The word individualization is derived from a Latin word called “individuas” which means not divisible. This is nothing but a single unit. Individualization is an artistic process of understanding the reaction of a unit, in comparison to the other members of the group, based on its peculiar, characteristic, and distinguishing features.
Concept of Individualization
Individualization has become the integrated and compulsory basic rule of homeopathy. The classical practice of homeopathy is possible only by the process of individualization. The successful practice of homeopathy is possible only by the process of individualization. The concept of individualization is to understand an individual’s reaction to any stimulus either in health or in disease.
Dr. Hahnemann was the first person to recognize the importance of individualization in treating the sick. No two persons are alike (except the uniovular twins in some characteristics), or no two substances are alike. The knowledge of genetics will strengthen this concept further. Each individual is different in his physical, mental, and behavioral patterns. Consciously or unconsciously, each and every individual is trying to express his ideas in his own way.
Manifestations of disease are always in the form of signs and symptoms. The development of the signs and symptoms primarily depends upon the cause of the disease and secondarily on the constitution of the patient. Every individual’s reaction to the causative factor of disease differs. Just as the fate of the light differs on the object of light on which it falls. Like glass, wood, stone, water, etc. though the cause is the same, the effect will be different in each case.
In the same way, every individual’s reaction and the production of symptoms differ depending upon his individual characters or the nature of his constitution. The intelligent physician identifies this minute difference. This in turn helps him in finding out the individual’s reaction to the disease force.
Thus the proverb of homeopathy, “treat the patient, not the disease” developed.
Individualization of the Patient
In order to individualize the patient, we have to study not only his physical makeup but also his intellectual and emotional character or his mental makeup. The homeopathic physician must learn the art of individualization for his successful application of drugs. Individualization is an art. It demands much amount of patience, training, intelligence, alertness, knowledge, and experience on the physician’s part.
The diagnostic common symptoms reveal nothing to the homeopathic physician. They are found in most patients. But the homeopathic physician hunts for the uncommon peculiar symptoms which characterize or indicate the remedy in the materia medica.
Example: Delirium is the common symptom in the case of high-grade typhoid. But the individualistic behavior of each patient in this case differs. One patient behaves violently, one behaves vulgarly, by using abusive language, spitting on others, etc. At the same time, another person becomes calm and silent and melancholic, full of imagination that someone else is lying with him in the bed. So, for the same cases of typhoid condition, a homeopath prescribes different medicines to different patients based on their individualistic peculiar behavior.
Hence, in homeopathy, we say “one drug acts curatively in number of disease, while one disease requires a number of drugs for its cure”. The homeopathic physician must be an unprejudiced observer with a unique individualistic form of case taking and mastery over materia medica in order to individualize a patient. Understanding a patient as a person, artistic process of analysis and evaluation of the symptoms and intelligent use of repertory will help in individualization.
Individualization of Drug
Drugs are substances that possess the power of altering the state of an individual’s healthy state. This capacity to alter the state of health is unique to each and every drug substance in nature. Hahnemann recognized this unique feature of drug substances and advises to use a single remedy both, in curing as well as in proving the drugs.
In § 111 he says, “Medicinal substances act according to the fixed eternal laws of nature, and by virtue of these are enabled to produce certain, reliable disease symptoms each according to its own peculiar character”. § 118 says, “Every medicine exhibits peculiar action on the human frame, which are not produced in exactly same manner by any other medicinal substance of a different kind”. The homeopathic materia medica contains a group of symptoms produced by each drug in its unique nature. We call this a drug picture of that drug. No drug picture in materia medica is the same, each one is different from the other.
Example: In the case of restlessness we think of Arsenicum, Aconite, and Rhus tox. Though these three drugs have this symptom, their exhibition of restlessness is unique. Arsenicum restlessness is with extreme prostration and reduced vitality, which will not be relieved by any movement. Whereas Rhus tox restlessness is because of its joint pains, which makes him move constantly, and this movement relieves him temporarily. Aconite, just like arsenic is not relieved by motion, but it has a great fear of death.
Three Steps of Individualization (Tripods of Individualization)
The process of individualization can be made practical by these three steps:
1. The first step is studying the individual action of the drug substance by the process of drug proving. These proved drug actions are compiled in homeopathic materia medica.
2. Understanding the individuality of the patient is the second step. This can be done by the process of artistic case taking. This art is unique to homeopathy. Based on the study of the patient’s physical and mental characteristics we can individualize a patient.
3. The final and the most practical step is to select that individual remedy that is very similar to the individuality of the patient. This can be done purely by comparison of the drug symptoms with the patient’s symptoms.
Stuart Close says, “this must be made in such a manner as to determine what symptoms represent that which is curable by medication, under law of similia to determine in each particular case, what symptoms have a counter part in the Materia Medica.”
Practical Limitations in Individualization
The role of both the physician and the patient is responsible for proper individualization. But the physician is a trained and skillful person who can control the entire process and make the outcome fruitful.
1. Individualization is a laborious process. Careful and detailed study of the patient as a person in particular and as a unit of society in which he lives, in general, has to be done by careful case taking. It demands more time and patience on the part of the physician. Hasty, impatient caretaking will lead to non-observation or mal-observation. These are the most common mistakes made by most practitioners.
2. To differentiate and to identify the uncommon, peculiar individualistic symptoms, knowledge of nosological symptoms as well as the homeopathic symptomatology is compulsory. Lack of any one of the above requirements may result in a pure wastage of time and failure.
3. Physician’s lack of proper knowledge of homeopathic materia medica leads to failure in curing the patient. This happens because in spite of ascertaining the individual disease picture of the patient, the physician fails to find a suitable remedy from the materia medica.
4. Ascertaining individualistic, peculiar symptom is a difficult task. This is because the patient’s mind is conditioned by the allopathic way of case taking, as allopathic case taking purely depends upon the bodily symptoms. Hence, they may either hesitate or feel shy to narrate the details regarding their personal life to the physician. Indolent and hypochondriac patients make this condition worse by misleading the physician by their incomplete or exaggerated symptoms respectively. Hence the physician has to be alert throughout the process of case taking.
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Kent’s Views on Individualization: Lecture no. XXX
The substitution of one remedy for another cannot be thought of or entertained in homeopathy. The homeopathic physician must individualize, he must discriminate. Take for instance 2 remedies Secale and Arsenicum, they are both chilly, but the patient wants all covers off and wants the cold air in Secale and he wants all the things hot in Arsenicum. The mental picture of the two remedies helps in distinguishing these two. Without the generals of a case, no man can practice homeopathy. Without generals, no man can individualize and see distinctions.