Homeopathy: Principles and practice

Language
English
Type
Paperback
Publisher
Winter Press
Author(s) Ernest Roberts
3 Items In stock
$21.53

Complete text on the philosophy and practice of homopathy. Based on many years of clinical experience with case studies. Continually refers real and complex situations back to the principles Aunderlying homopathy. Draws on the classic works of Hahnemann, Kent and Vithoulkas. Covers important subjects such as the second prescription, allopathic drug withdrawal, complex cases and miasms. Clearly laid out with useful diagrams, further reading and exercises to each chapter. An important reference work for both students and practitioners of homopathy. David Mundy RSHom, FSHom

More Information
ISBN9781874581970
AuthorErnest Roberts
TypePaperback
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2001-09-20
Pages197
PublisherWinter Press
Review

This book review is reprinted with permission from Homeopathic Links.

Reviewed by Lorraine Taylor

Roberts is the Principal of The North West College of Homoeopathy and through his experience is well qualified to write a textbook for students of homoeopathy. This textbook is excellent for the beginner as it outlines clearly the relevant principles of homoeopathy (illustrated by Organon paragraphs). 12 basic principles are covered in a clear and concise text which avoids any complex historical perspectives, therefore making it easy to read and refer to. This is clearly the first in a series of textbooks as the principles outlined would need more depth and expansion as the student progresses. The book is divided into 5 main chapters with a recommended reading list at the end of each chapter and some exercises which are a useful learning tools.

Roberts has drawn on his own wide experience and included modern sources (Sankaran, Vithoulkas) as well as traditional (Kent) in his explanation of case taking and philosophy. The new student of homoeopathy is these days fortunate to have productive and dedicated teachers offering such useful learning tools.

Homoeopathic Links - Summer 1994

 

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

Reviewed by Angela Zajac

The first thing which struck me about this book was its accessibility. Here we have a textbook on philosophy which covers all aspects of homeopathy, and yet it is user friendly! It is small, easy to carry and has an attractive cover. It is easy to read, and has an excellent contents page, which means you can find what you want quickly. Each chapter is divided into bite-sized subsections, and it is interspersed with diagrams.

A major aim of the book is to present a modern 'consensus' of homeopathy. The author draws on past classical prescribers: - Hahnemann, Kent and Vithoulkas are regularly quoted. He demonstrates how these past principles are still relevant today, even in advanced pathology. Although he talks briefly about other commonly used, more modern methods, he nevertheless advocates that, whilst there are different patients, there is only one homeopathy. He does not like to use the word classical, rather that the one homeopathy is based on known principles.

Avoiding the use of labels is more unifying. This method demonstrates results over several years.

The student will find it a useful study guide. It refers to all aspects of practice. Terms are categorised and defined, often using simple diagrams. These are useful aids to understanding concepts, but inevitably this can lead to oversimplification. The student needs to be aware of this, and to develop the ability to transfer these images into three dimensions. There are several case examples, including failed prescriptions. Each chapter ends with questions which assist recall and understanding. Throughout, questions which students regularly ask are answered, or referred to, in the reference section.

I criticism, I would have liked to have seen some areas covered in more detail, e.g. potency, although the book's accessibility may have had to be sacrificed for this to happen. There are also one or two inaccuracies; for example, in the section on plussing and LM potencies, it is not made clear that each successive dose must be diluted as well as succussed. And a note about the cartoon on the cover - is it Dr Lion (from the Rupert stories) or Dr. Roberts?!?

It is very pleasing to have a new philosophy text which is so comprehensive in the areas it covers, as well I as addressing the modern practice of homeopathy. This must have been a massive task for the author, and it deserves our admiration. The book is the first of its kind for many years. I would recommend that it is put on college reading lists.

The Homeopath
Winter 2002, Number 84

 

This book review is reprinted from the British Homoeopathic Journal Vol 91, April 2002, with permission from Peter Fisher, Editor.

Review by Jeremy Swayne

A bad advertisement for homeopathy
Knowing of Ernest Roberts as a leading member of the Society of Homeopaths and founder of the North West College of Homeopathy (for non-medically,qualified practitioners), I looked forward to reading this book. I hoped to find in it an example of the best of Society teaching on homeopathy; work with which the Faculty could engage, and which would contribute to the dialogue between the Faculty and the Society. I was further encouraged by his criticism, in the introduction, of the 'rigidity of approach and narrowness of outlook which moves (some of Hahnemann's followers) away from consensus', and his insistence on the need in homeopathy for a consensus on terminology, and his hope that 'this book may move us towards a common taxonomy'. Both of these sentiments I echo. Sad, to relate, therefore, that as I read on I was profoundly disappointed.

