Dear friends, today we have with us in our Hot-Seat, the famous ‘facial-analysis’ couple, Grant Bentley and Louise Barton. Grant is the Principal of the Victorian College of Classical Homeopathy in Melbourne, Australia. Both Grant and his partner Louise have done intensive research into miasms and their influence on facial features. This research has been applied clinically since 1999 and is now a recognized diagnostic method to determine a patient’s miasm.
Dr. Bhatia – So Grant and Louise, before we start the serious discussion on miasms and facial analysis, let’s start on a lighter note. Tell us something more about yourself, how you got interested in homeopathy, and what the journey has been like?
In my twenties I started studying Naturopathy which would be the most common introduction to Homoeopathy for Australian Homoeopaths. I had already qualified and was practicing Psychotherapy but felt I needed something more to complete my practice. My first book was Classical Homoeopathy by Margery Blackie and I became an instant convert on my first read. I was fascinated with Homoeopathy and its structure, something I thought was sadly lacking in Naturopathy and appreciated the quality of its author. By the time I had finished the book I knew that’s what I wanted to do and I began studying Homoeopathy the next year. The journey has been an interesting one. After graduating and practice I began teaching and soon afterwards was offered the position of principal at the Victorian College of Classical Homoeopathy(VCCH), a position I still hold nearly fifteen years later.
Because my wife Louise is also in practice and is co-administrator of the college, Homoeopathy is more than a job, it is a common bond we both share. The college training I received was grounded and thorough. The patron of the college was Dr Subrata Banerjea who helped the original founder Denise Carrington-Smith, formulate a curriculum grounded in the classics. This stood me well and gave me the foundation I needed to understand Homoeopathy in a practical and clinical way. I now look on this training I received as invaluable and I consider myself fortunate to have had such teachers. Modern Homoeopathy in the west can be extremely interpretive and I feel blessed that my training was based on the solid unshakable platform supplied by Hahnemann, Kent, Allen, Roberts and the teachers I just spoke about.
I got started later than Grant. Like many other students in Australia I had already started working in a different field – personnel management. After ten years I wanted to expand my horizons – luckily I came to Homoeopathy straight away and not via any other modality – I didn’t have any unlearning to do! I had been seeing a Homoeopath and was impressed with the results and the philosophy behind it. I read a few Homoeopathic books, left my job and signed up for training. In the early nineties there wasn’t much choice in regard to Homoeopathic training in Melbourne – only naturopathic colleges with Homoeopathy as an elective. In retrospect I am so glad I chose VCCH as although it was small it was dedicated to Homoeopathy and quickly I became a passionate convert. As part of my training I went to India in 1995 and spent some time studying with Dr Subrata Banerjea who always made such a point of using miasmatic knowledge in prescribing. After I graduated in the mid nineties, I set up my own clinic and later began working at VCCH in an administrative role. Soon I was helping Grant with his research, running the student clinic and doing some first year training in Homoeopathy. By the late nineties we were partners, had a blended family and our own son was on the way. Somehow we still had time to talk about Homoeopathy and what became Grant’s major interest – the miasms.
Dr. Bhatia – You both have had very interesting lives and it’s great to see that your work has only flourished more after the two of you came together. My wife, Manisha, is also a homeopath and I don’t have enough words to tell how helpful it becomes at times to have a life partner who understands your work, passion and eccentricities! Do you think your work on miasms would have been any different if the two of you were not partners in work and life?
Yes it would have been vastly different if Louise had not been involved. When I was developing this system, I thought about it, spoke about it and wrote about it 24 hours a day. I would even wake up dreaming questions to ask myself! If I didn’t have anyone to bounce these ideas off, particularly someone as skilled as Louise there is no way this system would have developed as quickly and perhaps it may not have developed at all.
There is no doubt that this work is Grant’s work but I feel proud to have been involved and if I can claim anything it is that I asked challenging questions! We both belong to opposite miasms and bring different qualities to the work. Grant is more abstract in his thinking whilst I am more linear. He thinks and writes about broad concepts while I streamlined the system. I suggested that each feature should get one point to help determine dominance and I came up with the triangle. I like to see things visually and like systems, so that helped to pull it all together. There is no doubt that the passion we both have for Homeopathy brought us together and has fuelled the rapid development of Homeopathic Facial Analysis (HFA). We are both amazed that it has come to this point and we are happy that so many practitioners are beginning to use it in their clinics.
Dr. Bhatia – Today you teach about miasms to everyone, but how did you learn about this very controversial theory of Hahnemann? Who were your teachers and what was your initial impression about this theory?
While Hahnemann’s work on the miasms was a stroke of genius, it can also be very difficult to work with. In fact I must confess that I was like a number of people who during their training found the miasms so complicated and to some degree so unnecessary, that I contented myself to drop all thought of them and to concentrate my focus on finding the simillimum. After all the simillimum represented the underlying miasm anyway, therefore to focus on one was to focus on the other. This is not the case but I did not know that then. In the years following my graduation I had more failures than successes but enough successes to keep me going. Like many Homoeopaths I adopted essence prescribing as my principle method of achieving greater constitutional results. My focus on constitutional prescribing was necessary because chronic disease did and continues to make up more than ninety percent of my practice. Unfortunately essence prescribing is rooted in the belief that extremely subtle differences between remedies exists. Therefore the focus was entirely on materia medica and the extraction of how the indignation of Staphysagria is slightly different than the indignation of Nat Mur, which is different than the indignation of Calc Carb. Because I’d already done Psychotherapy I found this area fascinating and seductive. Later I was to learn that even though it sounds good the results never reached expectation.
One of the good things about teaching undergraduates was that I got to reread the Organon every year. And each time I picked up a little bit more valuable information. Around 1998 when I was reading the Organon once again, I was struck by Hahnemann’s conviction regarding the miasms. Of course I had heard this story a number of times before – I had read it nearly ten times myself, but for some reason this time I was really taken by it. His conviction and his willingness to stake his reputation on the truth of the miasms convinced me that I should not be giving it the lip service I had been doing in the past. Nobody knows Homoeopathy like its founder and if Hahnemann says that the miasms should be central to every chronic disease prescription, then that’s what should happen. So I guess that’s how it started – by believing in Hahnemann’s belief yet at the same time acknowledging that I had no way of applying it.
Dr. Bhatia – Your comment about results never reaching expectations with the essence theory is interesting. But I will come back to that later. So Louise, what about your initial experiences with the theory of miasms?
As part of our studies we had to do a lot of research on the miasms and write an essay on the topic. After reading Chronic Diseases, Allen, Roberts, Ortega, etc., I remember feeling really confused and decided (like Hering) that it really didn’t matter which miasm it was as long as the totality was covered. When Grant mentioned that he really wanted to understand what Hahnemann meant and reread every book on the subject I was thinking – oh miasms are boring!