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Installment 12 of a series on case analysis

© Will Taylor, MD 2001 (bio)

The Story Board

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Section 1

Once the totality of symptoms that principally determine and distinguish the case - in other words, the image … of disease - has been exactly recorded, the most difficult work is done. During the treatment (especially of a chronic disease), the medical-art practitioner then has the total disease image always before him. He can behold it in all its parts and lift out the characteristic signs.
Organon of Rational Healing, Aphorism 104

Tools of the Homeopath

Today I'm going to be talking - in part - about tools. Hey, no apologies, I'm a guy. In my medical training, I was always impressed with the tools of the trade - the titanium hammers and chisels and drills of the orthopedists, the sci-fi paraphernalia of the opthalmologists. In the practice of homeopathy, our tools are of a different character.

We don't chisel away at people, and we don't use fancy devices to peer into "the invisible interior of the organism". We use our tools to organize and access information, in order to facilitate the intricate matching of simillimum to the disease of the organism. My most valued homeopathic tools for day-to-day use can be described in a rather short list:

  • A computerized repertory (RADAR, with the Synthesis Repertory, Access to Synthesis Repertory, Families Repertory, and Boenninghausen's Therapeutic Pocketbook [currently auf Deutsch, anxiously awaiting translation to English])
  • Two (now three!) desktop texts of materia medica in real, paper, heftable form: Phatak's Materia Medica of Homeopathic Medicines, Vermeulen's Condordant Materia Medica, and (recently added to this list) Vermeulen's Prisma
  • A copy of the Organon, of Stuart Close's The Genius of Homeopathy, and a reprint of Kent's Lecture on the Second Prescription - for constant grounding in the philosophy of practice
  • A computerized database of homeopathic literature (Encyclopedia Homeopathica) for access to all those other tomes of knowledge
  • A Story Board. (Actually, a white dry-erase board, with good selection of colored markers, and a good eraser)

It's the use of this last tool that I'd like to discuss today. The Story Board is a tool to assist us in an essential step in case analysis, a step I am often disappointed to see glossed over in practice and in the teaching of homeopathy.

This is the place where the Totality of Symptoms is collected, organized and refined prior to opening the Repertory; where the image of disease is sketched out coherently prior to the search for its simillimum. Hahnemann reminds us that, in order to cure, we must " clearly realize what is to be cured … in each single case of disease." (aph.3) The Story Board is where we will create a working sketch of what is to be cured in the case at hand.

The Totality of Symptoms

Prior to describing the use of the Story Board, it might be best to understand clearly what the 'Totality of Symptoms' means. Hahnemann tells us that the visible signs and symptoms of the diseased organism are all we can know of disease, all we have to go on in our search for a curative intervention:

...Thus, in a word, the totality of symptoms must be the most important, indeed the only thing in every case of disease, that the medical-art practitioner has to discern and to clear away, by means of his art, so that the disease shall be cured and transformed into health.
Hahnemann, Organon of Rational Healing, aphorism 7

Yet this Totality of Symptoms is more than just a mere listing of the signs and symptoms we obtain from our observation and interview of the patient:

...The totality of these symptoms is the outwardly reflected image [German 'Bild: picture, image] of the inner wesen of the disease, that is, of the suffering of the life force
Hahnemann, Organon of Rational Healing, aphorism 7

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