At many of these sales you bought large paper bags when you entered (usually $5.00 each) and you could walk out with as many books as you could pack into them. After you packed all the books you had found into the bags there was almost always room to add a pamphlet or small book. Since those were afterthoughts (or rather, they were "why waste any space in the bag" thoughts) I didn't always look over them very carefully until I got home.
One of those little "extra" pamphlet/books was Heal Thyself: An explanation of the real cause and cure of disease by Edward Bach. This particular copy was printed in England and from the condition of the spine I doubt anyone had ever actually read it. When I checked the copyright page I noticed that although it was first published in 1931 the particular copy I had was printed in 1991. This caught my interest--although there been a lot of changes in medicine in those sixty years there seemed to have been no edits or additions to the original text and quick check on Amazon indicates that it is still in print.
So, who is this Edward Bach and what is his book about?
Edward Bach was a homeopath who didn't believe in the "germ theory" and did believe that illness arose from disharmony between the personality and the Soul (50). Bach concocted remedies from flowers on the basis of his psychic and intuitive relationships with plants. Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy (the largest manufacturer of homeopathic remedies in the UK) use Bach's "mother tinctures" to produce the Bach flower remedies that they still sell. On January 28 2009 Nelsons announced Nelsons, the UK’s largest manufacturer of natural healthcare products, is proud to have been selected by Duchy Originals to manufacture the new Duchy Herbals range of natural herbal tinctures, which have been launched this month – the key post-Christmas cold and flu season. Duchy Originals is the Price of Wales' organic food company. According to its own website Duchy Originals embodies HRH The Prince of Wales's commitment to what he calls a 'virtuous circle' of providing natural, high-quality organic and premium products, while helping to protect and sustain the countryside and wildlife.
I will leave aside for another day my discussion of the scientifically questionable value of any of these homeopathic "remedies" and instead will focus one of the beliefs of Bach (and of some others within the alternative medicine community) that both makes it impossible to test their products in any scientific manner and which also causes deep and often lasting emotional as well physical harm to many of their clients.
Bach was a victim blamer. If you read his magnum opus it is clear that he believed that the person who was sick was themself responsible for the illness and that no cure could be effected until they first "healed themselves." That means that Bach's claims that his nostrums were effective were unfalsifiable. If the remedy didn't work it was the fault of the patient not the medicine:
Let it be briefly stated that disease, though apparently so cruel, is in itself beneficent and for our good and, if rightly interpreted, it will guide us to our essential faults....Suffering is a corrective to point out a lesson which by other means w have failed to grasp... (8)
We can now see how any type of illness from which we many suffer will guide us to the discover of the the fault which lies behind our affliction. (17)
Thus we see that our conquest of disease will mainly depending on the following...secondly, the knowledge that the basic cause of disease is due to disharmony between the personality and the Soul; thirdly, our willinghness and ability to discover the fault which is causing such a conflict. (50)Victim blaming is at the very heart of Bach's theories about illness. Indeed, without such victim blaming his theories would collapse under the weight of the scientific evidence against them. So, those who depend on such remedies instead of conventional medicine suffer great emotional distress even if their physical problems are quite minor.
Bach, Edward. Heal Thyself: An Explanation of the Real Cause and Cure of Disease. Saffron Walden: C.W. Daniel, 1931. ↩