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Homeopathy Has Always Been Under Attack: An Answer by Italian Classical Homeopaths to Professor Vithoulkas' Question
In a recent article published in this journal, Professor Vithoulkas asked whether homeopathy, as a particularly mild therapeutic approach, can survive in a world of violence. This is a meaningful and crucial question, and we would like to share our thoughts about the issue.
Homeopathic medicine has always been the prerogative of a minority of people. On the one hand, not everyone can be a homeopathy patient because it requires very deep self-awareness and active participation in one's own healing process. On the other hand, the number of classical homeopaths with proper organizational grounding and solid clinical experience has been decreasing over the years. The marginal role of homeopathy in our society is not new; nor is the failure of a wider recognition for its indubitable successes. This is probably due to the natural tendency of the medical system to protect itself. Being a low-cost medicine, homeopathy is an “anti-establishment” system: remedies are cheap, and a small amount of medicine is enough to cure a great number of people. Thus, it goes against the economic interests of drug corporations.
In Italy, we have experienced this issue very well, since the time that Professor Negro introduced the selling of homeopathic remedies into pharmacies in order to gain an economic incentive that could support and protect the rise of homeopathy. We believe that any form of pessimism is unfair, because what we experience nowadays does not differ from the problems our predecessors lived through: besides Hahnemann's well-known vicissitudes, C. Hering was obliged to move to the United States after having stood up for homeopathy against the fierce attacks of the medical establishment of his time. In addition, the nature of homeopathy is such that, unless a radical change in society occurs, official academic recognition would probably represent the greatest threat to its survival.
According to Hahnemann, the first step to cure a sick person is eliminating the maintaining causes, such as continuous grief, repeated heavy tasks, or exposure to environmental pollutants. These causes represent clear obstacles to the healing process. The first task of a physician is to consider all these influencing factors and to steer patients in the right direction of cure. Homeopathy aims to re-establish individual balance; the person him- or herself can promote positive changes and ameliorate his/her own life conditions, after having acquired more stability and a deeper strength that comes from a renewed “vital force”.
The homeopathic physician has to discern and be confident of natural healing powers, not only of the individual, but also of society itself. Moreover, if it were true that a balanced organism is more vulnerable to disturbances than a compromised one, the principle and purpose of homeopathic treatment itself would fall apart. In our opinion, health is the capacity to resist the negative physical, emotional, and psychological perturbances that attack human beings, as well as resilience, the power of restoring harmony, the quality of adapting, and overcoming difficult situations. True deep-rooted healing is only achieved by the spirit. We believe that any health improvement obtained by homeopathic treatment must lead to a greater spiritual stability. By contrast, if we rely only on drugs, if we do not improve our life conditions and do not aspire to a higher purpose, we will face repeated health relapses. After all, what is the higher purpose of mankind other than spiritual elevation?
It has been a long time since we medicalized every stage of life, suppressed symptoms, and delegated treatment to the medical institution (the philosopher Ivan Illich had already observed it in the 1970s). On the other hand, we notice a great gap between the innate perception that most people have of their own health (felt as subjective well-being) and the orthodox concept of health (an objectivized state, consisting of measurable quantitative variations from a standardized normality). For this reason, patients' expectations often widely differ from the results obtained by allopathic treatment, which can be profoundly inadequate, especially with regard to the chronic diseases dominating our time. The entire medical system has just started to realize the limits of this standardization and has been researching new individualized approaches. As homeopaths, we could certainly make precious contributions, and we should participate in that dialogue. To tackle this challenge, homeopaths need proper organization and, in many cases, more grounding based on long-term ad-personam teaching and mentoring.
In conclusion, we strongly believe that even in a world where violence has become structural, homeopathy can still play an important role in responding to people's emerging need for a gentle, non-violent, personalized medicine. Fighting for a fairer society will, in itself, be an effective therapy for everyone.
Received: 14 June 2020
Accepted: 03 July 2020
02 October 2020 (online)
© 2020. Faculty of Homeopathy. This article is published by Thieme.
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- 1 Vithoulkas G. Can homeopathy, a particularly mild therapeutic approach, survive and grow in a world of violence?. Homeopathy 2020; 109: 179-181
- 2 Hahnemann S. Organon of Medicine. 6th ed.. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers; 1921
- 3 Illich I. Medical Nemesis: the Expropriation of Health. London: Calder & Boyars; 1974