Title: A Homeopathic Love Story. The Story of Samuel and Melanie Hahnemann
Author: Rima Handley
North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA
Available on Amazon
Reviewed by Dr. Mansoor Shafi
“A Homeopathic Love Story. The Story of Samuel and Melanie Hahnemann” by Rima Handley is a fascinating, delightful, and educational book. It beautifully traces the lives and bonding of two unique individuals. One cannot help but wonder how much homeopathy would have developed had their love affair not materialized.
To be a good homeopath, one must know the Organon intimately. However, to really understand the God gifted Samuel Hahnemann, one needs to learn the intimate details of his life. What propelled him to go against the establishment with ideas that were anathema to the orthodox medical profession.
One needs to know what drew him to a woman, 45-years his junior, to whom he proposed marriage after meeting her on the third day. And the most tantalizing question is, would homeopathy have developed so much in Hahnemann’s advancing years had he not fallen in love with Melanie? Would he still have had the excitement and motivation to continue, despite the obstacles he faced? How big a part did Melanie play in homeopathy’s development?
Rima Handley has written a masterpiece, based on extensive study. Handley’s use of carefully researched archival records gives the book credence as a scholarly endeavor. Handley opens a window into Hahnemann’s feelings and allows the reader to get inside this great mind.
Nothing about Hahnemann is ordinary. Melanie came to him as a patient, dressed up as a man—to escape detection—as she had read about the brilliant doctor who cured his patients. She had a lifelong interest in medicine and read Hahnemann’s Organon before making the trip to see him. If it is true that Hahnemann fell in love with her almost immediately, then it is equally true that Melanie was captivated too. Hahnemann’s presence, his intellect, his good health, all were factors that made a beautiful young woman fall in love with him.
Handley writes beautiful prose. It is hard to put this book down, until you have read it cover to cover. She skillfully weaves personal anecdotes with historical events and explores the challenges they faced both personally and professionally.
The excerpts from Melanie’s letters to Hahnemann demonstrate her deep love for him and allow us a glimpse into their thoughts and motivations. Melanie remained Hahnemann’s steadfast companion, and Hahnemann in return taught her the art and science of homeopathy.
She became so adept at this new science that they interviewed patients together. We can only imagine the pride that Hahnemann must have felt when he said that Melanie was the finest healer in Europe. This was a time when women were not allowed to practice medicine.
In Chapter 9, “How Did They Practice?” Rima artfully describes how Hahnemann approached patients suffering from chronic disease. After leaving Germany, Hahnemann began to develop a new method of prescribing, in which he started every chronic case with the ‘antipsoric’ remedy Sulphur. She does not allude to how long this practice lasted.
Rima compares Hahnemann to modern-day homeopaths by highlighting that the Master witnessed the damage caused by mercury and venesection, and now we see the detrimental effects of antibiotics, tranquilizers, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Melanie’s love for Hahnemann gave him joy, peace, and security. The book makes abundantly clear the positive impact she had on him. The astute reader will come away with the distinct feeling that without Melanie by his side till his last day, Hahnemann would not have reached the lofty heights that he did, and the world would have been poorer had this blessing not borne fruit.
Homeopathy is a divine gift bestowed upon humanity. We owe heartfelt gratitude to Melanie who nurtured this great man who gave the world so much.