By Vera Resnick
I recently received my copy of P&W’s book version of the Therapeutic Pocketbook. And I must admit, it was love at first sight, and second, and third…
I must own up to being old fashioned. However much computers may have helped us in referencing many books, in finding correct rubrics, in the process of repertorization – it has reduced us to a bunch of small-screen addicts with heavy-duty tunnel vision.
One of the central flaws of science, replicated in the use of a computerized repertory, is that we determine what we’re looking for, and we look for it. Peripheral vision becomes irrelevant. Apart from synonyms, which can sometimes be useful, either what we’re looking for is there – or it isn’t. Anything interesting that may be lurking in the background becomes effectively invisible. Our gaze is honed in to what we’re looking for, what we find, and then to a search for alternative expressions of what we’re looking for.
I invite you now, if you will, to put down the mouse (or take your finger off the touch pad) and pick up the nearest book (no, no, a Kindle absolutely does not count). Flip through the pages without even looking for anything. Do you notice some ideas as you do so, some words that just jump out at you? If you’re doing this with a homoeopathic text, or something that interests you, you may even find yourselves noticing things you want to go back to, look at in more depth. It’s true – this can happen on the computer, but it’s a much easier process when you know what you’re looking for is sitting in your hand within the pages of the book you’re holding, and is not something you’re going to have to hunt through your browsing history to get at.
Tunnel vision is considered a problem because we are hard-wired to give importance to peripheral vision, although as a race we seem hell-bent on destroying any abilities we have in that area. We are programmed to notice something that is moving which should be still, something that has a different colour, a different shape, and our brains process a tremendous amount of information beyond that which lies in our direct focus.
The new P&W book allows us to do both. On the one hand, the book is quite large in terms of page size and lettering, and all sections are very clearly presented. When I’m looking for something specific, it’s very easy to find it. On the other hand – as I leaf through the Cough section looking for sweetish expectoration, I cannot help but notice all the other forms of expectoration appearing on the page. As I take a broader look at the page, I cannot help but notice how frequently Phos and Puls seem to stand out in their four point bold capitals, and notice the incidence of other remedies in these rubrics too. Looking at the page on Leucorrhea, I find myself wondering why I’m seeing much less of the Sepia I expect, and more of Mercury and other remedies to think about.
The point I’m trying to make is that while you can turn every computerized repertory search into a learning experience if you choose to do so, a hard copy book search will bring things to your attention just by looking through the book’s pages.
Another plus of the book is that it brings the Concordances section into focus and allows for clearer study and use of that section in repertorisation and case management.
The editors have kept their intervention to a minimum, and thus I know what I hold in my hands is faithful to Boenninghausen’s 1846 Therapeutic Pocketbook. To quote from the editor’s introduction:
“…We translated from the original German of the published first edition and had use of the handwritten printer’s edition in Boenninghausen’s own hand. We translated each rubric to bring it into modern English but retained the original meaning of each word and sentence…” P&W’s Synopsis program also has the original German edition, so it is possible to check back to the original rubrics as desired…”
Since I wrote most of the above, my software was knocked out by my antivirus gone rogue. Until I worked out the problem, which ultimately was easy to resolve, I was dependent on the book – and extremely relieved that I had it at hand. I think that for those of us who work constantly with computer software, having a hard copy which offers a faithful non-electricity non-computer dependent version is crucial for those days when nothing is working properly.
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