Excerpts from “Unexpected: Chronicle of a Homeopath” – Elena Cecchetto

Keywords: homeoprophylaxis, homeopathic profession, skeptics, homeopathy, creating a profession, homeopathic research, homeopathic immunity, Bayesian belief

What do you do?
After becoming a homeopath, you start to understand the level of confusion people have about what is a homeopath. Anyone with an audience can add confusion to the answer to this question. The following series of emails and events point to this as a problem within a problem for homeopathy on a larger scale. While reading about the following, please consider whether the professional community of homeopathy is capable of putting forward a unified professional identity?

It started at the end of summer 2014 when an email (Image 1) was sent out by one of our homeopathic member organizations known as 3CH (Personal Communication, Canadian Consumers Centre for Homeopathy, August 20th, 2014);

IMAGE 1. Email Communication from 3CH to Access Natural Healing, August 20th, 2014

 

IMAGE 2. Email Communication to Access Natural Healing from CBC Marketplace, Aug 25th, 2014

I did not reply to this email (Image 2) for many reasons. The main reason was (luckily) that I was heading out of town presenting on homeopathy at the conference with the Integrative Medicine For the UnderServed (IM4US) in Portland, Oregon. I say luckily because it buffered my reaction time and my anger that would soon drive my search for justice. This email went out to a handful of homeopaths and I felt a deep disappointment that there was a lack of options to right the wrongs within these actions.

On November 2014, this episode of CBC Marketplace used unauthorized, hidden camera footage with out-of-context excerpts of various homeopaths in consultation with what they thought were patients/clients. In essence, the set up for this televised episode blamed homeopaths for the fact that a growing percentage of people are opting out of vaccinations.

IMAGE 3. Screenshot of CBC’s (2014) episode that can be seen on youtube.com

Watch episode on YouTube HERE.

Prior to these emails and this TV episode, I cannot find any evidence that homeopaths have influenced people to choose homeoprophylaxis instead of vaccines. The premise of this media message seemed to me to be completely out of context.

Let’s really contemplate, collaborate and strategize how we could possibly get this point across; that homeopaths are not the ones to blame for the de-popularization of vaccines and won’t stand to be the scapegoats.

As with most television content and especially with supposed news items on the topic of vaccines, an onslaught of back and forth opinions were in a heightened frenzy. What is going to happen to the public opinion of homeopaths? How will we know? Have we ever known? When I looked for recent ‘health’ related public opinion polls (Image 4) conducted by Ipsos online (2015), here is one of the first ones I found.

IMAGE 4. Ipsos online, Canadian Polls, Health, 2015

 

Our homeopathic associations could benefit from public opinion polls in order to establish what would be important steps for future goal setting within our homeopathic community. We could create specific and appropriate messages (Encyclopedia, para. 2, 2015) to be released to raise a public profile and for the development of our profession as homeopaths.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action (Newton’s 3rd Law);
Armed with bibliographies of homeopathic research including that specifically regarding homeoprophylaxis (APPENDIX A), I contacted the homeopathic associations in Canada, the political members in my riding, two lawyers, and I called the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunication Commission to find out where/how to lodge my complaints. The CBC’s own journalistic regulatory guidelines about using undercover tactics according to their own website (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2015, para. 13 named Hidden cameras and microphones; Justification for recording) states

‘‘If the recording reveals illegal or antisocial activity or an abuse of trust or contains information of public interest, its publication in whole or in part may be warranted, provided we have attempted to confront the persons recorded and have taken their reactions into account in our report. Publication of a clandestine recording provided by a third party requires Director approval.

The place to lodge my complaint was with the CBC’s own watchdog which is known as the Ombudsman (CBC Complaint Review Process, para. 10, 2015). I wrote a succinct letter of complaint (See Appendix B) and their response was dissatisfying (See Appendix C). There are legal responsibilities that we homeopaths in British Columbia, Canada have to abide by according to the federal governmental guidelines and all of the homeopaths in CBC’s Marketplace episode were/are operating within those guidelines making the whole premise of their episode entirely false.

Show Me the Research
Homeopathy has a long history of traditional use. It also has a history of being criticized in North America where the medical industry is dominated by the pharmaceutical industry. Homeopathy is second only to Jesus as the two most controversial topics according to Huffington Post (2014).

Considering my previous career in political advocacy focusing on environmental and conservation issues, I sometimes ask myself; is this what attracted me to homeopathy? No! It was the fact that once I gave it a try for my lifetime struggle with debilitating eczema, it did something that nothing else could do for me and so I was ecstatic (Medhurst, 2013). That success indeed was what made me passionate about ensuring that people know about homeopathy and equally homeoprophylaxis as an option if they so choose. Unfortunately, (fortunately?) that passion has led me here – writing to justify the amazing services that I am now able to do for many others, now that I’ve spent over ten years continuing to study all aspects of homeopathy with a specialty interest in homeoprophylaxis above and beyond my four year diploma requirement in order to call myself a homeopathic practitioner (HomeopathicCures, 2015).

Question Period
Why are homeopaths and homeoprophylaxis such an easy target? What makes up our community? Is homeopathy even an appropriate profession within the current dominating paradigm? What is an appropriate education for a person to become a homeopath? This essay is a step in the process to attempt to write through these questions.

Discussion; Homeopathic Community, Education, and Professionalism
At the present time within the existence of homeopathy as a modality, opportunities are not yet being taken advantage of. There could be an increased variety of ways one can practice homeopathy in a more integrated fashion. In this type of practice where there is support within a more integrated system, homeoprophylaxis could be well implemented and well used. What would help is if it is within an environment of mutual respect and support amongst the homeopathic community. Are there steps we can implement in order for this to become a rewarding possibility? If so, what are they and which will be the most direct?

