Independent Research Project
Students of homeopathy are introduced to the repertory very early in their formal training. This introduction begins with an overview of the chapter layout, inevitably Kentian, and the organizational hierarchy of rubrics in those chapters. Over the next three years of study we go on to further detailed explorations of specific chapters and individual rubrics. Becoming an accomplished repertory user is a life-long undertaking. Even with the assistance of computer software repertory and materia medica programs. These programs provide rubric cross references for us, give us master synonyms and concepts, and allow us to search the entire repertory in an instance or quickly generate multiple analysis charts. Most of us struggle with rubric selection during our school years all the while making marginal notes to ourselves on where to find rubrics for specific symptoms and about which authors and rubrics are reliable. As new students we are quick to pick up the repertory. Creating analysis charts gives us a certain satisfaction and provides our first taste of “doing” homeopathy. In our haste to begin producing homeopathy the relationship between the repertory and the materia medica can go entirely unexplored. Once we’ve begun submitting repertory charts for our in-school cases we seldom return to this basic issue.
Our introduction to the repertory can include a general overview of its role in case analysis with specific attention to its application and limitations. On this solid foundation we can then construct a more particular knowledge of the repertory’s chapters, the rubrics we can count on, the authors on whom we can always rely and those valuable cross references that associate remote parts of the repertory for us. As an offshoot to discussing Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocketbook I hope to provide an opportunity to explore the place the repertory holds within the process of case analysis and how we can make the best use of it.
Background to the Pocketbook
Even in Hahnemann’s day there was a need for an index to the expanding Materia Medica. Hahnemann himself began to compile such a work around 1817. His Symptomenlexikon reached four volumes of alphabetically-listed symptoms from his Materia Medica Pura and Chronic Diseases but was never completed. Early ongoing attempts at creating an index during the 1820s and 1830s employed a range of techniques from simple alphabetic listing of symptoms to more complex arrangements based on the characterizations of symptoms expounded in the Organon. These ordered arrangements, undertaken by such notable homeopaths as Boenninghausen, Jahr and Hering, made it easier to find specific symptoms.
It was Boenninghausen who introduced the first repertory of the homeopathic materia medica. This repertory was published in 1832 and was called the Systemic Alphabetic Repertory of Antipsoric Remedies (SRA). With this work Boenninghausen introduced the use of rubrics to summarize lengthy proving symptoms and also introduced a four-tiered remedy grading scheme to indicate clinical reliability. Its organization was no longer merely alphabetic, being arranged now according to the various body regions and systems found in Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura and Chronic Diseases. In 1835 the second volume of this repertory, the Systemic Alphabetic Repertory of Non-Antipsoric Remedies (SRN) was published. These two works comprise the first repertory of Boenninghausen and form the model on which our modern repertories are based.
In 1834 Jahr published a repertory based on Boenninghausen’s SRA. Its second edition was translated into English under the editorship of Hering. This version later found its way, via Lippe and later on Lee, into Kent’s repertory. The content and structure of Kent’s repertory is based on Hull’s translation of Jahr’s third edition, the work of E.J. Lee and C.M. Boger’s publications. I won’t attempt to outline the lineage of our modern day repertory as this has been done thoroughly by Dimitriadis.1
Boenninghausen did not cease his efforts to construct a repertory with the publication of his SRA and SRN. At the urging of Hahnemann, he set out to combine these two earlier works into a single volume but gave up the endeavour when he realized that it could not be achieved in a manageable form. It was while attempting the amalgamation of his two repertories that Boenninghausen realized the approach that would result in his 1846 repertory called The Therapeutic Pocketbook for Homeopathic Physicians for use at the Bedside and the Study of Materia Medica Pura – most often referred to as the Therapeutic Pocketbook.
