Face to Face with Misha Norland
NATIONAL JOURNAL HOMOEOPATHY 1993 Mar / Apr VOL II No 2.
Dr Rajesh Shah.
Homoeopathy: The Rock in a Crumbling World
The Foundation for Homoeopathic Research, as a part of the Bicentenary Celebration of Homoeopathy, organised a seminar in Bombay with a leading British Homoeopath, Misha Norland.
Misha Norland is one of the founder members of "The Society of Homoeopaths in England, Dr Rajesh Shah interviews Misha exclusively for the NJH.
RS: Homoeopathy is completing 200 years. What are your
views on the status of Homoeopathy in the world today?
MN: The status of Homoeopathic medicine today is good; it is flourishing. It does so because it is based upon observable phenomenon and scientific principles, coupled with human needs and values. As Kent says, "A homoeopath must see and feel his patient as an artist; see and feel the picture that he is painting". The bringing together of aspects of art and science has been a human desire, most earnestly sought after since well before the age of enlightenment, of which Samuel Hahnemann was a Star Child. The spirit of the age in Europe at that time, sought to set aside the old order and to place in its stead, the rock of reason of scientific principles, out of which the technology of today was born. But the foundation stones of the worlds social systems are rocking still (witness-the effects of the great wars in Europe, the break up of the USSR and the many battles raging here and elsewhere). As belief structures are increasingly called into question, it becomes apparent that inquiring minds and disturbed hearts of awakened people should be searching for meaning and purpose. This is the context within which Homoeopathy is flourishing. Orthodox medicine is no more immune to the potency of the truth of the creative process, than an outmoded social system is to upheaval.
RS: Your school is one of the most eminent schools in
England. You have also lectured in many countries. Please give your reactions to and
suggestions about the prevailing Homoeopathic education worldwide.
Teaching = Practising.
MN: In common with others, I also hope to work towards a growing awareness amongst students of Homoeopathy to create an awareness of
- Themselves, so that they may reduce their own prejudices and develop the high ideal, spoken of by Hahnemann in paragraph 6.
- An awareness and respect for the patients soul, out of which is born their individuality and their personal suffering.
- An awareness of the living truth which we have codified as Homoeopathic philosophy.
- An awareness the depth and breadth of the remedies actions upon the healthy and their adaptation in combating disease.
RS: Misha, you are familiar with the kind of Homoeopathy
being practised in India. How do you compare it with Homoeopathy in Europe?
Homoeopathy in India
MN: I am aware of two major distinctions: firstly, in India, population pressure brings hundreds to the doors of many practitioners and secondly, the presenting pathology tends to be physical. The combined effect of these two factors allows the practice of many doctors to be simplified, in that, more of the hidden interior, to quote Hahnemann, is brought unequivocally to view. Disposition, profession and physical suffering, are least of all hidden from the closely observing physician. However in the West, much is obscured fro view, including physical pathology. The patient tends to be a more complex character, analogous to the many middle class persons who might visit a Bombay practice. Therefore it might be appropriate for a student who may practice in a rural setting, to learn materia medica, out of say Allens Kay Notes, in order to adapt to an indian clinical situation; while for a European or American student, it might be preferable to also study the human psyche, as well as to be acquainted with some of the seminal concepts of analytical and archetypal psychology. I have noted, from such contacts as I have made with Indian prescribers, that they have a great knowledge of facts, of the Organon and of materia medica, than we do in England; however the psychological side of things is not so well appreciated in many instances.
RS: I have observed during my visits to Europe, that the
efficacy of Homoeopathy for the treatment of acute diseases has not been adequately
exploited. Especially in U K, Homoeopaths do not often have to treat acute diseases such
as the Infectious diseases etc. What are your thoughts about it?
MN: From my previous comments, it follows that I agree with your observation. However, before tackling this, I would comment that many children come to Homoeopaths in the west and that their acute as well as their chronic ills are treated. There are roughly five groups of patients, who present themselves for Homoeopathic treatment:
- Mothers bring their children, often for primary health care.
- Having witnessed success in the treatment of her children, she also comes for help, with her acute and chronic complaints. The family pet may be brought along also.
