A New Model for Health and Disease (new expanded edition)

Language
English
Type
Paperback
Publisher
The International Academy of Classical Homeopathy
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Virus transformations as a consequence of pharmacological pollution in the human body/mind ecological system is a compelling hypothesis based on the data presented in George Vithoulka's 'A New model for Health and Disease'. It strongly underscores the need to focus on an 'energy' medicine to correct the deficiencies of our present 'chemical' medicine.
In this long-awaited ground-breaking treatise, theorist and homeopathic teacher George Vithoulkas presents a new paradigm for modern medicine. Established medicine has failed in its mission to prevent or cure many diseases, Vithoulkas asserts, because of the excessive and often needless use of powerful drugs. Western medicine has a limited view of the total organism and the true sources of disease.
Vithoulkas relates the increasing incidence of AIDS, cancer, asthma, epilepsy, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other difficult-to-control illnesses to the weakening of the immune system from over-prescribing of drugs. Only when we fully integrate the role of the psyche, spirit and emotions into our explanations of illness, he says, well we be able to generate a fuller difinition of health, and change our conception and methods of treatment.
More Information
ISBN9781556430879
AuthorGeorge Vithoulkas
TypePaperback
LanguageEnglish
Publication date1995-11-07
Pages222
PublisherThe International Academy of Classical Homeopathy
Review

This book review is reprinted from The Homoeopath with permission from Nick Churchill of The Society of Homoeopaths.

Reviewed by Mike Strange

Mike Strange MSc, RSHom practises at tile Lavender Hill Homoeopathic Centre in South London where he has a large number of patients with HIV and AIDS.

This book is a major contribution to the philosophy and science of medicine, written by one of this century's greatest exponents of the art and science of healing. In it, George Vithoulkas attempts the mammoth task of sorting out the almost total mess into which established medicine has led humanity with regard to the nature of health and disease, and so the appropriate approaches to therapeutics. He sets out his objectives as firstly, showing what has gone wrong, secondly, presenting his new model in terms of the observed natural laws, and thirdly, pointing out what currently available therapeutic modalities would offer the optimum results. The aim is to stimulate thought, research and discussion, and Vithoulkas does not claim that this book is the last word. The style is highly polemic, driven by the author's vision of approaching disaster for the human race. It comes over as a damning critique of allopathic medicine and of the materialist, antispiritual way of life of the developed countries, but he constantly urges doctors, scientists etc. of integrity, to rethink the course of their research and to help to develop appropriate methods of therapy.

The Introduction is a concentrated barrage of statistics which shows that in essence the great development of allopathic medicine has produced no benefits in terms of reduced morbidity, or of increased longevity or quality of life. People who have less access to allopathic medicine than in the West seem to have done as well as we have, or in many cases, a lot better. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other strong drugs can be shown to have given rise to new conditions which are much more devastating and more difficult to manage than the diseases that went before. His conclusion at this stage is that researchers have been asking the wrong questions, initiated by the pharmaceutical industry's priorities rather than by genuine considerations of health. This section, and all subsequent chapters are well supported by an extensive bibliography.

The central thesis is that a human (and other life forms of course) is an energy complex and not just a mechanical being, This concept,familiar to all classical homoeopaths, is developed along lines which will also be familiar to all modern students of homoeopathy who have studied Vithoulkas' The Science of Homoeopathy. The three planes (mental/spiritual, emotional/psychic, physical/material) depicted as three concentric cones are described in terms of their hierarchy and interrelationship, which leads on to the definition of health on each plane, summarised as 'the degree to which an individual is free to create'. (Rendering this in non-sexist terms reminded me that one aspect of this book which many British readers will find distracting is the entirely male-oriented language - but try not to be distracted!). As a logical outcome of this pattern of human energy, Vithoulkas emphasises that in order to build health we must look to the building of the spiritual and emotional life of people as well as the physical, instead of the current practice which concentrates almost exclusively on the material and technical aspects of education and achievement.

A very moral tone pervades the book - it rings true to me but might make problems for some of our allopathic colleagues to whom it could be seen as a digression. Other everyday homoeopathic concepts such as predisposition and susceptibility, and what they mean in terms of the manifestation of underlying imbalances of the Vital Force are covered and related to the idea of the 'immune system', and to why changes in a person's overall level of health mean corresponding changes in susceptibility to different pathological agents. The idea that certain pathogens can consistently arise endogenously by mutation from non-pathogenic organisms within a person in response to negative stimuli is one that will raise certain eyebrows, but Vithoulkas manages to make it a plausible possibility. He then goes on to use the example of the advent of AIDS as an illustration of how this Model of Health and Disease hangs together, In brief, excessive allopathic drugging and vaccination have ruined the internal ecology of people already weakened by sexually transmitted diseases, poor diet and other adverse aspects of their lifestyle, and has made them susceptible to the endogenous mutation of a newly virulent organism, HIV, which is now being spread among a receptive population worldwide by sex, blood transfer etc. A few details are a bit weak, but the theory as a whole is persuasive and will find support from many prominent 'AIDS rebels' who are rejecting the simplistic and exclusive HIV=AIDS=Death paradigm and are looking for something that fits the observed facts better. Vithoulkas warns that AIDS will not be the last or the most deadly disease to appear if we continue to undermine the Vital Force by means of crude and inappropriate medicine, Allopathic medicine has won many battles, but it is clearly losing the war, and the answer must lie elsewhere - most probably in homoeopathy and the other holistic therapies, as well as in a major revision of our lifestyle and life's goals.

