Two new Repertories - Reviewed by Julian Winston
Reprinted with permission from Homeopathy Today, a monthly publication of the National Center for Homeopathy, 801 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 548-7790, Fax (703) 548-7792
Synthesis: Repertorium Homeopathicum
Syntheticum (edition 5) edited by Dr. Frederick Schroyens Homeopathic Book Publishers, London, 1994,1831 pages, hardback $195/paperback $95 ISBN 0-9522744-9-3 [Minimum Price Books editor's note: As of December, 1996, there is no longer a paperback or hardback edition printed in Belgium. There is the hardback Indian edition for $135].
The first page of the Synthesis Repertory by Frederick Schroyens: [editor's note: actual size as reproduced in book review is 6" x 9 1/4"]
The first page of the Complete Repertory by Roger van Zandvoort: [editor's note: actual size as reproduced in book review is 6 5/8" x 9 3/8"]
One hundred years ago, as the "golden age of homeopathy" was drawing to a close, homeopaths were busy developing a number of repertories (i.e., an index to the homeopathic materia medica arranged by symptom). Although Jahr's Repertorium and Boenninghausen's Repertory had been the basic tools of the trade, others were emerging. Prime among them was the Repertory constructed in 1879 by Constantine Lippe (son of Adolph Lippe) which was based upon the Jahr Manual that was issued by Hering at Allentown Academy (the first homeopathic school, in Pennsylvania, run by Hering) in 1838.
Then, in 1889, Dr. Edmund Jennings Lee issued a Repertory of the Mind and Head. Published first as an addition to the Philadelphia journal the Homeopathic Physician, it was soon released as its own book. Dr. Lee compiled the Repertory from the unreleased second edition of the Lippe book (which he procured from Lippe), and from notes and additions from other homeopaths including E.W. Berridge in England and J.T. Kent in the U.S. But Lee became blind, and his unfinished manuscripts were given to Kent, who continued to work on them.
In 1890, Dr. William Gentry released his six-volume Concordance Repertory, and in 1896 Dr. Calvin B. Knerr released the Repertory based on the ten volumes of Hering's Guiding Symptoms. Both were unwieldy to use, although the information contained within them was valuable to the practitioner.
Meanwhile, Kent had been compiling a repertory based on Lee's work, but he included many additions from his own clinical practice and from other respected homeopaths of the day Kent stated that he checked and verified all the symptoms, but his original notes and the records of which additions came from what sources are lost to history. Using this compiled repertory at his Postgraduate Clinic in Philadelphia, he was finally persuaded by his students to release it. It was printed, a section at a time, in 1897.
As the schools teaching homeopathy shut down in the 1920's, the prime teachers of homeopathy-those who were able to pass it on to the next generation-were, for the most part, pupils of Kent. And as such, they were schooled in the use of the Kent Repertory. In the years since, the Kent Repertory has shown itself to be (generally) an accurate and useful tool for pointing the way toward the correct remedy in a case. And, over the years, almost every practitioner who uses the book has added his or her own cross references and clinical experiences to their copies-information which has often been passed on to others.
In the mid-1980's, as personal computers became available, the idea of placing the database of the repertory into the computer became a reality. And it was the Kent Repertory that was used for the database. But a slight problem developed. The computer world, after 1984, was divided in two. On one side was the IBM computer with its standard user interface working from the MS-DOS system, and on the other side was the young upstart- the Macintosh computer with its mouse controlled interactive environment. And that is why we are now looking at two new books. The Synthesis Repertory grew out of the IBM-based RADAR program that was developed in Belgium. The Complete Repertory grew out of the MacRepertory program that was based on the Macintosh platform.
The aims of both books are similar. Based on the Kent Repertory, they both claim to: correct the mistakes that exist in the Kent book (of which there are many); add more rubrics (and remedies to old rubrics) that exist in the literature but were not included in the Kent work; and develop a better standard in the nomenclature used in homeopathy. In some aspects, they have started from the same place they have built upon the Kent Repertory, the Final General Repertory edited by Drs. Pierre Schmidt and Diwan Chand, the Synthetic Repertory of Barthels and Klunker, and the Repertorium Generale of Jost Kunzli. And they have also looked at the many other repertories and materia medicas that have been in existence, and incorporated that information into their pages.
The amount of work in undertaking this task is unimaginable. Every rubric and remedy within it must be checked in the literature to make sure that the symptom is accurately expressed.
