by Margot Maidment
Interpreting Chronic Illness
The key to this book is in the title. While we may recognise the existence of chronic illness, the question we have to ask ourselves as practitioners is how do we interpret what is going on in order to choose a therapeutic programme. Other writers have addressed this issue, not least, George Vithoulkas in his Levels of Health. While Vithoulkas is a classical practitioner, Kantor is a practitioner of integrated medicine and the blurb states that he is examining ‘three seemingly incompatible fields of medicine through the lens of phenomenology’. He is well qualified to do this being both a homeopath and an acupuncturist, as well as a Teaching Associate at Harvard Medical School.
One of the problems for people interested in several healing modalities is that each is a long-term, indeed life-long, study in themselves, so a book addressing all three and looking at the ways they can complement each other in the understanding of chronic health is an invaluable route to achieving a better understanding of how each can contribute to care for patients suffering from chronic illness.
Kantor uses Traditional Chinese Medicine as the framework for his model of chronic disease and maps onto this framework, which involves the organisation of symptoms according to sense-dimensional themes, the homeopathic remedies that can be used to treat various conditions. He identifies the axis of the core issue associated with each sense dimension (touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight) and reveals how remedies can be used to ‘peel away layers’. This makes it ideal for homeopaths who like to think in terms of remedy relationships. He examines various remedies, particularly the polychrests, in detail but warns that, although he considers that ‘each of TCM’s Five Phases holds an affinity for specific homeopathic remedies’, since each remedy is ‘rooted in the human condition’, the passage from one remedy state to another is not regarded as either cyclic or predictable. The benefit of this approach for homeopaths is that it provides us with insight into causation and sequencing of ill health conditions, as well as providing a structure with which we can group remedies but at the same time an element of freedom of thought is maintained in that he asserts that it does not determine how any individual will pass through or move within that structure.
In total, this works seems to me in terms of its scope and clarity to be a ‘tour de force’. One criticism might be that the book is full of rather dense information and it is not possible to be certain of the accuracy of it all since references are not always provided. For example, Chapter Four details a number of points regarding the evidence for the benefits of a number of nutritional supplements but Kantor does not give us the sources for these claims. Nevertheless, this is a book that deserves very close attention and should form an essential addition to the library of any homeopath but particularly those who are interested in the ‘integrated approach’.
Margot Maidment, MA RSHom