I first met Harry in 1980 when he came to the National Center for Homeopathy’s summer school at Millersville to deliver the lecture on the History of Homeopathy. I had, in the two weeks before he came, read his first two volumes of Divided Legacy at the library that the NCH had at the school. I had some questions for him and I recall that he was impressed that I had taken the time to read the books.
By the next year, the “great unpleasantness” had happened between the NCH and the AFH, and Harry was not going to be doing the history lecture. I asked Henry Williams, MD, who was Dean of the program, if I could do it in his place. He said “yes,” so I took my notes from the year before, and re-did them with Harry’s Volume III at my side. It was the beginning of my involvement in homeopathic history.
When I first prepared my homeopathic slide show, “The Faces of Homeopathy,” I showed it to Harry to make sure all my facts were straight. At one point I said something and Harry said, “Really? That’s fascinating! Where did you find THAT?” “Well,” I replied, “I got it from your book.”
A number of years ago I was attending a meeting that the IFH was holding in Seattle. Both Harry and I were there, although we were not on the program. Andrew Lange, ND, was doing a brief presentation on the history of homeopathy. Harry and I sat in the front row. Andrew looked down and said, “Hey! You are the two who should be up here!” We chuckled. Andrew became nervous.
I was looking forward to doing this interview and I find that Harry’s recounting of the upheavals within the homeopathic ranks in the late 1970’s to be frank and very healing. Perhaps all those who were involved in those strange times can now put it behind them.
I’m proud to count Harry as a friend. His literary contributions to homeopathy are well known, I believe that their importance (and Harry’s magnificent presence) will only be fully understood or appreciated sometime in the future. His writings are truly monumental -JW.
AH: You are so known for the books that you’ve written on homeopathy, they are such masterful books -how did you become interested in it?
Coulter: It was nothing that I ever planned for. I started out to be a Russian specialist -a specialist in Soviet politics -with an ultimate aim in going to work for the CIA (chuckle)-which is not the usual career route that people take who end up in medicine.
When Katya and I got married she was suffering with terrible allergies. So we had to search around for a doctor for her right after we were married. We eventually took a vacation in France and someone told us that she should try to see a homeopath. So that’s how we got started in homeopathy.
I remember going to this doctor, his name was Pierre Dassonville, and he was not a unicist -he was not a single remedy guy -he gave us a box of remedies: one for cough, and one for chills, and one for headache, and one for this -but they worked pretty well (chuckle) and Katya was very happy with him. So we got back to the states and half of her allergies disappeared within the first couple of weeks -We didn’t realize that the other half would take ten years -but the first half went away very quickly. And after ten years or so of homeopathic treatment she was largely cured of her allergies.
What was really amusing is that after we went to him the first time he said that he’d have to study the case, and we should return the next day. When we came back he told us that he had consulted with a great doctor from the United States -a Dr. Kent -and that he agreed on the course of treatment.
When we were ready to leave France, we asked him if he could give us the address of this Dr. Kent *, and he replied, “Oh no! He’s been dead for years!” We didn’t know about the repertory and thought that, surely, this man must have psychic powers!
Fortunately, when we returned, we found that Dr. Elizabeth Wright-Hubbard was almost around the corner, so we began our American Homeopathy with her.
So, I was at Columbia University and had just finished my comprehensive examinations for my PhD, and I had to decide on writing a doctoral dissertation. I was going to write on the Soviet subject, and I had started a dissertation on it, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t get decent material, and I was very dissatisfied. And then I kept thinking more and more that I should do something about homeopathy so I ended up doing that, changing over, and writing the dissertation on a homeopathic subject.
AH: How did they take that?
Coulter: They were very unhappy with it. They said I had no business writing on the subject because I’d never taken a course in American history -I was strictly a Russian specialist. So the department would not accept it. At that time, Katya and I were moving down here to Washington -I was trying to get a job with the Federal government -so I found myself here quite unexpectedly. I went to see Dr. Panos, who was practicing in Washington at the time, to see what books she had on homeopathy so I could keep on studying. She said, “why don’t you go to the National Library of Medicine? They have a lot of books there.” So I said, “What’s the National Library of Medicine?” Well it was this beautiful new building -it had just been built the year earlier -before that it had been this cramped little library in the middle of town. It’s a beautiful building out in Bethesda. It’s the best medical library in the world.
