In the hotseat this month we meet somebody who is very active in the French speaking European homeopathy community. Before I went to his school, my first homeopathic course and efforts left me disillusioned to the point where I wondered whether it was worth pursuing.
Here he comes:
Edward: Dear Marc, welcome to the homeopathy hot seat. You are one of the most active people in the French homeopathic community, can you tell us a little more about who you are?
Marc: You know very well that I am just a little village vet in Belgium who practices homeopathy.
Edward: I thought you might say that. You are not going to get away with playing the humble homeopath. We want some of your real stuff for this Ezine.
You run a successful school for homeopathy in Belgium where with the help of a group of veterinary surgeons and doctors you teach classical homeopathy to a mixture of doctors, veterinary surgeons, dentists and pharmacists. Students come mainly from Belgium and France and occasionally from other European countries. You are also invited as a speaker to most congresses that are held in the French language.
I know one of your passions is homeopathic thinking through its history and to current times. Can you tell us where your reading and thinking has taken you?
Marc: It is my opinion that there are three main figures who have marked the evolution in homeopathy: Hahnemann, Kent and Masi. I will explain this in an overview of the evolution of homeopathic thinking during the last two centuries.
I will make an attempt to explain why and how different views established themselves and then predict the future of each of them.
Edward: I am sure that you want to start from the beginning.
Marc: Over 200 years ago, an exceptional man, Hahnemann was searching for a accurate METHOD to guide the medical practitioner in his prescriptions.
He was dissatisfied with the way that medicine was practiced in his time. It took him 20 years, from his first experimentation with China [Peruvian Bark] (1790) until the publication of the 1st Organon (1810), to create and fine-tune a technique he called homeopathy. He used a blend of known medical ideas to which he added his own genius to formulate his new principle. The rigour of this new principle stood out in stark contrast to the lack of cohesion and principles in contemporary medicine.
In 1796, he formulated the essential characteristics that suffice to define the homeopathicity of any future evolution of the art of homeopathy.
1) experimentation of remedies by healthy provers.
2) individualization of the patient.
3) choice of medicine according to the law of similars, implicating the unicity of treatment. (one remedy only)
4) the principles of dilution and dynamisation.
Thereafter, he spend the rest of his life doing two things. He continued to develop the Materia Medica (he experimented with about 100 remedies) and he tested the validity of his theory in daily practice.
His work left us with a wide open door to a confrontation with the problem of chronic disease. In other words, he left us with the sticky problem of the long term efficacy of our prescriptions.
Many authors (Allen, Roberts, Ghatak, Ortega, Paschero, …) treated this problem after him, preparing the ground for Masi to make a third important step for homeopathy.
Edward: I think you will have to explain yourself, I can hear some rustling in the audience.
Marc: OK, I will get there step by step. Hahnemann delivered the first materials and general principles of the method.This was the first step in homeopathic science.
The next step happened a century later (Kent). In between, many great names of homeopathic medicine appeared on the stage. They did not bring any progress to the methodology. They were missionaries (Des Guidi, Jahr, Mure, etc). They spread the word and continued to make great efforts in experimenting with drugs.
They were followed by those who made the great compilation: Allen and Hering. Their colossal work produced enough material for the homeopaths to digest for a century. Their work has been indispensable to the progress of homeopathy but they have not contributed to the progress in methodology.
The amount of information compiled had become too much to memorize or to use in daily practice. The efficacy of prescriptions remained insufficient. Many homeopaths searched in different directions. There were good and less good efforts, it was not for the lack of effort but progress needed to be made.
Edward: I think you are arriving at Kent now.
Marc: Yes. A system needed to be found to make all this material more accessible.
There are those who created the Synthetic Materia Medica (Nash, Cowperthwaite, Lippe, Duprat, and others). They allowed an easier memorization of the information.
Others pushed the ways in directions that did not fully comply with homeopathic principles: complexism and pluralism found their adherents. Isopathy also appeared on the scene.
There is no reason to dismiss these techniques. Although they do not fully encompass the homeopathic principles, they have delivered their positive input. Isopathy has delivered many of the nosodes that now make up part of our therapeutic tools.
It is important to keep an interest in what others do and simultaneously distinguish clearly what can be called homeopathy according to Hahnemann’s principles. Good homeopathy will only stay clear from the heresies (which are only abusive efforts of simplification or cover-ups) when it manages to become more comprehensible and straightforward to apply.
The concept of the Repertory, already present at the time of Hahnemann, did in the 19-20th century, thanks to Kent, progress to a new magnitude. The mass of information did not need memorization but the application of a rigorous METHOD. The difficulty of memorization was supplanted adequately.
