An interview with George Vithoulkas (S. Waldstein)
Though many people today consider me a fanatic, I have not accepted theories without having direct knowledge of a concept. I never accepted the concept of miasms, for instance, as Hahnemann or Kent did.
AH: First, I just want to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. Many years ago, back when I was really lost studying homeopathy on my own, you were the first person who helped me to understand it. I really appreciate this. Can you explain how you got to homeopathy? The story of your becoming a homeopath?.
Vithoulkas: In 1959, I was in South Africa and I had an accident with my car. Because the car went for repair and I could not visit some friends, I asked for a book to read concerning homeopathy that had been mentioned to me by a friend. His name is Alain Naude. I don’t know if you know him.
AH: Yes I’ve heard of him.
Vithoulkas: I telephoned him and said I could not come to visit because I had a car accident. “What was that book that you had on your desk?” He said, “It’s Boericke’sMateriaMedica.” “Where can I buy it?” He said, “In Johannesburg.” I took the bus, I went to Johannesburg, I bought that book, and I read it right through. Boericke’sMateriaMedica is the first book I read, and I read right through it, till the end. It was such an excitement for me to read these stories, all these possibilities of human diseases! It was very exciting for me. It was like reading a detective story. Alain Naude was connected at that time with a guru who was practicing mixopathy-he was using mixtures of medicines from different companies. I remember one for hay fever, Renoplasm. It contained Arsenicum, and all the Kali’s and Euphrasia and Allium Cepa, and all that. Then I read this book, and I said to him, “My God, this is wrong. What you are doing here?” He said, “Why?” I went back the next day and I bought several books from that same shop. The next time I met with Alain Naude I told him that what his guru was doing, and he was involved in also, was totally wrong. Eventually Alain understood the falseness of that guru and he left him. He understood the correct homeopathy, what homeopathy was. That was the beginning. There are a lot of stories about my time in South Africa.
AH: So that was the first step-reading the books. But how did you get from there to actually practicing?
Vithoulkas: Well, for about three months, I was reading every day. In my work as a civil engineer, I just had to do some supervising and I had a lot of free time. Out of the twelve hours that I had to be on the job, I was working two hours and ten hours I was reading. Then I would go home and I continued to read. I would go to the restaurant, and I would continue to read. In the restaurant where I used to eat, the man got intrigued; day after day I would just sit down and eat and read the books. “What are you reading?” I said, “Yeah, it’s interesting, it’s homeopathy.” He said, “Well, I have rhinitis, my nose is closed, and I’ve use a decongestant for the last twelve years. Can you do something”? I said, “Well, we’ll try.” I took his case and I gave Sulphur, one dose. The reaction was his nose opened. Then his colleague was spitting blood. From time to time he just vomited blood. I took his case and I gave Sepia. He was cured. Then people started coming. That happened three months after my initial study. In these three months, I had studied most of the homeopathy literature that was available. Soon after that, I had cases coming from all over South Africa to be treated. I treated some severe cases, with excellent successes.
Then Noel Puddephat, another good homeopath from England, came. He had a group with one or two medical doctors and the others were non-medicals. I went to meet him, and after two or three hours of discussion he said, “You know, I cannot teach you anything. But I have a group here, and if you like, since I’m going back to England, you can take over the group. So you are the teacher now.” So then I started teaching. In the group, actually, was Sheilagh Creasy and some other people also. I can’t remember their names. So I started teaching a year after studying homeopathy myself. Then I went to India, where I went to different colleges, met different people. I was not impressed. I had a lot of knowledge by that time. The teachers did not like me getting up and saying, “Well, I don’t think this is so.” I was correcting them and things like that. Actually, I would say I was self-taught. It was very difficult for me many times, because I had nobody to turn to, nobody to ask. I had understood homeopathy in a different way than was taught at that time. At that time, everyone was practicing mixopathy. Everyone. It was impossible to find somebody except for some South Americans like Pasquero. When I tried to contact him, he did not answer. Eventually, when we met, he said, “I’m sorry I did not answer your letter back in 1960. ” We met in 1969 in Athens. So that’s the story, more or less.
AH: When I learned homeopathy from you, you based your teachings on the 4th edition of the Organon. What do you feel about the recent attempts to incorporate the changed practices of the 5th and 6th Organon, especially those of liquid doses, Q (LM) potencies, and repetition of dose?
