Homeopathy Book Reviews

The Faces Of Homoeopathy, An Illustrated History Of The First 200 Years by Julian Winston – Reviewed by Vatsala Sperling

The Faces Of Homoeopathy, An Illustrated History Of The First 200 Years by Julian Winston, is reviewed by Vatsala Sperling.

Title: The Faces Of Homoeopathy, An Illustrated History Of The First 200 Years
Author: Julian Winston
Publisher: Great Auk Publishing, Tawa, New Zealand
Paper back, first printing 1999, latest reprint 2020, 633 pages

Reviewer Vatsala Sperling MS, PhD, PDHom, CCH, RSHom

My very first encounter with the late Julian Winston occurred when I sent a paper for publication to Homeopathy Today, way back in early 2005. When the paper was published, I noticed that it contained a box with historical information about the remedy the paper was based on, Calendula, and how it was used in prior centuries.

I had not written this information. When I reached out to the editor, Mitzi Lebensorger, and complimented her on the paper and its layout, as well as the historical facts about the remedy, she candidly admitted that the historical facts were written by Julian Winston, then Editor in Chief of Homeopathy Today.

“Impressive” I thought, “Julian has just that depth and knowledge necessary to add a little more zing and life to a paper…” And that was the encounter, in all, but that left an impression on my mind about Julian Winston. Within the next few weeks, Julian passed away, and I never met him in person.

Fast forward to 2020, when Jay Yasgur and Linda Lillard decided to reprint the book “Faces of Homoeopathy An Illustrated History of the First 200 Years” by Julian Winston. When Linda asked me if I would be interested in reviewing it, I readily agreed, because in the intervening years since my very first encounter with Julian Winston in 2005, I had learned about the role he had played in the continuation of homeopathy in the current times – and what a lovely role it was.

On to the book now. In a preface, Julian’s wife, Gwyneth Evans, writes, “Why did Julian write this book? Because he could! He had that type of mind and memory. He had the collection of books, journals, and photographs. And he had the strong belief in the importance of our history and how it builds the foundation of who and what homoeopathy is today….”

These lines by Gwyneth give us an idea of the depth and breadth of Julian’s mind. But for such a raconteour as Julian Winston, the rich history of homoeopathy could have been lost to the sullying and mudslinging matches that go on shamelessly and with vehemence on the internet, depriving wide-eyed youngsters of the exact and true knowledge and awareness of our collective history.

Every student, practitioner as well as consumer of homoeopathy MUST AND SHOULD have a copy of  “The Faces of Homoeopathy, An Illustrated History of the First 200 Years”. Ask me why. The simple answer is that, it is good for us to be aware of our collective past, so we can face the present and the future with strong conviction and with stronger courage.

Another answer is that it is not easy being a homeopath in the current socio-politico-economic climate when adversarial forces are gathering momentum to shred us apart on a day-to-day basis, and homoeopathy is under constant threat from powers-that-be, that would like to see it vanish from the very face of the earth. Just so that we will not allow such a calamity to come upon homoeopathy, we must have and read this book.

The book is packed with historical information and in a foreword, Harris Coulter (author of favorite books of mine, Divided Legacy, volume I, II and III) mentions that Julian Winston offers a new perspective on Hahnemann and his circle and the Anglo-American movement.

He shows us the circumstances in which these physicians lived, and in which we ourselves live. As I read through this book, I see clearly what Harris Coulter means. In this book, Julian Winston has brought to life our homoeopathy forefathers about whom we hardly ever read much.

To enjoy the various biographies, stories and anecdotes of Hahnemann, his immediate family, wives and kids, his students, colleagues, and patients, you’ve  got to read the book. The details are too many, too varied and too rich … it would be hard for any reviewer to pick and choose what to comment on.

The part that was very exciting personally for me, was how homoeopathy arrived in the USA, how the very first homoeopathy school was opened, and how the first wave of repertories came about.  Boenninghausen, whose repertory we are so fond of, was a lawyer by training, and while his life was almost ending from tuberculosis he was cured by a remedy.

This experience inspired him to study homoeopathy. Karl, one of his two sons who became homoeopaths, married the adopted daughter of Melanie Hahnemann, and most of Hahnemann’s work, (including manuscript for the sixth edition of the Organon) passed into Boenninghausen family.

It is remarkable to learn that the forefathers of homoeopathy were invariably MD medical doctors, and many of them worked in homoeopathic hospitals as well as ran thriving medical practices.

