Prof. Neal White highly recommends The Homeopathic Revolution as a rich source of historical information on homeopathy.
by Prof. Neal White*
Title: The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy
Author: by Dana Ullman (Author), Peter M.D. Fisher (Foreword)
Publisher: North Atlantic Books (October 16, 2007)
The name and life work of Dana Ullman, MPH should be familiar to practitioners of homeopathy around the world, and especially in the English-speaking world. Indeed, in America, his name and service to homeopathy is certainly well known to every practitioner and to many grateful laypersons that rely upon the resources he offers them. His justified fame comes not only through the publication of his own fine books, but perhaps even more actively through his dedicated directorship of the Homeopathic Educational Services, based in California but accessible to the world by mail order and online. I daresay most American students and practitioners of homeopathy could hardly survive without this well established, reliable, and highly respected comprehensive source of books, media, software and publications focused on homeopathy. Through the resources of the Homeopathic Educational Services and his popular books, I believe Ullman has done more to educate, inform and thereby advance homeopathy in the United States than any other single individual. As such, any new book by Ullman is well worth the attention of the practitioner or anyone interested in this fascinating branch of healing, experiencing a rebirth in the 21st century–to a significant extent, midwifed in America by Ullman. His latest work, The Homeopathic Revolution (North Atlantic Press), provides a rich source of historical information on the source and rocky road of homeopathy by tracing its history and with brief biographies of its pioneers and patients.
The Homeopathic Revolution through its highly readable text and uniquely appealing approach can be very valuable indeed for opening some minds which might very well be more influenced by the personalities and famous exemplars from the history of literature, the arts and sciences and entertainment since the advent of homeopathy in the early 19th century through the present.
In an age of Media where fascination with the personalities of the public world, there is a particular attraction to the use of the famous as exemplars, including the wide spectrum of those offered by the book, i.e., the many special and admired people who have been documented as devotees of homeopathy. The devotees of those devotees will certainly have their minds opened by the examples set. Although more detailed history within a broader historical setting may be found in Coulter’s multi-volume history, Ullman’s book provides something rather different in spite of the inevitable overlaps in historical material and considerably more entertainment through the fascination of an historical play and its players.
There will probably be rather fewer serendipitous surprises for readers already familiar with homeopathy’s history through Coulter, et al, in discovering celebrities of the past and accounting for homeopathy’s struggle for survival, than for someone more or less unfamiliar with homeopathy’s struggle for recognition and survival. However, the struggle of homeopathy to achieve and maintain its unique approach is an heroic one, on the grand scale and worthy of more historical/personal treatments which characterize Ullman’s book, especially given the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of celebrity worship and the cult of the personality in our media-influenced society. But I do not mean to suggest that this is merely a tantalizing read, with homeopaths as heroes. The book should prove a powerful raiser of consciousness among readers who might not otherwise give homeopathic treatment a try, influenced by its popularity among the great and famous.
From other perspectives, the book offers interesting insights and syntheses of the historical, biographical and scientific. For example, of fascinating interest is the repeated presence and reference to the great 19th century naturalist whose theories of evolution and the origin of species through natural selection also constituted a revolution… Charles Darwin. I found the Darwin’s appearances in the story especially relevant in an account of the origin of homeopathy and its descent in man and the survival of the fittest… i.e., in the evolution of medicine. Homeopathy appeared and gained its place in medicine at a time when allopathic medicine offered little in the way of effective treatments for most diseases and was making real progress only in the mechanics of surgery and sanitation. Once allopathic medicine found itself threatened and hired a PR expert to promote itself and discredit its more effective competition, the historical equivalent to Darwin’s concept of mutation (here in the form of the Madison Avenue approach to conditioning a population regarding choice of medical care), homeopathy faltered and almost disappeared into extinction. Yet, it survived and I am reminded that although the incredibly powerful and once dominant dinosaurs are today apparently extinct and so one might not think “fit” enough to survive, it is also clear that the dinosaurs actually do survive everywhere on earth as birds. That is, their survivors adapted to fresh forms to preserve their unique genus and genius…. which is what I believe happened, and is happening, to homeopathy. Far from becoming extinct, it is surviving, not only reappearing in its classical forms far from its birthplace (e.g., in India, a land with a history for tolerance of diversity in thought) but in new forms (e.g., complex homeopathy, EAV and vegatesting).
For myself, reading through the book felt like a guided tour through a wax museum of homeopathic history, a Mme. Tussaud’s of the Similimum, pausing at each of the bigger than life statues as Ullman profiled the intriguing personalities who populate the history of homeopathy and thereby define it in a personal way. It is an impressive cast of characters in the saga: US Presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton, Benjamin Disraeli, numerous Indian political and religious leaders in particular (India, to its great credit, seeming to be the land of the second coming of homeopathy), many famous females, e.g., in medicine, Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton, in civil rights Susan B. Anthony, and Louisa May Alcott and fellow literary luminaries such as Mark Twain… and a stellar cast of 19th century authors. Perhaps even more impressive than the more traditionally open-minded masters of arts, are homeopathic partisans among plutocrats like J.D.Rockefeller, many monarchs including, most famously, the present Queen of England and Prince of Wales, And as for musicians, actors, athletes and other entertainers, I feel hopeless to know where to begin listing the superstars who depend upon homeopathic treatment. Ullman skillfully weaves literary references to homeopathy with historical excerpts to humanize the generations of some of the cream of human creativity and productivity who respected or depended upon homeopathy for their health. Of course, many physicians appear in the account, most of their names unknown to the layperson, but influential both in the progress and preservation of homeopathy as well as in its defamation by the public relations office of the American Medical Association, whose outlandish melodramatic antics (including outright blackmail) beggar belief.
