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Something in the Water & Other Tales of Homeopathy

by Sue Lanzon

listed in homeopathy

[Image: Something in the Water & Other Tales of Homeopathy]

You’ve read the stalwarts, from the classical giants like Kent and Bonninghausen to the modern A-listers - Scholten, Sankaran, Vithhoulkas and others of a similar ilk, vying for a place at the top. You may be left feeling several light years away from getting it.

Amidst the plethora of homeopathy DIY treatises along the lines of How To Observe, How Not to Observe, Super Sandy Symptoms and such like, comes a different sort of book. Sue Lanzon’s Something in the Water & Other Tales of Homeopathy, is anything but an ego-driven attempt to mystify an already hugely complex subject.

Neither is it a dumbing down exercise. In fact, it is a clever, colourful compilation of short narratives that run through the gamut of complexities that make up the homeopath, the patient and homeopathy, all of which are intertwined like some symbiotic nemesis.

Sue chooses adventurous possibilities to showcase the banal and the fascinating. This is a modern take on a subject that is still dominated by 18th century jargon and concepts.  And while we take a welcome break from the Masters, Sue offers an escape into the world of the Homeopath, the narrator, through 21 short vignettes.

The Homeopath is most of the time dashing around and unusual scenarios become the setting for her stories. The time that she is at her desk prescribing, we detect the deep responsibility of being an homeopath, observing a case and having to suspend judgment and speculation.

The Homeopath remarks in Looking For Clues “You may wonder why it is that homeopaths always have to look things up in books. Well, guess what, we’re not looking anything up at all. We’re just playing for time.”

When discussing Staphysagria in The Speed of Dark, a remedy for “the effects of invasion of personal space”, the case involves the victim, persecutor and rescuer with the homeopath enmeshed in this triangle sometimes taking the place of rescuer or persecutor, not the ideal scenario for a positive result, the remedy states of the patient sometimes taking the homeopaths to places they’d rather not be.

Some urges are familiar. The Homeopath is afflicted with the common problem of wanting to cure all and sundry. Leroy, the Big Issue seller is one of her clients in Waiting For God. Even the fictitious Heathcliff is not free from her desire to treat. She wonders if Bronte understood homeopathy, to have created a Nat Mur personality.

And have we homeopaths not all toyed with the idea of spiking the drink of a sceptic friend or relative, just as the narrator is tempted when Camille is  bawling her eyes out at being forsaken (“dumped” in modern lingo)?

Sue’s literary and cultural forays - Dvorak, DH Lawrence, Greek mythology, quantum physics, history  -  are not only an exploration of her own creative talent but most importantly, they form the exotic backdrop to her subject. Like the velvet lining encasing some valuable jewellery, she unfurls the essence of the remedies amidst pomp and ceremony.  Sue’s remedies are today’s people and circumstances slowly emerging from the bowels of old text books. They rise, shaking off their shackles to reveal their core.

In Faking It, the Homeopath plays decoy girlfriend to a gay Pakistani scientist to beguile his parents. Amidst fossils and ancient methods of preserving textiles, a pair of bone chopstick with jade handles is reverently displayed, and with this Calcium Carbonate is introduced.

Sue goes on the describe Calc Carb - the placid baby, the plodding adult, the need for structure. She adds flesh, blood and skin to the remedy and breathes life into it, complete with it soft spots, temperament and before it starts sounding like Allen’s Keynotes, she swings back to paleontology, cleverly tying the connection between calcium and the skeleton.

The stories are interactive, drawing the reader in seductively to guess the remedies while she slowly builds up pictures of people that touch her life.

A talk at the Courtauld Institute is full of Sulphurs, like in the homeopathic world, the researchers, the writers, and the philosophers. The boozy, cigarette smoking, swearing PR with his hands down a women’s back is a text book Nux Vomica. The title Poison Nut gives it away. The Homeopath herself falls ill presenting with a remedy picture . The delineation of the 12 ft Angelina Jolie’s turning into a deck chair in a dream had me stumped.

While the remedy characters are familiar to a homeopath, they serve to enlighten the uninitiated.

The Homepath lives with her children and her two cats, and there is the long-distance partner. There is much drama in their lives and those of people they encounter. Arnica and Rescue Remedy crops up frequently.  Sue’s book also becomes a platform for some political commentary. Gender stereotypes, multiracialism, sexual orientation, all part of life in London, gets an airing.

In the Acknowledgements, I get excited when Sue mentions Ernst and Goldacre, with their railing against homeopathy that challenges her to write the book for the “wider world”.

I am hoping for a gratifying slaying of the dissenting voices with the Homeopath’s sword in her Tai Chi uniform. All the snarling and growling she displays in Squaring Up To The Paper Tiger has dissipated somewhere down her sword. Goldacre’s sceptisim is briefly noted but Ernest is ignored. This is non-confrontational and psoric, I am thinking.

In the end I can’t help but sigh in agreement when the Homepath admits in Enlighten : “I think of the war against homeopathy and the part I’m being forced to play in the conflict; my lack of desire to take sides, and the inevitability of being drawn into something that requires an identification, a tribal badge that goes against all my instincts”.

The foreword by Martin Walker takes up the cudgels for homeopathy, likening it to the Sherlock Holmes method of reaching conclusions as opposed to the reductionist’s linear pathway.

Entertained and refreshed, I turn to a contemporary Materia Medica. The soot of Victorian upbringing fills in the space left by the feisty world of Sue’s Homeopath –Looking up rubrics my eye catches Admonition Aggravates , Sensitive to Reprimands.

Further Information

Available from Amazon and other retailers and distributors:

Prasanna Probyn
Winter Press

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