The inspiring interview with Dr Austin O’Carroll on RTE’s Sean O’Rourke programme today (Friday March 4th 2016) is a wonderful contrast to the anti-homeopathy rant of Dr Ruairi Hanley.
Dr O’Carroll was talking about ‘narrative medicine’, listening to the patient’s story and designing their treatment around that story – uplifting.
Dr Hanley by contrast has devoted an entire column in the current Irish Medical Times about what he sees as the “utter nonsense that is homeopathy”
If Homeopathy is merely a placebo which makes people feel better, why is Dr Hanley so exercised about attacking it?
He says he is “tired of trying to convince others that homeopathy is utter nonsense”. Why does he bother?
Does he feel it is some kind of threat to the medical profession that he has to obliterate?
He talks about homeopaths harming thousands of mentally ill people “who by virtue of their illness may already have difficulting trusting healthcare professionals”.
Where is the hard evidence for this?
Dr Hanley refers to homeopathy as a practice that “violates basic laws of chemistry that have been recognised for centuries and are beyond indisputable”.
The crucial element in all science is to have an inquisitive open mind.
Surely as someone whose profession is backed by science, he understands that chemistry progresses and we find meaning for things we previously did not understand. It does not mean they do not work while we pursue the answer.
To dismiss those who use homeopathy as “individuals who possess a moderate degree of intelligence coupled with an irrational hostility towards the medical profession” is another of his sweeping statements.
If 30 million people worldwide use it homeopathy on a regular basis, is he suggesting they are all intellectually challenged?
He takes it even further saying that these people “have a tendency to blame doctors for diseases and feel empowered by believing they have a higher insight than them when it comes to treatments”.
Does Dr Hanley not understand that homeopaths, just like doctors, are merely seeking to help people who are suffering and help them in the most gentle way possible with minimum side effects?
Neither homeopaths, nor medical doctors have “higher insight”. Ordinary people, however, are the best judges of their own condition.
Ordinary people also have the right to choose their treatment. If they decide to use orthodox or alternative medicines or even a combination of the two they are the best people to assess the outcome. They know when they feel better.
If they feel helped by homeopathy or any other form of medicine, it is not for Dr Hanley, or anyone else, to decide otherwise.
Instead of getting carried away by his sarcastic offers of magical bottled water and his view that “homeopathy is up there with the belief that evil lizard men are secretly ruling our planet”maybe Dr Hanley should simply open his mind.