Back to home page Homoeopathy as Art and Science, By Elizabeth Wright Hubbard

This book review is reprinted from the British Homoeopathic Journal Volume 79, Number 3, July 1990, with permission from Peter Fisher, Editor.
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Homoeopathy as Art and Science.
Elizabeth Wright Hubbard, MD. Ed. by Maesimund B. Panos, MD, and Della des Rosiers.
Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield 1990.
ISBN 0-906584-26-4.
l5.95 pounds. [Editor's note: As of August 1996 Minimum Price Books' price is $28.95]

Dr Elizabeth Wright Hubbard of New York, NY, was one of the great women homoeopathic physicians of the twentieth century. (Others include Dr Margaret Tyler, Drs Cecile Dubost and Lea de Mattos of Paris and Dr Margery Blackie.) Homoeopathy is a discipline particularly suited to the feminine intuitive intellect, where it demonstrates a quality found also in famous women novelists-the capacity to observe another human being with all six senses, and then reproduce a perfect similimum.

After qualifying in medicine in 1921, and completing her interneships, Dr Hubbard studied homoeopathy for two years under Dr Pierre Schmidt of Geneva. On returning to the United States she became a homoeopathic general practitioner and was the first woman to be elected President of the American Institute of Homoeopathy, of whose journal she was Editor at the time of her death. Previously she had edited the Homoeopathic Recorder. She had a world-wide reputation for informative, witty, pithy articles and editorials and her drug pictures and case histories were famous. This book is a collection from amongst them.

The first section is concerned with the philosophy of homoeopathy. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard was a committed Kentian, but she did not scorn other approaches: 'One must master the techniques of those with whom one disagrees, welcoming successes by their methods.' She believed that orthodox medicine would be infiltrated by homoeopathy, by a sort of osmotic process; and that it was therefore the duty of all homoeopaths to maintain pressure in this direction. The chapter entitled 'A Programme of Research for Modern Homoeopathy' lists twelve areas of exhaustive enquiry. Evidently computers had not yet become important at this time. What Dr Hubbard would have made of them is suggested by the Editors on page 50.

After some reflections, serious and lighthearted, on the place of homoeopathy in society, there is a section on the Homoeopathic Repertory. Dr Hubbard's admiration and preference for Kent's Repertory did not prevent her from suggesting ways of improving and abridging-in her own word, revamping-it, and also comparing and combining it with Boenninghausen's Repertory. For her, the preparation of a case for repertorization was all-important, and the examples she gives will bring new insights on the use of repertory to all readers.

The middle half of the book is devoted to Remedies and Cases, presented at lectures, or taken from the Homoeopathic Recorder and the Journal of the American Institute of Homoeopathy. They are remarkable for clarity and acute observation, and for the unexpected turn of phrase which etches them into the memory.

Dr Hubbard must have practised medicine for about 15 years before the appearance of the first 'wonder drug' (sulphonamide) and for up to 30 years after that. She was therefore skilful in the use of homoeopathy in acute conditions, particularly infections, as well as in chronic cases. But it is strange that antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids and tranquillizers are barely mentioned in the text, except in one chapter, as a cause of suppression. They cannot be ignored, because of their universal application, and they materially affect the drug pictures arising in many patients who come for homoeopathic treatment.

The last quarter of the book is entitled 'A Brief Study Course in Homoeopathy', and it would be worth buying the book for this section alone, even if the rest were not so informative and entertaining. Here are all the answers to the questions that a student of any degree of experience might ask, concerning case-taking, repertorization, prescribing, dosage, potency, repetition, and management. There is a chapter on The Dangers of Homoeopathic Prescribing. Even doctors who do not adhere to the strictly Kentian principles of the single remedy, single dose, and liberal use of Sac. lac. will find much for consideration here.

This is the perfect bedside book for homoeopathic doctors. It assumes in the reader a knowledge of conventional medicine as well as of homoeopathy. There is no instruction for domestic self-medication, and some patients might take issue with how they are to be 'managed'. Lay homoeopaths are not mentioned at all.

The editors and publisher are to be congratulated on creating a coherent whole from a collection of brilliant fragments, but I am sorry that there is no indication of the date when each was written, as it would have been interesting to follow the development of the Author's thought.

MARIANNE HARLING

British Homoeopathic Journal
Volume 79, Number 3, July 1990