The Special Destiny of Samuel Hahnemann

Posted on 11th April, 2024

The Special Destiny of Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843)


How medicine has changed in the past few centuries is quite extraordinary and without precedent in all of human history. One may think for the better - but that would be a personal view.


What is the legacy that one man, Samuel Christian Hahnemann, left to the world? He could cure diseases in a manner of the alchemists and made the method available to the willing practitioner who, by observing the patient, applied the remedy according to rule.


Amidst the many who seek to work ceaselessly for the good and betterment of others, some attain the position of being able to create or synthesise a new system of applying knowledge. In this guise, Hahnemann bestowed a new potential upon man at a time when Western science was at its height of discovery and creation. Man’s ingenuity through the opening, awakening of objective consciousness to the world around him, saw the development of industrialised society, the exploitation of matter, in the culture of materialism. In subtle contradiction was Hahnemann.


The physician’s high and only mission

Samuel Hahnemann was born in Meissen, Saxony (Germany) 10th April 1755. Gifted and intelligent as a child he had talents in eleven languages, mathematics, geometry and botany. He qualified as a doctor from the University of Leipzig in 1791 and practised medicine for 9 years. He then gave up medicine, as he was discouraged by the cruel and ineffectual treatments of his time - bloodletting, purging, poisonous drugs with horrendous side effects. He could also not heal the sick with the methods at his disposal or earn a living, as the sale of drugs was the profit. He wrote: ‘I am too conscientious to prolong illness or make it appear more dangerous than it is. It was agony for me to walk away in darkness, when I had to heal the sick, and to prescribe, according to such or such an hypothesis concerning diseases, substances which owed their place in the Materia Medica to an arbitrary decision.’ [1] He turned away from medicine and earned his income from translation and concentrated on study, research and writing.


The matter is perhaps not so simplistic as is made out by simply turning his back on the medicine of his day. The use of purging and emetics and so forth was indeed efficacious under the direction of a knowledgeable physician. Today this is popularly known as detoxification, which is even more hackneyed and abused than in Hahnemann’s time. The reality is the conditions in which man found himself and the nature of his diseases, which have changed over the millennia. Hippocrates, it is said, only needed to provide diet to heal the patient. Hahnemann was confronted with new conditions in the makeup of human consciousness and the inner impulse was for a new system of medicine.


This emerged in 1790 when Hahnemann was translating Dr William Cullen’s [1710-1790], an Edinburgh physician and chemist, A treatise on Materia Medica. In this Cullen had an essay on Peruvian bark - Cinchona - from which quinine is derived, for the treatment of malaria. Cullen attributed this cure to the bitterness of the bark. Hahnemann was sceptical and so tested small doses on himself. All the symptoms he experienced he wrote down in minute detail. He observed that cinchona produced in him the symptoms of malaria, the very disease it was known to cure.


This discovery was key to the development of homoeopathic theory and practice. He went on to test or ‘prove’ many remedies on himself, his friends and family. This yielded vastly more accurate and specific information about the healing properties of substances in Nature than hitherto before, for example, through the doctrine of signatures (the plant acts on the organ it most resembles).


Hahnemann had discovered an experimental basis of accurately testing (or proving) substances. Thus a proving is done on healthy persons and all the symptoms are meticulously recorded - mind as well as body. This is called a symptoms picture or remedy picture. Of the really poisonous substances Hahnemann closely observed the effects on the victim, to build up a picture. This is unlike Constantine Herring [1800-1888] who took snake venom to prove the remedy Lachesis, for which we are truly thankful!


The Law of Similars

Hahnemann had revealed the principle of like cures like. Similia similibus curantur was the term he used, as did Paracelsus [1493-1541]. It was Hippocrates [c. 470-400 BC] who alluded to the two methods of similars and opposites Contraria a contraiis curantur [if it is wet, dry it; if it is hot, cool it etc], which is the method used by orthodox medicine. Hahnemann later coined the word allopathic as a derogatory term, for the medicine of his day - the opposite action of medicines. He called his system of medicine Homoeopathy from the Greek: homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering or disease).


