As a sometime homeopathic practitioner (up until now having worked mainly with family and friends)in the process of expanding a practice, I have taken the decision to start this blog. In it, I plan to share my musings, discoveries and general thoughts with you, the public.
I had deliberated long and hard as to what could constitute my maiden post. We live in challenging, spiritually empoverished times, and never before has homeopathic medicine (and alternative therapies in general) been under such relentless onslaught from critics and self-styled sceptics. With this being on my mind I decided some kind of a riposte to this cynicism may provide ample material with which to open this blog. Indeed, it seems an appropriate topic, as one of my aims is for this blog to stand as an outpost against the cynics' front, led by Generals Dawkins, Goldacre et. al.
Modern Science and its woes
The hegemonic paradigm governing society's version of reality at the present time is the techno-scientific one as promoted by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Ben Goldacre (to name just two well-known British sceptics). It has taken over all aspects of life, pushing to the sidelines any more nuanced, spiritual considerations of anything from the environment to medicine. Few public figure dare stand in opposition to this monolith, HRH Prince Charles being one valient and notable exception.
I, for one, wholly reject the entire edifice of techno-scientific rationality. It is a system based on the abstraction and filtering of reality through a lens which "creates the objects of which it speaks" (to quote the late French philosopher, Michel Foucault). I.e. science invents a concept and then develops 'technologies' (tools, instruments, medicines, etc) with which to measure and treat this contructed concept. In a further turn of the vicious cycle, these technologies 'discover' new concepts which in their turn lead to yet further scientific 'developments'.
Science takes as its object a reality which is comprised of a multiplicity (more than 50!) shades of grey and reduces it to the simple binary of black and white. Whence the simple one-size-fits-all model of modern medicine which ignores the individuality of each human being and instead attempts to standardize us, treating patients as if they were mere robots rolling off a production line.
I believe the majority of the ills (not just medical) facing modern society arise from the prevalence of this outlook and its all-pervasive influence. Many of the people whom I have the honour to treat come to me because modern medicine fails them. It either fails to recognise their symptoms as a sign of malady, or it fails in its prescriptions of treatment. As I have said above, this system does not represent reality as it stands; it contructs its own version of it. To boot, from car exhaust fumes to modern pesticides, from mobile phone masts to flouridization of the water supply, modern industrial society creates many of the illnesses which it seeks to redress through its medicine.
This is where I believe modern homepathic and alternative remedies come in. Based on thousands of years of trial, error and wisdom these approaches to healing offer everything that modern medicine does not. Recognising that each person is unique and no two ailments are alike enables us to better tailor a treatment system to tackle the inevitable maladies of everyday modern existence.
The adoption of a holistic approach , taking into account all of the influences on the life of the patient is the foundation of this system for understanding reality.
Indeed, although my main interests and speciality lie with homeopathy, I would not for one minute hesitate to refer a patient to a practitioner in a different field (say accupuncture, or Crystal therapy) should I feel that might be a more appropriate course of action for the particular circumstances than homeopathy. After all, this is what the holistic approach is all about: recognising interdependence and accepting our limitations when we reach them.
As a personal note, I became convinced of the usefulness of homeopathy when some years back I developed an adverse reaction to a large satellite dish installed by my neighbours just a few metres from my own house. I had long suspected I had what is known as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (henceforth EHS) as being anywhere near overhead electric cables, or even sitting too close to the TV would make me feel slightly nauseous and dizzy. However, the installation of this satellite dish caused problems of an entirely different scale. Insomnia, nightmares when I finally got to sleep, nausea and a general feeling of mailaise ensued. My sensitivity to electric currents became more and more acute - it got to the point where I could no longer use any electrical device at all (I couldn't switch on a light or even use an electric toothbrush) without feeling ill. Turning the entire electrical supply to my house off ameliorated the condition somewhat (although next door's dish didn't go away). I lived like this without electricity for 3 months.