So I went out there and saw the fantastic resources that they had there. They had a million and a half or two million books on medicine. It is really an amazing collection. So I decided that I’d write my doctoral dissertation right here in DC, using this library as my basic resource. That’s when I decided to do the dissertation.
So I went back to Columbia University and told them that I wanted to write on this subject, and they said “no.” So I said, “OK. So I won’t get a PhD. I’ll just write it as a book.” So I assumed I wouldn’t get the PhD. I wrote from 1963 to 1968. For five years I worked on this. I got a big manuscript together -800 pages.
I was back in New York one time, and I went to see the Dean of the Grad School just to pay him a courtesy call, and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was writing this book, but the department won’t accept it as a dissertation because it’s on a different subject. So he said, “well…” Now this was in 1968. It was in the middle of the student rebellions and the Students for a Democratic Society. The students were actually physically assaulting professors and taking over classrooms and threatening to burn the university down, and one thing or another. So the Dean, who had been the chairman of the Department of Political Science before, said, “well, I don’t see… well, you’re doing research. And at least you’re not trying to burn the University down, let’s see what we can do for you.” So he called up the head of the department (who obviously would pay attention to what the ex-head of the department would have to say) and told him, “I want you to appoint a committee for Coulter. I want him to get his PhD.” And that’s how we got around it. I got the PhD on an unsponsored dissertation written on a topic entirely outside the subject of my University studies. (laughs). That’s pretty unusual!
AH: That turned into which book?
Coulter: Volume Three of Divided Legacy. When I wrote it as a book, the more I got into it, it became obvious to me that homeopathy was not what I thought it was. Originally it seemed as if homeopathy was something that Hahnemann had just invented. But I could see that it was very much connected with what had happened before, and there was some things that happened later, so I just arbitrarily called that “Volume Three”-assuming that there probably would be two more before and one after, but I wasn’t sure. Then after that I wrote Volume One, then Volume Two, and then, much later, Volume Four.
AH: How did you get into the Russian thing?
Coulter: I started to study Russian when I was seventeen. I don’t know why. I’ve talked to a couple of occultists who say that I was a Russian in a previous incarnation -which is as good an explanation as any. I don’t know why. Well, it was 1950 and the Korean War… the Soviet Union was a big issue in those days. We were all wondering about World War Three. So I thought it would be a useful thing to learn. I don’t have any Russian blood -I’m purely Anglo-Irish.
AH: The work you were doing. Was that involved with the Russian you had learned?
Coulter: I had applied for jobs in the government -both a general job and one in the diplomatic service. I got offered three or four jobs: a job in the foreign service -I passed the foreign service entrance examination; a job in the Navy department; one in NASA; and one in another department as well. But at that point I decided that what I really wanted to do was be a writer and historian, and to write these books -this book anyway. So I made a pretty important decision not to pursue a career in the government -not to accept one of those jobs -which meant working nine to five and being responsible for whatever. So I took a job as an interpreter with the State Department, which had a much easier schedule and where I wasn’t tied down after hours, and I could figure out a way to write the dissertation. Then, after two years, I found out it was too constricting, so I resigned from the State department and became a free-lance interpreter in Washington -mainly self-employed -which is what I’ve been ever since. That was even better because then I could work only six-months a year. Interpreting has always paid rather well. Now it pays me three to four hundred dollars a day which is perfectly good money. If you are only working six months a year you can live with that quite well. That’s how I managed to combine earning a living with doing all this research. I only once received any financial assistance -the homeopaths gave me $15,000 one year to write Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine -but I never received any other financial assistance from anybody.
AH: I was watching television once and Yeltsin was on, and he had an interpreter. I heard the voice and said, “I know that voice. My God! That’s Harry!”
Coulter: Yeah. I was Yeltsin’s interpreter the first time he came to the United States, before he was President. He was a private citizen. We had a pretty rocky trip. (Chuckle). He was a guy that was hard to keep under control.
AH: How did you get that job?
Coulter: Well, I was pretty well known by then. There’s four or five interpreters who are considered to be the top of the profession here, and I’m one of those. My friends in the State Department who interpret for the President -who do the diplomatic stuff -they’d be the top. I don’t do that because they don’t hire people from the outside for the President. If I get called in for a State Department function it would be for a lower level, because the staff people handle the higher stuff. On the other hand, when guys like Shevardnadze came over, or Gorbachev came over, or Solzhenitsyn came over -I’m the guy who gets those calls.
