AH: How did you first get interested in homeopathy?
Timmerman: I was trained as a biochemical analyst. I worked in hospitals in Scandinavia for some time, and then I came back and got a job at the university in Amsterdam as a research biochemist. I had always wanted to do something with medicine, but it seemed that I couldn’t find a way to satisfy this ambition. I was looking around; there was a school of naturopathy in Holland that had started teaching. It still exists; this was in 1976, if I remember right. So I enrolled and I studied herbal medicine, acupressure, nutrition. And I went to my first lectures in homeopathy in that school -classical homeopathy. They were given by teachers who did not mention that there was a homeopathy school that had been in existence for eight or nine years, and that they had been to lectures there… Homeopathy was the only natural healing system I found that had a solid base in its provings -where anyone could re-do the proving to confirm the principles -and that, I thought, was quite scientific. With my background in science, I found I couldn’t go into herbal medicine because if someone says that Chelidonium is good for liver problems, you are stuck having to believe it -you understand what I mean? So, with my background, the only thing I really could study was homeopathy. I found I could relate to it, and I was interested to see that it was all based upon the totality of the patient. Strange enough, I was working every day with biologists, and the first patients I had were them. They knew I was doing classical homeopathy, and they said, “Why not?” So we started to do some remedies. They were completely supporting me so that I could go to school and at the same time could have the job at the university and earn enough money to go to the school -in the 20 hours that were left! So I was doing research into how certain rows of flowers were pink or white and how that develops in nature. Genetic ways in how a color comes through. And the information was used to find out why certain diseases are genetic. I was finding that the biologists were more open to homeopathy than medical doctors, because in biology you easily feel you know a lot, and then you do some research, and you find out you know only a little piece. And the rest of the whole universe is not understood. So I got the full support of my colleagues. I finished the school but I didn’t immediately start a practice. There was a man coming to me and he had lung cancer. I said, “You have to go to a good homeopath,” and I sent him to another homeopath. And he came back and said, “I didn’t like the conversation with this homeopath. I have this thing in my lungs, and it is my choice to be with you. If I am going to die, it is my decision and my responsibility. I am asking you for help.” So I thought, “Well, I have to do that.” That was my first case! I gave him Phosphorus. He had a left-sided cancer; he was this kind of man. He was working in the hospital himself, and didn’t want the regular medical treatment going on in his body. He said that he saw so many people dying after conventional therapy that he was not going to go into that kind of healing system. He was a young man -about 32. So I gave him the remedy. In a few months he went for some x-rays and there was nothing. They couldn’t find anything. So he went to the hospital, and as he saw many cases himself, he sent lots of those cases to me. That was my start. I wasn’t completely confident in homeopathy. Sometimes I used herbs and nutrition too. But when I could find the remedy, I gave the remedy. I felt that I must develop myself more in homeopathy, so I went to any course I could in Holland. And there were some good teachers, but everything was so superficial to me. I understood that Nux was irritable and had bowel problems. I thought there must be more. I can’t treat people like that. There must be more. So I was one of the first ones who read The Science of Vithoulkas, and someone said, “It would do you good to visit this man.”
I already had two babies -two little children. I told my husband I was going to study with Vithoulkas, and I went. I was sitting on the plane with two colleague and said, “Well, if this is a disaster, at least we will have a nice holiday!” We had tried so many therapies; we were searching in the dark. So we came to the island, Alonissos. I remember it very well. There were lectures only at the end of the afternoon. After two hours, I looked at my colleagues and said, “This is it. This man will open up our minds.” So I went through the course, and I was with all these people already who knew much more. They had the “essences” stuff, and I asked for a copy of that. I went to Vithoulkas and told him that I knew there was all kind of stuff stolen from him, and someone wanted to publish it in Holland. He said, “No, no,” that he was going to write a book. And we said, “George -if it is not allowed, it will be done illegally and then you’ll get no money from it.” Then he said, “OK.” So from far away people ordered George’s work from Holland because we had made it legal. And everyone could learn from it. And that is one of the reasons why homeopathy grew very fast in Holland. You understand? You could just read it. It was all opening up. We invited Vithoulkas to come to give a seminar in Holland. I was the first woman who went to him from Holland. And because of the very good experience I had, I went back many more times. Then I decided I had to go on my own, to open it up, to see how homeopathy really works. This is the reason schools of homeopathy abroad have asked me to teach. I started practicing in 1981. In 1984 I made a big step in homeopathy.