Edward: I suppose this is where homeopathy makes a step forward: Kent teaches us to repertorize.
Marc: This was the second step: Kent delivered the repertorial technique. Prescriptions improved and for fifty years no further research took place in this direction.
We in the French community remember those (like Schmidt and his pupils) who passed on the torch from Kent’s work and through their missionary work kept the good word on homeopathy in Europe. Against the upcoming of pluralism it was important that these guardians of the temple promoted the rigour of homeopathic prescription.
Then there was appearance of the computer. The computer allowed an increase in the amount of repertorial information and facilitated the work. But this did not revolutionize the methodology. The tools changed but not the method.
The only progress that computers helped to achieve is the theory/use of the primitive symptoms. This work was highlighted by the Brussels School of Homeopathy (Belgium) and inspired by the work of Masi.
Those who refused to use the repertories (mostly pluralists) soon found out that the synthetic Materia Medica’s limited their possibilities. The long term chronic treatments were mostly undertaken by those who embraced high quality homeopathy. But there was need for new progress in methodology.
Edward: I remember meeting many colleagues who had landed in your school, just like me, dissatisfied with what we learned in more pluralistic circles. You helped us to become successful homeopaths. To get there, we had to sit through your afternoons on homeopathic philosophy but I am sure this was indispensable. Don’t give the readers too hard a time!
Marc: Homeopathy is a serious medicine. For it to stay serious we have to know what we are doing and why we are using the systems we use.
After Kent, Dr. Masi took the next step.
Edward: I remember the controversy about Masi in my first homeopathy school. It is not unusual that controversy precedes progress.
Marc: Masi brought us a method to approach the symptomatology of the patient and that of the Materia Medica. This happened in the second part of the 20th century in Argentina.
Following the work of others (Ghatak and Paschero in particular) a new idea took shape. Masi understood it and tried to develop it. Consequently the efficacy of our prescriptions improve in quality and duration when it ‘touches’ the mental suffering of our patients.
Previously, following Hahnemann and Kent, all mental symptoms were important. Masi taught us to differentiate between the value of different mental symptoms.
He makes a distinction between suffering and reaction to this suffering within the patient and in the pathogenesis of remedies. He tries to create an order within the mental symptoms.
There are two aspects in his work: the analysis of the patient for better prescription and the analysis of the symptoms in the pathogenesis of remedies to improve their understanding.
These new ideas change profoundly the method of working. Masi also brings a cohesion into the Materia Medica by unifying the symptoms of each remedy. By doing so he liberates the homeopath from using the enumeration of symptoms in the pathogenesis.
He also opens the way to an additional similitude: he creates a link between the type of the lesion (Hypo, hyper or dys) and the patient’s existential attitude.
Edward: Can you explain this in more detail?
Marc: Masi distinguishes the symptoms of suffering which indicate the vulnerability of the patient (Hypo). These are divided in two groups:
the sensations which bear no relation to reality (Dreams, delusions, sensations as if,..)
and a second group of sensations related to reality (Fears, aversions, …).
He says that the first group are the more important ones.
Five nuclei can be found in the patient’s vulnerability:
The nucleus of loss: The imaginary sense of a lack of one or more natural faculties. The patient asks himself: ‘Which of my natural faculties is depleted, not allowing me to be happy?’
The nucleus of culpability: This is the imaginary culpability: ‘What have I done that can explain this insufficiency?’
The nucleus of castigation: The apprehended (imaginary) consequences: ‘Which consequences should I fear due to this insufficiency?’
The nucleus of nostalgia: This is about the imaginary impossibility to live the present in an acceptable way because of the insufficiency. I would like to add ‘the sense of hope’ to this nucleus. Hope as in the sense of the nostalgia of the future as explained by AndrÃ© Compte-Sponville.
The nucleus of justification: The imaginary justification: ‘What external cause may explain what I have done?’
According to Masi, in opposition to this ‘suffering’, an individual (patient and experimenter!) will develop a defense reaction. These reactions can have four modalities: the individual will impose him/herself manifestly or veiled (‘hyper’), will escape or destruct (‘Dys’):
– The patient will ignore the imaginary deficiency (egotrophy). He/she will fight and win over the world (enemy) in a manifest way or in a dissimulated way. This reaction which asks for a continuous effort, will offer the patient a false sensation of happiness. The patient may seem in perfect health (or cured).
– Instead of ignoring the deficiency, the patient may (egolysis) escape the problem through auto-destruction.
