© 2015 Inna Vladimirovna ZINOVYEVA, Erik VAN WOENSEL
2015 – №2 (10)
Inna Zinovyeva interviews Erik van Woensel
Erik van Woensel is a famous Belgian homeopath. He started practicing homeopathy in 1982. Since 1990 he has been teaching at several schools, including the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy, Alonissos, Greece. Doctor van Woensel currently teaches at different international seminars all over the world. He supervises several groups of new and experienced homeopaths regarding their cases.
Erik van Woensel is the author of Characteristics and Peculiaritis. . A Complited Materia Medica – Radar Keynotes 4 (Van Woensel E. 2000), and of several books on classical homeopathy. He is co-author with professor Georg Vithoulkas of the book Levels of Health (Vithoulkas G., Woensel E. van. 2009). For the past thirteen years he has advised and assisted the team that develops the repertory¹ Synthesis.
The aim of doctor Erik van Woensel is to spread homeopathy by teaching and writing, to research the potential of homeopathy and make this public, to bring the application of homeopathy to a higher level and improve homeopathic literature. To achieve this end he founded – among other thing – the Archive for Homeopathy².
Key words: homeopathy, medical ethics, medical education, International Academy of Classical Homeopathy, biomedicine, nonconventional medicine, complementary medicine, alternative medicine, medical system, method
Abstract: Erik van Woensel talks about the reasons that led him to homeopathy, why patients choose homeopathy, the relationship between the homeopathic physician and the patients. He touches upon questions of medical ethics, compares the legal status of homeopathy in various European countries, and reflects on the state of health of Russians.
I.Z.: Erik, would you please tell about yourself. You are well-known as a homeopathy practitioner and a teacher. So what brought you into homeopathy, for what reasons have you become a homeopath?
E.W.: The reason lies in the positive results we observe while treating the patients. Most people turn to homeopathy, because they start using it and see positive results. I became interested in homeopathy when I was 15 years old. So when the time came to decide which profession to choose, I have already been studying homeopathy for a number of years. Back then, becoming a physician in Belgium took nine years of studies. It seemed to me a complete loss of time, because it was just homeopathy I wanted to study.
Ten years later, I nevertheless enrolled in a medical college. But I had a hard time studying there, because I did not consider what we were taught correct information, based on my experience as a homeopath. In homeopathy, we understand clearly the laws of health and illness and these laws are applicable not only in homeopathy, but in any other therapy type. In the university, on the other hand, certain cases were presented to us as successful, although I could see that the treatment was wrong, but the cases were deemed successful, because only one part of the patient was considered. For instance, they would cure eczema and pay no attention at all that the patient had a heart attack afterwards. As homeopaths we know that the heart attack was a consequence of the skin rash’ suppression, but conventional medicine does not see this link. At that moment, I was too young and found it hard to bear this lie on a daily basis. Today, I would have taken all this easier.
I.Z.: Now it is clear what appeals to a therapist in homeopathy, but what makes homeopathy so attractive to the patients?
E.W.: I think it is very important for the patients that homeopaths see them as human beings and not as a disease. The patients also like being treated as persons as opposed to some ID code. The great mistake of conventional medicine is that it has become akin to a factory. It leads to such incidents as, for instance, the wrong doctor amputates the wrong leg, because the doctor is not even familiar with the patient. In conventional medicine, there is no place for some inter-personal relations that are requisite for helping someone. Medicine has become a mere implementation of some chemicals, while the actual person is forgotten and not visible from behind the illness.
I.Z.: In this regard, I would like to learn your opinion as to the differences between the relations of a homeopathy practitioner and its patients and those of a physician, such as a therapist or a surgeon? It is no secret that in conventional medicine, a whole problem of relationships between a therapist and a patient exists. Medicine has turned into some sacred knowledge and many physicians practice a mentor-like attitude towards the patients dismissing any thought about a dialogue. What about homeopathy – is there such thing as a cooperation between a homeopathy practitioner with a patient?
