The greatest medical art lies in asking the right questions and in being familiar with the patient

With truly effective remedies it is important that the doctor knows not only what medicine cures what disease but also what questions to ask the patient. The greatest medical art lies in asking the right questions and in being familiar with the patient. This is extremely important. 

Yet it is strange, for example, that we meet doctors who frequently have not even asked the patient his age, though this is significant. While he may use the same remedies, a doctor can treat a fifty-year old in a manner completely different from the way he treats one who is forty, for example. They should not be so schematic as to say, “This medication is right for this illness.” For instance, it makes a great difference if you want to cure someone who is constantly afflicted with diarrhoea or someone who has chronic constipation. Such remedies could be tested, and here experiments with animals would be much less objectionable than they are in other areas. Regarding constipation or diarrhoea, you can easily learn how some remedy reacts in the general physical organism that men have in common with the animals by giving the same medicine to both a dog and a cat. The dog regularly suffers from constipation, and the cat from diarrhoea. You can acquire a wonderful knowledge by observing the degree of difference in the medication’s effect in the dog or the cat. 

Scientific knowledge really is not attained by university training in how to do this or that with certain instruments. True science results, rather, when common sense is aroused a little; then people know how they must conduct their experiments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 348 – Health and Illness I: Lecture IX: Why do We Become Sick? – Dornach, December 27, 1922

Translated by Maria St. Goar


Previously posted on 4 September 2021