Vithoulkas: Well, basically, for me there are no real differences. The difference is only the dosage and the dilutions-from centesimal to quintessimal, and from giving one dose to repetition with the LM potencies. Otherwise, there are no major differences between the 5th and the 6th edition. Now you say, when you started, all the editions were out?
AH: Well, there were five editions out, but it seems like you were teaching Kentian practice, which was mostly from the 4th edition. Between the 4th and the 5th was the change where he went to using liquid potencies, though still using centesimals.
Vithoulkas: Yes, that is true. Kent was using centesimal potencies like I was. When I tried to use the quintessimal, I found them much weaker-not the same effect. When you are dealing with contemporary problems in health, especially with mental and emotional problems we are facing today, I feel that the LM potencies are not as strong, not as deep and as long-lasting as the centesimal potencies. Now, the question of repetition of the dose is a big one that I have not solved myself yet. I feel that we don’t know everything about the repetition of the dose. When can we repeat, how long we can repeat, what kind of potencies can we repeat? For instance, can we repeat the 10M potency? For how long? Can we repeat the CM potency? How long? Can we repeat 12c? This is probably solved. According to my understanding, unless you repeat low potencies, there is no visible effect. Unless it’s a very sensitive case. Very seldom you just give one dose of 12c and there is an effect. So in that respect, I would say that we don’t know a lot of things yet, and we have to experiment before we have the final answer.
AH: What about Hahnemann’s concept of it not being okay to repeat the same dose twice? In Aphorism 247 he says, “It is an unexecutable project to repeat the same, unmodified dose of a medicine even once, let alone many times.” He goes on to say, “The life principle does not accept such entirely identical doses without opposition.” He is talking about using liquid doses and modifying the dose each time through succussion.
AH: But when I was studying Homeopathy originally, I would read this in the Organon and then I would go back and look at what I would read in Kent and what you would say, and I would get confused. So I was wondering, what do you think of all that?
Vithoulkas: The truth is that we don’t know. Hahnemann was an experimental man-a man who liked to experiment. He changed his mind several times concerning doses, repetitions, etc.-he was always experimenting. In his cases, for instance, you will see how frequently he repeats the dose. But when I say repetition of dose, I don’t mean only after six months or after a year. I also include the possibility of repeating the dose every day, even with a 200c. I am experimenting in this area, and I’m also getting information from people who have done it-repeating a high potency in diseases which are quite hard to cure, repeating a high potency every day.
What Hahnemann was saying, in any case, must be true. That means that repetition has to be modified. It’s better if it’s modified-if it is raised actually, not just simply modified. But how far? To 201 or 210? What is the next potency that’s optimal? These are questions that are not solved yet, and I do not have the answers myself. I have done quite a lot of experimentation and I hope before I die that I will be able to state precisely some rules that really hold. You see, I don’t like the idea that everybody just states his opinion without having real hard facts to support it. I don’t like to come out publicly and say, “Well, you do this or you do that” or “This is the best,” before I am convinced myself, through repetitive experimentation. So at this moment, there is question about repetition of a dose and about repetition of high potencies especially. It is a big question for me.
AH: In the past two years I have been experimenting a lot with Q potencies (LM). Actually, the first thing I tried were the 5th Organon prescribing techniques. I was doing repetition with liquid C potencies. More recently, I’ve been doing them with LMs. Truthfully, I have been finding that I’m really impressed by them. For years I refused to consider using them because all the people who were using them seemed to be doing so in a very routinized way. What I have been doing is using them in a very non-routinized way-even with an LM1, giving one dose, watching the reaction very carefully, and only repeating when I see it’s appropriate. Using it that way, I have found that it’s actually quite a powerful technique.
Vithoulkas: Well, I’ll tell you, there are still a lot of secrets in that respect that I’m not prepared to talk about. This much I can tell you. With the repetition of the dose, the organism which is not aligned towards the remedy exactly eventually gets aligned. So eventually, you may be getting some results with repetition of a dose that are more impressive than if you just gave one dose. But these things are not to be discussed at this moment. I think it’s a very dangerous issue.