AH: You must have some interesting stories about those times!
Coulter: Oh my, yes!
AH: Are they sharable?
Coulter: Some are and some aren’t! Let me think. (Pause). Well, either it’s very dull or its terrifying (Chuckle). So you don’t want to talk about the dull bits, and the terrifying bits you better not talk about. (Laughs).
AH: Even though I supposedly speak English, being from New Zealand there is sometimes a weird crossing of cultures, where a word I use isn’t in context here. So it must be worse between English and Russian! You must get times where there is just no communication.
Coulter: Well, yes. You have to learn the cultural context. There are things you don’t say, and things you don’t do. One of the things the Americans do, which the Russians don’t appreciate, is that they smile too damn much. The Americans always have a big grin and lots of tooth. This guy comes to make a deal with a big wad of hundred dollar bills and a big grin on his face and he looks like a shark. “Hi, I’m really glad to see you!” And the Russians all shrink away wondering, “What the hell is happening? Who is this? There’s nothing to smile about. We haven’t made a deal. We just met each other. So why is he smiling?” So the Russians don’t smile as much. And when I’m with Russians I make an effort not to smile. I put a gloomy expression on my face. Unless I forget myself and start acting like an American. I keep that slightly gloomy look, and they trust me for it. They have a huge sense of humor. They roar with laughter all the time everything is a joke. They are always laughing and making wisecracks. They see the humorous side in every situation. They are really a lot of fun to be around. I enjoy their company very much.
AH: Are there times when you’ve been over there translating?
Coulter: I translate over there for American groups. I’m going over there in a few weeks.
AH: Not tourist-y tour groups?
Coulter: No. government delegations. I’m working in the atomic energy area lately. All aspects of nuclear energy. We’ve been to the plants themselves and to the power stations. I was at a place where the nuclear fuel rods are assembled. They take the uranium oxide and make little “muffins”-they bake them real hard and stuff them in the rods -then they ship the rods out. I’ve been to Belorussia at the Institute for study of Atomic Energy. I’ve been with equipment suppliers. I’ve been with suppliers of protective clothing. I’ve done about every aspect. I’ve been in the Central Ministries in Moscow where they discuss financing. I’ve been in Hungary. I’ve been in Slovakia and the Ukraine. My particular specialty right now is nuclear power.
AH: How did you hook up with the National Center, and the American Foundation before that?
Coulter: Well I think that when I came to Washington in 1962 I knew about Dr. Panos, so I went to see her, and, of course, we had at that time the American Foundation for Homeopathy -which was the only organization in existence. So they got me on the Board of Directors of that -I was the only person involved in homeopathy that was born in the twentieth century at that point (laughs). Well, it’s true! Bill Boyson was born in 1895 and he was the next youngest guy after me. Oh, yes. There was Maisie [Panos]-well she was born in 1911 -so she was the youngest next to me. Did you know that Maisie’s father fought in the Civil War? It was an amazing story. He was 65 or so when she was born.
So they put me on… I was on the Board of the American Foundation for Homeopathy for several years and Ralph Packman, who was the Executive Director, and I worked together very well. Then that sort of spawned off the National Center. The American Foundation was financing the National Center at the time that Maisie put through her “Palace Revolution” where, I don’t know if you remember, where she got the whole board of the National Center thrown off and she got a whole bunch of new young guys like Nick Nossaman and George Guess, and Dick Moskowitz on the Board. I was “the enemy” because I stuck with Ralph Packman. It was a very complicated story, but it was, basically, a clash of wills between Packman, who was backing the Foundation with Dr. Wyrth Post Baker and those older guys, and Maisie -who came on with the new guys, the new blood -and she was right, but I stuck with the old guys. I didn’t like the idea that there was this kind of revolt going on, so I sided with Packman and the Foundation. And we started a new organization -the American Center for Homeopathy -which didn’t last too long. Anyway, that was a big political mistake I made and for a while I was kind of persona non grata, but I’ve tried to worm my way back into their good graces (Laughs).
AH: I just missed it. I came in in 1981 just after all that was over.