As an alternative medical therapy, homeopathy is about people, after all. With a few exceptions, since most new books about homeopathy are about technical praxis or theory, I had to keep reminding myself of this personal slant– that homeopathy is also a history, which reflects the vagaries of the human personae. However, since I myself admittedly have a theoretical bias, the following comments address that orientation:
I especially appreciated how larger, important issues of society seem to naturally arise in the narrative –e.g., the account of the relationship of feminism to homeopathy, a correlation which has long fascinated me as a reflection of a powerful, arguably essentially feminine, energy in homeopathy insofar as it is a gentle, relatively non-intrusive and nurturing form of therapy compared to the more aggressive allopathic interventions. Other issues which I have always found interesting in homeopathy, which are integrated in the saga, address include the notable presence and influence of Swedengorgian ideas. The fundamental commonality of Swedenborg’s cosmology to certain Asian metaphysics has also struck me–e.g., Jainism. Both Swedenborg and the Jains perceived the universe metaphysically as a macrocosmic physiology. Other Asian philosophies are also compatible with homeopathic concepts. For instance, the basic meditation methods advocated in early Buddhism (and still practiced more than 2500 years later) include a visualization of the pathological counterparts to desire and attachment, which along with a fundamental delusion about the materiality of the ego, constitute the source of suffering. Such meditations (e.g., charnel ground meditations, etc.) are essentially homeopathic in their psychodynamics.
Related to such western (e.g., Swedenborg) and Asiatic (e.g., Jainism, Buddhism from Theravada to Dzogchen) spirituality is increasingly Dr. Rajan Sankaran’s evolving and innovative theoretics — his conceptualization of the alien (and alienating), nonhuman realms of the vegetable, mineral and nonhuman animal kingdoms as energetic pathological entities — also resonates with ideas in all three paradigms (e.g., the Jains believe that animals, vegetables and even minerals are sentient, accumulators of pathogenic karma, etc. likewise the realms of rebirth which karma propels human beings according to their conduct, also include the same kingdoms which materialize energy on earth and which can be diagnostically identified in Sankaran’s theory of sensations.) Interestingly, the old title given to psychoanalysts of “alienist” would seem to better apply to Homeopaths using Sankaran’s diagnostic criteria for locating the remedy in the alien energy present in the patient.)
For me, the crucial key is the understanding and finding homeopathy credible is to embrace the concept that homeopathy functions essentially non-materially. This concept is the least palatable and digestible to conventional allopathic thinking because of its belief that the human being is a material being. Buddhism, in particular, clarifies the nonmaterial nature of human beings, that its apparent corporeality or materiality is the fundamental delusion in the aetiology of suffering (whether it is experienced physically or psychically). For anyone who accepts this metaphysical model (e.g., me), the concept of the treatment with nonmaterial remedies of essentially nonmaterial suffering in essentially nonmaterial humans makes profoundly perfect sense…
(By the way, if the reader has not already read it, may I suggest Prof. B. Alan Wallace’s excellent book, Choosing Reality? If the readers of this review are unfamiliar with Wallace, he was trained as a physicist but became a Buddhist monk. A translator for the Dalai Lama and now a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Wallace’s book analyzes the so-called “scientific method” (is it really scientific) which allopaths claim to employ and compare it with other valid means to knowledge. The “weakness” of homeopathy being “tested” by inappropriate methodology more suited to allopathy, and found wanting, can be better understood by the insights of this brief but invaluable study of the assumptions and intellectual monopoly of the so-called scientific method. Although I do not recall that it mentions homeopathy or even medicine particularly, I found this slim volume to be one of the best catalysts for opening the mind to unfamiliar, if not unorthodox paradigms. It is readily available, in print by Snow Lion press.)
From these contemplative digressions inspired by the thought provoking contents of Ullman’s The Homeopathic Revolution, one can perhaps get a sense of how inspiring of an integrative and connective thought this very enjoyable book was… and, for me, that is the highest praise of a book, being, for me, the most important potential of any work of art, including literary (even when nonfiction) is to invite, catalyze and inspire the participation of the creative imagination of its audience, and so inspire synthesizing gestalts to be created by making the insightful connections which unify knowledge and inspire as the antecedents of wisdom.
*Prof. Neal White is Emeritus Professor of San Francisco State University, where he taught for 25 years. He is a complementary medical practitioner, whose practice includes not only homeopathy, but also a variety of acupuncture paradigms, herbalism, etc. He is supposed to be retired, but continues his work in the healing and visual arts in Nova Scotia, Canada.