This book deserves to be read and studied widely by all health professionals and I urge you to get a copy. Study it carefully and test the arguments in discussion. If you have friends in allopathic medicine, persuade them to read it, and try to discuss the concepts with them. I hope that the Society of Homoeopaths might be able to sponsor one or more inter-disciplinary seminars to give interested allopaths and others a chance to work out new ways of tackling the declining health of our species.

The Homoeopath Vol.12 No.3 1992

This book review is reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Homeopathy

Reviewed by Richard Moskowitz, MD, DHt

I had two strong incentives to take my time with this book. The first is my esteem for its author, whom I consider to be one of the finest homeopaths who has ever lived, and whose dedication to and mastery of every aspect of our art continue to teach and inspire me as they did when I first met him long ago. The second is his stated purpose to develop a practical philosophy not just for homeopathy but for the whole of medicine, which, as he says, is urgently needed at this critical juncture in human and indeed in planetary history.

For both reasons, before examining the content of his argument, I need to say something about his style. By that I do not mean his vigorous but sometimes rough-hewn English prose style, which has certainly benefited from the capable editing of George Guess and others. Nor is this the place to explore the curious enigma underlying all his books-that he chooses to write them in a foreign tongue and thereby to conceal no small part of himself behind the considerable technical difficulties of editing, transcribing, and indeed "ghost-writing."

What I really mean by "style" in this instance is the spiritual heart or "essence" of the work, which does indeed shine through all of these intermediations and even colors the proto-scientific model he proposes. It is already fully evident on the first page of the Foreword, when he seeks to apologize for his sometimes harshly critical tone: The book is written ... [in part] to show that established medicine has failed in its mission to prevent or cure disease... [and] is responsible for a degeneration of health of worldwide dimension due to the excessive use of powerful chemical drugs... I sense a rapidly approach-ing planetary catastrophe; the style of writing reflects the urgency I feel about this problem. (page ix)

Already we can sense the radical difference in attitude and perspective from Vithoulkas' earlier book, The Science of Homeopathy: A Modern Textbook, which presents much the same model of health and illness "from the inside," so to speak, as a straightforward exposition of homeopathy, in admirably clear and economical English, without any of these heavy polemics or sharp edges. In the present work, his purpose is much larger and indeed more pressing: to offer homeopathic ideas to the general public without prerequisite, apart from the vague sense of the inadequacy of the medical model now widely felt even within the profession itself. He further implores the reader not to reproach him for an often grim and frightening book that gives little enjoyment or pleasure to read, because his purpose is rather to catalyze historical change.

On the other hand, this special pleading obliges us to judge his work not only on the conceptual merits of the model he proposes, which are considerable, but also on its effectiveness in persuading the general public, which I fear will be far more dubious. In this respect, as in many others, A New Model of Health and Disease is strongly reminiscent of Hahnemann himself, whose own fundamentalist convictions and moral absolutism in defense of them brooked no opposition even from his own followers, let alone from the medical profession at large. Which is too bad, since Vithoulkas himself is at some pains to say that "the task I have undertaken is tremendously difficult..., and thus my attempt is by no means complete or final ... [but] only a suggestion of the direction in which medical thinking should proceed." (page 19) It is this Hahnemannian confusion in stance that, it seems to me, is the real problem with the book, far more than its occasional non sequiturs or its sometimes opaque style. A basic incompatibility between its difficult and complex scientific task and the evangelical certitude of its actual pronouncements often infuriates me at precisely those moments when I want to agree most strongly, and makes it difficult and tedious work to extract and ponder the considerable number of good and estimable things that lie scattered throughout like diamonds in unforgiving ground.

By no means the least of these are the research data cited throughout the text, indicating how epidemiology and other basic sciences can be used to support a more holistic viewpoint at least as well as conventional medical science. Thus he ably documents plausible relationships between antibiotic treatment for nonspecific urethritis and subsequent development of chronic prostatitis (page 14), and between repeated courses of antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS (pages 154f). While falling well short of 'proof" in the usual sense, these and many other citations provide strong and sometimes compelling support for his general theoretical position. His research staff deserves a sizeable measure of gratitude and praise for the finished product, as does the theory which inspired and directed them.