In 1796 he first published his findings. Every disease is destroyed by a similar disease. The healing remedy stimulated a response or resonance in the deeper human organism, which caused the ‘vital force (principle)’ to activate and strengthen so that it pushed out the disease that was affecting the patient. They were then cured. Hahnemann states: ‘in a healthy condition the spiritual vital force (autocracy), the dynamis that animates the material body (organism), rules with unbounded sway, and retains all the parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious vital operation, as regards both sensation and functions, so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence’. [2]


In 1810 he published his first book - The Organon of Medicine. This was revised six times. He returned to practice his medicine and became highly successful.


He also stirred up great opposition. A few medical men were prepared to go against the mainstream of opinion, trained under him and took his teachings into the world. It is strange that the greatest exponents of Homoeopathy became so after they were sent to Hahnemann to disprove the efficacy of homoeopathy, but converted having seen its wondrous effects.

Yet Hahnemann found that while treating the acute symptoms of disease, the symptoms would re-occur in new forms. This is the problem of chronic maladies. It took him 12 years of study to finally be able to publish his work on chronic diseases, in 1827.


He identified all illnesses as stemming from three miasms. (A Greek word meaning violation of that which is pure). The fundamental miasm is Psora - (Greek: itch)


The other two were venereal, Syphilis and Sycosis (gonorrhoea) - as these symptoms were like the disease. The miasms are summarised as follows: Psora - hypo - under-functioning; Sycosis - hyper - over-functioning; Syphilis - dys - destruction.

The complexity and the manner in which these inherited or acquired miasms obstruct cure will be discussed in a subsequent article, but Hahnemann showed that by prescribing remedies to include constitutional factors, the aetiology of the specific miasm and the signs and symptoms they manifest, the blockages are removed and a lasting cure attained.


The minimum dose

Hahnemann experimented with smaller and smaller doses to minimise side effects of the remedies, especially in poisonous substances. The more he diluted the remedy, he found that it no longer effected a cure. But by shaking (succussing) the solution between dilutions he found that he had no side affects and more effectively cured. Here is his genius and great contribution. This he called potentising.


‘The process of potentisation of remedies is one of dematerialisation, rhythmically and systematically getting rid of physical matter, a removing of that which is measurable in quantity, and enhancing that which has a dynamic healing character. [Steiner would call it] leading matter back into spirit. Even Hahnemann called it ‘almost spiritual’.’ [3]

Thus Hahnemann, convinced of the power of homoeopathy to remove disease from man, proved the matter so and set this procedure forth in the Organon of Medicine: The fourth Organon (1829). By 1843 the sixth Organon, published posthumously, contained all the fruits of his labour. This established classical homoeopathy: the similar remedy, the single remedy, the minimum dose and attenuated (potentised) remedy. Let no one forget these four cardinal points. Any deviation Hahnemann called pseudo-homoeopathy.


Rational medicine

Today there are many variations on a homoeopathic theme; pseudo-homoeopathy abounds. The rate of dilution and fragmentation of Hahnemann’s work - only 150 years after the man’s death and barely 100 years since the last great exponents - is perhaps disquieting. Today, there is a plethora of variations and interpretations of homoeopathic practice. It may seem difficult to understand how a single remedy, single dose can lead to a cure; it is profound. The practice of this, however, is largely forgotten in favour, for example, of nosodes, repeatedly and more nosodes. ‘It is not a better idea of homoeopathy’, says J T Kent. [4]


Amongst Hahnemann’s many contributions to medicine was to give a deep knowledge of the human organism and the personality and how remedies affect it. This in a way represents the earthly side of man. He did not take up the cosmological aspects so central to Paracelsus [5] and Goethe (a contemporary of Hahnemann), and the spiritual source of remedies, or the Karmic causes of disease. His approach was rational, and investigation of the spirit was not seen as rational at that time (or even now). Hahnemann though, was a deep believer in God and the Spirit; a member of a Masonic lodge for all his life.

