Select your language

Select your language

Dr. Paul Dahlke as a Doctor

by Robert Goldmann, MD

Paul Dahlke (1865-1928) on the 70th anniversary of his death

Adapted from a lecture given at the Buddhist House in Berlin-Frohnau on February 28, 1998.

Paul Dahlke is considered one of the most prolific homeopathic physicians writing around the turn of the century in the German-speaking world. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his death, this essay summarizes his lesser-known journal articles.

A few years ago, a dissertation on the life and work of Paul Dahlke, MD, was published [1]. In the bibliography of this work, under the title Paul Dahlke Gesamtausgabe1) , only the two medical works Gesichtete Arzneimittellehre [7] and Heilkunde und Weltanschauung [8] can be found besides Dahlke's extensive writings on Buddhism, which he professed and which he tried to convey to a broad audience in his writings. While the latter deals with homeopathy only in part2), in the 1920s the Arzneimitteltellehre was considered a standard work as well as a recommended introduction to materia medica for the advanced training courses of the Berlin Medical School for Homeopathy3) and experienced a second edition.

As in other works on Dahlke [13,15], we miss in the above biobibliography the journal articles written by him from 1891 until shortly before his death, which he published to the extent of many hundreds of pages, first in the "Zeitschrift des Berliner Vereins hom├Âopathischer ├ärzte", then in the "Berliner hom├Âopathischen Zeitschrift", of which he was editor from 1915-1917, and finally in the "Deutsche Zeitschrift f├╝r Hom├Âopathie", which succeeded each other as subsequent organs. In addition, some casuistics can be found in Viller's "Archiv f├╝r Hom├Âopathie" [2].

Dahlke describes his curriculum vitae in the appendix of his dissertation:

"The author of this work, Paul Wilhelm Eduard Dahlke, of Protestant confession, was born on Jan. 25, 1865, at Osterode in East Prussia. He received his scientific education at the grammar schools in Osnabr├╝ck, Hanover, and Frankfurt a. M., which he left on March 16, 1883, with the certificate of maturity. In the summer semester of 1883 he was matriculated at the local [Berlin] university. On July 2, 1885, he passed the Tentamen physicum, and on March 10, 1887, the Examen rigorosum.

During his studies he attended the lectures, clinics and courses of the following gentlemen: Bardeleben, du Bois-Reymond, Christiani, Eichler (V), Falk, Fr├Ąnzel, Fritsch, Gerhardt, Glan, Grunmach, Gusserow, Hartmann, Hirsch, Koch, Kossel, K├╝ster, Lewin, Lewinski, Leyden, Liebermann, Liebreich, Meyer, Rabl-R├╝ckhard, Schroeder (V), Schweigger, Sell, Virchow, Waldeyer, J. Wolff.

To all these gentlemen, his esteemed teachers, author hereby expresses his best thanks." 4)

Dahlke thus experienced the upswing of orthodox medicine and hygiene in the late 19th century with its protagonists Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) and Robert Koch (1843-1910) and admitted the modern natural science "admirable greatness",5) but also saw its limits early on: "Everything stares into the microscopes and reagent tubes and leaves the sick person to the left".6)

We learn less about his homeopathic education. Besides Hahnemann, the most important authors for him were C. v. Boenninghausen, C. Hering and E. A. Farrington. A. Farrington.7) In any case, on January 28, 1890, he passed the dispensing examination before the Berlin Association of Homeopathic Physicians and became a member of the association.8) He settled as a homeopathic physician in Berlin-Zehlendorf,9) taking over the practice of an older colleague. Around the turn of the century, he participated as a lecturer in the homeopathic summer courses for physicians at the Berlin Polyclinic. His topics included remedy selection and drug relationships.10) Interrupted by numerous extended long-distance trips, first to the South Seas, to East Asia, and then again and again to Ceylon, he practiced from 1924 in the Buddhist House in Berlin-Frohnau, with which he founded the first Buddhist center in Europe.

The reports of the meetings of the Berlin Association of Homeopathic Physicians show that he also took part in the fortnightly meetings and gave a number of lectures in this circle, mostly on the theory of medicines.11)

In addition to quite successful homeopathic practice and writing, he conducted a series of experiments on himself with tested and untested remedies in the years 1923-1926, the results of which, however, are not published.12)

He died of heart failure in Frohnau on April 29, 1928, and was buried in an unknown place on the grounds of the Buddhist House, as he did not wish to have a burial place for himself.

