Our Noble and Beloved Carroll Dunham

His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world—THIS WAS A MAN !

Not only can it be very profitable to study the writing and practice of the great homeopaths, but it is truly necessary for anyone attempting to master the science and art of homeopathy as our knowledge is cumulative and never outdated. Carroll Dunham was certainly one of the most brilliant homeopaths ever. His writings are essential material for any serious student while his life can be a profound source of inspiration. At his memorial, it was said that “Carroll Dunham has done more for the interests of homeopathy than any other man since the time of Hahnemann.” Curiously, Dunham has yet to be discovered by the present generation of homeopaths.

Dunham dedicated his whole life’s effort to the good of all through the promotion of homeopathy, the science of therapeutics which had saved his own life on at least three different occasions. Dr. Helmuth said that “his life was one of truth and goodness. His name can never be mentioned without awakening feelings of love and reverence. His action in all matters, great or small was prompted by purity of heart and love of right.” It was said of Marcus Aurelius that he was humanity’s most noble soul. We could say of Carroll Dunham that he was homeopathy’s most noble soul. The death of Dunham was felt like a cold shower throughout the whole homeopathic profession. Dr. Kellogg who had been his friend since his youth wrote: “When the death of Dr. Dunham was announced, so general and profound was the sense of irreparable loss, that the whole homœopathic profession rose up as one man, both in this country and in Europe, to give utterance to their sorrow, to do honor to his memory, and to commemorate his character and services. Everyone felt that we had ‘lost our best man.’ Not even the death of Hahnemann stirred up such depths of grief.” P. P. Wells who attended him until the end said that he “died of no disease” but of exhausted vitality induced by excessive and protracted labor. Later Wells said: “I could willingly have died for him; he could have been of so much more use in the world.”

Although Dunham never wrote a book, his writings are voluminous. From each one of his essays emerges the excellence, clarity and originality of his perception. Soon after his death some of his best writings were assembled by his wife and published in a book called Homœopathy, The Science of Therapeutics. Here one can follow Dunham’s master mind discussing the place of hygiene in homeopathy, alternation of remedies, primary vs. secondary symptoms, the use of high potencies, relation of pathology to therapeutics, the base of the treatment, etc.

On the political level Carroll Dunham was a peace maker. It was said of him that he had no enemies. His liberal and generous mind made it easier for him to accept compromise. Unfortunately compromise on the search for the truth leads to error. In 1870 he made a notable presentation before the American Institute of Homœopathy (AIH) called ‘Freedom of Medical Opinion and Action: a Vital Necessity and a Great Responsibility’. He believed, contrary to his predecessors, that liberty of opinion and practice should prevail within the AIH. He said that he was sure that “perfect liberty will sooner bring knowledge of the truth and that purity of practice which we all desire.” His speech provided license to the pseudo-homeopaths to practice as they wanted and be still identified as homeopaths. Subsequent to his address knowledge of homeopathy was removed in 1874 as a requirement for membership in the AIH. Dunham died in 1877 and did not witness the disastrous effect his noble but naïve vision eventually had on the course of homeopathy in the U.S.A. as most of our institutions disappeared after its members had adopted practices at variance with the teachings of Hahnemann.

What made him a great teacher was that, like Hering, he truly understood the strict inductive method of Hahnemann. He studied under Hering and Bœnninghausen among others and exchanged with Wells, Joslin, Lippe and Guernsey. He said that the chief duty of the prescriber is to “base the treatment on facts, indisputable, unmistakable, the results of pure observation.” On the then controversial use of high potencies he wrote that “the question is purely a practical and experimental one.” The reader is referred the reader to the story on how, with his father, he made within a week his famous remedies in the 200th potency using the jigger of an old sawmill to succuss the remedies (see the article entitled “My first Case with a 200 D”). In 1864, on professional life, he writes: “The object of our professional life is to find out the truth and to shape our practice accordingly. Consistency to this object is true consistency.” The clarity of his perception comes through when he says that “the significance of a fact is measured by the capacity of the observer.”

His Lectures on Materia Medica are a posthumous publication of the notebook used to give his lectures. Here you will find delightful lectures preceding and following his classes on materia medica. By careful recording of cases and also by conducting provings himself, Dunham added, like Lippe, many original verifications and has numerous uses of our remedies. For instance, he cured three cases with epithelial cancer of the lower lip in pipe smokers as he had found that the pain described by the sick was similar to the one experienced during the proving. These lectures are highly recommended for the advanced student when capable of appreciating the subtleness of Dunham’s perception. At times he is poetic, as when he compares Aconitum to a storm disturbing a luxurious and fertile valley in midsummer. About the disposition of Carbo vegetabilis, he writes that “indifference is the characteristic symptom. The irritability noticed seems to be a protest against disturbance of the quiet which the patient desires; and the sensibility and peevishness of disposition to be another phase of the same protest.” About Platina, he writes “the prover displays a most exalted and overweening self-esteem, overesteeming herself beyond all reason and entertaining a correspondingly low and contemptuous opinion of all surrounding objects and persons, even the most venerable and respectable; nay, this opinion is more depreciating the nobler and more worthy the objects of it.”

We can summarize Dunham’s life by quoting his last words to his departing students: “And at the close of long and busy careers, may you have the pleasant consciousness, not only that you have made some permanent additions to the common stock of knowledge for the common good, but also that many men and women have been the happier for your lives.”

Picture of André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

André Saine is a 1982 graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is board-certified in homeopathy (1988) by the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians and has been teaching and lecturing on homeopathy since 1985. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject of homeopathy.