This book review is reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Homeopathy
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A Homeopathic Love Story:
The Story of Samuel and
by Rima Handley.
North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, CA.
$12.95 paperback. 252 pages. [Editor's note: As of September 1997 Minimum Price Books' price is $16.95]
Reviewed by Julian Winston
There have been a number of books written about Hahnemann. They have been written by Hobhouse, Cook, Gumpert, Albrecht, Ameke, and Haehl. They have all presented the same information, and often have relied on each other to round out their information. To a number, they say little about the final years of Hahnemann's life in Paris and his marriage to Melanie d'Heurvilly. The chapter is usually titled "Paris: The Last Days," and presents the same story about Melanie coming to visit Hahnemann in Germany and spiriting him away to Paris where he practiced until his death in 1843. Little is said about Melanie.
With the publication of Rima Handley's book, a final chapter has, at last, been written. And what a chapter it is! Ms. Handley has carefully searched through the letters and casebooks of Hahnemann that are kept in Germany, and has put together a carefully documented story about the wonderful relationship between the old man and the young woman.
The book presents a condensed but vivid biography of Hahnemann through his last years in Kothen, and a similar biography of the young painter Melanie. They join in Kothen and move to Paris. Ms. Handley describes, in detail, the medical practice they conducted together, and follows Melanie after Hahnemann's death through her trials and tribulations until her death in 1878.
This is not a romance novel, and it will appeal mostly to those who have a deep interest in the history of homeopathy and the history of medicine in general. The scholarship is outstanding and consistent. But when all this is said and done, I am left with three overall themes that make this book worthwhile.
First is the description of the kind of practice that Hahnemann faced in the 1830's in Europe. Almost everyone was suffering from venereal disease, and generally, by the time they came to homeopathy, they had been so assaulted by the allopathic medicine of the day that there was little left with which to work. The cures don't seem that miraculous or even that frequent.
Second is the details of Hahnemann's practice. He apparently began most of his cases with Sulphur, believing that all suffered from the psoric miasm. He repeated remedies frequently, and went up and down the potency scales. It is quite different than any of the methodology that has been taught in this country from Hering on.
Third, the dedication of Melanie, who was not only Hahnemann's pupil and fellow prescriber, but the first female practitioner. The book devotes an entire chapter to the events leading to the trial where she was brought on charges of practicing medicine without a license. She was the model for the competent, unlicensed practitioner. A better model could not be asked for.
This wonderful little book should be thoroughly read by all who treasure homeopathy. It places us, in the present, very carefully in the context of the past. It is as if a small hole in the fabric of history has finally been filled. Three cheers for Rima Handley for her persistence in writing it, and three more to North Atlantic Books for publishing it.
HOMEOPATHY TODAY OCTOBER 1990