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Nov 23, 2011

The "Three Mistakes"

 An Important Article About Mistakes which We Homeopaths Do In Practice.Published as editorial in "THE MEDICAL ADVANCE VOL. XLII. CHICAGO, JANUARY, 1904. No. 1."

The "Three Mistakes"

If the weight of a word is determined by the size of the brain
behind it, the value of an opinion on a therapeutic question may
be estimated by the ability of the man who gives it, his practical
experience and the opportunities he may have had that would
enable him to express an opinion. But before such an opinion is
entitled to serious or even respectful consideration, he must at
least have demonstrated his familiarity with the subject under

For instance, when an allopathic practician who never has had
any practical experience in the use of the homeopathic remedy in
the cure of the sick and who does not claim to have even given
the similar remedy a trial at the bed side, expresses the opinion
that there can be no possible curative power in the third potency
of any remedy, we cannot be blamed for declining to accept his
conclusions or for placing our own estimate upon the value of
his opinion. Without the clinical experience necessary to form
an opinion of any practical worth we may either question his
sincerity or ask him what he knows of it experimentally. How often
has he used the third potency at the bed side when it was actually
the similimum ? Has he ever used the third or any other potency
of a homeopathic remedy? Would he think it fair or just to
have his own system of therapeutics judged by such experience?
But with Hahnemann it was very different. He was perhaps
the ablest medical man of his time in Germany, if not in Europe,
with both a theoretical and practical knowledge of the best there
was in allopathy — the medicine of his time. When he published
his discovery of a law of cure, all that he requested of his
medical brethren was to put his experiments — both in testing
remedies on the healthy and in the cure of the sick — to a
practical test, following his rules, and publish the failures to the
medical world. The challenge has neither been accepted nor the
failures published.

The following rules were formulated by Hahnemann after
years of experimental work based on careful and accurate
observation, with complete written anamnesis of the patient; and
no greater mistake can be made by the homeopathist than their

“There are three mistakes which the physician cannot too carefully avoid; 

the first is to suppose that the doses which I have indicated as the proper ones in the treatment of chronic diseases, and which long experience and close observation have induced me to adopt, are too small; 
the second great mistake is the improper use of a remedy; and 
the third mistake consists in not letting a remedy act a sufficient length of time.
Nothing is lost by giving even smaller doses than those which I have
indicated. The doses can scarcely be too much reduced, provided the effects of the remedy are not disturbed by improper food. The remedial agent will act even in its smallest quantity, provided it corresponds perfectly to all the symptoms of the disease and its action is not interfered with by dietetic transgressions. The advantage of giving the smallest doses is this, that it is an easy matter to neutralize their effect in case the medicine should not have been chosen with the necessary exactitude. This being done, a more suitable antipsoric may then be exhibited— Chronic Diseases.”

Very few homeopaths, we venture to say, have ever even heard
of these "three mistakes," for the simple reason that few have
ever read or studied the Chronic Diseases. We see from this that
Hahnemann does not insist upon the use of a specified potency,
although in the Organon he says that the thirtieth centesimal is
the most useful, according to his observation and experience in
both acute and chronic diseases. Hence, we infer that this is
the potency or dose to which he refers as the dose “I have indicated." 
   But this was the thirtieth centesimal, and his experience
extended over many years of accurate clinical observation in both
acute and chronic diseases, and was based on a written anamnesis.

Let us enumerate these mistakes:

First: To suppose that the doses (3Oth cent.) are too small.

Second: The improper use of a remedy.

Third: Not letting a remedy act a sufficient length of time.

The second mistake is generally due to carelessness, laziness and levity.

Many homeopathic physicians, alas! remain guilty of these trespasses to the end of their lives; they understand nothing of the homeopathic doctrine.

