Remove the Kent overlay!

The biggest obstacle to returning to the true application of the therapy of homoeopathy, is letting go of all the filters of Swedenborg doctrine as promulgated by Kent.

Kent single handedly,  managed to infuse the medical practice as developed by Hahnemann, into a quasi spiritual practice that diluted the efficacy of treatment.

The list of homœopaths who were members of the Church of the New Jerusalem and influenced by Swedenborg’s writings stretches from John Garth Wilkinson, who was both one of the first English homœopaths and the first translator of Swedenborg into English, through most of the great American homœopaths of the later 19th and early twentieth century, to a few of  today. The major figures who were responsible for the subversion of  homœopathy, were particularly Hering and Kent but also Grimmer, Farrington, Boericke, Tafel, Holcombe, Gram and Wesselhoeft were not only members of the New Church but were also deeply influenced by Swedenborg’s philosophy.

As is the case of every transcendentalism, Swedenborg´s also developed a symbolism, based upon analogy. His particular model depicted “spheres of influence”: the soul; reason and will and, finally, imagination, desire and memory. It is evident that this conception directly influenced Kent´s semiology.


Swedenborgs Doctrine of degrees: The greater the number of dilutions (in this case, on a scale from 1 to 200), the greater the potency of the homeopathic medicine; likewise, the higher the level of spiritual rarefaction (from the physical world to heaven), the closer one moves to the Lord

Some of Swedenborgs theories appeared to correspond to homeopathic notions: besides correspondences theory, the idea of the representation of the maximum through the minimum (consequently, of minimal doses), the refusal of aggressive medical intervention, the stress upon body-mind relationship, the postulate of matter-energy unity, the octaves scale (employed by Kent as a guide to the sequence of dynamizations). However, these affinities do not suffice as an explanation. It would seem that Swedenborgs ideas provided an “existential solution” that surpassed the frame of homeopathic doctrine.

Unfortunately, it resulted in a misguided answer to the deterioration of Hahnemann´s doctrine current in American and British Homeopathy. “Classic” homeopaths thought that therapeutic pragmatism was eroding the philosophical axis and many foundations of Homeopathy. That is to say, the hard-core of the technique was being discarded in an amazing speed by voices that claimed to “modernize the method”, even if it would imply in the abandonment of epistemological bases. A proper answer ought not to have attempted to transform Homeopathy into a new religious conception. This was not perceived by hard-liners, who fell prey to ideology, making Homeopathy the hostage of inflexible dogmatism.

As a fact, Kent did anchor most of his philosophy in Swedenborg´s system. Expressions such as “the inwardness of man”, his famous “organ correspondences”, the hyposthatization of will and thought to the center of human existence, all against a background of moral exhortations, manifest this influence.

Notwithstanding, there is another element that must be taken into consideration: emphasis on mental symptoms constituted for Kent more a guideline to the study of Materia Medica than a priori instructions concerning actual prescription. On the other side, it must be admitted that Kent´s new method of learning remedies led to the establishment of stereotypes. And this outcome deserves further discussion as such “medicinal personalities” threatens to substitute the plastic flow of the prover sensitiveness. No alleged typology may represent an improvement when compared to isolate symptoms, as they appear in the Pure Materia Medica. Provings do not depict complete images that are to be overlapped to the personality of the patients in order to find the suitable remedy. There are no Lycopodium-patients, no Sepia-personalities, no Sulphur exists. What we may find are persons, human beings, whose specific susceptibilities may partially or completely react to the  provings of each one of these remedies.

What emerged as a didactic tool became a distortion. Mental symptoms were exalted, under an archaic light. And it stimulated Homeopathy to construe static pictures.

In a framework that requires singularity, it is highly probable that mental symptoms may more easily convey particular traits. Human verbal process is more attuned to psychical features than physical ones. Sadly, this fact was misunderstood and many homeopathic schools neglected “organic” manifestations as they posited mental symptoms as the only guides of prescription. We can only appraise this development as completely wrong in the light of Hahnemanns research and directions and attributable to Kents religious views.


COULTER, H. L. Divided legacy. 2.ed. Richmond, North Atlantic Books, 1982. 4vols.

HEMPEL, Ch, J. Organon of the Specific Homeopathy. W.Radde. New York. 1853

KENT, J. T Materia Medica. Ed. Luz-Menescal Rio de Janeiro, 2002

KENT, J. T. Lectures on homeopathic philosophy. Memorial Edition. Chicago, Ehrhart & Karl, 1929.

KING, W.H. History of homeopathy and its institutions in America. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905. 4v.

MURE, B. L’homeopathie pure. Revu, Augmenté et Mis en Ordre par Sophie Liet. Paris, J.-B. Bailliére, 1882.

ROSENBAUM, P. Miasms. Roca, São Paulo, 1998.


One response to “Remove the Kent overlay!

  1. Pingback: ¡Hay que eliminar las desviaciones de Kent! « Instituto de Medicina Homœopática América Latina

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