An Interview with Grant Bentley on Homeopathic Facial Analysis
Homeopathic Journal :: Volume: 3, Issue: 2, Dec, 2009 (Centre Stage) - from Homeorizon.com
|Article Updated: Dec 31, 2009|
Dr. Singh: Dear friends, today we have with us the famous homeopath credited with pioneering the "HOMEOPATHIC FACIAL ANALYSIS (HFA) method, Dr. Grant Bentley. Hello Dr. Bentley! How are you?
Dr. Bentley: Hi! I am fine.
Dr. Singh: You have worked a great deal on Facial Analysis and that too with excellent results. I am sure our readers are hanging on to hear it from you. But first I would like to ask something about you. Tell us something about yourself? How did you turn to homeopathy?
Dr. Bentley: I started studying Naturopathy after working in business and studying Psychotherapy and Hypnosis. Naturopathy was the most popular way to learn alternative medicine for Australian Homoeopaths. I had already qualified and was practicing Psychotherapy but felt I needed something more to enhance my clinical practice. My first book was Classical Homoeopathy by Margery Blackie and I became an instant convert to Homeopathy on my first read. I was fascinated by its structure, something I thought was sadly lacking in Naturopathy. By the time I had finished the book I wanted to study the topic and I began studying Homoeopathy the next year.
Dr. Singh: Presently you are the Principal and senior lecturer of the Victorian College of Classical Homoeopathy. How did you become associated with the Victorian college of homeopathy?
Dr. Bentley: I was fortunate to choose the Victorian College of Classical Homeopathy for my undergraduate training. The course training I received was grounded and thorough. The patron of the college was Dr Subrata Banerjea who helped the original founder Denise Carrington-Smith, formulate a curriculum grounded in the classics. This gave me the foundation I needed to understand Homoeopathy in a practical and clinical way. I now look on this training I received as invaluable and I consider myself fortunate to have had such teachers. Modern Homoeopathy in the west can be extremely interpretive and I feel blessed that my training was based on the solid unshakable platform supplied by Hahnemann, Kent, Allen, Roberts and the teachers I just spoke about.
After graduating and practice I began teaching and then was offered the position of principal at the Victorian College of Classical Homoeopathy, a position I still hold sixteen years later.
Dr. Singh: So, what is HFA or homeopathic facial analysis method?
Dr. Bentley: Homeopathic Facial Analysis (HFA) is a way of using physical structure to determine the underlying miasm; in particular using facial structure. The face is rich in information and once I knew what to look for the information fell into place. Now it is the cornerstone of my practice and all my graduates and many other followers use this method too. It is a stable and objective method which I really like as too much of Homeopathy is subjective. I developed and tested this theory over many years in my clinic and have seen my results improve dramatically as a result.
Dr. Singh: Tell something about its birth and development? How did the idea come to you?
Dr. Bentley: My journey in developing Homeopathic Facial Analysis (HFA) was a long one and came about by accident.
While Hahnemann's work on the miasms was a stroke of genius, I found his concepts in Chronic Diseases very difficult to work with. In fact I must confess that I was like a number of people who during their training found the miasms so complicated and to some degree so unnecessary, that I contented myself on finding the simillimum. After all the simillimum represented the underlying miasm anyway, therefore to focus on one was to focus on the other. This is not the case but I did not know that then.
In the years following my graduation I had more failures than successes but enough successes to keep me going. Like many Homoeopaths I adopted essence prescribing as my principle method of achieving greater constitutional results. My focus on constitutional prescribing was necessary because chronic disease did and continues to make up more than ninety percent of my practice. Unfortunately essence prescribing is rooted in the belief that extremely subtle differences between remedies exists. Therefore the focus was entirely on materia medica and the extraction of how the indignation of Staphysagria is slightly different to the indignation of Nat Mur, which is different to the indignation of Calc Carb. Because I'd already done Psychotherapy I found this area fascinating and seductive. Later I was to learn that even though it sounds good the results never reached expectation.
