June 2015

Book review: Homeophathic remedy pictures by V. Mathison and F. Kusse

by Patricia Maché

Homeopathy remedy pictures by Vicki Mathison and Frans Kusse

It is one thing to learn long lists of symptoms and understand the essence of a remedy, but quite another to be able to visualise that essence in such a way that we can readily recognise it through the gestures, facial expressions, and behaviour of patients. Vicki Mathison’s new Illustrated Materia Medica, a follow-up to her Illustrated Materia Medica for Animals, brilliantly demonstrates that it is possible, at least for those who have, like her, been graced with the gift to put visualisation to paper.

Browsing through the oh so clever and funny illustrations, we can rediscover these well-known remedies and embark on a new journey with fresh eyes. The first striking discovery, besides the spot-on accuracy, is the incredible empathy which pervades every single illustration, and which has the beautiful effect to transform our gaze from witness to participant in the inner world of the remedy. What a fantastic way to thoroughly understand, feel, and experience the remedy. What a fantastic way to learn! So, we do not simply watch the Ferrum secretary diligently trying to complete a huge stack of work while her colleagues leave at the end of the day, but we slide with her to the floor, exhausted, cold, and weak. We do not simply listen to the Dulcamara woman blasting her opinion in no uncertain terms through a loud-speaker, but we sense, behind the vehement ranting and cursing, her insecurity about the future. We commiserate with the sleep-deprived Cocculus mother caring for her ailing twins, confused, preoccupied, and sick from anxiety. We quickly duck to avoid being hit by that lovely teddy bear specially requested by the Cina child, which is now hopelessly speeding towards us, the main target of his displeasure. We see, behind the pleasant mask of Staphysagria, the pent up rage inside from which we flee before being torn to shreds, knowing that in fact he does not want to hurt others. We giggle with the Cannabis lad who is laughing hysterically at the parking meter, meanwhile sensing his paralysing fear. Page after page, we laugh, we cry, we hope and we despair with the multifarious humanity which has come to life under Vicki’s inspired pencil. The most essential elements of the remedies have been accurately recognised, which greatly help distinguish them from each other. The remedies come alive with unforgettable images and it makes one want to learn to draw, just to be able to capture these essences in such a vivid way. Alas, we are not all so gifted!

The cartoons are accompanied by the texts of Frans Kusse, adapted from his books “Homeopathic Types” and “Children’s Types”, themselves beautiful portraits of remedies. Frans has integrated modern homeopathic experience into our traditional homeopathic knowledge, creating a useful blend of old and new.  He has the capacity to not only see the problem aspects of a remedy – where the person is “stuck” in a certain mode of behaviour – but also its inherent strength. This provides the remedy pictures with a more rounded aspect than we often see in our texts, where the problem is sometimes over-emphasised. The main text applies to the remedy in general, with an additional part devoted to children. The main physical characteristics are clearly described, as well as the nutritional aspects: desires and aversions. Lists of signs and indications prove very handy. At the back, a very brief repertory of remedies key characteristics is offered, with rubrics such as “Fun-loving”, “Motherly”, “Intense emotional life”, “Idealistic”, “Love sick”, “Zealous” etc.  This book is obviously not intended to be a complete reference work. It serves rather to bring some lightness and humour into our homeopathic study, while helping us to visualise our major remedies. 

As with most of Narayana’s publications, the quality is obvious: layout and presentation are beautiful, and the content thorough and solid. One surprise, though, is the absence of photo and mention of the artist. After the foreword from Deborah Collins and the introduction by Frans Kusse, Vicki is nowhere to be found! Perhaps an oversight which could be remedied in future editions.

The collaboration of these two great homeopaths has, no surprise, yielded a little jewel: a fantastic educative tool for homeopathic students, who will have the rare opportunity to learn with a smile; a useful reminder for the more experienced, and a great read for the general public. The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been so true.

“Homeopathic Remedy Pictures”, the 65 most important remedies in words and pictures
by Vicki Mathison and Frans Kusse
Narayana verlag, 2014
ISBN: 978-3-95582-066-4
288 pages
€44 / $50

Categories: Reviews
Keywords: book review


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