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Meet Karl Robinson, MD
love "whodunits." So last February when I heard Karl Robinson, MD,
featured speaker at the Florida State Conference on Homeopathy, draw a parallel
between homeopathy and solving a mystery, I had a hunch that my weekend was going
to be a thriller. I was not disappointed.
An affinity to Sherlock Holmes
Karl Robinson does not walk around with a peaked cap peering through a magnifying
glass, but he does profess an affinity to Sherlock Holmes. Armed with materia
medica and repertory, Dr. Robinson loves to solve medical mysteries?ferreting
out culprits who commit crimes of disease and disorder.
?????With his long brown ponytail, Dr. Robinson?he
likes to be called Karl but the more formal address seems better to me in writing?resembles
the grown-up young man of the 1960s that he is. Friendly and casual in appearance,
he turns serious practitioner and teacher when he discusses homeopathy.
?????As I followed him from seminar to seminar and then
trapped him for a private breakfast interview?he knew what I was after
so I had no need for disguises--I uncovered a lot about the personal and
professional man and his practice of homeopathy. The presence of his wife and
three of his grandchildren, all looking very healthy, attested to a non-clinical
life. Coming to Orlando, he confessed, provided an opportunity to ?piggyback? some
family fun onto his busy schedule.
?????My first step was to ascertain Dr. Robinson?s
background. His academic credentials are impeccable: undergraduate degree from
Yale and medical degree from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, where
he heard about homeopathy only from a historical perspective. Between undergraduate
school and medical school, he did a bit of world travel as a reporter, his first
vocation. Those literary skills are evident in the numerous articles he?s
written on homeopathy.
Inspired by Albert Schweitzer
Medicine was definitely not on the horizon when he studied English literature
at Yale, where he admits to having carefully shunned the sciences. Rather, it
was while being treated for a rapidly spreading skin ulcer at the Albert Schweitzer
Hospital in Gabon (Africa) in 1967 that he read some books by Dr. Schweitzer,
humanitarian and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, lent to him by Schweitzer?s
daughter. These writings inspired the young roving, freelance reporter to pursue
a career in healing.
?????While a resident at Harlem Hospital in New York,
Dr. Robinson became disenchanted with conventional medicine as he saw patients
being treated and retreated for the same ailments. Once again, he resorted to
travel, seeking out alternative practitioners in the western U.S., and then back
east to Millersville, PA, where he took his first homeopathy course at the National
Center for Homeopathy?s summer training program. His thirst for knowledge
led him to additional study at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and later
with distinguished homeopaths around the world
It's elementary, my dear Watson!
As a result of his wanderings and receptiveness, Dr. Robinson admits that he?s
gone through many phases in his practice, but one basic tenet has emerged, which
he repeated throughout the weekend: ?Homeopathy is essentially a thinking
game.? Dr. Robinson compares the homeopath?s search for the correct
remedy with the thought processes of Sherlock Holmes. Fittingly, he titled his
conference presentations: "Homeopathy as Detective Work: Piecing Together
the Clues. How Sherlock Holmes Might Do It," and "My Dear Watson,
You See but You Do Not Observe."
?????Dr. Robinson believes that the most important attribute
of a homeopath is the ability to solve problems, and, like Sherlock Holmes, to
be attentive to small details. Referring to the basic principles and methods
of Boenninghausen, a contemporary and colleague of Hahnemann, Dr. Robinson challenged
us to hone our thought processes and proceed through a case in a logical manner.
He introduced us to "Boenninghausen's Hexameter" -- seven
questions that lead to a "complete image of a disease"--Who,
What, Where, With what (i.e., concomitant symptoms), Why, How (i.e., modalities),
?????For easy recollection, these questions can be condensed
to "CoLoMo" or: COmplaint (what the patient says and what is observed);
LOcation together with extension (where the complaint resides and where it has
traveled); and MOdalities (that which influences the symptom, making it better
or worse; concomitants.)
?????Dr. Robinson reports that during a period of years
when he primarily used the Boenninghausen Repertory and just 40--50 remedies,
his success rate with patients was at least equal to periods when he used Kent's Repertory and
other Kent-based repertories exclusively. Currently, Dr. Robinson uses the Boenninghausen
Repertory, the Synthesis Repertory, and the Complete Repertory.
Homeopathy for countries in need
Having picked up clues about the history of the man and his philosophy of treatment,
I felt ready to pursue other details?what Hahnemann would call "the
rare, the strange, the unusual." So I questioned Dr. Robinson intently
at our breakfast interview about his current major project: bringing homeopathy
to Central America.
?????He revealed that it all started about six years
ago with a call from Nancy Kelly, then president of Homeopaths Without Borders,
North America, asking him to teach in Cuba. Dr. Robinson seized the opportunity
and made twice-yearly pilgrimages to that country for about three years until
the U.S. government rescinded Homeopaths Without Borders? exemption to
travel to Cuba.
