The Medical Observer by Dr Samuel Hahnemann

Dr Pooja 

It is one of the Lesser Writing of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, this article found in the printed version of Hahnemann’s Reine Arzneimittellehre/ Materia Medica Pura volume 2, 2nd edition 1825.  

Observation means notice, watch carefully, make a remnant, and obey law or rule.

  • Medical Practitioner is the Best Observer; He should posses the capacity and habit of noticing carefully, correctly the phenomena of Natural Disease and Artificial Disease (medicinal). He should also able to describe them in most appropriate and natural expressions. To perceive what is to be observed in the patient, he should concentrate well and should ascertain by sensation in order not to escape any changes. Observer should be free from Poetic fancy (imagination), Fantastic wit (intelligent) and Unprejudiced observer. 
  • Duty of the observer – notices the phenomena and their course and should understand the observed facts as it is exactly. This capability of observing accurately is not innate faculty, it is acquired by practice. And also coolness, calmness and firmness of judgment must be preserved. Great patience and power of will is necessary for observations. Observation should be true and pure without any additions from fancy, knowledge of mathematics for judgment forming. 
  • Physician is a Best Prover – physician may prove the medicine on himself, such experiments are the best, as per 141 aphorism. He should avoid all the foreign medicinal influences and disturbing mental impressions that alter healthy state of body- in order to observe and record the medicinal symptoms correctly with wakeful feeling with his senses. Careful investigations help to observe finest shades of alterations of health to record it. He is the best beginner to make pure, correct, undisturbed observations because he will not deceive himself. He will acquire practice to enable him to make equally accurate observations. The pure and accurate observation is necessary because the medicine given is in such an infinitely various and dissimilar manner that is totally inadequate to describe the morbid sensation and symptoms- that which alter healthy body.
  • Need for accurate observation – sensation differ so vastly among each other and suffering are described according to their peculiarity, complexity of pain, but all this sufferings are described in general terms like – perspiration, heat, fever, headache, sore throat, croup, cough, chest complaints, stitch in the side, belly ache, want of appetite, dyspepsia, backache, haemorrhoidal sufferings, urinary disorders, pains in the limbs, skin diseases, spasms, convulsions etc. this term will knock off the observation and pretend all disease as same. Without accurate observation of sick and the infinite varieties of their disordered state of health, one cannot distinguish the peculiarity of morbid states nor selecting the similimum. 
  • Advantages of Physician as Observer – physician cannot escape or neglect the minute sensations, because the medicine was tested by himself. He will Endeavour to convey an idea of it in language by the most appropriate expression. 

So true is that the careful observer alone can become a true healer of diseases.

Dr Hahnemann in his Organon of Medicine in 6th aphorism says, a true practitioner of the healing art should be an unprejudiced observer. The unprejudiced observer-well aware of the futility of transcendental speculations which can receive no confirmation from experience.   Observation is finding a fact. But if we want to be true seekers of truth we must develop strict “intellectual morality” of recording all facts that come to our notice, instead of reading into things of our preconceived notions. 

Our observation is apt to be vitiated by two factors, viz, Non-Observation and Mal-Observation. We undertake observation because we have some purpose in view. It may happen that we have some favorite theory and we observe those facts only which go to support that theory. We may have such an unconscious bias, that facts which do not support our theory are overlooked and escape observations. This is an instance of Non-observation. On the other hand, Mal-observation is the fallacy arising out of the wrong interpretation of sense-perception. Non-observation is a negative fallacy, because in it we do not observe something; Mal-observation is a positive fallacy, because, in it we observe a thing wrongly. Most of the observations are vitiated by mixing observations with unwarranted assumptions and inferences. So, observer must be free from all bias, preconceived notions and be ready to accept facts and truths induced from them, even if these truths be radically opposite to those popularly held. 

Dr Kent in his lectures on Homoeopathic philosophy, speaks about Unprejudiced observer is the one who notes only change of state as shown by symptoms. Hahnemann does not speak of changes of tissues or changes in the organs, but changes of state. 

How can we become unprejudiced observer? 

  • After the physician has written down all the information (in accordance with paragraph 85) for taking the case then he must proceed to observe as much as he can, about the disorder, more particularly those things which the patient may conceal, or cannot relate, or does not know. 
  • Tissue change do not indicate the remedy, and so as physicians we must learn to examine symptoms which are prior to morbid pathology, and thus to go back to the very beginning.
  • A physician must conduct full physical examination, which also indicates a change of state. A physician should be least bothered with tissue changes. There is nothing in the nature of diseased tissue to point to a remedy. It is only a result of disease.   

So a true observer is the one who is aware of the uselessness of speculations and take note only of the signs and symptoms of the patient, because the physician cannot see the vital force which produces the disease. 

  References:

  1. Samuel Hahnemann, The Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann. The Medical Observer, 1st edition. New Delhi, B.Jain Publishers, 1984; 724-727.
  2. Samuel Hahnemann, Aphorism 6. Organon of Medicine, 6th edition. New Delhi, Indian books and periodicals publishers, 2008; 92. 
  3. James Taylor Kent, Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy with classroom notes and word index. The unprejudiced observer, 7th edition. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, B. Jain publishers, 2007; 49-57.     

Dr. Pooja   
PG Scholar
Dept of Organon of Medicine & Homoeopathic Philosophy                                                                                                                         GHMC&H Bangaluru