Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines - 3 vol set
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OverviewCoulter has been a major influence in introducing homeopathic archetypes to students and practitioners.
She offers very readable adjuncts to the drier writing styles of the older materia medica.
All 3 volumes, at a savings of $6.95 per volume.
DetailsCoulter's three volumes of "Portraits" are especially readable and have proven to be of use in the practices of many homeopaths. This set includes all three individual volumes, at a total savings of $20.85 over the individual price.
For details on each book, see:
The American Homeopath
Reviewed by Rochelle D. Jobes, RN
In the introduction to Portraits of Homoeopathic Medicines, Volume 3 (1998), Catherine R. Coulter provides us with an eloquent overview of the homeopath's challenge, embodied in four lines of William Blake's poem, "Auguries of Innocence":
To see the world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Coulter's intent in this volume is to elucidate "beyond the existing limits of a remedy picture, while simultaneously acknowledging at every step its time-honored features." She delves deeply and most engagingly into the whole of the remedy, its creative and destructive faces (the "world"), the spiritual characteristics (''heaven"), the expression of the remedy in relation to a host of other constitutional types ("infinity") and the unconscious impulses, drives and challenges through which its archetypal patterns can be detected (''eternity").
The author contributes expanded views of four remedies and four essential aspects of character expression. The remedies covered are Aurum metallicum, Thuja, Causticum and Graphites. The comparative materia medica chapters explore the idiosyncratic expressions of Clairvoyance, Suspicion, Generosity and Indifference. The layout of Volume 3 is similar to that of Coulter's previous volumes. There is a chapter for each remedy followed by the Comparative Materia Medica sections.
In Volume 1 of Coulter's Portraits she defines her use of the term, portraits: "A portrait painter selects certain features to reveal his subject's true character. The same is true for these descriptions.... They are selective rather than comprehensive presentations. Certain features are emphasized, certain themes developed and certain nuances brought to the fore because they appear quintessential to the type."
In each volume Coulter taps a wide range of sources for illustrations of the intricacies of constitutional expression, from Mark Twain and Jane Austen to Fyodor Dostoyevsky and beyond.
As she explains in Volume 1,
"Famous persons and well-known characters in fiction often seem to portray constitutional types in concentrated form, and because they are familiar parts of our cultural heritage, any allusion to them suggests to the reader a host of associations which bring the remedy's specific personality into clear focus. Thus they serve as archetypes."
The first portrait chapter examines Aurum metallicum, its medicinal properties and personality characteristics in all its creative and destructive aspects. This is an in-depth depiction of the devoted, conservative, well-adjusted, hardworking person who experiences loss/disillusionment and enters a state of self-imposed reproach, melancholy and often silent suicidal anguish. The response of this constitutional type to life experiences is compared especially with that of Natrum muriaticum, Ignatia, Staphysagria and Nux vomica.
In the Causticum section, we are treated to a clear picture of the fullness of the remedy. We see the surface calm, the healthy sociability, "the aura of normality," in old and young, which often camouflages the unpredictable, eccentric or anomalous behavior, the shadow side of Causticum.
In the Graphites chapter we encounter an artist without an art. Coulter notes that pencil lead has the "ability to transfer its metallic luster onto paper," and that the Graphites patient suffers the lack of a medium through which to express himself. The author finds that once the quest is initiated and the art form discovered, the artist no longer needs the remedy Graphites.
Perhaps most exciting is Coulter's discussion of the Thuja personality. Through numerous clinical examples and comparisons, Thuja is noted to be similar to Natrum muriaticum, but more extreme in its alienation and turmoil, precariously poised between breakdown and breakthrough. We are taken along a winding path through the centuries to discover
Thuja's "archetypal challenge: to expand his consciousness-or continue emotionally and physically to suffer." Among many other issues related to the Thuja experience, Coulter presents a remarkable four pages on Leonardo da Vinci as a preeminent Thuja.
Coulter entices us into the comparative materia medica section with the promise that this type of study "helps to differentiate between those shadings of feelings and behavior patterns that, on the surface, appear similar" such as Suspicion, and discusses the use of healthy characteristics as guiding symptoms (e.g. Generosity).
The author takes a leap beyond her previous volumes as she leads us through a comparative analysis of experiences in the extrasensory dimension, the psychic realm. Coulter describes various constitutional types' responses to psychic experiences throughout the text and particularly in the Clairvoyance chapter.
This is not intended to be a description of homeotherapeutics in treatment of the insane or those under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, but rather of normal, essentially healthy patients responding to "the call" of the psychic.
Coulter does note, to her "infinite chagrin," that she has had no direct experiences in the psychic realms. But she does encourage us to see and understand these conscious experiences, as did Hering, not as "delusions" but as "sensations as if" Thus she supports the practitioner in interpreting such information gleaned from a patient in a more comfortable and integrated manner.
The final comparative chapter, Indifference, was originally published separately in 1989 as a supplement to Portraits Volume 2, and was Coulter's "earliest experiment in the genre of descriptive comparative materia medica." Here she explores 16 remedies, illustrating the spectrum of states from "healthy indifference" to an unbalanced condition of total collapse.
Volume 3 is highly recommended for practitioners who, having a sound familiarity with the traditional materia medica, wish to broaden their perspective beyond the more common psychophysical considerations.
Though wonderfully enjoyable reading for practitioners at any level of experience, this Volume will be most appreciated by those who are ready and able, along with Coulter, to embrace the challenges and rewards revealed by "the recognition that the homoeopathic medicines achieve their profound effects precisely because they do act on the subconscious, archetypal, psychic and spiritual levels."
Reprinted with permission from the North American Society of Homeopaths
HeritageJulian Winston writes about Volume I:
Greatly influenced by the "portraits" and work of Edward Whitmont, this first volume contains a narrative discussion, based upon historical literature and cases seen in her own years of practice.
Nine remedies are discussed: Phosphorus, Calcarea carbonica, Lycopodium, Sepia, Sulphur, Pulsatilla, Arsenicum, Lachesis, and Natrum muriaticum
The first new look at materia medica since Pulford's work in the 1940s. Although the author is quick to stress that the entire pathogensis of the case should be studied, these "pictures" present the remedies as "essences" that could easily be used as the main filter for the case rather than as a filter at the end to narrow the choice of remedy.
The wish to prescribe on "essence" is very seductive, and the urge to do so should be carefully moderated by references to the primary materia medica(as the author does regularly).
That said, this, and her subsequent books, are especially readable and have proven to be of use in the practices of many homeopaths.
The Heritage of Homoeopathic Literature
copyright 2001 by Julian Winston
Reprinted with the permission of the author