by Peter Fraser

This book explores the possible themes that could be attributable to an AIDS miasm, and the remedies that may address this miasm.

It is divided into two main sections; the first is a theoretical discussion that explores the development of an AIDS miasm, whilst the second gives a list of the main themes of the miasm, with references from provings and materia medica of some of the remedies possibly indicated. There is emphasis given to the more newly proven remedies, the author stating that some of these newer remedies may show unique qualities to address the increasing complexity of modern conditions. He makes no attempt to be in any way complete in his remedy inclusion, recognizing the virtual impossibility of the task, given the somewhat embryonic nature of this miasmatic understanding.

Miasmatic theory has always been controversial and at times speculative. This book could be accused of this and could upset some homeopaths yet I found it to be an original and stimulating piece of thinking, adding to our developing perspective of the homeopathic view on modern diseases and in so doing broadening our knowledge and understanding.

There has been a tendency for homeopathic thinkers to work exclusively inside the box of homeopathic knowledge and not look for connections to other forms of thinking. However, in order to understand where homeopathy comes from, and where it is going, it can be important to look beyond our own subjective experience and see broader contexts and influences that affect our thinking and conclusions. This is one of the major attributes of this book.

The author discusses some of the more recent thinking in homeopathy, especially the development of families and patterns of grouping remedies together. He then explores the development of human evolution and how that can be understand from a homeopathic miasmatic approach. The result is an original analysis on the whole theory of miasms, which in itself is just one method of creating patterns and categorizations as a means to understand the complexity of our health experiences.

He admits to being influenced by Marshall McLuhan, a professor of English Literature at the University of Toronto, who had a profound impact on cultural thinking in the 1960s. He states that "McLuhans basic observation was that all media, which he used in a broad sense to mean any intervention or discovery, effectively extended one of mans faculties. The wheel is an extension of the feet, clothing an extension of the skin and writing an extension of the eye." "Any extension results in an unbalancing of the organism by increasing the importance of the faculty that has been extended in relationship to the other faculties. There follows a dynamic reaction to return harmony. This reaction takes the form of a numbing of the extended faculty and an enhancement of all the other features." The author then states "we are relatively unaware of the extended but benumbed faculty and are therefore unaware of the effect its having on us and our society." "McLuhans best known aphorism the medium is the message refers to the fact that by its very existence a medium has changed our world and the message that is that change is far more important than the content, which is the only message that we tend to see."

The author then states that there have been four points in the history of western society that have seen such powerful changes that mans entire world view has altered, which either resulted or coincided with the development of several aspects of life. He states that two of these points are within a historical perspective, whilst one is prehistorical and other perihistorical. He admits therefore he is then making many assumptions and some speculation as to the significance and meaning of these points of change, especially in connection to their homeopathic relationship. His contention is that each of these four points are connected to the appearance of the four miasmatic diseases psora, sycosis, syphilis and AIDS.

The first point of extension that he states caused a complete shift was the invention of language. "In human society, speech plays much of the role that is borne by touch in other primate cultures. This allows for a much larger group size." He then states the consequence of the development of speech and language was to change the way people thought. Even if the message of the speech was similar to that of tactile communication, the prevalent form of communication in other primates, the message of speech itself allows conceptual thought which contains within it reason, education and forethought.

He states that this change took place so long ago that it is difficult to study, but that studies in teaching other primates rudimentary language skills showed a profound affect in the perception of reality and behavior for these primates.

The consequence of language development allowed for immense change. The development of art, culture and society became unavoidable. However, this change established a whole new level of stress for individuals and society. The invention of language created an awareness of ourselves, of others and of time.

The author then postulates that this new level of individual consciousness and awareness created a new level of apprehension and anxiety which led to a new manifestation of diseases that reflect this new state. "In order for the individual vital spirit and for the society as a whole to externalize and express their dis-content and dis-ease, chronic illness developed. The first and the most basic form of chronic illness is psora, for it expresses the feelings of anxiety and struggle that that awareness brings." He then makes the connection to the story of Adam and Eve and how the eating of the apple from the tree of knowledge brings about awareness, and from it arises the struggle and chronic disease that are mans lot.

I have always personally liked to look at psora in terms of the struggle with the concept of separation, the angst of the soul to find its salvation in spiritual union, yet destined to inexorable struggle, like the itch that cant be satiated. It is the state of the knowledge of incompletion, a quality that forces us to continually strive and struggle for meaning, identity and ultimately union with the whole. We are all at different stages of this contemplation of our separation, from the despairing, hopeless, forsaken Psorinum to the dissatisfied abstraction of Sulphur, and to the relentless quest for structure and security of Calcarea carb. Psora can be said to represent the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, the insecurity based on the knowledge of our differences and that as an individual ego identity, we are both separate from but conjoined to the whole. The images and symptoms of many remedies express the compensation and motivation to address this feeling of "lack". This is why many of the so-called psoric remedies address the most fundamental issues of who we are and our place in the great scheme of things. They do not address the more aberrant deviations from this basic quest. This lies in the realm of the other miasms.

Another slightly more literal analysis of the psoric miasm is the concept of denial. If the origin of psora began with suppression of skin symptoms which is really Hahnemanns starting point, then psora can be said to represent the process of internalization of the disease process, which finds its psychological and energetic corollary in denial.

Therefore, this first extension the author mentions is an interesting analysis of the psoric miasm.

The next major development that the author cites was the invention of writing. This influence can be identified with the sycotic miasm. He states that "whilst language freed man from the instant of time and place, writing frees awareness from the experience of a single person. Awareness for literate man extends across the frontiers of his lifetime and across the frontiers of his experience. He has an awareness of distant lands and of the past." He cites as a source of influence the book The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Jaynes, which describes the separation of the two sides of the brain, allowing the development of a level of consciousness that transcends the primitive impulses of the instinctive brain. "He has a choice in how he lives his life." Jaynes attributed great importance to writing in the breakdown of the bicameral mind, as he does the role of metaphor.

