Susceptibility can be termed as the fundamental quality of a living organism to react to any sort of stimuli that distinguishes the living from the non-living.
Stuart Close says, “By susceptibility we mean general quality or capacity of the living organism of receiving impressions the power to react to stimuli”.
H.A.Roberts says, “We may define susceptibility primarily as the reaction of the organism to the external and internal influences”.
Susceptibility is one of the fundamental attributes of life. All the vital processes like digestion, assimilation and nutrition, healing and repair, secretion, excretion, metabolism, catabolism, disease process, all depend upon the power of the organism to react to specific stimuli.
Example: As soon as you look at your favorite food, saliva is secreted in your mouth. This is the reaction of your body to the stimulus called food. Unless you have this capacity to react and secret saliva, your physiological function called digestion of food is impossible. So man has to have a balanced state of susceptibility to carry on his vital functions and day-to-day physiological actions.
Susceptibility is responsible for the continued existence of life in the world. We can understand the susceptibility when the living organism is in the environment and the signs and symptoms are the best examples of susceptibility of the organism to any noxious powers. Depending upon the level of susceptibility, the living organism in nature is adjusting itself to the surrounding environment. Hence, the aim of the physician is to maintain this normal susceptibility of the organism and not to alter it or impair it.
The susceptibility can be studied under the following headings:
- Susceptibility in health.
- Susceptibility and constitution.
- Susceptibility and diathesis.
- Susceptibility and disease.
- Susceptibility and cure.
- Susceptibility and drugs and remedies
- Susceptibility and posology.
- Susceptibility and suppression.
Susceptibility in Health
Health is a condition of a person where he is perfectly balancing his functions even in adverse environmental conditions. An organism in perfect balance is considered as “Health”. In health we live, we resist, we act without our subjective awareness. The susceptibility of an organism is equal to the attitude of the organism to internal and external circumstances. It is one of the defense mechanisms a method to survive. Balancing the level of susceptibility is important to maintain a healthy state.
For example, one person can survive in a marshy area whereas the other becomes seriously ill. One will thrive in the dampness to which the other succumbs. Altitude affects some adversely and some kind. Seashore improves one person’s health whereas the other becomes ill. The problem is one’s inability to adjust to the environment. This always depends upon the person’s susceptibility. The rational system always recognizes this fact and conserves and tries to restore the normal susceptibility and does nothing to impair it.
Susceptibility and Constitution
Individual partly inherits susceptibility from his ancestors and partly develops it during his lifetime . Hence, the constitution has a direct role in the level of susceptibility. Susceptibility controls the reaction to stimuli and resistance to infection etc. It has a direct relation to the maintenance of health. The disease is nothing but the symptom collection exhibited by the host as a reaction to many noxious agents whether they are mechanical, chemical, or dynamic in nature. The nature and intensity of the symptoms produced are directly dependent upon the susceptibility of the host.
Constitution is also a genotypic inheritance, the ability of the organism to react to the stimuli and the resistance offered by the host. The exogenous and endogenous factors have to play a major role in the development of the constitution. The emotional, intellectual, and physical attributes are better determined by susceptibility. Hence, constitutional type is determined by the susceptibility within. By understanding the constitutional type of the person, we can determine his susceptibility to a certain level.
Susceptibility and Diathesis
Diathesis represents certain deviations in the nature of susceptibility. The predisposition of certain somatotypes to the development of certain diseases leads to the discovery of doctrine of susceptible constitutions and diathesis. This concept can be used successfully in preventive medicine. But, this concept is not fully understood in its pathogenetic sphere. Hence, the usage of this concept in predicting and preventing the development of diseases in a predisposed individual is not fully reliable.
In homeopathic practice, the individuality of a patient is difficult both in the application part and evaluation. The detailed study of the psycho-somatic study of the diathesis of different miasmatic states simplifies this process a bit.
Susceptibility and Disease
Adjustment of the organism to the adverse environmental states are the result of normal Susceptibility. A normal level of susceptibility is responsible for the maintenance of a healthy state. But prolonged exposure to the adverse environmental effects may lead to change in the state of susceptibility. These adverse factors can be either mechanical, chemical, or dynamic in nature. If such adverse conditions are not controlled in time, uneasiness is exhibited by the host which leads to the production of disturbances in the organism in the form of signs and symptoms, which we call disease. Hence, disturbance in the levels of susceptibility disturbs the capacity of adaptability of the host and leads to the development of disease.
In disease, the susceptibility may be either decreased or increased, or even destroyed. Increased susceptibility leads to abnormal and exaggerated responses to those stimuli which are normal to a healthy person. Thus, leading to disease like atopy and allergy, etc. the similimum remedy selected based on the constitutional somatotype, temperament and diathesis satisfies this increased susceptibility and brings back the normalcy.
