The patient should be requested to give a correcthistory, beginning with the first symptoms of any attackor illness, and proceed to state somewhat in detail andparticularly in the order of development, any essentialfeatures or symptoms that have occurred down to thedate of the present interview. Only such interruptions
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should be made as seem necessary to guide the patientin an orderly narration of the case in hand. Followingthis, the patient should be questioned and examined witha view of making a diagnosis of the disease. Apart fromthe selection of the remedy or not, it should never beomitted. This may or may not furnish material aid inthe selection of the one remedy for the case ; however,it will often suggest a number of remedies to be con-sidered more fully later on. If the case is properlyconducted up to this point, the next step may be comparatively easy. The final act of selecting the remedy shouldbegin here. If, after listening to the patient’s narrationof the case, one or more remedies should have beensuggested, it should be followed up and the patient ques-tioned closely, to see if further indications or symptomsconfirm the suggestion beyond a reasonable doubt. Ifnot, and other remedies have been suggested, they shouldbe considered in the same way. //, through the inabilityof the patient to give an intelligent history of the case orwhen such history is brief, furnishing no special featureszvhich wotdd naturally suggest a remedy, then the pre-scriber must proceed to question closely so as to discoverthe cause and first appearance of the illness, and sogradually unfold any facts or symptoms down to thetime of seeking the prescriber; all to be done with a viewof selecting a remedy.
When this is well done, the cases are rare that do notfurnish some good indications for remedies. It is wellfor the inexperienced to know that all symptoms have arelative value. As for instance, many diseases exhibitmany symptoms in common, but each disease exhibits
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individual peculiarities or characteristics. The same isessentially true with medicines. Many drugs producesymptoms common to each other, while it is equality trueeach drug exhibits individual peculiarities which in pre-scribing are very appropriately termed ”characteristics”or “key-notes,” and the better these agree with the symp-toms of the patient, the more certain the cure.
Thus to designate and give proper emphasis to the so-called “key-notes” they are printed in italics, and black let-ters for still greater emphasis, both in the Materia Medica,Part III, and also under “Treatment.” Symptoms printedin common type are close up to the “key-notes” in relia-bility, requiring only added experience and observationto place many of them in the class of “characteristics,”thus ulitmately forming the ideal Materia Medica.
Again the fact that circumstances often prevent thecareful reading of all the indications for the remedy underconsideration, as well as the fact that some symptomsof the remedy are m.ore important than others has led tothe use of italics and black type to facilitate the choice ofthe remedy.
These “characteristics” may refer to all the circum-stances and conditions of aggravation and amelioration,such as time, rest, motion, heat, cold, light, etc., etc.
Again, in selecting the remedy, the mental symptomsand temperament of the individual often furnish a guideto the remedy. The first cause of an attack will oftensuggest the remedy, as for instance certain errors of diet,different kinds of exposure to all sorts of weather, mentaland emotional disturbances from various causes, etc.
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The most successful prescribers have utiHzed all of theseaids in deciding the choice of the remedy.
Occasionally two or more remedies may seem equallywell indicated, and here comes a real perplexity for eventhe best prescribers. A careful review of the symptoms,including conditions of aggravation and amelioration willgenerally clear up such perplexity. All who have hadreal experience in this painstaking study know that theprice of success is a strict compliance zvith the law ofcure. This means a diligent and discriminating use ofthe homeopathic Materia Medica and the treatment ofthe patient as a whole rather than treating the name of adisease.
Alternating of two remedies when they both seemequally well indicated is advocated by some and con-demned by others. It is not a good rule for eitherthe patient or prescriber, as it tends to superficial andloose methods of prescribing.
Of course, in all prescribing it is assumed that theavoidable causes of illness will receive due attention andif possible by advice, be corrected, that injuries and localdisease requiring local treatment will be treated accord-ingly, and that disease and conditions generally regardedas surgical will receive the attention of a surgeon.
The following quotation from “The Hand-Book ofMateria Medica” by Timothy F. Allen, M. D., LL. D.,a most eminent authority, expresses more conciselythe same or a very similar method of procedure forthe selection of the remedy, and as he states “it can befollowed by the trained or untrained prescriber.”
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“The first duty of the prescriber is to note carefullyand completely the various complaints of his patientand add thereto his own observations concerning hiscondition, that is to say the prescriber must get allof his symptoms, subjective and objective. This dutyis frequently quite apart from that performed inmaking a diagnosis of the disease and often requiresa different line of investigation. This duty mayindeed be performed without making a diagnosis,though it is not wise to attempt it.”
Summarizing his plan follows. “After carefullyobserving the history of the case, the character of thepains or sensations and location of the same togetherwith the conditions of aggravation and amelioration,a group of remedies will usually be suggested fromwhich, by the aid of the Materia Medica, one maybe selected which best covers the case. Again, ifthe diagnosis of the disease has been made as itshould be and is reasonably certain, then the first stepwould be to consider carefully the indications forremedies partially described under said disease, forthus, as is often the case, the right remedy may beselected without referring to the Materia Medica.However, in all cases of doubt the latter should beconsulted, for thus only can Homeopathy besuccessfully practiced.”
Dr. Clark, of London, another eminent authority,says in his introduction to his book, “The Prescriber,”under the head of “Rules for Practice” :
“The beginner in homeopathic practice should, in
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the first instance, make himself absolute master ofsome dozen of the most widely useful remedies, withall their characteristics and peculiarities; of the con-ditions under which their symptoms appear and cease,and of their special times of occurrence, if theyhave any.
“An accurate knowledge of the symptomatology ofthese drugs will enable the practitioner to deal suc-cessfully with the majority of the cases he meets.But it will also do more than this for him; it will givehim a solid basis on which to build up a knowledge ofthe rest of the materia medica.”
The last sentence in the above quotation isespecially important and cannot be over-emphasized.The number of remedies to begin with may be evenmore limited. They will increase rapidly andnormally without any confusion if the prescriber isdiligent in study.
Again in the same book under the head of “CaseTaking.” Dr. Clark states in few words the essentialprinciples concernings which there is practicalunanimity among all homeopathists.
“The first step towards making a good prescriptionis a well-taken case. The homeopathist takes his casewith much more care than do others. The directionsgiven by Hahnemann himself in the Organon shouldbe carefully studied, and the spirit of them followed.The patient should be allowed to tell his own story,stating just what he feels, and the particular symp-toms he is most anxious to be rid of. The practitioner
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should then ascertain the condition under which the symp-toms occur, times of day at which they are worst, and anyconcomitant symptoms that may accompany them. Ifit is then not quite obvious what remedy he ought to pre-scribe, he will be prepared to consult his books of refer-ence, knowing clearly what symptom he wishes to find.”