This book review is reprinted with the permission of the International Foundation for Homeopathy
PO Box 7
Edmonds, WA 98020
A Modern Alphabetical Repertory by Robin Murphy, ND
Hahnemann Academy of North
America, Pagosa Springs,
1590 pages, hardbound, $49
[Editor's note: Robin Murphy, ND revised this book in 1996, and Minimum Price Books' price is $89.00].
Reviewed by Nicholas Nossaman, MD, DHt
Since the release, in March 1993, of the Homeopathic Medical Repertory by Robin Murphy, ND, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion of the volume in the homeopathic press and on HomeoNet, as well as a number of reviews in various publications. Dr. Murphy has partially responded to the criticisms in two of the periodicals. It would be much more appropriate for us to review Dr. Murphy's reorganized and expanded version of the Kent Repertory ten years from now, because none of us today really knows the impact it will have on the quality of homeopathic prescribing. That is the main standard by which it should be judged, after all.
Nonetheless, I would like to comment about the content and organization of the volume and a bit about its usefulness to me so far. On picking up the book, my first reaction was that it is a compact and beautifully put together volume printed on very high quality paper. My second reaction was that it is a bold reorganization and expansion of repertorial information, with many practical divisions, such as the ones having to do with children, pregnancy, emergencies, the environment, dreams, and delusions. My third reaction was disappointment that there were no superscript notations of the authors of the additions to Kent. Dr. Murphy has stated that it would have made the single volume into two volumes or a much less compact single volume. I would much prefer the notations with sacrifice of the compactness.
This brings up the crucial issue of adding information to our materia medica and repertories from clinical experience as well as from provings. Klunker, Kunzli, Johnston, some members of Homeopathia Internationalis study groups, and others have worked on retrieving verified and clinically confirmed proving symptoms from Hahnemann, Allen, Hering and Kent, for inclusion in the repertories. There are more and more remedy additions proposed, based solely on clinical experience of one or more seasoned prescribers, This is an important part of the organic growth of the data base which we utilize in our search for the treasured simillimum. It is here that we must insist on the acceptance of only the additions which are totally reliable.
In lecture 33 of his Philosophy, Kent describes his criteria for grading of symptoms in the repertory. I am not sure that all additions in the repertories subsequent to Kent are products of the same criteria, nor that they are added only if the whole patient improved along with the improvement of the symptom. In his reply to his reviewers, Dr. Murphy has stated his criteria for entry and upgrading of remedies in rubrics. For example, he states that, if a remedy has cured a symptom or condition more than three times and it has been confirmed by more than three homeopaths, it was added to his repertory in the lowest grade (one point, plain type), and so on, with more stringent requirements for additions and upgrades in the higher grades. Kent (in the lecture noted above) adds a remedy in the lowest grade if "close and careful observers have noticed that certain symptoms, not in the proving, have yielded to a certain remedy, and others have confirmed this clinical experience." In other words, Dr. Murphy's criteria are more clearly spelled out and seem to be at least as rigorous as those of Kent.
I compared three rubrics in his repertory with the same ones in the Complete Repertory, in MacRepertory: "Deceitful," "Defiant," and "Ailments from Reproaches." In "Deceitful," Lycopodium (2), Opium (3) and Thuja (3) were upgraded in Murphy's Repertory, when compared with the Complete Repertory, and Morphinum was added, with the other remedies in the rubric being identical. Again, because of absence of references, we do not know the source of these additions/upgrades but most are presumably from Dr. Murphy, if they are not from the Synthetic Repertory. The changes make sense, however, considering the mentals of the four remedies. In "Defiant," Chamomilla (2) and Medorrhinum (1) are added and Tuberculinum is upgraded (3), again with the same comments applicable. In "Ailments from Reproaches," he has added Anacardium (1), Chamomilla (1), Lycopodium (3) and Natrum Muriaticum (2), and has up-graded Carcinosin (2), Colocynthis (2) and Staphysagria (3). The same comments, again, apply here, though I am not as certain about Chamomilla and Anacardium.
I have emphasized this point because I believe it is the aspect of any new or updated repertory which has the most potential to affect the quality of homeopathy prescribed in the world. I believe we run a real risk of ending up with fewer and fewer individualizing rubrics if we indiscriminately create an expanding mush of remedies in each. I am not directing this as a criticism of this volume, if Dr. Murphy is consistent with the rules he has described.
It is important that the criteria also include the requirement that the patient demonstrated overall progress in the direction of cure. This latter criterion can be deceiving, for what we perceive in the short run to be curative, can demonstrate itself to be only palliative, given sufficient follow-up of the case.
There are some rubrics, as it has been pointed out elsewhere, which have been combined from the original Kent Repertory. An example is the combination of "egotistical" and "haughty" into one rubric entitled "EGOTISTICAL, haughty." The two words describe two distinct characteristics, as originally perceived by Kent, and belong in two separate rubrics.
Dr. Murphy has updated the language of the repertory in many places, for which many new generations of homeopathic students will thank him many times over. "Boredom" replaces "ennui," "crying" replaces "weeping," and "humiliation" replaces "mortification," for example, though the original terms are cross-referenced to the terms in updated language. He has created sections which make it easier to locate an experience, such as symptoms related to music. Besides the separate sections which have music as a modality, he has a "music" section in the Mind chapter, which includes many of the other mental symptoms which relate to music. This same section does omit some of the symptoms related to music, such as crying. This could be a problem for one who has not known the Kent Repertory before using this one.
Looking up symptoms related to foods is a breeze. Rather than needing both the stomach and generalities chapters to know of desires, aversions, aggravations and ameliorations from particular foods, we find all the information in the Food section, under the food in question. Dr. Murphy has a very useful word index in the back of the book, which helps with the location of many rubrics and symptoms.
I will always prefer the organization of the Kent Repertory, partly because I cut my teeth on it and partly because of the heart-level experience I had the first time I opened it and knew I was "home." There is much to be said about the wisdom of its organization, consistent with the anatomy of the human being. At the same time, Dr. Murphy is perfectly entitled to reorganize the information as he has, with smaller anatomical and functional subdivisions, in alphabetical order. I suspect it will be every bit as popular in 20 years, to those who will still be using hard copies of repertories.
I use Murphy's Repertory daily, as a reference book, and I am generally satisfied with using it in that manner. I took it to the IFH Case Conference as my only repertory, to learn its organization better and to see how it served me, and I was satisfied with its use. My biggest reservation has to do with uncertainty about the source of additions and upgrades of remedies in individual rubrics, as I noted above.
Robin Murphy and those who helped him have done a huge amount of work in producing this good-looking repertory with many "user-friendly" aspects. I hope that it will prove to be a substantial contribution to the quality of homeopathic prescribing in the world for years to come.
RESONANCE MARCH-APRIL 1994