Coulter: Well, it was amusing on some level. We had Dick, and Nick, and George -basically those three guys. They were the young turks, and I was the old fuddy-duddy who was over the hill. I made a big mistake. I should have stuck with Maisie. But I liked Ralph. He had done a lot for me. Well, Maisie did a lot for me too. Maisie and Ralph could see that I was producing better stuff than anybody else was, and I should be backed by them and the Foundation. They did give me a $15,000 grant to do the Science book, and they gave me a lot of moral support. But when they were fighting each other it was very hard for me. I had to go against one of them, and it was a hard decision. And I decided to stick with Ralph.
AH: I’ve met him. I did an interview last year with Ralph.
Coulter: Yes. He was a good guy. He kept us all together for a long time. What happened was that, in my opinion… we had a very bad period there between 1964 and, say, 1975 and there really wasn’t anything happening in homeopathy. It was just… It was just going along and subsiding slowly but surely. And the new guys were coming along but they weren’t in the position yet to do anything. We had these young guys, and they were just graduating and making their presence known -you had Randy Neustaedter, Bill Gray, Harvey Powelson, and Dana Ullman out there in California and they were just starting a study group in Berkeley, but they didn’t count for anything yet.
So Ralph created an artificial life force. He always had programs, meetings, and we had appeals and fund raisers and nothing ever worked. We just lost money all the time. But he kept everybody sort of interested and occupied (chuckles). And he got paid for it too -which was part of his purpose. It was the way he made some money so you couldn’t blame him for that either. But it was sort of an artificial thing.
But when the new guys came along, there was no need for this any more. We had a real, honest political movement going -with Dick, and Nick, and George, and the others. So at that point, Ralph didn’t have a role anymore. AndMaisie -well, intuitively she was right. She could see that the old guard had to be thrown on the trash heap…
AH: So you did volume three…
Coulter: Yes. And then I started on Volume One after that. Then Volume Two came out in 1977. Then I wrote Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine after that.
AH: What about the little orange book which looks like it has granules sprinkled on the cover?
Coulter: That was the first thing published. I wrote that in 1975. And then I published Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine after Volume Two came out in 1977. And then I got involved in the vaccination questions -largely by accident. There have been a lot of accidents in my life.
AH: How did that happen?
Coulter: J. Anthony Morris. Tony Morris. Do you know that name? Well, he’s a bacteriologist here in town. I called him up when I finished Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine and said, “What’s new?” I was a writer and interested in new subjects. And Tony said, There’s a whooping cough epidemic in Virginia. Why don’t you look into that and see what you can find out.” So… if he hadn’t made that suggestion I’d probably never written any books on vaccination. I didn’t have any particular ax to grind about vaccination. I wasn’t against it. My children were vaccinated -well my oldest son was vaccinated. Katya didn’t want to vaccinate them. She said it was dangerous and I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not dangerous.” You know, women always making a fuss about things. So I said pooh-pooh, but we didn’t vaccinate the other kids anyway -thanks to her insistence. And then I got into it. But like this cancer thing I’m doing now… My life is full of accidents. A lot of accidents have determined what I did. I got into medicine in the first place because Katya was sick -I had no intention in the world… I’ve never taken a course in physiology or biology. I’ve never taken a course in chemistry…
AH: In homeopathy?
Coulter: No. I’ve never taken a course in homeopathy either. I’ve taught a lot of them though! (Laughs) So I get involved in vaccination because J. Anthony Morris calls me up and suggests I look into the whooping cough epidemic, I get involved in the treatment of cancer because Ralph Moss calls me up and suggests that I look up this doctor while I’m in Moscow. These eerie kind of coincidences have determined the course of my life. It’s very very strange.
AH: The Clinical Trials book, is very nice.
Coulter: That one was my own decision to do.
AH: But the people who should read this stuff are not the ones who are reading it.
Coulter: My books take a long time to filter around. But in due course they make their presence felt. But it takes a while. Not from the first minute. Not by a long shot.
AH: So you went to do the DPT book. What happened there?