In his journal publications, Dahlke hardly omitted a chapter relevant to homeopathy: Philosophy and history of homeopathy, anamnesis, drug testing, materia medica and differential diagnosis in the choice of remedies, gift theory, casuistry and clear demarcation from conventional medicine as well as obscure "innovations" in the field of homeopathy.

His case reports are captivating because of the disarming openness with which he attentively follows good and not so good courses, and in which he confidently, yet unpretentiously, explores the possibilities of homeopathic remedy therapy. Some of the casuistics include severe cases: an example from the "Kleine therapeutische Notizen" (Small Therapeutic Notes), which he published during his early homeopathic period, is given here:

"A postmaster about 45 years old suffers from severe epileptiform seizures arising from unknown cause, occurring several times daily, not always with loss of consciousness. In the meantime, great weakness, difficult speech, unsteady gait, stuporous appearance and demeanor, cannot grasp a thought. At the same time, an extraordinarily embarrassing feeling, as if everything was loose in the head and fell back and forth with the movements of the head. Allopathic diagnosis is organic cerebral disease, prognosis lethal. Lachesis 30. is given for a few days without success. Baryt.carb. 30. makes immediate improvement and, given for several months, completely cures the whole condition. "13)

When looking up Baryta carbonica in Hahnemann's "Chronic Diseases "14) we actually find the directional symptom of the "embarrassing feeling" with the "loose" sensation in the brain. We can assume that this symptom leads Dahlke - after unsuccessful prescription of the first remedy and now unperturbed by the orthodox medical diagnosis - to the healing remedy. As here, Dahlke shows himself in his writings as a well-founded connoisseur of medicines, who studies the sources of the materia medica and likewise presupposes this in a conscientiously working homeopathic physician. Thus, in view of increasing technical facilitations in the search for medicines, he warns in the prefaces to his "Repertorium" of the dangers of precisely this "artificial aid in the choice of medicines":

"For us of today, with our immense treasure trove of medicines, a repertory is indispensable. But we must never forget that the living contact with the remedy is more important than the finest mosaic of individual symptoms. The idea, as it prevails especially in lay circles, as if for the choice of the right remedy nothing more is necessary than only the most accurate possible compilation of the individual symptoms and a patient poring over the repertory, is not correct, or at least only very conditionally correct. The repertory is not a mechanism, which ejects the searched result like the modern calculating machines eject their sums. Often enough, the repertory will disappoint the eager seeker by scattering the leading symptoms of the case over several means and leaving the inquirer at a loss. In order to be able to use a repertory usefully, one must have worked through the individual remedies in detail beforehand and have obtained a picture of their character, which appears everywhere and again where a disease strikes the corresponding notes. Like diseases, remedies also have their character, and I believe that the knowledge of this character will always be the highest art of the medicinal physician. "15)

He takes a critical look at his contemporary Emil Schlegel (1852-1934), the other important homeopathic physician, who, like Dahlke, was committed to writing about homeopathy. On 15 pages he reviews his work "Religion der Arznei" (Religion of Medicine) and clearly distances himself from the doctrine of signatures.16)

Dahlke's most interesting achievements are undoubtedly the "Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre" and the "Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre", in which he introduces a doctor trained in conventional medicine to the homeopathic way of thinking through an experienced homeopath in a fictitious Socratic dialogue. In these dialogues, quite common as a literary genre of the time, Dahlke sets forth his therapeutic mindset in expansive, poetic chit-chat. He writes with eloquent, associative ease, in a fluid style and language rich in imagery, feuilletonistic-entertaining, opinionated and enigmatic, often with a modicum of self-irony, repeating himself without hesitation. We encounter here an essayistic style of writing that can lift and stop whenever and wherever it wants. He emphasizes the accuracy of symptom elicitation, the individualization of the disease case, and the dynamic action of the remedy, distinguishing himself from pathophysiological organ medicine and emphasizing the grasp of symptom totality beyond clinical disease concepts. In the course of this essayistic style of writing, however, Dahlke refrains from citing sources.

