Personal experiences with Edward Christopher Whitmont
In the mid-70s, I first encountered the writings of Edward Christopher Whitmont, MD, on the subjects of homeopathy and Jungian perspective that were published in The Homeopathic Recorder, a now defunct American journal of classical homeopathy. His writings stood heads and heels in sophistication over any other on homeopathy for their integration of modern psychology, new physics, and classical homeopathy. I humbly asked his permission to xerox his articles and make them available to interested parties. I wrote a Foreword to this collection of articles, and I acknowledged a certain embarrassment in making these magnificent writings available in a simple xerox form with a spiral binding. Although these articles were initially written by Dr. Whitmont between 1948 and 1955, the information in them was still way ahead of that present time.
In 1979, I began to co-publish books on homeopathy with North Atlantic Books (a Berkeley book publishing company that was founded by Richard Grossinger). The first book we co-published was Kent’s Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy. The second book, was the collection mentioned above. His writings were then preserved in a high quality (initially) hardback book form. This book became Psyche and Substance: Essays on Homeopathy in the Light of Jungian Psychology (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1980).
Later, after bugging him for many years to consider writing a book about his most recent thoughts about real healing, he finally capitulated. He exceeded my expectations when he wrote The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma (North Atlantic Books, 1993), a book that is the most profound book about healing that I have ever read.
In the mid-1980s, I was visiting the east coast of the US, and I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Whitmont in his summer home in up-state New York. Because I had just visited a MD/classical homeopath in Vermont by the name of Sandy Reider, I asked Sandy if he wanted to join me. Sandy had trained with George Vithoulkas, and from this training he had developed a certain arrogance about homeopathy and about classical homeopathy in particular. Sandy joined me, and I knew that Whitmont was going to humble him.
Despite Whitmont's immense experience and profound knowledge of homeopathy, he also acknowledged that much of the time it was necessary to use intuitive processes (such as dowsing) to find the correct remedy. While some classical homeopaths may be dumbfounded by this fact, Whitmont didn't consider dowsing by itself to be anti-Hahnemannian. It was how it was used that mattered in selecting the individualized remedy.
Whitmont didn't use a pendulum in his dowsing. Instead, he used a rod or stick-plate. He would ask the patient to expose his or her abdomen, place a remedy into the patient's hand, then rub the rod against the abdomen. If the rubbing was smooth, this was not the indicated remedy. If the rob was sticky, it suggested a simillimum. Whitmont also used this technique to find the appropriate potency since he, like many of us, knew that remedy selection remains a mystery.
It should also be noted that Dr. Whitmont rarely prescribed a homeopathic medicine to a patient on his or her first visit. Only after several visits and as a result of a deeper understanding of the person did he feel comfortable with selecting a remedy for a patient.
If you think about it, it is quite remarkable that so many homeopaths are arrogant enough to assert that they prescribe an individualized homeopathic medicine for the "constitution" or the "essence" of the person after a simple 60 or 90 minute interview. One MUST be humbled to hear of insightful, brilliant clinicians like Dr. Whitmont who rarely would even consider prescribing in such rapid fashion, let alone be arrogant enough to think that he knew the patient's essence in so short a time.
Needless to say, Sandy was humbled… while I have always tried to respect the many ways that homeopathy is practiced by seasoned clinicians.
I once asked Whitmont if Jung knew about homeopathy, and he replied: "Yes, I told him about it." When I then asked what Jung's thoughts of homeopathy were, Whitmont said in a matter of fact way that Jung had little interest in the body. Despite Jung's blind-sightedness to homeopathy, he was wise and respectful enough to encourage Whitmont to further his studies in homeopathy.
Whitmont was ever-learning. Despite his advancing age, he grew to love computers, and in particular, he was a great appreciator of MacRepertory. And he always kept up on the newest books, though because of his own significant experience, he didn't buy into every new development in homeopathy, even if it was under the guise of "classical homeopathy". He was not immune to sending books back to me with but a simple usually kind note that simply said that this book wasn't of interest to him.
Despite Dr. Whitmont's great knowledge, he was deeply humble; humble for himself, for his knowledge, and for the mysteries of nature. I will always honor his humility, though perhaps the thing that I will remember most of all is that special twinkle in his eyes that he had when he talked to me, that sense of wonder that seemed ever present, and that glorious mind and heart that spoke through his eyes.
Because Dr. Whitmont was quite short and due to that twinkle in his eyes, I have long wondered if there is anyone else on our planet who most closely resembled the Star Wars hero, Yoda. At date, I do not know anyone who is more like Yoda than Dr. Whitmont.
I also have some fond memories of the one and only time that Dr. Whitmont spoke at a conference of the National Center for Homeopathy. In 1989, the conference was in Baltimore. One of the other speakers at that conference was the French physician and researcher, Jacques Benveniste. Dr. Whitmont’s talk, entitled simply “Illness and Healing”, was so magnificent that he received a standing ovation. Over the 30+ years that I’ve attended various homeopathic conferences, I can only remember three people ever getting a standing ovation, and Dr. Whitmont got this serious level of appreciation after this talk.
In May, 1994, Dr. Whitmont gave a two-day workshop in the San Francisco area. The first day of the two day workshop was devoted to "Homeopathy, Psychotherapy, and Alchemy." The second day was devoted to dream work and its implications for homeopathy.
Here are some of his words of wisdom, which I culled from this seminar. These quotes may require several readings and some serious thought to obtain their deep implications. Also included here are some choice quotes of other wise people who Whitmont quoted throughout his seminar.
"Hahnemann's discovery will one day be recognized on an equal level to the discoveries of Copericus and Einstein."
"Illness is necessary. It is a sacred transformation to integrate the various parts of a person's experience into his or her life."
"The human experience needs symptoms and disturbances to wake up and will use any available material to do so (viruses, bacteria, psychological traumas, pollutants, or whatever)."
"Symptoms are our spiritual creativity to give light to our shadow's side."
"Delusions express the underlying dynamic of disease."
"Disease is always that something that wants or needs to be seen or heard."
"Lifeless things are condensed awarenesses. They hear us; we don't hear them. Who's more sensitive?"
There's an old Jewish tale
that says that humans are told everything will happen in his or her life. During
birth an angel kisses the child with a kiss that destroys all memory. Life is
then the process of re-remembering.
"You dream because you are unaware of your unconscious state or because you have uncompleted feelings about something."
"Dreams are sent by God, even though we don't know who or what is God."
"Chaos isn't chaos; it is still a pattern but just on a higher order when viewed in the larger picture."
"Everybody gets the doctor they deserve." Paracelsus
"Sulphur people are seekers of meaning. They are too dense for their own good and running after too many spirits."
"The trouble with our unconscious is that it's unconscious." C.G. Jung
NOTE: “Christopher” was Dr. Whitmont’s middle name… and most people close to him called him by his middle name. Because I too use my middle name, this coincidence added just one more synchronicity to our connection.