The twin purposes of the book are, first, to show how modem chemical medicine is not only inadequate to cure or prevent chronic disease but itself a major contributor to the progressive degeneration of human health on the planet; and, second, to develop a new and more inclusive model for diagnosis and treatment, incorporating the more holistic perspectives of acupuncture, herbalism, psychospiritual disciplines, and homeopathy.

In both respects, it goes further than The Science of Homeopathy, a textbook for serious students already committed to such a viewpoint, which is expository and optimistic throughout. A New Model of Health and Disease aspires to reach beyond the small circle of the already converted, to preach to the heathen, as it were, and accordingly invokes the spectre of AIDS and even worse plagues to come as both logical consequence and apocalyptic punishment. Insofar as we take the book seriously, therefore, it is imperative, first of all, to judge how well or badly he succeeds in his indictment.

In the second place, he seeks to reintroduce the basic concepts of homeopathy, chiefly the vital force and the totality of symptoms, as part of a general philosophy of health and illness for the general public that requires no prior exposure or commitment to either the elegant private language or the elaborate methodology that homeopathy has already developed. This task is even more ambitious and impor tant than the first, and therefore also deserves to be evaluated separately on its own merits.

Both questions oblige me to write a somewhat longer and more detailed review than is customary in such cases. Above all, I wish to honor the heroic attempt of such a book, quite apart from how cogently it has persuaded me or how successful it will be in persuading the public. Despite its inherent difficulties and the shortcomings already referred to, the book does go a long way toward persuading me, especially on a second reading, and is therefore well worth studying carefully, although I cannot promise you a pleasant experience, much less a "good read" for summer vacation or night table.

Clearly addressed to a growing awareness in the American public, his major critical thesis is that prolonged and repeated suppression of acute diseases with antibiotics, vaccinations, and other powerful drugs tends to confuse and weaken the immune system, thus rendering it more susceptible to the deeper chronic ailments of our time. Here again, echoes of Hahnemann fulminating against allopathic drugging are audible throughout.

Refuting the conventional wisdom that longevity is attributable to the level of medical care, he cites some interesting studies that life expectancy is comparatively low and actually declining in the U.S. and other countries relying primarily on high-tech medicine, while rising rapidly and often superior in underdeveloped areas such as Greece or Latin America, with much poorer standards of care (page 1f). Other studies document the growth of antibiotic resistance through the need for ever-larger doses and the growing number of exotic bacteria] and fungus infections acquired in the hospital (page 4f).

The key subtext, of course, is that killing bacteria, like the suppression of isolated symptoms, is meaningless and dangerous without the underlying standard of the health and well-being of the patient as a whole - the Hahnemannian "totality of symptoms" -which "the Model" (with a capital M and generally italicized) is intended to elucidate. So far, so good. Unfortunately, his analysis of the philosophical basis of chemical medicine often degenerates into crude polemics against the greed of the drug industry, etc., all true enough but falling well short of the tough-minded critique and systematic indictment we were promised.

In Chapter 3, "Preliminary Ideas," he finally switches over into the affirmative mode, introducing three fundamental assumptions. The first is a bioenergetic criterion of health and illness, prior to any abstract "disease entities" or categories, and modeled on his familiar three-tiered version of Hahnemann's "vital force." The second is the unattainable ideal of "absolute health" as the ultimate reference point against which all individuals can be measured by the degree and kind of their departures from it. The third is the individuality of the patient, the unique, underlying predisposition or susceptibility to certain kinds of illness, as the indispensable theoretical and practical basis of all legitimate healing work.

Personally, I fail to see how individuals with unique and everchanging needs can or should be held to absolute standards of health that are unattainable on principle yet comparable enough for quantitative assessment. But in this and other sections to follow, Vithoulkas displays his rare and precious gift of expressing in simple language ideas so basic as to resist conceptualization altogether, thus fulfilling Bertrand Russell's whimsical definition of philosophy, "to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it." (Logic and Knowledge, Allen & Unwin, London, 1968, page 193)

In Chapter 4, he begins laying out the principles of "the Model" itself as a series of quasimathematical postulates written in a dense, almost oracular style, followed by a longer interpretive section in more everyday language. Two typical examples follow:

6. Man lives in the universe as an integral part of it. The individual actually exists and copes with the environment through his capacity to exchange energy with it. (page 68)

8. All evidence permits us to assume that there is not only a possibility, but a necessity, under certain circumstances, for the organism to "unite" or "dissociate" the complex energy fields of the mental-emotional planes or parts thereof, and the fields of the physical body. (page 74)

Together with their elucidations, these aphorisms constitute the main body of the text, are written in bold type for special emphasis, and are numbered and arranged in logical sequence, again, exactly like the paragraphs in Hahnemann's Organon. They range in tone all the way from simple tautologies to abstruse, highly technical passages with all the lucidity of an engineering text. As in Euclid's Elements or Spinoza's Ethics, each aphorism is built on all that preceded it, and the systematic interconnectedness of the whole becomes fully apparent only as the whole sequence unfolds, thus generating a lot of conceptual power, but also requiring some critical distance of the reader to avoid being swept away by it.