– The patient may solve the problem by destructing the world (=enemy) (heterolysis).
Out of respect for Hahnemann, Masi, like many others did before him (Allen, Roberts, Ortega,..) used the words Psora (primary and secondary) sycosis and syphilis. The use of the same words by different authors explaining different concepts and at the same time trying to solve the same problem (long term efficacy of homeopathic prescription) has caused much confusion within homeopathic circles over the last 200 years.
A third step is made. Masi has developed a new way to approach the patient’s symptoms and the Materia Medica.
Masi and the various groups working along his ideas, have adopted a structured, overall approach for the categorization of the mental symptoms of patients and pathogenesis. Although for many remedies not all categories of this schema can be filled with mental symptoms, the general idea is adapted to all cases, usually with the help of Thomism ideas (Thomas D’Aquino).
In the meantime, in India, the United states and Northern Europe, other ways to approach the Materia Medica come to the forefront. Patients are classified according to the reign to which they belong: mineral, vegetal, animal. If the patient is thought to be a salt, is it more magnesia or kalium, carbonicum, phosphorus or muriaticum?
In other cases the patient is thought to ‘be a’ snake remedy, a drug, a spider… etc. Such approaches are efforts to classify remedies according to their common characteristics relying on the nature of the substance.
Edward: I know from being in your classes you have set this to be one of your missions; draw attention to the difference between classification of remedies according to reigns, species and periodic table for remedy selection purposes compared to highlighting the individuality in each remedy.
Marc: I believe this is an important method to study the Materia Medica. Rather than starting to organize remedies in classification categories first, I start from the individualization of the substance.
When I study a remedy I ask the following question first: ‘What is there strange, unusual, bizarre in the substance that makes the homeopathic remedy, which makes it different from all other remedies we know?’
Could this approach be a new step ahead? I am convinced it is.
Masi’s ideas have inspired many homeopaths. Others were interested in his ideas but were rebuffed by the practical implications or by Masi’s discourse. The former can be divided in two groups:
Those who were very interested in the analysis of the patient. (i.e. Brussels School of Homeopathy)
Those who were interested in the new way of analyzing the Materia Medica. (several study groups in French speaking Europe: GEHU, CLH, Petroleum, …)
The Brussels team has, based on Masi’s work, progressed in the valorization and hierarchisation of the patient’s symptoms to improve the use of the repertory. They developed the idea of the primitive symptom; the most important symptom of the patient that will allow one to repertorize using few and often small rubrics.
The other groups understood the importance of recognizing the suffering of the patient and the reaction to this suffering. They understood and used this approach to study the Materia Medica but they found it difficult to use the Thomism concepts imposed by Masi.
In the mean time, little by little, in different corners of the world, sprouted a new way to study the Materia Medica using the nature of the substance. Two tendencies can be distinguished. As mentioned before, Americans, Indians and Northern Europeans used the nature of the substance to group different remedies in classes.
Other homeopaths used the characteristics of each individual substance to study the Materia Medica. (Soirot presented Bryonia in 1990, Lamothe presented Tarentula in 1992, RouchosseÃ© presented Apis in 1993, etc)
I believe myself to be one of the principal advocates of this approach and promoter of the systematic application of this method to study and present our remedies. (Presentation during the Congress of the CLH (Belgium) in 1995)
In this presentation, I insisted on the relationship that exists between the nature of the substance and the symptoms present in its pathogenesis.
What allows me to think that we made a further step in the homeopathic methodology? Masi’s system of studying and organizing the symptoms of the patient and the Materia Medica makes use of the Thomism philosophy.
Although this approach has many advantages, in my opinion, the choice of the guide is not really appropriate. Apart from the symptoms they can find in the Materia Medica, those who follow Masi do not make use of a reliable guide, specific for each remedy that indicates how to arrange these symptoms in Masi’s schema.
After having studied several remedies, I can now explain more precisely my approach. Starting from the idea that there is a link between the nature of the homeopathic remedy and the symptoms present in its Materia Medica (1995), I have taken a further step.
In the same way as Hahnemann explained how to approach the patient, I ask the following question when I approach a remedy: ‘What is there strange, unusual, bizarre in this substance that differentiates it from all other substances we use to prepare our homeopathic remedies?’ This approach offers a valuable guide, adapted to each individual remedy without using a filter-like Thomism in Masi’s method, to discover what may be the essence of each remedy and what reactions are the consequence of this essence.
Just like Masi and followers, I distinguish essence and reactions to the essence, but I do not feel the need to find the 5 nuclei, according to Masi, within the symptoms of the pathogenesis.
