Author: Jan Scholten
1.9 Symbolic language
Homeopathy works with symptoms and as such it is mostly concerned with facts, the facts of the symptoms. This might give the impression that the facts are definite as in physics and other sciences. But in the course of my homeopathic career, I’ve learnt to see symptoms as symbolic.
Our language is frequently symbolic. Sensations are a typical example of symbolic language. An example is when someone has a burning pain and there’s no physical burning. The burning is on the sensation level, one could say in the sensation body. Apart from sensations, qualities too are symbolic. Tenacious, for instance, can be applied to the body, discharges, thoughts and emotions.
Another example is "pressure". The physical body can be under pressure, the sensations can feel like pressure, someone can have pressure in his emotions and thoughts. Apart from that we've expressions like “He has a weight on his shoulders”, “He’s a pain in the arse”. So language is full of symbolic references, especially when the subject is man and his body.
Study of homeopathy makes it clear that all remedies and thus diseased states have a central disturbance, a source from which all symptoms are generated. The diseased state is not some irregular and chaotic combination of symptoms, but a whole state with a central theme or problem. That state can be expressed in many ways and on different levels, but it's still the same state. All the expressions carry in them the same pattern as originating from the essence. This is what in chaos theory is known as "fractals". Fractals are part of a whole that carry the whole pattern inside of themselves. The pattern is repeated in all kinds of parts, small and great, and in the whole. The idea of essence has been expressed in many ways in homeopathy: essence, vital force, genius, source, main problem, basic problem, vital sensation, basic delusion.
In this book, as in Minerals (Scholten) and Elements (Scholten) the essence has been given the most of the attention. The reason for this is that from the essence the whole remedy picture can be understood.
The essence is formulated in words. But words are not the essential thing, are not the essence as such. The essence can better be expressed in "archetypes" as Jung called them. An archetype is a basic element of the psyche, especially of the collective unconsciousness which is a psychic part that all people have in common.
Archetypes can be expressed with more than one concept. The archetype "father" can also be expressed with the concept "self-worth" or "vital values". Again in language they look different, but for the archetypical psyche they are the same and can thus be interchanged without any problem. Of course we have to be careful with words: words can sometimes be attributed incorrectly or are vague and have more than one archetypical connection. The context has to decide that. That's why language can be tricky in homeopathy.
The essence can be formulated on many levels (See chapter "Seven Levels"). Most often it's formulated on the Thought Level because that level is the language level. But the essence is a disturbance that can express itself on all the levels. On the Thought Level it's a delusion, or basic delusion as Sankaran calls it.
The essence is the source of the problem. It starts at the Archetype Level and emanates through all the levels and finally into the physical body. The symptoms are expressions of the essence. In many cases, the whole symptomatology can be seen as symbolic of one main problem, expressing the same message at every level, in a more or less similar way.
This is also known in regular medicine: functional diseases precede the physical abnormalities, sometimes by several years.
The consequence of this kind of thinking is to develop the symptomatology to such an extent that symptoms at one level can be translated into another level. Having the symptomatology at one level of a remedy makes it possible to develop the complete remedy picture. The ultimate will be that from a basic problem or essence of a remedy, the whole picture can be predicted, but this lies in the future.
Expressions of an essence
An essence can take on several forms. An example from Neodymium carbonicum can make this clearer. In the analysis we find expressions such as:
Proving their autonomy in order to have self-worth
Proving their autonomy and self-worth
Proving their self-worth by being independent
Proving their self-control for their father
Father challenges them to be independent
Father challenges them to power
Father is tough
Father is impervious
Proving their self-worth by being autonomous
Proving their self-control to find the essence of life
These expressions look different, but are expressions of the same essence. In normal language they look different. But at the Archetypal Level they are the same. A more general way of expressing this would be:
In the relation between autonomy and my father, there's the need to prove.
It doesn't matter so much where the proving is projected. It can be that my father is proving himself or his autonomy. Or it can be that I prove myself for my father, against my father, for his autonomy or for my own autonomy. Or that I try to prove my autonomy, to please my father or to show my father he's not right. It only seems to matter in what relationship, what kind of action is going on.
It can even be a situation that I deliberately do not want to prove my autonomy. The denial doesn't seem to make a big difference.
Father can again be replaced by something more general that covers also self-worth, but there's no word for such a thing, although we as homeopaths can say that the word for that is "Carbon".
Symptoms can be split into basic symptoms, as explained more fully in the "Repertory of Elements". Basic symptoms have three parts: the subject part, the object part and the relationship or action part. This division can be seen as a generalization of Boenninghausen's idea of "complete symptoms" with as parts: localization, the sensation and the modality. The 3 parts are thus:
The subject is where it's going on. In Boenninghausen's schema it's the localization. Subject is the "I" or "me" part, or that where the action is going on.
The subject can interchange with the object. This is obvious when one realizes that the action can be projected in different parts. So the actor can become the object and vice versa.
In the Element Theory this part is often expressed by the Series. This is what it's all about.
In Neodymium carbonicum example Subject is the autonomy, my autonomy.
Action: what is going on, the sensation part in Boenninghausen's scheme. In homeopathic symptoms it's the sensation, phenomenon, handling and character for example.
The action is the most prominent part of a symptom: it says what is happening. This explains that the sensation is a very important symptom and why Sankaran can stress the sensation as a main symptom, the vital sensation.
In the Element Theory this part is often expressed by the Stage, the way of handling.
In the Neodymium carbonicum example Action is the proving.
Object: when or from what the action is going on, what provokes the action, the modality. Object is the part that undergoes or does the action. In Boenninghausen's schema it's the modality or concomitant.
In the Element Theory this part is often expressed by the salt, the connection or limitation.
In Neodymium carbonicum example Object is the father. But here it can be seen that Object can change with Subject. It can also be that "my father" wants to prove his autonomy.
Table: Parts of basic symptom
Concept- Subject - Action- Object-
Concept- Setting- Thematic- Dynamic-
Language- Subject- Verb- Object-
Question- What- Where- When-
Boenninghausen- Location- Sensation- Modality-
Element theory- Serie- Stage- Salt-
Russell- Object- Relation- Object-
Chinese- Yin- Tao- Yang-
Hegel- Thesis- Synthesis- Antithesis-
Miasm- Psora- Syphilis- Sycosis-