Thus, for example, he provides some clearly written and useful digressions on the three bioenergetic levels or planes, illustrating the separateness of each with simple examples. So engaging are these that readers untrained in philosophy might easily miss the fact that he has simply postulated the separate reality of the mental-spiritual, emotional-intuitive, and physical-organic dimensions of experience, thus disposing in a few sentences of one of the knottiest questions in the history of human thought. Here again, as in many other places, he comes off sounding more simplistic than any empirical evidence could possibly justify, or indeed than he himself probably intended. He simply accepts uncritically the data of "common sense" or "ordinary experience," whatever that means, and instantly inflates them into universal truths of supreme ontological power. It is precisely to the extent that we want to agree with him that more theoretical sophistication seems imperative.

His discussion of the spiritual and moral dimension as the "highest" function of the mental and intellectual plane seemed especially tantalizing in this respect. Despite some examples of how pure intellect can be used unethically-lawyers and politicians are high on his list-he discreetly omits any but the most bland, general formulations of ethical or moral precepts, such as even lawyers and politicians might solemnly avow. At least the principle of wholeness is very aptly illustrated, although perhaps not as clearly as in The Science of Homeopathy.

Likewise, he rightly points out that Western education all but ignores the emotional level, including for him the "psychic" and "intuitive" realms, and forcefully insists that its special data, i.e., feelings, be included in the model. But in the next breath, having documented higher suicide rates and allopathic drug usage in the developed and ex-Communist countries than in the undeveloped world, he gratuitously assumes that the former is attributable and indeed proportional to the latter (pages 51-52). Well, it's possible, but I'm afraid that this particular non sequitur is too blatant to persuade even a dyed-in-the-wool homeopath like me, let alone those other folks he seems to have in mind.

Later in the same chapter, he introduces the concept of ranking or hierarchical importance of symptoms, both within the same level and from one level to another. Once again, he simply postulates such a rank order, citing his many years of clinical experience, including the reappearance of suppressed symptoms according to Hering's Laws, in support of it. Finally 59), he concludes that the three levels must be separate "entities" from the fact that they appear to have distinct "vibrational frequencies" and "informational patterns," i.e., different capacities to receive and respond to different types of stimuli.

For me, these middle chapters carry most of the philosophical or conceptual weight of the book, seeking to articulate basic principles in a quasiscientific language that, as in all philosophy, must essentially be invented as he goes along, resulting in a brew concocted from roughly equal parts of quantum physics, holistic medicine, and ordinary language. I would call it an important and indeed a heroic experiment, not entirely successful perhaps, with plenty of strange things in it, and certainly not to everyone's taste, but supremely worth doing, therefore laudable simply for being attempted, and all the more so however and to whatever extent it can help others to do the same.

In Chapter 5, for example, he turns conventional medicine on its head, much as Hahnemann did, by using a standard of health rather than disease (first in general, then for each of the three levels) and thus reintroducing the vital force and the totality of symptoms as the only possible starting points for an authentic bioenergetic medicine. He might have helped his readers along here by showing how and why the orthodox view allowed or even helped these concepts to "fall through the cracks," so to speak.

Chapters 6 through 14 complete the central core of the book, wherein he deduces one principle after another from these few basic postulates, much as Hahnemann derived the whole of homeopathy from the vital force and the Law of Similars. Although I have some reservations about his definitions of physical, mental, and emotional health, for example, I leave these and other more technical problems (dissociation between levels, entropy, etc.) for readers to address in their own fashion. As I've said before, don't expect anything cute or facile here. What you get is what might be called "philosophy in the trenches," a lot of tough spadework trying to crank out a new technical language for a bioenergetic science still in its infancy. Not easy to write, and about as fun to read as a computer software instruction manual. We might well pray for him to make it a little easier or more intelligible sometimes, but it isn't entirely his fault.

The grand finale is, of course, the promised hypothesis on AIDS, which I won't give away, although it should be no mystery to anyone who's come this far. Let it suffice for the moment to say that it's interesting, provocative, and even clinically useful to some extent, and that the mainstay of scientific prophylaxis and treatment turns out to be homeopathy, in case you haven't guessed. In short, I doubt if the last word has been spoken on this subject. Nor do I see how his hypothesis will help me as a practitioner in treating my AIDS patients.