Coulter: Well, here’s another crazy coincidence. I started to write on whooping cough… see… I write an article on it. It was going to be pros and cons. It was going to be some on one side, some on the other side-type articles. I’m calling around, finding out sources, and I ran into this woman, Barbara Fisher. And she said, “Well, I’m writing a book on vaccinations” and I said, “I’m writing an article.” And we talked on the telephone a little bit. She sounded like a pretty smart woman, so I said, “Let’s write it together,” and she said “Fine. We’ll work together.” And that’s how we decided to do it. We’d never met each other. I didn’t even know what she looked like. I didn’t know anything about her background. And I thought that since I was a published author with five books to my credit that would be…
Coulter: Yes… that she would be running around to the library looking up stuff for me. Well it didn’t work out that way at all. (Chuckle). She was a determined woman, indeed! And very capable. She had a lot of strengths where I had weaknesses. She was politically very savvy. She understood the political ramifications of things, and knew how to present stuff to the American public, with interviews and things like that. She made a much better impression on journalists than I ever did. And she’s extremely good interviewing families. She’s done interviews with families where the child had suffered from a DPT shot -you’ve read the book -every second chapter is a family interview -well those were entirely her work; I didn’t have anything to do with it at all.
So to some extent I took the lead on the scientific side and the historical side, and she took the lead in the family. I wasn’t entirely my own boss in the whole thing -she wouldn’t let me touch her interviews with the families, but she insisted on having a lot to say about the historical side. Barbara is very, very smart. Very talented.
AH: How did you get into the criminality thing from there?
Coulter: As Barbara and I wrote the book, DPT: A Shot in the Dark I could see that I was pursuing lines of research that she didn’t want to get into. She thought I was getting too… ah… too far away from the main theme. I was talking about auto-immune diseases and I was talking about the emotional effects of neurological diseases, and she thought that I was getting too far away from the actual theme of the book. Well, maybe so, but the book itself was about 500 pages already, and there was just not enough room for all the material that we were digging up. So we decided to leave out a lot of that stuff and decided to just deal with the physical effects of vaccination. And some of the social ramifications, and some of the statistical studies, and some political chapters as well. We put all that into DPT: A Shot in the Dark. But there was still a lot that interested me that we hadn’t even been able to get into that book, although we mentioned the possibility that vaccination had something to do with epilepsy or hyperactivity, or things like that -but we didn’t go into it at all. After that, I decided to write the second book, and I called up Barbara and asked her if she’d like to help, but she was in the middle of some personal things. So she couldn’t take on another book, so that’s why I wrote that one by myself. I really enjoyed working with her. We never had a fight although we were both pretty strong- willed and determined people. We got along very very well. There was good cooperation from my point of view.
AH: It’s a good book!
Coulter: Well, it keeps making its way. It keeps getting reprinted. I wish I could make more money off it, but it does keep getting reprinted. I make fifty cents off each copy. If we were selling a million copies that would be fine, but selling ten to twenty thousand at a time… it’s getting up to about 50,000 copies now so….
AH: That doesn’t even cover the input. The work you did on it?
Coulter: Well, no. But you can’t expect it to. You can’t expect to make your money back if you are writing a book that is… well… if you’re writing a book that… you know… doesn’t appeal to the lowest and grossest instincts in people. If you’re writing a book that is a little bit above the ordinary level of understanding, you’re not going to have a very big sale -but you do get a lot of satisfaction.
AH: The new book, Volume Four. When did you start that?
Coulter: I started it years ago. I put everything to do with Volume Four aside in 1977. I took a large empty box and kept it near my desk. Every time I saw something that would have to do with the issues I wanted to discuss in volume four, I threw it in the box. I was afraid of twentieth century medicine. There’s just so much new knowledge in twentieth century medicine that I couldn’t figure out how to maneuver it. I couldn’t learn everything there was to learn -that would be out of the question. And I didn’t want to look like a dammed fool either. So I had to figure out a way of dealing with it that would economize my time and effort in knowledge of the highly technical areas of medicine. I couldn’t figure out how to do that at first. I made stabs here and there. You have to learn a minimum amount of immunology. I found that the pharmacology was not a big problem. Pharmacology is just a wasteland anyway. It’s like medieval theologies -you don’t have to learn that. Just know that it IS medieval theology -and that’s good enough. And you say that, and that’s the end of it. (Laughs).
It took me many years to not be afraid to tackle the subject.
AH: But between 1977 and now, a lot of what was very vague has really become very clear.
