What “Individualization” means in a nutshell

Homeopaths constantly say that “we individualize” or “we treat the patient, not the disease”.  What does that actually mean?  It seems to be a phrase everybody is using these days and, quite frankly, it doesn’t mean much anymore. 

When you take an Art History class, you study a lot of paintings that have a common theme. For the sake of this little article, I’ll choose the theme “Madonna and Child”.  It doesn’t take much effort to recognise a Madonna and Child. When you are first introduced to the concept of Madonna and Child, you are told all the things you expect to see. There’s a woman, usually dressed in blue and red, holding a baby boy, usually naked.  She’s seated (but not always) on right side, the baby on the left.  Later on, you’ll notice a few more specifics – the symbolism of the background, the use of light/shadow etc. If you’re studying Art at the Graduate Level, you are expected to know theme so well, you no focus on the obvious.  You’re expected to differentiate artists by their brushstrokes, by the pigments of the paints they used, by the lacework on the Madonna’s right sleeve. You are trained to notice the differences, not the similarities. This is individualization.

What does this mean for disease?  I’ll use MS as an example.  MS has common symptoms, in other words, symptoms which define you as having MS.  MS patients have difficulty walking, are intolerant of the sun, have muscle spasms, problems with vision, and suffer from the demyelination of nerves.  Once you have been diagnosed with MS, your neurologist will prescribe you a medicine selected form a small group of other medications which have been proven both clinically and in clinical trials to work in MS. Your medicine is prescribed because of the similarities you have with everyone else with MS.  

This is not how Pure Homeopathy works.  I am not interested (much) that you have problems walking, that you are intolerant of the sun, have muscle spasms, or have vision problems.  What I am interested in what makes your MS different than anybody else’s.  I’m very interested to know that you’ve had cold sores since you were a kid, you’re always tired at 4pm, your ears hurt like hell in the wind, and your MS is always better when you visit your sister in Vancouver.  These symptoms lead me to a remedy which has the potential to trigger a deep and permanent healing response in you, not the neighbour down the street.  

So, when your health care provider says, “Medicine X is for MS” or “Herb X is good for your depression”  this is not individualization.  Sure, Herb X is used in depression and has been shown to be effective, but it was decided before you even came into the office which medicines would be most likely to help you.