GEORGE LAURENCE, MRCS, LRCP, FRCS(Ed), FIPsiMed
George Laurence qualified from St George’s Hospital, London in 1904, having previously studied at Liverpool University. It was while at Liverpool that he was influenced by Sir Oliver Lodge, the Professor of Physics, at the time one of the foremost researchers into the properties of electromagnetic waves.
After a series of hospital appointments, in 1915 he passed his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh), then a year later bought a third share of a practice in Chippenham, Wiltshire. Almost immediately his two senior partners were called up for war service and he was left to carry on the practice alone, which involved a number of hospital and consultative appointments which continued for nearly 40 years. These included Medical Officer of the Red Cross Hospital and Workhouse, Surgeon of the Cottage Hospital, Medical Superintendent of the Isolation Hospital, Factory Surgeon and Public Vaccinator.
During this time, however, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the orthodox preoccupation with symptoms and drugs. In his own words:
‘I had a growing conviction that I did not always know what I was really doing – or rather why I was doing it. In other words, I did not know why people were ill. It was fairly easy to treat ordinary infectious diseases and acute ailments, but when it came to the chronic disorders such as malignant diseases, rheumatism, degenerate nervous troubles and other so-called incurable maladies, we did not know the “why”, and so were reduced to treating names and labels, signs and symptoms, without a clue as to causation; hence the temporary alleviation of symptoms was the best that I, or any of my contemporaries, could do.’
In his attempt to make sense of the causation of illness, Laurence read widely and felt that the work of three men seemed to offer keys. First was Samuel Hahnemann and his homoeopathic method. Second was Rudolf Steiner especially in his conception of the formative forces of nature. And third was J. E. R. McDonagh and his Unitary Theory of Disease.
At this time, by one of life’s chances, he came into contact with Dr Guyon Richards and was introduced to the idea of medical dowsing. This proved to be the key he had been seeking, for he had long been convinced that the physical body is only part of a much larger structure, which is not recognisable by the ordinary senses. He believed that it was within this unmanifest realm that the vital energies operated, and he fund that by the use of the pendulum he was able to detect derangements of these energies responsible for the physical and psychological disturbances, which produced the clinical symptoms.
He then found that by an extension of the technique he was able to determine appropriate treatment – usually, but not necessarily, by homoeopathic medication – and so for the first time was able to formulate a scientific method of diagnosis and treatment of the basic causes of illness. This he developed with patience and assiduity over the years, to develop a system of medicine which has proved to be highly successful over the past 50 years, often disclosing the hidden causes and directing practitioners to the appropriate treatment of many chronic and supposedly incurable disease.
The system depends essentially on the exercise of the paranormal senses, of which existence is now scientifically accepted; and, because of convention the Greek letter psi had come to be associated in this connotation, Laurence called his system Psionic Medicine.
SAMUEL HAHNEMANN (1755 – 1843)
The founder of the homoeopathic system of medicine was an eccentric genius by the name of Samuel Christian Hahnemann. After qualifying in medicine from the University of Erlangen in 1779, he practised for several years before becoming disenchanted with the rather brutal and dubious medical treatments of the day. As a result he gave up medical practice, started studying chemistry and eked out a modest living by writing and translating.
In 1790, while translating a textbook written by the famous Scottish physician William Cullen (1712 – 1790) who was the professor of both medicine and chemistry at Edinburgh University, Hahnemann came across a section dealing with the treatment of malaria with quinine. Although this was (and still is) an appropriate treatment for the disease, he was unconvinced by Cullen’s explanation that it worked by virtue of having a tonic effect upon the stomach. He reasoned that, since other more powerful tonics had no such beneficial effect, it had to be working by some other mechanism. Accordingly, experimentalist that he was, he dosed himself with quinine for several days, the result being that he began to experience the symptoms of malaria.
Thus the germ of an idea began to form – a drug that produced the symptoms of an illness in a healthy subject could also be used treat with the same characteristics.
Over the following years Hahnemann returned to medical practice, developing the concept of similia similibus curentur by dosing himself, his family and friends with different substances in order to study the symptoms produced when they were given to healthy subjects. These experiments came to be known as provings. Initially Hahnemann prescribed his remedies in the standard doses of the day. However, although the results were good, he found that many of his patients suffered an initial aggravation of their symptoms before receiving the benefit. In an attempt to counter this he started to dilute the doses. Predictably, the aggravations disappeared, but so too did any beneficial effect. Homeopathy might have died a death at this point but Hahnemann discovered an incredible phenomenon. He found that by vigorously shaking each progressive dilution, the resultant remedy became not only less likely to produce aggravations but became more potent.
Fundamental to his theory of homeopathy by this stage was the concept of the Vital Force. It was his view that the remedy acted not upon disease but upon the Vital Force to restore balance within the body.
RUDOLF STEINER (1861 – 1925)
Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, artist, scientist and educationalist, had been developing his own ideas about the spiritual nature of man, partly through his clairvoyant experiences and his ability to access the Akashic records, when he first came to the attention of the theosophists. His lectures proved to be very popular, and in 1902 he founded a German branch of the Theosophical Society.
Steiner’s views were markedly different from the theosophists, however. Whereas the dominant influence in theosophy had been the philosophies of the East, Steiner’s orientation was pre-eminently Western. By 1913 he broke away to found his own organisation, the Anthroposophical Society. The term, coming from the Greek anthropos, meaning ‘man’ and Sophia, meaning ‘wisdom’, shows the different emphasis of his ideas.
Anthroposophy covers a whole range of activities, including spiritual science, religion, education, organic agriculture and health. Indeed, a whole system of medicine, anthroposophical medicine, developed utilising his guiding principles.
Steiner taught that there was a fourfold nature of man. This he had been personally aware of through his own psychic ability. Effectively, he believed that there were four bodies which made up the individual, these being:
• Physical body
• Etheric body – the energy double which exerted ‘formative forces upon the physical
• Astral body – the knowing emotional body which contained the individual’s drives and motivations
• Ego – the self-consciousness, soul and spirit
Steiner’s concept of the subtle bodies and the interaction between them had a profound influence upon Dr Laurence. He came to believe that the cause of many illnesses must arise from somewhere other than the physical body. The etheric body seemed to be such a possible source.
J E R McDONAGH FRCS (1881 – 1965)
McDonagh’s ideas were ahead of their time, unacceptable to orthodox materialism which found his detailed formulations difficult and even fanciful. Yet his basic concept is entirely compatible with modern scientific thought which regards matter as a local condensation of an all-pervading energy pattern.
McDonagh believed the vital energies to be responsible for the formation of proteins, which are the essential building blocks of all living matter, so that any disturbance of the vital harmony caused a corresponding aberration in the protein production. Hence he maintained that there was only one basic disease, which arose from some imbalance in the protein structure. The extent of this aberration would determine the seriousness of the disorder.
This was the idea that he endeavoured to develop in support of his Unitary Theory of Disease. He formulated the concept in considerable detail, notably in a series of writings on the nature of disease, but, because this involved new directions of thought in advance of accepted ideas, his theories met with little recognition. The essential simplicity of his vision was that it was possible for the ordered processes to become deranged and it was these aberrations from the norm which produced the symptoms of disease.
It was this aspect of the idea which Laurence intuitively recognised as providing the integrating factor in his study of the imbalance of vital energy and which he was then able to apply to provide a practical system of therapy.