Hahnemann was born on 10th April 1755 in Meissen , a beautiful town across the river Elbe, in Saxony of Germany near Dresden. His father, Christian Gottfried.Hahnemann was a painter in a porcelain factory. Hahnemann was the third child of his parents. He was guided to read and write by his father and mother, Johanna Christiana. He started going to the town school on 20th July 1767, where he studied up to the age of 16 yrs. After that he attended the Prince's school in the same town. Hahnemann always followed his father's advice, which shows the impact of his father over him. His father taught him to "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good", which helped Hahnemann to pursue a strong inclination like his father and made him a 'hard task worker'. He worked for many sleepless nights under the lamp, which he himself had created. His intense desire to work hard was greatly admired by the Rector of the Prince's school, Magister Muller and he became one of his favorite students.Muller encouraged Hahnemann to pursue higher studies besides the usual curriculum of that school. His father was financially poor to provide any more education for him. He removed Hahnemann several times from the school and kept him away from the school for more than a year so that he might take up some business to support him financially. However, due to request from his teachers, he was admitted back to the same school, where he completed his studies without the usual fees. While leaving the school, Hahnemann wrote an essay on a very unusual subject,
'THE WONDERFUL CONSTRUCTION OF HUMAN HAND'.
With 20 thaler's in his pocket and his father's blessings, Hahnemann left for Leipzig from Meissen with the intention to study medicine, where he was allowed to attend classes freely. Hahnemann started earning by teaching French and German, and by translating books from other languages. This helped him to gain mastery over many languages like Greek, Latin, English, Italian, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Spanish and German.
From Leipzig, he went to Vienna for greater advantages of medical study. He studied and practiced medicine in the hospital of, 'Brothers of Mercy' where he met Dr.Von Quarin, a famous physician, who treated him like his son. Dr. Quarin took great pains to teach Hahnemann the art of medicine and allowed him to accompany him to his private practice.
Hahnemann had to face financial losses as all his hard earned savings were robbed by one of his colleagues. But the Governor of Transylvania, Baron Von Brukenthal appointed him as a family physician and librarian, and took Hahnemann with him to Hermannstadt. Here Hahnemann got the opportunity to acquire knowledge of some collateral sciences.
After 2 years, he went to Erlangen to complete his further studies. He completed his M.D.from the Erlangen University in 1779. The subject of his thesis was, 'A CONSIDERATION OF ETIOLOGY AND THERAPEUTICS OF SPASMODIC AFFECTIONS'.
The Duke of Saxes, Gotha offered Hahnemann to take charge of an asylum for the insane in Georgenthal in the Thuringian forest. Hahnemann was the first person to treat insane people, who were otherwise treated very harshly, in a very gentle manner. He was among the earliest ones who preached to treat the insane with mildness, which has now become universal. He wrote, “I never allow insane people to be punished by blows or other painful inflictions, since there can be no punishment where there is no sense of responsibility and since such patients cannot be improved by such rough treatment”. He shared his achievement with Pinel.
Hahnemann then shifted to Walscheleben, where he wrote the first part of, 'FRIEND TO HEALTH' and first part of his PHARMACEUTICAL LEXICON. In 1794, he went to Pyrmont in Westphalia and thereafter to Brunswick. In 1795, he went to Wolfenbuttel and then he went to Konigslutter where he remained until 1799. In this interval, he wrote second part of his 'FRIEND TO HEALTH' and PHARMACEUTICAL LEXICON. In 1796, he wrote for his friend, Hufeland's journal, in which the discovery of Homeopathy was brought to light through his essay titled, 'AN ESSAY ON NEW PRINCIPLE FOR ASCERTAINING THE CURATIVE POWERS OF DRUGS AND SOME EXAMINATIONS OF THE PREVIOUS PRINCIPLES'. In this essay, Hahnemann firmly expresses his beliefs that for chronic diseases at least, those medicines should be employed that have power of producing similar affections in healthy individuals. This was published in Hufeland's 4, journal vol II, part 3 & PAGES 391-439 & 456-561.In the same journal he published an interesting case illustrative of his views and wrote another essay on,'Irrationality of complicated systems of diet and regimes and complex prescriptions'. He also put forward his new doctrine of SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURANTUR (LIKE CURES LIKE) opposite to Contraria Contraris Curantur (Opposite Cures Opposite). This was the birth year of Homeopathy.
Some other essays also followed this in rapid succession among which were, those on treatment of fever and periodical diseases. Hahnemann abandoned complex mixtures of medicine and now invariably administered single doses. The physician of Konigslutter felt jealous of him and insisted that the apothecaries take an action against him for interfering in their privileges and for dispensing his own medicines. Hahnemann appealed that the law only extended upto the compounding of medicines, but otherwise every medical person has every right to give or sell uncompounded drugs.