In obituaries, Dahlke was praised by some as "the great homeopathic physician in the first quarter of our century "17), by others he was characterized as an "oddball and original "18). O. Leeser, reviewer of "Heilkunde und Weltanschauung", wrote that here "the thinking of a great lonely one" was communicated.19) Personal acquaintances accused him in his later years of life of "rigidity" of character and "fanaticism".20) In contrast to this, we encounter in his writings an empathic, subtle and tolerant personality, who, however, adheres to insights once gained and clearly distinguishes himself from other directions. Although Dahlke does not provide us with any new insights, he is a master at familiarizing the newcomer with the homeopathic way of thinking and conveying the literature of the classics. For him, what counts is the prudent physician, "without pose". He himself puts it this way: "In the first place always comes for the doctor of any direction, also for the homeopath, the cure. In second place only the system. "21)

As an appreciation, the articles published by Dahlke in the mentioned journals are listed here in full chronological order:



Archiv f├╝r Hom├Âopathie (Villers) (ACV) 1891-1899 Vol. 1-8 Dresden

Zeitschrift des Berliner Vereins Hom├Âopathischer ├ärzte (ZBV) 1882-1909 Vol. 1-28 Berlin

Berliner Hom├Âopathische Zeitschrift (ZBV) 1910-21 Vol. 29-38 Berlin

Deutsche Zeitschrift f├╝r Hom├Âopathie und deren Grenzgebiete (ZBV) 1922-44 Vol. 39-60 Berlin


Antidote gegen die haupts├Ąchlichsten allopathischen Medicamente. ZBV 10 (1891) 79 - 85.

├ťber Elektrohom├Âopathie. ZBV 10 (1891) 148 - 159.

Hom├Âopathische Heilungen. ZBV 10 (1891) 204 - 234.

Hom├Âopathie in der Natur. ZBV 10 (1891) 333 - 344.
Einige Bemerkungen im Anschluss an Farringtons "Klinische Arzneimittellehre". ZBV 11 (1892) 55 - 64.

Therapeutisches. ZBV 11 (1892) 75 - 84 und 248 - 266 und 12 (1893) 51 - 56.

Korrelative Symptome. ZBV 13 (1894) 1 - 65.

├ťber das Konstante im Arzneibild. ZBV 13 (1894) 212 - 216.

Vis medicatrix naturae. ZBV 13 (1894) 441 - 444.

Kleine therapeutische Notizen. ZBV 14 (1895) 62 - 68.

Die Arzneigruppe der Metalle vom vergleichenden Standpunkt aus. ZBV 14 (1895) 89 - 125.

Nachruf auf Dr. Hermann Fischer. ZBV 14 (1895) 461 - 464.

Die Gem├╝thssymptome. ZBV 15 (1896) 457 - 548.

Einige Arzneimittel bei Angina pectoris. ZBV 16 (1897) 324 - 327.

Lose Bemerkungen zur Lehre von der Mittelwahl. ZBV 16 (1897) 327 - 330.

Darlegung der Prinzipien der Hom├Âopathie. ZBV 16 (1897) 333 - 339.

Sepia. Bearbeitung der Symptome nach Hering's Arzneimittellehre. ZBV 16 (1897) 500 - 507.

Klinische F├Ąlle. ACV 6 (1897) 107 - 110.

Krankengeschichten. ACV 7 (1898) 39 - 43.

Aconitum Napellus. Vergleichender Theil. ZBV 17 (1898) 53 - 64.

Zusammenstellung der bew├Ąhrtesten Zungensymptome. ZBV 17 (1898) 97 - 106.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre I. ZBV 17 (1898) 525 - 534.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre II. ZBV 18 (1899) 34 - 41.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre III. ZBV 18 (1899) 97 - 108.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre IV. ZBV 18 (1899) 185 - 198.

Einige Beispiele f├╝r das Krankenexamen. ZBV 18 (1899) 234 - 241.

Kurzer Auszug aus dem Buche des arabischen Schriftstellers Ebn Baithar. ZBV 18 (1899) 293 - 311.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre V. ZBV 18 (1899) 322 - 328.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre VI. ZBV 18 (1899) 386 - 400.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre VII. ZBV 18 (1899) 432 - 452.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre VIII. ZBV 19 (1900) 21 - 32.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre IX. ZBV 20 (1901) 24 - 35.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre X. ZBV 20 (1901) 113 - 122.

Tutti frutti. ZBV 20 (1901) 145 - 166.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XI. ZBV 20 (1901) 244 - 254.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XII. ZBV 21 (1902) 6 - 19.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XIII. ZBV 21 (1902) 133 - 162.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XIV. ZBV 21 (1902) 225 - 237.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XV. ZBV 21 (1902) 406 - 414.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XVI. ZBV 22 (1903) 56 - 64.

