Methods of diagnosis within medical Heilkunst are considerably different from those of conventional medicine. The idea of observation, itself, is restricted in conventional medicine primarily to the quantitative realm. This is a big part of the reason that we see such a dependence on medical technologies, along with a fundamental distrust in the supposedly flawed human mind, trapped within its own subjectivity. This is a world full of information, yet devoid of meaning.
Qualitative observations, on the other hand, are much more central to Heilkunst diagnosis. It goes without saying that a higher level health of the practitioner is a requirement for accurate and objective diagnosis in this realm, and one of the reasons that treatment is a requirement for the practitioner. It is interesting that this is a requirement within a system that focuses on health as its foundation, rather than the “sick care” focus of conventional medicine, where the doctor is presumed to need treatment only when they get sick themselves.
An example of a medical observation which is qualitative comes from the field of Orgonomy, as developed by Dr. Wilhelm Reich. Part of my assessment of a patient involves observing the degree of ‘armoring’ that they have. Armoring exists both at the biological and psychological levels, and can be observed through a number of the following qualitative elements.
How does the patient’s body move — is it free-flowing, or rigid in any way? Likewise, how flexible is their mental function — do they have a difficult time if new ideas are introduced? Also, various signs of anxiety indicate a degree of armoring — visible limitations to the breathing (shallow breath, uncoordinated speech patterns, etc.) illustrate an armoring pattern in the patient.
I am also observing how a patient responds to the remedies over time — a desirable healthy response to the remedies will involve a full discharge at some level (nasal discharge, emotional discharge, etc.), but in a very armored patient, the remedy will only work for a brief period of time, but then the patient will “snap back” and contract into the customary state of illness held in place by their armoring.
There is also a topography, or depth to the armoring — the patient and their treatment may progress in a fairly free-flowing way for at the beginning, but then we hit on a deeper level of armoring where a very different side of the patient suddenly comes out, seemingly “out of the blue”. This is usually because much illness and armoring has been suppressed, and is not easily observable on the surface. Experienced and careful observation, however, can pick up the most subtle clues at the surface about this deeper level of armoring, and the practitioner can prepare themselves to anticipate a big collision when this deeper level is reached in treatment.
Watching for the movement in the patient from greater to lesser degrees of armoring goes hand-in-hand with another qualitative observation of the changing state of mind of the patient. We all have personal experience of someone we’re close to being “off”, or acting out of character — these are examples of a shift in state of mind, and in a medical context prove to be some of the most important observations for understanding which direction the treatment is progressing.
In a healthy, and trained practitioner, these qualitative obervations are actually objective, and much more reliable than any quantitative observation at getting at the real meaning of the case.