Coulter: Yes. A critical movement is emerging.
AH: You put it aside and when you finally looked at it you can see the pattern emerging?
Coulter: That’s right. The work that we did on the two vaccination books clarified my thinking on immunology. Then the work on the book on the controlled clinical trial showed me something else about the theoretical structure of allopathic medicine. And what I found out to my very pleasant surprise was that the approach that I’d adopted from the very first word of these four volumes -which was the division between the empirical and rational way of looking at things -was totally applicable to the twentieth century. I shouldn’t have been surprised by that, but I was. I thought that “I can’t have that kind of luck,” but I did, and I treated the 20th century in the same terms as I treated all the other centuries. And it doesn’t look like a forced argument. I think it develops rather naturally, and doesn’t give the impression that I’m shoe-horning the material into the wrong pigeon-holes.
AH: It reads so well. Like a good mystery novel.
Coulter: Well, that’s nice of you to say so. You’re a discerning reader! (Chuckle).
AH: What was interesting to me was that, historically, every time things started to get difficult to understand and people started to look deeply at the issues, they would begin to slide toward the Empirical side, then look, and say, “We can’t go there!”, and shift back into the Rationalist mode.
Coulter: The idea of individualization is terrifying to allopathic doctors. They cannot do it. The idea that you cannot treat patients as one of a group, but you have to figure out a method of treating patients as individuals is the thing which puts them off more than anything else at all. That’s the thing about homeopathy that upsets them. It’s not the small dose, it’s not the similars -but the idea that you have to treat each patient differently and you have to have a methodology for treating each patient differently -that’s when they go berserk. They completely back off and run in the other direction as fast as they can.
AH: So tell me about what you are doing now?
Coulter: I have an agreement with a Russian doctor -Valentine Ivanovich Govallo -He’s a recognized immunologist in Moscow, and a physician who’s written 220 articles and 12 books. He’s a very prolific person and a good doctor and he’s made several discoveries about treating a number of conditions. He started out treating women who had multiple abortions -multiple miscarriages -spontaneous abortions. He told me that for reasons he doesn’t understand, in the early 1970’s more and more women started coming into the clinic who had multiple miscarriages and weren’t able to carry a baby to term. He worked on that for a while, and he concluded that the reason the women could not carry the baby to term was an incompatibility between the immune system of the mother and the immune system of the fetus -such that the mother’s immune system overwhelms that of the fetus and forced it out of the body. The treatment, then, consisted of enhancing or strengthening the immune system of the fetus so it could withstand the stresses from the mother’s immune system. He did that by injecting antigens prepared from the father, and found that it would strengthen the immune system of the fetus.
So you see the parallels between this and his eventual treatment of cancer. He has treated 600 women this way, with a 91% success rate.
Then he went off into the treatment of cancer. But instead of thinking of it as the mother vs. the fetus, it is now a problem of the host vs. the tumor. And instead of trying to enhance the immune system of the fetus, the doctor is now attempting to undermine the immune system of the tumor. But it is, essentially, the same technique of analysis and the same therapeutic procedure. And he uses now, placental extracts made from the human placenta after birth or after a C-section. He takes these extracts and injects them into the cancer patient and it causes a very powerful hippocratic reaction -similar to the homeopathic reaction -probably stronger. It results in a very high fever in the patient, and then, in many cases, the tumors seem to resolve. Not in all cases, but in enough cases that he thinks he is on a “right track” in his work.
So I’m going to try to bring that therapy into the United States and get that accepted here as a cancer treatment. I think I have my work cut out for me for the next ten years (laughs).
I found Dr. Govallo through Ralph Moss -who is the editor of the magazine Cancer Chronicles and author of the book called The Cancer Syndrome and The Cancer Industry which are very good historical studies of unorthodox cancer treatments.
AH: It sounds exciting.
Coulter: I’m looking forward to it. It sounds like another fight, but that’s no problem for me. The quiet life gets me edgy (Laughs). There’s a lot of pulling and tussling going on, and that’s the way it should be.
AH: So it’s either another project or golf?
Coulter: Yeah. That’s it. One of my children said, “Dad, why don’t you do the wallpaper in your house, instead?” (Laughs). I think he may be right. But I’ll do the cancer thing first and then the wallpaper. (Laughs).