I know a lot of Indian homeopaths don’t care about one dose. They prescribe usually on pathology, they prescribe several remedies, and I know they prescribe high potencies repeatedly-50M for six months, every day. Once, when I was in India teaching at a seminar with 800 people attending, I asked them publicly, “Please give me some information, if you have.” Out of 800 people, only one came up to me and said, “Yes, I am repeating.” “What are you repeating?” “50M, 10M.” “Every day?” “Every day.” “For how long?” “For months.” “What are your results?” “Excellent.” “No side effects?” “No side effects.” Now how can I believe this kind of thing? The first time I went to India, I was invited by Rajesh Shah and Sankaran, and they were practicing in this way. They said to me, “Are you giving one dose?” “Yes one dose.” “One time only?” “One time. Why? What are you doing?” They said, “We repeat.” “You repeat 10M?” “Yes 10M.” “For how long?” “Six months.” “You repeat Lachesis 10M for six months?” “Yeah, sure.” “No side effects?” “No side effects.”
AH: I recently heard of a case where someone was giving the patient Lycopodium 1M a few times a day, and then started changing it to Lycopodium 10M. It went on like this for about two years and the patient developed very serious heart pathology.
Vithoulkas: Okay, but I’m just telling you what I heard.
AH: I understand.
Vithoulkas: Because I was really interested. In India, anybody can do anything to their patients, no problem. They can give high potencies, low potencies, they can repeat it, no problem. So their experience is very crucial. Now, when Sankaran heard about me and they showed my video, they totally changed their way of teaching. They said, “Oh, Vithoulkas teaches like this, so we have to teach in the same way.” So they came and started teaching, and now they keep quiet about their experience in repeating high potencies. It is a pity. They should observe, write down their observations, and then it can be useful. I am absolutely sure that if somebody wanted to do some really serious investigations in India, he could go to these people and speak with them and see the end results of what happens after repetitions. I think this is important because I feel, in some cases at least, we need repetition.
AH: One of the most important things I learned from you was to carefully observe a patient. I remember one seminar you gave about thirteen years ago in Berkeley, in which you started showing a videotape of a case you had just taken a couple of hours earlier. You started the tape and all of us homeopaths in the room were still fidgeting, not totally focused yet. We watched the video of the patient walking in, you standing up to greet her, shaking her hand, and sitting down. Then you stopped the tape and asked what we had observed. I remember that my and almost every other jaw in the room dropped open, because we were waiting for the case to begin and hadn’t yet observed anything. You then explained all the information you already had collected in this first 30 seconds or so. This forced me to reexamine how I took cases, and I made changes in it afterwards. What would you like to tell our readers about how to observe a patient and how to take a case?
Vithoulkas: This is a matter of experience-an ability that comes with experience and with interest. If you are really interested in the case that you are seeing, I am sure you will observe a lot of things-because you are immediately connected with the person who is walking into your room to ask for help. Everything that happens to that person is of great importance. And your observation must be correct-not a projection. I’m afraid many times homeopaths interchange observation for projection. That means they would like to see something they projected onto the patient, and they see it of course.
The real secret is to observe without projecting anything on the patient and to get the real facts on the patient and work with those facts. This is very important for making a correct prescription. The moment that you start projecting, you can make any case. You can make a case for Causticum, you can make it look like Calcarea, or Sulphur, or whatever.
AH: When you started teaching homeopathy you taught only medical doctors. Over the years the professional practice of homeopathy by non-licensed practitioners has grown tremendously. Now the vast majority of homeopaths in the U.S. , Canada, England, and many other countries are not medical doctors. What do you think of this development? Have your views changed?
Vithoulkas: Yes. My views have changed. First of all, I have to say that I taught exclusively medical doctors in Greece. But in Europe and America, I followed-at least I wanted to follow-a different path. There was kind of a controversy in the beginning, where medical doctors did not want, or some of them did not want, any non-medical practitioners to be in the class. We pushed the issue and eventually we accepted osteopaths, nurses, etc. as well as professional homeopaths. My argument was, if these people were going to continue to practice homeopathy, it would be better for them to be well educated. It would do no harm to educate a professional homeopath properly; it will only raise his standards of practice. That argument prevailed eventually, and in my seminars they were allowed to attend.
I think that professional homeopaths need to raise their level of medical knowledge and medical doctors need to improve their knowledge about classical homeopathy; I feel both are lacking in different areas.
Now, what would I say concerning who is better? The medical or the non-medical? Really, I cannot say. I think that professional homeopaths need to raise their level of medical knowledge and medical doctors need to improve their knowledge about classical homeopathy; I feel both are lacking in different areas. Some professional homeopaths are very good in making prescriptions, but I’m afraid they sometimes misdiagnose a case, and that is not good.