Much of this work was already underway and only had to be incorporated into the books. For example, Heinz Eppenich published articles in the German Classical Homeopathic Quarterly in which he looked at remedies where there might be a confusion in abbreviation in Kent, and suggested corrections. For example, Kent lists Chin (China officinalis) under "Ear, pain, right." But in looking at materia medica sources, this symptom cannot be found. However Chim (Chimaphila umbellata) does have the symptom "Pain in right ear" in Hering's Guiding Symptoms. And Eppenich also looked at the confusions between Zinc and Zing (Zingiber), Graph (Graphites) and Gnaph (Gnaphalium), and Cact (Cactus) and Cast (Castoreum)-among others. Similarly, Andreas Wenger looked at the confusion between Bov (Bovista) and Bor (Borax), Ambra (Ambra grisea) and Am-br (Ammonium bromatum), Sarr (Sarracenia) and Sars (Sarsaparilla), and Lepi (Lepidium) and Lept (Leptandra). Many of the study-groups started in the 1980's by Dr. Jacques Imberechts of Belgium were busy going through all the materia medicas to cull those symptoms that were not represented in Kent's Repertory. Having been part of one of these study groups (the Kali-carb group) for a while, I can attest to the amount of work involved in this level of project.
So now, almost 100 years after Kent published his first Repertory, we have two more repertories that are destined to become the standard. They are both, basically, computer repertory programs in print. And both are a joy to have. I've always believed that even though the computer programs can make the cross-referencing of rubrics an easy job, the process of looking through a bookof holding it in hand and leafing pages- is extremely valuable. You'll always see something that you will never notice if you are only scrolling computer screens. Leafing through a repertory is, as Dr. Richard Moskowitz once called it, "a meditative exercise." Nothing can replace a book. So how are they as books?
The Synthesis was released first. It is, in essence, an expanded Kent's Repertory. It is about the size of a large Kent Repertory. The paper is slightly cream colored, and the hard binding is of good quality It should last. The first 10 pages give a concise overview of the changes that were made (i.e., similar rubrics were merged;old spellings were replaced by modern spellings; consistent abbreviations were used; etc.) while the last 111 pages ("A Blueprint for a New Repertory") describe in detail the thinking that went into the construction of the Repertory, and list the remedy abbreviations and the abbreviations for the identification of the author and source of the addition. The chapters are separated by a printed thumb index (i.e., the pages are not cut, but the chapter area can be clearly seen on the edge of the pages). All the "times" are listed in the standard 24 hour clock- so "6PM" is listed as "18h." The "food desires and aversions" are kept in the normal place (as in Kent's Repertory) under "stomach" but are repeated in the "generals" section as well. There is a separate chapter for "dreams" following the "sleep" section. A minor point of irritation for me was that some rubrics, because of the annotations of the sources, were often spread out (as in the rubric "ABRUPTaffectionate; rough yet) thus giving the line a visual "stutter." (See sample on page 9)
The Complete Repertory will be released in three volumes. The first, The Mind, has been released. The paper is white, the binding is solid. The first 7 pages describe the thinking that went into the construction of the book, and the last 70 pages contain the remedy abbreviations, the bibliography, the author identification, and other statistics. The sections within the book are thumb-indexed, but a version is available (for less cost) without this feature. The book has a fold out page at the back which contains all the author reference numbers. This feature allows you to fold the page out and continue to use the book- in effect having an "author's index" always available. It is a nice feature. The "dream" section is included within the "mind" chapter.
Both books contain two bound-in ribbons as place markers. There is no need to describe the typeface and the layout of each. The differences can be readily seen in the reproductions of the first page of each book. (See pages 8 and 9.)
Unlike Robin Murphy's Modern Alphabetical Repertory (see HT October 1993), the format in both books sticks closely to the original Kent format, based on the Hahnemannian schema (Mind, Vertigo, Head, etc.) with a few variations, thus keeping to the ideas of Constantine Hering who, in the introduction to his book Analytical Therapeutics, called the alpabetical arrangement used in the many repertories of his day "the most miserable of all 'orders'."
The differences? The errors?
Both books contain some errors. It is easier to document the errors in the Synthesis- only because it has been in print a bit longer and we have the whole book, rather than just one section in print. I can't imagine the amount of work and time that went into these books the constant looking, checking, correcting, looking, checking, etc.
And when everything has to be checked, some things are going to slip by It did for Kent in his original. But the amount of things that did slip by is miniscule compared to the correctness of the overall works. These slight errors are pointed out here in the spirit that the compilers of both books have asked for corrections to make the works more perfect. It is not my intention to demean either book.
On first glance I noticed that the heading on page three, column one of the Complete was "ABSTRACTION of mind (cont.)" which is the same heading as page two, column two. It should have been "Abusive, insulting (cont.)." There well might be more such mistakes. The copy of the book I received had an "errata" sheet enclosed, describing the errors that have been found to date.
