This book review is reprinted from The Homoeopath with permission from Nick Churchill of The Society of Homoeopaths.
MENTAL SYMPTOMS IN
By Luis Detinis MD
Translated by Nick Churchill, 1994, 222 pages, paperback
Reviewed by Christian Taylor DSH
In this book Luis Detinis sets out to produce a guide to translating the patients words into terms used in Kent's Repertory of Materia Medica 6th edition.
The first half of the book lists 194 (under 151 headings) of the 'most characteristic mental symptoms' appearing in Kent's repertory. Detinis gives a concise definition of each rubric as found in the dictionaries of Kent's time and based on his own experience. Below this he gives 'practical examples' of how the patient may express these symptoms in the interview. He also refers the reader to other related rubrics. Each rubric section ends with extracts of materia medica from TF Allen's Encyclopaedia of Pure Materia Medica, to show the provers expressed these symptoms. The second half contains transcriptions of six of Detinis' own cases, and are intended to show how a sound understanding of mental rubrics can be used effectively in finding the simillimum.
The first half of the book is well-researched and provides straight and clear definitions of many of the major rubrics. There are some useful and subtle distinctions between seemingly similar rubrics, for example between 'Impetuous' and 'Impulsive', 'Egotistical' and 'Selfishness', or 'Cursing' and 'Abusive', to name a few. He also tells us which rubrics to combine where, from his readings from the provings, he feels that there is little to differentiate, for example he combines 'Fear of Evil' with 'Fear that something will happen', to be used 'when one is dealing with a patient who has the latter symptom'.
This is all solid stuff though a general lack of imagination shows in the 'Delusion' section, where ten delusions are listed under a heading of 'paranoid structure' and a few other 'common' delusions are given only the briefest discussion. This is rather uninformative when compared with the work Rajan Sankaran has done in illuminating the delusion section of our repertories.
Detinis says of the extracts of materia medica that they could 'form the basis of further research'. This does seem to be the case, for in their present format they are of limited use, although they do serve to highlight the presence of small, lesser-known remedies.
The short introduction to the book is almost entirely taken up with quotes from Hahnemann, Kent and Paschero (Detinis worked with, and studied under the latter). These extracts, though appropriate, leave little room for Detinis to share his own insights and experiences that he has surely gained after some twenty years of homoeopathic practice. This sense of modesty runs through his cases in the second half of the book. He holds back on giving a short, in some cases, any, explanation into his choice of one symptom over another for repertorisation informing us that selection 'should be based on the minimum syndrome of maximum value'. He shares little of his knowledge of remedy 'pictures'. At the end of one case he lists his rubrics and gives Calcarea carbonica explaining that 'this is the only remedy which covers all the symptoms'.
The focus of this book is on translating patients' expressions into rubrics. The book is a useful tool in assisting us in this aim. This process is a fairly mechanical, if skilful process. The artistry in homoeopathy is in perceiving which symptoms to translate in order to best describe the patient's state most accurately. That Detinis chooses not to illuminate his own internal process is a shame considering his experience.
All in all though, this is a useful book, especially for those who, like myself, need to feel very sure of a rubric's meaning before being able to use it with confidence. This book should be included on students' book lists.
The Homoeopath No.53 1994