1902 Encyclopedia > Samuel Hahnemann

Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann
German physician and founder of homeopathy (homoeopathy)

SAMUEL CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HAHNEMANN (1755-1843), the founder of the homoeopathic [homeopathic] system of medicine, was born at Meissen in Saxony, 10th April 1755.

He studied first at the "elector’s school" of Meissen, and thereafter as a student of medicine at Leipsic [Leipzig] and Vienna. He took the degree of M.D. at Erlangen in 1779, and after acting as physician at various places he returned in 1789 to Leipsic [Leipzig], where he largely occupied himself in the translation of medical works.

While working at Cullen’s Materia Medica, he was struck by the contradictory account given of the properties of Peruvian bark. He has previously meditated much on the unsatisfactory nature of the science of medicine; and, after much reflexion and many experiments, he became convinced of the truth of the principle similia similibus curantur (see HOMEOPATHY), i.e., the cure for a disease is the very drug that would in a healthy persons produce the symptoms of such disease.

Further experiments convinced him that the conventional doses produced symptoms of unnecessary and dangerous violence, and this led to another principle, that of minimum doses, according to which the benefit to be derived from a medicine can be fully obtained by the administration of a very small quantity.

Firmly convinced of the truth of these principles, Hahnemann spent the rest of his life in making them known to the world. He encountered much opposition, and in 1821 was forced to leave Leipsic [Leipzig], as he was not allowed to dispense his own prescriptions. The grand duke of Anhalt-Köthen, however, appointed him his physician, and at Köthen he resided till 1835 when he removed to Paris. He died 2nd July 1843.

Hahnemann was a man of remarkable courage and perseverance. He nor only sacrificed his immediate interests for the sake of his convictions, but make many painful experiments upon his own person.

Hahnemann’s chief work, in which he expounds his system, is his Organon der rationellen Heikunde (Dresden, 1810; 6th ed., Köthen, 1865; English translation by Dudgeon, London, 1849). His other important writings are Fragmenta de viribus medicamentorum positivis (2 vols. Leipsic [Leipzig], 1805); Reine Arzneimittellehre (6 vols., Dresden, 1811); Die chronischen Krankheiten (4 vols., Dresden, 1828-30). His smaller writings have been edited by Stapf (2 vols., Dresden and Leipsic [Leipzig], 1829-34). See also Albrescht’s Hahnemanns Leben und Werken (2nd ed., Leipsic [Leipzig], 1875).

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