The author identifies two events as significant in this process of transformation: the siege and fall of Troy and Moses meeting with God and returning with the written tablets of law. He states that the written law that Moses brought from God and the law and history that he created through the Pentateuch marked the end of the visual, iconic and primitive society and as a result prophets and priests were no longer messengers of the Word of God but became interpreters of the written law. He then compares the style and narratives of the Iliad and The Odyssey, the latter revealing Odysseus as the "man of wiles", having to rely on his own initiative and wits as contrasted to the almost invincible and fatalistic god appointed path of Achilles.

He states that from the 2nd millenium before the Christian era on, society developed and consciousness changed as writing became more prevalent. As so many interacting influences merge together in all forms of development, it is difficult to know what exact influence different parts have, and the author acknowledges this, but states that trade, money and banking are all direct consequences of writing and of the wheel. "The structure of society in a primitive culture is tribal. It is set and certain, the pattern does not change..The structure of the societies of literate man are very different. They are basically feudal or imperial. They begin to reflect the importance of trade in the world. Feudal society is built on the interchange of obligations but it is always a two-way exchange. The weaker partner offers service and in return is given protection. These relationships are dependent on written law." He states that Mcluhan traced the gradual break up of the Roman Empire not to central corruption or the threat of barbarians, but to the loss of Egypt and with it of the steady supply of papyrus on which was written the instructions and reports that fuelled the law and the chain of command.

Another factor was the development of metaphor, which was much facilitated with a written setting as opposed to a purely visual one, and therefore, in those cultures that developed a more phonetic language, it allowed a further distancing from the more purely visual cultures. He attributes the influence of Judaic, Greek and Latin culture on western development as opposed the culture of ancient Egypt being partly due to the style of language.

So, what does all this have to do with the sycotic miasm? To let the author state it himself"The most important thing for him is to portray himself as superior to other cultures and to maintain, and preferably improve, his status with the hierarchical structure. The impulse is towards expansion, excess and unregulated growth, to make himself appear bigger and more powerful. Sexuality, food and drink, clothing etc are subverted from their natural purpose and become evidence of power and wealth and are used to excess. The complement to this is the feeling that the person feels inferior and will be forced lower in the hierarchy. The feeling that he or she is a sinner, fraud or criminal, and especially that he or she will be found out, are of major importance for literate, feudal man. They result in secrecy and deception and also in religiousness, and particularly repentance."

This description does quite obviously address the sycotic miasm and somewhat ominously describes much about the current consciousness and political reality of the United States today. Obviously some of this can be questioned and should not be taken as the only way to perceive the connections the author makes as the next stage pertaining to the syphilitic miasm also relates to our cultural evolution just as much. However, more importantly, it is another way to perceive the metaphorical connections of miasmatic themes to a wider context, one that can help us understand levels of evolution in a miasmatic context.

The sycotic and syphilitic miasms can be seen as compensations for the psoric "lack" growing out of the psoric soil, each with their own expression of excess and cover. Chronologically, psora is the beginning but then sycosis and syphilis come together. This I think fits the facts that both gonorrhea and syphilis have probably been around roughly the same length of time. Also it allows us to accept that even in the authors model where the syphilitic miasm is identified with the next chronological development in human evolution, one can still see it as another part of the whole, as opposed to a linear progression. However, given the focus on a developmental theory, the order of sycosis to syphilis does make sense.

The sycotic miasm does fit well into the model the author describes. Sycosis has to do with comparison and focus on ones position in relationship to others. How one is perceived, how one communicates and the desire to present onself in a certain way, perhaps to exaggerate and to be self conscious about ones relations does reflect itself in the sycotic miasm. Communication in all its forms, both personal and within society at large can often be identified with the sycotic miasm advertising, marketing, sexuality and the use of the body to relay a message etc. Sycosis is reflected in the sense that, no longer bound by psoras lack and consequent impotence, a person is impelled "to do", "to act", "to present themselves", to attempt to find their place in the world. Themes of comparison, jealousy, suspicion and image are all clear aspects of the sycotic miasm.

This way of understanding miasms does require us to adapt Hahnemanns original understanding of miasms, which had more to do with pathological blocks to cure than to a wider social analysis. Grossinger, in his book Homeopathy, the Great Riddle suggests that Hahnemanns theory of miasms and chronic disease was at least partly a negative portrayal of the state of human kind, an expression of personal frustration of the limits of even homeopathy to effect radical cures. Grossinger compares Hahnemanns theory of miasms to that of Freuds Civilization and its Discontents, a pessimistic analysis of human evolution, and questions this perspective Can Beethovens music be reduced to a pathological expression of the syphilitic miasm. In so doing he attempts to redefine miasmatic thinking to include the evolutionary metaphors that miasmatic thinking can bring. Similarly, the analysis in this book explores the evolutionary themes of miasms and in so doing gives us another perspective to understand this controversial part of homeopathic thinking.

To take this one stage further, if we are to look at miasms from an evolutionary perspective, each miasm reflects a different level of challenge and potential, for as humans evolved from the most primitive state, these states of separation created new ways of being. This we can see practically in our remedy pictures as well as from a purely miasmatic point of view: Psora has to do with the quest for identity and the struggle "to be". The sphere of influence is likely to be in the realm of lifes most basic challenges food, sex, work, relationship etc, all within a certain level of expression, nothing too extreme. A successful psoric state can be seen in the purity of a healthy Graphites type of personality, where there is no hidden agenda, secret neurosis or compensation, there is no problem. With sycosis, the quest is for expansion at all costs, to manifest before thinking.