The book is promoted as a complete text book for students, and recommended by David Mundy, another leading figure amongst professional (non-medically qualified) homeopaths, as 'an important reference for both students and practitioners of homeopathy'. I cannot recommend it on either count. In fact, I regret that I have to repudiate it as any kind of creditable or credible representation of 'such a vast and complex subject as homeopathy', such as Mundy's foreword makes it out to be. This is a matter of genuine regret, because it is written to demonstrate how, 'Homeopathy stands ready to meet the challenge of disease in the 21 st century' (Mundy again). Whilst this statement is undoubtedly true, the contribution made by this book is almost entirely negative. This is a serious matter because the book damages the image, credibility and reputation of homeopathy. It also damages the reputation of the Society of Homeopaths and its affiliated colleges, which Roberts and Mundy represent.

I have taken unusual pains to identify the problems, and the review is unusually long, because I believe it is necessary to explain to any thoughtful reader, and particularly any sceptic or opponent of homeopathy who might read the book, why it does not represent the intellectual, professional, clinical and educational standards in homeopathic medicine which this journal and the Faculty of Homeopathy represent. It certainly contains some good teaching about homeopathy, but this is largely invalidated by its manner of presentation, and the general approach to the subject. This latter problem is perhaps exemplified by the book's stated aim, which 'is to present a unified theory of the principles and practice of homeopathy which offers a consensus for the medical treatment of all patients with all disease conditions in any state of general health in the best possible way according to natural law and principle [my italics]'.

General standards of literacy
The tragedy is that before even beginning to assimilate, digest and evaluate it, the reader can only be astonished by the appalling quality of the publication as a whole. It is quite the worst produced book I have ever seen, and it is difficult to imagine how any self- respecting author, editor or proof reader could allow it to go to publication in this state. It is littered with obvious and embarrassing spelling mistakes. There are misplaced words, misplaced upper and lower case letters, and incorrect or misplaced punctuation. There are even two whole pages in the wrong order. References to diagrams point to the wrong diagram (although they are all correctly listed in the introduction), and references in the index (such as it is) to the wrong page. In places the paragraph structure is awry and the grammar is faulty. Errors such as these not only make the book very frustrating to read, but make one doubt the intellectual acumen of those who have produced it, and hence the value even of its literate parts.

Some of the spelling mistakes give the unavoidable impression of ignorance as well as carelessness Color for Calor, (as in Rubor, Dolor, Tumor, Calor); heirarchy; pathagnomic; councelling; proselatizing; centisimal; aeteology; occurance; sensitivity (sic); patioents. They include drug names Epilin, Ventalin (also spelt correctly on the same page), Cortizone (also spelt Cortisone on the same page); remedy names colocynthus, phosphorous; and proper names Swedenberg, Scholter (also correctly spelt Scholten on the same page), Ishia Berlin and Jonathon (Hardy).

Indexing
The most basic requirement of any text book, and certainly a work of reference, is a good index. I first used the index to find the word 'nosode'. It had been used without explanation, and not recalling any previous account of what a nosode is (in fact, there is none throughout the book, though there are good indications for their use), I turned to the index. 'Nosode' is not indexed. Nor are 'potency', 'totality', ,modality', 'constitution'; you name it, you are unlikely to find it. There is a one-page index of 68 terms. By comparison, another book with a similar purpose and almost the same number of pages has some 800 indexed terms. Almost none of the key terms you would expect to find in a book on homeopathy, and would need if it were to be used as a reference, are indexed here. But the index does include the following 25 items among the 68: aliens, Buddhism, conflict survival (and survival conflict, as well as religious conflict and sex conflict), creed, cult, ECT (and, electro convulsive therapy), God, incarnation -re (and, reincarnation), Jupiter, Jazz, kings three (and, three kings), liars, lunatics, Mars planet (sub-rubric: aliens from), proselatizing (sic), regression fallacy, roots Buddhist, and rubbish (!). I'm sorry to say that, for me, this list epitomises the book's problems.

