Interview of Francis Treuherz, MA, RSHom, FSHom
Email interview by Greg Cooper
© 2005 Minimum Price Books
Photo taken at a recent Irish conference
Like us, Francis Treuherz seems to have a fascination with books. But unlike Minimum Price, which sells books, Francis collects them – some 7,000 volumes and increasing at last count. And more importantly to us, he reviews them – he has published at least 40 reviews of homeopathic books which are reprinted on this website. So we thought, even though he isn’t an author of any major book or the principal of a homeopathic college, our book loving friends would like to get to know him better. In this ‘interview’ (which is compiled from email exchanges) I hope to bring you closer to a rare, devoted individual whose passion for homeopathy has a lot to do with keeping collectible items that give life and substance to homeopathic history - in particular books.
Francis has been practicing homeopathy since 1984 which currently finds him in London and Letchworth, England. He has also been editor of The Homeopath (the journal of the Society of Homeopaths), has written numerous reviews, articles and letters and has founded the Homeopathy Helpline, a popular homeopathic consultation website that attracts patients from around the world. He is also part of a telephone helpline only available in the UK, open 365 days a year from 9am through midnight at 09065 343404. He is currently (2005) Hon Secretary of the Society of Homeopaths. He used to work in the NHS for 13 years, and supervise undergraduate research students at the University of Westminster BSc in homeopathy. In addition to his vast library, he has a collection of homeopathic artefacts and a great store of anecdotal evidence. Francis is married with two children, who take up most of the rest of his time.
|Homeopathy's real results
Monday August 29, 2005
In the 19th century, when homeopathy was shown to be successful in cholera epidemics, parliament stated that homeopathy must be "against reason truth and science". In the 21st century, the editor of the Lancet suggests that homeopathy is spurious and absurd. This is the language of prejudice rather than reasonable scientific discourse. In other countries, such as India and Brazil, homeopathy is thriving and is shown to be cost-effective.
Let us allocate serious research funds for the use of homeopathy for health problems that appear to have no solution, like tuberculosis, cholera, ebola and malaria.
GC: What is it about those articles?
FT:Wysiwyg, nothing to reveal, I am transparent, or if not, not deliberately hiding any agenda.
GC: Why would a prominent homeopath spend most of his writing time doing book reviews, rather than writing a materia medica, a repertory or a methodology or philosophy book?
FT:I am not systematic enough to write a book, and probably now too old. Materia medica are derivative or scholarly, or both. Vermeulen does great ones (both). Or they are based on clinical experience, which Roger Morrison and Lou Klein do brilliantly. I started out in my forties and am only now having the clinical experience and it is too late to start again.
Methodologies are there already, the classics are enough for me, and as for repertories , Samuel Johnson described a lexicographer as a harmless drudge.
I have combined my career with raising children, spending much time on child care. Attending many courses and seminars is not possible. Reading books is possible. I was trained to read books with a pencil and notepad at my side, so writing reviews in the interstices of life is easy.
Most of my time is not spent on reviews, it has been spent behind the scenes helping oil the wheels of homeopathy. I have a degree in public administration from my previous career. I have transferred and applied this knowledge through my involvement in the Society of Homeopaths having been on the Board from 1986 through 1996, and again from 2000. I edited the journal for 7 years, was involved in organising seminars and conferences, professional conduct and disciplinary matters, company governance and more. This is where my ethical stance (from Rabbi Hillel) drives me on.
I have done much teaching, for example 4 long weekends a year for 5 years in Helsinki, 8 times a year for 10 years in Manchester. I have enjoyed teaching within a syllabus, within a school, not as a visiting guru, so that I can work with students rather than at them and watch them grow and grow with them.
I have always enjoyed having students on observation placements in my practice (how I hate that term 'sitting in').
GC: Do you have some peculiar fascination with books? Can you describe it?
FT: I am a proud member of the people of the Book, and somehow started to collect them after hunting for an old Hahnemann book which had belonged to a library and was stolen from me, in order to replace it. I now have 7000 approximately. I love helping people locate their missing links for research. One day recently a homeopathic doctor from Siberia was round here at the same time as a student from Seattle! I love our history and have a large collection of old phials, portraits, medals and ephemera. I hugely enjoyed my friendship with Julian Winston and miss him greatly. We were the same age.
|Julian Winston and Francis at Portland, Oregon HANP conference 1991|
And my love of books and of
communicating led me to Homeonet, the first email network in about 1986. There
I virtually met David Warkentin
which led to a collaboration which continued actively for 12 years, and is now
less intensive. I was the UK representative for Kent Homeopathic Associates
for 12 years and still offer advice and lend old texts for inclusion in the programs. I have taught many people to use the MacRepertory and ReferenceWorks.
GC: Do you get feedback from your reviews? What % positive?
