Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica - med
OverviewThe archetypal and defiinitive repertory of several generations, Kent's repertory serves as the kernel of most of the modern repertories. Medium Size
DetailsAs the development of homeopathy accelerated in the 19th century, it became virtually impossible to access all the material found in the various materia medicae. A systematized approach to cross-referencing remedies and their symptoms was necessary.
The repertory is just such a structured catalog of symptoms and their associated remedies.
Two main types of repertories have been developed over the years: the alphabetical and the philosophical.
An alphabetical repertory lists symptoms in alphabetical order, from A to Z. Though this may seem at first to be a natural, common sense approach, it can be difficult to use. The homeopath must guess which part of the symptom has been alphabetized.
Philosophical repertories (such as Kent's) organize the symptoms according to some plan. Usually this is either starting with the general to the particular or vice versa.
Though initially requiring an effort to understand the order employed, a philosophical repertory gives the homeopath greater discerning power when it comes to choosing specific symptoms, especially as they relate to the whole.
Samuel Hahnemann developed the first repertory in 1805 but it went unpublished. Baron von Boenninghausen's repertory, published in 1832, was the most useful early repertory.
The first repertory published (1838) in the English Language was Jahr's Manual, edited by Constantine Hering. Truer to the actual symptoms and less focused on disease categories this was to be the forerunner to Kent's later work.
Over the next half-century many repertories, specific and general, large and small, were developed. The Repertory of Homeopathic Materia Medica by James Tyler Kent, MD, became the standard and remains so until this day.
Kent first developed his repertory by writing notes into his copy of Constantine Lippe's Repertory to the More Characteristic Symptoms of the Materia Medica, (published in 1879). Allen's Symptom-Register and Jahr's Repertory were also incorporated into the work.
Originally published in installments as each section was completed, Kent's first edition was published in book form in 1900. Up until the time of his death in 1916, James Kent (along with his wife Clara and others such as Franklin Powell) worked on expanding and refining his Repertory.
Ehrhart & Karl published the third edition, the last that Kent himself worked on, in 1924. All modern repertories, computer or book, trace their lineage to Kent's work.
Along with the Organon, Kent's Repertory belongs on the bookshelf of every practicing homeopath or student. Though repertories such as Synthesis have corrected errors and improved content, Kent's opus remains viable to this day.
HeritageThis has become the archetypal and definitive repertory.
Kent attempted to pull together all the repertories that were in existence at that time. After several years of work he realized that there was no way to bring together works which approached the subject from so many different points of view.
He abandoned that project and started again- this time with the original provings and information gathered till that time.
The work existed as an interleaved book in the office of his Post-graduate School. His students asked him to make it generally available. It was issued as one section at a time.
Originally it was printed in 12 fascicles, sold individually as they were compiled and printed. It was not until 1900 that all 12 sections were bound together into a single book. The result was the repertory that is still in use today by homeopaths the world over.
The second edition (1380 pages) was printed in 1908; the 3rd edition (1423 pages) was printed by Ehrhart and Karl in 1924. Kent said, "The third edition completes my life work."
It was proofed by his wife Clara Louise Kent, MD. All subsequent editions were printed by Ehrhart and Karl.
The 4th edition was issued in 1935; The 5th edition in 1945; the 6th edition in 1957. There were no changes made in the content after the 3rd edition.
Julian Winston writes:
Ehrhart and Karl printed one of the editions on "Bible Paper" allowing its thickness to be reduced from 2 1/2" to a bit less than 1 1/2". The book came in a slipcase. Henry N. Williams has the only copy of this edition I have ever seen.
In 1930, a young Elizabeth Wright, spoke to the IHA about "Revamping the Repertory" outlining some of the shortcomings of the work. The text of her talk was printed in the November 1930 issue of the Homeopathic Recorder. These were the faults she saw with Kent's work:
1. Many rubrics are out of place- pulse is under generals instead of being with the heart, lips are under the face instead of the mouth, etc.
2. There is no section for circulatory system, glandular system, lymphatic system, or nervous system.
3. Certain headings are misplaced: i.e., awkwardness under generals when it is a mental, desires and aversion under stomach when they should be in generals, etc.
4. Pathological, diagnostic, and objective symptoms are scattered throughout. They should be in a separate section.
5. Many common symptoms (such as vomiting, restlessness, etc.) are so large as to be useless.
6. Repetitions abound. They should be cross-referenced.
7. There are many more remedies that need to be included.
8. Confusion over the rubrics being "aggravated from" whereas "ameliorations" are clearly mentioned.
9. Many rubrics could be eliminated as being useless.
10. Lack of an index and good cross-referencing.
She proposed working on a new, abridged edition which would, she hoped, be printed on bible-paper and bound in two small volumes like the Boericke Books- The first volume being Generals and the second Particulars.
It is of note that George Royal commented when he asked Kent why he had not provided an Index, Kent replied, "A man with brains won't need it."
Many of Wright's ideas have finally been implemented in the Complete and Synthesis Repertories- but the books have become larger instead of smaller as Wright intended.
The Heritage of Homoeopathic Literature
copyright 2001 by Julian Winston
Reprinted with the permission of the author