Bemerkungen ├╝ber Dr. Joussets Aufsatz "Die Grunds├Ątze der Therapie". ZBV 22 (1903) 90 - 98.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XVII. ZBV 22 (1903) 164 - 174.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XVIII. ZBV 22 (1903) 399 - 409.

Unterhaltungen ├╝ber Themata aus der Arzneimittellehre XIX. ZBV 23 (1904) 12 - 22.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre I. Chronische Schw├Ąche und Marasmus. ZBV 24 (1905) 5 - 15.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre II. Reaktionen. ZBV 24 (1905) 90 - 99.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre II. Reaktionen (Schluss). ZBV 24 (1905) 129 - 142.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre III. Chlorose. ZBV 24 (1905) 195 - 199. Herzsymptome. 199 - 204.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre IV. Herzsymptome (Fortsetzung). ZBV 24 (1905) 358 - 367.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre Herzsymptome (Fortsetzung). ZBV 25 (1906) 1 - 5. Nasenpolypen. 5 - 7.

Etwas ├╝ber "s├╝dliches Klima". ZBV 25 (1906) 185 - 193.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre V. Gicht. ZBV 25 (1906) 275 - 284.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre VII. Spinal-Neuralgie. ZBV 25 (1906) 392 - 397. Heiserkeit. 397 - 401.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre VIII. Husten. ZBV 26 (1907) 183 - 192.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre IX. Husten (Fortsetzung). ZBV 26 (1907) 233 - 241.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre X. Husten (Fortsetzung). ZBV 26 (1907) 330 - 338.

Streifz├╝ge durch die Arzneimittellehre XI. Husten (Fortsetzung). ZBV 27 (1908) 124 - 133.

Zur Kritik des Ähnlichkeitsgesetzes I. ZBV 31 (1912) 373 - 406.

Zur Kritik des Ähnlichkeitsgesetzes II. ZBV 31 (1912) 469 - 488.

Ueber Universalmedizin und einiges andere. ZBV 32 (1913) 290 - 303.

Naturphilosophische Studien. ZBV 33 (1914) 31 - 38.

Aus meinem Krankenjournal. ZBV 33 (1914) 184 - 197.

Exercitien f├╝r Anf├Ąnger. ZBV 34 (1915) 150 - 155.

Emil Schlegel: Paracelsus als Prophet. (Rezension.) ZBV 34 (1915) 155 - 156.

Pr├╝fung und Vergiftung. ZBV 34 (1915) 161 - 170 und 217 - 229.

Exercitien f├╝r Anf├Ąnger. ZBV 34 (1915) 246 - 251.

Einige Bemerkungen zur Ern├Ąhrungsfrage. ZBV 34 (1915) 252 - 261.

Die Wertung der Hom├Âopathie durch Privatdozent Dr. Weiss. (Mit Dr. Heinrich Meng.) ZBV 34 (1915) 265 - 275.

Von Redaktion zu Redaktion. Ein offener Sylvesterbrief. ZBV 34 (1915) 352 - 357. 1916. ZBV 35 (1916) 1 - 4.

Exercitien f├╝r Anf├Ąnger. ZBV 35 (1916) 48 - 62.

Gedanken ├╝ber Krankheit und Heilung. ZBV 35 (1916) 82 - 97.

Zusatz des Herausgebers zu: Die Aufgabe der Gaumenmandeln im Organismus. ZBV 35 (1916) 120 - 121.

Gedanken und Meinungen des Lazarettgehilfen Naumann. Hrsg. F. Erhard. (Rezension.) ZBV 35 (1916) 123 - 126.

Emil Schlegel: Religion der Arznei. (Rezension.) ZBV 35 (1916) 176 - 190.

Materia medica. ZBV 35 (1916) 264 - 269.

Zusatz des Herausgebers zu: Zeitgem├Ą├čes (Schluss). ZBV 35 (1916) 273 - 274.

Goethe als Kranker. ZBV 35 (1916) 274 - 277.

Kersting: Deutschland fletschere. (Rezension.) ZBV 35 (1916) 277 - 285.

Betrachtungen ├╝ber Dynamik und Mechanik. ZBV 36 (1917) 15 - 33.

Zwei F├Ąlle. ZBV 36 (1917) 82 - 85.