Actually, I don’t know if you know that I was invited by the European Parliament-the Council of Europe-to discuss this matter. I discussed it with the Minister of Health and with the group that was studying alternative medicines in general. I made the point that classical homeopathy is apart from all other so-called alternative therapies. They were trying to put homeopathy together with all kinds of other things like aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, and all these other kinds of New Age therapies. I told them that classical homeopathy is a very serious therapeutic modality that should be and could be practiced as an alternative, a real alternative. That means it can treat acute or chronic diseases by itself, as a system. There is no other alternative that could be called alternative in this sense. No other modality can treat completely as a separate system. They accepted this view actually, and they tried to separate classical homeopathy from all these other things going on in the therapeutic field. I was invited to discuss this matter and for several hours I was questioned by the ministers of Parliament of different countries. I would like to make this point very clear-I don’t like all the nonsense that is going on with these other therapies.
AH: How many years ago were your meetings with the European government?
Vithoulkas: You know that I got the Alternative Nobel Prize?
AH: Of course.
Vithoulkas: Immediately after that.
AH: Oh, suddenly you got attention.
Vithoulkas: Yes, immediately after that, and because of that actually, because of that award. It is a custom for the European Parliament to invite one of the people who were awarded, and they chose me. They invited me officially to meet the president of the European Parliament, the Minister of Health, the members of Parliament of different countries, and then the specific group that was studying alternative medicine. So I visited Strasbourg and Brussels for two or three days, met all these people, discussed the issues, and tried to bring homeopathy out from the dark. They had put homeopathy into that basket with everything inside. Acupuncture is okay-it’s a serious methodology, and chiropractors, and osteopathy also. But I don’t like this other stuff that is going on. So I created three categories. One is alternative-it includes only homeopathy. The next is complimentary-that means osteopathy, chiropractors, herbalists, and acupuncturists; they can be complimentary to orthodox medicine. Then there is para-medical-everything else like aromatherapy, music therapy, all kinds of supernatural therapies, opening the chakras and things like that. So I separated out these three groups and I pushed classical homeopathy as a serious alternative.
AH: What do you think of the attempts of the Society of Homeopaths in the United Kingdom, the North American Society of Homeopaths in the U.S. and Canada, and other similar organizations, to register well-qualified professional homeopaths and to promote the practice of homeopathy as a separate discipline, not just a specialty of medicine?
Vithoulkas: I think it’s a correct move. Professional homeopathy has to be established as a different profession. It has to have different schools in which some medical knowledge will be taught, like the old homeopathic medical schools.
AH: Most of the homeopathic schools in the U.S. now do teach medical topics, but they’re probably not on the level they should be. They teach basic anatomy, physiology, and pathology.
AH: They could do more.
Vithoulkas: My idea is that this should be more, much more. I think it’s very elementary. Also, it has to be a regular school-a school which you go to for five years and you go every day to learn the art and science of homeopathy.
AH: Right. All the schools in the United States, at this point, are two to three year part-time schools. Everyone knows it’s not enough. But since people cannot get financial aid to attend them, unlike other colleges, it’s unfortunately the reality right now.
Vithoulkas: Yes, that is true, and that’s unfortunate. But I think we have to push towards the establishment of separate schools for homeopathy.
AH: At the time I was studying with you, you never talked very much about miasms, about what Hahnemann discussed in Chronic Diseases. You mentioned the concept, and also discussed it in your book, The Science of Homeopathy, but it never seemed to affect how you analyzed cases very much. Is this still true, or have you changed your use of the principles of miasms at all?
Vithoulkas: That is true. There is no change. I have discussed these issues at length in my school here in Alonissos. But I can give you a very brief idea of the miasms now. It’s an idea that means there are levels that have to be treated in a person before he is really as good as he could be. There are levels, there are several remedies that have to be prescribed in sequence, etc. But to say, from the beginning, that this is a syphilitic case or a sycotic case because of several reasons (which Ortega was talking about)-these reasons I do not accept, I do not feel comfortable with them. If you wear blue you are psoric, if you wear red colors you are sycotic-all this I believe is nonsense. If a case comes to Medorrhinum, I would say, yes, the uppermost miasm is sycotic. If it comes to Thuja, I would say yes. But I have seen these people start with Medorrhinum and then go maybe to Thuja, and later on they will go to Calcarea Carbonica, and then to Mercury. So we are talking about really severe, complicated cases, right?
