……….Outlining the development of the first repertory by Bonninghausen in 1832, he brought the past and present together with a quote from a letter from Hahnemann to Bonninghausen, dated December 26, 1834, where Hahnemann says: “Even if the homeopathician perceive that the repertory is insufficient for finding the best remedy for every case of disease, nevertheless, they calm down when they have such an overview in their hands, and even believe with some probability to be able to dispense with sources, and they don’t buy them and use them.”
So even at that time, 166 years ago, Hahnemann expressed concern that people were using the repertory as a shortcut to finding the remedy, without bothering to look further in the materia medica for the remedy.
After Bonninghausen’s repertory came the Jahr Repertory in 1834. I was amazed to learn that the Lippe Repertory in 1879 was the first new repertory in 45 years. It was this repertory of Lippe that was further modified by E.J. Lee (who published the Mind section in 1889) and that eventually formed the conceptual base of Kent’s Repertory in 1897.
Winston briefly discussed a few other repertories that appeared at the time of Kent—the Concordance of Gentry (in six volumes), the Symptom Register of T.F. Allen, and the Repertory of the Guiding Symptoms compiled by Calvin B. Knerr.
The most important point that Winston made was the need to see the repertory as a flawed tool that should not always be taken at face value.
To stress this point, he mentioned several examples, but the one that really struck me was the rubric in Kent’s Repertory, “Mind, Fear, destination, of being unable to reach his,” and the single remedy it contains: Lycopodium. “Someone on the lyghtforce [e-mail] list asked if this was a proving symptom, so I searched it out,” said Winston. He found it in Allen’s Encyclopedia under “Generals.” The symptom is: “Weariness and exhaustion while walking, so that he feared that he would be unable to reach his destination, at 5 p.m. (twenty-first day).” That is very different than that which one would understand from the rubric in Kent.
Stephen Messer, ND, who was in the audience, mentioned that he once looked for the original symptom for the rubric in the Synthesis Repertory, “Mind, seasons, autumn, mental symptoms aggravate in.” He said he found the original symptom in Allen: “Feeling of sadness and some disposition to tears, caused by an impression that he was soon to die and leave his friends; disposition to take a sad view of the beauties of autumn.” Once again, the original symptom appears to be quite different than one would understand from the repertory rubric.
So it is important to verify the rubric in the original sources—the provings. But there is even another problem doing that. We know that many of the provings done with crude (non-potentized) doses contained both a primary action and a secondary action—for example, the wakefulness of Coffea is followed by sleepiness. Both primary and secondary actions are contained in the proving. Yet Kent did not differentiate between these in his repertory. One of the comments that Winston shared from Dr. Gypser is that if you prescribe using the symptoms of the secondary action, you’ll get a palliation but not a cure. So to make the repertory even more accurate as a tool for prescribing, one has to go through it and take out (or at least mark) the secondary action symptoms.
This then leads to a closer look at the provings themselves. Were the provers really healthy? Hahnemann’s son Friedrich had a back injury as a child and was deformed as a result. What symptoms do we get from Friedrich in his provings? Vertigo and backache!
Winston quoted a discussion he had with Frans Vermeulen where Vermeulen mentioned that the remedy Origanum was proved on 17-year-old girls in a boarding school and “of course they would have a ‘desire for boys.'”
When looking at the repertory, one should look at the symptom and try to first find where it came from (by going to the original sources) and then decide if it is reliable.
Commenting upon how the repertories are getting bigger and bigger, Winston quoted the English homeopath Nhoj Eel, who suggested that, “If we extrapolate the number of these additions which will appear over the next 50 years against book size we can see that by the year 2050 we can confidently expect the new repertory size to be 9 foot by 6 foot by 3 foot. Either this, or the repertory will remain Kent-sized and come complete with a microscope.”Although offered as a tongue-in-cheek commentary, there is certainly a grain of truth in it.
We should be cautious about additions, and we should be aware of the shortcomings of the original—since all the newer repertories—Synthesis, Complete, and Phoenix—derive from Kent’s Repertory.
Winston, once again, impressed me with his encyclopedic knowledge which appears so effortless to access. It was an informative and entertaining presentation.
Time to go home and start looking at my Kent Repertory with new eyes!