Anamnesis is a process of determining the individuality of the patient, a method of distinguishing the uniqueness of the patient in contrast to the other patients with the same disease based on his detailed medical history.
Diagnosis of the patient as a person = Anamnesis
The word “anamnesis “ is derived from two Greek words “Ana” which means “going back” and “mimnskein” which means “to remind” or “to recall”.
It has to play a major role to play in homeopathic case taking. The axiom “Homeopathy treats the patient and not the disease” explains the concept of anamnesis in a nutshell. What the man is today is determined by his past. Investigation of the patient’s past and his condition in his early stages of illness is a part of anamnesis. Hence, the process of anamnesis diagnosis of the patient’s suffering can also be done.
A study of the patient as a person enables the physician to answer questions like what kind of a person the patient is what has he met, what has happened to him, and finally why has he fallen ill? Answers to all these questions help a homeopathic physician in selecting the similimum from the materia medica.
Method of anamnesis
The first step in the process is the proper homeopathic case taking. During the case taking the physician has to avoid any formal approach and has to treat the patient as a human being suffering from the disease and not a pathological specimen with tissue changes.
The patient’s behavior both with his family members and to the others, his mental state, habits, nature of dealing with any challenges in life, reactions to failure and success in his life, etc has to be investigated thoroughly. Especially his state of mind at the onset of the current suffering gives many clues to the physician. This will give us both the common and uncommon symptoms of the patient.
Anamnesis demands the longitudinal sectional study of the patient’s life span (i.e. the entire life of the patient has to be studied), whereas the diagnosis requires only the cross-sectional study of the patient (i.e. the presenting complaints are only investigated).
The second step is sorting out the symptoms. In this step, the general symptoms like mental symptoms, aversions, desires, modalities, menstrual symptoms, patient’s mental symptoms during, before, and after the menstrual flow, sleep, dreams, etc are significant to consider. Detailed study of the past history, treatment history, personal history, and family history may give some clue regarding the peculiarity of the patient.
The third step is to select the similimum based on the collected data. The whole data has to be considered as a whole and not in parts. A study of the person’s mental suffering and the reaction of the patient to this suffering will help us in personalizing the patient and in comparing his personality with the drug personality of the materia medica.
Since it also includes common symptoms of the disease, it helps in the diagnosis of the pathological condition. From anamnesis, diagnosis can be derived but from disease, diagnosis anamnesis cannot be.
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Importance of Anamnesis
1. It’s nothing but the in-depth individualization of the patient based on both his past and present histories. For a careful homeopathic treatment, anamnesis is very important, as it explains the patient as a person and his reactions to the environmental stimulations.
2. It’s derived from the totality as a whole that we collect from the process of case taking. It is the constitutional curative approach to chronic diseases. For palliative treatments anamnesis seems to be useless.
3. Diagnosis is possible only after the disease has progressed to a tissue degenerative level and this can be confirmed only by laboratory investigations. Diagnosis is not possible in the early stages of the disease at the functional level. Hence, in the early stages of disease depending on the diagnosis we cannot treat the patient. But this is not so in the case of anamnesis where the condition of the patient receives the medicine and not the name of his disease.
4. In idiopathic cases, where the diagnosis seems to be impossible or difficult, anamnesis gives hope to the physician.
5. It can be done at any stage of the disease in any type of patient. The main aim of anamnesis is to prescribe a similimum remedy.
6. It is a holistic approach; it helps in understanding a man from his psychological, and social grounds, and his behavioral and emotional response to society. So it is extremely useful in treating psychosomatic diseases.