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Dr. Fickel and the high priests of homeopathy

Dr. Alphonse Noack, whistleblower

In January 1836, the appropriately named young Dr. Fickel took up the position of Chief Physician at the Leipsig Homoeopathic Hospital, an institution Hahnemann had scorned due to allopathic influences in its staffing.

What was fickle about Dr. Fickel, you may ask? He had been appointed the Chief Physician in a homoeopathic hospital – without knowing anything about homoeopathy. Dr. Fickel was an allopath who deliberately insinuated himself into the company of homoeopaths to harm the profession, cobbled together books on homoeopathy which he published under pseudonyms, and was offered the position of Chief Physician of the hospital by its governing association without knowing the first thing about homoeopathic treatment. During the 7 months that he held his position, most of the time he relied heavily on his assistant Dr. Seidel for actual prescribing, primarily dispensed sac lac, and left cures to nature.

You can read the whole sordid story in Haehl and in Bradford. It has all the elements of a good thriller, with money changing hands, people lying about their credentials, criminal negligence, unmasking and punishment of the wicked. Or something like that.

Fickel produced three works on homoeopathy, which would probably still be considered part of homoeopathic literature if he hadn’t been exposed at the time. All three were published under pseudonyms.

In the first he pieced together works by Hahnemann and other homoeopaths, and discussed effects of remedies. The book was well received by Stapf’s Archiv.

Fickel then produced a “Cyclopedia of the whole of theoretical and practical homoeopathy,” supposedly authored by a “Union of homoeopaths”. Hartmann, one of Hahnemann’s students and a member of the prover’s union who should have seen through it even if he and Hahnemann did part company, pronounced it to be “the most comprehensive, the most accurate and practical work”.

In 1835 Fickel published his third masterpiece, again under a pseudonym: “Homoeopathic manner of healing in surgical cases, together with the pure medicinal effects of a new and important anti-psoric.” The work was commended by Stapf and Haubold, and Haubold even claimed to have cured a condition of leucorrhea with the new remedy.

Fickel’s masterworks included descriptions of fictitious provings and cures, clearly tailored for his gullible audience, who chose to have blind faith rather than to check references.

Despite stories which were already circulating to the effect that Fickel was not the most plausible or well-intentioned homoeopath, and despite the warnings the appointment board had received, “The priests of homoeopathy opened wide to me the portals of their temple, not so much in confidence as from a blind sense of devotion…” wrote Fickel.

Suspicion continued to grow. Finally in March 1836 after more prodding and criticism of his work by Dr. Alphonse Noack, Fickel owned up to his penmanship and to his ulterior motives. He announced that the “insipid innacurate work” had a definite purpose, “the whole thing was nothing but irony and satire… against the prevailing charlatanry of our time”. In a pamphlet published in June or July 1836 Noack exposed the entire fraud, and Fickel resigned in August.

Several years after Fickel’s unmasking, he went public in attacks on homoeopathy, such as his “Direct Proof of the Futility of Homoeopathy as a System of Healing, for Doctors and Laymen”, published in 1840.

This sordid episode raises so many questions, many of them relevant today. Why did hardly anyone see through Fickel? Why were his works not more severely critiqued? And how on earth could someone who knew nothing of homoeopathy be appointed to one of homoeopathy’s top official positions of the time, as a senior practitioner?

Why relevant today? Because the dangerous mixture of apathy and mindless adulation of the great is alive and well. Because Hahnemann’s Organon is fast becoming an obsolete work – and without reading the original method, would-be practitioners will know nothing of homoeopathy except the regurgitated messes dropped by their teachers into their eager waiting mouths….

Fickel got as far as he did because few had the courage to challenge the “old boys network” of the time, to demand sources complete with chapter and verse for works. Has anything changed?

Birth control pills and IUDs – cause and maintaining cause

Sometimes it’s a question of finding reasons, not giving remedies.

 

A patient came to me recently suffering from anal fissure, hemorrhoids and constipation.  In that order – the fissure began several years previously, then the hemorrhoids appeared, and in recent months she began suffering from constipation.  In itself this progression looks odd, as usually we’d expect the constipation to come first.  But then the patient reported that she was completely clear from symptoms during pregnancy and immediately after giving birth. And then the nightmare began again.  Curiouser and curiouser, to borrow an expression. Continue reading

Aphorism 224 – mental disease

child-saying-noThese days so many situations are classified as mental disorders, from defiance in children to reasonable depression (where it is normal to be unhappy, due to  temporary or changeable situations of loss, firing etc.) in adults.  So many people are on anti-depressants these days, and the age of those taking the drugs is constantly dropping.

But where will these mental states fit into our prescribing?  Are we looking at early stages of a mental disease, which is part of a systemic problem, or at a reasonable mood change resulting from events and lifestyle where what is really needed is encouragement and advice from friends or professionals?  I am of necessity simplifying a complex differential for this article, as when a reasonable mood change becomes prolonged and entrenched, encouragement and advice may no longer be of use. Continue reading

Are homoeopaths killing homoeopathy?

The article below was written by Gary Weaver and posted on the IHM main site.  You can see the original here.  I have deliberately “amped up” the headline. 

Homoeopathy has been under attack almost since its inception.  The principle  of cure by similars was too foreign, the idea that very small amounts can stimulate the body to heal itself was too bizarre, and cures were dismissed as a “fluke”, as placebo, even when the cures involved babies or animals.  In addition, our society is still used to the idea that the body must be nagged at like a recalcitrant child – if it doesn’t respond to a medicine, give more.  This has resulted in an addicted society – most people I see today are addicted to some form of medicine, whether anti-depressants, analgesics, anti-biotics, nasal sprays, prescription and non-prescription medications for indigestion and heartburn – the list goes on and on.  People have learned to bless modern medicine for providing these means for palliation.  They have learned to fear any threat to the supply of their fixes. Continue reading

Questions that have been asked regarding homoeopathy

The following article, posted by Gary Weaver on the main IHM site, sheds light and clarity on issues which are constantly confused, sometimes among homeopaths and frequently among the general public:

What is Psora?

220px-hahnemannPsora is Hahnemanns model for a disease process stemming from a singular root. Hahnemann considered it as the most common ailment to affect mankind. He also made the point that it was acquired by INFECTION and therefore was not transferred by hereditary.  A full and thorough examination of the medical models of Psora Sycosis and Syphilis is conducted in the IHM Advanced training course. It is not a disease per se, it is a process via infection and the resultant sequela. Continue reading

Viewed through proving: IGNATIA’s alternating symptoms

Alternating Ignatia

OK, you prescribed Ignatia.  You’re absolutely sure of the remedy.  You’ve looked at it, repped it, slept on it, thought about it, checked materia medica, checked your patient notes, and you know.  You just do.

You gave the remedy and it did nothing.  Or it aggravated but didn’t seem to do anything interesting, worthwhile or exciting for homoeopathy.  But you were absolutely certain! Continue reading

Homoeopathy at Wikipedia – research and pathological scepticism

wikipediaI’m often told that there is no research showing the benefits of homoeopathy and much research showing that it is nothing more than placebo at best and pure charlatanism/lunacy at worst.  Of course, those who express such learned opinions usually have no idea what homoeopathy is, and when asked parrot something vague about tiny doses and, on a good day, some garbled version of “cure by similars”.

Wikipedia, the source of information for many of the learned masses, is particularly delinquent in its treatment of homoeopathy.  The following is excerpted from an article by Dana Ullman who tried to rectify the situation in 2014.  Judging from today’s Wikipedia entry on homoeopathy, any such attempts have not yet been successful.  Continue reading