Interviews

Grant Bentley – 1

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Note: The following is a transcript of a video interview. The video interview is embedded as 11 small files on the right hand side within the interview text. Please click on the play button on each file to see the video.

Q :  Can you tell us what Homeopathic Facial Analysis (HFA) is?

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GB: Homeopathic Facial Analysis (HFA) started approximately eight to ten years ago.  I had been teaching homeopathy at an undergraduate level for fifteen years or just a little more than that… and it really just came from my attempt to understand what Hahnemann’s miasms are. I was teaching it theoretically out of the books and I was teaching what Hahnemann had to say about the miasms, and what Kent had to say and Roberts and Allen … and we had projects, as most undergraduate courses do.  But at the end of all of that I felt that clinically, I wasn’t using the miasms the way I should be using them.

I would do a class and talk about the miasms and go to lectures about them. But when a patient was sitting in front of me, all that I was really looking for was the totality of symptoms and nothing but that. Whether or not that person was tubercular or syphilitic really didn’t enter into my mind all that much. Really, what I was looking for was just the totality of symptoms.  I was theoretically understanding how important miasms are, but I wasn’t putting that into any practical application clinically.  The only way I would really use the miasms was when someone would say there was tuberculosis in the family, and so I would start thinking of Tuberculinum. Or there might have been cancer in the family and I would start thinking of Carcinosin.  So what a miasm was in that sense, was an immediate leap to the nosode, rather than understanding it as the basis of my prescription.

I would sometimes close a prescription with a nosode, as many practitioners before me have suggested.  If I thought that was a syphilitic case in front of me,  I would give the remedies I believed were indicated to get me to a certain point and then to bring closure to that case, I might give Syphilinum, if that’s what I thought the miasm… or  Tuberculinum and so on.

But really that isn’t good enough, because the miasms are meant to be the basis of the prescription, not something you do at the end, and not something that you spark up when you hear the word “tuberculosis” in a sentence.  What they are meant to be is the cornerstone, the foundation of which your chronic prescription is based. I guess I had to be honest and say clinically I wasn’t doing that.  I wasn’t basing my clinical constitutional prescriptions on any miasmatic foundation.

To some degree what I was doing was understanding the miasms as a concept, and giving it lip service, but I wasn’t employing it.  So I wanted to understand how to employ it. It really is meant to be the basis of homeopathic constitutional prescribing, which  Hahnemann considered it to be, but I wasn’t doing that.  So essentially what Homeopathic Facial Analysis (HFA) is about, is understanding why Hahnemann believed that the miasms were the cornerstone of every chronic disease.

Q : So why the interest in the face?

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GB: The interest in the face came about by accident.  The interest in the face really came from me going back to most of the classics. When I talk about the classics of miasmatic philosophy… even though this is a little sacrilegious…. one of the major classics is not Hahnemann, is not Chronic Diseases and the reason for it is this. I find Chronic Diseases terribly difficult to understand and interpret and to put in any logical sequence.  I find that perhaps some of the latter day authors are a little bit easier to understand than Hahnemann.  Particularly, Allen and Roberts are the two major ones that I thought put the miasms into an easy to understand working perspective. Because of that my focus was essentially on those two books.

I am not devaluing Chronic Diseases at all… it is the fundamental basis of miasms. But what I didn’t get from Chronic Diseases is clarity.  I would look at Hahnemann’s version of psora and you can see everything in it.  Whereas when you are looking at Roberts in particular, and I am talking about his book, the Art and Principles of Cure , what you  get from that is an attempt to try and systematize Hahnemann’s thinking.  Hahnemann’s thinking while intricate, is not particularly directed, in a sense that he gives you a flavour – so he understands what he is talking about, but I am not a hundred percent sure that his ability to convey what he knows, to make extrinsic what is intrinsic, is Hahnemann’s speciality.  I think some other authors have been able to do that better.

And so what I have done is use Roberts and Allen as essentially the foundation stone.  What both of those authors have in common is that they talk about facial features…only in a very surface sort of way. They’ll talk about the shape of the head or the wide set eyes or this and that, but they don’t systematize the information into anything. Allen is the one that says it best, when he talks about the chronic miasms as an imprint onto the very essence of who you are.  And that very essence of who you are shows up in your countenance, in your facial structure, in your body language, in the way you think and feel, your desires… it is entwined to you.  I found that concept intriguing.  I started off essentially wondering, “Is there an accuracy to this”?