One of the good things about teaching undergraduates was that I got to reread the Organon every year. And each time I picked up a little bit more valuable information. Around 1998 when I was reading the Organon once again, I was struck by Hahnemann's conviction regarding the miasms. Of course I had read this a number of times before - nearly ten times myself but for some reason this time I was really taken by the concept of a miasm. His conviction and his willingness to stake his reputation on the truth of the miasms convinced me that I should not be giving them the lip service I had been doing in the past. Nobody knows Homoeopathy like its founder and if Hahnemann says that the miasms should be central to every chronic disease prescription, then that's what should occur.
So I guess that's how it started - by believing in Hahnemann's belief yet at the same time acknowledging that I had no way of applying the principles as written in Chronic Diseases and The Organon.
My understanding of Hahnemann's miasms really didn't take shape because of Hahnemann but because of the writings of Allen and Roberts. For example if I read and try and make sense of psora the way that Hahnemann wrote about it, I fail to pick up any patterns and put down the book with the belief that it can cause anything and everything but that's not really individualizing. Allen and Roberts on the other hand are the authors that begin to categorize Hahnemann's three miasms into more easily recognizable groups. These authors talk about the hypofunction of psora, the hyperfunction of sycosis and the dysfunction and degeneration of syphilis. Now I can see trends forming and now I can see differences and how each miasm is a dissimilar disease in its own right.
I took these concepts and the small but important references to facial structure made by Allen and Roberts and began to explore if there was a pattern. I soon determined there was and then began applying the information to patients to find a miasmatic diagnosis. Through using patient's faces to find a miasm, I found better remedies for them and my results improved. I then started teaching what I had discovered to my students and they got very good results too. In fact most of them are as good as I am without the years of experience. This is very rewarding for myself and the college. The majority of the clinical information is in my first two books - Appearance and Circumstance and Homeopathic Facial Analysis. I am currently writing an online clinical course to support this information too.
Over the years I have explored the concepts I learned through applying facial structure to miasmatic theory and have understood a deep strain of human behaviour that I refer to as the survival instinct. In fact I believe that the miasm is a survival instinct and it has an impact on four main areas within each of us; our nervous system, our immune system, our emotional responses and our social behaviour - all of which are reflected in our physiological appearance. I began to see distinct patterns occurring in patients who belonged to the same miasm and wanted to understand why. I used my clinical experience, my clinical results and research into time cycles that reflect these miasms and came to understand the purpose of the survival instinct more clearly. I spent two years writing this information in Soul & Survival which was completed last year.
I hope to have left a legacy of clarity for my profession both clinically and philosophically. Homeopathy is more than just a medicine; it is a true and deep way of viewing and understanding life.
Dr. Singh: That's fantastic work. But there is one thing which intrigues me, why did you choose the face as a mode for analysis?
Dr. Bentley:I was interested in what Allen and Roberts said. At that time I had no idea how important the face would become but within a short period I could see how certain shapes, sizes and angles were more dominant on the patients who did well on remedies that belonged (traditionally) to a specific miasm - such as Sulphur being psoric, Thuja being sycotic and Mercury being syphilitic. From examining successful cases of these remedies I began to collate facial features that would belong to each of the 3 primary miasms. It took a few years and some trial and error but I have rated over 70 features which have proved clinically successful.
I also spent a lot of time examining the polychrests to determine which miasm they belonged to. I knew by that stage that each patient had a dominant miasm that COULD NOT change - for life. Remedies had to be the same. I use about 50 polychrests successfully with more than 80% of cases. I still examine smaller remedies but their provings are limited. I like to work with remedies that have had good provings and are known to work in multiple types of people and with different pathologies. Polychrests are the life blood of the clinic. I have found that essence pictures are limited and only repertorise to find a remedy that matches both the patients miasm and the totality of their symptoms.
Dr. Singh: In what manner do you use face analysis: for identifying miasm, for choosing medicine, for repertorisation, for deciding prognosis or elsewhere?