The confusion between similar abbreviated remedies continues to exist. Roger van Zandvoort pointed out to me that there are a few places where the remedy Xanth (Xanthium) has been added in the Synthesis when the remedy should have been Xan (Xanthoxylum). The error has been transcribed from Roberts' Sensations As If, where Xanth has been used as an abbreviation for Xanthoxylum. So in the rubric "Delusions: die; rather die than live, one would" the remedy Xanth should be Xan. And another: "Delusions; elevated; air, elevated in" lists Nit-ac. But it should be Nitro-o. Kent's Repertory has it as Nitro-ox, and that symptom is found in Allen's Encyclopedia.
There are other, minor, confusions in the Synthesis. The Synthetic Repertory of Barthels and Klunker was used for many of the additions, but that book has mistakes and it is easy to include them in the new books. Some examples are found in the confusion between Opium (0p) and Opuntia vulgaris (Opun-v), where the former is listed in "Cursing," "Cursing, afternoon," "Cursing: evening, home, when." The error originally comes from T.E Allen who had it right in his Encyclopedia, but made the mistake of writing it as "Op" in his Index to the Materia Medica-his repertory the last two volumes of the Encyclopedia. Since the Synthetic Repertory used the Index rather than the Encyclopedia, it continued the mistake. I have been informed by Dr. Schroyens that this error has since been corrected in the next printing, correctly listing it as Opuntia spina alba-since that is the variety of Opuntia that produced that particular symptom.
These errors come from copying a source that made errors. But when one has to set all these rubrics in print, similar problems can still exist. The Synthesis lists Anan (Anatherum muricatum) instead of Anac (Anacardium) under "SKIN, ERUPTION, rhus poisoning"- undoubtedly a slip of the hand rather than a slip of the mind!
A good example of the differences between these two books can be found in this comparison (that I picked at random):
The Complete has the rubric "Ailments, domination by others, a long history of" with no sub-rubrics. The Synthesis has the rubric "Ailments, domination" with three sub-rubrics: "children" Carcinosin (by Sankaran); "Parental control, long history of excessive:" Carcinosin (by Foubister/Sankaran); "long time, for a" Folliculinum (by Jacques Alexandre).
In the Complete, four remedies are listed, and the sources are different: Carcinosin (by Julia M. Green), Folliculinum, Lycopodium, Sepia (all by Dockx & Kokelenberg). Should the two books be in agreement here? Is one more trustworthy than the other?
I asked Frederick Schroyens about this specific rubric and he responded by saying that he did not get permission to edit the work of Dockx and Kokelenberg in the Synthesis. "The real problem," he said, "indeed is that Dockx and Kokelenberg have included a lot of additions in their Comparative Repertory without mentioning the source. We have preferred not to include any additions from which we do not know the real source. This renders any later corrections impossible and it also induces error into homeopathy as you well know that one copies from the other. Where will this kind of imprecision lead us? Maybe to a higher number of additions."
Roger van Zandvoort wrote: "I do not know of any articles or books Jacques Alexandre has written, although Kokelenberg has, and he mentions the remedies. We only use information that can be found back in other, written, material. Nevertheless it is possible that Kokelenberg took it from Alexandre by spoken word and did not put in the right reference in his material." Both authors say that they will accept only written material as reference. But, as Schroyens says "one copies from the other." So where does the correct information lie?
There are other puzzling details. The remedy Hydrogen is listed in the Complete under the rubric: "ABSENTMINDEDNESS, evening." The reference is, of course, Jeremy Sherr- who conducted the proving of Hydrogen. This particular rubric is not found in the Synthesis, which reports Sherr's The Proving of Hydrogen as a reference. And Hydrogen is included in other rubrics in the Synthesis. When one checks Sherr's book, the rubric "Absentmindedness, evening," is listed as "an addition to Kent."
They are both, basically, computer repertory programs in print. And both are a joy to have.
Under "AILMENTS, death of a child, from" the Complete includes the remedy Nat-m and credits it to Clarke. That remedy is not in the same rubric in the Synthesis. Should it be there? Where is the reference? When asked, neither author could find it in Clarke's two major works. What did one see that the other didn't? And where?
And there are conceptual differences in the structure of the books. Writes Schroyens: "The Complete has added innumerable additions from sub-rubrics to variously related super-rubrics. Synthesis has not done this... This approach is miles away from the idea of Kent to maintain individualization in the rubrics. I consider this a conceptual flaw and it will make most rubrics that express some lesser degree of individuality unreliable... Another reason for the difference may be that apparently the Complete has disconnected itself more from the original concept of the 'Mind Ailments' rubric. To my understanding this was about gathering symptoms that express there has been mental suffering as a consequence (i.e., ailments) of a given emotion. So where you find 'Mind, ailments, cloudy weather' in the Complete, you would find it in the Synthesis as 'Mind, weather, cloudy"'
Since many of the differences between these books hinge around the conceptual structure of the repertory, I'm sure that it can be argued about for ages. And there is really no need to start a "repertory war." The final question- "Are they useful books?" Can only be answered by those who will be using them in their daily practice for a number of years.