My main problem with this book is not that it falls short of solving the eternal riddles of health and disease, which have always been with us and are likely to persist long after we are gone. It is rather with his messianic vision of homeopathy as the savior of mankind, like that of Kent and Hahnemann before him, which breathes a spirit of certitude and intolerance quite at variance with the scientific spirit and not so different from the ruling orthodoxy he rightly deplores. Those willing to risk following him through this difficult and uncharted terrain will not have made the journey in vain. But as for me, I'm waiting for his materia medica.

HOMEOPATHY TODAY JANUARY 1993

Review

This book review is reprinted from The Homoeopath with permission from Nick Churchill of The Society of Homoeopaths.

Reviewed by Mike Strange

Mike Strange MSc, RSHom practises at tile Lavender Hill Homoeopathic Centre in South London where he has a large number of patients with HIV and AIDS.

This book is a major contribution to the philosophy and science of medicine, written by one of this century's greatest exponents of the art and science of healing. In it, George Vithoulkas attempts the mammoth task of sorting out the almost total mess into which established medicine has led humanity with regard to the nature of health and disease, and so the appropriate approaches to therapeutics. He sets out his objectives as firstly, showing what has gone wrong, secondly, presenting his new model in terms of the observed natural laws, and thirdly, pointing out what currently available therapeutic modalities would offer the optimum results. The aim is to stimulate thought, research and discussion, and Vithoulkas does not claim that this book is the last word. The style is highly polemic, driven by the author's vision of approaching disaster for the human race. It comes over as a damning critique of allopathic medicine and of the materialist, antispiritual way of life of the developed countries, but he constantly urges doctors, scientists etc. of integrity, to rethink the course of their research and to help to develop appropriate methods of therapy.

The Introduction is a concentrated barrage of statistics which shows that in essence the great development of allopathic medicine has produced no benefits in terms of reduced morbidity, or of increased longevity or quality of life. People who have less access to allopathic medicine than in the West seem to have done as well as we have, or in many cases, a lot better. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other strong drugs can be shown to have given rise to new conditions which are much more devastating and more difficult to manage than the diseases that went before. His conclusion at this stage is that researchers have been asking the wrong questions, initiated by the pharmaceutical industry's priorities rather than by genuine considerations of health. This section, and all subsequent chapters are well supported by an extensive bibliography.

The central thesis is that a human (and other life forms of course) is an energy complex and not just a mechanical being, This concept,familiar to all classical homoeopaths, is developed along lines which will also be familiar to all modern students of homoeopathy who have studied Vithoulkas' The Science of Homoeopathy. The three planes (mental/spiritual, emotional/psychic, physical/material) depicted as three concentric cones are described in terms of their hierarchy and interrelationship, which leads on to the definition of health on each plane, summarised as 'the degree to which an individual is free to create'. (Rendering this in non-sexist terms reminded me that one aspect of this book which many British readers will find distracting is the entirely male-oriented language - but try not to be distracted!). As a logical outcome of this pattern of human energy, Vithoulkas emphasises that in order to build health we must look to the building of the spiritual and emotional life of people as well as the physical, instead of the current practice which concentrates almost exclusively on the material and technical aspects of education and achievement.

A very moral tone pervades the book - it rings true to me but might make problems for some of our allopathic colleagues to whom it could be seen as a digression. Other everyday homoeopathic concepts such as predisposition and susceptibility, and what they mean in terms of the manifestation of underlying imbalances of the Vital Force are covered and related to the idea of the 'immune system', and to why changes in a person's overall level of health mean corresponding changes in susceptibility to different pathological agents. The idea that certain pathogens can consistently arise endogenously by mutation from non-pathogenic organisms within a person in response to negative stimuli is one that will raise certain eyebrows, but Vithoulkas manages to make it a plausible possibility. He then goes on to use the example of the advent of AIDS as an illustration of how this Model of Health and Disease hangs together, In brief, excessive allopathic drugging and vaccination have ruined the internal ecology of people already weakened by sexually transmitted diseases, poor diet and other adverse aspects of their lifestyle, and has made them susceptible to the endogenous mutation of a newly virulent organism, HIV, which is now being spread among a receptive population worldwide by sex, blood transfer etc. A few details are a bit weak, but the theory as a whole is persuasive and will find support from many prominent 'AIDS rebels' who are rejecting the simplistic and exclusive HIV=AIDS=Death paradigm and are looking for something that fits the observed facts better. Vithoulkas warns that AIDS will not be the last or the most deadly disease to appear if we continue to undermine the Vital Force by means of crude and inappropriate medicine, Allopathic medicine has won many battles, but it is clearly losing the war, and the answer must lie elsewhere - most probably in homoeopathy and the other holistic therapies, as well as in a major revision of our lifestyle and life's goals.

