Discovering Life: Homeopathic Portraits
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What is new in this Materia Medica book?
This book is the result of 8 years work. What makes this materia medica different from others? Why a new materia medica among the glut of existing ones? One of the most confounding aspects of homeopathy, which I have noticed while teaching throughout the world, is the difficulty that both students and experienced practitioners have in translating the language of the patient into the language of the materia medica. This book addresses that need. This is done partly through sharing observations with creative in-depth applications, avoiding a sterile accumulation of statistical facts that would add nothing to the truths and knowledge of health and disease in the human body. A pure citation of the proving symptoms without in-depth analysis would, likewise, offer too little explanation to apply in the daily practice. In addition to providing practical information that is both accurate and rich in detail, this book also addresses a major issue of the old materia medica: the use of cryptic language which does not always resonate with our present idiom. For instance, in Hering's Guiding Symptoms, we can read in the provings for the same remedy both "taciturn" and "loquacious"-on the same page. What can the student of homeopathy do with this information? How does one deal with this apparent inconsistency? The addressing of the dominant miasmatic state of the patient when he presents in the clinic leads to ready understanding of such an apparent contradiction; these expressions refer to behaviors that take place in two different miasmatic states (syphilitic and sycotic).
Some modern materia medicas, in their attempts to offer something new, take the road of the esoteric and speculative, disconnecting entirely from the old provings-a mortal sin in clinical homeopathic application. Others simply take on most of the Masters' cryptic and archaic language without adding anything to it but a few small nuggets from their own clinical findings. The result is that such materia medicas remain, at best, obscure for the modern practitioner; at worst, they may be dangerously misleading. In other words, remedies need to be able to reveal their stories through illumination with additional languages-those of philosophy, psychology, and TCM-while confirming the real provings of the Masters. In such a manner, using accessible vocabulary and describing situations directly applicable in a contemporary clinic, this book tells a fuller, more accurate, and more individual story for each remedy.
This book offers a solution to the difficulties the homeopath encounters in the practice through the application of in-depth, modern psychology and philosophy to the Masters' proving symptoms. By learning how to translate the patient's common language into the language of this materia medica, the practitioner will greatly facilitate her work in the clinical setting. This book is the first materia medica to present modern, cohesive stories about remedies: it is as if the patient were present on consult. The rubrics in the Essential Synthesis, as well as Hering's and T.F. Allen's proving symptoms, are used as references. Provings are primarily from Hering's The Guiding Symptoms of the Materia Medica, with some exceptions: T.F. Allen is indicated, Kent's Lectures on Materia Medica, other rubrics can be found in The Essential Synthesis , Edited by F. Schroyens, Homeopathic Book Publishers and Archibel S.A., 2007 (indicated by their intensity). I have added live cases from the clinic in some remedy portraits in order to make the descriptions even more accurate and vivid; rubrics corresponding to patients' statements are added in the text in italics. (Intimate details about these cases are omitted to protect patient privacy.) The connection with the enigmatic language and symbols of dreams is also broached in this materia medica; it provides a homeopath's introduction to seeing dreams, in an accurate context, for what they are: messengers from the unconscious presenting a view that enlarges, completes, or compensates the conscious attitude. It is beyond the scope of this book to elaborate on dream interpretation (which will be the subject of a future book). But the reader will become aware that dreams are indeed an unconscious reaction to a conscious, individual situation, confirming individuality as a sacred homeopathic principle.
Throughout the portraits, differential diagnoses with common complementary remedies are analyzed, again facilitating the homeopath's work in the clinic by encouraging an understanding of the fine nuances of remedies in the same rubric. Delusions, rather than possessing obscure meanings, are explained and often grouped in a central theme so that their enigmatic message truly becomes the beginning of the remedy's story. Initially, in my student years, I buried myself in thousands of the Masters' papers that were stored in the belly of the medical library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor-the place where Kent once taught homeopathy. I then put the information together for my own use in a manuscript I called Gems and Pearls; this manuscript was available to some of my students, but I never published it officially. These wonderful tips from the practices of the Masters deal mainly with the physical aspects of disease (without neglecting the emotional and the picture as a whole) as homeopathy at that time was (as it still is) far ahead of allopathy when it came to conquering common daily illnesses as well as epidemics of measles, scarlatina, pertussis, typhoid fever, dysentery, malaria, cholera, and others. For the first time, this information is now added and expanded to each portrait to enhance the full picture and to present characteristic, clinically proven physical indications for both acute and chronic conditions of the remedy in question. You will find them under the heading "Golden Tips from the Masters" at the end of each portrait. It must be said, as a reminder, that these clinical tips in no way indicate specific remedies for specific diseases: as always, the totality of the symptoms must be taken into account before prescribing the simillimum. The Golden Tips, though, often serve as a key to unlock the creaky gate to a true treasure.
|Author||Luc de Schepper|
|Subtitle||An In-Depth Modern Clinical Materia Medica|
Reviewed by Henry Stephenson, DVM
Reviewed by Henry Stephenson, DVM
I have just finished reading Discovering Life: Homeopathic Portraits. An In-depth Modern Clinical Materia Medica written by eminent classical homeopath Luc De Schepper.
Because my day job is working as a holistic veterinary surgeon, one could think that there would not be much to interest me in a ,homeopathic book about human beings. However, Luc writes on such a grand scale with universal values that pertain to all conscious beings that I was spellbound. This wonderful, wonderful materia medica is not only about treating a particular type of body that is functioning in a particularly unusual fashion, but is also about life itself, and about how a being's vital forces are continually striving for ultimate perfection, not just to preserve its own health but to live a full and conscious life.