It is reasonable to assume that the indexed terms represent important themes or concepts, and that these 'II therefore give us the flavour of the book. Aliens and Rubbish both refer to the same text (although one gives the wrong page). This is a rather nice analogy to visitors from outer space who might mistake refuse workers as the cause of the rubbish in the dumps around which they work, and decide to eradicate them. The analogy being to the 'processes fitting to the new environment (created by) bacteria and other organisms', which are 'beneficial to the process of healing', and which (the organisms) it is 'harmful to kill' because 'when you change the conditions (in) the local environment' (which are) 'attractive to ... organisms ... the organisms will go'. Although the analogy falls down, of course, because it is not the refuse workers, the defence processes themselves, which would be the target of an antibiotic. This precedes the reference to Dolor, etc. as effects of the body's defence mechanisms at work, but in the context of the trauma of an accidental cut with a knife, rather than the inflammatory reaction of which these are the classical features.

This is typical of the muddled thinking and literary convolutions that detract from the examination of a number of important principles dealt with in the book. The principle that it is better, where possible, to enable self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms rather than attack pathogenic processes, and the empirical evidence that homeopathy acts in this way, are of real importance. To express them ID this muddled, if picturesque way only serves to undermine them. And the absence of any proper reference to evidence of any kind that I can recall makes it a very incomplete text book indeed.

Philosophy and metaphysics
The mispelt word 'proselatizing' in the index points, not to the word itself in the text, but to an admirable denunciation of 'New Age' proselytising that imputes unreasonable blame to the sick person for their predicament; challenges that 'are cruel and burden the ego with "a responsibility for unconscious incursions which are not in its power to stop or prevent (Whitmont)"'. But two pages later, this statement is undermined by the author's own proposition that, ,. . . we cause our diseases ourselves by our own choices in life. If we have cancer our own vital force has created it for us and it is the best possible thing we can have given our state of health as a whole.' Those of us who are familiar with these concepts will know what he is getting at, though we may not agree with him, but the uninitiated are going to be at best puzzled if not distressed; particularly, in the light of the later assertion that, 'Cancer is diligently earned by efforts to conform and to deny true expression of the whole self' [my italics]. And, 'Those who lose their birthright and suppress their ego cannot learn or develop, they do not fulfil their purpose in life, so they often die young with cancer'. Even in the context of a comprehensive, intellectually coherent and sensitive philosophical discussion of the nature of illness and healing, this would be proselytising of a pernicious kind. In a text book of clinical care such blaming of the sick is inexcusable.

There are philosophical, metaphysical and esoteric references throughout the book; to yoga, to chakras, to Buddhist principles, to reincarnation, to radionics, for example. This kind of speculation, can, in the right context and critically examined, be relevant and helpful to an exploration of the human condition and the phenomenology of illness and healing. But it is also precisely the kind of speculation that leads us away from consensus on homeopathic principles and practice, let alone a unifying theory, even within the homeopathic community; and further still from any consensus that could be shared with others. And a text book of clinical methodology, even of an 'alternative' kind, is not the right context for it. An example, to me, of its most unacceptable aspect: 'If there are fears for future incarnations resulting from the suppression of mental diseases with conventional treatment, how much more are the fears of suppression by high potency homoeopathic remedies'. Misuse of high potencies apparently 'puts homeopathy in danger of preserving life whatever the cost, similar to much allopathic treatment', because high potencies 'can reach deep into the economy. If they are not prescribed according to universal laws there is no way of knowing what exactly is happening.' And later, 'To prescribe high potency remedies without guiding principles based on natural law presents an unknown hazard for future incarnations'. My personal beliefs make metaphysical insights important to me, and I am not hostile to the concept of reincarnation. But this is metaphysics of a particularly incoherent kind, and it is certainly not homeopathy. To present such concepts in a text book of medical practice is irresponsible.

Interprofessional care
Roberts refers to his (non-medically qualified) students as 'primary healthcare practitioners'. Ironically, therefore, another glaring omission in the era of integrated medicine is any adequate discussion of interprofessional care or liaison. The patient's GP is mentioned once, in the context of reporting notifiable diseases. Secondary care and emergency services are mentioned only with reference to acute and life threatening diseases, and in a way that suggests a very high level of indirect risk to patients by practitioners who follow Roberts' advice. Apart from these token acknowledgements of its usefulness, conventional medicine is treated wholly disdainfully. For example, 'The un- enlightened physician relies on (pathognomonic) symptoms - - -. Having made a diagnosis of this restrictive type the allopath hands over the function of cure to one of the commercial companies who manufacture drugs to make profits for their shareholders'. Vaccination is dismissed as irrelevant to the control of infectious disease in contrast to the central role of the sanitary engineer, and 'The references given below (which I could not find) give evidence of the harmful effects of vaccination', etc. Such a crudely polemical and pejorative style completely vitiates any grain of truth there may be in such allegations.

