The Vitalistic Approach

Vitalism and the orthodox approach to medicine

Vitalism, or the vitalistic idea, was chief influence informing the early homoeopaths. They presupposed that there was a vital force or dynamis that caused the individual to be well, that informed life in all of its manifestations. The idea of vitality lies at the heart of traditional medicines all over the world. 

The technology and practice of suppressive medicine, which has been spectacularly unsuccessful as a curative system, has always ignored the life force. 

In orthodox medicine, an individual is defined as being alive if he or she cannot be defined as dead; and they are defined as dead according to whatever death-defining technology is in vogue. Orthodox medicine has become a branch of engineering (not that there's anything wrong with that). The vitalist, on the other hand, having no particular judgement view of death, defines a person (in common with any living thing) as being alive when he or she is alive. 

It is so much more convenient. And it makes sense. And that is what the vitalistic approach to medicine is all about: common sense. 

The common sense approach to healing is thematic in homoeopathy. Indeed, I have discovered that all of my failures were due to departures from common sense and an embracing of scientific medicine, which has nothing at all to do with common sense (or cure). 

I therefore resolved that I would work out what I was doing wrong, and stop doing it. I found that in many cases I had been treating the so-called laws of homeopathy as if they were truths scientifically provable, if not already known. I was looking at the patient as an orthodox medical practitioner would: with self-suppressed detachment, with a desperate need to fit the patient with a smart pathophysiology, with a desire to prescribe a drug that should make the symptoms go away.    

The role of responsibility  illness and healing

My breakthrough discovery was the realisation that the vital force is mysterious. It led me to place less stress on the idea that it is the vital force that becomes diseased (not that it is untrue: it's just not the whole story) in favour of a praxis based on the primary role of the presenting patient, being at least less of a mystery, as the architect of his own illness. This accords with my experience that responsibility and healing are linked.

Vitalistic technology

The technology of vitalism is the technology of life itself. In itself, it is unrelated to medicine, which is essentially a response to illness. My plan is to keep the discussion of vitalistic technology to a minimum and used it only to elucidate relevant points concerning medicine. Of course, the elucidation of homoeopathy compels me to discuss vitalistic theory, and this will be undertaken from time to time, probably sooner rather than later. Thereafter, general vitalistic concepts will be be mentioned only in passing, though they underpin the explication of homoeopathic case management as I see it. As for the vitalistic model proposed, I can only hope that it is at least not inconsistent with the observations of other homoeopaths. 

Vitalism and the philosophy of medicine

Philosophy is the business of clarification. The philosophy of medicine, when it eventually appears, will reflect no particular interest; it will reflect only medical observation. A technology, however, will always be observed to express an underlying philosophy.

 Often, it will do so in such a practical way that the philosophy itself becomes virtually invisible. The technology may then be mistaken for a coherent philosophy, when common sense would dictate that this is an error. This what happened to modern medicine, which was born out of a desperate need for compassion. That has more recently become obscured by competition for political power, institutional arrogance, greed and cynicism. 

Because it is spectacular, homoeopathic technology is routinely treated by the few who have stopped to consider the matter, as a coherent philosophy. However, it is simply an expression of one. Vitalism is rooted in a philosophy of the commonsense approach to life, based on observation, and devoid of ego. Vitalism leads to practical action. Of course, like mainstream medicine, it is a field of excellence. However, unlike  mainstream medicine, it does not require an interpretative physics to standardise it. Life, and living medicine, must be taken as they are found.

© Peter Twohig