Review in "Homeopathy"

Review from:
Homeopathy (formerly the British Homeopathic Journal)

It always struck me as remarkable that in both Medicine and Homeopathy great emphasis was always placed on the analysis of the case history, and yet so little was taught about the methods by which the case taking could be improved. Without adequate information, further analysis is simply futile.

The ‘Problem Orientated Medical Record’ format many of us were taught, focused on a check list of symptoms and gave no space for either the doctor or practitioner to express themselves. A similar approach is often used to elicit homeopathic information, with even less success. To prescribe an accurate constitutional remedy, one must first understand one’s patient, and how his life experiences have moulded him into the person he is today. Unless there is a safe, comfortable environment available, there is no chance of gleaning this valuable information. Most tutors in Medical School, and indeed doctors in the big wide world outside, seem to only pay lip-service to the patient – doctor / practitioner relationship. These skills are so fundamental to the whole process of healing, yet students are left to find their own way. Learning is frequently a rather ‘hit and miss’ affair, based on observation of other practitioners.

The patient-doctor relationship must be based on mutual trust, respect and honouring of one another’s values, yet most of us recall ‘the gallbladder in bed 10’ scenario. Apart from the very obvious denigration of another human being, the potential richness of the patient’s wisdom is lost by this approach. The Art, and indeed the very humanity, of Medicine have often been sacrificed in the name of Science. It is little wonder burn-out and disillusionment are so common in the profession. For those who have not had the pleasure of being taught by Dr Kaplan, this book imparts the experience and knowledge of a respected homeopath, who has discovered, through years of practice, a variety of methods to improve one’s case taking skills and strengthen the relationship with one’s patients. This is ‘Page One stuff’ for all practitioners, yet despite being so essential, the book is so rarely taught. Written in an informal style, it is exceptionally easy to read. The style is fluid, entertaining and very informative. Although the main emphasis of the book is obviously the homeopathic conversation, there is much more included.

Dr Kaplan shares his personal journey from Medical School into Homeopathic Practice, a story that will resonate with many of his readers who also have been ‘brutalised’ by the methods of teaching and work experiences, victims of their superiors with ‘personality disorders’. There is a healthy injection of humour throughout the book! Dr Kaplan’s evolution as a homeopath and the main influences on his development are described. This is not a recipe book for the perfect case taking, more a sharing of valuable information on how each and every one of us can progress in our own unique way, and continually improve. After all homeopathy is all about individuality!

Dr Eric Ledermann was a profound influence on Kaplan, introducing him to the world of philosophy and psychology. By learning counselling skills and exploring these subjects, he brought fresh ideas and methods into his homeopathic conversations. Some branches of psychology were not for him; he dismisses Neuro-Linguistic Programming as being ‘too contrived and manipulative’ to feel comfortable with. That is a matter of opinion! Dr Kaplan feels more at home with Provocative Therapy, at which he excels. It is essential that each of us choose the technique that best suits us, yet be sufficiently open minded to appreciate that there are many means of achieving our aim. There has to be a balance between theoretical knowledge and the practical, Science and the Art. An encyclopaedic knowledge of the repertory and Materia Medica will not suffice.

After almost 20 years in Homeopathy, Dr Kaplan is a veritable gold mine of useful tips on managing a successful homeopathic relationship. He seamlessly blends the wisdom of Hahnemann with modern psychological theory, drawing in the theories of other disciplines. Examples abound to illustrate the concepts. He has many practical suggestions on how to elicit more information about the patient. Their art work, choice in music, appearance and body language are all potentially instructive. Often an ‘intuitive’ prescription is actually founded on a subliminal absorption of details. The more open the practitioner, the more reverent and still, the more this method can be utilised.

The book is aimed at all homeopathic practitioners, whatever their level of experience. We are all students of our profession and always have something new to learn. It is my hope that this book is placed on the essential reading list of every student of homeopathy.

Review by Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) MFHom