Kent and Swedenborg: Shirley Reischmann in reply to Julian Winstons critique

Kent and Swedenborg: Shirley Reischmann in reply to Julian Winstons critique

Dear Readers:

In reply to Julian Winston’s critique, I would like to say that, yes, I do have both a Kentian and a Swedenborgian bias. I also acknowledge that Mr. Winston is the world’s leading homeopathic historian and has probably read many more books than I ever will. He can also probably remember where various ideas are stated much better than I ever could. That said, I must also say that much of my understanding was acquired from Dr. Kent Smith’s oral teachings. After graduating from Boston University School of Medicine (which in those days was a homeopathic medical school), Dr. Smith practiced with his father, Dr. Dwight Smith, who was a student of Dr. Kent’s. Dr. Smith recalled that his earliest memories were of Dr. Kent and his father discussing homeopathy in their home. Later, while he apprenticed with his father, he was taught orally, many of the lectures based on his father’s discussions with Dr. Kent. I would like to add that neither of the Drs. Smith were Swedenborgians.

I wrote the article because there is a controversy about how many of Kent’s ideas are Hahnemannian and how many are Swedenborgian. Too many people, without a clear understanding of Swedenborg’s philosophy, have the idea that Kent ‘diluted’ Hahnemannian homeopathy with the addition of his Swedenborgian ideas. I hoped that with a deeper understanding of Swedenborg’s philosophy, people would appreciate how it adds to the understanding of homeopathic healing.

In response to Mr. Winston’s first point: Unlike Kent, who thought his religion and homeopathy were perfect reflections of each other, Hering was adamant about not mixing religion with homeopathy I agree that Hering developed his direction of cure through observation, based on ideas taken from the Organon. However, I disagree that none of it comes from his understanding of Swedenborg’s philosophy. People observe things all the time, but very few truly and completely understand what they observe. I believe that Hering understood the phenomenon he observed because he had a clearly defined concept. I think he was able to take what he observed and make the connection between his observations and his understanding because of his Swedenborgian background. I grant that this is my assumption, rather than a stated fact by Hering.

In response to Mr. Winston’s second point: I agree that Boenninghausen’s Repertory is methodical and structured; and for those who understand it, the results are phenomenal. However, it was and still is difficult to understand, which is why it was not used by a lot of people. The structure of Kent’s Repertory is relatively simple, which is why it became so popular. You said it yourself, Mr. Winston, not many people were using Boenninghausen’s Repertory, primarily because they did not comprehend its structure. Although Boenninghausen’s Repertory is finally getting the recognition it deserves, the structure of Kent’s Repertory is still easier to comprehend. This does not necessarily make one better or worse than the other. However, many generations of homeopaths have successfully used Kent’s repertory. If it hadn’t worked, it would have been abandoned years ago.

Finally, point three: Yes, it’s in his Lesser Writings, on the fifth page of his Precepts and Aphorisms. He refers to following a strictly scientific methodology, which he believed was laid out in the Organon. A few items above that, he talks about everyone having his own ideas and theories. Kent practiced in the time of the Eclectics and was himself trained at an Eclectic school, but later converted to Hahnemannian homeopathy. That he mentioned it even once in his Philosophy in reference to Hahnemann’s methodology would, in my mind, give Kent the credit for coining the word in reference to a specific way of practicing homeopathy.

Note: While searching to put together a reply to me, Mr. Winston found a quote, which he graciously passed on to me, that is an even more exact reference than what I had and would seem to me to definitely put Kent as the originator of the term.

“In the “Homoeopathician” in 1912, Kent wrote:
“This state of affairs is by no means confined to our college and hospitals. Throughout the entire local profession conditions are much the same. The classical homeopathic prescribers are few in number, and seem to represent a fast-disappearing type.””

I met Dr. Kent Smith in October of 1978 and he used the word ‘classical’ to distinguish what he did from what some local chiropractors were doing with combo remedies and from what some of the naturopaths were doing combining herbs with homeopathic remedies. He did not specifically say that he got the word from Dr. Kent, but he was not a reader of the modern texts, so I assumed it was something that was passed down verbally and when I saw the use of the word in Kent’s text, I assumed that this was the first use of the word. Dr. Smith also distinguished between Kentian high potency prescribers and the low potency prescribers. He did not say that the low potency prescribers were not classical, just that they were not Kentian. He said to be classical you had to:
1) prescribe on the totality
2) prescribe only one remedy at a time
3) base the prescription on proving symptoms
4) give the remedy in potency rather than in material dose

I would like to thank Julian Winston for identifying some points of contention and I would like to thank the editors of ‘Homeopathy for Everyone‘ for giving me the opportunity to address the issues.

About the author

Shirley Reischman

Shirley Reischman

Shirley Reischman
Dr. Jim's Naturally Well Health & Healing Center
11263 Reading Road
Cincinnati, OH 45241
(513) 769-7546


  • Estimada Shirley: estoy completamente de acuerdo con usted. En el sitio de la Universidad Candegabe de Homeopatía (INVESTIGACIONES-TRABAJOS CIENTÍFICOS) está publicado un trabajo mío titulado “La influencia de Swedenborg en la Homeopatía” ahi explico, como lo hace usted, como los homeópatas kentianos hablamos en idioma “swedenborgiano” sin darnos cuenta. Coincido en todo con usted. Le envío un fuerte abrazo.
    Dr. Marcelo Candegabe

    • Translation of above comment:
      Dear Shirley: I completely agree with you. At the site of the University Candegabe Homeopathy (RESEARCH-SCIENTIFIC WORK) has published a work of mine entitled “The influence of Swedenborg on Homeopathy” explained there, as do you, like the language we speak kentianos homeopaths Swedenborgian without realizing account. I agree with you all. I send a big hug.
      Dr. Marcelo Candegabe

      • Thank you very much! I really do believe that an understanding of Swedenborg’s cosmology makes homeopathy much easier to comprehend.

  • Dear readers,
    To understand Hahnemann’s homoeopathy, one should have pure (unbiased and objective) observation, experiment and understanding. To understand Kent you should give up all those cardinal principles, as Shirley himself “I do have both a Kantian and a Swedenborgian bias”. “I hoped that with a deeper understanding of Swedenborg’s philosophy, people would appreciate how it adds to the understanding of homeopathic healing.” Then, there is no point in discussing philosophical Issues related to Homeopathy. Hahnemann is against such beliefs being used in explaining Health, disease, medicine and cure. One can understand what Julian wrote only when one has those cardinal principles mentioned above. This is the problem with many homeopaths today.

    I Read articles on Homeopathy being interpreted from beliefs based on Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic religions also. Major contributor for this decline was Kent. This approach will devide the homopaths. Need of the hour is SECULAR HOMOPATHY which only can unite all homeopaths universally.

    Students with objectivity and without prejudices only can understand Hahnemann and Homeopathy properly than those who are biased with beliefs of Christianity, Swedenborgian sect, Hinduism, Buddhism etc.

    The probable reason for this decline could be that- Empiricism, Deductive and Inductive logic – are not being taught properly in Homeo educational institutes all over the world. One should present a survey on this fundamental aspect.

    Nagabhushanam Valiveti
    [email protected]

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