Miasm is defined by Hahnemann as a noxious influence or the infectious principle, or virus, which when taken into the organism, may set up a specific disease. I prefer to describe it as a predisposition to the expression of a particular disease either inherited, acquired or acute.
Miasm is a particular study within homeopathy than can be vast and open to much discussion. Plenty has been written about miasms and even to this day new miasms are being discovered and described.
Hahnemann recognized the mother of all Miasm as Psora. This was the original susceptibility to the itch from scabies. Prior to this was the healthy state of man when susceptibility was limited to only acute, self resolving expressions of disease. But when Psora came it opened the door to the first expressions of chronic disease. It was the first departure from the “Garden of Eden”. Man became susceptible through great fear of a new and chronic nature. Great sensitivity, both to temperature and temperament effected the state of man. If this was not healed in a persons lifetime it became inherited by future generations. It is said that all persons have been effected by Psora.
The next level of susceptibility came in the form of Syphilis and is the Syphilitic miasm. It is a contagious disease acquired through sexual contact. It is a venereal disease characterized by lesions to the skin. If left untreated will destroy bones and the mind, creating insanity. The quality of destruction is the main essence of the syphilitic miasm. It destroys all systems eventually, including the morality of man.
Hahnemann identified Sycosis as the next level of acquired miasm. It is the venereal disease from gonorrhea. It is characterized by inflammation and mucopurulent discharge. Eventually, if untreated, can go on to effect the urinary tract, joints and heart. The common personality traits are sexual addictions, drug addictions, and a self centered nature. It is the idea of more, more, more. This character trait also is expressed physically in many extra growths, warts and excrescences.
The tubercular miasm is said to be a combination of all of the previous three miasms. It is the chronic disease of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis can affect any area of the body but most commonly affects the lungs. Mentally this miasm will create the need for more exploration and curiosity. Hence the desire for travel and change. But the downside for this is a great sense of dissatisfaction. Nothing is good enough. Because it affects the lungs it can cause dypnea or shortness of breath. This is symbolic of impeded inspiration. Now it is easier to see how without a feeling of being inspired leads to great dissatisfaction and the need to travel or change to find what is perceived as missing.
These miasms are the original miasms that were identified by Hahnemann and mentioned in the Organon and Chronic Diseases. Kent expanded about these in his Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy. H. Choudhury gave us Indications of Miasm. Since the early masters more miasms have been discovered. Some of these have been controversial. But the most commonly accepted additional miasms are Cancer, Radiation, Malaria, Ringworm, Typhoid, AIDS, Heavy metals, Leprosy.
Rajan Sankaran identifies the miasms by a single quality. I share this from his book An Insight Into Plants;
- Acute – Panic – The feeling of acute threat and the reaction is strong and instinctive.
- Typhoid – Critical – The feeling is that of a critical situation which, if properly handled for a critical period, will end in total recovery. The reaction is an intense struggle against it.
- Psora – Struggle – The feeling that one must struggle to succeed. Anxiety and doubts about his ability, but is hopeful, and failure does not mean the end of the world. He must struggle to maintain his position.
- Ringworm – Trying – Characterized by an alteration between periods of struggle with anxiety about success and periods of despair and giving up.
- Malaria – Persecuted – The intermittent threat that comes up in phases. Between the phases is an underlying chronic, fixed feeling of being deficient. The miasm is characterized by sudden acute manifestations that come up from time to time followed by periods of quiescence.
- Sycosis – Fixity – The feeling of a fixed , irremediable weakness within himself. The action is to cover up the weakness and compensate with egotism, compulsive acts, secrecy, etc.
- Tubercular – Change – The feeling of intense oppression and desire for change. The reaction is intense, hectic, activity in order to break free from the oppression.
- Cancer – Perfection – A feeling of weakness and incapacity inside, with the need to perform perfectly well and live up to high expectations. It is the super-human effort, stretching himself beyond his capabilities. Survival depends on the struggle, because without it, would mean death and destruction.
- Leprosy – Isolation – The feeling of intense oppression, hopelessness, isolation and intense desire for change.
- Syphilis – Destruction – The feeling that the situation is beyond salvage. This leads to complete hopelessness and despair. In a desperate effort to change the situation the result is usually destruction.
I find that considering miasms during the case can be confusing at times. Unless there is a very clear understanding about what is asking to be healed, it can be very misleading if an incorrect miasm were chosen that led to a selection of remedies that was inaccurate. Hahnemann made it very clear that all medicines should be given for the person and their state of suffering. Many times in the treatment of chronic disease a remedy is very clearly indicated. When difficult management of the case leads to the need for a better understanding, having a well rounded knowledge of miasms is very helpful. Sometimes it can be the missing link that solves the case.