In 2011 I was asked by Alan Schmukler to submit my thesis on the history of homoeopathy in Australia, which I did and is now available under research articles. Alan has asked me to contribute another article to Hpathy.
I refuse to believe we have come full circle and I am writing about the end of Homoeopathy in Australia. The slanderous attacks on Homoeopathy in the press and social media over the years have certainly left their marks on the community here. I personally believe it is vital to compare history with what is happening right here and now. What is occurring now is almost like a blueprint from the past and the repetition is staggering.
Remember the Flexner report in 1910 in the US? This collaboration between Government and the American Medical Association lead to the closure of many homoeopathic medical schools during this period. Consequently less homoeopathic practitioners were trained and homoeopathy struggled to survive. Once homoeopathy lost its stronghold it became open to ridicule. The arguments against our healing art were the same as they are today only that our scientific studies are now simply ignored.
A few months ago homoeopathy was declared to be ineffective by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Not surprisingly, our Australian Medical Association decided to jump on the band wagon and declared that it is unethical to sell homoeopathic products. The word dangerous was used, suggesting that the public should be protected. How considerate.
The readers of Hpathy would be aware that this mockery of investigations and court cases against Homoeopathy has been ongoing especially in the last 5-6 years. It seems to me that the English speaking countries are especially affected.
How is this for a timeline? In 2005 propaganda against homoeopathy hit the internet and social media with more intensity than ever before. By 2010 the sceptics had organised and staged a global event. They hoped to demonstrate that homoeopathy is ineffective, by publically ingesting and overdosing on whole vials of homeopathic remedies. In the same year the House of Commons in the UK declared homoeopathy no more effective than a placebo.
In Australia the sceptics and other thug associations became louder and more aggressive. Blogs and other social media were used for slander campaigns and endlessly repeated degrading messages about homoeopathy. The tone used became more intimidating and rude. (See “Internet Troll” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll & “Astroturfing” The sad thing is that there are only a handful of these individuals. However, they have both the time and the means to link up, swamp the internet and meet up in conferences around the globe to inform each other how to bring down the “Cinderella sciences” like homoeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic.
We have a very special sceptic here Down Under. She is trained in media, partly in psychology and likes to be photographed in shirts or headbands featuring skulls for crying out loud. I never dreamed that my profession would be attacked and attempted to be brought down by someone dressing like pirate!
A Blueprint for Survival
In the meantime, how does it feel to live through times like this? Knowing the history of homeopathy is knowing that this has happened before. Hahnemann was constantly on the move, and his son Frederich left good old Germany after being challenged by chemists in the town where he successfully practiced.
A change of location is not what I am planning to do. My practice is undoubtedly affected by the constant slander homoeopathy receives. Getting up in the morning and hearing that all the television and radio station report that it is dangerous for people to see their homoeopath, is utterly heart breaking. Even more so because I grew up in East Germany where the government suppressed free speech and anything that was off the beaten path. So what can we do in times like these?
First of all, watch out for Government inquiries. History has shown that they are usually not favourable towards homoeopathy unless you live in Switzerland. It is vitally important in times like these to put differences aside amongst our professional peers. Every association should be mobilised to take an active and ONGOING role to educate and advertise the benefits of homoeopathy. If things have gone too far already, talk about freedom of choice. Write articles and join blogs talking about what you can do specifically for certain conditions. Encourage your patients to tell their success stories in blogs and other social media forums. It is in most cases utterly useless to engage in any conversation online with trolls.
Try to develop a calloused skin when it comes to criticism. Your patients don’t want to hear how difficult it is to be a homeopath, they want you to be in control and to be reassured that their treatment continues. When someone asks you to comment on an attack on homoeopathy, put your best smile on and state how threatened the pharmaceutical industry must be to resort to such tactics.
Staphysagria is indeed a good remedy. Hahnemann also knew its benefits and even alternated it with Arsenicum the day his first wife died and he got a letter that the hospital built in his name allowed patients to choose their treatment between allopathy and homoeopathy. That was the only time he took two remedies on the same day!
Find out what you can about your country’s own internet trolls. However, don’t underestimate their effectiveness in swaying popular opinion. There is no denying that their methods are very effective. It doesn’t matter how ludicrous their comments are, don’t go into direct explanation. Learn from the enemy and repeat a positive message over and over again so it can’t be contorted.
Our colleges should support post-graduate studies featuring marketing and media courses. I once met a Homoeopath from the UK and she pointed out that part of the training in the UK is for students to hold homoeopathic first aid courses to promote homoeopathy. Everyone is different – some of us are happy to stand in front of an audience others choose the pen as their sword. The main thing is to do something to save the image of our healing art.
A good friend of mine, the herbalist Jesse Sleeman, reminded me that when Monsanto pushed for their GM foods to appear unlabelled in supermarkets, the organic food industry rose to fame and became one of the fastest growing food industries. Who would have thought that today one of the major fast food chains is now reporting a loss of income? Let’s get organised.
We are living in interesting times. If anyone reading this either has some good advice or is in need of support please don’t hesitate to contact me via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heike.bishop
I also would like to thank the team of Hpathy. You have been a lifeline.
My late teacher and family homoeopath gave me a piece of the German Wall after I graduated. This is a potent symbol that impossible things CAN happen. Maybe we face a time when oppression is showing people how important freedom of choice is, particularly in health care.
May the vital force be with you!