So the idea that there are several levels that have to be treated by several remedies-it is true. The idea that you have to find the miasm in order to be able to prescribe correctly-that is false. I know some people in India were giving Syphilinum 50M three times a day for six months and then some other nosode at 10M for another six months-things like that. These are dangerous things and I don’t accept it.
AH: Have you heard Jeremy Sherr’s description of miasms?
But there is no remedy that is the deepest. This is wrong as an idea. There is a first correct remedy, a second correct remedy, and a third correct remedy…. It’s not a matter of finding the core remedy. This core remedy does not exist in complicated cases.
AH: Jeremy explains things very interestingly. He talks about an understanding of the miasms in terms of larger totalities. Often we’ll be just looking at one little aspect of a person. If we step back and step back and step back, we can see much larger totalities. The smaller totality may indicate a remedy that won’t cure, but if we can step back far enough to see the much larger picture of a person, then we can find the one that can cure.
Vithoulkas: Steve, I feel these are nice words. However, if you can’t apply them in practice, they mean nothing. Step back-what does that mean in real actual practice? You always step back, you always look, you don’t involve yourself. If you involve yourself, if you project yourself onto the patient, then you go wrong. If you look objectively, if you don’t look with prejudice, then you will be getting the right remedy. But there is no remedy that is the deepest. This is wrong as an idea. There is a first correct remedy, a second correct remedy, and a third correct remedy. And I know this to be true because I have prescribed, for instance, Calcarea Carbonica as a broad picture. Nothing! And then I prescribed Natrum Sulphuricum. Nothing! And then I prescribed Aralia and the case opened. Then, after six months, he got Calcarea Carbonica again and it acted. I have this case on video and I have shown it again and again. It’s not a matter of finding the core remedy. This core remedy does not exist in complicated cases. It exists only in very simple cases, very healthy individuals who will need only one remedy like Calcarea Carbonica or Sulphur or Lycopodium to be cured. These are simple cases without the pathology and of course the results are very good.
I want to tell you about something new that is coming to America. You know that I teach in my Academy here, the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy, everything that I have taught all these years, from A to Z. I teach several groups of people who are coming from different countries-actually about 25 countries. These classes are translated; I speak in English. In these groups I have taught a series of lectures that take a total of four years. Now this course has been videotaped and is going to be projected through satellite into North America. So anybody who is interested will be able to buy a dish and have this teaching. Actually, if someone wants to, they can answer the questions and write the test papers and get the diploma with the school.
AH: When are you going to be starting this?
Vithoulkas: This is going to be started soon. It’s very new technology. You will see me teaching and, on one side of your computer, what I say is will be projected in words. So while I’m teaching, you will be able to read whatever I’m saying, in case you don’t understand my accent. In America they are very excited about it. This is the first time I’m talking about it.
AH: This is very exciting. Do you have any sense of what the expense is going to be like?
Vithoulkas: You need a computer, you need this dish and all the hardware which will cost about $1500, plus the tuition which has not been established yet. But it’s going to be quite affordable.
AH: And roughly, how many hours of instruction?
Vithoulkas: I think it will be around 500 hours or something like that.
AH: Is this equipment that would be used only for this, or is it one of the established systems?
Vithoulkas: No, it would be a special dish for distant learning. A school, for instance, with 20 students who all want to attend, could buy a dish together. It will be very available, any time that suits the students. The reception can be at any time-it can be evening, night, Saturday, Sunday, whatever.
AH: Great, that’s very exciting. Anyway, let me ask you a few more questions. Some homeopaths give a remedy, the patient improves, and then they let that remedy work for a very long time. Others prescribe new remedies for every symptom picture that appears in the patient. What do you think of those two approaches?
Vithoulkas: If the remedy initially is correct it has to be left alone. This is something which again shows lack of homeopathic knowledge. People have a totally wrong idea of what is a good reaction. They spoil a good reaction by interfering with other remedies. On the other hand, there are people who go too far in expecting the to do quite a lot that is not possible to do, and then they miss the opportunity to give a second remedy and complete the cure.
