Anne Vervarcke established ‘The Centre for Classical Homeopathy’ (CKH) in Leuven, Belgium, which organizes a five year training course, a Postgraduate course, a yearly seminar and an International Training. She created the programmes and was teacher and director for 15 years. Currently she is co-ordinating international trainings and gives seminars in many different countries, specialising in live case taking.
KS: Welcome to Hpathy, Anne! We are delighted to have you in our Hotseat and look forward to all the interesting thoughts you are going to share with us. You were originally trained in arts and graduated in Oriental Philology and Anthropology. How did your journey with homeopathy begin?
AV: Maybe with the first positive experiences with my children when they were still very young (they are 40 and 37 now) and suffering from common things: earaches, diarrhea, snotty noses. Not too serious, but enough to go to the doctor regularly and giving antibiotics to no avail. One homeopathic remedy and yearlong problems vanished never to come back! I think this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
KS: Yes, which mother wouldn’t agree! After many years of practicing, teaching and investigating homeopathy you developed your own approach based on Sankaran’s method. What led you to look for something beyond the classical approach?
AV: By the time I finished my first study in 1986, Vithoulkas was the great Innovator and everybody loved his Stolen Essences. It was so much more fun than studying those endless lists of symptoms in our classical Materia Medica. But in the beginning of my practise it turned out that, in a hall of homeopaths, all having a different idea of the suitable remedy for a particular case, the one with the most convincing rhetoric ‘won’. I could see how one knowing his MM well could make a Lachesis of a Lycopodium. It was just a matter of picking the right set of symptoms out of the thousands the polychrests we have. I could do it too If I wanted to. And from the 300 remedies we had to study for the exams, always the same three were prescribed for men (Lyc, Nux vomica, Sulph), three other ones for women (Lach, Natr mur and Sepia), the grief cases got Ignatia, the suppressed ones Staph and all the others Carcinosinum, since that remedy fits half of the population. In other words, I was disappointed. After all those years of intense studying this seemed to be the daily procedures of many homeopaths at that time. There was no system, no logic, no method. Actually I was ready to leave practice… until I saw Sankaran.
KS: As for your and Sankaran’s approach, both approaches developed over the years. In which way is your approach different from Sankaran’s method?
AV: Let me make clear first that I was a dedicated pupil of Sankaran’s ideas until the sensation method came up. Although I consider this a milestone in homeopathic development, the people who didn’t follow Sankaran’s thinking before and just bumped into the sensation method, tend to be overenthusiastic. They disregarded all the rest of homeopathic knowledge; there was sensation and sensation only and honestly speaking that kind of attitude made me distance myself. In my daily practice I could see where the sensation method was valid and where it went wrong. So I took what I considered the good things in it, namely that the cause of the disturbance, the state of the patient so to speak is not a product of the mind but beyond…on sensation level. What was discouraging my students though was the idea they had to bring the patient at sensation level, and if they failed they had a worthless case. This ‘sensation-or-nothing’ attitude I tried to change with my approach. Because even when it is correct that the cause or source of the disturbance is ‘beyond mind and body (by the way this is the title of another book of mine, published in Dutch, see www.thewhiteroom.be Publicaties) it expresses with ‘signs and symptoms on mind and body’, as Hahnemann says. Hence I focused on spotting the expressions of the vital or sensation level on all levels. Other differences are the case taking, where I taught my students to listen to their patients and not to lead them to presumed sensations.
KS: The good news for many skeptics is that your Vital Approach to homeopathy shall be in accordance with Hahnemann’s laws and principles. So the so-called “classics” are important to you?
AV: They are the foundation. If you don’t know your basic skills, you’ll never be able to make sensible prescriptions. It’s like with playing an instrument. If you don’t learn solfeggio and practice 10.000 hours on your instrument, you won’t be able to improvise. Students don’t like to study for long hours the classic books; they have their computers and they have these attractive new methods, but they are absolutely worthless in the hands of somebody without the foundations. I’ve seen students who attended a few sensation seminars and read Sankaran’s schemes and when I took a case in public, they couldn’t even determine the Nux vomica or the Coffea, even though the patient’s gave us all of the rubrics….because they don’t know the classical symptoms of the remedy! Can you imagine! They are unable to prescribe Cocculus because ‘it is not in Sankaran’s Scheme’. That is not Sankaran’s fault. To the contrary, I think he realized to his horror that this was the result of his new insights. He himself is well marinated in the classical knowledge so I had no doubt that he knows what he is doing, but the students often wrongfully think they don’t need this old knowledge anymore. I even heard people saying that a good training should only teach the Sensation method, because this was systematic and otherwise the students would be confused and bored. I can predict that leads nowhere. It’s like a musician saying, “Let’s start with the 9th of Beethoven, we’ll do the notes later.”
My approach is Hahnemanian for sure! I’ve read the Organon at least 20 times and taught it for over 16 years in my training and the more I read it, the better it became. I admit having my own reading but everybody has. The book is full of inner contradictions, so disputes are guaranteed! In fact one can boil down homeopathy to ‘strange, rare and peculiar’ on all levels, aphorism 153, yes indeed. All these expressions come forth from the source which is on the vital level. And they form a coherent pattern. Basically homeopathy is pattern matching… the pattern of the disturbance with the similar pattern of the remedy.
KS: Kingdoms and miasms play a major role in analyzing cases according to your approach. In which way?
AV: The theory on kingdoms I consider utterly helpful. We have so many remedies that it is almost impossible to find your way to the suitable one for the patient. We all know the benefits but also the shortcomings of the repertory; some remedies are over-represented, some underrepresented. But if we can determine quite in the beginning of the case to which kingdom the patient belongs, we have an idea of the direction we are heading in. Or, if we repertories, we can filter the outcome according to the kingdom the patient belongs to. Often we even know the subkingdom and then our search becomes even more directed. If we know the kingdom for sure, we often can even prescribe an unknown remedy with the same certainty we prescribe a polychrest. For instance, we understood the patient needs a mineral remedy of the 4th row and the 4th column; we can prescribe Titanium with confidence even if we don’t have many rubrics to substantiate this. And in my Vital Approach I give a lot of pointers, tips and tricks to spot the kingdom; not only Plant, Animal and Mineral but also Monera, Fungi and ‘imponderables’.
Miasms according to Sankaran’s understanding of delusions are helpful as far as I am concerned, only in plant cases. Why that is so, I don’t know, but in minerals we have the 18 columns and in animals miasm and sensation are mostly confused. I don’t mean that all the other but Plant cases don’t have a miasm, it’s just that they are sometimes hard to determine and of no help to pick a remedy.
The way Sankaran understands miasms is completely different than the Hahnemanian view. The former considers the miasms as a classification of delusions and thus situated on the mental level. The latter considers miasms as underlying inherited or acquired tendencies, more or less what we would call today susceptibility or constitution, and thus on the physical level. It is confusing that we have one word for different concepts, but this is explicable from a historical point of view.
KS: The possibility of identifying the vital remedy on all levels makes the approach also applicable for patients who can’t express their symptoms, like little children and animals. Nevertheless, I think these kind of patients remain a challenge. What do you recommend to the homeopathic practitioner when working with them?