This book review is reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Homeopathy
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The Bonninghausen Repertory: Therapeutic Pocket Book Method
Reviewed by Julian Winston
The first repertory ever printed was by Bonninghausen in 1832. Now, the first repertory to be printed in this new millennium is ... the Bonninghausen Repertory!
The little Bonninghausen Therapeutic Pocket Book has been in print for years. In my library, I have one translated by Okie in 1847, one translated by Hempel in 1847 one translated and edited by T.F. Allen in 1891, a reprint of the same in 1935 containing a long article about how to use the book by H.A. Roberts, and an Indian edition of the same from about 1982.
Yet, despite its accessibility as a book, the use of the book had remained fairly inaccessible unless one was fortunate enough to study with an old prescriber who knew how to use it.
The method is discussed elsewhere in this issue, so we'll talk about the book itself.
The book is the work of a group of six homeopaths and has taken more than five years to bring to fruition.
Although T.F. Allen had added a good number of remedies to the book (and took a few out), the group thought that none of these changes could be confirmed nor could it be confirmed whether Bonninghausen would have added the same remedies in the same places. Therefore, all the Allen additions have been removed from this edition.
The only additions made were gleaned directly from Bonninghausen's later writings and from additions he made to his repertory as reportedly collected by Carroll Dunham.
In May 2000, Dr. med Klaus-Henning Gypser published the German Therapeutic Pocketbook Revised Edition 2000.
In October 2000, the English version, The Bonninghausen Repertory: The Pocket Book Method (TBR), edited by George Dimitriadis was released.
The rubrics have been re-translated from the German. TBR contains a 69-page section of end-notes that defines each rubric and how (and why) it was translated as such. This task often meant going back to the provings to understand how that remedy manifested the symptom described. It is a brilliant 69 pages.
The layout has been changed to make it easier to locate rubrics in the order needed for the taking of the case.
The "concordances" have been completely re-done. TBR has replaced the "concordances" from the 1846 book with those that Bonninghausen published in 1853.
What's there to see? The book is 9.75 inches tall and 7 inches wide. It is but I inch thick.
The pages have two columns of rubrics. No rubrics are carried over from left to right column or from one page to the next-meaning that all you want to see is right there in one column on one page.
This goes against the historical tradition of the book, and gives it a visual look that is very different than the original or the new German edition. It is no longer a "pocket book."
The book then departs again from the traditional ordering of the parts. It is divided into the following sections:
1. Symptomata Regional: (This is the Location) Head, trunk, extremities with further breakdown into eyes/vision, ears/hearing, etc.
2. Symptomata Systemic: grouping according to Function of body systems.
3. Symptomata General: those symptoms that do not relate to one region over another. The Mind section is here.
4. Symptomata Modalities: All factors of aggravation and amelioration are here.
5. Concordances (remedy relationships).
Every rubric is numbered and you can look up the number in the end-notes to see how it was translated from German, and anything else that would define its meaning. There are 2695 rubrics.
The editor stresses that he has labeled the sections as "Symptomata" as a reminder that the rubrics within refer only to disordered, abnormal alterations.
The book contains a very good preface explaining the developmental process, a section explaining how to use the book, a translation of Gypser's introduction to the German edition, and a translation of Bonninghausen's original introduction from 1846.
The book contains only 135 remedies-those that were used by Bonninghausen. Of course, this raises many questions, since remedies like Gelsemium, Phytolacca, Argentum nitricum, Kali bichromicum do not appear.
Is this a failing? Well, yes and no. Both Gypser and Dimitriadis stressed that it is incumbent upon homeopaths to know all their tools. You should understand the "picture" of Gelsemium well enough to recognize it when you see it-as well as all the other remedies that are not in the book.
The Bonninghausen Repertory should not be the only tool you use. When I visited Gypser, I noticed he has the large Bonninghausen's Repertory by Boger and the Kent Repertory on his desk as well as the Pocket Book.
We should be reminded that the grand prescriber Erastus Case said, "I use Kent's every day at my desk, but for hard chronic cases I always go to Bonninghausen."
Each tool has a place in the whole. We don't stop using Kent's Repertory because it doesn't contain Chocolate, Hydrogen, Germanium, Neon, Bamboo, or Ozone, do we? We learn about the remedies enough to recognize when a case might be in need of one of them, and we go to the final arbiter-the materia medica and the primary sources of the provings for verification.
I had but two minor complaints with the book. I found with my older eyes, the typeface used was a bit light and small. But I've gotten used to that.
Another was the changing of the abbreviations of some remedies- I know that the Latin nomenclature for Agnus castus is Vitex agnus castus, but abbreviating it as "Vitx" opens the door for so many more changes. Will we see "Ach" instead of "Mill" for Achillea millefolium and "Datu" for Datura stramonium? Where do we draw the line about accepting certain common standards?
And a slight discrepancy: The remedy Kreosotum is listed in the remedy list as "Kreos" but is abbreviated as "Creos" (as Bonninghausen did) in the rubrics.
All that said, the book is still very usable. If it serves to get more people understanding that there are other ways to find the simillimum than the one repertory they have been using, and better, that the simillimum they have been searching for might have eluded them because the method used to find it was faulty-and this book provides the guide for another way into the problem-then it has served its purpose well.
If it serves to provide a cure to just one "unsolvable" case (and it certainly has done that already for many who have used it) then it becomes a priceless addition to our armamentarium.