188 to deduce the likely action of compounds that have not yet been proved. This approach was challenged by delegates as it differed so dramatically from the traditional homoeopathic approach to new medicines. His ideas are the subject of his new book Homoeopathy
and the Elements. Radium bromide Using cases that had been cured with Radium bromide, Dr Jonathan Shore discussed the materia medica of this medicine. He also described a proving that he had undertaken with a group of people in Germany. Having had previous experience of proving medicines with this group, he knew that a number of them were particularly sensitive. These particular people received neither the medicine nor the placebo and, in addition, had no physical contact with the provers, yet they described relevant symptoms that had in at least one case started even before Shore had decided which medicine to study. Other papers In addition to the key speakers, papers were presented to the congress by a number of delegates. Drs Neil Beatty and Steven Kayne described an ongoing study at the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of isopathy in the homoeopathic treatment of allergic conditions, and to compare the three most common dose regimes in use at the hospital. Once again, they said, the usefulness of isopathy has been
British Homoeopathic Journal
confirmed. The code has not yet been broken, but there appears to be a significant difference between the dose regimes in use. A chance finding of 300 volumes of clinical records covering the period 1889 to 1923 at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital provided Dr Bernard Leary with the opportunity to study the prescribing methods during this period. He believes that the change to constitutional prescribing and high potencies would have occurred even without the influence of Kent. Dr David Ratsey presented a case history in which he had successfully used Bach Flower Remedies after a previously effective but more classical approach had ceased to be helpful. Dr Kathy Ryan presented a survey of the usefulness of the 9 medicine packs routinely distributed to families in Dr R.A.F. Jack's practice. 61 out of 100 patients who were sent the questionnaire had used the medicines and 49 had found them helpful. A number of overthe-counter purchases and 'surgery contacts' had been avoided as a result of using the packs. An agenda for the exploration of the scientific role and importance of homoeopathy in contemporary medicine was suggested in a paper presented by Dr Jeremy Swayne. He believes that if h o m o e o p a t h y is truly to be at the 'Leading Edge' of medicine each one of us should aspire to more than therapeutic excellence by regarding every patient as a 'research project', about which we should be a little more thoughtful, critical and curious. Research, after all, is only organised curiosity, he said. CHRISTINASCOTT-MONCRIEFF
British Homoeopathic Congress 1997 A personal view When I first heard about the Congress, and saw on the map where it was to be held, I thought that there was no way I'd make it. Ever heard of Crieff? Well, it's about 60 miles north of Edinburgh ... and in addition, attendance does not come cheap. I received a bursary which covered about half of my expenses, but, still, to take me, my husband and two children for all of 48 hours cost us s I wondered why it couldn't be held in a Travel Lodge, or a large B&B, instead of in a hotel the size of Anfield, but, with the kids aged 3 and 2, conceded that the facilities were likely to be useful.
I'd never been to a big homoeopathy 'do' before and was intrigued to see how it compared with a conventional conference. Would there be 20 of us or 200? (In the end there were about 70 of u s ~ u i t e respectable). Would it be relaxed and informal or sniffy and intellectual? (No comment). Would all the consultants sit at the front and the SHOs at the back? (More or less.) There were four main speakers: Massimo Mangialavori (Italy), Jan Scholten (Holland), Jonathan Shore (USA) and David Reilly (who knows, but somewhere short of hairdressers). I had never heard of any of them before.
Volume 86, July 1997
T h e r e is a noticeable p h e n o m e n o n in homoeopathy which is absent from the conventional world, and I have just coined a term for it: 'guru-ism'. It has been apparent on and off since I first joined the Homoeopathic Physicians Teaching Group course in Oxford 5 years ago. Certain names are mentioned with an air of respect bordering on awe, and, on occasion, heading for reverence. I believe this to be an intrinsically unhealthy attitude. Not that dedicated and talented professionals do not deserve credit and recognition, but, first, the true master knows how little he really knows, and adulation is not good for humility. And, secondly, being a master at homoeopathy is not at all the same as being a master at teaching homoeopathy. Something else which perplexes me is the idea of having one lecturer for more than half a day. 'Each of these speakers could do the whole two days, if not a w e e k ' - - a s David Owen said at the outset. Was he being polite, or am I just too impatient? And so to the meat. Massimo went ftrst. In his defence I have to admit that I was presenting a paper immediately after him and so was undeniably distracted, shuffling my slides and wondering where the projector was. Themes and families, I remember that, and a graphical r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of how a given m e d i c i n e appears in the various repertory sections-qmte clever. He suggested that the Mind section is over-emphasised, which is a little confusing when one has spent 5 years learning its importance. 'Open your mind to all medicines', I have written down (not so easy when you only know about 20)--and to look at the original substance, its traditional uses, the myths around it and its (yawn) pharmacology. Massimo then presented a case along the lines, I think, of open-mindedness. A chap of 24 with a very domineering wife, who had survived a cardiac arrest caused by an electric shock. He was at work, and a cable came loose and swung into his face. He saw it coming and, as the saying goes, his life flashed before him. He had to be 'reanimated' (sounds rather quaint) and had burns down his left arm. Not really surprisingly, he had entered an anxiety state subsequent to this, with feelings of his heart, and also his breathing, about to stop. His arm had abnormal sensations, which were very troublesome, and which were relieved by very hot showers. He had these showers several
