This book review is reprinted from The Homoeopath with permission from Nick Churchill of The Society of Homoeopaths.
Homoeopathy as Art and Science: Selected Writings
by Elizabeth Wright Hubbard
Edited by Maesimund B. Panos and Della DesRosiers
1990, 344 pages, paperback
reviewed by Amanda Bingley
Amanda Bingley RSHom practices in Lancashire.
This is a very exciting and long awaited publication of selected writings by the American homoeopath, Elizabeth Wright Hubbard MD, who died in 1967. A pupil of Pierre Schmidt, this extraordinary woman is reputedly 'homoeopathy's strongest pillar and most brilliant flame of this century' to quote from the preface by Della DesRosiers, who goes on to outline some of Dr Hubbard's achievements; one of the first women to train at Columbia University Medical School, President of the American Institute of Homoeopathy, editor of its journal, teacher, wife, practitioner and other, AND she found time to write, research and inspire. This selection has been chosen from her articles and teachings.
The bulk of the book covers her ideas and notes on a variety of topics from philosophy, notes on remedies and a section called 'Visions' to some intriguing and well argued case studies and repertory work. She has a fund of insights into materia medica, all delightfully presented with humour and meticulous attention to detail, see the sections 'Mental Portraits of Remedies Familiar and Unfamiliar', 'Cough and Company', and a piece 'To the Patient's Surprise', where all she has given 'mini' pictures of Calcarea carbonica and Petroleum and a fascinating case of a man with active TB successfully treated with classic constitutional prescribing.
Following 79 of these short writings the final part of this book is taken up with the only lengthy work she completed, A Brief Study Course in Homoeopathy. A paradox perhaps but as Lucy Swanton Clark MD says in her review of this section it may only be...
'the briefest of courses'... but...
"Each of the chapters is full of gems not to be skipped. They bring to the reader those rare qualities of human understanding, which along with a gift in the use of words, were characteristic of Dr Hubbard. Once having met and heard her lecture, or watched her interview and prescribe for a patient, one became aware of an artist and a perfectionist in her work. She can never be replaced. This small work preserves her essence'.
This is well deserved praise for a book which so clearly and simply outlines the basic principles of homoeopathic philosophy and practice.
Throughout this collection of works one is struck by her great diversity of knowledge and depth of understanding. One can dip into this book over and over again, emerging with some new insight which may be usefull to both oneself and one's practice or widen the scope of useful remedies etc. There is some item which will surely interest everyone, student, practitioner and the lay reader alike.
However, inherent in the fact that this is a collection of odd papers, essays etc. is the sadness that Dr Hubbard never concentrated on an area in order to develop it into a book form. I found each article tantalizingly short, just beginning as it ends. The editors have attempted to overcome the resulting 'bitty' effect by putting subjects under clearly defined headings and and this does allow for continuity, but apart from one solitary article ('The Simillimum as Psychiatrist', p.249) they have omitted all references to sources and chronology, so one has no guide as to how Wright Hubbard developed her themes and in what context. A frustrating omission from both a general interest and a research viewpoint. Perhaps, encouraged by the success of this venture the editors may include references in future editions, and even add further material, as in a few cases the discussion section has been left out, and there may be some useful tips in everything!
A book of many inspirations, it is guaranteed to be of lasting value and delight for many years.
The Homoeopath Vol.10 No.4 1990