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Samuel Hahnemann’s doctoral dissertation of 1779
  1. C J G Lang
  1. Neurological Hospital, Outpatient Department, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at Erlangen, Schwabachanlage 6, 91054 Erlangen, Germany;

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    Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843),1 who was later to become the founder of homoeopathy, was born at Meißen, Saxonia, at a time when the physiologist Albrecht von Haller wrote about the irritability of muscles and nerves. Having graduated from the princely school of St Afra in 1775 he studied medicine in Leipzig until 1777 before he changed for Vienna because he found medicine in Germany too theoretically oriented and missed clinical experience.2 Only 9 months later he became a librarian and personal physician for doctor von Bruckenstadt, a baron at Hermannstadt in Transsylvania, founded as a Saxon colony in the 12th century, which is now Sibiu in Romania. Having served there—probably for financial reasons—until 1779, he went to Erlangen in Bavaria, whose university had been founded in 1743, and was registered there on 12 April 1779. One day earlier he had presented his doctoral dissertation called “Conspectus adfectuum spasmodicorum aetiologicus et therapeuticus”, which he must have prepared beforehand. In it he dwells on the aetiological and therapeutic aspects of spasms by enumerating agents that were then said to induce or alleviate them.

    On 20 printed pages he divides his thesis into 1) irritating agents; 2) divine or …

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