- Adults, usually young, educated persons come for primary health care, because they are intellectually convinced of Homoeopathic principles, while being disillusioned with allopathy and orthodox thinking in general.
- Referrals from local general practitioners. These tend to increase in direct proportion to patients becoming cured. (Note that in Britain, the National Health Service pays the doctor, not the patient).
- Disillusioned, often middle aged and older patients who have tried all manners of treatments and remain chronically sick. Also victims of Allopathic abuse.
MN: It is apparent that there is a great controversy and misunderstanding around these issues. Different practitioners have used these concepts in varying, dare I say, idiosyncratic ways often the core or essence is no more than a stereotyped picture. By way of example, we may cite the Pulsatilla stereotype, as blonde, blue-eyed female. Were we to go to the interior, we might say that she is of an essentially receptive and pliable nature. We might note that this inner psychological posture, expresses itself in easy weeping and ever changing moods and symptoms. We might note that such a person, in order not to be swept away by her ever changing feelings, would for safetys sake, fix herself rigidly to convictions. She might become attached to a religion or a dietary dogma. In order to explain these various interrelated phenomenon, we might ask the question, How does the Pulsatilla patient feel in her essential core?" I know that there cannot be only one answer to this question, I know that for myself. I have developed changing perceptions based on my growing experience. The inquiry is, of itself, a worthwhile exercise, because it sharpens not only the mind but also our perceptions. When we are with a patient, whose physical and mental pathology does not unequivocally indicate only one and no other remedy then we must be a little smart. Our inquiry is, in essence, no different there with the patient than it was earlier with the remedy. We might say, when studying materia medica, we are taking the case of a remedy. In either situation, we ask wait is going on in the interior? During the case taking we want to know what the patient is thinking and feeling.
Dreams = Link to the past
We understand that the root of pathology is in the past and we wish to find what was going on for the patient at that time. This event or event to which the patient was unable to adapt, will be carried forward into the present time in the form of presenting symptoms. The value of aetiology in case-taking, is largely defined by the case-takers capacity to discover the feelings of the patient, at the time of the trauma. It is not always possible for a patient to recall those feelings. Whereas dreams, will often inform us about these, although the language of dream may be symbolic and require interpretation. In other words, we may not find the exact dream in the dream section of the repertory. These core feelings, arising from non-adaptation to the primary situation, may be spoken of as a central disturbance. This, as I understand, is close to the system used by an popularised by Sankaran. I consider it to be a highly refined application of Homoeopathic principles. I know from my own practice that it furnishes consistently excellent results. However it is not easy to remain detached, that is to say, to keep ones own feelings and prejudices out of the process of analysis. Ones own fantasy may get in the way. It is not so much that we become fixed about the remedies, as we are fixed about ourselves and therefore unable to penetrate into the soul of the remedy or of the patient.
Now regarding dreams: It is said that eyes are the windows of the soul. Dreams, I would say, are likewise a window, an inner eye, which takes note of the landscape of the psyche or soul. We should honour the uniqueness of the individual and the idiosyncrasy of the symbolic language of images and dreams through which the psyche speaks.
Also I would like to ask, in all actions what is real and what is dream? The distinction which we make, is often arbitrary, for each is a reflection of the other-its opposite number, if you will. It is a well established rule of dream analysis (although, of course, not the only rule) that the dreamer compensates for the day world in night time fantasy. How well we Homoeopaths know (from our study of materia medica as well as from clinical practice) that action and reaction follow, as day does night, that primary action is followed by secondary action and in the vital forces response to an influence.
Dreams inform us, in a remarkably exact manner, of the activity and specificity of the reactive mechanism. But it is to the West that we must turn, to use seminal work of Freud, Adler, Jung and Von Frauz, in order to begin to unravel the apparent mystery. It is certainly not to the dream section in the repertory! It is indicative of Kents limitation in this respect that dream section is in sleep rather than mind.
Dreams are many things and among their more obvious functions, they inform us of feelings, of experiences long forgotten, and they may be the only echoes of the past that the patient can come up with. Such information is surely not to be dismissed lightly. How to use this information, how to interpret it within the context of the totality of the case, is beyond the scope of this interview.