There have been so many homeopathic materia medica published, that when a new one arrives with its particular angle on remedies like; First Aid Remedies, Pocket Manual, Desktop, Comprehensive or whatever series of remedies, we can just say, Ho Hum, not another with all the same dry, basic stuff rehashed. Life Portraits is new and quite different.
The most important thing for me is that this huge book (at 626 large pages), is really enjoyable and exciting reading. As the pages went by I found myself limiting how much I read each day so that it didn't finish too quickly. Luc's basic idea is that at the heart of each being is a cyber delusion that is driving them to do the good and bad things that they do during their existence.
To quote: "Cyber delusion comes from the Greek cybernetes, meaning "the helmsman": he who steers the ship and constantly adjusts the tiller of the ship in response to the information obtained from the environment. The helmsman is the cyber delusion or fixed idea that steers the ship, the sum of the personal conscious and unconscious. Most people are only partially aware of the conscious part of their life and completely unaware of their unconscious forces, so the core delusion, hidden and roaming in the vast unconscious darkness, steers and dictates the ego, master of the conscious (the tiller)."
For each remedy Luc has distilled out what he calls a "cyber delusion", from amongst the many delusions each remedy state has given us in provings. For instance for Baryta carb he has "He walks on his knees", and for Pulsatilla he has "He is all alone in the world". We can all understand these examples easily as they are what we expect of those well known remedies, however there are some cyber delusions that I found more surprising like Sepia's "Her family will starve"; Lycopodium's "He has done wrong and everything will disappear" and Hyoscyamus' "He is being sold".
Luc then goes on to examine and explain why and how that being will compensate and adjust their lives in order to satisfy this core delusion. He does this "how and why" using his many tools of the trade- from his experience of Traditional Chinese Medicine, his own extensive homeopathic case work and also from drawing on his deep understanding of the works of Carl Jung.
On cure Luc says, "Every sickness is a musical decomposition and every cure is a musical composition. The experience of recovery is not unlike a coming out, a process in which the patient- with judiciously applied doses of the similimum- begins to peek out from an enclosed world and reach a place of clarity where he is suddenly freed from the fixed ideas of the cyber delusion."
One thing Luc does very well is cross referencing remedies and he does this also with his analysis of treatment modalities. For example - "An emotion such as fear is addressed in Traditional Chinese Medicine with a correction of the kidney imbalance, but no differentiation in treatment is made for different kinds of fear: fear of crowds, the future, disease, the dark, lightning, failure in business etc. Homeopathy is capable of matching more than one remedy to each kind of fear."
Remedy comparisons run through the text. For example, when discussing the duty issue in Sepia, the personalities to be discussed here all think that their sense of duty is "reasonable", but those who live with them might beg to differ! Duty can be limited to family only, as it is in Kali-c, with the core delusion "an abyss behind her" whose exercise of duty is more like a reign of dictatorship; duty can be focused mainly on one's own person and concerns (Arsenicum), in which case it is called selfishness, and is created by Arsenicum's core delusion "she is being watched and her family will starve"; or a sense of duty can be felt towards the world as in the case of Aurum, driven by the core delusion "neglects his duty and deserves reproach".
At the end of each remedy there is a section called "Golden tips from the masters" that has just that, ten or so clinical tips in which this remedy has been found useful by the old masters. An example is at the end of the Pulsatilla chapter, where he notes that Pulsatilla is useful for "Loss of smell and taste and Pulsatilla is the chronic of Kali-bi." And for Lachesis: "When Lachesis becomes manic she goes on a shopping spree." I don't know which old master he got that one from!
Luc has also interspersed his own clinical cases throughout and these help bring the remedy portraits to life.
These remedy descriptions contain more metaphysical than physical attributes or modalities and Luc incorporates a lot of the actual words from provings in his sentences. These are printed throughout the book in italics. In his chapter on Silica he says "Compare Silica also with Pic-ac, who is ambitious, feels the need and duty to perform well and who as a consequence exerts himself and then lacks will power to undertake anything, and with Argentum-nitricum, an overemotional and often irrational and impulsive individual with weakening mental facilities (he feels very much affected bodily and mentally; he does not undertake anything lest he should not succeed).
And we find this in Thuja. "But Thuja's worst fear is borne out as his memory weakens to the point where he is forgetful on which side of the street his house was." Helplessness is expressed as a constant fear of evil, a strong irresolution, and an inconsolable anxiety about his family while on a short journey.
There are around 50 remedies covered in this materia medica. All the polychrests are here and a couple of lesser lights like Lyssinum (cyber delusion "something terrible is going to happen") and Ambra grisea (cyber delusion "sees diabolical, ugly and hideous faces crowded upon him, especially on waking").
I actually wanted him to do another 150 remedies!
I will let Luc have the last word- "A further goal of this materia medica is to help homeopaths aid their patients in attaining the highest form of completeness: by uncovering what is hidden and unknown in the individual's shadow side, integrating the dark unconscious elements into consciousness, and accepting the soul mates of anima and animus. A great block to personal individuation and the achievement of self-realisation is removed when, with the help of the similimum, a person finds the courage to investigate his unconscious. Once a person becomes more complete through the acceptance and acknowledgment of the skeletons in their closet, and desires to change and integrate the darkness into her consciousness, that person can become a soloist. He can do what so few among us can: achieve ego loss, in the sense of indifference to the opinions of those who are driven by envy, competition and ignorance. He enjoys life regardless. Such an individual does not say, "I enjoy Rome": rather he says "I enjoy myself in Rome." We should remember that wealth and beauty do not last: character and individuation do. Through the investigation of the unconscious, aided by the similimum, the homeopath helps the patient to remove the obstruction blocking his power; then, the patient can make the most advantageous use of the personal qualities he possesses. The liberated individual goes on to live a life full of meaning and rich in thought."
About the Reviewer: Dr. Henry Stephenson is a holistic veterinary surgeon.