More Doctoring: Selected Writings, Volume 2 (1977-2014)
By Richard Moskowitz, MD
Reviewed by George Guess
Create Space Independent Publishing: N. Charleston, SC
Paperback. 381 pages.
ISBN: 1502426684/ISBN13: 978150246680
$25 (US). Available on amazon.com or directly
from [email protected]
This review first appeared in the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine –108:80, Summer 2015.
It is with a fair degree of humility that I embarked upon writing this review given my long familiarity with the quality of Dr. Moskowitz’s writings when I served as editor of the Journal. It was always a pleasure to receive his submissions, given that I seldom had to change even one word, and given the high quality of his prose.
More Doctoring is a sequel to his earlier effort, Plain Doctoring, and continues in that vein—a compilation of his varied and prolific writing that space precluded from including in the first volume; many of these articles, letters, and essays have been published elsewhere over the years. The book reflects both his clinical acumen and his philosophical sophistication; further, his erudition and logical reasoning capabilities shine in his reviews. The book brings to bear the author’s sweeping grasp of many subjects and disciplines—homeopathic politics, ethics, bioterrorism, bird flu, homeopathic history, materia medica, clinical homeopathy, case analysis, etc.—all written in an inimitable style, elegantly phrased, logically considered, and deeply enriched by personal memories and experience.
His writing possesses a unique blend of erudition and humility that I find engaging. And it is readily apparent his professed shortcomings are modest and but part and parcel of any busy homeopath’s practice and reflect the simple admission that nobody’s prefect. As one reads through this volume, it becomes readily apparent that Dr. Moskowitz’s skill using homeopathic medicine is considerable.
The article “Two Childbirth Remedies,” which earlier appeared in his fine book Homeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth (1992), is excellent. His descriptions of the two very important remedies Caulophyllum and Cimicifuga are vivid and memorable, and greatly enhanced by his descriptions of their clinical application in his own previous home birthing practice. After reading this article and others in this volume, I was left with the impression that Dr. Moskowitz should give serious consideration to writing his own materia medica, one based on his own clinical experience.
His article “Vaccinations” (Encyclopedia of Childbearing: Critical Perspective.1993) is a short article that details the valid concerns about vaccinations the author has raised far more extensively in our own journal previously. All concerns appear quite valid and worthy of serious consideration. Regretfully, the article lacks references to bolster his assertions.
“Illness as Metaphor” is excellent and deserving of wider lay readership; he gives ample case examples illustrating the metaphorical applications of homeopathic medicine; certainly homeopathy (and perhaps anthroposophical medicine) is the one field of medicine most conducive to the use of metaphor to effect cure.
The article “Drug Reactions and Biological Individuality” is another exceptional contribution, providing excellent cases that ably illustrate the association of drug/substance exposures, as well as miasms, with illness. The article further illustrates many aspects of homeopathy convincingly; e.g., remedy themes, efficacy over placebo, utility in significant pathology. Any reader, lay person or homeopathic professional can benefit from reading this article, and many others in this book.
One tidbit of his professional history revealed in the book, a description of his home visit to a patient that resulted in an overnight vigil for a woman with severe mastitis, evokes a rather romantic image of the old rural homeopaths, traveling by horse and buggy to patients’ homes where they attended seriously ill patients, often all night, and serves as a prime example of exceptional ‘plain doctoring,’ a term Dr. Moskowitz adopts to describe the sort of effective, unassuming, real-life doctoring all good homeopaths engage in (excepting over-night home visits), and to which he alludes in his review of Karl Robinson’s recent book, Small Doses, Big Results:
“That’s the best part of all: what we get is not simply the technical aspect, the nuts and bolts of finding the remedy, but the real-life context in which the need for it came about. This is what I like to call ‘plain doctoring,’ at its best.”
The book is rife with examples of Dr. Moskowitz’s own plain doctoring. Many of the cases would be excellent as teaching cases. One such case that immediately pops to mind is the Cantharis case of ulcerative colitis on page 97—a brilliant prescription, in my opinion, though regretfully not explained in a way that would make this and other case histories like it far more educational. Nonetheless, my reading of the case prompted me to refer immediately to the materia medica where, other than the intense inflammation of the rectum present in this case, there seemed little to base the prescription on other than the mental state of the patient, which was striking and consisted of both a strong sexuality and a fiery temperament prone to the occasional outburst of rage in which she had “picked fights with men twice her size”; I suspect an additional piece of information that helped confirm the remedy was her great love for elephants, love for animals being a characteristic of Cantharis according to Sanakaran (Soul of Remedies).
One minor issue I have to take with the author relates to his thought-provoking but ultimately unconvincing article entitled “Vague, Long-Term Diagnosis: The Nocebo Effect,” in which he hypothesizes that a nocebo effect (in this case meant to imply a possibly pathogenetic effect of a patient’s ailment being labeled with a worrisome diagnosis; such as, hypertension) can have a harmful and ‘sometimes catastrophic’ effect on a patient’s health. While all physicians should give thoughtful consideration to the impact on the patient’s emotional well-being in making a diagnosis, such that delivery of such news should be made in the most delicate and sensitive manner, it is far from apparent, and, as Dr. Moskowitz himself admits, unprovable that said diagnosis alone can negatively affect a patient’s health. Thus, while the speculation itself is interesting, the overall impression of the article I was left with, given that no firm evidence was submitted to bolster his concern, was that it represented little more than a bit of conjecture, but, I must admit, speculation of the highest order and engaged in with the best of motives.
The book reviews contained herein are exceptional, the best I have yet encountered in the homeopathic literature, and offer broad, expansive treatments of not only the books, but often the context of the work in a larger sense, as well as choice biographical details about the authors. His reviews often contain an intriguing personal intimacy seldom encountered in such works, and reflect a very logical mind, one quick to appreciate all that’s good about a book, but also keenly aware of any shortcomings and constructively expressive of same. Overall, I found his critiques gentle and always couched in an appreciation of the authors’ efforts.
His review of George Vithoulkas’s Medicine for the New Man provides an example of Dr. Moskowitz’s habit of occasionally lacing his learned considerations with colloquialisms that both surprise and delight. Commenting on what he perceived to be Vithoulkas’s undocumented and questionable assumption that allopathic drug use in developed countries accounted for the increased suicide rate in those countries, he writes:
“Well, it’s possible, I’ll allow, 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 rednecks and yahoos he seems to have in mind for his main audience.”
The series of obituaries of major figures in contemporary homeopathy contained in the book are tours de force—again thoughtful, thorough, contextual and deeply personal. The personal intimacies he shares of his relationships with some of these important persons add an emotional poignancy and make for engrossing reading. A reading of his collected obituaries is much akin to reading a book of homeopathic history and not to be missed.
And speaking of history, Dr. Moskowitz concludes with a chapter entitled “Historical Development,” written in 2001. This brief chapter begins with a brief description of Hahnemann’s achievements and legacy, including mention of the seeds he helped sow that sprouted into some of the tangential branches of homeopathy, much to his disapproval. The expansion and trials of homeopathy in the United States are succinctly described; then the status of homeopathy abroad is neatly covered. Finally, he quite thoroughly though briefly details the varied methods and offshoots of homeopathy, many of which will undoubtedly leave the skeptical if not simply objective reader scratching his head at the vagaries of such practices as dowsing and radionics. Nonetheless, it makes for very interesting reading and is sure to fascinate those unfamiliar with the far-flung varieties of healing spawned by Hahnemann’s invaluable invention.
All considered, More Doctoring is a pleasure to read and a valuable trove of information. I recommend it highly.
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