During this time, I tried appealing to the neighbours to move the dish: to no avail. I tried appealing to the local council: to no avail. I contacted my GP to see whether any treatments were available. I might as well have been banging my head against a brick wall. Finally, a friend suggested I contact an acquaintance of his who was a practicing homeopath. The course of treatment with which I was treated, while it took some time to take effect, was a revelation! I recovered almost to my previous state of health and immediately became a "convert".
Convinced of the benefits of homeopathy, I became ever more interested in the subject and began reading everything I could in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding. In time I even began to practice homeopathy: initially on willing (and brave!) family members, later on other friends and acquaintances. As with many things, word of mouth is the best publicity and ten years since my 'awakening' I stand with a small but growing and loyal client base. I am now even developing new treatments through my own research (some of these homeopathic, others not - but they are, nonetheless, holistic). I have even branched out into Holistic Vetinary Medicine. More on these topics will be posted in the future.
A rebuttal to Sceptics
Occasionally at parties and other such events I am approached by sceptics and asked to explain myself (the audacity!). Dawkinsists (as I call them) claim there is no evidence to support the claims of alternative medicines, whereas conventional medicine is based on watertight foundations.
This has happened (and no doubt will happen again) so many times that I am now well familiar with the uncanny exactitude with which the scenario repeats.
I always begin by patiently explaining the limitations of the scientific worldview (as outlined above) and then citing the multiple cases I have witnessed (or heard about) which validate alternative therapies. "But these therapies are not scientifically testable" comes the response... Yes, my rebuttal of the scientific procees has gone over their heads; I try to approach the argument from another angle. The claims of alternative medicine are simply not amenable to the kind of testing to which science subscribes. Alternative medicine (unlike science) recognises each separate situation on its merits and thus scientific studies lumping all sorts of disparate individuals and circumstances together can not be undertaken. The evidence on which we rely is of a different kind (but no less valid): that of our intuition as practitioners.
Alas, rare is the occasion when the Dawkinsist relents and accepts that like the Yin and the Yang (or oil and water) the holistic and scientific version of reality do not mix; each stands on its own ground and maintains its territory. (The problem is that the scientific is fast encroaching upon the territory rightfully belonging to the holistic).
The connection with spirituality
I do not neccesarily classify myself as a religious person. I am, however, certainly of a spiritual bent. These days, it is not neccesary to adhere strictly to one religion: we can pick elements from disparate faiths and mix them together as a pastiche (in true postmodern style). I might admire the Buddhist doctrine of re-incarnation, the Christian ten commandments, along with the Hindu concept of Karma (to name just a few, simple elements of my own spiritual compass).
The point is, we are free to mix and match (or not, as the case may be) different elements from different spiritualities. I find that many (but not all) of my patients are of a similar disposition when it comes to the unexplained. I also find that many of those who dismiss my work (and are often blunt in telling me so) lack any kind of spirituality whatsoever in their lives.
Again, scepticism of spirituality betrays the all-too-familiar Dawkinsist/scientific trope: embracing the black/ white binary division of nature. I am rather more drawn to the more nuanced and discursive take on the issue, taken by Terry Eagleton and other theorists (sometimes rather crudely lumped together as 'postmodernists'). Dawkins sees the issue of God (or any supreme Deity) as an issue of existence versus non-existence: 'yes' versus 'no'. However, a range of points can be (re)situated between thes 'yes' terminal and the 'no'.
The truth of the matter is nobody can say whether or not a God of some kind exists. Interestingly, I have noticed that patients who do believe in a spiritual force often recover more quickly and with fewer hitches than those who don't.
Hope For the Future
Although currently holistic medicine remains very much on the sidelines, with each passing day it gains new adherents. More and more people are waking up to the problems foisted upon us by techno-scientific rationality and are open to the possibility of alternatives.
The alternative is here and it won't go away! This blog is yet another voice, a voice in a growing crowd that will soon be shouting from the rooftops to demand the replacement of the techno-scientific with the holistic! Watch this space...