I remember thinking  “Can you really figure out a person’s miasm by the facial features  they have?”  If one is represented by the other, that’s a very intriguing thing because what that means, is that we have finally, if it worked out to be true, we have a window into what we can’t see.  Because if the miasm if really formulating the facial features, then we can use those facial features to understand the dominant miasm.

I guess it was also facial features that made me rethink a lot of the different aspects of where miasms have come from, or a development from the original.  And I will get into this later, because I know there are questions on this.  Understanding that it goes from being just an inherited disease, into something far deeper, an essence of who you are, has led to the development of this third book, Soul & Survival.  We’ll watch that unravel.

Q :  Since you wrote your first book and then your latest “Soul & Survival”, which has been over quite a few years, has there been an evolution in your thoughts on miasms?

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GB: There has been a dramatic change.  One of the major things with “Appearance and Circumstance” is that I can see that I am still accepting the idea that miasms are a type of inheritance. What I mean by that, is that there is a disease base to it.  I can understand why Hahnemann came up with the disease base.  After all, that is the basis of all acute disease.

Acute disease is essentially, an overpowering invasion of a foreign microbe which makes you sick and then you have to rebuild your forces.  So acute disease has a very definite origin.  We know that the measles virus causes measles, the chicken pox virus causes chicken pox and so on.  I think one of the problems for homeopathy has been the idea that chronic disease is exactly the same. We can tell that Hahnemann was thinking down those lines, because what we have with the Chronic Diseases is a syphilitic miasm from syphilis, we have a sycotic miasm from gonorrhoea, we have the tubercular miasm from tuberculosis and so on.  Unfortunately though, it’s not the case.  Chronic disease rarely has a microbial origin. There is no virus for cancer, because cancer is a lifestyle, multifactorial illness.

Chronic disease is a result, rather than an infection.  It is a result of everything that has preceded this moment in time.  This is all the stresses you have been under, all the inheritance you have been given, it’s all of the people you have come into contact with, it’s all the late nights, it’s all the things you shouldn’t have done. All of these things come together to create who you are now, and part of that, if you have a chronic disease, is because of what preceded it.  This is why when we are dealing with a chronic, a constitutional case, it is imperative that we get where the person has come from and an understanding of who that person is.

It’s not good enough in a chronic case to just understand what you were like before you were sick, and why you’re different now.  That is only what you have to do with acute disease.  In fact those are the rules.  The rules are that you don’t confuse personality and constitutional into an acute prescription.  All you are interested in, in an acute prescription, is the aetiology and really the differentiation from a healthy state to where you are right now. The sum total of that is your acute prescription.  Your acute prescription entails both your reaction to the illness, plus the genus epidemicus of the illness itself.  So we are catering for a virus, but what we don’t do is that we don’t have to understand the stresses that went on in your life.  We don’t have to understand your family background.  We don’t have to understand any of these things the way we do when we are dealing with chronic disease.

If we understand the process of how we get to a chronic prescription, then we can understand what it is we are looking for.  We’re not after what infection you acquired, or what environmental conditions set this off. What we are after when  dealing with chronic disease, is the sequence of events. What is the life that you have led, that has led you to this point.

Now that means that chronic disease is a result. When you are dealing with a result, it seems to me illogical to go back into the idea of trying to find a medicine that is predominantly suited for an infection, like an antisyphilitic or an antisycotic or an antipsoric.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t anti-syphilitic, sycotic and psoric remedies, there definitely are, but the infection part is not the aetiology. Because it isn’t the aetiology, we have to revamp our whole idea of what chronic disease is, what has led the patient to this point, what a constitutional remedy actually does, and more importantly why is the miasm, which is the basis of constitutional treatment, so vital, because it hasn’t to do with a virus.

When I wrote Appearance and Circumstance, you can still see that I am in that mode of antisyphilitic, antisycotic.  When you’re in that mode, there is the idea that the miasm is only bad, because it is an infective agent and nothing good necessarily comes from the measles.  You can turn around and say, yes it primes your immune system, but so does any acute illness really. You don’t have to have the measles to have an active immune system.  But when you are in the thick of a really bad cold, or in the thick of a really bad measles attack or whatever the acute disease is, what good comes out of it?  Not much.

Q :   You write about miasms in Soul & Survival and you write about miasms in

Appearance and Circumstance, but you are saying there has been a development.  In what way is it different now, five years later?

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GB: The development … has been extraordinary.  The development is the understanding that every substance both organic and inorganic has what we would term a miasm. It has to, otherwise Sulphur wouldn’t be an antipsoric and Thuja wouldn’t be an antisycotic, and so on.  So we have to accept that for these remedies to be “anti” then they have to have a similar energy to what we are trying to eradicate.  The fact is that minerals don’t get illnesses like syphilis or gonorrhoea, so what we are looking at when we are looking at an “anti” something, is different from an infection.  What we are looking at is a force.

