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Erstwirkung - primary effect, primary action
Nachwirkung - after-effect
Gegenwirkung - contra-effect, contrary action
Wechsel-Wirkung - alternating effect, alternating action,
- these are the words Hahnemann used to describe the effect of the remedy and the reaction of the vital force.

Constantine Hering had a quite different view of the effects of remedies on the organism. He expressed his convictions - confirmed by many trials - in a couple of articles and letters.
[The following quotes are all MY translations of the original German text. My comments and explanations in [...]]

"Letter to the meeting of homoeopathic physicians in Magdeburg, August 10,1844"
During provings with lower potencies, especially in large doses, Hering noticed in sensitive persons after the violent primary actions many symptoms which slowly abated.

    " Sometimes a few of these symptoms persist for a very long time and return in certain incidents for weeks and months. This latter occurrence happened especially and the more, the more often the remedy was taken in repeated doses."

The so-called alternating effects occurred in the beginning of the proving more often, but sometimes they could be followed into the last trace of the effect of the remedy."
When comparing the symptoms  of the first and the last days of a proving, a distinct difference was to be seen.

    "Often the signs of the first and the last days were in a so-called opposition, contained something, what we are used to call contrary, i.e. they acted like alternating effects."

In provings with higher potencies Hering could not find such a difference in the symptoms, such a presence of alternating effects. But:

    "And when such a difference seemed to appear, one could not fail to notice the preponderance of those [symptoms] which had the character of the last days."

Therefore he came to the following conclusion:

    "Lower provings produced signs of two kinds, the primary- and the secondary symptoms. Higher provings only produced mainly [symptom] of one kind.”

All the signs which develop during the provings of higher potencies are equal to the after-effects of the lower or so-called stronger doses. But they don't coincide with the primary effects of them.

    ”Therefore lower provings produce in the last days the same signs which higher potencies produce at once.”

He added, that there were signs, e.g. like the burning in Arsenicum, which were found in the primary as well as in the after-effects. These signs, for him, were the main symptoms of a remedy:

    "Which signs show up in both, in primary- as well as in after-effects in the same way, that is for the choice of a remedy the most important thing."

More than a decade later, in 1855, he wrote in the article "For better understanding" ("Zum Verständniss", ZHK4, 31-32, 40, 47-48), that he had merely used the different terms of effects (first-, after-, primary- etc.) in the same manner as the words 'the sun rises and sets' are used. A special expression is used to be understood, though there is a different, a deeper and more precise knowledge behind it.

    "That everything is an "entire", indivisible effect, was contrary to Hahnemann's opinion, and I tried to bring forth my own opinion until I had the most striking proofs; therefore I didn't write about it again till 1834 and sent it for the Archive XV.1.p.3."

Hering was sure, that all the effects that appeared later in a proving - and therefore were often dismissed by others - were useful and important symptoms. He continues:

    "And after having torn from Hahnemann very important shreds, the sublime merit was acknowledged of having taught primary and after-effects. If Hahnemann has withdrawn it, as Kurt maintains, I don't know and would be grateful for the quote. There isn't such a thing as: contrary effect; this is an imagination and tangled in multiple controversies. The entire explanation of the process of cure in the Organon is totally false and often enough have I declared it's good for nothing. What in chemistry is the neutralisation with regard to the qualities of substances, what in physics is the interference, that is in dynamics the process of cure after homoeopathic remedies. Something similar already Kammerer has developped and Helbig, too; but I know neither where nor when. Already in 1826 I had it printed. If any organism incorporates any substance and experiences by it disturbances or inequalities, unevennesses of the performances which are kept in healthy balance, then we call it effect, and from the beginning to the end it is the same effect, and when Genzke experiences raw pains from Lycop. even after a year, it is still the effect of Lycop., if it was once the effect; for, that it belongs more to the individual than before, is without any cause. Effect is always the product of M in O [M=Mittel=remedy in O=Organismus=organism]and therefore has got from both. However, are the performances of O already out of balance,  yet the effecting [agent] can therefore not change and not act in a different way."

So for Hering there is one, and only one, effect. Each effect is produced by remedy and organism - for without organism there can't be an effect, there can't be symptoms to be seen.

    "The daily use I had in my clinic from the preferable use of the latest or after-effects, even of opium - where those are commonly seen as unuseful - determined me to talk about it."

His opinion about alternating effects he expressed:

    "All so-called alternating effects are always only reflections of one and the same symptom, such as the same powers drive the pendulum to and fro."

In 1861, Hering confirmed once more his opinion, that there was only one sort of effect of a homoeopathic remedy in the article "Where is the proof for these symptoms?" ("Wo ist der Beweis für diese Symptome?", HVJ 12(1861) 236-289):

    "Every effect is as such the same effect, and not only 'one and indivisible', that is not cleavable in primary and secondary, or in effect and contrary effect, actio and reactio, first and after-effect, positive or negative, direct and indirect, passive and active or how else the junk may have been called, nor in such ones produced by the remedy alone and such ones that are only an awakening of long slumbering signs. As soon as there is an effect of any remedy on any organism, it's even the same effect without all relation on the more and less of the remedy, on the greater or smaller 'sensitivity', or if the human being was healthy or sick, with or without slumbering signs, if he noticed many or few things, if he noticed it sooner or only later, if new signs appeared or old ones disappear, or first one and then the other - all that together is always nothing more than: effect, and that is one and the same indivisible and undecomposable. That it appears here as a malady-producing, there as a curing potency or, as often, as both at the same time, depends of the state of the one who took the remedy. Such as the remedy is and remains the same, such is that all and everything is the same effect."

For Hering every action of the remedy was 'effect'. Neither could it be separated from the organism, nor could it be split up in several parts. So every effect and action was valuable, there was no reason to dismiss a part of this action beforehand by saying:

    "this is only an after-effect of the organism, or this is only an old sign that has been slumbering for some years and now appears anew - therefore these are signs of the organism and they don't count in a proving!"

Every reaction of the organism, every symptom that appeared in a proving, could have been triggered by the remedy - so it could be valuable. And of course, a remedy was only able to produce such symptoms in an organism, the organism was capable to produce.

Copyright 1999, Gaby Rottler

References all taken from:

Hering's medizinische Schriften (Hering's medical writings), Burgdorf Verlag, 1988
"Sendschreiben an die Versammlung homoeopathischer Aerzte in Magdeburg am 10ten August 1844"
Published in Archiv fuer homoeopathische Heilkunst, 21(1844), 3, 161 - 184.
"Zum Verständniss", Zeitschrift fuer homoeopathische Klinik 4, 31-32, 40, 47-48
"Wo ist der Beweis für diese Symptome?", Homoeopathische Vierteljahreschrift 12(1861) 236-289

Copyright Gaby Rottler, 2014

Last update:  July,  2014