We are just beginning to unfold the potent system of homoeopathy. Hahnemann provided the ground upon which future medicine for human suffering can be built. There is an urgent requirement to add greater spiritual insights into the cause and nature of disease.


‘With illness the harmony which is missing within the person can be found in nature, where its unique ‘picture’ is a ‘remembering’ to the sick person of their divine connection and thus they can be stimulated back to health. Whilst Hahnemann served the person, he also took a first step in re-connecting the person to their divine origins because homoeopathy reaches across the Threshold between the visible and the invisible’. [6]


The challenge that faces modern homoeopathy is to understand that illness arises from the inner or innate being of self. Whether this manifests mentally or physically is of no matter, since the totality is considered in classical prescribing. But essentially it is seeing the person as a whole and metamorphosing in expression of the life forces.

This is made comprehensible if there is an understanding of how remedies influence the patient. ‘They work not specifically against an illness, but rather toward establishing an archetypal image of healthy functioning.’ [Husemann II 35]. The proving of a remedy is the archetypal image of the plant or mineral upon the human four-fold constitution, i.e. the total organism. The contemporary frame of mind cannot master this concept, having been carefully educated into the specific and highly differentiated (allopathic) drug therapies which disregard the totality of the organism.


As an aside, the modern pharmaceutical practice of testing remedies (drugs) on animals is of no value to the human, as he is differently constituted. Thus the waste and abuse of animal life is even more senseless. Modern drugs and surgical techniques are applied according to the criteria of their effectiveness but without considering the subsequent results. Homoeopathy provides a more universal measure, a ‘higher’ level on which it intervenes in the human in bringing about a transforming, a returning, and healing. [7] This re-connection is what is now required: to consciously connect Cosmos, Humanity and Earth.


Medicine of the future

The chief challenge is to accept that mankind cannot be healed from the outside. Hahnemann showed that healing is from within to without. Modern medicine throws yet more drugs at physical and mental illness: ‘and continually weakening and tormenting the debilitated patient, already suffering without that from his disease and by adding new destructive drug diseases, this clearly seems to be the unhallowed main business of the old school of medicine.’ [8]


A man can only heal himself. Disease will be part of his physical life until man redeems Nature. Yet the high homoeopath assumes that a system of medicine may in fact aid this process of healing and redeeming, without creating further problems. In the understanding that arises from Hahnemann’s work, and the summations of his followers and wedded with the highest ideals of Paracelsus and others, the fact of suppressing diseases is tantamount to a painful and protracted illness.


The concepts of Homoeopathy are not too difficult to grasp. Proof of efficacy is readily observable. But by modern medicine not seeking to grasp and implement Homoeopathy, mankind is condemned to eternal sufferance. For homoeopathy is thinking of the kind that fructifies the practitioner and the patient, who thus benefits from the healing prescription. A pain remedy will mask the discomfort, but does not heal. The soul, which is healed of its distress and has found salvation in life in the radiance of the Powers, will heal the body of the need to feel pain.


Hahnemann’s homoeopathy is often called the medicine of the future. The real reason is probably in that the action of remedies upon the patient cannot be fathomed in the reductionist mode of thinking, and that in some future time it may be understood. It is in the realm of the unknown for the materialist medical practitioner. The work of Prof. Jacques Benveniste [1935-2004], The Memory of Water, began to open up the possibility of exploring the dynamisation (potentisation) technique as an experimental certainty. Prior to his death he was working on the electromagnetic projection of potencies! While this is the mode of action and delivery of the healing substance, the fact that he set up models to prove that this is repeatable brings science into a new phase of work. But ‘science lacks the concepts to recognise anything other than the material source of a medicine as being effective and the idea of active invisible forces at work in these substances is mostly rejected.’ [9] Benveniste was utterly forsaken by the scientific establishment.