AH: I’d like to ask you something personal. Because I practice as a homeopath, I’m interested in knowing how much you use homeopathy for yourself or in treating other people.
Coulter: Oh. Entirely. I don’t treat other people, but I do use homeopathy exclusively myself. Except for this placental treatment -it’s the first time I’ve considered anything outside of homeopathy. But it’s very “homeopathic” in that it follows the law of cure. Dr. Govallo says that he individualizes the treatments. There are aspects of the treatment I haven’t gone into. He does make the diagnosis more precisely than I’ve indicated, but the treatment is still with this same placental extract. He doesn’t use different varieties -it’s all the same thing. So in that sense it is not individualized, but the fact is that it follows the law of cure.
AH: You’ve been around homeopathy for quite a while, and have met some of the pivotal people of the last generation. What were your impressions of them? Like ElizabethWright-Hubbard. You knew her?
Coulter: Well Dr. Hubbard was, well, a tragic figure. She didn’t get along well with her husband and this seemed to be a source of terrible grief to her. Her husband was a non-intellectual -a professional athlete, really. And he didn’t understand about homeopathy and didn’t want to know about it. The only thing they had in common was that they played bridge together and they drank a lot. And they had children of course. She was a very impressive woman, and an impressive homeopath. Very sure of herself and had a good instinct for dominating any situation she was in. We were good friends. Katya and I spent the weekend at her house a few times. She came to our house for dinner, which was unusual in that she didn’t go out much -she and her husband came. We were rather good friends with Dr. Hubbard. I don’t think that any of her patients were better friends than we were.
She had taught Dr. James Stephenson. Jim was a tremendous neurasthenic, neurotic individual who’d been five years a German prisoner of war. From the age of 18 or 19 he was a POW -he had been a bomber/navigator whose plane was shot down. This made him a terrible misanthrope -he hated everybody. He hated his patients (laughs). He was a tragic figure too. I think he was a good doctor, but his patients often left him. He was rude to the women.
AH: I’m sorry I never met him.
Coulter: He was 60 years old when he died. He developed a quick moving cancer.
There was Dr. Bill Boyson who was a great guy and ran the Postgraduate Course for the National Center for a while. He was full of fun. He was a tremendous character. But he was a very disorganized homeopath. I don’t think he ever looked at a Kent’s * Repertory in his life. He had some favorite books here and some favorite books there. He was a good family doctor and a good homeopath.
Then there was Dr. Allen Sutherland, from Brattleboro, Vermont -who took over the running of the school after Boyson. He was a nice guy, but not a very striking personality. He didn’t even practice medicine very much. He did shock therapy on people in the looney bin -that was his job. And he taught homeopathy in the summertime. He talked a good line. But these guys were living in bad times. You were considered to be beyond the pale if you were practicing homeopathy. And these guys were pretty conservative. They didn’t like to be considered quacks.
I really liked William B. Griggs. He died when he was about 100 years old. I met him when he was 96. He was very spry and full of piss and vinegar. A lot of fun. And I met Boericke -Garth -he didn’t make as sharp an impression as Griggs did.
AH: Probably a lot like Dr. Ray Seidel who got me started along this path.
Coulter: Yes. A lot like Seidel -who I met twice. There were also a whole bunch of crocks there -God -most of their names escape me -who were from pre-Kentian times -absolutely antediluvian.
AH: There are lots of people still around who remember these old practitioners. I was talking to Mike Somerson who has patients who went through lots of the old docs in Ohio and then got Maisie, and then Maisie retired so they are now using Mike. They all outlive their homeopaths!
Coulter: Well, yes. And Maisie is really the most interesting one of the whole bunch. She’s the one who was so young and vital all the time. We all owe a lot to her. And she carried homeopathy through during the hard times -at a considerable personal expense to herself.
AH: Did you ever meet Dr. Julia M. Green?
Coulter: Yes. I met Dr. Green twice. She was a somewhat distant and forbidding person. I didn’t really talk to her.
AH: Everyone says she was a tiny woman. Was she as small as they say?
Coulter: She seemed very big to me. But it must just be the psychological impression! There was her brother, what’s his name -Arthur B. Green. He was…
AH: A curmudgeon?