One point that was made clearly to me by Schroyens and that I can appreciate: "I decline to debate about the numbers [of remedies included], because I believe it is very unhealthy for the future of homeopathy if this is made the main issue of comparison [of the repertories] and thereby pushes editors to add as much as quickly as they can." As with many things we should always be looking at quality and not confuse bigger with better.
There are two points that I wish there were some agreement upon: the abbreviations for the source authors and the abbreviations for the remedies. The Synthesis lists the authors with an alphabetical code. There is a whole section explaining how these codes were arrived at, but in some cases the abbreviations are a bit obtuse. While "H" for Hahnemann and "K" for Kent are clear, William Boericke becomes "BR," Henry Guernsey is "GSY," and Jeremy Sherr is "SRJ." There are also abbreviations for specific books, so you can see if the addition from Hahnemann came from the Materia Medica Pura (Hl) or from the Chronic Diseases (H2). The Complete had decided to use numbers for the authors. This, in itself, would not be a problem, but in the first computer version the number references were consistent with those of Barthels and Klunker's Synthetic Repertory. Now, the Complete has changed all the numbers-the authors are now listed numerically in chronological order-so the higher the number, the more recent the addition. Although this re-ordering makes sense, it poses a minor inconvenience to those who are used to the earlier numbering system. Having the authors of the additions listed is a wonderful service. The result, however, is a rubric which is sometimes difficult to read because of the many annotations. In the computer program you can "turn off authors" so they don't show on the screen. I wish it were possible to do so in the books.
The remedy abbreviations between the two books are often consistent with each other, but sometimes they vary. And some are not easy to comprehend. Roger Savage, who reviewed the books for The Homoeopath in England, pointed out that a newer remedy like Patterson's bowel nosode Bacillus number 10 is abbreviated in the Complete as ba-tn. The Synthesis has it as bacls-10not wishing to use "bac," which is the abbreviation for Baccilinum. Savage also pointed out that while The Synthesis has abbreviated Argentum metallicum (Arg-m in Kent) as Arg-met, the Complete has chosen to remove all suffixes from the metal remedies and thus uses Arg. And Savage further points out that limestone is soon to be proven, so that Calc carb will be limestone and our familiar Calc (taken from the inside of an oyster shell) should be Calc-ostr. After years of everyone agreeing to use the abbreviations from Kent's Repertory, it would have been helpful to the community at large if these two books-destined to be the books-had developed a common abbreviation system between them.
Both authors have asked the community at large to help them find the errors so the subsequent editions will be even more error free. Perhaps having two groups essentially working on the same thing will make both of them stronger.
On a down side, there has been a degree of partisanship among people who discuss these books-from which I think we should all distance ourselves. I have heard the comment that because the MacRepertory program allowed each user of the program to make additions to the repertory, all these unsubstantiated additions were incorporated into the Complete-an allegation that van Zandvoort says is not true. And one advertisement said that the Synthesis wasn't just "another completely Chaotic Repertory." That kind of low-shooting we do not need in the homeopathic community. It is bad enough for IBM users to think that the Macintosh is an upstart and a toy for imbeciles (and Mac users to think that IBM folks are computer nerds with no imagination)but this level of animosity should not be part of the debate as to the value of these books.
On the fourth page of the Synthesis is the following quote from Kent:
"Things will grow brighter as minds are brought together and men think harmoniously. The more we keep together the better, and the more we think as one the better.'
If the teams that were working on these two books heeded this advice, then we would probably have an even better book than either of them are by themselves. The IBM and Apple metaphor runs deep and has caused unnecessary division within the community. I hope it can be healed- and I hope that the people involved are magnanimous enough to begin to "think harmoniously"
Do we need these books? Absolutely Do you need them? It depends on where you are in your studies. Although the Kent Repertory has many mistakes in it, it has served several generations of homeopaths well. If you are just beginning, an inexpensive Indian-published edition of Kent's Repertory will get you started just fine. By the time you start gaining familiarity with it, it will have its binding off, pages out, and you'll be ready to move up to a more complete reference work. Which to get? Look at the page layouts on pages 8-9 and get the one that you like. For me, I'd invest in both. Comparing the small differences between them would give you plenty to do on those cold winter nights. And you'd learn a lot in the process. They are both magnificent efforts. The amount of time and energy that has gone into them is mindboggling. That they can exist at all is amazing. Our hats should be off to both Frederick Schroyens and Roger van Zandvoort as well as to all the people listed by them in their respective prefaces for actually accomplishing the daunting task of trying to do it- and succeeding. It can only get better from here.
HOMEOPATHY TODAY NOVEMBER 1994