This blog talks about interrelations of homeopathy and holistic ways of healing with the world beyond medicine, with spirituality, science and politics. The homeopathic way of thinking and questioning about problems, crises and solutions is extended to encompass more than issues of individual health. During two hundred years of work with crises and suffering we have developed a holistic way of looking at contexts and a specific way of listening, which may prove to be very helpful in collective contexts as well. In a loose series of articles I wish to show this by different current issues. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)). You may distribute and reproduce it in accordance with the license terms.
(Not being a native speaker I apologize for any mistakes and appreciate any kind of amendment.) .
Jörg Wichmann, November 2017
This article was written in the wake of Fabian Scheidler’s brillant book “The End of the Megamachine. A Brief History of a Failing Civilisation” (only in German language yet, English summary and sources see literature below), in which the author gives an overview over the rise of our civilisation and the logic by which it is currently going into a global crisis and catastrophy.
First of all I would like to strongly recommend this book with the slightly strange title. I don´t know of any better interpretation of our civilisation’s history, which sums up the known historical facts with so much depth and knowledge, that a new and more comprehensive understanding arises of the path that has lead us to where we are today. And it shows the possibilities how we could get off this path to the abyss – if we decided to. Those who have some reading knowledge of the german language should take the trouble to read it and everyone else will hopefully get a chance later, when an English version will see the market.
As a small contribution to his thoughts and because this aspect is not fully covered in Scheidler’s book, I would now like to point out the role that modern medicine is playing in the global crisis and the role, alternative medicine can play.
Our health and our body are crucial factors in our self awareness. As a german proverb says: Health isn´t everything, but without health everything means nothing. Here our fears and hopes and possibilities are at stake. Here it becomes apparent what we really believe in and what in this world we really trust in. And in this crucial spot the type of medicine which we choose comes into play; or else which type of medicine is being offered in the first place, which is presented to us as valid, as acceptable and as affordable. Doctors are in german language often named “the demigods in white” as opposed to the quacks and charlatans on the other side. Here we see which kind of imagery is being played on when it comes to the choice of medicine. The established technological and chemical medicine has to defend a multi-billion dollar business and a grand but tarnished reputation and therefore fights with any possible means.
Modern medicine is the main guarantor for us to see our own bodies as mechanisms, which can and should be mastered according to our wishes by means of the correct chemical, genetic or technological interventions. The “war” against cancer uses a military imagery and death is seen as the major enemy of medicine, not as a necessary part of the life cycle. Using the example of our body we are forced into a mindset of total dominance over nature, where on both levels (that of medicine and of controlling nature) the vast (mis)use of technology and of large and expensive ressources plays an essential role. And the responsible actors, the favoured ones and the neglected ones on this planet tend to be the same in both cases.
Among holistic healers a majority of us is seeing themselves as non-political and are only interested in being able to do their healing work well and unhindered for the good of our patients. A majority of us doesn´t recogize that we are playing a crucial role in a much larger ideological struggle about the interpretive dominance over which kind of thinking is regarded as socially acceptable and which governs our lives.
Holistic healing methods are being considered as partisans in the struggle against the “fourth tyranny”. We are the ones to show alternatives that do not only exist “in your head” and can easily be disregarded as harmless nonsense, but that are functioning well when it really matters, when we’re ill and need help. Alternatives that cannot easily be explained in a linear physical way and that seem to be completely absurd in the framework of our established view of the world. (Therefore it is dishonest to talk about “complementary” methods of healing, as we have real alternatives in the sense of the word: methods that have a different origin and that are leading somewhere else. On my way to London it is not complementary at all to embark on a plane to Athens. The aim of holistic health is a different one than to restore my functioning in the industrial works.)
Among these methods homeopathy takes a special place since it openly claims to heal with spiritual /informational patterns only using globules that chemically contain nothing but sugar. Therefore they are being most severely attacked in public discussions. Yet what is said about homeopathy is finally true for all the holistic methods of healing and of counselling – we are all in the same boat! And we have to recognize that this boat is not only filled with healers and their patients but with all those who fight for a world and community more humane and worth living in many other fields of society as well. How fast we are able to understand that the politically left, the “Greens”, the third world activists, the pacifists, the social activists and the spiritually minded, are all in that boat and should all act in concert, this will make a big difference.
For those with a classical left background this can mean to recognize that today emancipatory powers are not those anymore who are holding up sheer materialism and mechanistic theories. Those of us who are arguing for a holistic world view – and healing methods as well -, have mostly deliberately chosen this path as a consequence of insights won in the political struggles of the 70s and 80s. We are convinced that societal change has to be accompanied by changes in our own view of the world, our mindset and our behavioural patterns. Not before I have found peace within myself can I build peace in the world.
On the other hand those who are just busy with their holistic healing and work with the patients, have to move out of their gentrified individualistic hideouts and learn to see their work as a political act as well. We are not under attack in public because we don´t communicate well enough how wonderful our healing methods work or because we bring forth too few scientific studies, but because we are openly standing for an emanzipative mindset that is shaking the foundations of linear mechanistic thinking. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are exponents of a broad societal movement, that doesn´t know about its own full range yet. With us – to say it in Scheidler´s words again – is the central uprise against the “fourth tyranny”.
Be that as it may, a different, more humane, sustainable and survivable society will need a different medicine as well. A kind of medicine which focusses on human beings and not on profits, which does not waste huge ressources for the few while it neglects the suffering masses, and which considers humans as living, holistic and not fully calculable beings. – We can sit and wait for this kind of medicine to be installed by some better government in the future, or we can go ahead to engage ourselves for it, develop it further and go on practicing it. And we should recognize and make others aware of the fact, that this kind of medicine is not just standing for itself and that it is not just about individual health, but that it is working for the benefit of the whole. Individual wellness can be but a short-term delusion. We are all in the same boat.
Fabian Scheidler: Das Ende der Megamaschine: Geschichte einer scheiternden Zivilisation, Wien 2015, Link; Link to English Summary; Link to English Video Lecture
ders.: Chaos. Das neue Zeitalter der Revolutionen. Wien 2017, Link (no English version yet)
Wagenhofer, Erwin: Films „Let’s Make Money“, „We Feed the World“, „Alphabet“
Berman, Morris: The Reenchantment of The World. Ithaka, Londin 1981.
Duerr, Hans Peter (1985) . Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary between Wilderness and Civilization. Felicitas Goodman (translator). Oxford and New York: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-13375-5.
Illich, Ivan: Medical Nemesis. 1975. ISBN 0-394-71245-5,
Mumford, Lewis: Technics and Human Development. The Myth of the Machine, 1967/70
Roszak, Theodore: The Voice of the Earth (1992); 2nd edition (2001), Phanes Press, ISBN 978-1890482800
Simos, Miriam: Dreaming the Dark. Magic, Sex and Politics, Boston 1982. (Being the most important book to understand poiltics and the power of community, that I have come across.)