This book deserves to be read and studied widely by all health professionals and I urge you to get a copy. Study it carefully and test the arguments in discussion. If you have friends in allopathic medicine, persuade them to read it, and try to discuss the concepts with them. I hope that the Society of Homoeopaths might be able to sponsor one or more inter-disciplinary seminars to give interested allopaths and others a chance to work out new ways of tackling the declining health of our species.

The Homoeopath Vol.12 No.3 1992

This book review is reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Homeopathy

Reviewed by Richard Moskowitz, MD, DHt

I had two strong incentives to take my time with this book. The first is my esteem for its author, whom I consider to be one of the finest homeopaths who has ever lived, and whose dedication to and mastery of every aspect of our art continue to teach and inspire me as they did when I first met him long ago. The second is his stated purpose to develop a practical philosophy not just for homeopathy but for the whole of medicine, which, as he says, is urgently needed at this critical juncture in human and indeed in planetary history.

For both reasons, before examining the content of his argument, I need to say something about his style. By that I do not mean his vigorous but sometimes rough-hewn English prose style, which has certainly benefited from the capable editing of George Guess and others. Nor is this the place to explore the curious enigma underlying all his books-that he chooses to write them in a foreign tongue and thereby to conceal no small part of himself behind the considerable technical difficulties of editing, transcribing, and indeed "ghost-writing."

What I really mean by "style" in this instance is the spiritual heart or "essence" of the work, which does indeed shine through all of these intermediations and even colors the proto-scientific model he proposes. It is already fully evident on the first page of the Foreword, when he seeks to apologize for his sometimes harshly critical tone: The book is written ... [in part] to show that established medicine has failed in its mission to prevent or cure disease... [and] is responsible for a degeneration of health of worldwide dimension due to the excessive use of powerful chemical drugs... I sense a rapidly approach-ing planetary catastrophe; the style of writing reflects the urgency I feel about this problem. (page ix)

Already we can sense the radical difference in attitude and perspective from Vithoulkas' earlier book, The Science of Homeopathy: A Modern Textbook, which presents much the same model of health and illness "from the inside," so to speak, as a straightforward exposition of homeopathy, in admirably clear and economical English, without any of these heavy polemics or sharp edges. In the present work, his purpose is much larger and indeed more pressing: to offer homeopathic ideas to the general public without prerequisite, apart from the vague sense of the inadequacy of the medical model now widely felt even within the profession itself. He further implores the reader not to reproach him for an often grim and frightening book that gives little enjoyment or pleasure to read, because his purpose is rather to catalyze historical change.

On the other hand, this special pleading obliges us to judge his work not only on the conceptual merits of the model he proposes, which are considerable, but also on its effectiveness in persuading the general public, which I fear will be far more dubious. In this respect, as in many others, A New Model of Health and Disease is strongly reminiscent of Hahnemann himself, whose own fundamentalist convictions and moral absolutism in defense of them brooked no opposition even from his own followers, let alone from the medical profession at large. Which is too bad, since Vithoulkas himself is at some pains to say that "the task I have undertaken is tremendously difficult..., and thus my attempt is by no means complete or final ... [but] only a suggestion of the direction in which medical thinking should proceed." (page 19) It is this Hahnemannian confusion in stance that, it seems to me, is the real problem with the book, far more than its occasional non sequiturs or its sometimes opaque style. A basic incompatibility between its difficult and complex scientific task and the evangelical certitude of its actual pronouncements often infuriates me at precisely those moments when I want to agree most strongly, and makes it difficult and tedious work to extract and ponder the considerable number of good and estimable things that lie scattered throughout like diamonds in unforgiving ground.

By no means the least of these are the research data cited throughout the text, indicating how epidemiology and other basic sciences can be used to support a more holistic viewpoint at least as well as conventional medical science. Thus he ably documents plausible relationships between antibiotic treatment for nonspecific urethritis and subsequent development of chronic prostatitis (page 14), and between repeated courses of antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS (pages 154f). While falling well short of 'proof" in the usual sense, these and many other citations provide strong and sometimes compelling support for his general theoretical position. His research staff deserves a sizeable measure of gratitude and praise for the finished product, as does the theory which inspired and directed them.

The twin purposes of the book are, first, to show how modem chemical medicine is not only inadequate to cure or prevent chronic disease but itself a major contributor to the progressive degeneration of human health on the planet; and, second, to develop a new and more inclusive model for diagnosis and treatment, incorporating the more holistic perspectives of acupuncture, herbalism, psychospiritual disciplines, and homeopathy.

