This section is from the book "A Compend Of The Principles Of Homoeopathy", by William Boericke. Also available from Amazon: A Compend of the Principles of Homoeopathy as Taught by Hahnemann.
Be patient in getting at the symptoms, especially in chronic diseases. There is a great difference between patients; some cannot, others will not, give much aid in analyzing their case; some are morbidly desirous of imparting symptoms and will perhaps, unconsciously, warp their statement by exaggeration.
Do not interrupt the patient in his first recital too much; lead him on, if he wanders off. When he has finished, cross-examine him, by careful questioning, to supply any deficiencies.
Avoid asking leading questions, as far as possible, and not so that the patient must answer yes or no.
Accept no diagnostic suggestions, or pathological theories, or former opinions of other physicians, as these can be no guide for the selection of a curative remedy.
Be sure and get the modalities, especially the influence of the times of day, weather, season, position of body, exercise, sleep, etc.
Pay special attention to the mental state of the patient and his intellectual functions.
Take the apparent, immediate cause of his sickness into special account; this is often of importance for selecting the remedy, even long afterwards.
In chronic diseases, especially, investigation should be extended to the family history of the patient; heredity is a potent factor in determining disease.
The history of the patient's previous diseases, particularly eruptions of any kind that may have been treated with strong local remedies and so suppressed; also, as to all forms of local treatment generally, and the patient's medical habits, the use of patent medicines, purgatives, mineral waters, etc.
Notice any alternation of groups of symptoms, such as gastric and rheumatic symptoms, rheumatic and catarrhal, bronchial and skin affections, etc.
Remember that certain bodily conditions have certain mental states - depression and constipation, anxiety and heart affections, hopefulness and consumption, etc.
Remember that, when a certain train of symptoms are present in some one organ or apparatus of the body, there are almost sure to be present certain other symptoms, objective and subjective, in other organs often, anatomically, quite remote, and of which the patient probably is hardly aware until his attention is called to them by the physician. * For instance, certain pains in the head co-exist with certain uterine affections, or anomalies of vision, etc.
Write down the record of the symptoms, beginning a new line with every symptom. This will greatly facilitate study and reference to allied remedies.
Subjective symptoms are a description by the patient of his feelings as they appear to him - his sensations. The ability to express and describe sensations is not common to all patients; and hence, subjective symptoms must always be interpreted by the physician to a large extent. The patient may deceive his physician in stating them, as is frequently the case with hysterical subjects, or he may not be able to describe them accurately enough to be utilized, as in the case of young children.
Objective symptoms are, as a rule, the most important. They are all such as the physician can ascertain by means of his senses, aided and unaided.
In many phases of disease, and with children and frequently in old people, where organic changes can go on to an alarming extent without very marked, subjective disturbance, objective symptoms are all we practically have on which to base a prescription. In mental diseases, objective symptoms are most important for purposes of prescribing.
Objective symptoms are of special value when they occur during sleep, as then the system is relaxed.
Objective symptoms that are not specially diagnostic of the disease, or of some pathological state, when present, are important for purposes of prescribing. On the other hand, objective symptoms that are diagnostic of certain pathological, states, so-called pathognomonic symptoms, are of great importance in guiding to a certain class of remedies and excluding other groups, even though such may seem superficially indicated.