Remember books called repertories?

LIBRARY ADDITIONS (I wrote this in November 2004 for the Homeopathic Times.) homeopathic repertories synthesis elements

There are plenty of new and wonderful additions to all areas of homeopathy recently published, to add to a good homoeopath’s good library: repertories, materiae medica, philosophy and provings.

Three New Repertories

The great Brendan Lynch recently cured a difficult case of hiccough by repertorising the generals and modalities only. This would have been sacrilege to Kent. This way of working however is more akin to the Boenninghausen method, somewhat forgotten due to the influence of Kent but lately undergoing a revival. As Roger van Zandvoort says in his introduction to Repertorium Universale “…had I only been more interested in our more original repertories from the start.”

What the authors of the three new repertories are saying is that there are more than one way to repertories and until now it’s been mainly based on Kent’s model, which has it’s limitations. (In Julian Winston’s inspiring book “The Faces Of Homeopathy” he quotes a 1928 edition of the Homeopathic Recorder where Dr Julia Green “…had great fun one evening giving these two great teachers [Boger and Gladwin] a small group of symptoms of an acute case and watching them find the remedy by entirely different methods. Dr. Boger finished first using Boenninghausen’s repertory and came to one remedy. Dr. Gladwin using Kent’s came out with three remedies, one of which was Boger’s. After consulting the Materia medica decided on the same remedy as Dr. Boger). It is because of the inherent limitations in Kent’s approach that Roger and Frederik have reintroduced and integrated the Boenninghausen method into their repertories.

To explain a little about the Boenninghausen method, he realized a sensation or modality could appear in more than one location, leading to the idea of general characteristics which in turn unify a complex of symptoms. This is in contrast to Kent’s emphasis on more specific rubrics. Symptoms appear in different combinations (see Hahnemann’s introduction to Pulsatilla). Some symptoms have a direct bearing on the complaint and some have an indirect though important bearing; the concomitants.

Applying this concept of concomitants, according to H.A.Roberts, brings order out of chaos by being the golden thread that runs through the case. So Boenninghausen takes a more general approach.

By bringing these two methods together the repertory has now taken a great leap in perfection.

Synthesis 9.1 Edited by Dr. Frederik Schroyens Publ.: Homeopathic Book Publishers, London. C.F.

I’ve subtitled this book “More possibilities, less rubrics overlooked.” Frederik Schroyens tells me that since his first copy of Kent he’s dreamed of a repertory like Synthesis 9.1. He certainly deserves credit. I’ve been using Synthesis for some ten years and this edition is different. Apart from integrating the major work of Boenninghausen and Boger, there’s now a full integrationof separate repertories like Phatak and Boericke. There’s more information; 473 remedy additions with over fifty per cent more information, 115 new remedies including many new provings. Also there is now a standardized and simplified structure by streamlining and restructuring. An example of this is in the Mind and Pain sections he’s copied remedies to the superrubrics. More about this later. He’s kindly added a CD to provide information on repertory language and explanations. It also gives info. About families and remedy relationships and importantly, where to buy new remedies.

By streamlining and restructuring, Synthesis 9.1 has addressed a problem: a lot of information is hidden in subrubrics of the Pain descriptions. Synthesis has retrieved these subrubrics and put them together. This I particularly like and is why I say there is less to overlook. For example in the previous book and software editions of Synthesis these pain rubrics were hidden;

EYE-PAIN-foreign body, as from a-rubbing amel.
EYE-PAIN-pressing, pressure, etc-rubbing amel
EYE-PAIN-sand, as from-rubbing amel

These have the same modality. By combining them we now look at thirteen remedies instead of seven. So the new structure will be as follows;

EYE-PAIN-rubbing-amel-foregn body,as from
EYE-PAIN-rubbing-amel-pressing pain
EYE-PAIN-rubbing-amel-sand, as from

The description has now been moved to the last level. In addition, the remedies expressing the same side, time, modality, extension and localization have been copied to the same superrubric.

This restructuring wasn’t straightforward. It now required a thorough streamlining of all symptoms, so for example, the modality “cold air agg” is expressed in different ways in different places;

HEAD-PAIN-cutting-cold-air agg
This has now been changed;
HEAD-PAIN-cold air-agg-cutting
HEAD-PAIN-cold air-agg-tearing

This will take some time to adjust to because the symptoms here of pain description have been moved. Also, sometimes a familiar rubric has moved to a different place.

Once you do get used to this it becomes easier because it’s uniform throughout the repertory. The six Boger and Boenninghausen, repertories have been added – very carefully in a three step process to ensure accuracy, which you can read further in the introduction or on their website. Since the additions are based on a different concept to Kent, three new chapters have been added; Neck, Urinary Organs and Male and Female Genitalia/Sex. Schroyens does recognize thar work needs to be done to add Bg3 and Bg11 –the Synoptic key and card repertory. I do like the fact that the 6,500 handwritten additions by Boenninghausen’s son have been included.

One other aspect of the new repertory that makes things easier is the sorting of symptoms alphabetically. At approximately E165 it’s tremendous value.

Repertorium Universale By Roger van Zandvoort Publ.; Homeopathic Team. Price E185 plus shipping

In the introduction the authors give us a nice introduction to the history and background of the repertory. I often wondered why a remedy was often found in a subrubric in Kent yet absent from the main rubric. So here again Repertorium Universale as in Synthesis 9.1 has incorporated the Boenninghausen method. The Kent method being more exclusive and precise lends itself to these exclusions whereas the more generalized approach of Boenninghausen is more inclusive.