Dr. Bentley: The facial analysis is critical for determining the patient's miasm which in turn leads to the choice of medicine. I always analyse the face of every patient (chronic illness). Once I have determined their miasm I can choose a remedy for them that matches this miasm. It limits my remedy choices and gets me to deep acting and successful outcomes more quickly - usually between one and four visits for most people but obviously not all. There are always people who take more time and more effort to discover what they need but that is true of any modality. Many factors such as age, external stress, longetivity of illness etc must be factored in. However since using facial analysis and repertorising with polychrests my results are consistently very good.
Dr. Singh: Does it mean you take Facial Analysis as an Eliminating symptom in your prescription?
Dr. Bentley: Facial analysis is not a symptom. It is observable information about that patient. It is an observable way of determining what their miasm is. By miasm I mean their internal energy force - how their immune system, nervous system and emotions operate under stress. I can then identify a remedy with similar energy which will enhance their own body's efforts at establishing equilibrium and restoring health.
Dr. Singh: But doesn't sex, creed, race affect your method of identification? I mean to say that since sex, creed and race affect the face of a person then does your method change according to these factors?
Dr. Bentley: Every face regardless of sex or race is made up of features which exhibit certain shapes, sizes and angles. It is true that some races have features that are recognisable for that race. For example Caucasion people are more likely to have downturned noses, Asian people recessed eyelids, African people wide noses and high hairlines. But none of these features are exclusive to a race and each individual regardless of race or sex has their own mix of features which makes up their total facial appearance.
Every feature must be examined and rated as to the influence on that feature of either psora, sycosis or syphilis. Most people have some of each miasm but the important outcome is to determine DOMINANCE. So a person might have 3 psoric features, 8 sycotic features and 4 syphilitic features. This is common to see some of each. What is important is which is dominant. In the example I have given this patient would need a sycotic remedy. If however their features were rated as 3 psoric 5 sycotic and 5 syphilitic - the two miasms (sycosis and syphilis) are of equal dominance - neither is stronger than the other so this patient needs a syco-syphilitc remedy.
I have to mention at this stage that because so many authors had different categories of miasms and different categories of remedies within miasms and some multiple miasms (which I do not believe in) I only took a few remedies (from the older authors) such as Sulphur (psoric), Thuja (sycotic), Mercury and Aurum (syphilitic) and Phosphorus (tubercular). I worked out all the rest through clinical examination of cases and facial structure. Some I worked out through reading materia medica and tested them until I had validated which miasm they belong to.
It is important to note this. For example in my system Silica is a cancer remedy, meaning it is for people with the 3 miasms in equal proportion as diagnosed through facial analysis (plus the totality of their case calls for Silica). I would never use Silica for a patient (chronic illness) in another miasm as I have clincally verified its success for cancer miasm patients only. And yet other authors mention it as tubercular or even sycotic. This isn't helpful and I suggest that if anyone is considering the use of facial analysis (which I highly recommend!) they MUST use the list of remedies found in my first book Appearance and Circumstance with extra remedies (not previously published) on the college website. http://www.vcch.org/remedies.html
Dr. Singh: Regarding miasmatic cleavage, the description of each author is a bit different. Psora for Dr. Hahnemann is a shade different from Dr. Kent's or Allen's. Whose description have you considered as baseline in your work and why?
Dr. Bentley: The baseline for my miasmatic description is from Hahnemann. Psora, sycosis and syphilis - they are three of a total of seven miasms but they form the base of all miasms and the facial analysis method. That is because they relate to the three energies that form our material world - outward energy (psora), circular energy (sycosis) and inward energy (syphilis). Every face reflects these energies (or miasms) through its structure (not the look or expression). A homoeopath can identify the shape, angle and size of each feature to identify which of the three energies (miasms) is dominant in that patient.
There are four more miasms than just the three primary miasms - making the total of seven miasms. In cases where 2 energies (miasms) are dominant in equal proportion - eg outward/inward (tubercular), outward/circular (syco-psora), circular/inward (syco-syphilis) or all 3 are equally dominant outward/inward/circular (cancer) these other miasms will be seen. As Hahnemann said when two diseases (or energies, or miasms) of equal strength join they form a new disease (or energy, or miasm).
