Homoeopathy in Medicine and Surgery
the German edition of Edmund Carleton, 1913 (Homöopathie in Praxis und Klinik von Dr. Edmund Carleton. Leer: Grundlagen und Praxis GbmH & Co., 2007)
by André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.
I highly recommend Dr. Edmund Carleton's Homoeopathy in Medicine and Surgery to everyone interested in genuine homeopathy. Dr. Carleton was not only an accomplished surgeon but also a most learned and skilled homeopathic physician. In this book, Dr. Carleton provides the best illustration in our literature of the use of genuine homeopathy in surgical cases.
Dr. Carleton was born on December 11, 1839 in Littleton, New Hampshire. The fact that his father, a judge, maintained an underground railway station for slaves bound Northward to Canada and freedom, marked his life to come.
In 1861, at the onset of the American Civil War, he was encouraged by his family to join the Union army as a messenger whose dangerous duty was to cross back and forth the enemy's line. He participated in 13 engagements. In 1864, he was seized with typhoid fever and sent home to die. The well-known historian Charles Carleton Coffin offered to care for him provided that he is treated with homeopathy. After a remarkable recovery, he became interested in homeopathy and consequently took up medicine as his life's work, even though his earlier education had been to follow his father's profession—law.
He began his medical studies at the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia and transferred at the end of the year to the New York Homoeopathic Medical College, which had been newly reorganized. In 1871, he graduated from this institution with the highest honors as the Valedictorian of his class. Throughout his career, he enjoyed the great advantage of not only studying under, but also of friendship and daily association with, men such as Hering, Adolph and Constantine Lippe, Dunham, Wells and Bayard.
When Hering died in 1880, physicians from all parts of the world were invited to participate either in person or by letter at memorial meetings to honor their mentor and friend. At the meeting held in New York City, Dr. Carleton stood up and said of Hering: "I will offer my humble tribute to the character of our departed friend, by saying that I felt love and reverence for him. I remember, as if it were but yesterday, the first time we met. It was in his office as physician and patient. He stood and looked at me calmly, while I related my symptoms. Then, silently turning to his desk, he prepared three powders and handed them to me, with directions. I left him in wonder, for my case had troubled the physician who had sent me, and I had expected a long search. The remedy produced a violent aggravation, and I recollect that wonder temporarily gave place to a state of mind akin to resentment. Recovery followed, and so did my promised report to the doctor. The recital of the success of his prescription caused his face to smile all over, which ended with a hearty, genial laugh, and he said, "that was A-lo-es; it was low; it was the five hundredth." Then seating himself and motioning me to a chair, he went on to relate how he had suffered similarly when proving the drug, and made me promise to write out and give to him a history of the case, which I afterwards did, and informed me that the medicine had been potentized for him by Doctor Fincke, from a choice bit of crude material furnished by himself. He then enlisted me in search for the pure drug that he had not been able to procure, for a proving. When we departed, I had learned to place a high estimate upon him. He was a noble man.
"Soon after that, we met again in the college lecture-room, as professor and student of medicine. His subject was Natrum muriaticum; and as the golden words fell from his lips, I made every endeavor to preserve and profit by them. It was my good fortune to hear his lectures upon various drugs, which in the hands of many prescribers have verified the provings, and demonstrated his sagacity in arranging them. I have often thought of him when difficulties would beset me in the sick-room; and I know that his contributions to our literature have enabled me to save lives. For his memory is sacred to me.
"But, sir [the president of the meeting], I must not detain you with extended remarks. You do not care to hear more of my personal experiences. It is enough to say that I loved and revered Constantine Hering; and when he died, I felt that I had lost one of my best friends."
It is in this spirit that Carleton began his practice of 41 years in New York City. He considered himself a strict Hahnemannian and, like Lippe, vigorously denounced any deviation from pure homeopathy such as isopathy and "allopathic generalizing." He was also very active in trying to unite Hahnemannians with the goal of further perfecting the art and science of homeopathy. In 1878, he signed the declaration of principles, which was one of the earliest steps toward the unification of Hahnemannians. In 1879, he resigned his membership in the American Institute of Homeopathy in protest of the direction it had taken. In 1881, he joined the newly formed International Hahnemannian Association (IHA). He presented before this noble assembly many papers of great interest.
In 1886, in one of these papers, he wrote, "Our Association repudiates un-homeopathic teaching and practice by formal resolution. We believe that our cause is endangered more by false followers than by natural foes. People seeing failures to cure at the hands of untrue homeopaths get false notions of what homeopathy really is, and consider it in no wise superior to allopathy. … Against such practices is raised the constant protest of pure homeopathy. Our pioneer workers in the cause did their duty, and great was their reward.