There is a sensible section on the management of patients on conventional medication, the feasibility of withdrawing them, and procedures for doing so. But there is not a mention of doing so in collaboration with the doctor responsible for prescribing the drugs and for the continuing care of the patient. And some of the decisions referred to, such as when a homeopathic or conventional medicine is appropriate in an acute situation, or the withdrawal of oral hypoglycaemic agents, require considerable clinical knowledge and experience. There is also reference to treating patients with malignant hypertension, which, 'if it goes much higher the patient will die. The correct remedy should produce an aggravation, say a headache but the BP must go down, there should follow some kind of discharge like frequent urination or copious perspiration.' (Punctuation as in the original.) The safety, ethical and legal implications of making decisions such as these without medical qualifications and apparently without medical collaboration are very serious.

All this, and I could go on with similar examples, completely detracts from such sound homeopathic teaching as is to be found. There are some surprising anomalies, such as the definition of 'homeopathic' in relation to the medicines as meaning, 'a potentised substance', and of therapeutics as ' - - - the study of remedies with an affinity for particular pathology or organs'. But there is also a good deal of sound homeopathy. If it were rescued from the literary and conceptual confusion in which it is embedded, more critically and systematically presented, and given a context of good collaborative care, the book would be useful. I like the key messages scattered throughout the text. These are clear, sensible and concise statements of basic principles. For example, 'All potencies are required for the cure of disease, and any potency may be required in any given case'. Quotations from the Organon are used to enhance the text, often, in fact, making a point more clearly than the text that accompanies them. The section on case taking is an example of how good the book could be, providing excellent guidance in a few brief pages. Other examples of good, straightforward homeopathic teaching are the discussion of what is to be cured, and the guidelines on remedy reactions that indicate the need not to prescribe, but to wait. An example of a more difficult theme dealt with well is the section on recognising incurable disease.

In short there is some good homeopathic teaching here, which makes it all the more unfortunate that it is so badly packaged. As it Is, it is a very bad advertisement for homeopathy and potentially damaging to the understanding of homeopathy and patient care alike.

Homeopathy (formerly the British Homeopathic Journal)
Volume 91, Number 2, April 2002

Review

This book review is reprinted with permission from Homeopathic Links.

Reviewed by Lorraine Taylor

Roberts is the Principal of The North West College of Homoeopathy and through his experience is well qualified to write a textbook for students of homoeopathy. This textbook is excellent for the beginner as it outlines clearly the relevant principles of homoeopathy (illustrated by Organon paragraphs). 12 basic principles are covered in a clear and concise text which avoids any complex historical perspectives, therefore making it easy to read and refer to. This is clearly the first in a series of textbooks as the principles outlined would need more depth and expansion as the student progresses. The book is divided into 5 main chapters with a recommended reading list at the end of each chapter and some exercises which are a useful learning tools.

Roberts has drawn on his own wide experience and included modern sources (Sankaran, Vithoulkas) as well as traditional (Kent) in his explanation of case taking and philosophy. The new student of homoeopathy is these days fortunate to have productive and dedicated teachers offering such useful learning tools.

Homoeopathic Links - Summer 1994

 

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

Reviewed by Angela Zajac

The first thing which struck me about this book was its accessibility. Here we have a textbook on philosophy which covers all aspects of homeopathy, and yet it is user friendly! It is small, easy to carry and has an attractive cover. It is easy to read, and has an excellent contents page, which means you can find what you want quickly. Each chapter is divided into bite-sized subsections, and it is interspersed with diagrams.

A major aim of the book is to present a modern 'consensus' of homeopathy. The author draws on past classical prescribers: - Hahnemann, Kent and Vithoulkas are regularly quoted. He demonstrates how these past principles are still relevant today, even in advanced pathology. Although he talks briefly about other commonly used, more modern methods, he nevertheless advocates that, whilst there are different patients, there is only one homeopathy. He does not like to use the word classical, rather that the one homeopathy is based on known principles.