Ueber einige seltene Mittel. ZBV 36 (1917) 111 - 118.

Postscriptum des Herausgebers zu: Arzt und Gesetzbuch. ZBV 36 (1917) 153 - 154.

Einiges aus der "Seherin von Prevorst". ZBV 36 (1917) 154 - 157.

Ueber Doppelmittel. ZBV 36 (1917) 197 - 203.


Zu Emil Schlegels 75. Geburtstag. ZBV 44 (1927) 428 - 432.

  1. Ahlemeier, 1991. 99 f.
  2. Dahlke, 1928 (b). 116-145.
  3. z. B. ZBV 44 (1927) 424.
  4. Dahlke, 1887. 32. Geboren im heutigen Ostr├│da und nicht in Berlin, wie im Nachruf [13, S. 230] angegeben.
  5. ZBV 22 (1903) 404.
  6. ZBV 20 (1901) 115.
  7. ZBV 14 (1895) 94. Mit dem ├ťbersetzer von Farringtons "Klinischer Arzneimittellehre", Hermann Fischer (1823-1895), war Dahlke pers├Ânlich bekannt und schrieb dessen Nachruf.
  8. ZBV 9 (1890) 171.
  9. Dahlke vertrat 1914 kurzfristig einen Kollegen in Goslar und wohnte 1915 (ev. auch praktizierend) zwischen seinen Reisen vor├╝bergehend in der Prinzregentenstra├če in Berlin-Wilmersdorf [1, S. 25 und S. 29]. Laut "Berliner Adressbuch" praktizierte er zumindest von 1920-1924 in der Lindenallee 17/19 [4], vermutlich auch schon vor der Jahrhundertwende unter dieser Adresse. Ab 1925 dann in Frohnau, Am Kaiserpark, Dahlke'sches Haus [4], das sp├Ąter in Buddhistisches Haus, Edelhofdamm 54, umbenannt wurde.
  10. Ank├╝ndigung f├╝r Oktober 1899 in: ZBV 18 (1899) 258 und 346; Ank├╝ndigung f├╝r M├Ąrz 1903 in: ZBV 22 (1903) 140.
  11. In den Sitzungsberichten finden sich zwischen Oktober 1897 und November 1898 folgende Vortragsthemen Dahlkes: die S├Ąuren, Aconit, Aloe, Aranea diadema, Aconit vergleichend, Argentum nitricum und ein Bericht ├╝ber eine Weltreise. Er sagte seine Mitarbeit an einer geplanten Arzneimittellehre f├╝r die Mittel Aconit, Aloe und Ambra zu, sprach sich aber gegen eine "neu zu schaffende" Arzneimittellehre aus. Da die S├Ąuren unter Acidum genannt sind, kann man annehmen, da├č er eine alphabetische Durcharbeitung im Zusammenhang mit der AML plante [ZBV 16 (1897) und 17 (1898)].
  12. Meng H: ZBV 45 (1928) 225. Jahre zuvor hatte Dahlke an einer Nachpr├╝fung von Silicea teilgenommen, deren Resultat in ZBV 12 (1893) 271 ff. publiziert ist.
  13. ZBV 14 (1895) 65 f.
  14. CK Band 2, Symptome 89 und 90, S. 249.
  15. Dahlke, 1928 (a). 5.
  16. ZBV 35 (1916) 190. An anderer Stelle bespricht er in einer Rezension Schlegels "Naturphilosophische Studien": ZBV 33 (1914) 31-38. Schlegel seinerseits hatte vorher auf Dahlkes Arbeit "Zur Kritik des ├ähnlichkeitsgesetzes" mit "Zur Begr├╝ndung des ├ähnlichkeitsgesetzes" in ZBV 32 (1913) 26-28 geantwortet. Beiden ging es vorrangig um die Sache der Hom├Âopathie, so ist der literarische Umgangston auch in Streitfragen durchweg respektvoll und wohlwollend. Sie waren sich zwar 1926 in Stuttgart begegnet, hatten offensichtlich aber keinen engeren pers├Ânlichen Kontakt [ZBV 44 (1927) 428].
  17. Schmeer, 1978. 10.
  18. Fritsche, 1982. 343.
  19. Leeser, 1928. 236.
  20. Schlo├č, 1925.
  21. ZBV 22 (1903) 57.
  22. Siglen nach [3]

We thank Dr. Robert Goldmann for the permission to publish!


Sri Lanka