In its original form Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocketbook indexed the 126 remedies from Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura and The Chronic Diseases. T.F. Allen’s 1897 edition of the Pocketbook contained 220 additional remedies and omitted 4 from the original publication – Angustura and the three magnetic remedies (Magnetis poli ambo, Magnetis polus arcticus and Magnetis polus australis) – bringing the total to 342 remedies. Allen’s additions are considered incomplete.
Chapter layout and rubrics
Conceptually, Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocketbook is quite unlike Kent’s repertory and those modern repertories descended from it (Synthesis and The Complete Repertory). The Pocketbook’s layout is dramatically different having only seven chapters compared to forty repertory chapters found in Synthesis. The first thing that strikes you about this repertory, aside from the scant number of chapters it contains, is that it lacks chapter headings based on body regions, something that we have come to expect from Kent’s repertory. While the chapters on Sleep & Dreams, Mind & Sensorium, Fever and Change of General State seem familiar enough there are chapters called Sensations and Complaints and especially Concordance ofHomeopathic Remedies that appear completely unfathomable. The remaining chapter is called Parts of the Body and Organs and it too has an unfamiliar layout at first glance.
Regions of the body can be found listed in the Pocketbook but they appear within a single chapter called Parts of the Body and Organs. In this chapter you will find rubrics like: Parts of the Body and organs – Back – Scapulae, Parts of the Body and organs – Ears – External ear, Parts of the Body and organs – Lower limbs – Leg; lower. These rubrics are not unlike those found in Synthesis and contain sub-rubrics referring to more specific locations. However what immediately strikes you is that none of these rubrics refers to any kind of pain or other sensations: they are rubrics of location only.
Looking next at the Pocketbook chapter called Sensations and complaints we find rubrics like: Sensations and complaints – Bones – band around; like a, Sensations and complaints – External parts of the body and internal organs in general – adhesion of inner parts (sensation as), Sensations and complaints – Glands – pressing – outward; from within or Sensations and complaints – Skin – nails – ulcerated. Each rubric describes a symptom sensation (subjective experience) or a complaint (objective experience) but contains no indication in which bodily region the sensation/complaint occurred. These rubrics are rubrics of sensation/complaint only and they are all gathered together in this single chapter just as all the rubrics of location were together in their own chapter. The table below compares the chapter layout of the Pocketbook with that of the Synthesis repertory.
Therapeutic Pocket Book
Looking next at the chapter called Change of general state we see it is divided into two sections called “Aggravation” and “Amelioration”. Under aggravation you will find rubrics like: Change of general state – Aggravation – ascending – high; ascending a height, climbing up, Change of general state – Aggravation – cold air; from – dry, Change of general state – Aggravation – food and drinks; from partaking certain – meat – smoked, Change of general state – Aggravation – weather – dry weather; during. Listed under amelioration you will find rubrics such as: Change of General state – Amelioration – air; in open, Change of general state – Amelioration – head – bending; from – backward, Change of general state – Amelioration – motion; from – continued motion; from. These rubrics are rubrics of modality only and once again they appear in their own exclusive chapter.
The remaining chapters in the Pocketbook function pretty much in the same way. The chapter Mind and Sensorium is devoted to mental states and Sleep and Dreams to those states. The chapter called Fever is extensive and covers conditions of chill, circulation, coldness, heat, perspiration, shivering and stages of fever. The final chapter Concordance of homeopathic remedies is set aside to allow broad comparisons between remedies and is especially useful at the time of the follow up consultation.
A few examples should help demonstrate the workings of the Pocketbook’s chapter arrangement. In the first example we’ll take rubrics from Synthesis for the symptom pulsating pain in the head and compare them to rubrics from the Pocketbook for this same symptom (Table 1 on the next page). In Synthesis a single rubric from the Head chapter, Head – pain – pulsating, captures the description of this complaint. The rubric contains a description of where in the body the symptom is found (its location) and also the type and quality of the symptom (its sensation). The configuration of this rubric follows the Kentian convention – location [Head]; sensation [pain], sensation [pulsating] – that has become familiar to most students.