Avoiding the use of labels is more unifying. This method demonstrates results over several years.

The student will find it a useful study guide. It refers to all aspects of practice. Terms are categorised and defined, often using simple diagrams. These are useful aids to understanding concepts, but inevitably this can lead to oversimplification. The student needs to be aware of this, and to develop the ability to transfer these images into three dimensions. There are several case examples, including failed prescriptions. Each chapter ends with questions which assist recall and understanding. Throughout, questions which students regularly ask are answered, or referred to, in the reference section.

I criticism, I would have liked to have seen some areas covered in more detail, e.g. potency, although the book's accessibility may have had to be sacrificed for this to happen. There are also one or two inaccuracies; for example, in the section on plussing and LM potencies, it is not made clear that each successive dose must be diluted as well as succussed. And a note about the cartoon on the cover - is it Dr Lion (from the Rupert stories) or Dr. Roberts?!?

It is very pleasing to have a new philosophy text which is so comprehensive in the areas it covers, as well I as addressing the modern practice of homeopathy. This must have been a massive task for the author, and it deserves our admiration. The book is the first of its kind for many years. I would recommend that it is put on college reading lists.

The Homeopath
Winter 2002, Number 84

 

This book review is reprinted from the British Homoeopathic Journal Vol 91, April 2002, with permission from Peter Fisher, Editor.

Review by Jeremy Swayne

A bad advertisement for homeopathy
Knowing of Ernest Roberts as a leading member of the Society of Homeopaths and founder of the North West College of Homeopathy (for non-medically,qualified practitioners), I looked forward to reading this book. I hoped to find in it an example of the best of Society teaching on homeopathy; work with which the Faculty could engage, and which would contribute to the dialogue between the Faculty and the Society. I was further encouraged by his criticism, in the introduction, of the 'rigidity of approach and narrowness of outlook which moves (some of Hahnemann's followers) away from consensus', and his insistence on the need in homeopathy for a consensus on terminology, and his hope that 'this book may move us towards a common taxonomy'. Both of these sentiments I echo. Sad, to relate, therefore, that as I read on I was profoundly disappointed.

The book is promoted as a complete text book for students, and recommended by David Mundy, another leading figure amongst professional (non-medically qualified) homeopaths, as 'an important reference for both students and practitioners of homeopathy'. I cannot recommend it on either count. In fact, I regret that I have to repudiate it as any kind of creditable or credible representation of 'such a vast and complex subject as homeopathy', such as Mundy's foreword makes it out to be. This is a matter of genuine regret, because it is written to demonstrate how, 'Homeopathy stands ready to meet the challenge of disease in the 21 st century' (Mundy again). Whilst this statement is undoubtedly true, the contribution made by this book is almost entirely negative. This is a serious matter because the book damages the image, credibility and reputation of homeopathy. It also damages the reputation of the Society of Homeopaths and its affiliated colleges, which Roberts and Mundy represent.

I have taken unusual pains to identify the problems, and the review is unusually long, because I believe it is necessary to explain to any thoughtful reader, and particularly any sceptic or opponent of homeopathy who might read the book, why it does not represent the intellectual, professional, clinical and educational standards in homeopathic medicine which this journal and the Faculty of Homeopathy represent. It certainly contains some good teaching about homeopathy, but this is largely invalidated by its manner of presentation, and the general approach to the subject. This latter problem is perhaps exemplified by the book's stated aim, which 'is to present a unified theory of the principles and practice of homeopathy which offers a consensus for the medical treatment of all patients with all disease conditions in any state of general health in the best possible way according to natural law and principle [my italics]'.

General standards of literacy
The tragedy is that before even beginning to assimilate, digest and evaluate it, the reader can only be astonished by the appalling quality of the publication as a whole. It is quite the worst produced book I have ever seen, and it is difficult to imagine how any self- respecting author, editor or proof reader could allow it to go to publication in this state. It is littered with obvious and embarrassing spelling mistakes. There are misplaced words, misplaced upper and lower case letters, and incorrect or misplaced punctuation. There are even two whole pages in the wrong order. References to diagrams point to the wrong diagram (although they are all correctly listed in the introduction), and references in the index (such as it is) to the wrong page. In places the paragraph structure is awry and the grammar is faulty. Errors such as these not only make the book very frustrating to read, but make one doubt the intellectual acumen of those who have produced it, and hence the value even of its literate parts.

