was “one of the earliest, if not the very first,” to advocate
a “treatment of the insane by mildness rather than coercion,”
Dudgeon tells us, Hahnemann “settled for a time in 1792,”
[Dudgeon, xxiii] in Georgenthal, and it was while residing there that
he “accepted an offer of the reigning Duke of Saxe-Gotha to take
charge of an asylum for the insane,” and it was here that Hahnemann
was able to “pursue his painfully interesting investigations,”
[Dudgeon, xxiii], eventually establishing a dramatic cure of a patient,
Herr Klockenbring. The account of this cure was published in 1796 [see
Lesser Writings, 243-49]
This single incident undoubtedly provided
Hahnemann with some pioneering ideas about the nature of mental disease
and how sufferers ought to be treated.
Hahnemann possessed an extraordinary
understanding for the nervous and mental activities of his patients…and
[possibly] considered psycho-therapy in certain cases to be more important,
more applicable than the use of homeopathic medicines. He also seems
to have been far in advance of his time in this province. Everyone seems
to agree that he exhibited a fine understanding…for the unfortunate
victims of mental derangement, and he acquired a reputation for the
same, attracting many patients with mental problems.
At the time of Hahnemann’s incursion
into this field, the insane were “treated like wild animals…chained
in dungeon-like cells”. The usual treatment at the time was by
violence…whipping and dungeons. Haehl states that Hahnemann “acquired
knowledge of psychiatry…”
During the two years following his translation of Cullen’s Materia
Medica and the epochal Cinchona bark proving in 1790 that derived from
it, Hahnemann “continued to experiment upon himself and on his
family and certain of his friends with different substances”,
but he had not yet tested the truth of this new principle on the sick.
The insanity of Klockenbring gave him the opportunity. However, for
the first few weeks Hahnemann simply observed Klockenbring without giving
him any medical treatment, Klockenbring had been Hanoverian Minister
of Police and Secretary to the Chancellery…[and] in his fast life,
he developed great eccentricity, but he became the subject of a satire
claiming he was a close associate of drunken brothel keepers and that
he had “the most dangerous venereal disease and moral vices ranging
from drunkenness to fraud,”. As a public figure and family man
who could not stand such accusations, he “became violently insane”.
In June 1792 he was brought to Georgenthal,
being so violent that he was escorted by two well-built men to keep
him under control. His face was covered with large spots, was dirty,
and imbecile in expression. Day and night he raved. He was afflicted
with strange hallucinations…would recite Greek…actual words
of Hebrew text…he destroyed his clothing and bedding, broke his
piano to pieces…and exhibited the most perfect forms of excitable
mania. Yet, Hahnemann had succeeded in curing him by “March 1793”.
In the Organon, Hahnemann on so-called
Hahnemann integrated his understanding of theology,
philosophy and psychology into “The Organon of the Healing Art.”
The main sections on homoeopathic psychology and the treatment of mental
disorders are found in aphorisms 210 to 230. There are, however, many
other references to the use of mind cure. In §17, note 17a, he
points out that disease mistunements can be caused by imagination, and
therefore, can be cured by similar imagined remedies. In §26 the
old homoeopathic psychologist echoes his early observations recorded
in the Materia Medica. Vide Organon.
As a mesmer, Hahnemann was aware of mind
cure, suggestology, trance and altered states of consciousness and bio
energetics. The early mesmers looked on the human soul as a potentized
bio-magnet with positive and negative polarities, lines of force and
centers of energy. We have eyewitness accounts of Hahnemann performing
a combination of magnetic healing and psychology on a number of patients.
The mesmerists work to infuse life energy and to balance the circulation
of the vital force and use hypnosis to induce altered states of consciousness
to release trauma and guide the individual through different levels
of awareness though suggestion.
Hahnemann was not unaware of the controversial
nature of Mesmer’s work. Specially prepared areas with magnets
and magnetic waters, padded rooms with hysterical and mentally disturbed
individuals going through catharsis, and others receiving treatments
in altered states of consciousness was a bit too much for the orthodox
establishment. Nevertheless, Hahnemann saw that the inevitable fanaticism
and mysticism associated with the Mesmerists was no obstacle to true
cure if the operator was compassionate. Vide Organon §288.
For management of the mental patient Hahnemann suggests the use of balancing
qualities (raging with quiet fearlessness, silence with attention, disgusting
behavior with inattentiveness, etc. Vide §228), but for cure, he
points to dynamic psychological similars and homoeopathic remedies.
This is similar to the management of patients suffering from physical
conditions. The homoeopath covers up those who are cold, gives water
to the dehydrated and feeds the malnourished as these are merely physical
potencies of the natural world. The spirit-like mistunements of the
vital force and mind however, need spirit-like dynamic homoeopathic
remedies. Such psychologically dynamic remedies must be applied in a
single remedy, given in small potent amounts, and not repeated unnecessarily.
All the rules of The Organon apply.
· Boericke, W & Dudgeon, R E translation, The Organon, combined
· Close, Stuart, The Genius of Homeopathy, Lectures and Essays
on Homeopathic Philosophy
· Dudgeon, Robert E, Lectures on the Theory & Practice of
· Haehl, Richard, Samuel Hahnemann His Life and Works, 2 volumes