Coulter: Well, yes, but he was also just not very smart (laughs). He was upset because the Layman Speaks [the monthly newsletter of the AFH/NCH]-which he was editing, wasn’t selling very well. He produced it all himself and the purpose of the Layman Speaks was really to provide Arthur Green with an income. And every year we’d lose as many subscriptions as we got. We’d get fifty new ones, and we’d lose fifty old ones. So we had about four-hundred every year as members in the AFH -and then the National Center. Arthur got up at a board meeting once and said, “I want all of you to go out and knock on doors and sell subscriptions to the Layman Speaks.” He wanted us to cover Washington DC and the major metropolitan areas. Can you image what kind of success we’d have had?
Ralph’s service was to be there for people like that. He kept them all happy and he kept them all busy until they finally died and gave a chance for the younger guys to come along and take their place.
AH: What about selling off all those AFH books?
Coulter: Yes, it was terrible when we sold all those books from the National Center. As all the old doctors died off, their libraries were sent to the AFH and Dr. Julia Green had them in her basement. After she died in 1963 I was able to sort through them, and separate the duplicates. Then Ralph [Packman] put the duplicates in his cellar in Philadelphia year after year, and we tried to protect them. We couldn’t find anyone who wanted to buy them. No one was interested in homeopathy. We kept them for ten years. Finally we sold them for a dollar apiece. If we kept them for another five years, there would have been a market, you know. Ralph was good about it, but finally her said he was having insurance problems and could not keep them any longer -so we sold them.
AH: Everyone associates you with “homeopathy” but you are much broader -homeopathy is only a focal point and what you are really looking at is a much broader view of things.
Coulter: I’ve often considered, well not always, but once I got into the subject I came to the conclusion that homeopathy is simply the the 19th and 20th century Avatar, the personification of the Empirical way of thinking -which is what I’m really interested in.
I like homeopathy because it is the Empiricism in pharmacology, but you have it in acupuncture as well. The thinking is the same in both cases. Or, I’m particularly fond of the chiropractors, because they are also the embodiment of another Empirical way of thinking. In my book I have a chapter on chiropractors and on Classical Osteopathy. The Naturopaths are a little confused at times, but they are trying to be Empirical -the naturopaths are trying to do too many things at once -that’s the problem and they know that and are aware of it. But it is the Empiricism that keeps me going, and all the aspects of Empirical thinking.
AH: Well, since you’ve been looking at this for so long, what do you see for homeopathy now?
Coulter: Well, I think that, in general, these things are cyclical. We had an introduction of homeopathy in 1826, and the first cycle lasted from 1826 to about, well, I put it at 1905- 1910. So it went for about 85 years. Then the second cycle went from 1910 to 1970, and homeopathy went down, and turned the corner in about ’68 or ’70. So that was about a sixty year cycle. So history is speeding up a bit. The first cycle was 85 years, the next decline was 60 years, I would suggest that the next cycle, which is an enhancement of homeopathy, should last about fifty years -starting with 1970. So we’ll have a free ride until the year 2020 and at that point, you know, the cycle will change again. These cycles are determined by all kinds of factors beyond our control (chuckles).
There is one very positive thing and that is the computerization of homeopathy which has taken the dog-work out of it to a large extent -that terrible laborious work of trying to find the similimum in the Materia Medica. It was, actually taken out by the Kent Repertory, but that came at the end of the cycle. If Kent * had done that work some thirty years earlier, it might have prolonged the cycle.
We are certainly going to have some interesting times in the next thirty years!
Harris Coulter is the author of the Four Volumes of Divided Legacy; Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine; DPT: A Shot in the Dark; AIDS and Syphilis: The Hidden Link; Homeopathic Influences in Nineteenth Century Allopathic Therapeutics; Vaccination, Social Violence, and Criminality; and The Controlled Clinical Trial: an analysis.
Julian Winston, NAD, and Gwyneth Evans, ICHom, -and Principal of the Wellington College of Homeopathy were married shortly before this interview. They have since settled in Tawa, New Zealand.
I first met Harry in 1980 when he came to the National Center for Homeopathy’s summer school at Millersville to deliver the lecture on the History of Homeopathy. I had, in the two weeks before he came, read his first two volumes of Divided Legacy at the library that the NCH had at the school. I had some questions for him and I recall that he was impressed that I had taken the time to read the books.