Some of the spelling mistakes give the unavoidable impression of ignorance as well as carelessness Color for Calor, (as in Rubor, Dolor, Tumor, Calor); heirarchy; pathagnomic; councelling; proselatizing; centisimal; aeteology; occurance; sensitivity (sic); patioents. They include drug names Epilin, Ventalin (also spelt correctly on the same page), Cortizone (also spelt Cortisone on the same page); remedy names colocynthus, phosphorous; and proper names Swedenberg, Scholter (also correctly spelt Scholten on the same page), Ishia Berlin and Jonathon (Hardy).

Indexing
The most basic requirement of any text book, and certainly a work of reference, is a good index. I first used the index to find the word 'nosode'. It had been used without explanation, and not recalling any previous account of what a nosode is (in fact, there is none throughout the book, though there are good indications for their use), I turned to the index. 'Nosode' is not indexed. Nor are 'potency', 'totality', ,modality', 'constitution'; you name it, you are unlikely to find it. There is a one-page index of 68 terms. By comparison, another book with a similar purpose and almost the same number of pages has some 800 indexed terms. Almost none of the key terms you would expect to find in a book on homeopathy, and would need if it were to be used as a reference, are indexed here. But the index does include the following 25 items among the 68: aliens, Buddhism, conflict survival (and survival conflict, as well as religious conflict and sex conflict), creed, cult, ECT (and, electro convulsive therapy), God, incarnation -re (and, reincarnation), Jupiter, Jazz, kings three (and, three kings), liars, lunatics, Mars planet (sub-rubric: aliens from), proselatizing (sic), regression fallacy, roots Buddhist, and rubbish (!). I'm sorry to say that, for me, this list epitomises the book's problems.

It is reasonable to assume that the indexed terms represent important themes or concepts, and that these 'II therefore give us the flavour of the book. Aliens and Rubbish both refer to the same text (although one gives the wrong page). This is a rather nice analogy to visitors from outer space who might mistake refuse workers as the cause of the rubbish in the dumps around which they work, and decide to eradicate them. The analogy being to the 'processes fitting to the new environment (created by) bacteria and other organisms', which are 'beneficial to the process of healing', and which (the organisms) it is 'harmful to kill' because 'when you change the conditions (in) the local environment' (which are) 'attractive to ... organisms ... the organisms will go'. Although the analogy falls down, of course, because it is not the refuse workers, the defence processes themselves, which would be the target of an antibiotic. This precedes the reference to Dolor, etc. as effects of the body's defence mechanisms at work, but in the context of the trauma of an accidental cut with a knife, rather than the inflammatory reaction of which these are the classical features.

This is typical of the muddled thinking and literary convolutions that detract from the examination of a number of important principles dealt with in the book. The principle that it is better, where possible, to enable self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms rather than attack pathogenic processes, and the empirical evidence that homeopathy acts in this way, are of real importance. To express them ID this muddled, if picturesque way only serves to undermine them. And the absence of any proper reference to evidence of any kind that I can recall makes it a very incomplete text book indeed.

Philosophy and metaphysics
The mispelt word 'proselatizing' in the index points, not to the word itself in the text, but to an admirable denunciation of 'New Age' proselytising that imputes unreasonable blame to the sick person for their predicament; challenges that 'are cruel and burden the ego with "a responsibility for unconscious incursions which are not in its power to stop or prevent (Whitmont)"'. But two pages later, this statement is undermined by the author's own proposition that, ,. . . we cause our diseases ourselves by our own choices in life. If we have cancer our own vital force has created it for us and it is the best possible thing we can have given our state of health as a whole.' Those of us who are familiar with these concepts will know what he is getting at, though we may not agree with him, but the uninitiated are going to be at best puzzled if not distressed; particularly, in the light of the later assertion that, 'Cancer is diligently earned by efforts to conform and to deny true expression of the whole self' [my italics]. And, 'Those who lose their birthright and suppress their ego cannot learn or develop, they do not fulfil their purpose in life, so they often die young with cancer'. Even in the context of a comprehensive, intellectually coherent and sensitive philosophical discussion of the nature of illness and healing, this would be proselytising of a pernicious kind. In a text book of clinical care such blaming of the sick is inexcusable.