FT: I do get some feedback from my reviews. For example I know sales of the Welte book on colour increased after my review. The only negative I ever had from a review was from George Vithoulkas . He had been one of my heroes, one of my formative influences. He even saved my life when I was seriously ill on Alonissos. But he could not cope with a mild critique, intended to help him and others become more rigorous in their approach to reports of seminar cases which had no follow up to show if the correct remedy had been prescribed.
FT: I thought some more about books and what they mean:
They mean reading books which will improve my practice. Reading a remedy in materia medica in the chronological order of publication. I used to start with Tyler and then read the classics whom she quoted. I still do that sometimes, but also may start with Vermeulen who quotes modern books also, and Morrison who does not quote, and old journals if I have an index.
I keep old journals near the toilet so I sit down and read. I keep new ones for bedtime reading or on a bus or train. Review books need a chair or a desk so I can make notes while reading.
I read the Organon again and again each year, and have tried to read it in French and German also.
I repeat, best of all reading is to improve practice. The history and gossip is fun also. Repertories are unreadable but necessary and I consult them all the time. On MacRepertory or from the shelf.
My son of 11 read Harry Potter 6 in the first weekend. My son of just 7 in August is onto Harry Potter 4, and both of them are looking forward to hearing a lecture on the life and work of Einstein in a couple of weeks. Books are infectious.
|Francis with his boys about 3 years
|Julian Winston with a
gift from Francis, a Hahnemann Corporal badge from a policeman guarding
the Philadelphia Hahnemann Hospital. He, JW, hammed it up with a
book, Defence of the Organon by Hahnemann, guns, and his hat!
GC: If your son asked you how to learn homeopathy, what school to attend, what books to read etc, what would you say?
FT:Read the Organon in a Dudgeon & Boericke version, in the Künzli version and the Wenda version together and discuss with me as you go along, (or since he is 11, just the Künzli one for now); read Margaret Tyler Drug Pictures , same process, and if there is some sense in this for him when he reads it, then we need to talk over if he may go to medical school first. Since he is 11 and the other one is 7, let’s go slowly on this.
GC: How valuable to you is practicing homeopathy using families of biologically related remedies, or by the groupings in the Periodic Table of the Elements?
FT: These are first of all enumerated in the forgotten Clarke’s Repertory, the 4th volume to his dictionary and the classes of the origins of remedies certainly helped me when I read this in about 1978 or 79. Then Hodiament, (Belgian homeopath writing in French in the 1950s,) also divided materia medica up into families and I read them, as had Otto Leeser before WW2, (but his German was too hard for me and only the minerals were translated). Sankaran admitted to me he got his ideas from Leeser when we discussed this in the late 1980s. But there are so many ways of finding the simillimum and happy families is only one of them.
GC: Has there been any big challenge as a homeopath that you have faced and resolved during your career?
FT:Many, the most difficult being the enforced closure of workplaces. I worked above a health food store which went bankrupt. I worked for 12 years in a rented room above a pharmacy and the owner retired. I worked 13 years in the NHS, then the government changed the way the doctors were funded and I had to leave. I joined a networking group which meets for breakfast (ask me about it) and this helped regrow private practice. Despite this I have a few patients who have been with me since over 20 years. But the fractures are upsetting for everyone.
GC: Besides individual restrictions like friends and family, is there something you like about the cultural values around homeopathy in England that keeps you living there, rather than moving to America, Europe or somewhere else?
FT:My parents were refugees from Nazism, I would not wish to start over in another land. America and Bush? Forget it. Europe? England is in Europe. And family is not a restriction, it is a blessing, mine, my wife’s, and ours.
GC: I have noticed that one of the few books (booklets?) which you have authored is called " Homeopathy in General Practice - A Descriptive Report of Work With 500 Consecutive Patients between 1993-1998. This describes the results in your homeopathic practice of 500 consecutive patients. Tell us why you chose to report on consecutive patients, rather than just selecting out the ones with best results.
FT:I needed to report openly on as many as possible. Best results would have been biased. 500 based on one day a week took some time to build up.
I have written many articles and only one book and this one research report.
GC: For a devout Jewish person being introduced to homeopathy, are there any central concepts that such a person would know, that would help them understand homeopathy?
FT:The concept of like curing like should be familiar. The idea of a vital force for which there are two Hebrew words with overlapping meanings Ruach and Nefesh, should be familiar. The idea of rapid gentle cure is always appealing, and in the UK the traditional or orthodox Jewish communities definitely go for homeopathy, they especially use our helpline service. There is an America Hasidic sort of born again Jewish Rabbi Manis Friedman has done some taped lectures which show him to be a skilled lay practitioner. http://www.rabbifriedman.org Our medicines should be regarded as Kosher. The authority is a Rabbi Adler of Gateshead UK who is also a registered pharmacist.