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.
The first duty of the homoeopathic prescriber is clearly to understand the nature of the disturbed functions of the patient, to get at the full facts of the case so far as they are expressed by symptoms. The examination that elicits them must be thorough and complete, and will yield satisfactory results according to the perfection of the physician's general medical knowledge. His knowledge of anatomy will enable him to detect abnormal conditions of organs; physiology will show abnormal performance of function; chemistry, microscopy, etc., will discover morbid secretions and excretions, etc. He makes use of all instruments that modern science places at his disposal, from the clinical thermometer to the stethoscope, and all other instruments of precision of modern diagnostic skill. All the results thereby attained furnish him with the objective phenomena which the patient presents. These go far to establish the diagnosis of the pathological condition. The totality of symptoms ascertainable, with the help of our numerous diagnostic aids, furnishes a much more complete picture, analytically, than was possible in Hahnemann's time, when the main reliance had to be placed on the subjective symptoms. These latter are still of paramount importance in deciding between drugs that are capable of producing a similar change in the organism; they thus serve to determine the one most nearly indicated remedy from among a group of more or less related remedies.
The totality of the symptoms must be the sole indication to determine the choice of a curative remedy.
Hahnemann's teaching on this point is expressed in § 18 of the Organon, as follows:
"It is then unquestionably true that, besides the totality of symptoms, it is impossible to discover any other manifestation by which diseases could express their need of relief; hence, it undeniably follows that the totality of symptoms observed in each individual case of disease, can be the only indication to guide us in the selection of a remedy".
And, again, in § 70, he says: "All that a physician may regard as curable in diseases, consists entirely in the complaints of the patient and the morbid changes of his health perceptible to the senses - that is to say, it consists entirely in the totality of symptoms through which the disease expresses its demand for the appropriate remedy; while, on the other hand, every fictitious or obscure, internal cause and condition, or imaginary, material, morbific matter are not objects of treatment".
The totality of the symptoms consists in the systematic ascertaining of all the symptomatic facts necessary to determine the curative remedy. The totality of symptoms includes every change of state of body and mind that we can discover or have observed, or that has been reported to the physician; thus, every deviation from health. It includes every subjective symptom that the patient can describe correctly and every objective symptom the physician can discover by his senses, aided by all diagnostic instruments. In examining the patient, a definite, systematic plan should be followed. The regional plan, the Hahne-mannian Schema form, is perhaps the best, as it follows a natural, anatomical arrangement.