What causes acute, sub-acute and chronic diseases?

acute sub-acute chronic disease

James Tyler Kent

Cause of Chronic, Acute and Sub-acute Diseases

In his Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy (view for free on Archive.org), Dr James Tyler Kent outlines a discussion he had with a conventional (allopathic) doctor.

Doctor: I can only treat when I know the cause.
Kent: When will you know the cause, Doctor?
Doctor: After the post-mortem.

Treating on causation (or perceived causation) often leaves doctors snookered but because homeopathy prescribes on the totality of symptoms, observable to the senses, the inner causes and disease names don’t matter so much. (In fact disease names are a human construct, invented for convenience not rationale or science. So for example, a doctor can ask, a drug rep what medicines do we have for disease X? Conveniently the pharma will likely say there are three or so.)

But what is a cause of disease? What caused the M.S?, the infection? etc. And we can always ask what caused the cause of the infection if we want to stop it returning. Cause is not something that can be analysed under a microscope because disease is invisible. Disease is a susceptibility, a disposition, something one is prone to so forget such chasing the wind!

Often in practice, a patient may have a number of symptoms and we can wonder what caused what symptom but the truth is, like the proverbial chicken and egg, one doesn’t cause the other, they are both branches of the one tree. Thus, the success of homeopathy is that we treat all the disease phenomena as one picture or connected story, not in the piecemeal fashion of mechanical reductivist medicine.

Here’s another baffler. Why should some acute infections like pneumonia linger and become a chronic or a subacute disease? Something is preventing the recovery of an infection which should be self-limiting. What is causing this lack of proper reaction resulting in recovery (if not a susceptibility, a constitutional fault, a defective vitality?) The cause is beyond the doctor. So how will he cure?…

In the history of medicine, few have posited a theory of disease causation as well argued as Dr Samuel Hahnemann. In aphorisms 72, 73 (available here or here) and 80 (here or here) of his Organon (and here) he explains;

Organon aphorism §72
With respect to the first point, the following will serve as a general preliminary view. The diseases to which man is liable are either rapid morbid processes of the abnormally deranged vital force, which have a tendency to finish their course more or less quickly, but always in a moderate time—these are termed acute diseases;—or they are diseases of such a character that, with small, often imperceptible beginnings, dynamically derange the living organism, each in its own peculiar manner, and cause it gradually to deviate from the healthy condition, in such a way that the automatic life energy, called vital force, whose office is to preserve the health, only opposes to them at the commencement and during their progress imperfect, unsuitable, useless resistance, but is unable of  itself to extinguish them, but must helplessly suffer (them to spread and) itself to be ever more and more abnormally deranged, until at length the organism is destroyed; these are termed chronic diseases. They are caused by dynamic infection with a chronic miasm.

Organon aphorism §73
As regards acute diseases, they are either of such a kind as attack human beings individually, the exciting cause being injurious influences to which they were particularly exposed. Excesses in food, or an insufficient supply of it, severe physical impressions, chills, over-heatings, dissipation, strains, etc., or physical irritations, mental emotions, and the like, are exciting causes of such acute febrile affections; in reality, however, they are generally only a transient explosion of latent psora, which spontaneously returns to its dormant state if the acute diseases were not of too violent a character and were soon quelled. Or they are of such a kind as attack several persons at the same time, here and there (sporadically), by means of meteoric or telluric influences and injurious agents, the susceptibility for being morbidly affected by which is possessed by only a few persons at one time. Allied to these are those diseases in which many persons are attacked with very similar sufferings from the same cause (epidemically) ; these diseases generally become infectious (contagious) when they prevail, among thickly congregated masses of human beings. Thence arise fevers,(71) in each instance of a peculiar  nature, and, because the cases of disease have an identical origin, they set up in all those they affect an identical morbid process, which when left to itself terminates in a moderate period of time in death or recovery. The calamities of war, inundations and famine are not infrequently their exciting causes and producers—sometimes they are peculiar acute miasms which recur in the same manner (hence known by some traditional name), which either attack persons but once in a lifetime, as the small-pox, measles, whooping-cough, the ancient, smooth, bright red scarlet fever (72) of Sydenham, the mumps, etc., or such as recur frequently in pretty much the same manner, the plague of the Levant, the yellow fever of the sea-coast, the Asiatic cholera, etc.

Organon aphorism §80
Incalculably greater and more important than the two chronic miasms just named, however, is the chronic miasm of psora, which, whilst those two reveal their specific internal dyscrasia, the one by the venereal chancre, the other by the cauliflower-like growths, does also, after the completion of the internal infection of the whole organism, announce by a peculiar cutaneous eruption, sometimes consisting only of a few vesicles accompanied by intolerable voluptuous tickling itching (and a peculiar odor), the monstrous internal chronic miasm—the psora, the only real fundamental cause and producer of all the other numerous, I may say innumerable, forms of disease,(77)  which, under the names of nervous debility, hysteria, hypochondriasis, mania, melancholia, imbecility, madness, epilepsy and convulsions of all sorts, softening of the bones (rachitis), scoliosis and cyphosis, caries, cancer, fungus haematodes, neoplasms, gout, haemorrhoids, jaundice, cyanosis, dropsy, amenorrhoea, haemorrhage from the stomach, nose, lungs, bladder and womb, of asthmal and ulceration of the lungs, of impotence and barrenness, of megrim, deafness, cataract, amaurosis, urinary calculus, paralysis, defects of the senses and pains of thousands of kinds, etc., figure in systematic works on pathology as peculiar, independent diseases.

Fundamental, Miasmatic, Maintaining and Epidemic Causes

So, put simply, we have a fundamental cause, a miasmatic disposition, in chronic diseases which will not resolve of their own accord. We have a maintaining cause, like a child who keeps getting a runny nose and cough because s/he goes round all day on cold tiles with bare feet or else because they have a bad lifestyle or diet. And we have an exciting cause of acute illnesses as in the case of someone who goes into the hot sun and gets a cold sore, as an example (although there may be a deeper miasmatic disturbance lying latent). Finally, in epidemics we have one disease affecting a community for which the remedy is not individualised for each patient but a number are selected which fit different stages of the illness. These remedies are called the genus epidemicus.

Only Hahnemann tackled the question of causation and only Hahnemann provided an answer, in theory and practice, as to what causes acute, subacute and chronic disease as well as epidemics.

Further Reading
My post: What Causes Disease? What is a Cause?

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