AH: Who else have you studied with?
Timmerman: With Alfons Geukens, he was always in our group, and Vassilis Ghegas. Jan Scholten was with us too -he was always finding very small remedies -even fifteen years ago it was already on his mind. I’ve been learning from so many people. It never stops. Just before I went to Australia, I had a nice experience in my own Post-graduate course. There were two medical doctors who had come to my lectures for several years, and I sent them the wrong dates to come to my course. So they came on the wrong night. They came straight into a group which had just started on homeopathy. After the evening, they said, “We’ll stay in this group. Because now we really understand it. We need this basic information again. Can we please stay in this group?
AH: I know that one really well…
Timmerman: I thought that they would be bored with basic stuff and hearing the cases again, but when you see it for the second time, you see much more!
AH: So you set up a practice; how big is it?
Timmerman: I set up a practice in Groningen in the north of Holland, and I soon had it too busy. It was very hard sometimes. And then I had to move to The Hague, which was far from my practice, so my colleagues took over my patients and my practice. We worked together for one year and then I left -so all the patients knew they were transferring over. It was a good system. I started to train more homeopaths there; there were some GPs, and some others, and they asked me to start a group. I didn’t think I knew enough to teach, but they said, “Just teach what you know,” so I did, and the group that came out of that is the Clemens von Bönninghausen Group. And they are still working together. They have taken over Homeopathic Links now. They have trained together for about seven or eight years. So it grew out of itself. But I think that people get their best training in the actual practice. I’ve practiced in the Hague since 1988.
AH: At the seminar you said that of 15 million people in Holland, 3 million see homeopaths. That’s impressive!
Timmerman: Well, it’s not only Classical homeopaths, but those are government numbers. The Dutch government has recognized homeopathy. They have a new law that any kind of medicine is free to the user. And everyone is free to choose how he is to be treated. So in Holland homeopathy was never illegal.
AH: What is the distinction between medical doctors and professional homeopaths in Holland?
Timmerman: The doctors have to sign a declaration that they will not work with ‘lay’ practitioners, but several doctors think that is wrong and so they just do it -and they are not thrown out of the medical society. We find that the medical homeopaths who are well-recognized in Holland are usually the ones who are most cooperative with the ‘lay practitioners.’ There is a struggle, but when you are more respected, the struggle is suddenly over. Sometimes I’ve phoned a doctor because I have got their patient, and asked them what remedies have been given, and they say they can’t tell me because I’m not a doctor. So all I can say in return is, “Well, then you are doing damage to the patient.” But it is going to get better and better. The best you can do is show that you have good knowledge, and you treat your patients well and they will respect you. Then, suddenly, it is no longer important what kind of title you have. That’s the same in other professions. It is only a question of status. It has nothing to do with homeopathy.
AH: Where have you been lecturing?
Timmerman: I’ve lectured in Finland, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland and now in Australia and New Zealand. I think that homeopathy is spreading itself because people are understanding it from their heart. In Groningen there was a group of very old people -70 or 80 year old’s that came to my practice. They had never been to any doctor in their whole life. They asked a few things about homeopathy, and they said, “This sounds very normal to me; this is called homeopathy? This is the treatment I’ve been thinking about my whole life.” You know what I mean? It is just in their nature. And in Holland there was a priest named Kuipers, he was so popular, he was a politician; he spread the word around that homeopathy was the only right way to be treated. It fitted into his views. So from 1910 to about 1940 there were lots of people in Holland treated with homeopathy. Then after the war it was partially lost.
AH: Tell us about your personal homeopathic philosophy.
