angered by untidiness; while Ignatia by rejection or criticism and will react angrily as a defense. Nux and Sulphur, the natural leaders are angered by anyone who comes in the way of their plans. Sepia is resentful towards men who try to give her orders, or neglect her; Tuberculinum and Lachesis both love freedom and will not take kindly to being restricted in any way. The profession that a person chooses also tends to reveal a great deal. Nux and Sulphur are unlikely to be in a subordinate position for a long time and would be self- employed. Arsenic and Natrum Muriaticum have good organizational skills and are likely to be found in administrative positions. Counselors and therapists are often Natrums, being very good at listening to others, but not so keen to talk about themselves. Lycopodiums are often to be found in scientific and computing positions, in salesman’s jobs and also in businesses of their own. They are also common in teaching professions.
Case taking is done in Hahnemannian schema i.e. from head to foot, from generals to particulars. The patients desires, aversions, state of mind all are important. Each individual differs from the other.
Thus, a Homoeopathic physician may give different remedies to two people suffering from the same complaint, depending on the physician’s assessment of their personality types. The diagnosis may be anything from migraine to spondylosis or cancer or AIDS; the course of treatment will be the same for that individual. What is important to us is the language of sickness, which is reflected by symptoms, which the patient lists. For us the diagnosis is the remedy that we find for the patient. An old Irishman walked into Dr. Kent’s clinic and after giving his symptoms said, “ Doctor what is the matter with me?” The physician answered, “ You have Nux Vomica” that being his remedy.
"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.”
This is what differentiates Homoeopathy from other schools of medicine. A good homoeopathic physician in the true sense tries to trace the cause, the origin of the disease. Before prescribing he forms a constitutional picture of the patient.He finds the uncommon, peculiar, the rare, and the characteristic in the case and then matches this disease picture with the remedy picture. At one time only one remedy covers the patient as a whole. It is not that for headache one and for backache some other medicine would be given. The similar remedy prescribed, would first make the general feeling of the patient better. And then would affect the particular organs.
Dr. Kent writes in the chapter on Individualization:-
“ Without the generals of a case no man can practice Homoeopathy, for without these no man can individualize and see distinctions. After gathering all the particulars, one strong general rules out one remedy and rules in another. Physicians by the questions they ask show that they have not been able to understand this idea of individualization. They pick out two symptoms or one symptom common to two remedies, and say, “ now both of these remedies have same symptom, how are you going to tell them apart?” if you are acquainted with the MATERIA MEDICA, with the art of individualization, you will at once easily see how to get the generals; and this will enable you to distinguish one of these remedies as best adapted to the constitution. When the two remedies have the one symptom in any equal degree. Now this rules out the idea of substitution. If one does not work, they say, try all down the list alphabetically, until you hit it. Why, a remedy that has never been known to produce that symptom may cure the case, because it is more similar to the generals of that case than any other. This is the art of applying the MATERIA MEDICA. Many times a patient brings out that which is so strange and rare that it has never been found in any remedy. You have to examine the whole case and see which remedy of all remedies is most similar to the patient himself from beginning to end the homoeopath must study the patient. If he becomes conversant with symptoms apart from the patient, he will not be successful. ”
Some patients have more than one layer of pathology and that each layer corresponds to a different remedy, but the layers must be dealt with in the right sequence if progress is to be made and the personality of the patient at any given time will correspond to the most superficial layer, which represents the present frequency of the patients vital force. The human organism appears to retain a memory of all preceding chronic states of the body and mind. This memory includes certain inherited traits. Each stable state of body and mind can be considered a layer of the person’s constitution. Some people are born with several layers of pathology, which they inherit from their parents. They will usually continue to express the uppermost layer until the correct homoeopathic remedy dissolves it, revealing the underneath.