Disease Nosology Part II
The objective of medicine is to cure disease, to distinguish imbalance from disease, and to treat this imbalance appropriately with means other than medicine.
In Aphorism 1 of the Organon, Dr. Hahnemann states clearly that “the highest and only calling” of the physician is to “cure” (heilen), to restore the sick to soundness (gezundheit), that is, without disease. While the term heilen can encompass both cure and healing in English, the context tells us that it relates to the removal of disease, or cure.
Dr. Hahemann identifies two types of health, the one related to balance of the sustentive power of the Dynamis, wellness (wohlseyn), and the other related to the removal of all disease from the generative side of the Dynamis, soundness (gezundheit), as in “of sound mind and body.” One can be well, but not sound, or sound, but not well. The ideal is to be both.
Cure is based on the use of an artificial disease agent (medicine) that has the power to affect the generative power of the Dynamis, applied according to the law of similars such that the stronger artificial disease wesen of the medicine annihilates (Dr. Hahnemann’s term) the existing disease wesen in the patient (palingenesis). This is the realm of medicine proper.
Restoring dynamic balance (homeostasis) involves the use of therapeutic agents on the sustentive power of the Dynamis to remove an excess or supply a deficit in functioning according to the law of opposites, e.g., Vitamin C to remove a Vitamin C deficiency. This is the realm of therapeutic regimen. Regimen encompasses all those various products and therapies that aim at restoring balance, that is, what is referred to colloquially as the natural health field.
In the first three Aphorisms, Dr. Hahnemann makes crystal clear that what he is principally concerned about is the removal of disease, part of which involves distinguishing disease from imbalance, even serious ones which can look like disease (virtual chronic diseases), but are not to be treated by medicine. Any approach to medicine proper must involve three things: 1) diagnosis; 2) knowledge of the curative action of medicines; 3) knowledge of the application of medicine to disease according to clear principle.
Dr. Hahnemann’s medical system, which he termed Heilkunst, has a sophisticated and powerful nosology.
It first distinguishes between primary or idiopathic diseases of constant nature (wesen), which we term tonic diseases, and those that derive from these, the secondary diseases of variable wesen or nature, which we term pathic diseases.
It next distinguishes on the basis of temporality, both quantitatively and qualitatively. On the qualitative side, the duration of disease in actual fact, we have diseases that are acute, that is, those that have only been in place for a short period of time; and those that are chronic, that is, those that have been in place for a longer time.
On the qualitative side, the temporal nature of the disease, regardless of how long it has been in place in a patient, we have self-limiting diseases and protracted diseases. Acute and self-limiting are not necessarily co-existent, nor are chronic and protracted.
Thus, a person could be suffering from a protracted disease that was contracted only a day ago (syphilis, for example), so that it is now acute, yet still not self-limiting. Over time, the protracted diseases becomes chronic so that we normally refer to them by this term. At the same time, we can have an acute flare-up of an underlying protracted disease.
Protracted References (from Introduction to Organon)
44.1 …in protracted [langwierigen] diseases the evacuations, organized by the nature of the patient, announce themselves not infrequently as reliefs, though only brief, of troublesome states of terrible pains, paralyses, cramps, etc…
68.1 When the old medicine is not aware of how to set about dealing with a protracted disease…
73.1 The fundamental cause of the chronic (non-venereal) diseases, along with their remedies, remained unknown to these vainly boastful practitioners…; how, indeed would they have wanted to lift that monstrous majority of protracted diseases with their indirect treatments…
While Dr. Hahnemann does not use the term self-limiting, the distinction is there between the actual nature of the disease in time, and its actual course in time.
§.72.2. The diseases of humanity are partly rapid disease processes of the abnormally mistuned Living Principle, which are suited to complete their course in a moderate, more or less short time
— they are called acute diseases;
Dr. Hahnemann immediately provides a careful dissection of the diseases that “are called acute diseases.”
First, he distinguishes between:
- Individual acute fevers (in time)
- True acute diseases (in duration, that is, self-limiting)
Then he divides each of these categories into two:
1. Individual Acute Fevers:
a) due to shocks and traumas
b) flare-ups of an underlying chronic miasm
§73.2. Pleasurable excesses or their deprivation, physically vehement impressions, chillings, heatings, fatigues, strains from lifting etc., or psychical agitations, affects etc., are the occasion of such acute fevers, but fundamentally they are mostly only transient flare-ups of latent Psora…
2. True Acute Diseases
a) uniquely occurring nature (different each time)
b) constant nature (same each time) or acute miasm
The uniquely occurring diseases encompass the epidemic and sporadic diseases.
The constant nature diseases Dr. Hahnemann here also terms acute miasms.
§73.4. … – partly they are peculiar acute miasms recurring in the same manner (thus known under a traditional name) which either befall the individual once in a lifetime, like smallpox, measles, whooping cough, or the old, bright red scarlet fever of Sydenham, mumps, etc. or recur often in a rather similar way, like Levantine plague, coastal yellow fever, Asiatic cholera, etc.
Thus, in Dr. Hahnemann’s system, we have a sophisticated distinction for disease related to the element of time.
Glossary Contribution Part 6
Self-limiting diseases: those diseases that have the quality such that they go away on their own, though they may leave a residual damage to the generative side of the Life Force unless treated for (disease as defined by the quality of time)
Protracted diseases: those diseases that have the quality such that they will not disappear on their own and over time become chronic (the dual nature of disease defined by the quality of time). They can be either pathic or tonic in kind. For example, psora is a tonic protracted disease, usually chronic in most people, whereas an Arsenicum-like disease is a psoric disease of pathic nature that has emerged from psora and may be found in some people with psora and not others.
Chronic diseases: those diseases that are protracted in nature and have continued in the patient for a longer time (disease defined by the quantity of time)
Acute diseases: those diseases that are self-limiting in nature and have either a variable nature (pathic) or a constant nature (tonic) (the duality of disease defined by the quantity of time).
Sporadic diseases: those diseases that are self-limiting and acute, affecting several people at the same time in a given area and are usually of telleuric origin. The nature or wesen of the disease, which may be constant or variable, is uniquely occurring.
Epidemic diseases: those diseases that are self-limiting and acute, affecting many people from the same cause, and becoming transmissible in closely-populated areas. The nature or wesen of the disease, which may be constant or variable, is uniquely occurring as well.
Acute miasms: those self-limiting, acute diseases that either affect a person once in a lifetime (such as the childhood infectious diseases) or can affect a person more than once in a lifetime (such as cholera, malaria, yellow fever, etc.), and that are constant in nature, such that they are given a traditional appellation.
Individual diseases: those diseases that affect an individual due to emotional or physical trauma peculiar to the life of the individual concerned. These diseases are not necessarily self-limiting and may become chronic in nature, only to be removed by the similar medicine.
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Rudi Verspoor is Dean and Chair Department of Philosophy Hahnemann College for Heilkunst, Ottawa. He served as the Director of the British Institute of Homeopathy Canada from 1993 to early 2001 and helped to found and is still active in the National United Professional Association of Trained Homeopaths (NUPATH) and the Canadian/International Heilkunst Association (C/IHA).
Part of his time is spent advising the Canadian government on health-care policy and in working for greater acceptance of and access to homeopathy. His publications include:
Homeopathy Renewed, A Sequential Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Illness (with Patty Smith);
A Time for Healing; Homeopathy Re-examined: Beyond the Classical Paradigm (with Steven Decker);
The Dynamic Legacy: Hahnemann from Homeopathy to Heilkunst (with Steven Decker).
Visit his website at