Christian Friedrich Samuel HAHNEMANN

Christian Friedrich Samuel HAHNEMANN

Christian Friedrich Samuel HAHNEMANN  (1755-1843, Germany, France)

Born:    10 April 1755   Died:   2 July 1843

Born in Germany in 1755, he earned his medical diploma in 1779.

 In 1782, he married Henriette Kuchler with whom he had eleven children.

Starting in 1784, once he had interrupted his medical career to devote himself to pharmacological research.

He translated a number of scientific works, treatises on therapy, etc....

He did not return to medical practice until 1796, when he began to apply his method.

 In 1835, at the age of 80, after having been a widower for 5 years, he married a young French woman[79.9.8/34.11.16], 

Mélanie d'Hervilly, and they moved to Paris where he died in 1843.

Samuel Hahnemann is the founder of homoeopathy. This outstanding scholar was born in Meissen, Saxony (now part of Germany), on 10th April 1755, into an impoverished middle-class family during Frederick the Great's Seven Years War. He was taught to read and write by both parents and credits his father with instilling "good and worthy" ideas into his mind. He was taught early by his father never to learn passively but to question everything.


     Hahnemann pursued his studies vigorously throughout his boyhood and became a gifted linguist, proficient in German, English, French, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Arabic. Towards the end of his teens he developed an interest in the sciences and medicine in particular. He eventually trained as a doctor, studying at Leipzig and Vienna before finally qualifying at Erlangen in 1779.


     In 1782, at the age of 27, Hahnemann married Johanna Henriette Kuchler, the daughter of an apothecary. They ultimately produced a family of 11 children - 9 daughters and 2 sons. Hahnemann became a Medical Doctor in 1781 and practiced conventional medicine. During the early years of the marriage he derived his income from a combination of medical practise and the translation of medical and scientific texts. Once in practice, Hahnemann became disillusioned with the medical practises of the day.


     Over the first 10 years of his practice Hahnemann resorted to treating patients as far as possible by diet and exercise, using a minimum of drugs and other harmful practises. By 1790, he felt he could no longer continue to even do this and gave up his practice all-together. In latter years he wrote: "My sense of duty would not easily allow me to treat the unknown pathological state of my suffering brethren with these unknown medicines…The thought of becoming in this way a murderer or malefactor towards the life of my fellow human beings was most terrible to me, so terrible and disturbing that I wholly gave up my practice in the first years of my married life … and occupied myself solely with chemistry and writing.". Also: "After the discovery of the weakness and misconceptions of my teachers and my books I sank into a state of morbid indignation, which might almost have completely vitiated for me the study of medical knowledge I was about to believe that the whole science was of no avail and incapable of improvement. I gave myself up to my own individual cognitions and determined to fix no goal for my considerations until I should have arrived at a decisive conclusion.".


     For some time Hahnemann lived in considerable poverty with his wife and children, earning a living from writing and translation alone. He is described by a friend of that period as living with his family in a single room divided by a curtain, pursuing his own investigations by day and staying up every second night to do translation work to provide food for his family. Hahnemann first stumbled across the phenomena that he was later to call the homœopathic action of drugs in the year that he gave up his practice. When translating A Treatise on the Materia Medica by the Edinburgh physician, William Cullen, he read that the drug cinchona (china or quinine) was effective in the treatment of malaria because it was bitter and astringent (substance that tends to shrink or constrict body tissues) and had a toning effect on the stomach. Hahnemann was not satisfied by this statement for, if it were true, then all bitter, astringent substances should likewise be effective in the treatment of malaria, and they were not.


     Hahnemann decided to experiment with the effects of cinchona upon himself and discovered that the side-effects, or symptoms, that it produced in him were similar to the symptoms of malaria. He subsequently speculated that the curative action of the drug may lie in the similarity of the symptoms of the malarial disease and the symptoms able to be produced by the drug. Thus the first homeopathic proving, and the discovery of the first law of homeopathy: Similia similibus curentur, or "like cures like". Hahnemann named this newfound therapy "Homeo" (similar) "pathy" (suffering). As a result, he began to test other drugs of the day, such as belladonna, camphor, and aconitum, to study the symptoms that they produced. On the results of these experiments, he began to think seriously about a new medical principle, the principle of cure by similars but his methods were met with disbelief and ridicule by his contemporaries. 