Timmerman: Lately, I’m thinking a little bit different than some other homeopaths. I feel that homeopaths think that when they give the right remedy, there is a lot of change because of the remedy and, in a deeper philosophical way, I don’t believe that. I believe that a person already is working on his way, and then goes to your practice to work a little better on themselves, and you are just one little milestone in the development of that person. Why this person is getting better is multi-factorial. Usually when the person gets the right remedy, he can also have an experience that also has a big influence on his life. So, for example, he may decide to make a move to another country, or he meets someone who has a big influence on him. The real deep healing process not only comes from the remedy. It’s really coming from the person with his circumstances, where you (the practitioner) are a part of those circumstances. You understand? Lately, I’ve been thinking this very strongly. Why? I went to my files, and I was looking through the people that really got better, people who I thought had wonderful results. And with these wonderful results, I saw there were also other things happening at the same time. So it seems to me that we are just part of the process. I don’t talk about this much because I’m not sure that people are ready to hear such things. But I’ve been thinking about these things because I’ve been seeing it work too often to put it aside. Also I feel more free because of this -I’m not the one who made it happen, I’m only a part of the process. Another aspect I’ve been thinking is a little bit wrong in homeopathy is that we think we always have to cure the person. But, in the end, I think that is not the case -because to cure is just one part of life. We also have the other part -where the person goes through decay. And that area homeopathy has not yet gone into. It is too tricky to go into that area. In seminars I show mostly solved cases, but there will come a time when we can show other cases and what happens. That is another thing we have to do. Another aspect is that homeopathy is not fitting well into society. In Western society, we don’t accept that people are going to die. As soon as people come to the end, they are completely alone; no one wants to be with them. In the Western society we only believe in success. In our society, death is not part of life. As soon as people get older, we put them away and we don’t go there any more. And in homeopathy, we do the same -we are not very much better. And I think there is a big area that we don’t understand and are scared about, so we should look into that area a lot.
AH: You are very clear in your teaching -a simple preciseness showing how the whole thing fits together. You are teaching process more than fact. You can read materia medica in the books, but not the experience. This is very valuable information.
Timmerman: In homeopathy, it is much more interesting to look at the process. Coming from a disease state to a less-diseased state is a process. And to find the remedy is to look to the process. And it is not going from A to B. It is the line in between. So you look to the dynamis -the moving energy. You must always look to the process. All you need to do with the symptoms is to get the person in motion again That is the most difficult part to teach. The Organon? I’m not a memory person! A few years ago I was very tired and I was afraid that I had been studying too much. I didn’t feel good about the whole of homeopathy any more. If it is a healing system you shouldn’t have to study so much and get sick! It should be simple. I found I was being hard on myself. So I stopped studying it and started thinking about it. You understand? And that was what was needed. I took a remedy in a proving -Vipera, and I became very chaotic. I was forgetting so many things, but I became more in tune with myself on a deeper level, because of the proving. I felt more at one with myself and with my family. So I started to think about it and to really try and understand it.
If you asked me two years ago, I would have said that was bad. But it is the same as getting a remedy. In the beginning it doesn’t look good, but after a few years you can look at your process and realize it was all right -but not when you are still in the process.
AH: Have you done a lot of provings?
Timmerman: No. But I will do. I don’t want to do provings of just funny things, like the people in Australia want to prove Kangaroo milk. We should look to the big diseases we have and can’t treat very well, and we should look which substances are related to these diseases in some way, and do provings of those substances. For example, there are poisons -certain metals or substances like plutonium of which we should do provings. I don’t think we have the time to do ‘funny’ provings. We should do those that are related to the decay we are undergoing at the moment. Kangaroo milk is a funny thing to do, but I don’t think you will get many patients who will be healed by it.
I did a proving for Jeremy Sherr. I phoned him and said, “Jeremy, I’m not going to do all this work for just a fancy substance. I want something that is related to cancer.” The snake poisons would also be good healing substances. I too like to play, but I don’t think we have time for that in homeopathy. When I see my patients in Holland, I know they will leave homeopathy if I cannot be of help. It’s OK to play around, but things like Kangaroo milk might stretch our credibility. I want to do more serious things. I have all these MS cases and cancer cases and I know that there are other things to be proven that we don’t know at all. When you have been working long enough you realize that some of these cases are not a polychrest -they’re not a remedy you have ‘met.’ The picture of the case is completely clear, but you cannot limit it to a homeopathic remedy. There is no match with a remedy. You know the simillimum must be a substance we do not yet know. At the turn of the century there were all these great homeopaths with all these remedies. And then the whole thing stopped. And now, 100 years later -we started conducting provings again. So there’s a big gap. We haven’t developed ourselves. The diseases have developed, but we haven’t, so we have a lot of work to do.
Interviewed by Julian Winston, and Gwyneth Evans, ICHom, Tauranga, New Zealand, October 1995. Julian owns one of the largest private libraries of homeopathic literature now located in Tawa, and Gwyneth is principal of the Wellington College of Homeopathy.
Alize W. Timmerman
Hahnemann Instituut Nederland
Jan van Nassaustraat 26, 2596 BT Den Haag
31-70-328 08 62 voice
AH: How did you first get interested in homeopathy?