?????The opportunity to pioneer in Central America came
next via Dr. Jennifer Jacobs, who had conducted double-blind studies on homeopathic
treatment of children with diarrhea in Honduras and Nicaragua. Because people
in these countries were interested in learning more about homeopathy, Dr. Jacobs
invited Dr. Robinson to present a general talk. From that initial venture blossomed
his Homeopathic School of the Americas.
Karl Robinson, MD, teaches and writes about homeopathy and maintains
Homeopathic School of the Americas
With modesty, Dr. Robinson assigns credit for first establishing a toehold in
the region to Manfred Braig, a German naturopath who was sponsored by the European
branch of Homeopaths Without Borders. Building on this foundation, Dr. Robinson
developed a three-year certification program in Honduras. His students include
medical doctors, naturopaths, and other health practitioners. A few students
from El Salvador and Guatemala invited Dr. Robinson to their countries as well,
where he has addressed large groups on the topic of homeopathic first aid.
?????For two years, Dr. Robinson's trips to Central
America were solo undertakings. In 2004, he worked a grueling schedule, traveling
approximately every eight weeks to spend four days in El Salvador, then continuing
on to Guatemala City. In 2005, wanting to give his students wider exposure to
specialties and differing points of view, he invited homeopathic guests to address
the students including Ed Kondrot, MD, ophthalmologist from Phoenix; Michael
Glass, MD, psychiatrist from Binghamton, NY; and Nick Nossaman, MD, family practitioner
from Denver. In 2006, guest teachers included William Shevin, MD, former president
of NCH who practices in Connecticut, John Millar, ND, of Canada, and Kim Elia,
RADAR homeopathic software representative.
Getting to the bottom of it
As our coffee cups were refilled, I knew the interview was coming to a close,
yet there was so much more to uncover. I asked one last question: "Can
you tell me about a particularly interesting case to illustrate your diagnostic
sleuthing?" Here is a condensed version of the case Dr. Robinson recounted.
?????"In December 1988, Mary, a longtime patient,
usually lively and full of enthusiasm, came to see me complaining that she felt
generally unwell. Symptoms included forgetfulness, lack of concentration, clumsiness
and dropping things, sluggishness on waking, puffy face, grumpiness, and being
on edge. All these symptoms had come on rapidly. She had become disinterested
in fruit (which was unusual for her), sighed a lot, wanted to be left alone,
and desired cold water, especially carbonated drinks. Her energy was particularly
low between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. She reported that she felt emotionally empty,
but anxious at the same time. She also felt hungry all the time, but she didn?t
enjoy food. When I questioned her further, Mary could not recall having experienced
any recent emotional or physical trauma.
?????"During the visit, I noted no signs of clumsiness
or impaired coordination. I asked leading questions about the remedy Helleborus but
also wondered whether she might need Ignatia, a remedy that had helped
her in the past. Helleborus seemed to fit her symptoms admirably, however,
and I was pleased that I had discovered a fairly unusual remedy. I was poised
to prescribe it when I wondered, 'How could a vibrant woman of 39 fall into a Helleborus state
within 10 weeks without some sort of serious emotional or physical trauma?'
?????"I began to suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
I noted that the symptoms had appeared at about the same time she changed from
sleeping in her own bedroom to sleeping on the living room couch--and at
about the same time that she'd turned on the gas furnace. I instructed
her to call the gas company.
?????"Not only did the gas company find leaks
inside her house, but they also found that the conduit leading from the main
line to the house was corroded and leaking. Mary remembered that when her mother
would visit and sit in the kitchen adjacent to the main line outside, her mother
would complain of feeling tired.
?????"After the repair of the leaks, Mary made
a complete recovery, and a homeopathic remedy was never given.
?????"Hahnemann says the physician must know 'the
obstacles to recovery in each case and [be] aware of how to remove them'" If
the homeopathically indicated remedy, Helleborus, had been given, it could
not possibly have acted while Mary lived in that polluted house.?
Listening to Karl, as I now feel I can call him, whether as a member of a large
audience or in a one-on-one setting, I quickly realized that he is an honest
man, sure of his homeopathic and medical skills without being arrogant, and a
gifted healer devoted to spreading the benefits of homeopathy beyond his immediate
practice. Not only is Karl an avid student, he is also a consummate teacher.
At the end of my search, I discovered a man with a vast array of homeopathic
wisdom to share with the world.
Myrna W. Merron, EdD, splits her time between Mount Dora, FL, and Pittsboro,
NC. A former professor of special education and school psychology at Seton Hall
University, she was also a school psychologist, learning disabilities consultant,
and special education teacher. She currently serves as a Guardian ad Litem, representing
the interests of children who have been adjudicated by the Florida courts. She
bikes, takes long walks, and carries Arnica everywhere.