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Homeopathic Medical Repertory: A Modern Alphabetical Repertory
by Robin Murphy, ND
Hahnemann Academy of North America, Pagosa Springs, CO, 1993,1590 pages, hardbound, $89
Reviewed by Julian Winston
One of the problems people have when learning about homeopathy is being confronted by the "private language" of homeopathy. Once you get through the vocabulary of ,"modalities," "miasms," "concomitants," "similimums," and the like, you run headlong into Kent's Repertory.
This massive tome was developed by James Tyler Kent at the turn of the century-the first edition was published in 1897. The book was the end result of a compilation by Kent of the work of others (Constantine Lippe, Edmund Lee, Edward Berridge). And there were other repertories available before the Kent book, mostly the repertories of Jahr and Boenninghausen.
With the closing of most of the homeopathic schools in the 1920's, much of the education in homeopathy fell to the American Foundation of Homeopathy whose main teaching staff (Gladwin, Thatcher, Loos, Dienst) was trained by Kent and relied on his book, although a few of those who used the Boenninghausen repertory (Boger and Roberts) remained. Over the years, Boenninghausen's was slowly phased out (the last teacher of the method was Allan Sutherland, MD, a pupil of Roberts, who died in 1980), thus the Kent Repertory became the repertory of choice, and with it came the second "private language" of homeopathy.
So now we have to learn all sorts of things in order to use and understand the Repertory: The person who is constitutionally cold has "Heat, lack of vital." The claustrophobic person has "fear of narrow places." Desires (and aversions) for food are found in the "Stomach" section, while food aggravations are found in "Generalities." And we learn to think in a kind of reverse English, for example, "Naked, wants to be," "Thieves, that the house and space under the bed are full of," "Ecstasy, heat, during." And we have to learn how to convert the patient's symptoms into "repertory language."
In the last few years, with the development of computer repertorial programs, the repertorial database for some of the less frequently used repertories (by Knerr, Boenninghausen, Roberts) have become known and accessible to the community.
Meanwhile, there have been other attempts to expand the Kent Repertory. Barthel and Klunker developed the Synthetic Repertory in 1982 (incorporating many symptoms gleaned from the literature and from the experience of long practicing homeopaths like Pierre Schmidt); the additions of Vithoulkas (many which came from a previously published work by Boger) were published in the mid-1980's; Kunzli published his annotated Kent's Repertorium Generale; and almost every practitioner has their Kent Repertory annotated with many of the above additions, plus many from their own clinical experience.
When David Warkentin developed the MacRepertory computer program for the Macintosh, Roger VanZandvoort, a Dutch homeopath, began to add many of the additions (from over 200 authors) that existed in the literature to the computerized Kent Repertory. The result was the Complete Repertory and has been available only within the MacRepertory program (although Roger will be releasing it, much expanded, in book form later this year).
Still, with all of the additions, the arrangement of the repertory remained the same as when Kent developed it at the turn of the century. Now, almost a hundred years after Kent put together his book, a new repertory has come upon the market. Robin Murphy, ND, has produced the Homeopathic Medical Repertory- a repertory that contains the information in the Kent Repertory, but arranged in a more logical order. Says Robin: "The Repertory was designed to be a modern, practical, and easy to use reference guide to the vast homeopathic materia medica. To achieve these goals a completely new repertory had to be created. The alphabetical format was chosen as the most natural method to organize large amounts of information, thus bringing the Repertory in line with all the large homeopathic materia medicas which are also alphabetically arranged."
In the introduction to the book, Robin quotes T. F. Allen, who said: "We venture to hope that future standard works will present a new scheme free from theoretical ideas concerning the physiological action of remedies, classifying our symptomatology in a form which will permit ready reference and enabling numerous provings to be condensed."
In this new book, Robin says he has used all of the Kent Repertory and sections of Knerr's Repertory as the foundation. There are 39,000 new rubrics, and 200,000 new additions and updates. The book is extremely well bound, and printed on bible-paper which allows the 1590 pages to be less than two inches thick.
How does it work? Looking for food cravings or aggravations? just look under "F" for "Food" and there you find it all. No need to remember that "desires and aversions" are in the "Stomach" section, while the "food aggravations" are in the "Generals" section (as you do with Kent's). And in alphabetical order in the "food" section you'll find "Beer" and under that, "aggravations, ailments from, ameliorated by, aversion to, and desires"- no need to look through the repertory in different places.
In addition, Robin has added a number of possibly useful rubrics dealing with pathological states- muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Pott's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. And he has a whole section on "Emergencies" which contains a wealth of information.
The book does have printing errors. Two that I came across early on: the "Pregnancy" section is listed in the index as being on page 1216 when it really starts on page 1232, and in the "Tongue" section there is a listing that should have been "Nodosities" (nodes or lumps on the tongue) which is listed as "Nosodities." I'm sure that there are others. But, hey! Kent's Repertory has its problems too, and some of those have remained unchanged for years- even when the book was reprinted.
To use the book you still have to know a bit about the original Kent layout. For example, to find the symptom "Mistakes in speech" you still have to look under "Mind, Mistakes," and not under "Speech.,,
One of the problems I had with the book was that the authors of the additions were not cited. Robin says, "The modem practice of numbering all additions as to their authors is a commendable one but was avoided in this work to keep the repertory as small as possible and in one volume." He then suggests that one check the Kunzli Repertory, the Synthetic Repertory, and the Complete Repertory to find the sources of the additions. Knowing the authors of the additions is of paramount importance to the homeopath. Who made the addition? Based on how much clinical experience? How reliable are their observations? If you want to know who the authors of the additions are, you now have to reference three or four other books. And, more importantly, Robin's own additions are not annotated either so to find out what Robin added, you will have to compare all the repertories.
Elsewhere in this issue you will find another review by Antony Gordon, and some comments by Jeremy Sherr, RSHom, and Randy Neustaedter, OMD, and others. There is no need to belabor the points they are making.
In talking to Robin about this book, he said that he was trying to follow Hahnemann's advice to "get the information in the words of the patient," and thus he converted many of the rubrics into "modern" language.
This is certainly a magnificent effort. Its usefulness will remain to be seen. Even if Robin had done nothing more than take the Kent Repertory as it exists, and rearrange it in this alphabetical order, it would take quite a while for the "old folks" in the homeopathic community to "unlearn" almost one hundred years of using Kent's original layout.
With all of its shortcomings that are being commented upon, it is still a useful book well bound, compact-which contains a great amount of information. In talking with Jeremy Sherr, he said that he finds it a useful book to carry, if for no other reason than "all the ankle stuff" is in the same place."
This book deserves a place on every homeopath's shelf. I hope that the dialogue which has begun will result in future editions of the book being even better.
HOMEOPATHY TODAY OCTOBER 1993