Allen and Roberts were a huge influence because they extended upon Hahnemann's work and pointed me towards looking at facial features. They mentioned only a few facial features but it was enough for me to consider and begin my research.
Dr. Singh: Can you share with our readers in short some features of each miasm which you have found helpful for diagnosis?
Dr. Bentley: I can mention a number of features but it is important for the reader to know that ALL features must be examined. So every feature and its possible presentation must be learned with its matching primary miasm (psora, sycosis or syphilis). If I mention a few features and they can be seen on a patients face I don't want the reader to leap to the conclusion that a small part of the information equates to the whole. That is like learning homoeopathy for 2 days and then going out and looking for a remedy but not understanding how totality works. Totality is the key to everything in homoeopathy (and in life) - you cannot just take some bits and then think you know the whole. As I mentioned more than 70 features have been observed and rated. With only a few additions in the last couple of years so I suspect (having viewed thousands of faces) that the system is close to 100% now - at least 99%.
However to interest your readers consider the following
- Psora - outward energy - a common example is a downturned nose or a nose with a "bump" on it as seen on profile
- Sycosis - circular energy - a common example is a "ball" shape at the end of the nose as seen front on or sometimes on profile
- Syphilis - inward energy - a common example is dimples or deep lines seen in the cheeks (not the chin or end of nose - indentations through the centre of the face are sycotic)
To see how this system works there is a free online facial wizard which any user can test to see the number and combination of features which are used. http://www.soulandsurvival.com/facial-analysis-wizard/
This wizard will give a reliable outcome if EVERY feature is chosen accurately. I suggest that practitioners need to learn each feature and its miasmatic rating from studying the two books about facial analysis and homoeopathy ( http://www.vcch.org/book.html) to be able to identify each patients miasm in a clinical setting - with photos and analysis this takes about 10 minutes.
Note too that I have renamed all the miasms - pathology is not a good indicator of a miasm and so not a good label for each miasm. I chose colours because they have an individual quality but are no positive or negative than each other - which is true of all of the miasms. A miasm is what I see as a survival instinct - given to each of us for life. Our own brand of vital force. Each is equally positive or negative depending on the individual's life themes and external (and internal) stress levels. I write more on this in my third book Soul & Survival.
The colours are :
- Psora - yellow
- Sycosis - red
- Syphilis - blue
- Syco-psora - orange
- Syco-syphilis - purple
- Tubercular - green
- Cancer - brown
The colours have been very useful in destigmatising certain miasms. Syphilis is a good example. Many people are dominantly syphilitic (blue) but do not exhibit disintegration such as mentioned in certain materia medicas. Many syphilitic (blue) people are soft and sweet. They have inward energy as their dominating force and when stress is too much will withdraw. Patients like these may have bone problems but also interestingly some have skin problems as their energy is withdrawn into their interior. Patients like this need an inward energy (syphilitic or blue) remedy to match their own bodies attempt at restoring equilibrium or balance. Even though the pathology is showing on the skin, the facial features of that patient will show the practitioner that a remedy such as Sulphur (even if it covers the totality) will be quite unsuitable for this patient. They must have an inward energy remedy and if Aurum or Mercury or any of the other HFA rated blue remedies are showing on the same repertorisation one of these remedies is to be chosen over an outward energy remedy such as Sulphur
In my first book Appearance and Circumstance I feel I gave the syphilitic miasm a hard time as I was still working to materia medica pictures. Later the clinic brought me so many sweet, gentle syphilitic patients I had to reassess that picture. I am much happier with the description of this miasm in Soul & Survival even though Appearance and Circumstance is still the base research to the whole method and the starting point to learning it.
Dr. Singh: That's great! And with such great success rate I am sure most of our readers would love to apply HFA in their clinical practice. I would like to inform the readers that if they want to know more about Homeopathic Facial Analysis, they can get hold of a copy of Grant's book Appearances and Circumstances and Homeopathy Facial Analysis and can also visit his website - http://www.vcch.org.Thanks Dr. Bentley.