Is there an idiom or phrase which means:

The solution for the problem is the cause itself.

I was thinking of

Use the snake to suck out the venom

which, I'm unsure, is a valid phrase.

  • Please edit the question to show your own efforts to research the answer.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 28 '12 at 8:12
  • 3
    You have to fight fire with fire? Dec 28 '12 at 8:31
  • 1
    The hair of the dog? Dec 28 '12 at 9:43
  • Fighting fire with fire, if done carefully, is a sound technique - and an excellent answer. There are probably very few areas where this sort of technique would work, though. The expression is usually metaphorical for 'be sure to fight back [with proportionate force]'. I'm heading towards certainty in my assessment that trying to use a snake to extract venom isn't appropriate. And I can't find any evidence that anyone has even used the expression before this thread. There is the similar-looking 'bronze serpent' event in Numbers, but that is being used as a type (illustration) (John 3:14). Dec 28 '12 at 13:32
  • Also Similia Similibus Curantur, if you're Ok with using a latin saying. Put simply, it means "Like cures like" and is the core belief of homeopathic practice. Dec 28 '12 at 15:26

Positive connotation:

Fighting fire with fire is an idiom meaning a response to an attack with a similar or equal attack (i.e. if someone fires a weapon at you, you fire a weapon at them).

In a negative context:

Set a thief to catch a thief Prov. The best person to catch a thief is another thief, because he or she knows how thieves think. The government set a thief to catch a thief, hiring a stockbroker convicted of fraudulent practices to entrap the stockbroker they were investigating for fraud.

  • Appreciate all your responses. I would've loved to mark @Autoresponser's answers as the correct answer but they are all comments to my question. Thank you all! And just some additional info pertaining to the context where I want to insert this phrase. I want to summarize an essay which talks about how problems created by indoctrination can best be resolved by "re-indoctrination".
    – Krishter
    Dec 28 '12 at 19:44
  • @Krishter Autoresponder can post an answer and you can still accept it in place of this answer. Alternately, they can also state if those points can be included in this answer for the sake of completeness -- that will be a good record for posterity.
    – Kris
    Dec 29 '12 at 4:54
  • @Kris & Krishter: Happy to help. Feel free. Dec 29 '12 at 13:48

I've never seen the term generalised this way, but you could describe the solution as homeopathic.

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