During the last year of his residence in Konigslutter, he witnessed severe epidemic of scarlet fever where he discovered the prophylactic value of Belladonna for this disease. He used Belladonna with great success. During the period of this disease a circumstance occurred, which led him to believe that Belladonna was not only a curative, but also a preventive medicine for that malady. In one family of four children, he saw that three were sick with the disease, but the 4th who was taking Belladonna at the same time for an affection of finger joints escaped the epidemic. Now Hahnemann realized the curative as well as preventive power of the medicine. In a family of eight children, where three were trapped in the epidemic, he immediately gave the remaining 5 children, Belladonna in small doses. As per his anticipation, all the five escaped the disease. This epidemic gave Hahnemann numerous opportunities of verifying the protective power of Belladonna. This also attracted many more physicians. Hahnemann assured that he would reveal the name of the prophylactic after announcing his publication work on the subject. His colleagues got annoyed that Hahnemann did not keep his promise and called him selfish. Hahnemann reacted to this revengefully by publishing an article on Scarlatina, where in he revealed the name of the prophylactic and the facts that lead to its discovery. But it was too late. The apothecaries and physicians of Konigslutter drove him from the town in 1799.
Hahnemann had to leave Konigslutter with his whole family, all his property in a large carriage, and a heavy heart. Many people whose lives were saved by the Belladonna had accompanied him some distance on the road to Humburg. However, fate turned out in an accident, where the carriage overturned, and Hahnemann had to face a great emotional loss. His infant child was injured so badly that he died after a short time and the leg of one of his daughter was fractured. Hahnemann also suffered from some injuries. He had to face financial loss due to damage to his property that had fallen in the stream. He was taken to the near by village where he had to stay for six weeks for his daughter's treatment. Then he moved to Humburg, but soon noticed that he had no scope there. Hence he left for the nearest town of Altona from where he traveled to Mollen of Lauenburg.
His strong desire to go to his hometown Saxony drew him to Machern and then to Dessau, where he published a monograph on, 'COFFEE AND ITS EFFECTS'. He considered coffee as a source of chronic disease, and was against the use of it as a common beverage. In 1800, he published remarkable articles in the preface, of translations of collection of medical prescriptions. It contained a marvelous preface, “Reader you have purchased this book thinking to find there is a royal way to practice of physic, but you are miserably mistaken to believe there can be any such shortcut. Skill in practice can only be gained by careful, unwearied and honest study; by having perfect knowledge of the curative instruments you have to yield, and by accurate observation of the characteristic symptoms of the disease”.
The years, 1805 and 1806 are important for the development of doctrine. In 1805, he published 'MEDICINE OF EXPERIENCE' in Hufeland's journal. During 1806-1809, he published the journals, which contained the things that had never been written before. This included especially his essay on the value of speculative system of Medicine and a tough and earnest letter to Hufeland.The doctrines were rejected by the old school but favored by public. Thereafter the number of his admirers and non-medical disciples increased from day to day. In 1810, he published the first edition of 'ORGANON OF THE RATIONAL ART OF HEALING' in which he outlined and explained methods of Homeopathy, and criticized other systems of treatment especially, Allopathy. Professor Becker of Berlin wrote against him to which Hahnemann replied in a vigorous manner.
He later went and settled down in Torgan. He realized that by making such discoveries only brought him opposition and criticism from the medical world. Hahnemann discontinued writing in their medical journals and published his writings on the ancient medicine. He however still remained firm and decided to move ahead. In 1811, he published the 1st volume of 'MATERIA MEDICA PURA', which contained the pathogenesis of the medicines, which he had tested on himself and on his disciples silently.
During this period, he was guiding the rising generation of the homeopathic practioners theoretically and practically. Though this failed, he resolved to give a course of lectures upon the system to those people, who were actually interested but they had to pay him for that. This aroused jealousy amongst his professional rivals who called Hahnemann a selfish person. However, Hahnemann defended himself and presented his thesis, 'De Helleborisma veterum' before the medical faculty on 26th June 1812, which was strongly admired by the dean of the medical faculty. Hahnemann was also severely criticized for taking large fees from his patient although he was compassionate and very liberal to poor people. He needed to charge the other patients as he had a large family to support and also because he was very well aware of the services he gave to his patients and the amount of hard work he would undergo in order to render such services.