In Appearance and Circumstance I was still thinking along the thought process that these were a carry over infection, a legacy from the past where somebody was infected with something and generally allopathic treatment drove it deeper into the economy and it is then passed on.  So essentially what that means, is that miasms are something we need to eradicate, or we need to peel off the layers. That layers theory has had to come into effect essentially because antipsorics given to a psoric person do not guarantee the psoric person will never be sick again.  In fact they just go on their normal life and if it isn’t bronchitis that they are suffering from later on in old age, they might start getting rheumatism or arthritis or migraines or something else, but there is never anybody that doesn’t suffer from some sort of ailment.

And so if the antipsoric had eradicated everything, the only answer to this is that we have this biological sediment…that it isn’t just passed on from one generation to the next but from one generation to another generation to another generation. And so what we have to do now, is to peel each sheet off with our remedies. But if this has been going on since Adam then it is a futile task!

I don’t think this anymore. It is a long process that got me down this avenue, but I am going to cut a long story short and say that I don’t go by the infection theory anymore.

I don’t believe that chronic disease is a legacy of somebody in my family who acquired tuberculosis or syphilis or gonorrhoea, I don’t think that.

What I think the miasms are, and Roberts is the first one who really alludes to this although he doesn’t take it any further, is that it is a force.  Psoric medicines project outwards.  I often used to think to myself  “How on earth did Allen and Roberts make sense of Hahnemann. and how did they get such a concept that’s almost a labyrinth in its thinking, into a cohesive model?”.  I started to understand that it actually wasn’t through the writings of Hahnemann, it was through the remedies themselves.  When you look at antisyphilitic remedies now you see a trend. When you look at antisycotic remedies now you see a trend, and the same with the psoric remedies because what you have to remember is that when Hahnemann talks about an antipsoric or an antisyphilitic he is not talking about a nosode.

He is talking about a remedy that has an action on that chronic disease.  And that action can be divided into three… and this is really where I will stray a little bit from Hahnemann in a number of areas.  But then there are other areas where I am absolutely sure that he was right and I have kept that going.  And one of those areas is in the three basic miasms.

And the reason that I understand there are three basic miasms, is that when you look at an antipsoric medicine it has a centrifugal action. So what it does, is that it pushes from the centre to the circumference, because that is what centrifugal means.  So something like Sulphur pushes everything onto the surface, whereas something like Thuja encapsulates, and where Mercury, it goes inward.  So what you are really looking at is not so much a disease, at a movement.  You are looking at a motion and that’s understandable because we live in a three dimensional universe.  And a three dimensional universe is either up, down, in or out, and the third, motion, is around.  So it is a motion of force that we are looking at.

Q : How did this impact on your clinical practice?

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GB: The impact has been profound.  Once I understood that what we are looking at is an expression of force or of motion … I began to understand the importance of why a constitutional medicine or any medicine, must be the same as the miasm of the patient.

We all have a degree of dominance in us.One of those forces or a combination of those forces is dominant. Let’s just say you are dominantly a psoric person. The first thing to understand, particularly when you are dealing with chronic disease, is that this motion belongs to you, the same as it belongs to any other inorganic or organic substance.  What that means is that it is important for you to have it.

You see the outward motion of psora at its most prevalent, when somebody is under attack.  That might be an emotional attack, an environmental attack like a virus or bacteria, but their reaction is the same. Because I am saying … well if it isn’t a disease, then what is it?  And what the ‘it’ is, that is the miasm, is you, your immune system, your own way of being able to counteract stress.

Thuja encapsulates and people who need Thuja encapsulate stress or microbes, or viruses because it is in their best defense to do so. Otherwise what would happen, is that it would become systemic and all hell would break loose.  So what we are essentially saying is that people who are dominantly psoric, who need psoric medicines have a stress response that is essentially based on outward motion.  That is that they will push stress to the surface or they will try and meet it head on at the periphery.  This is why so many people who are psoric for example, have a lot of asthma or we have the traditional understanding of the eczemas or the hayfevers, and all these sort of things. What you have got is an immune system that is so primed it is attacking everything.  So it is out of balance and this is why you need the medicine.

But the clinical practice of using the miasms, or the clinical application of the miasms comes from …. I don’t want to give a medicine like Thuja that is telling the body to encapsulate, when that person’s natural response given by nature, is to push out. Now I am going against your natural design.  And this is where I believe all of the … at least the vast majority of the aggravations have come from.  The remedy is indicated on a totality basis, but what we are not doing … what we are not taking into account is, does the patient’s stress response push things away, encapsulate it or whatever.  If you get a medicine that does it incorrectly to the patient, that’s when they don’t feel well.  This is when the homoeopathic aggravation occurs.