There are philosophical, metaphysical and esoteric references throughout the book; to yoga, to chakras, to Buddhist principles, to reincarnation, to radionics, for example. This kind of speculation, can, in the right context and critically examined, be relevant and helpful to an exploration of the human condition and the phenomenology of illness and healing. But it is also precisely the kind of speculation that leads us away from consensus on homeopathic principles and practice, let alone a unifying theory, even within the homeopathic community; and further still from any consensus that could be shared with others. And a text book of clinical methodology, even of an 'alternative' kind, is not the right context for it. An example, to me, of its most unacceptable aspect: 'If there are fears for future incarnations resulting from the suppression of mental diseases with conventional treatment, how much more are the fears of suppression by high potency homoeopathic remedies'. Misuse of high potencies apparently 'puts homeopathy in danger of preserving life whatever the cost, similar to much allopathic treatment', because high potencies 'can reach deep into the economy. If they are not prescribed according to universal laws there is no way of knowing what exactly is happening.' And later, 'To prescribe high potency remedies without guiding principles based on natural law presents an unknown hazard for future incarnations'. My personal beliefs make metaphysical insights important to me, and I am not hostile to the concept of reincarnation. But this is metaphysics of a particularly incoherent kind, and it is certainly not homeopathy. To present such concepts in a text book of medical practice is irresponsible.

Interprofessional care
Roberts refers to his (non-medically qualified) students as 'primary healthcare practitioners'. Ironically, therefore, another glaring omission in the era of integrated medicine is any adequate discussion of interprofessional care or liaison. The patient's GP is mentioned once, in the context of reporting notifiable diseases. Secondary care and emergency services are mentioned only with reference to acute and life threatening diseases, and in a way that suggests a very high level of indirect risk to patients by practitioners who follow Roberts' advice. Apart from these token acknowledgements of its usefulness, conventional medicine is treated wholly disdainfully. For example, 'The un- enlightened physician relies on (pathognomonic) symptoms - - -. Having made a diagnosis of this restrictive type the allopath hands over the function of cure to one of the commercial companies who manufacture drugs to make profits for their shareholders'. Vaccination is dismissed as irrelevant to the control of infectious disease in contrast to the central role of the sanitary engineer, and 'The references given below (which I could not find) give evidence of the harmful effects of vaccination', etc. Such a crudely polemical and pejorative style completely vitiates any grain of truth there may be in such allegations.

There is a sensible section on the management of patients on conventional medication, the feasibility of withdrawing them, and procedures for doing so. But there is not a mention of doing so in collaboration with the doctor responsible for prescribing the drugs and for the continuing care of the patient. And some of the decisions referred to, such as when a homeopathic or conventional medicine is appropriate in an acute situation, or the withdrawal of oral hypoglycaemic agents, require considerable clinical knowledge and experience. There is also reference to treating patients with malignant hypertension, which, 'if it goes much higher the patient will die. The correct remedy should produce an aggravation, say a headache but the BP must go down, there should follow some kind of discharge like frequent urination or copious perspiration.' (Punctuation as in the original.) The safety, ethical and legal implications of making decisions such as these without medical qualifications and apparently without medical collaboration are very serious.

All this, and I could go on with similar examples, completely detracts from such sound homeopathic teaching as is to be found. There are some surprising anomalies, such as the definition of 'homeopathic' in relation to the medicines as meaning, 'a potentised substance', and of therapeutics as ' - - - the study of remedies with an affinity for particular pathology or organs'. But there is also a good deal of sound homeopathy. If it were rescued from the literary and conceptual confusion in which it is embedded, more critically and systematically presented, and given a context of good collaborative care, the book would be useful. I like the key messages scattered throughout the text. These are clear, sensible and concise statements of basic principles. For example, 'All potencies are required for the cure of disease, and any potency may be required in any given case'. Quotations from the Organon are used to enhance the text, often, in fact, making a point more clearly than the text that accompanies them. The section on case taking is an example of how good the book could be, providing excellent guidance in a few brief pages. Other examples of good, straightforward homeopathic teaching are the discussion of what is to be cured, and the guidelines on remedy reactions that indicate the need not to prescribe, but to wait. An example of a more difficult theme dealt with well is the section on recognising incurable disease.

In short there is some good homeopathic teaching here, which makes it all the more unfortunate that it is so badly packaged. As it Is, it is a very bad advertisement for homeopathy and potentially damaging to the understanding of homeopathy and patient care alike.

Homeopathy (formerly the British Homeopathic Journal)
Volume 91, Number 2, April 2002