AH: I know that when you started studying homeopathy, you spent all your time studying the repertory and materia medicas, with very great intensity. I find now that many homeopathic students seem to love going to seminars, but have trouble really putting in the thousands of hours necessary in studying the Organon, Chronic Diseases, provings, Materia Medica, and repertories. Is there anything you would like to say to homeopathic students about the importance of these studies?
Vithoulkas: Well, this is true. What I’ve found out more and more is that younger homeopaths try to find shortcuts, try to find easy ways. There are no easy ways. This has to be understood very well. You have to study the provings, you have to study the Materia Medica. The existing Materia Medica, actually, because I don’t trust so much the recent provings. I have written an article about that. Not that I don’t agree with provings, but provings have to be done correctly in order to be reliable. Otherwise, people are just memorizing nonsense. When somebody gives a remedy and says, “Sleep on the remedy, tell me what dream you have” and then all these dreams are recorded as having a theme, etc.-this is garbage.
AH: Right, yes, the dream provings are one thing, but what about, say, the provings of Jeremy Sherr?
Vithoulkas: The provings of Jeremy Sherr are unacceptable for me. Because he gives one remedy, one time, and suddenly everyone in the group develops symptoms. So he writes a whole book of symptoms. This is totally misleading the issue, the question of provings. It is not possible with one remedy, one dose of a 12c or 30c, that everyone will develop all this host of symptoms. I have repeated exactly the Hydrogen experiment in a group of Italian medical doctors, and there was nothing there, nothing to tally with all this information he is writing.
AH: With all those many years of experience, where do you see the limitations of Homeopathy? Who can homeopathy not help?
Homeopathy has a lot of limitations. First of all, it cannot cure any disease when it has reached the final stages in pathology… But in the beginning stages, homeopathy can be a fantastic tool in the hands of somebody who knows what he is doing.
Vithoulkas: Homeopathy has a lot of limitations. First of all, it cannot cure any disease when it has reached the final stages in pathology-cancer final stage (whatever cancer), neuromuscular diseases, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, especially in the last stages-forget it, homeopathy can do nothing. In heart diseases in the last stages, nothing. But in the beginning stages, homeopathy can be a fantastic tool in the hands of somebody who knows what he is doing. You know, the public German television came here to make a documentary and I showed them a case, a man 81 years old. I met him about 16, 17 years ago when he was Parkinsonian. His hand and his lower jaw were just trembling all the time. Now you cannot see anything. He is still trembling, but after 16 years and at the age of 81 (he is my gardener), you could not see that he is Parkinsonian. It’s not totally cured, it’s not gone, but it is better than it was 16 years ago, when this thing was starting. This is what homeopathy can do. But if they ask us, can you cure cancer? We say no, we cannot cure cancer. Nobody should say we cure cancer, even if we have some cures in beginning stages of cancer. We cannot come out and say we cure cancer. AIDS also, the last stages of AIDS, forget it. Homeopathy cannot do anything. In the last stages of chronic diseases, even in acute diseases, when it has gone too far, it is not possible to reverse the process.
AH: What about, I’m trying to remember-was it Burnett who treated lots of cancer cases?
Vithoulkas: I have seen some cases also. But to say that you have cured cancer-it’s a big statement. At the same time, we can say that we can improve a situation, but not cure a situation.
AH: It’s so hard to know in advance, though, what is possible and what is impossible in any one person.
Vithoulkas: Well, with experience you are able to, actually.
AH: Most homeopaths I know get so excited about homeopathy that they have trouble having a balanced life, with time for family, relaxation, travel, and other interests. How do you balance your life?
Vithoulkas: Well, you have to be a genius. Because homeopathy really overtakes you and takes all your enthusiasm and your energy. You know, I think the balance is in the pleasure that you have seeing cured cases. That is the balance, as far as I am concerned. I feel the same pleasure, the same elation, as the patient who has been cured and is now saying, “Thank you, I feel so much better.” This is really the pleasure. You know, somebody who goes to the disco, plays cards, and goes to these kinds of places-for me, forget it.
AH: What makes you a good homeopath? What gifts and strengths enable you to be as good as you are?
