New England School of Homeopathy

What is “Cycles and Segments?” NCH Summer School 1999 * Stories & Scenes

Review: A New Method of Finding the Simillimum Report
on a Presentation by Paul Herscu, ND, DHANP

by Laura Lohman-Gannan, DHM

A New Method for Finding the Simillimum, a special seminar presented by Paul Herscu on June 19-20, 1999, at the NCH Summer School in Baltimore, was an introduction to a new model for case and remedy analysis. Initially the model appears as a wonderful organizing tool for all the information homeopaths must weigh for each case. But the real payoff of the method is that through the organizing process, a quality emerges about the person or remedy – and this becomes the common thread for every aspect of the case or remedy. In the examples that follow, you can understand the beauty of the method.

Herscu is attempting to create a standard for case taking and remedy analysis where the outcome generates predictability such that if 50 people were to analyze the same case, there would be 5 remedies to consider rather than 50 – putting to rest at last the common complaint that homeopathy cannot be consistent. Herscu honors all aspects of classical homeopathy but offers this approach so that homeopathy advances into the years ahead with greater understanding and reproducible application in all healthcare disciplines. Homeopathy can never survive as the only form of medicine; it must instead offer itself as a usable and brilliant tool for other healing modalities.

In describing his method for finding the simillimum, Herscu uses the terms “cycles” and “segments.” He refers to the “cycle” as the following process: The vital force of an individual is stressed. The vital force reacts (strains) to correct the imbalance. The strain shows itself as signs and symptoms, and the signs and symptoms grow stronger as the vital force over compensates. Then the body tries to correct the over compensation to maintain balance, and the person is brought back to near where he/she started. However, each time around this loop, s/he returns less and less healthy, and the cycle becomes a downward spiral. This cycle is the disease, and it keeps repeating itself over and over.

The “segments” are the groups of symptoms that develop throughout the cycle, the first segment being the chief complaint. Typically homeopaths could extract as many as 100 repertory rubrics for each case, and this is where the repertorization system can break down and cases can become bowls of spaghetti. Herscu observed that if you could categorize the symptoms, there would be simplification, and a non-mechanical aspect of the person would emerge. Each segment could be described as a word or phrase. For example, if there were many discharges from a remedy or a case, one segment might be called “discharges.” Under this segment you could form a string of symptoms: ear discharges, nose discharges, diarrhea, menses, sneezing, crying. As you collect this information you would notice that the discharges are all, for example, burning or clear or violent, and this is the emergent quality that allows you to understand that this person or remedy consistently has this type of discharge when under stress. You also begin to suspect that if they have burning discharges, for example, they may feel that releasing in all spheres of living is painful! This is a Sherlock Holmes moment because you begin to sense the common thread and can suspect other outcomes from the patient. As you extend the string of symptoms you understand four aspects: (1) under strain, this body creates discharges (2) the discharges have a certain quality throughout the person (3) the number of symptoms occurring under the segment measures the chronicity of the condition and (4) the reoccurrence of the same type of discharges throughout confirms that you are tracking the chief complaint and creates the predictability for all other discharges for the patient. Once the pattern is established further questions for that segment are no longer necessary.

As you begin a case, you consider the first segment to be the fundamental segment – their chief complaint. In the line of questioning, Herscu stresses that you must determine what aspect of the chief complaint is worst. For example, if someone has headaches, they might initially say they have pain, but before you run ahead asking left or right side, day and night questions, ask them again what is the worst part of the headache. They might answer, the pain, the vomiting, or the feeling of being incapacitated. Then the case is no longer about the headache but is about the vomiting or the pain or feeling incapacitation – whichever is the worst symptom!

Your next segment might be about other reactions when strained. For example, you might find that they have a lot of discharges, so you create a segment for discharges, and as you list them, you begin to see that the person may have other violent reactions when strained, like violent diarrhea or coughing or sneezing, and you realizes the emergent quality is violent overreactions. You begin to feel predictability.

The next segment might encompass what the body does to feel amelioration, so there could be a segment for consolation with a string of symptoms like better for movement, better for eating, better for wind, and the similar theme of movement/exertion begin a response to strain.

Usually there are one or two more segments before one segment contains the opposite quality of the chief complaint. Herscu calls the opposite segment the solution because everything has an opposite in nature. In the materia medica he asks us to find the opposite. For example, in Thuja, the person feels a duality – a sense of not knowing about themselves/disgust within (the chief complaint), but the opposite is the fixed ideas they maintain. Understanding the opposite is more subtle but he suggests using it as a checking method for what you are determining to be the cycle for the person. If you find the opposite of the chief complaint, you are correct. As the reoccurring pattern is revealed over and over, you feel confident.

The last segment in the cycle is the segment that brings on the chief complaint. What causes the strain? Again the theme of the person will be the same; perhaps they are stressed by sudden changes in weather (movement), unpredictable events, etc. It is all a cycle from one to the other. Each segment flows into the next segment, or somehow pushes the person to the next, until you come full circle. Herscu shows us that in a matter of minutes we have arrived at the main theme in the story of the person, and on that basis we can repertorize with computer or book with greater precision and results. The most important payoff is that the remedy or the case has a quality to it that is not achieved through memorization of the repertory, but by looking at the big picture and understanding the one common thread or theme that runs throughout the fabric of the person’s life or throughout the remedy. This is an expansion of the homeopathic process. When we understand the story of a person, like all good stories, the mind remembers it and can access it for repeated use without effort. The process is the same for understanding a remedy or case. This is the perfection of the model.

There is practice required in the perfection of this method but Herscu believes it will stand the test of use and allow superior results. As I reflected on the method I was reminded of symphonic form where there are four movements linked together by a common theme. Within each movement there are brass, woodwind, percussion, and strings. Each plays its part in the same theme with its own sound. In combination, there is an emerging quality of sound to each movement. Like the strings of the segment in Herscu’s model, each instrument section is a symptom and each movement a segment. Each segment represents a variation of the theme, difference and varying in the intensity. The symphony allows the listener to experience four aspects of the same theme and in the end they combine to create one whole quality or impression about the work itself. Furthermore, there is a quality about the symphony unique to the composer that we will never forget or mistake for another. We will always know Bach from Beethoven and Brahms from Mozart. We know this without memorizing a single note or reading the music; we recognize the music from the emerging quality of the composer. It is an intangible that exists as an undeniable quality and is evident in each piece they compose. Did Bach use different musical notes than Beethoven? No, if you tear up the composed works they are just notes, but it is each composer’s expression and combination of those notes that make them unique. I believe Herscu is teaching a method with specific language and observation and organizational techniques that allows the patient and remedies to become as clearly defined for the practitioner as Bach and Beethoven so that, as Herscu so aptly stated repeatedly during the lecture, the conclusion is beyond a shadow of doubt!

Bravo maestro Herscu! Encore, encore! We look forward to your future materia medica and cycles and segments for remedies.

To Read More About Cycles & Segments, click here

Thank you to the National Center of Homeopathy for their permission for us to re-print this article from their April 2000 issue of Homeopathy Today. For more information about membership to the NCH or subscribing to their publication, you can contact them at:

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