In both respects, it goes further than The Science of Homeopathy, a textbook for serious students already committed to such a viewpoint, which is expository and optimistic throughout. A New Model of Health and Disease aspires to reach beyond the small circle of the already converted, to preach to the heathen, as it were, and accordingly invokes the spectre of AIDS and even worse plagues to come as both logical consequence and apocalyptic punishment. Insofar as we take the book seriously, therefore, it is imperative, first of all, to judge how well or badly he succeeds in his indictment.

In the second place, he seeks to reintroduce the basic concepts of homeopathy, chiefly the vital force and the totality of symptoms, as part of a general philosophy of health and illness for the general public that requires no prior exposure or commitment to either the elegant private language or the elaborate methodology that homeopathy has already developed. This task is even more ambitious and impor tant than the first, and therefore also deserves to be evaluated separately on its own merits.

Both questions oblige me to write a somewhat longer and more detailed review than is customary in such cases. Above all, I wish to honor the heroic attempt of such a book, quite apart from how cogently it has persuaded me or how successful it will be in persuading the public. Despite its inherent difficulties and the shortcomings already referred to, the book does go a long way toward persuading me, especially on a second reading, and is therefore well worth studying carefully, although I cannot promise you a pleasant experience, much less a "good read" for summer vacation or night table.

Clearly addressed to a growing awareness in the American public, his major critical thesis is that prolonged and repeated suppression of acute diseases with antibiotics, vaccinations, and other powerful drugs tends to confuse and weaken the immune system, thus rendering it more susceptible to the deeper chronic ailments of our time. Here again, echoes of Hahnemann fulminating against allopathic drugging are audible throughout.

Refuting the conventional wisdom that longevity is attributable to the level of medical care, he cites some interesting studies that life expectancy is comparatively low and actually declining in the U.S. and other countries relying primarily on high-tech medicine, while rising rapidly and often superior in underdeveloped areas such as Greece or Latin America, with much poorer standards of care (page 1f). Other studies document the growth of antibiotic resistance through the need for ever-larger doses and the growing number of exotic bacteria] and fungus infections acquired in the hospital (page 4f).

The key subtext, of course, is that killing bacteria, like the suppression of isolated symptoms, is meaningless and dangerous without the underlying standard of the health and well-being of the patient as a whole - the Hahnemannian "totality of symptoms" -which "the Model" (with a capital M and generally italicized) is intended to elucidate. So far, so good. Unfortunately, his analysis of the philosophical basis of chemical medicine often degenerates into crude polemics against the greed of the drug industry, etc., all true enough but falling well short of the tough-minded critique and systematic indictment we were promised.

In Chapter 3, "Preliminary Ideas," he finally switches over into the affirmative mode, introducing three fundamental assumptions. The first is a bioenergetic criterion of health and illness, prior to any abstract "disease entities" or categories, and modeled on his familiar three-tiered version of Hahnemann's "vital force." The second is the unattainable ideal of "absolute health" as the ultimate reference point against which all individuals can be measured by the degree and kind of their departures from it. The third is the individuality of the patient, the unique, underlying predisposition or susceptibility to certain kinds of illness, as the indispensable theoretical and practical basis of all legitimate healing work.

Personally, I fail to see how individuals with unique and everchanging needs can or should be held to absolute standards of health that are unattainable on principle yet comparable enough for quantitative assessment. But in this and other sections to follow, Vithoulkas displays his rare and precious gift of expressing in simple language ideas so basic as to resist conceptualization altogether, thus fulfilling Bertrand Russell's whimsical definition of philosophy, "to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it." (Logic and Knowledge, Allen & Unwin, London, 1968, page 193)

In Chapter 4, he begins laying out the principles of "the Model" itself as a series of quasimathematical postulates written in a dense, almost oracular style, followed by a longer interpretive section in more everyday language. Two typical examples follow:

6. Man lives in the universe as an integral part of it. The individual actually exists and copes with the environment through his capacity to exchange energy with it. (page 68)

8. All evidence permits us to assume that there is not only a possibility, but a necessity, under certain circumstances, for the organism to "unite" or "dissociate" the complex energy fields of the mental-emotional planes or parts thereof, and the fields of the physical body. (page 74)

Together with their elucidations, these aphorisms constitute the main body of the text, are written in bold type for special emphasis, and are numbered and arranged in logical sequence, again, exactly like the paragraphs in Hahnemann's Organon. They range in tone all the way from simple tautologies to abstruse, highly technical passages with all the lucidity of an engineering text. As in Euclid's Elements or Spinoza's Ethics, each aphorism is built on all that preceded it, and the systematic interconnectedness of the whole becomes fully apparent only as the whole sequence unfolds, thus generating a lot of conceptual power, but also requiring some critical distance of the reader to avoid being swept away by it.