Along with the constitutional treatment, removal of those adverse environmental factors that lead to this altered susceptibility has to be made. This can be done by adequate control of diet and regimen. “Excessive reaction, irritability, in a condition sometimes met where the patient seems to suffer an aggravation from every remedy, without corresponding improvement. There is a state of general hypersensitiveness. For such state, Boenninghausen recommends Asar, Cham, Coff, Ign, Nux v, Puls, Teuc, Valer. But the case and remedy must be carefully individualized”, says Stuart Close. Decreased susceptibility is the opposite state to increased susceptibility.
The organism poorly responds to any type of stimuli in the environment. The general condition of the organism will come down. This further deteriorates the protective process of the organism leading to the effects of the noxious agents. The decreased susceptibility does not exhibit the symptoms because of a lack of sensitivity and responsiveness. Hence, in such conditions selecting the similimum is difficult.
Decreased susceptibility may result from indiscriminate use of steroids or sedatives.
“Deficient reaction or decreased susceptibility may exist in a case or appear during treatment constitute a condition requiring special treatment. This is especially true in the treatment of chronic diseases, where improvement ceases and well selected remedies do not seem to act. Under such circumstances, it may sometimes be necessary to give a dose of what is called the “intercurrent remedy”.
Boenninghausen mentions as appropriate in such cases: Carbo-veg, Lauro, Mosch, Op, and Sulph. To these, may be added the typical Nosodes: Medor, Psor, Pyrog, Tuber, Syphilis, and also Thuja. The choice of any particular one of these remedies must be governed by the history and symptoms” says Stuart Close.
Susceptibility and Cure
Cure is nothing but the result of satisfying the morbid or altered Susceptibility.
“When Susceptibility is satisfied, there is cessation of cause, and when cause ceases to flow in to ultimate, not only do ultimate cease but case itself has already ceased”, says Kent.
As hunger demands food, so disease demands medicine. But the demand is always consistent with universal law. It is for the symptomatically similar medicine because that is the only thing that really satisfies the susceptibility. In satisfying the susceptibility the fundamental homeopathic principles are to be followed. “The similar remedy or the similar disease satisfies susceptibility and establishes immunity” says H.A.Roberts. When a homeopathically selected remedy is administered to a sick person, the disappearance of symptoms indicates that the person is susceptible to the curative remedy and the powerful similar remedy is capable enough to replace the weaker miasmatic disease.
Stuart Close says, “The kind and degree of reaction to medicines depends upon the degree of susceptibility of the patient”.
Hence, the cure is brought by simply satisfying the morbid susceptibility of the patient by similar remedies. An expert homeopath satisfies this susceptibility and cures the patient by giving the exactly similar remedy. But the bugler can do this by administering several more or fewer remedies in succession. After careful selection and administration of the similimum, sometimes elimination of the toxicities in the form of diarrhea, profuse sweating, etc may result. If such changes are observed, they should not interfere and further repetition of the indicated remedy or any other remedy has to be stopped immediately.
Susceptibility and Drugs and Remedies
Drugs are substances that have the capacity to alter the state of a healthy individual. This capacity to alter the state of health is dependent on two factors. The first factor is the Susceptibility of the prover to that particular drug substance and the second factor is the specific capacity of the drug substance to affect the health of the individual. These two factors differ from drug to drug and individual to individual.
When we prove a remedy, the array of symptoms that follow represents the reaction of the susceptible organism to the specific drug stimulation administered. Hence, while proving the drug; we prove this drug substance on both sexes, various constitutions, and on all age groups to make the drug picture most perfect and more reliable. This is by studying the action of the same drug on different individuals with different levels of susceptibility.
The action of drugs on the patients differs from that of the healthy persons and even varies from the individual patient to individual. One individual at one time will be always greatly susceptible to only one remedy. That remedy will become his homeopathic remedy. Expert homeopath always tries to identify this remedy and try to cure the patient with such remedy.
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Susceptibility and Posology
Doctrine of Posology always revolve around the degree of susceptibility of the patient. Several factors influence the degree of susceptibility. The general rule “higher the susceptibility higher will be the potency” has been derived from the experiences of the pioneers.
Susceptibility and Suppression
The susceptibility cannot be destroyed, but it can only be modified by the power of medicines or noxious agents. The curative homeopathic remedy modifies this susceptibility and satisfies it, thus the cure results with the disappearance of symptoms. Instead of taking such a step, when the susceptibility of one channel is suppressed the energy flows into another channel, i.e. the reverse order of Hering’s law of cure leading to suppression.
Example: Suppression of eczema may result in an expression of asthma, the foul sweat replaced by neuralgic headache, the suppression of leucorrhea lead to the development of abdominal cramps and arthritis in some patients. All the treatments which cannot satisfy this susceptibility level of the patient can be termed as suppressive treatments.
According to H.A.Roberts, removal of the end products of the disease without prior constitutional treatment based on the law of similia is also a form of suppressive treatment. The physician has to identify the emotional side of the disease, try to find out the cause, and try to prescribe a remedy that suits his individual problem.
Susceptibility and reaction are the fundamental, characteristics of an organism. Preservation of this normal level of susceptibility is very much essential for the maintenance of health. The rational system always aims at bringing back this normal susceptibility of the sick.