Useful to the physician in assisting him to cure are the particulars of the most probable exciting cause of the acute disease, as also the most significant points in the whole history of the chronic disease, to enable him to discover its fundamental cause, which is generally due to a chronic miasm. In these investigations, the ascertainable physical constitution of the patient (especially when the disease is chronic), his moral and intellectual character, his occupation, mode of living and habits, his social and domestic relations, his age, sexual function, etc., are to be taken into consideration.
This is a rather long aphorism, but what Hahnemann is saying here is that to aid in healing, the practitioner needs to be holistic by paying attention to the exciting & fundamental causes of disease (more on this below), as well as consider the person in general, such as the physical constitution, mind & emotions, relationships, occupation, lifestyle and other factors.
To identify the fundamental cause of the disease state, the homeopath needs to
- understand the exciting causes (particularly in Acute diseases); and the
- significant points in the whole health history.
An exciting cause is something which ‘provokes’ or exacerbates the condition.
Some examples of some an exciting cause leading to a change in the state of health or a person, are:
- physical, such as over-exertion
- environmental aggravation, such as exposure to a cold draft
- emotion, such as grief triggering a change in health.
Exciting causes are often specific to an individual and their particular circumstances.
Miasm – the underlying predisposition
In chronic (long-term) diseases, Hahnemann states that this fundamental cause is likely due to a miasm.
This is a larger topic, but in short, a miasm can be thought of as a predisposition to certain disease states, which has been acquired or inherited (e.g. genetic).
Without addressing this fundamental cause, the disease may only be palliated, or it may return at a later date, such as when a person is stressed or run-down.
Homeopathic treatment aims to reduce this susceptibility and strengthen the constitution of the individual.
Comprehensive health history
Homeopaths have developed a number of strategies to address this underlying or more fundamental cause, and in particular, this relates to being able to identify the significant points in the whole health history of the individual.
This is part of the reason why in classical homeopathy, much attention and time is given to taking a comprehensive health & lifestyle history, revealing patterns or events which have impacted on our wellbeing, and useful in developing a treatment plan.
In the second part of this aphorism, Hahnemann says to take into consideration the total person during the course of investigating their health.
For Hahnemann, this includes:
- the physical constitution (especially when the disease is chronic)
- moral and intellectual character (mind & emotions)
- occupation, mode of living and habits
- relationships (social and domestic)
- age, sexual function, etc.
During case taking, it is not unusual for the homeopath to explore these areas.