189 times a day. He seemed essentially to be mentally, physically and sexually paralysed. Massimo decided, without, it seemed, a repertorisation, that the remedy was Cactus (heart focus, left arm neurology etc.) and gave more than one dose of it before thinking again. A repertorisation brought up Latrodectus (sense of respiration about to stop, cardiac orientation, relief with hot bath), and the patient (and his marriage) have done very well on it. So well, in fact, that he gets Latrodectus for his coughs and colds, and anything else he complains of; and has been fine for 6 years. Someone in the audience queried this, saying that whilst he had clearly been in a Latrodectus state at the outset, surely that was not actually his constitutional medicine? Good point, I thought. Good placebo maybe. The afternoon was David Reilly's. He began by asking for a vote on three propositions: 1 'The remedy action can be enhanced by the encounter and the context'. 2 'The remedy action can be inhibited by the encounter and the context'. 3 ' A t t i m e s an e f f e c t i v e t h e r a p e u t i c encounter can make a well-indicated remedy unnecessary'. Most of us voted 'Yes' to the first, David Owen being a notable (and one of the few) 'No' voters. M a n y were unsure a b o u t the second, although on reflection I think it has to work both ways. Most said 'Yes' to the third. David then went on to discuss the 'nonmedicinal' aspects of healing, which I think came down to a sophisticated sort of communication skills. He showed a video of a female patient from whom the SHO had taken a history in advance of his (DR) meeting her. The SHO had felt the lady was very phosphoric and had said they spent the 'whole time laughing'. D a v i d said he was ' i m m e d i a t e l y suspicious'. The patient made a couple of lighthearted remarks at the beginning of the consultation, but David remained quite serious, and her effervescence soon evaporated. She was about 30, and had a 7-year history of aches and pains and fatigue. He drew from her her concern re the possibility of a serious (ie malignant) underlying cause for her symptoms, and allowed that to be safely explored. The phosphoric mask was clearly just that. At the end he asked the lady whether the meeting itself had been of value. I don't know what he does if the
190 reply is 'No', but, of course, it wasn't. He then asked if she wanted a medicine or not, and, if so, whether she would like it immediately or in a week or so. He even asked if she'd like a one-off shot or a regular dose, which perplexed her somewhat. I was waiting for the question '.... and which medicine would you like?' I think he prescribed Natrum muriaticum, but that was obviously not the point. I found this a fascinating and thought-provoking session. The c o n v e n t i o n a l world is of late obsessed with Evidence Based Medicine; in a way, not before time, but it has occurred to me before now that this excludes the essence of the therapy--the human contact. So all you need to dispense with the tiresome task of remedy selection is a degree in counselling/ h y p n o s i s / p s y c h o t h e r a p y , and, preferably, an SHO to do all the donkey-work! The following morning was Jan Scholten. In case you didn't know, the Periodic Table is his thing. He links the homoeopathic characteristics of the elements both horizontally and vertically along the table. For example the gold group is about power and supremacy; the silver about creativity; the carbon I can't remember (I refused to buy his book at s for a paperback). I did find this interesting, but then he moved into rather more fringe territory, relating the patient's birth experience to the mineral substance. The most eyebrow-raising example of this was a video of a child with various symptoms. I thought he might have done all fight with Silica, but polycrests are dirty words in this company. At the end Jan enquired about his birth, and found that he had been a bit hypoxic; he then prescribed homoeopathic oxygen! And, of course, he got better! Some of the audience clearly found this a little hard to swallow, and dissenting noises were made. How do you potentise oxygen? I wondered how many other homoeopaths would have arrived at this prescription, and, if not, as is likely, would he then not have improved? Or might he have done as well with Silica? Is there more than one similimum? Why bother with the rest of the history? Jonathan Shore brought up the rear, as it were. He showed a video of a 47-year-old man who was a quality assurance manager for some environmental company. He was
British Homoeopathic Journal
obviously very bright, with a strong love of nature, but he had had several bad experiences at work. The essence was betrayal. Jonathan prescribed Radium Bromatum and the patient improved dramatically. He then showed extracts of a film about Robert Oppenheimer, the inventor of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer was Jewish and a mega-intellectual, who was drawn out of his academic world by the events in Nazi Germany. Basically his personality seemed to fit very well that of the remedy Radium, which is rather intriguing. Jonathan then showed two further Radium patients (one of whom was also a quality assurance manager) who had as a characteristic symptom skin sensations of 'burning as though on fire'. Around this time I reached saturation point and made an exit, but I thought it was very good. There were 5 short papers presented. One was mine (least said), one by Neil Beattie (I was out feeding the children); one by Bernard Leary (on Tyler & Kent v. The Barbarians); one by Jeremy Swayne (on the scientific importance of homoeopathy) and one by David Ratsey (on using Bach flower remedies along with homoeopathy). At the end of the first day there was a Faculty General Meeting, which was difficult not to go to with David Owen glaring at anyone who strayed near the door. The reorganisation proposals were ratified fairly uneventftdly. The winds of change feel happily refreshing, but, then again, hold a meeting at the end of a long day and you'll get anything through. The social side of the Congress was, I believe, good. With the children reluctant to be more than umbilical-cord distance from their parents, dancing the night away was not exactly an option. I did, however, manage a Scottish reel or two, which isn't bad at 26 weeks. In conclusion, Crieff is an awful long way away. Singing Baa Baa Black Sheep the entire length of the M6 wears a bit thin. I have suggested Manchester for the next location. (Liverpool would have seemed a bit obvious). I do hope you'll join me sitting at the feet of the great and the good, gazing rapturously, bedecked in their pearls of wisdom ... and then come home and be thoroughly rude about them. KATHYRYAN