You may have noticed in last month’s newsletter notice of re-publication of Speransky’s seminal book: Basis of the theory of medicine. There is a story to tell about this republication, or at least of my discovery of it.
As readers of this newsletter know, the name of Speransky comes up frequently when discussing neural therapy. I am not alone in my indebtedness to Speransky’s ideas. Dosch’s textbook Manual of neural therapy according to Huneke devotes 2½ pages to him. In my opinion, Speransky’s book is required reading for anyone who is seriously interested in the mechanisms lying behind interference fields and how they translate into the pathophysiology we encounter every day in our practices.
This is so, even though Speransky’s work predates (by almost a decade) Ferdinand Huneke’s epochal discovery of the interference field in 1940. Speransky’s contribution was not to the practice of neural therapy itself, but rather to understanding how these little interference fields can create such big and complicated problems.
The Speranksy book was last published in 1943, and used copies in English have become harder and harder to find. I was thinking about this when discussing book publication with an Argentinian physician, Dr. Pablo Koval, who spoke at the recent World conference on neural therapy in Quito, Ecuador. He has recently published a book on neural therapy in Spanish: http://www.libro-terapianeural.com.ar/compra.html.
Dr. Koval, who is an anesthetist, chronic pain specialist and experienced neural therapist, spoke on chronic pain (he prefers the term “persistent pain”), as being due to an imbalance of tonic and trophic neural processes. These ideas draw straight from Speransky and very much complement modern theories of “neurogenic inflammation”. I am hoping that Dr. Korval will have his book translated into English. If you would like to encourage him to do so, his email address is email@example.com.
Our common interest in Speransky and publishing (and a nudge from a Canadian colleague who was also at the conference), lead me to the idea of perhaps republishing Speransky’s book. Speransky died in 1961, and copyright laws allow books to fall into the public domain 50 years after the death of the author (unless claimed by the estate). Discussion of this possibility with my local publisher prompted some research into the book’s status, and to my surprise the rights to the book were still in the hands of the original publisher, an obscure New York company called “International Publishers”.
An even greater surprise was that the publisher had recently reprinted the book at the request of a group of chiropractors and that books are now available for sale!
The story becomes even more interesting! My own ancient copy has a tattered flyleaf advertising other books by International Publishers: one is “Dialectics of Nature” by Frederick Engels. Included is a preface by JBS Haldane, a noted scientist and doctrinaire Marxist of the time. A look at International Publisher’s website reveals that it is a publishing arm of the Communist Party of the USA! It features books by Marx, Engels and Lenin and states that “we enjoy providing the finest working-class literature available at the best prices”.
There is a certain irony in this. After the Second World War, there was a movement in the Soviet Union, to require that scientific research be conducted in line with Marxist-Leninist theory. In 1950 a joint session of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences held what was to be called the Pavlovian Session in which scientists who were not deemed faithful to the political orthodoxy of the time were accused and relieved of their posts. Speransky, who was head of Institute of General and Experimental Pathology was among these. According to the Wikipedia writer – “As the result of this session, Soviet physiology self-excluded itself from the international scientific community for many years.”
What a bittersweet paradox that 60 years later, Speransky’s work should still be read and respected and the political system that rejected him is now “in the dustbin of history”. And that Speransky’s book should be published by followers of the same people who condemned him so long ago.
The American Communist Party is not likely to get rich on selling Speransky’s book at $20.00/copy. So that shouldn’t stop you from ordering this important book: http://www.intpubnyc.com/.