Susceptibility, Inheritance and Predisposition
Susceptibility has been described by key homeopathic writers such as Kent, Vithoulkas and the founding father of homeopathy as we know it, Samuel Hahnemann.
The Organon of Medicine Aphorisms 30 to 32 highlights Hahnemann’s key theories of susceptibility and disease. Aphorism 31 for example describes disease as a force, partly physical, partly psychical to which our being is exposed and cannot make someone ill unconditionally. In order to be ‘made’ ill our organism has to be sufficiently susceptible to the attack.
Kent further explains this by introducing the concept of man being susceptible to natural diseases upon a certain plane. He goes on to explain that the susceptibility works in accordance to the plane the person is in and the degree of attenuation that happens to be present at the time of any contagion, thus the degree of the disease cause experienced fits the susceptibility at the moment the person is made sick. Kent also highlights that the aspect of cure and contagion are very similar and the principles apply to both aspects of disease and susceptibility. In essence Kent is describing two types of susceptibility. Firstly, the individual being susceptible to disease in the aspect of becoming ill and secondly the individual susceptibility to homeopathic remedies in order to cure the disease and maintain health and wellbeing by ensuring the correct remedy at the potency the person is susceptible to is prescribed.
Vithoulkas discusses susceptibility in the Science of Homeopathy and describes Kent’s theory as disease being a morbific stimulus which resonates with a particular level of susceptibility of the organism. This stimulus is called the exciting cause and maybe a micro-organism, foreign chemical, emotional shock or other influence. He continues to explain that susceptibility can also be described as a predisposition which is known as the maintaining cause. In effect, Vithoulkas is describing the concept of the exciting cause being the direct cause of a disease such as a virus/ bacteria and the maintaining cause being a predisposition of disease that maintains a lower state of health in an individual thus impacting on their signs and symptoms.
It can be argued that all three writers are describing the same facets of disease being that of two causes, the first, being the outside influence such as a seasonal virus etc resonating with the individual susceptibility of each person and secondly, due to predisposed and maintaining causes in the person’s body impacting on their vital force resulting in illness or not affecting them in any way.
Yasgur summarises susceptibility within the Homeopathic Dictionary in two distinct definitions incorporating all of the aforementioned theories:-
Degree of sensitivity to outside influences – sensitivity to disease producing influences.
Susceptibility to a remedy. The patient either reacts well or perhaps over-reacts to it.
So how does inheritance and predisposition affect an individual?
Susceptibility as described by Kent is dependent on the plane the person is in and Vithoulkas similarly alludes to this in his writing on exciting and maintaining causes or predisposition. Although recognising that physical pathologies exist, Homeopathy has an embedded belief that the susceptibility occurs as a result of a number of factors such as lifestyle, life events and diet for example impact on the individual susceptibility at any one time. This position places the person on the ‘plane’ as described by Kent, thus increasing the risk of becoming ill. Homeopathically, it is believed that all disease impacts on the body’s vital force and it is through the organism’s energy the signs and symptoms of illness in an individual occur, resulting in the vital force becoming weaker than the organism in question at that time, consequently requiring the support to become stronger than the evading pathology.
Vithoulkas described this as the exciting cause and within the same passage described the aspect of predisposition. It is believed that each individual has a predisposition to illness and in particular chronic disease. A miasm, as this predisposition is also known is a complex aspect of homeopathy, though simplistically it can be described as a predisposition. Hahnemann describes the miasm as inherited predispositions which allow a disease to take root. These diseases are delayed, accelerated or modified as a result of this inheritance. For the Homeopath, here lies the challenge in in taking the case. A patient’s case taking is largely reliant on the individual ability to recall a full medical history, (anamnesis) including familial history, diseases experienced and treatments received which may have caused a level of suppression or further aggravation on their miasmatic taint. Such miasmatic traits can be described as an obstacle to cure and underpins our present, predominant and persistent symptoms for which we may consult a homeopath. In essence the miasm is the soil in which the disease grows and not the actual manifesting disease itself. It is here we see the possible dangers of suppression that is found in allopathic medical practices and one to a certain extent the patient can cause unintentionally. Vithoulkas highlights such aspects as predisposing weaknesses of the defense mechanism which can be affected by three major factors:-
Hereditary influence (miasm)
Strong Infectious Diseases (contagion)
Previous treatments and vaccinations (suppression and anamnesis)
As a result of the above, the journey of disease can deeper penetrate the layers of humankind, thus exacerbating the problems of the soil taint and manifestation of individualistic disease symptomatology. In summary, the soil being further contaminated, increasing susceptibility to disease.
The other aspect of susceptibility that requires discussion in order to effectively answer
the question is the susceptibility to remedies of each individual. Kent discusses this and states that only ‘enough medicine must be given to establish order’. In this he possible refers to the fact that individual people will react differently to potencies to support their vital force strength to bring about homeostasis and cure the disease in question. He continues to describe the fact that some people may have slow reactions to remedies, thus slowing the process of healing down if doses are repeated and conversely some people with a high susceptibility to remedies can have adverse reactions to repeated doses. Here one can see the ethos of Homeopathy being echoed in Kent’s writing, that of Hahnemann’s first and second aphorisms, ‘the sole mission of the physician is to cure rapidly, gently and permanently’.
The remedy selection itself is of high importance in ensuring that the similimum is achieved by effective case taking, rubric selection and repertorisation in order to ensure the holistic aspects of patient case picture and symptomatology that resonates with the individual’s vital force a cure can be achieved in the least harmful and quickest way. The similimum itself is key to the aspect of susceptibility, predisposition and inheritance as Yasgur describes it as ‘the remedy that most closely corresponds to the totality of symptoms. The one, that when found is always curative.’ However, it is not just the remedy picture within the similimum that needs to be taken into consideration. The energetic picture of the patient needs to be carefully considered in relation in potency selection. As discussed individuals are susceptible of two levels, one being the disease and one being the remedy itself. Here the homeopath, when taking the case needs to carefully assess the potency of the symptoms present, the energy of the miasmatic taint and the pathology of disease to facilitate the direction to cure of the patient through the similimum matching in all aspects with correct potency selection to gently direct the cure without possibility of aggravation or prolonged suffering with a potency that is too high or too low.
Hahnemann, discusses an example of how the patient remedy selection, curative approach and miasmatic influence in the organon in an example where he highlights the symptoms disappearing but later returning on a deeper level. Here he asserted that failing to match the remedy and potency to the exact similimum and underlying miasm did fully bring about the cure he and the patient were looking for.
Taking the highlighted philosophical information into consideration it can be argued that susceptibility, inheritance and predisposition are inter-dependable in relation to homeopathic case taking, prescribing and treatment. The modus operandi of the similimum is to act upon the vital force to bring about a homeostasis within the miasmatic taint, predisposition and susceptibility of a patient in order to cure the disease(s) being experienced. However, the challenge is find the similimum on all levels so the remedy can perform the gentle miracles that is the true essence of homeopathy.