E.W.: In homeopathy, relations are usually quite different. There is no such hierarchy here and homeopaths do not oppress the patients with their expertise. Naturally, a homeopath, just as any other therapist, possesses special professional knowledge, but the relations are based on a dialogue.
Homeopathic treatment is patient-, rather than illness-oriented. A homeopath considers the patient as an integral personality. And since homeopathy is a natural type of medicine, a respect for the patients is always present here. We do not suppress them. And an idea is always evident here that the patient has a free will to accept or refuse the offered treatment. Ideas of a respect towards the patient and of a freedom of choice are very important ideas in the relations between a homeopath and a patient.
I.Z.: By the way, why, in your opinion, do people throw discredit on the homeopathic method by spreading rumors about its non-scientific nature?
E.W.: These rumors are spread by people that know nothing about homeopathy. In fact, there is a great number of scientific studies that confirm the effectiveness of homeopathy. Unfortunately, these studies receive no recognition and are known to few. But there is much information on the internet, there specialized websites there dedicated to homeopathy, so a person, let us say, a journalist, who wants to research this issue without prejudice can track down these studies and find scientific verification of homeopathy’s effectiveness.
The major problem is that homeopathy has no legal defense, no official recognition. Anyone can call themselves a homeopath. So, if someone calls themselves a homeopath and does something on behalf of homeopathy, this person can damage the reputation of homeopathy. For instance, there are people that deal with meditation and call themselves homeopaths, but they actually have nothing to do with homeopathy.
Now, if the government recognized homeopathy, there would have been certain action norms for homeopaths present and no such fraudulence would have been taking place. Thus, the current position of the government encourages a great number of charlatans to occur.
I.Z.: Erik, you work in many countries as a homeopathy teacher and are the leading lecturer in the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy in Greece. Tell me, why do you visit Russia so often?
E.W.: I visit Russia, because people here are very motivated to study homeopathy. And homeopathy has great opportunities in Russia.
I.Z.: What exactly do you mean by great opportunities?
E.W.: There is a strong interest among the conventional medicine specialists that would like to use homeopathy in their practice. In addition, the public opinion in Russia is also setting with homeopathy and there are many patients here. Russian people take care of their health, they have realized this problem and want to do it using the natural therapeutic methods. I also see opportunities in the fact that Russian people respond very well to the homeopathic treatment.
I.Z.: Why do Russians respond to the homeopathic treatment so well?
E.W.: I don’t know – perhaps, because Russians descend from stronger ancestors? The climate is severe in Russia; to live here, one must be strong. Maybe this is what facilitates the therapy.
I.Z.: How do you evaluate the overall health state of Russians?
E.W.: I really cannot generalize like this. All kinds of people come to me and some of them have a grave pathology that affects vital parts. Nevertheless, they respond very well to the homeopathic treatment. It means that their defense mechanism is in a sufficiently good shape, which is indicative of a certain health state. All this is definitely quite individual and it would be hard to make any generalizations. But I see that Russian people have a more practical mindset and it helps to retain good health.
I.Z.: How do you see the place of homeopathy in the contemporary medical system? Is interaction between conventional medicine and homeopathy possible?
E.W.: To a certain extent, such interaction is possible, but at some point, it will grow very complicated. You see, conventional medicine is based on suppression. Homeopathy does the exact opposite – it stimulates the person’s defense mechanisms. This is why, at a certain point, a conflict arises.
Van Woensel, E. (2000) Characteristics and Peculiaritis. A Complited Materia Medica – Radar Keynotes 4, Archibel, Namur, Belgium, software.
Vithoulkas, G., Woensel, E. van (2009) Levels of Health International Academy for Classical Homeopathy, Alonissos.
Van Woensel, E. (2011) Classical Homeopathy – Evidence Based Madicine – Volume 1, Educatief Centrum voor Homeopathy, Groesbeek, Netherlands.
Maesimund B. Panos, Jane Heimlich, The Complete Book of Family Homeopathic Medicine, New Delhi, Bombay.
¹ The Repertory is a reference book of a homeopath physician, used to select a homeopathic remedy, containing a list of systematically ordered symptoms.
This article is available in full version in Russian