In 1888, Dr. Carleton founded a local study group with Wells, Bayard and Butler, the New York Homeopathic Union, "for the study of homeopathy both in respect to its philosophy as a science and its practice as an art." In the circular sent out to announce its foundation, they wrote, "Dear Doctor, After consultation among a number of homeopathic physicians, living in New York [City] and vicinity, it is deemed best to form an association for purposes of mutual support in the practice of our art, and especially in keeping alive the great truths promulgated by Hahnemann. The necessity of some action is apparent and needs no argument. Let us know each other not through a glass darkly, but face to face. We propose to meet at the residence of Edward Bayard, M. D., No. 8 West Fortieth Street, New York, where you are cordially invited to come, Thursday, April 19th, 1888, at eight o'clock in the evening, organize, decide on times and places of meeting, and then all go to work. Will you join us?"
When Bayard died a year and a half later, Dr. Carleton said, "Dr. Edward Bayard, who for nearly fifty years has been one of the leading homeopathic physicians of the world, passed from his labors … We need not allude to his prompt action when homeopathy was in danger of being plowed under by the misguided efforts of a younger generation who comprehended it not. … Alas! Our dear old friend is no more." He afterward shared the presidency of the Union with Fincke and the group met monthly at Carleton's office until his own departure on June 15, 1912.
In 1893, he was elected president of the IHA for the upcoming year, but never took office as early in 1894 he resigned his membership in protest of irregular business procedures. Later that year, he followed Dr. Joseph Biegler, his long time friend and colleague, in the foundation of the Society of Homoeopathicians, which was a new attempt to unite Hahnemannians. To make one of his points of protest clear, he presented before this assembly a paper entitled, "Hahnemann vs. Isopathy." In it, he wrote regarding the fact that some of the IHA members were promoting isopathy.
Of course, I have had my fair share of successes and of disappointments; and no doubt every member in this room has had disappointments; but Hahnemann's method of cure is the most successful, whatever may be the cause of sickness. I have shown that Hahnemann condemns the practice, and am content. Formulate your new system of philosophy; proselyte if you will; do as you please; but in the interest of truth do not put on this label—"homeopathy."
And regarding the liberty of the physician to follow his own judgment rather than well-verified principles of practice, he reminded members of the IHA that it was highly inappropriate for them to re-emit this liberty cry, as the American Institute of Homeopathy made its "fatal plunge" after heartily supporting it, which "undoubtedly influenced more men badly, than any other one thing."
In1899, when both Hahnemannian associations were doing poorly, Carleton was persistent in his attempt to unite all Hahnemannians into one association and co-founded the American Hahnemannian Association. Peace and unity would eventually reign again among Hahnemannians, and this helped genuine homeopathy to be a strong voice for the next 60 years.
Dr. Carleton was a dedicated and much appreciated teacher. For more than twenty-five years he was professor of surgery in the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women. He was also professor of homeopathic philosophy with its clinical application in the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital. He was always ready to help students to progress in their study of homeopathy. He asked, "Have we not a duty, as homeopathic physicians, in teaching those who say they will do anything to help their patients?"
Dr. Carleton was known to be a first class surgeon. Much ahead of his time, he performed delicate plastic surgeries with great perfection. He was also a very resourceful surgeon, losing no time to find solutions to quickly arising problems. By continuously applying homeopathy in surgical cases, he was able, better than anyone else, to confirm the sphere of our remedies and delineate the possibility and limits of homeo pathy in such cases. Dr. Carleton's character and spirit as a homeopathic physician and surgeon are well illustrated by the title of one of his papers, "A case of irreducible hernia made reducible and reduced," by homeopathy of course.
As a well-rounded physician, Dr. Carleton warned against mere symptom covering, without careful examination, especially for the mechanical causes of disease. When these exist their removal will prove the only proper treatment. He used as examples, cystitis dependent upon the presence of calculi in the bladder, and the many uterine symptoms which were frequently, promptly, and radically removed by operating on the laceration of the cervix, which was indirectly their cause.
He was a very accurate prescriber. Regarding cases with appendicitis, one of his students, Dr. Stearns, said, "The late Edmund Carleton claimed never to have been obliged to operate on a case and never to have lost a case that he had from the start, during his forty years of practice." During discussion of cases, Dr. Carleton would often emphasize Dr. Bayard's admonition regarding the direction of cure after each prescription, "Beware how you change the direction of the disease."
Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a photograph of Dr. Carleton. However, Dr. Dearborn's description of his teacher will perhaps better illustrate the spirit of this great physician, "As I knew him in the last years of his long life, he was a fine, robust, white haired, pink cheeked enthusiast in whom fight never died."
An instance of his spirit and devotion to homeopathy "may be seen in his prescribing the morning of his death, when in order to receive his instructions it was necessary to go over the alphabet letter by letter until he closed his eyes to indicate the right one. Thus the words of direction and the remedy were spelled out and this forthcoming posthumous book completed."
By completing this great book on his deathbed, Dr. Carleton made an admirable effort to leave, in the very last moment of his life, his invaluable legacy to the profession. This work, the fruit of many long years of careful and conscientious application of genuine homeopathy by "a practical clinician and master of therapeutics," is full of wisdom and should be in the hands of all true Hahnemannians. Dr. Stuart Close, another of Carleton's students, said when the book was published in 1913 that it "will do more to strengthen homeopathy than any other book that has been published within the last twenty-five years."
Montréal, December 24, 2006
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