The purpose of this article is to spark discussions regarding conscious community building within the homeopathic professional development. In result of this well-crafted skeptic activity in Canada, the recognition of the benefits of a coherent and active community of professional homeopaths became clear.

What are methods we can employ to encourage a professional identity that supports and respects a growing diversity within the profession instead of marginalization. Fostering and supporting a variety of methods or approaches within the profession while maintaining unity amongst homeopaths can create strength in diversity. Let’s use and create opportunities to consider methods to maintain our united front in order to represent a healthy variety of professional homeopaths.

Challenges and Limitations; Confusion
In order to bring homeopathy and homeoprophylaxis into the mainstream, a list of challenges and limitations to overcome might include; Confusion of homeopathy and naturopathy: implausibility of homeopathy: dominance of materialistic paradigm of popular science: lack of political/professional coherence: and the degree of marginalization of homeopaths already.

If you were to market yourself as a life coach or a health coach instead of a homeopath, would it be easier for you and more appealing to potential clients? I’ve found myself considering this after I’ve told someone I’m a homeopath and they’ve mistaken me for a Naturopath or someone who does aromatherapy or Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping, EMDR, and even mind reading.

This phenomenon is difficult to overcome. Each person comes to a conclusion of their own depending on prior experiences and beliefs. Think back before you had any interaction with homeopathy. If something is in contrast with a strong belief (homeopathy and particularly homeoprophylaxis), even the highest quality of research won’t suffice to change that belief despite what those scientific studies show.

Rutton (2008) describes what should be our ‘highest goal’ as homeopaths “Prior beliefs are updated in the Bayesian process, but the first prior belief has a special position. This first prior belief is very strong, we need to consider how strong and why. It is in fact paradigmatic and might not be susceptible to Bayes’ theorum”. Only a strong personal experience (seeing is believing) might be the only thing that can change a strong prior belief (Cecchetto, 2014).

Expansion & Contraction
The ability for homeopathy and homeoprophylaxis to maintain a stronghold amongst the growing options for healing has been tenuous. Compare our contemporary status versus back to when homeopaths used to be equally considered amongst conventional physicians and that there were homeopathic hospitals and publically accessible clinics of homeopathic medicine. Coincidentally, my two nieces were born in the hospital (Women’s College Hospital) that in 1859 (a time when homeopathy was a recognized medical profession in Ontario) began as a homeopathic institution (North Toronto Homeopathic Medicine, 2015).

At this time, the use of homeopathy has built itself back up to being used by over 500 million people (Montreal Institute of Classical Homeopathy, 2015). An important aspect of developing the profession lies in our ability to capture the people’s trust and the trust of the establishment. Then when they give homeopathy and homeoprophylaxis a chance, the professional medical practice of homeopathy can demonstrate how it can be applicable in so many important aspects of peoples’ health care.

Attracting more Bees with Honey than Vinegar
What happens when we allow aspects of our differences as homeopaths to disrupt the public from being able to access homeopathy? As seen in APHORISM 56, Hahnemann describes “how fundamentally unhelpful and hurtful this method of treatment is” (Hahnemann, 1996). Although Hahnemann did busy himself with writing aphorisms focused on criticizing allopathy, wouldn’t this be one of the pieces of Hahnemann’s history that we wouldn’t want to repeat?

Conscious Awareness
Acknowledgement of the deficiencies within our community allows for the recognition of what can be done in order to make it better; Addressing race and gender inequality: financial advantage/privilege/favouritism: educational establishment rivals: associations decisions and policies driven by ego. To change some of these areas of weakness, it takes some trust in our governance (Placemakers, 2012) and some understanding of each others’ communities within the general public scope of homeopathic medicine.

Codes of Conduct
When I first started implementing homeoprophylaxis into my homeopathic practice, some of my colleagues seemed to be either scared (will the health authorities completely shut you down?), skeptical (that isn’t homeopathy) or superior (we just don’t need to). Meanwhile, I decided that it was something that I ethically could not deny from my clients. There are people who are desperately searching for this exact service. I was one of them before I became a homeopath. Now, as a homeopath, I feel that it is my duty to be able to conduct this essential aspect of homeopathic practice for those who seek it.

In writing this article I looked up a few written Codes of Conduct amongst our professional associations. I also remembered that in Kim Kalina’s teaching of the CEASE Therapy course (CEASE Training Seminar, Toronto, June 2012), she specifically stated that it is important to remember the idea that ‘we are all one. Ours is not a better way. Ours is just another way.’

What do we Know
If there is one leap that occurred within my education at the University of Central Lancashire it is that when someone says they ‘know’ something, my mind goes into the question of how do they know and what is it that makes them think that they know something. As the online dictionary, Merriam Webster (2015) explains; “Knowledge (epistemology) defined: Definition of EPISTEMOLOGY: “the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity.” Now I more often feel like I need to ask more questions than I can feel like I know something.

People have the Power (Holistic, People!)
Here is a critical look at community, what it is, what it is in reference to homeopathy and how it can be developed. Oxford online dictionary (2015) describes community as “feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Within the homeopathic community, we can count on the fact that we have people. We have an extremely passionate and very engaged population of homeopaths. We can put people power first (Atlee, 2015). We can create conscious community building exercises into every conference and treat ourselves as we would our patients. Instead of trying to fit ourselves into the mainstream, let’s not forget the important principles of holistic medicine within our own community. We can implement the holistic principles we use in our practice of medicine into creating a strong homeopathic community and developing the homeopathic profession within that holistic model.