Compared to the modern tendency where the question is: ‘What does this remedy have in common with one or more other remedies?’, I ask the opposing question: ‘what is characteristic in this remedy that makes it different from all other remedies?’. This is a fundamental difference! Jean-Jacques Veillard told me that I ‘look for the shortest connection between the nature of the substance and the originality of the remedy using only the pathways in the pathogenesis.’
This approach offers an extra similitude: both the patient and the remedy are studied using the individualization approach.
Masi and his predecessors (Allen, Roberts, Ortega, etc) explained the similitude between the existential attitude (‘Hypo’, ‘hyper’ or ‘dys’) of the patient and the way the illnesses (lesions, symptoms) developed in the patient (= anticipates in a way which is ‘hypo’, ‘hyper’ or ‘dys’). This new method allows us to go even further and discover that the symptomatic targeting of each remedy is not random.
It is clear to see the limits of theory of the signatures, as proposed before Hahnemann. It is impossible to deduce the action of a remedy using this theory even though some homeopaths still use extrapolated symptoms to prescribe remedies which seriously lack in pathogenesis information.
I want to make a clear dissociation between this practice and the methodology I propose. It is in the same sense that Hahnemann rejected categorically the ideas of Paracelses. The technique of individualization of the substance, inspired from likewise concepts, allows for a better use of the contents of the ‘prüfung’. We can ascertain, without hesitation, that this approach respects in all ways the four criteria of homeopathicity as established by Hahnemann.
Edward: Thank you, Marc, I am sure you raised a few eyebrows. It would be lovely if you could share one of your cases to show your approach.
Marc: With pleasure. The following is a case that shows very well how I evolved from the more classical approach to this new concept.
Kalli is a German Shepherd belonging to our neighbours. I know her well, her kennel is 10 meters away from our garden.
I see her for the first time when she is seven.
In the summer she often has skin problems. That summer is the fourth time the skin plays up. Up until then a herbal mixture had been sufficient to control the problem but when the mixture failed she was presented to me.
On both flanks, the hairs were broken and all over the skin was very greasy. After stroking her my hand felt grubby. There were eruptions on the edges of the lips around the lip junction.
She is impetuous and has a tendency to bite, coming from behind; she is not highly intelligent. The owners keep her in her kennel most of the time. Instead of going into the shelter, she will stay outside in the run whatever the weather; cold, warm, windy or wet. She enjoys rolling in the wet grass. In the evening she stays inside with her owners until they go to bed. She will always lie with her head against a wall or a piece of furniture: her head needs to touch something.
In her kennel she barks a lot. She has a peculiar way of doing this: she will systematically bark at each corner of the kennel. At the same time she jumps up slightly with her front legs and keeps her head pointed in the air. (It took me a long time to understand this peculiar symptom.)
Although we were good neighbours and frequently visited through a gate between the gardens, we had to be careful because she would come from behind and try to bite us. Nevertheless, none of us considered her to be a nasty dog. She is as friendly with the cat, who is allowed to eat from her bowl, as with the neighbours’ little girl, whose orders she obeys without difficulty. She also allows the birds to eat from her bowl.
Frequently, she makes little escapes from the garden jumping down from the garden which is elevated from the road. As soon as her owner reminds her to come back she will jump immediately but calmly back in the garden. She will also do so when her neighbour, the vet (me), taps on the window of his consultation room!!!
When the owners went on holiday a few years prior, she stopped eating all together. The following years she stayed in her kennel and was walked and fed by somebody within the family. When the owner’s cat was killed on the road, she searched for her for a long time.
The owner said that the worst thing that could happen to her is to have to live in another environment or with an other family. (Usually owners would say that it would be dramatic for the dog ‘to lose its family’. This an important difference in nuance which is important for the remedy.)
There is one medical episode when she suffered from a very enlarged spleen after she had been in season.
At this first consultation, I make the following repertorisation:
Mind, desire to go home, coupled with, homesickness.
Generals, summer aggravates.
Abdomen, swelling, spleen, menses during.
Natrum mur covers all the symptoms and she receives a dose in 200k and later 1M which controls the skin for a year. A renewal of the Nat mur 1M later makes no difference.
Edward: This is typical where a case becomes difficult: a ‘second’ consultation after an initial remedy seemed to work well. It is good to know that even experienced homeopaths encounter the same difficulties.
Marc: That is the reality of homeopathy for which we have to develop and teach good systems to allow for progress.
