when trying to match the symptoms of the case to the symptoms of the remedy, most homeopaths use one repertory or another. This is particularly attractive when repertorising using a homeopathic software as it makes the job of finding the corresponding rubrics relatively quick and painless. Next time, however, while you are shuffling rubrics in your homeopathic software of choice, it may be advisable to be aware of some serious drawbacks connected to the use of repertory.
Currently, there are two main repertorial branches in use – repertories based on Kent's repertory (Complete, Synthesis etc.) and repertories based on the Boenninghausen's method. While the Boenninghausen's method usually requires materia medica verification anyway (because of the general character of the rubrics), Kent-based repertories often tend to induce a false sense of security – when you see the remedies coming up strongly in many specific rubrics, it sure starts looking as if you nailed it, but quite often the opposite can be true. Why do we believe that?
Kent's repertory is the largest of the historical repertories, but it was not created from zero – it is based on previous works of A. Lippe and E.J.Lee (who went blind and Kent took over his unfinished materials). Being a mix of styles and flavors – the rubric meanings and remedy additions in Kent's process do not necessarily match those in the original works of Lippe, Lee or other sources incorporated into Kent's work – should make the user worry about its reliability and encourage checking and rechecking, which was performed to an extent we consider quite insufficient. While being a seminal homeopathic work, Kent himself freely admitted his work "is in infancy and may remain so very long" and warned against mechanical use of his work.
While trying to verify a particular remedy presence in a specific rubric, we have often been unable to find a SINGLE reference (justifying its addition) in any standard materia medica books – despite a very diligent and efficient search. This is a special source of concern if the remedy is listed in a high grade (3 or 4). When looking at the source of these remedy additions, the referenced source is almost invariably Kent's repertory. We don't know the sources of many Kent's additions, so this alone should be reason enough for careful study of materia medica.
For example, a Complete Repertory rubric "Extremities, uncover, inclination to, feet", has Sepia listed in grade 3, but the materia medica search does not produce any records of any such symptom. The original grade of Sepia in this rubric is 1 (in Kent), so it is uncertain how it propagated to grade 3 in Complete Rep. as it does not list any other MM sources. This is just one example, but you can take our word for it that there are many many cases like this to be found.
Beside dubious remedy additions, there is a very serious problems of overgrading the existing remedy occurrences – a problem which plagues even the best of the modern repertories and hinders our ability to differentiate between the overall value of a remedy in a particular case. If you repertorize a case with 10 reasonably characteristic rubrics and still come up with 20 remedies with all threes and fours (remedy grades), something's not right. That is one of the reasons why some homeopaths prefer using older repertories and make their own additions, despite missing out on the potential benefit of new additions and corrections.
In addition to these problems, there are many more issues which we won't analyze as they are of technical character having to do with statistics and mathemathics, but the conclusion is quite easy to point out – overrepresentation of polychrests in the repertorization results, which tends to get even worse as the time passes, up to a point when we almost won't be able to differentiate among our polychrests because every polychrest will be present in every rubric. The cause of this problem lies in the structure of the repertory, in the way how rubrics and remedies are summarized to produce a repertorization outcome and also in the process of upgrading the remedy grades which favors quantitative instead of qualitative parameters.
From this we conclude repertories should be used with caution and primarily as an orientation guide for studying the remedies in materia medica, rather than a definitive tool for remedy selection. With the possibility of computer-assisted materia medica search, there is little reason not verify our prescription properly.
If you have any comments, questions etc., feel free to contact us.
Question for André Saine
Q: How do you deal with failures i.e. when you do your best and yet the seemingly indicated remedy does not help the patient? How do you convince your patients to bear with you while you keep trying to find the remedy with high degree of similarity? How many maximum futile attempts did it take you to make a breakthrough in a case?
A: I will here assume that these patients present with conditions that are curable with homeopathy, the case is not defective, there are no factors preventing a response to dynamic remedies and the posology has been appropriate... Read the full answer »
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Recommended article – Kent's comments on the use of his Repertory
In this article, Dr. Kent relates his thoughts on the proper use of his Repertory.
Read the article here. »
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