One of the foundations of medical Heilkunst is the concept of ‘provings’. This is the method which Dr. Hahnemann developed in order to gain an objective knowledge about potential medicinal substances, by testing them on healthy subjects in order to catalogue their disease effects, and to know exactly which remedy could later be used in a given disease-condition. Part of the medical revolution which Heilkunst represents is due to this method of ‘provings’, which represents a huge improvement over the abstract and speculative methods of developing drugs within the pharmaceutical industry.
This method of provings is unique in the history of medicine, in that it opens a door of access into a direct ‘living experience’ of a given medicinal substance, which can then be applied much more accurately and knowledgeably in a real life clinical situation.
There is a reporter named A.J. Jacobs, who has a unique way of working, which parallels this concept of provings. He has done a number of writing projects which were based on his complete participation and immersion into whatever his topic of choice was at the moment. His style is very humourous, but underneath is a very interesting message which links back to this essential method of provings, which are key to the whole medical aspect of Heilkunst.
Some of his projects include:
- “I Think You’re Fat – The Radical Honesty movement”. This was an experiment in removing the inner censor, and telling those around you exactly what your thoughts and perceptions are about them, depsite any normal social convewntions.
- “The Know-It-All”. This was a book which was based on his year of immersing himself reading the entire Encylopedia Brittanica from A to Z, and writing about his experiences engaging in the depths of this database.
- “The Year of Living Biblically”. His project here was to spend 1 full year following all of the rules and restrictions set out in the Bible, to see the impact on his mind and his life.
- “My Outsourced Life”. This article explored his experiment to push the limits of outsourcing every aspect of his life to virtual assistants overseas. More a cultural commentary about the implications of displacing our own personal responsibility for our own life.
As I mentioned, aside from the humourous approach to these pieces, his general method is a great illustration of the deep immersive process which is a parallel with the process of doing medical provings in Heilkunst. What makes him unique is that it is a conscious diversion from the usual abstract, detached approach we have to getting to know something in our culture. This form of “living knowledge” is something we’ve almost touch with completely, and would be much better served to re-engage with such a level of knowing in one or more aspects of our lives.