Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Book

Passionate Medicine: Making the Transition from Conventional Medicine to Homeopathy

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 24 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1276
  1. Anita Houghton, consultant and coach (anita.houghton{at}
  1. The Working Lives Partnership, London

    Passionate Medicine's contributors are five doctors and two vets who struggled with the practice of conventional medicine and found a more natural home in homoeopathy. Together they form the Homeopathic Professionals Teaching Group and teach homoeopathy to professionals in Britain and abroad. Their teaching methods are unusual in having a strong emphasis on self awareness and development of the health professional, and they “walk their talk” in having a regular supervision group themselves, which is run by Robin Shohet, the book's editor.

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    Ed Robin Shohet

    Jessica Kingsley, £9.95/$28.95, pp 192

    ISBN 1 84310 298 6

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    The authors, six men and one woman, tell their stories: how they came to study medicine and veterinary medicine; and their shock at discovering that it was not, as they had assumed for various reasons, a training in caring but, as one of them, Alice Greene, writes, “a tortuous test in chemistry, physics and statistics—a world away from my simple notion of what a doctor needed to know.”

    Several talk of their early experiences of human dissection, raising the possibility that this is a kind of initiation test for trainee doctors, a first lesson in dealing with your feelings and pretending you don't have any. All the contributors talk of the experience of human suffering and death that they encountered during their early days as qualified doctors and how the feelings of the professional involved were never acknowledged, let alone discussed.

    These seven clinicians are remarkable in not having been prepared to make the compromises that modern medicine required of them. Most of their stories have a strong spiritual theme. As Brian Kaplan says, “Each has a story, a journey different from mine, but we always share one thing in common. We have taken a leap of faith and followed where our hearts have led us.”

    This book makes a real attempt to explain homoeopathy beyond the superficial knowledge most of us have, and it raises interesting questions about ourselves and our own lives. On the one hand it is amazing to hear doctors rue the lack of discussion of feelings. On the other you can't help thinking how extraordinary it is that clinicians studiously avoid the questions of life and death they face every day.

    Doctors sceptical of homoeopathy may find themselves wondering how such intelligent and articulate people can be proponents. For all doctors this book has the potential to raise searching questions, especially for those who feel that they did lose something of themselves when they first entered the dissecting room.