This article looks at the vitalism and the vital force as defined by the Lindlahr, Paracelsus, Hahnemann, Thomson, and the eclectics.
The vital force or the healing power was called the “archeus” by Paracelsus and an intelligent and unseen life process that dominates the human body assimilating healthy material to carry out its principal function which is to preserve the body’s existence (Wood, pg 15). Only through the life force, life was governed and possible. The “archeus” of the doctor could understand the “archeus” of the patient. Archeus´ tendencies were explained as two forces attraction and repulsion or sympathy or antipathy based on the “law of similars”. Paracelsus saw the inner force as an “inner chemist” with its laboratory in the stomach where food was assimilated and instincts produced. This is where food was separated from toxic material and utilised by the body.
Hahnemann called the vital force “dynamis” and spirit-like, which meant it was a dynamic and non material phenomenon that took control of the biological activity of the body in an unbounded manner. Without this vital force, the body was not able to feel sensation, function or preserve itself (Wood, pg 51).
Thompson definition of the vital force was very unique, it was seen as a substance which diffused from the centre of the body and moved, displaced, blocked, released, and supplemented the body. The body’s health was achieved through the freedom of movement of this vital force. The vital force was considered as the “howling wilderness” which gives birth (Wood, pg 106).
Lindlahr saw life as a spontaneous combustion and the life force as a primary force that is the centre of life and expression of all life that produces divine energy. This divine energy initiates the motion of atom forming, elements of matter and works with incredible precision. He saw the life force as the manifestation of a greater intelligence which some call God, and when it leaves the body we die. He also saw this vital force as the true healer “vis medicatrix naturae” whose function is to always repair, heal, and restore the ideal type (Lindlahr, pg 23, 24).
For the eclectics the vital force was central to their understanding of disease and medications. They saw the vital force as the basis of health and recovery. However, the difference was that the vital force of the patient was only able to be understood, read, and used by something that also had a vital force. In this case, it was the physician. So they believed that the vital force of a patient was directly approached by the vital force of a trained physician (Wood, pg 119).
Lindlahr, H. (2005). Philosophy of natural therapeutics, the classic nature cure guide to health and healing. London, UK: Random House UK Ltd.
Wood, M. (2005). Vitalism. The History of Herbalism, Homeopathy and Flower Essences. California, USA: North Atlantic Books Berkley California USA.