In a table below, just see the number of hospitals, and beds dedicated to homoeopathy:

Year of opening Name Town and state Number of beds
1. 1874 State homoeopathic asylum for the insane Middletown, New York 3092
2. 1894 Gowanda State Hospital Helmuth,
New York
3. 1904 Homoeopathic State Hospital Allentown,Pennsylvania 1429
4. 1893 Southern California State hospital Patton,California 3250
5. 1904 Norwich State Hospital Norwich,Connecticut 2652
6. 1886 Westboro State Homoeopathic Hospital Westboro,Massachusetts 1235
7. 1890 Fergus Falls State Homoeopathic Hospital Fergus Falls,Minnesota 1700

As homoeopathy had a stellar track record of offering humane treatment to mentally disabled people, these hospitals were primarily dedicated to care of the insane. Many of these institutions continued to function into the 1900s, but somewhere along this time, homoeopathic treatments were stopped.

However, it is comforting to think that 146,46 patients in these hospital beds, were given homeopathic remedies and cured of their disease and they were fortunate to be spared the harsh allopathic treatments prevalent in those times. For a full list of homeopathic hospitals, see pages 554-560.

Apart from these mental health institutions, there were several homoeopathic schools all cross the USA, but by early 1900, many of these were closing.

As a homoeopath myself, I do attend the American National Conference of homoeopathy every year. The visual experience can be described akin to “seeing a sea of silver” — the participants are generally silver-haired women in their second or third career, filing in and out of the conference rooms — young women and men are a minority.

While I compliment women for being a force to recon with in the modern landscape of homoeopathy, this book reminds me that it was not that easy for women to become professionals in the prior centuries. The women’s suffrage movement and the political as well as spiritual emancipation of women in the mid-1800s was necessary before women could convert their entire community to homoeopathy using remedies from their little satchels.

New England Female Medical College was established in 1848 and gradually women began entering medical profession, and many of them became homoeopaths. While deep divisions were occurring amongst the homoeopaths about various styles of prescribing, the American Medical Association decided to pull the plug on homeopathy and serve it a death blow by closing schools, hospitals and banning practitioners from using homeopathy.

In the 1970s homoeopathy fortunately had a resurgence after the phenomenal youth movement of the 1960’s that swept through the entire United states. Many young medical doctors of that era engaged in deep self-inquiry and began studying homoeopathy, Dr. Bill Gray and Richard Moskowitz to name a few.

At about this time, postgraduate classes held by the National Center for Homoeopathy (formed in 1974) began to attract young doctors to homoeopathy. Many naturopathic medical schools sprung up across the country and they had homoeopathy in their curriculum.

Soon, George Vithoulkas became a household name amidst the seekers of homoeopathy, and he had spent several years studying in India – a country where homoeopathy was brought to around the 1830s by John Martin Honigberger.

While homoeopathy was undergoing decline and resurgence in the western world, it continued to become stronger and stronger in India with over 108 medical schools graduating several thousand homeopaths annually, and homoeopathy being accepted as a healthcare modality by the government and public alike.

Currently, though naturopaths and some medical doctors practice homoeopathy, particularly in the USA, the layman homeopaths without medical degree constitute the bulk of the homoeopathic practitioners, and in essence, this group is keeping homoeopathy alive in this country.

While modern-day movers and shakers in the world of homoeopathy are honored in the subsequent pages of this magnificent book, it is concluded with several pages dedicated to an epilogue, appendix A thru F, and an exhaustive endnote and index section.

Moving through this book made me happy at times, sad at times, but rich always – rich by way of realizing that homoeopathy has weathered quite a few storms, is grandfathered in the United States, accepted by the public in many parts of the world and though it is constantly under threat, it continues to survive amidst consumers and practitioners who swear by it.

I urge you to get this book for your collection. You may not have the time to read it word by word, but anytime you have a doubt about the history of homoeopathy, you can dip into this book, and you will find the answers you need. The late Julian Winston has done homoeopathy a great service by compiling this book and it is for us to open our arms wide and embrace it with love.

About the author

Vatsala Sperling

Vatsala Sperling, RSHom (NA), CCH, MS, PhD, PDHom was the Chief of Clinical Microbiology services at a children’s hospital in Chennai, India, when she published extensively and conducted research with WHO, Denmark. On moving to the USA, Vatsala pursued a 4½ year course in Homeopathy at Misha Norland’s school. She has authored twelve books including her latest, Colubrid Snake Remedies and Their Indication in Homeopathy Practice. Journals from US and abroad frequently publish Vatsala’s writings on spirituality, health, and homeopathy. Vatsala continues to study with several teachers and practices classical homeopathy. She has served on the board of directors of NASH and currently she serves as a volunteer with NCH. She can be reached via her website (www.Rochesterhomeopathy.com)

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