Whats is Chronic Disease?


By Grant Bentley, February 2007

My name is Grant Bentley and I am a homoeopath practicing in Australia. I am also a lecturer and Principal of the Victorian College of Classical Homoeopathy, a training institution for undergraduate as well as postgraduate training.

Because I divide my time between teaching and patients, the nature of my clinic is different from many homoeopathic practices, because I rarely see acutes. In Australia, people expect treatment for acute disease immediately. If this is not available, they will see another homoeopath or an orthodox doctor. When I lecture, I do so in three and a half to four hour blocks. Therefore, if a patient needs help immediately for an acute condition, they generally have to go elsewhere. Consequently, over the last thirteen years of teaching, my acute patients have dramatically decreased while my chronic patients have dramatically increased. My practice now is based almost entirely on the treatment of chronic disease.

The question asked in the title of this paper may sound simple, but it is not. Chronic disease - as generally defined - is a disease, which continues to increase in severity year by year. It has no defined time-period like acute disease, and follows no set pattern. It has no defined origin and has no set treatment plan. With acute disease, either the patient survives or they do not. Chronic disease by contrast continues to plague and torment the patient until their dying day.

Acute disease often has a detectable origin, the most common source being viral or bacterial infection. Chronic disease rarely has such exogenous beginnings. Infectious agents rarely cause chronic disease even though infection can be a result.

Chronic disease has internal beginnings not external, and is best understood as a consequence rather than an infection. Dr Kent was very strong in his emphasis on this. Pneumonia may be the acute outcome, but a weakness of the lungs is the real chronic disease. Weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, stress responses and inheritance are all part of the framework Kent defined as chronic disease.

Chronic disease is about the patient. It is the understanding that the person precedes the illness, therefore it is the person we are treating not the disease. Get the person back to health and the chronic disease will dissipate. Therefore, chronic disease is always in proportion to a patients overall health. Improve health and we reduce illness.

The most common reply any patient can give to the question, 'what makes your signs and symptoms worse?' is, 'my symptoms are worse when I am stressed or tired'. Therefore, energy and wellbeing are the two most crucial factors in the treatment of chronic disease.

Regardless of the nature of the complaint, chronic disease symptoms are always in direct proportion to the energy of the patient. The less energy the patient has, the worse their symptoms will be. Rarely does a chronic disease develop without some sort of stress or tension before hand. This is Newton's third law of motion - to every action there is a reaction.

In his chapter titled 'Why is cancer incurable', Kent concludes that because we focus on the disease, rather than on the person, cancer as well as other chronic diseases continue to remain difficult or impossible to cure. To know the patient from childhood to adulthood is the only way we can treat chronic disease, because it is a balancing act. By getting to know the patient and all their stresses, we are finding out what has drained their energy, so we can replace it with the appropriate remedy.

Chronic disease is chronic exhaustion. We are all born with strengths and weaknesses defined by the dominant miasm we inherit. These areas of weakness show themselves during times of stress because they require more energy to maintain normal functioning. Organic functioning must remain within certain parameters and when the energy of an organ is substandard, the vital force will supplement that organ or area with the additional energy it needs. During times of stress however, the additional energy it normally supplies is no longer available.

If this interruption of vital energy is transient, there is no long-term damage, but if the disruption of vital force continues, these areas of miasmatic weakness become observable pathology. This is why chronic complaints are always worse when tired or stressed. The longer the tension or exhaustion continues the more entrenched and deep the pathology becomes. Therefore, our repertorisation must include the circumstances surrounding the patient, that is, what is draining their energy, as well as the generals of the case.

Kent was a master of constitutional prescribing and stressed the importance of the patient's life story. I have found this information invaluable in my own clinic and employ this technique in every case of chronic disease. Each case is a two-fold process, first is the physical complaint, complete with modalities and sensations. A head to toe check up is then conducted in the form of extensive and detailed questioning. Next, I get the person's life story. This biography includes, the patient's home life, their relationship with their parents and other siblings, their school life, what they did after school, their relationship with their wife or husband, as well as a comprehensive examination of the major stresses they have endured. From these events and circumstances, I look for trends because biographical trends make far better mental rubrics than emotional responses.

For example, a woman is suffering from chronic inflammatory arthritis, worse in the evening. She has gastric reflux also worse at night, and her menses are painful and exhausting. In her childhood, her mother and father always argued so too did her sisters. Her relationship with her husband is tense and they are always arguing. They fight because he reminds her of her father as they both have quick tempers and are critical. Two years ago, just before her arthritis began, she was forced to leave her job by her boss, who tormented her and insulted her in front of her fellow workers.

The repertorisation for this woman would include rubrics such as

  1. Inflammation in the joints
  2. Heartburn
  3. < Night
  4. Painful menses
  5. Censorious
  6. Quarrelsome

In Australia, there is a current tendency to analyise the personal experience. This means emphasizing the emotions experienced by an event rather than capturing the event itself. While this technique is common practice, I personally find it unstable in its clarity and choose not to use it. Turning biographical trends into rubrics gives far greater security and prescribing accuracy.

Grant Bentley
Grant has been working and studying in various fields of natural therapies since 1987. Grant's qualifications include Homœopathy, Naturopathy, Clinical Hypnosis and a Post Graduate Diploma in Eriksonian Psychotherapy. Grant is the current Principal and senior lecturer of the Victorian College of Classical Homœopathy, a position he has held since 1995.

His first book, Appearance and Circumstance details the nature of miasms and how facial analysis can be used to determine the patient's dominant miasm. His second book released in 2006, Homœopathic Facial Analysis continues this work with detailed descriptions and examples of facial analysis. Further research on how miasms influence us in our daily lives and define our individuality will be published in his third work in 2007. Grant continues to teach, give seminars and see patients through both the college and his private clinic.

Grant has lectured in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

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