Hahnemann shifted to Leipzig in 1812, where he was allowed to deliver lectures in Leipzig University. Unfortunately the university did not continue for a long time, but he succeeded in adding many dedicated followers to his already long list, who supported him until the end. In 1814, an epidemic of Typhus broke out due to the consequences of the disturbances caused by the military operations of that period. At that time, he wrote some controversial article upon the treatment of burns where he advised warm application in opposition to the Professor D zondi who recommended cold water applications. A second edition of ORGANON was published and five more volumes of MATERIA MEDICA appeared which turned out to be the center of attraction for many physicians and an immense number of educated people. Prince Schwarzenberg, who had been the general officer commanding allied armies, against Napoleon was paralyzed by a stroke on 31 Jan 1817. The Prince came to Leipzig to take treatment from Hahnemann. He started improving under Homoeopathic treatment but again fell sick due to his old habit of drinking and started taking allopathic treatment from time to time. Hahnemann visited him and after 5 weeks, the Prince died of the stroke. This was again a good opportunity for his offenders and rivals. They started blaming him and propagated that it was due to Hahnemann's treatment that a fatal termination of the disease occurred and not due to the actual cause of the disease.
Due to many upsetting circumstances, rivalry and jealousy of other people, he now stopped writing prescriptions of his own medicine. His practice therefore stopped, though he was advised to dispense medicine secretly. Now there was no other way than leaving Leipzig. Hahnemann left Leipzig again with a heavy heart and came to Coethan in 1821, where initially he found himself lonely. Duke Ferdiand gave him permission to live and practice Homeopathy in Coethan. Hahnemann could scarcely make up the loss of disciples whom he used to instruct and the friends who used to assist him in his provings.
Hahnemann used to visit his patients when they were sick, while all other patients came to Coethan for advice at his house. In Coethan, he published the 3rd, 4th, 5th edition of his ORGANON and, 2nd and 3rd edition of MATERIA MEDICA. In 1827, he summoned Dr. Stapf and Dr. Gross, his two disciples, to Coethan and communicated to them his theory of the origin of chronic diseases and his discovery of a completely new series of medicaments. In 1828,the 1st & 2nd volume of the celebrated work on 'CHRONIC DISEASES, THEIR PECULIAR NATURE AND HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT'appeared. However, once again, the professional rivals criticized this but there were many followers in his defense who supported him too.
The medical press of Germany printed a quarterly journal in 1822, which contained many able and vigorous articles in support of Hahnemann's doctrine. Stapf published the first periodical of Homeopathy, 'THE ARCHIVE FOR THE HOMEOPATHIC SCIENCE OF HEALING' with help of Gross and Muller. The 3rd, 4th and 5th volume of the CHRONIC DISEASES containing extensive and valuable provings of new medicines successively appeared during the following two years.
On 10th August 1829, his followers and admirers gathered at Coethan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hahnemann's reception of the doctor's degree. People had gathered in big masses that gave an appearance of a celebration. On the same day, Hahnemann solemnly founded the first Homeopathic society named, 'CENTRAL SOCIETY OF GERMAN HOMEOPATHISTS' which exists and flourishes even till today.This was the period when Homeopathy began to spread out of Germany to other countries. During the same time, Hahnemann published a pamphlet titled, 'ALLOPATHY; A WARNING TO ALL SICK PEOPLE'. In 1830, cholera invaded Germany and Hahnemann was successful in saving many lives with his therapeutic discovery of specificity of medicines for which he was much appreciated.
Hahnemann's wife, who was a mother of all 11 children, died on 31st March 1830, after 48 yrs of a happily married life. Behind every successful man, there is a woman. She proved to be the great woman who offered Hahnemann, company and undisturbed private life even in face of miseries and extreme poverty. She always supported him through the dark phases of his life when he needed her the most and left him alone when these dark phases started fading. After that, his daughters filled in the vacuum created by the death of their mother, in their father's life to some extent, for nearly 4 years.
A charming French woman,Marie Melanie De Hervilly came to consult Hahnemann for her skin complaints on 8th October in 1834. She was an artist and a poet. She was rich and famous too. Both got attracted to each other and age stood no bar to their marriage. Hahnemann (aged 80 years) got married with Marie (aged 35 years) on the New Year day of 1835. She also supported Hahnemann and her name was recognized and linked with the later history of Homeopathy.
Hahnemann went to France in 1835. He was also permitted to practice in Paris by a Royal decree on 12th August 1836. Here Hahnemann stopped consultation in his house and started visiting patients at their residence. In France, he received an award too. By this time Hahnemann had gained name, fame, recognition, money and most important 'PEACE', after long years of poverty, hardship and unending struggle.
Hahnemann stayed in Paris for another seven years and breathed his last at 5 A.M. on 2nd July 1843 at the age of 89 years. He was buried in the cemetery of Montmarte, and only four of his nearest relatives accompanied his body to the grave.
Hahnemann's statue and monuments are in Pere La Chaise in Paris, Coethan, Leipzig and Washington. Even the American Government granted 4,000 dollars and conducted the unveiling ceremony of the statue, which took a form of a national ceremony. Even the president had invited many guests at the White House. The inscription on his monument at the Pere La Chaise, in Paris is as follows,