     Although his patients were experiencing profound cures which solidly verified his theories, Hahnemann was marked as an outcast because his method of single and minimum dosage was threatening the financial foundation of the powerful apothecaries. Hahnemann focused on reducing the dose to the point where there were no side effects but he was unsatisfied because this step further rendered the dose insufficient in strength to act. He experimented with a new method whereby after each dilution he would shake the substance vigorously. This he called "succussion" thus developing the energetic aspect of homeopathy. It is unknown how Hahnemann reasoned this (still scientifically unexplainable) method of "potentization".  


     In 1810, Hahnemann published the first of six editions of The Organon which clearly defined his homeopathic philosophy. In the same year, 80,000 men were killed when Napoleon attacked Liepzig. Hahnemann's homeopathic treatment of the survivors, and also of the victims of the great typhus epidemic that followed the siege, was highly successful and further spread his, and homeopathy's, reputation. Hahnemann taught at the Liepzig University where his lectures would often shift into sharp tongued diatribes against the dangerous practices of conventional medicine, thus nicknamed "Raging Hurricane" by his students. By 1821 Hahnemann had proven sixty-six remedies and published his Materia Medica Pura in six volumes. In 1831, Cholera swept through Central Europe. Hahnemann published papers on the homeopathic treatment of the disease and instigated the first widespread usage of homeopathy which had a 96% cure rate as compared to allopathy's 41% rate.


     In 1834 Hahnemann met the avant-garde Parisian, Mademoiselle Marie Melanie d'Hervilly. They were married (his second marriage, her first) within six months, and settled in Paris. In spite of the fact he was more than twice her age, they remained very intimate, she working by his side in his active practice until July 2, 1843 when Hahnemann died, in Paris, at the age of eighty-eight.


Melanie Hahnemann  (1800 - 1878)  The Marquise Marie Melanie d'Hervilly Gohier Hahnemann

Born into one of the oldest French noble families, in Paris, February 2, 1800, the daughter of Comte Joseph d'Hervilly and Marie-Joseph Gertrude Heilrath, Melanie was educated at home, enjoying the privileges of the liberal Republican aristocracy.

The cultivated young noblewoman, an accomplished and successful painter and poet, was to remain in Paris through the 1820's. Illness was to bring her attention to homeopathy, as was the notable treatment of the 1832 cholera epidemic in Paris by Dr. Frederick Foster Hervey Quin, a prominent English homeopath who had been a student of Hahnemann and physician to Prince Leopold of Belgium.

Melanie obtained a translation of the 1829 4th edition of The Organon, her reading of which almost immediately inspired her to travel to Coethen to meet and be treated by its author. She arrived Oct. 7, 1834 and by January 18th, 1835 had been discreetly courted and secretly married to Hahnemann.

They moved to Paris in June and Hahnemann commenced practice in August of 1835, assisted by Melanie, who had by now become an accomplished homeopath, and 'his keenest pupil'.

Soon she was involved in case taking and assumed the care of the gratuitously treated poor. An exacting prescriber, Melanie cured many difficult and serious cases, to the amazement of many including Hahnemann, who was to relate her successes to Hering.

Their renowned collaboration was to continue until Hahnemann's decline and illness shortly after his 88th birthday in April of 1843. Before his death in July of that year, he was to entrust her with the legacy of his practice, and the results of his later experiments as embodied in the unpublished 6th edition of the Organon. Hahnemann prevailed upon her to publish it only when the world would be ready.

The final Organon remained unpublished until purchased by Dr. Richard Haehl from the Boenninghausen family and imperfectly translated and published in 1921.

Her daughter and son-in-law, Boenninghausen the younger.

She remained in Paris, dying alone in May of 1878, and was buried beside Hahnemann in Montmartre, Paris. When Hahnemann was exhumed and interred at Pere la Chase, Paris, in 1898, she was removed with him.

Her letters and casebooks have revealed her as one who was the perfect counterpart to Hahnemann, one who quite literally freed him from an atrophied resignation, inspiring him to carry his work to an extent which is now just beginning to be understood. This was the legacy, which she protected until her death.


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