I am going to differ a little bit. I don’t believe the aggravation is what we are after, and in saying that, there are two types of aggravation and that is important to understand.  There is an aggravation where you have given the right medicine but in too strong a dose, and that means the patient will over-react for a while and then things will calm down and a natural progression will take place.  But then there is a negative aggravation, and that negative aggravation is almost like a suppression in the sense that new symptoms come up or there is no return to a normalcy.  There is no improvement, there is only aggravation and continuing aggravation.  When that occurs it is always because you have got the miasm wrong.  And if it goes on for a long time it is because you have grossly overdone the potency.

What I am doing when I give a psoric person Thuja 1M (and their natural instinct is to push this thing to the circumference) is, I am overriding that natural instinct and saying I don’t want you to do that, I want you to encapsulate that… and eventually what happens is that the person’s own stress response starts reacting negatively to the instructions that I am giving it – that’s to be avoided at all costs. By the time a person comes to see me they are already in a state of stress. What I don’t want to do is to stress them even more.  This is aphorism one – first do no harm.  But you will do harm if you give the wrong miasmatic remedy to a patient, there is absolutely no doubt about it.

The problem for us is that a lot of the medicines are not as unique as we think they are. You know which remedy is good for a headache, which remedy is good for constipation, which remedy has sleeplessness.  You know what I mean, they have all these aspects in them.  So when you do a repertorisation it’s no surprise then that twenty, thirty, forty remedies may come up.  How we have gone about trying to solve that problem, is by individualizing and getting the rubrics down to perhaps one, two or three highly individualized rubrics, which other remedies simply don’t have.  But that is a very hard task – a very hard task.  That’s not saying that the process is wrong, I am just saying that it is a very difficult way of doing it.  There is a much easier way of doing it.  I’ve done that before… I mean I am like everyone else, you know, every homoeopath what they want more than anything else in the world is good results.  That’s why you are in it.  I mean you are not in it for the money, let’s face it, or you are not in it for the social esteem.  You are in it because you want to contribute and the main way that you get that sense of contribution is that people come back and say, “that was great”.  But it’s so few and far between.  And so what we do is, we go on this quest to try and find … try and improve our success rate, of people coming back and saying, “That was great!”.

And, like nearly everybody else on this planet, I have done all of the different theories, I have done the portraits, I have done everything, but I do believe I have come up with a really easy way of being able to do it, where you don’t have to understand fine distinguishing characteristics that separate one remedy from another.

The system itself that Hahnemann … and I want to include Boenninghausen at this point too because when you are talking about the systemization of homeopathy it would be nowhere without Boeninghausen, nowhere.  He was the one who did the repertory, he was the one who really made it user friendly.  And so the idea of putting things into mentals and generals and doing broad rubrics … because you have got to remember that the whole idea of Boeninghausen was the addition of each of these broad rubrics, while they don’t mean anything in themselves, as a group single out greatly.  And so that process is actually right.  But the trouble is that the broad rubrics narrow it down to twenty, thirty, forty and then what we are meant to do is go through the materia medica and now the whole essence stuff comes back in.  Once essence and fine distinguishing qualities come in, your task becomes infinitely harder because of the fineness of what we are looking for.  We are essentially looking for that needle in a haystack.

But if you understand that out of those twenty or thirty remedies, most of them do not have that pushing out centrifugal psoric action as their dominance, and all I have to do is take the ones that are, then all of a sudden I have narrowed that repertorisation down dramatically. And my choice, goes from out of twenty or thirty maybe down to four or five.  Now that’s a big difference and that’s why I can say to most of my patients, “You give me four or five goes at this and we’ll be able to treat your illness significantly”.  And I can do it with that sort of confidence and that comes from that change that I was talking about in understanding the miasms as a natural universal force as compared to what I believe is the more incorrect, biological infection as a base.

About the author

Louise Barton

Louise Barton

LOUISE BARTON
Dip Hom Prof Memb AHA AROH regd

Louise Barton has been in clinical practice since graduating in 1996. She was involved in the Australian Homoeopathic Association (Vic) from 2001, both organising seminars and as President from 2002 - 2004. She teaches at the Victorian College of Classical Homeopathy and has been involved with miasmatic research and the production of her partner Grant Bentley's book Appearance and Circumstance and Homeopathic Facial Analysis.