Vithoulkas: I don’t know… what I do know is that I am interested in helping people. I found this tool which works. And if you have that secret, I mean, there is a point where I believe there is a click and there is a change when you really have it. “Now I know.” This comes after a lot of application, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of study, a lot of devotion to this science. It’s not an easy science. Nobody who is looking for shortcuts is going to get it, forget it. I mean, there are a lot of teachers who are not able to really use homeopathy correctly. They teach a lot of fantasies. But when it comes to the real test, where you have a severe case… You know, when the BBC was here they said to me, “We’ll make a documentary about you, but we’d like to bring you four cases ourselves. You see these cases in front of the video and then you don’t see them again. We’ll contact them and ask them what happened after the treatment. Do you agree?” I said yes. That’s how the BBC made a documentary on me back in 1985. To say yes to that means you have to have this knowledge and the conviction that you can use it correctly.
AH: The homeopathic community has many problems. Even within classical homeopathy, we fight a lot, we criticize each other. Does it have to be this way? Is there any way we can recognize differences, still within classical homeopathy-any way we can heal the splits?
Vithoulkas: I’ll tell you something that I believe and I have written about it. Criticism, for me, is necessary. Everyone who comes out into the public eye should be subject to criticism; they should be glad to receive criticism. Criticism is not bad when it’s based on ideas and principles. It is bad when it’s based on personal matters-I don’t like him, he’s an egoist, he’s this, he’s that. But if criticism is based on ideas-“This idea, I’ve found it is nonsense, for this and that reason” -this has to be discussed. Otherwise, homeopathy will go to pieces. If everyone just says-“Oh, that’s another idea, don’t criticize him, don’t criticize her”-this, for me, is the death of homeopathy. Hahnemann felt the same, Kent felt the same. That’s why Hahnemann and Kent stayed and all the others disappeared.
AH: What do you think is Hahnemann’s most misunderstood concept?
Vithoulkas: The idea of how the remedy works. He did not explain it well. I think my explanation is much clearer and is correct.
AH: Do you mean the explanation in The Science of Homeopathy?
Vithoulkas: The explanation in Science and The New Model.
AH: If Hahnemann was to come and look at current practice today, what do you think would make him turn over in his grave the most?
Vithoulkas: A few things come to mind. For instance, the idea that a patient looks like an animal or like a flower. If he looks like a flower, that means his remedy is a flower-you know, that kind of idea. Or potentizing anything-a song or the Berlin Wall. I couldn’t believe it. I was in England giving a seminar and they said, “What do you think about the Berlin Wall remedy?” “What is this, did they take some cement from the Berlin Wall and potentize it?” They said, “No, no. They just sit around in a circle and put a powder in front of the Berlin Wall and meditate. Then they take this powder.” “And when do you prescribe that?” “Oh, you prescribe that in cases of a divorce. If somebody wants to divorce, he gets Berlin Wall.” I mean, these kinds of things are laughable, but people take them seriously. It’s crazy. These ideas discredit homeopathy. Of course there are also serious people dealing with homeopathy. But this other type of homeopathy, I feel, should be severely criticized.
AH: George, what’s going on with your Materia Medica project?
Vithoulkas: I have finished eight volumes and I am now printing volume six in English. There is a possibility now that the project will go a little bit faster. There may be another eight volumes, of which I have prepared, let us say, fifty percent.
AH: How many will there be in all?
Vithoulkas: Around 16 to 18 volumes.
AH: Since you treat people from many parts of the world, do you notice any difference in which remedies come up, or differences between the people?
Vithoulkas: Yes. Especially whether a remedy is easy to find or not. I find that, definitely, with people from the Southern Hemisphere, it is much easier to find the remedy.
AH: Why do you think that is?
Vithoulkas: The more you go to the north, the more difficult, the more mentalized, the more emotionalized, and the more complicated the cases are. Definitely. If you practice in India, you can have a lot of successes. If you practice in Norway or Canada or Sweden-forget it. You will have a lot of mentally-centered cases where you have a block.
AH: Have there been any remedies where your concept of the remedy has changed over the years? So what you would have taught ten or fifteen years ago is very different than now?
Vithoulkas: Oh yes, definitely.
AH: Can you give me one example?
Vithoulkas: Caladium. I could not understand this remedy ten years ago like I do now. Palladium is another remedy in which I have a different understanding of what’s going on. Also, to a certain degree, almost every remedy for which I had a concept 40 years ago, when I started homeopathy, almost every remedy has changed more or less. Some concepts have changed much more, some concepts have changed less. But there is definitely additional understanding of remedies as the years go by, and there is no end because there are several facets of a remedy.
An interview with George Vithoulkas (S. Waldstein)