Subtle awareness

The wonder of Hahnemann is that he worked the subtle ideas out of the gross. In the time of heightened awareness of the physical world and man’s dominion of it, he drew upon history and his inner resources, his inspiration, to develop a method of medicine that allows for the subjective to be accounted for. How the patient feels is of importance only in homoeopathy. The fact that the patient in the throes of death from influenza says his bed is too hard, allows him to be saved by Pyrogeum, Bryonia or Arnica. The importance of the ‘sensations as if...’ often leads to the finding of the most similar remedy, the similimum. The inner organs and their workings are disregarded as the seat of the disease; the homoeopath is only interested in finding a remedy in nature that matches the picture of the symptoms. In this he listens to and observes the patient. The allopath seeks the disease!

But if the past (and present) homoeopaths were (are) so amazingly successful at curing diseases, allopathy as now practised would be a footnote in history. It is not so and allopathic medicine is very much alive and expanding at a vast rate - having governments at its beck and call, from the hospital cradle to the hospital grave, vaccinating and drugging people into muteness and absurdity. Is mankind’s redemption from the painful death of disease not yet come? On the contrary, what is at stake is the manner in which he thinks and this is in need of changing.


The work of Hahnemann when seen in the context of his contemporaries - Goethe, Schiller, etc. - as the expression of man in the cosmos, is profound and carries on the impulses from Paracelsus. But at the same time material aspects, the movement to the one-sided view of the world were taking hold through Darwin, Pasteur, Schwann, Muller and many others whom material science holds as its fathers. This movement was, and still is so that it is a wonder Hahnemann survived the onslaught at all. Even today, there is a constant attempt to remove from the aspects of Hahnemann’s work and that of James Tyler Kent any reference to the spirit - in this case the influence of the mystic Immanuel Swedenborg. [10]


Hahnemann had a special destiny. His wife had died in 1830. He had become physician of wide fame. His neighbours were expecting his death. Yet in 1835 (now aged 80) he left for Paris, married a young Parisienne Melanie d’Hervilly, and began a new and important phase of practice. In the eight years in Paris, the sixth edition of the Organon written, published after his death, and thirteen books of case histories of the Paris patients.


He died on July 2nd, 1843. A Scotsman who met him during the last year of his life, described him in this way: ‘His face had a luminous expression. He made, I may say, the impression of a heavenly being, for there was something divine in his appearance.’ [11]


© Cornelis van Dalen 2004, 2024


(1) Miranda Castro, The Complete Homeopathy Handbook, Macmillan, UK. 1990. P. 4
(2) Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, Sixth Edition, §9, translated RE Dudgeon
(3) Franz Treuherz ‘Steiner and the Similimum’ Journal of the American Institute of Homoeopathy, supplied by the author.
(4) ML Sehgal, Rediscovery of Homoeopathy, India Books, New Delhi. 2000 Vol VII. P. 138
(5) See New Physis Newsletter, #2 ‘The Lost Vision of Paracelsus’ by Julian Scott
(6) Tom Raines ‘Homoeopathy ‘Across the Threshold’’ New View, Journal Winter 2001
(7) Husemann Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine Anthroposophic Press USA 1987 Vol II p36
(8) Hahnemann Organon of Medicine, preface to the fifth edition. Hahnemann continually points out the effect of allopathic medicine in suppressing diseases, the effects of which have been manifold increased with modern drugs and surgery
(9) Tom Raines op cit
(10) Francis Treuherz, ‘The origins of Kent’s Homeopathy’ Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy Vol. 88 No 4 1984 and David Little Philosophy of Homoeopathy 1998 [Copies available from New Physis]
(11) Tom Raines op cit. as quoted

Leave a Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you would like to, please leave a comment below.

There are currently no comments to display. Add Comment.