Thus, for example, he provides some clearly written and useful digressions on the three bioenergetic levels or planes, illustrating the separateness of each with simple examples. So engaging are these that readers untrained in philosophy might easily miss the fact that he has simply postulated the separate reality of the mental-spiritual, emotional-intuitive, and physical-organic dimensions of experience, thus disposing in a few sentences of one of the knottiest questions in the history of human thought. Here again, as in many other places, he comes off sounding more simplistic than any empirical evidence could possibly justify, or indeed than he himself probably intended. He simply accepts uncritically the data of "common sense" or "ordinary experience," whatever that means, and instantly inflates them into universal truths of supreme ontological power. It is precisely to the extent that we want to agree with him that more theoretical sophistication seems imperative.

His discussion of the spiritual and moral dimension as the "highest" function of the mental and intellectual plane seemed especially tantalizing in this respect. Despite some examples of how pure intellect can be used unethically-lawyers and politicians are high on his list-he discreetly omits any but the most bland, general formulations of ethical or moral precepts, such as even lawyers and politicians might solemnly avow. At least the principle of wholeness is very aptly illustrated, although perhaps not as clearly as in The Science of Homeopathy.

Likewise, he rightly points out that Western education all but ignores the emotional level, including for him the "psychic" and "intuitive" realms, and forcefully insists that its special data, i.e., feelings, be included in the model. But in the next breath, having documented higher suicide rates and allopathic drug usage in the developed and ex-Communist countries than in the undeveloped world, he gratuitously assumes that the former is attributable and indeed proportional to the latter (pages 51-52). Well, it's possible, but I'm afraid that this particular non sequitur is too blatant to persuade even a dyed-in-the-wool homeopath like me, let alone those other folks he seems to have in mind.

Later in the same chapter, he introduces the concept of ranking or hierarchical importance of symptoms, both within the same level and from one level to another. Once again, he simply postulates such a rank order, citing his many years of clinical experience, including the reappearance of suppressed symptoms according to Hering's Laws, in support of it. Finally 59), he concludes that the three levels must be separate "entities" from the fact that they appear to have distinct "vibrational frequencies" and "informational patterns," i.e., different capacities to receive and respond to different types of stimuli.

For me, these middle chapters carry most of the philosophical or conceptual weight of the book, seeking to articulate basic principles in a quasiscientific language that, as in all philosophy, must essentially be invented as he goes along, resulting in a brew concocted from roughly equal parts of quantum physics, holistic medicine, and ordinary language. I would call it an important and indeed a heroic experiment, not entirely successful perhaps, with plenty of strange things in it, and certainly not to everyone's taste, but supremely worth doing, therefore laudable simply for being attempted, and all the more so however and to whatever extent it can help others to do the same.

In Chapter 5, for example, he turns conventional medicine on its head, much as Hahnemann did, by using a standard of health rather than disease (first in general, then for each of the three levels) and thus reintroducing the vital force and the totality of symptoms as the only possible starting points for an authentic bioenergetic medicine. He might have helped his readers along here by showing how and why the orthodox view allowed or even helped these concepts to "fall through the cracks," so to speak.

Chapters 6 through 14 complete the central core of the book, wherein he deduces one principle after another from these few basic postulates, much as Hahnemann derived the whole of homeopathy from the vital force and the Law of Similars. Although I have some reservations about his definitions of physical, mental, and emotional health, for example, I leave these and other more technical problems (dissociation between levels, entropy, etc.) for readers to address in their own fashion. As I've said before, don't expect anything cute or facile here. What you get is what might be called "philosophy in the trenches," a lot of tough spadework trying to crank out a new technical language for a bioenergetic science still in its infancy. Not easy to write, and about as fun to read as a computer software instruction manual. We might well pray for him to make it a little easier or more intelligible sometimes, but it isn't entirely his fault.

The grand finale is, of course, the promised hypothesis on AIDS, which I won't give away, although it should be no mystery to anyone who's come this far. Let it suffice for the moment to say that it's interesting, provocative, and even clinically useful to some extent, and that the mainstay of scientific prophylaxis and treatment turns out to be homeopathy, in case you haven't guessed. In short, I doubt if the last word has been spoken on this subject. Nor do I see how his hypothesis will help me as a practitioner in treating my AIDS patients.

My main problem with this book is not that it falls short of solving the eternal riddles of health and disease, which have always been with us and are likely to persist long after we are gone. It is rather with his messianic vision of homeopathy as the savior of mankind, like that of Kent and Hahnemann before him, which breathes a spirit of certitude and intolerance quite at variance with the scientific spirit and not so different from the ruling orthodoxy he rightly deplores. Those willing to risk following him through this difficult and uncharted terrain will not have made the journey in vain. But as for me, I'm waiting for his materia medica.

HOMEOPATHY TODAY JANUARY 1993