Next summer, an eruption appeared between the shoulders. She received a dose of Pulsatilla 200 to no avail. Even worse, she develops a cataract in the right eye.
During a new consultation, the owner repeats that the cat and the birds are allowed to eat from her bowl, that Kalli barks frequently ‘as if she is defending her territory’. She is fearful, she has let the burglars enter the house when the owners were there.
She also has become stiff when rising. (this is a usual evolution of hip disease in German Shepherds) She still escapes from the garden and returns as readily as before.
I write in the sidelines of my dossier my feeling that she ‘wants to be part of the family without limits’.
She still comes from behind to nip our legs when we enter the garden but I am allowed to examine her when she is in the surgery. She still continues this unusual barking in each of the four corners of the kennel.
She receives Silicea 200 twice that summer to no effect. The situation gets worse in August; the end of her tail becomes infected. It is swollen painful and white. She develops a fever and becomes depressed. This happened again when the owners were on holiday.
Then I give her the right remedy: Magnesia Muriaticum given in 30K twice per day for three days. And all skin complaints recede rapidly.
She receives a further 30K dose in November (96), then a 200K in December, a 200K in May (97) and then a 1M in December (97) and May (98) again. This last dose did not seem to work but Mag-m. 30K (several doses) delivered a good result.
The following observations appear to me important in this dossier:
– The rheumatic pains are worse during the first movement.
– she sleeps with her head against something.
– she is very calm in my surgery and falls asleep in the middle of the room (the neighbours are like the family)
– escapes but returns as soon as is called back.
– she is attached to the family but has no preference for any of the members of the family,
– all the friends of the family are always welcome.
– she doesn’t mind the cats and birds eating from her bowl.
My conclusion is that Kalli does not cause any stirring in the ‘family’.
In June 98, the rheumatism becomes much worse, she can barely walk. She takes Mag-m. 30K twice per day for a few days and the rheumatism disappears nearly completely when a large discharging, crusty, nasty looking patch appears on both her flanks. This lesion disappears on its own in a months time.
Six months later, at the time of the writing of this case, she shows barely any signs of pain in her joints.
I would use for title in this case: ‘Keep together!‘
What is strange, unusual and bizarre about Magnesia Muriaticum that distinguishes it from all other remedies?
This salt is the only salt in our Materia Medica that has the quality of ‘deliquescence’. This is the property that certain substances have to liquefy slowly when exposed to the atmosphere through absorbing the humidity in the air. What is also important, is the state Mag-m. will be in after this process. The word deliquescence is also used in a humorous way to indicate ‘disappear’, ‘melt away’.
Magnesium Chloride needs to be associated to six molecules of water to exist in crystal form (MgCl2 .6H2O). If it contains less than 6 molecules of water per molecule it cannot take this form, if it contains more, it disappears = melts away (delusion clouds over head, delusion danger of water).
The problematic (essence) of this remedy appears to be the cohesion of the group without it life would be impossible. (delusion mutilated body, fear of robbers), (Delusion of wedding = creating a family group).
I will now show how we can examine its Materia Medica from this angle.
What is the group in the eyes of Mag-mur?
This can be different things: family nucleus, the family through the generations, mother-child, a group of friends, everything that unites.
Mag-mur will do everything which seems important to him/her to be part of this group. It is very important to keep the others in regard and look out for friendship;
– delusion he is friendless (1/1) (although this is a wrong translation from the German word ‘freundless’, lets admit that it serves the purpose)
– feels obliged to comply with the wish of others
– delusion pressured by those around him, to perform (1/1)
– industrious. Should this entry not be related to: delusion, reading- after her, which makes her read faster, someone is reading (1/1) : ‘tries to keep the rhythm to stay in the group’.
– sensitive to reprimands.
– delusion, pressured by those about him to perform.
Magn-m. is sad when he cannot be part of the group;
– sadness alone
– forsaken feeling
There will be a permanent display of the efforts to protect the cohesion of the group:
– sense of responsibility (Morrison) (In a case published in Homeopathic Links the patient dreams he is in the last carriage of a train, the wagon’s panorama is elevated. The patient sees the locomotive and in the distance can see a point too narrow for the train to pass. He panics; the train will derail and he can’t do anything about it = responsibility to protect a group. G. Loutan uses the image of the giraffe: Mag-m wants to be able to look ahead to protect.)
– indifference to pleasure
– peace maker, dislikes confrontation of any sort; diplomatic (Morrison).
– helps others.
He finds it difficult to break the cohesion of the group. Whitmont says that Mag-m. can resent an important violence which is hidden and controlled, which can lead to nervous collapse.