A Double Take on Maverick Homeopaths
Maverick – an unorthodox or independent-minded person – is often used as a pejorative term. But aren’t all homeopaths mavericks? ROWENA J RONSON and NIGEL SUMMERLEY discuss a fundamental issue – and welcome further discussion from you too!
RJR: We will all remember the first time we visited a homeopath. The majority of us were looking for someone, other than our regular doctor, to support us with our health. We might have been struggling with an issue for which we had not found a resolution, and so we were looking for alternatives. Perhaps we found an independent thinker who had taken the road less travelled in their journey with their health, and had made a choice to make the practice of homeopathy their life calling. I suspect they too had been looking for answers from a maverick themselves.
We come from a long line of mavericks stretching back through the centuries to Hahnemann in the 18th, and before him to the other nonconformist and brilliant souls who would have influenced his hungry, open, brave and enquiring mind.
I dream of travelling back in time to the early years of our most recent renaissance of homeopathy – to the North and South London groups of John Damonte and Thomas Maughan in the early 1970s. Oh, to be inspired by them and be bathed in the pioneering energy and enthusiasm created at those meetings. I would love to lose – and find – myself in one of those first years of the College of Homeopathy, in the late 1970s, in overflowing classes taught by Robert Davidson and Martin Miles.
Although these days we are a little isolated in our own individual practices, scattered across the lands, and on social media platforms where few of us chat and share, our enthusiasm sits within our clinic walls and the conversations we have with our patients. We are all mavericks in our own right. We dare to step out of the box, despite being challenged often on our choice of profession, our point of view, our optimism about health and healing, and our unique, independent way of thinking.
Personally, I focus my energy on what my patients ask of me, which is generally to support them in a way that they have been missing before. They come and find me because they know that I hold myself in my own power and that I am all about inspiring them to do the same. I encourage self-advocacy and personal agency. Those that work with me over time know that I am always searching and learning on my own health journey, and I continually look in and out of all boxes for my answers, for a truth that resonates deep within me.
I seek not to belong but to encourage and inspire, and I welcome others on their own, individual journeys to journey with me.
NS: I used to have a Jekyll-and-Hyde relationship with homeopathy. I was drawn to it because it was an alternative to the mainstream – but at the same time I passionately wanted it to be accepted by that same mainstream as a valid approach to healing.
One of the high points of my years in practice was to be invited to a meeting of local GPs to talk to them about homeopathy and answer their questions – not in an adversarial way but in the spirit of ‘we’re all in this together’. Both ‘sides’ were positive and it seemed to be a great success.
But that was a rare moment. More often than not, I found that I was writing notes to GPs and specialists about their patients and getting not even a thank you. And in my work promoting homeopathy through talks and articles, I found I was continually up against conventional medics, academics and journalists who more or less rubbished homeopathy as either placebo or mumbo jumbo.
I desperately wanted recognition as a bona fide health professional and I saw myself as being a kind of alternative GP. If only what I was doing was validated by the establishment, I thought, I would feel authentic.
But it seemed that the only way of getting some grudging acceptance would be to go down the route of labelling homeopathy “complementary” rather than “alternative”; homeopathy would have to be watered down to be promoted only as a treatment for a few minor ailments: arnica good for bruises, sepia helpful with menstrual problems, nux vomica great for hangovers etc.
I should have seen that I was heading down a dead end. Hahnemann was a maverick, Kent was a maverick, Vithoulkas is a maverick. And what does it matter that the medical, media and political establishments (largely people ignorant about the history, practice and efficacy of homeopathy) are so negative? I now feel there is no shame in being regarded with suspicion and disdain by some among the powers that be (although it remains a depressing fact that they have those powers).
Let’s face it: many of us were attracted to homeopathy because we were mavericks. So let us do our best for those who come to homeopathy – they are the ones who truly validate what we do.
As Bob Dylan, another maverick, observed, ‘to live outside the law, you must be honest’. And that’s what matters.
RJR/NS: Let’s be clear: homeopathy was developed by mavericks, is practised by mavericks, and is largely used by mavericks. Mainstream acceptance of it by the medical establishment, the media and the politicians is probably never going to happen. But being outsiders, we have strength and purpose – and accepting that gives us a powerful connection to the inspirational homeopaths and healers who have gone before. Long Live Homeopathy.
We welcome your opinions too!