The first duty of the homeopathic physician who appreciates the dignity of his profession and the value of human life, is to enquire into the whole condition of his patient, the cause of the disease as far as the patient remembers it, his mode of life, the nature of his mind, the tone and character of his sentiments, his physical constitution, and especially the symptoms of the disease. The enquiry is made according to the rules laid down, in the Ogranon [Section 83 et. seq.]. This being done, the physician then
tries to discover the true homeopathic remedy. He may avail himself of the use of existing repertories. But, inasmuch as these repertories only contain general indications, it is necessary that the remedies should afterward be carefully studied in the materia medica. A physician who is not willing to take this trouble, but who contents himself with the general indications of the repertories, and who by means of these general indications, dispatches one patient after another, deserves not the name of a true homeopathist. He is a mere quack, changing his remedies every moment, until the poor patient loses his temper and leaves this homicidal dabbler.
It is by such levity as this that true homeopathy is injured.”

How many of our professed homeopaths use the remedy properly? 

Even when the similimum has been found, the case is often
spoiled by too frequent repetition. And this “improper use of
the remedy " has little or nothing to do with the potency or
strength of the remedy used. The motto appears to be: “If a
little be good, more will be better." and it is repeated irrespective
of the improvement of the condition for which it was given.
In the selection of the remedy too, how many follow the instructions
laid down in the Organon, Section 80 et seq., of carefully
writing out in full the anamnesis of the patient, as a basis for the
selection of the remedy. Once the Symptoms are properly taken
we may refer to the repertory to find what remedy to study, but
we can rarely be certain of the selection without referring to the
pathogenesis of the medicine. Many homeopaths think it beneath
them to write out the symptoms, or use a repertory in the search
for the similimum and then find fault with a cumbrous materia
medica, filled with unreliable symptoms. These are the men who
clamor for a reproving of the remedial agents of our materia
medica, little dreaming perhaps that similar methods in the selection or use of the remedy will yield similar results.

“The third great mistake which the homeopathic physician cannot too carefully avoid in the treatment of chronic diseases, is the too hasty repetition of the dose. This haste is highly indiscreet. Superficial observers are very apt to suppose that a remedy, after having favorably acted eight or ten days, can act no more; this delusion is strengthened by the supposition that the morbid symptoms would have shown themselves again on such or such a day, if the dose had not been renewed.
If the medicine which the patient has taken, produces a good effect in the first eight or ten days, it is a sure sign that the medicine is strictly homeopathic. If, under these circumstances, an aggravation should occur, the patient need not feel uneasy about it; the desired result will be ultimately obtained though it may take 20 or 30 days. It takes 40 and even 50 days before the medicine has completed its action. To give another remedy before the lapse of this period would be the height of folly. Let no physician suppose that, as soon as the time fixed for the duration of the action of the remedy shall have elapsed, another remedy must at once be administered with a view of hastening the cure. This is contrary to experience. The surest and safest way of hastening the cure is to let the medicine act as long as the improvement of the patient continues, were it
even far beyond the period which is set down as the probable period of the duration of that action. He who observes this rule with the greatest care will be the most successful homeopathic practitioner — Chronic Diseases.”

The too frequent repetition of the remedy has been the most
difficult lesson we have had to learn in the practice of pure homeopathy.

Graduating from a college in which the principles of the
Organon inculcated by Hahnemann were unknown or untaught,
it required years of study and experience to overcome the first
impressions of " the slip-shod " methods expounded in the college
clinic. A repertory was never used. How to select the
'remedy, when to administer it or how often to repeat it, was
never heard at college, as it is taught by Hahnemann. Hence,
we have a fraternal sympathy with the great majority of the
homeopathic profession who were never taught to pay any attention
to this all-important, yet vital injunction of Hahnemann
against the  “too-hasty repetition of the remedy." This is not a
question of potency but of principle. It applies with almost
equal force to all potencies, all remedies and all patients, especially
those suffering from chronic disease; and it is nearly or quite as
disastrous to the patient under the 3x as under the thirtieth, one
thousandth or one millionth. These principles, vital to the life
of homeopathy and the well being of its patients and not  “the
high potency craze " are what the true followers of Hahnemann
are trying to perpetuate. Some professed homeopaths would
seem unable to distinguish between a principle and a potency.

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