Roger suggests Kent’s approach may suit more mental/emotional cases. However, while this may be true, this is also the very area that Kent’s approach can be most treacherous. It is too easy in mind symptoms with Kent to tie your repertorisation down to a small precise rubric or subrubric and thereby ignoring a more general mind symptom which may be the most helpful. Nor are there enough precise rubrics for that matter. With Kent’s more singular and precise type of rubrics, frequently the description doesn’t quite fit the symptom of the case which means it’s too easy to miss potentially appropriate remedies.

While the two approaches are not opposed to each other, Roger says it is unfortunate Kent set himself up against Boenninghausen. As today many homeopaths cannot practise nor schools teach without an eclectic mish-mash of Eastern philosophies to back them up, it seems their differences had more to do with Kent’s idea of hierarchy, not found in Hahnemann but in Swedenborg!

We now have the best of both methods. To facilitate this, extra sections have been integrated such as “Heart and Circulation,” “Blood” and “Clinical.” Other changes, apart from the 1.5 million remedy additions, is a section indexing “Mirilli’s Themes.” Further, the “Head-Pain” and “Extremities-Pain” sections have been re-integrated and the cross-references have been revised and increased. In his introduction he illustrates the various ways of repertorising a compares different software programmes, which can be found on their website.

The restructuring in R.U. was done differently to that in Synthesis. Here the integration is more like a separation. The usual sections are now in the section “Phenomena” and a separate section at the front of each body part containing “Modalities,” “Time,” “Sides,” “Alternating symptoms,” and “Location.” This makes the information easily accessible though I would like Roger’s introduction to have explained in more detail how he drew on the information for the new Boenninghausen section.

As could be expected, the question of grading had to be dealt with. Anyone familiar with Boenninghausen knows that he used four grades, Kent three. This has been re-jigged. For now Boenninghausen’s second degree is Kent’s first but all this will be reviewed as a comprehensive version of the data sources for first grade remedies takes place. This leaves me wondering what do we do in the meantime?

Roger raises an important point. Grading revision is going to be the most important work over the next few years, particularly the clinical confirmations from old journals. This I do look forward to. Thankfully we have these diligent and hard working teams making these essential tools for us. I would have preferred this tool to be one volume and hence more practical but then, can you have too much of a good thing?

Repertory of the Elements By Jan Scholten, M.D. Publisher; Stichting Alonnissos Web and

This addition to Jan’s work on the periodic table and homeopathy has a number of purposes. Aswell as being a “list of symptoms connected to remedies” it also serves the purpose of helping to find the source of the information in his other books and an aid to learn the way of thinking in the element theory. It contains 15,000 rubrics and 40,000 entries. However, this repertory is a new departure in the understanding of a symptom and therefore it’s listing and the way the repertory is structured. While new ideas are listed here many older ones from other repertories are absent. Unfortunately the introductory sections explaining his new ideas are full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors which make it difficult to understand and leave me wondering if the repertory itself has such mistakes which would be a travesty but Jan assures me the problem is only the introductory sections and he’s probably right. He also assures me Roger Savage is not to blame!

The main idea for the layout is Jan’s concept of the ‘basic symptom’ based on the philosophical analysis of language and logic found in the philosophy of Bertrand Russel predominantly. As in language you need usually three components to make a sentence complete, the same is true for a symptom, subject, object and the verb or the action. A basic symptom has three parts. Thus Jan has divided his repertory into Mind: Action, Thematic; Mind: Subject, Setting. General: Object, Dynamic. Body: Action, Thematic. Body: Subject, Setting. To explain these concepts, subject is the affected part and so relates to the patient. Action is the sensation and tells us what is happening and Object is the dynamic because it drives the action. The three parts are essential for a symptom; you need two parts and the relation between them. This reduction then poses the question as tot how best to arrange the repertory.

Alphabetical is good but Jan suggests not for the mind, eg, ‘cats’ has so many symptoms pertaining to it; fear cats, delusion cats etc so he reduced it all to ‘cats’ because ‘cats’ is the most informative part. All the new information from family, profession, art and the other themes have been arranged as such. This simplifies the process of repertorising and makes cross-referencing easy.

To facilitate this Jan has devised a coding system. Suddenly all this reductionism and generalization of concepts doesn’t look simple anymore. Initially he devised a scale of 0-9 corresponding to the plant kingdom, the number depicting the hierarchical order followed by the first four letters of the name. He says it then became obvious to do the same with the mineral remedies which helps to distinguish between a mineral and its salt. The advantage is that it shows the code for the group, not just a single remedy. It also shows the order of the group.

Jan has also included an interesting and stimulating essay on a “Model for a new Repertory” by Hans Nieuwenhuis who is responsible for the layout of both this repertory and the Repertorium Universale. This repertory is a based on a similar idea of Boenninghausen’s of generalizing or abstracting of data as opposed to merely listing the data and therefore making creative possibilities more flexible.

It seems that making the repertories of the future more along the lines of the abstract type than the traditional ‘observed’ types is a positive contribution. These three new repertories have provided us with volumes of information in a new way that makes our work easier, more flexible and creative.

By making use of modern technology, neglected repertories, philosophy, theology (Boenninghausen’s ideas for a complete symptom were taken from a hexagram from scholastic theology. The most important of which was the last point, the concomitant.) as well as the sciences, the repertory has been raised to a whole new level. After all this, let’s hope our patient bothers to turn up!

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