Comprehension & Retention of Homoeopathy

Dr. Kent’s criticism on the Boenninghausen idea of grand generalization and concomitant. He says that this is apart from the guidelines given by Dr. Hahnemann…….

It is important to avoid thought destructive to the fundamental principles of Homoeopathy. I desire to have my friends shun some things leading away from Hahnemann’s thoughts. True Homoeopathy is the object of this association; to maintain the thought and trend of Hahnemann’s reasoning. As long as I have practiced there has been no inducement to depart from his doctrines. He used the 30th potency and said certain classes of cases were incurable,-those that had been drugged and disorders thereby suppressed. However, the experience of past years, added to thirty years of personal experience in prescribing and study, has revealed that these cases can be cured by use of higher potencies, without departing from the trend of Hahnemann’s instructions. The tendency to depart from Hahnemann’s methods is the largest danger of pupils today.

For illustration, suppose a case appears with hip-joint disease or tending toward it. Following the plan of Boenninghausen of studying the case to find a remedy by consideration, 1st, of the part effected; 2nd, the symptoms of the part; 3rd, the modalities of those symptoms; and 4th, the concomitants; where will it lead? This patient with hip joint trouble thinks of that as the affection to be eradicated, and the doctor thinks from that in search for a remedy. You will perceive that this is the opposite of considering the patient. That is not following Hahnemann who says that the sole duty of the physician is to heal the patient, and taught how to do this by sketching the image of the patient in the totality of characteristic symptoms. He never recommended concomitants of a part affected. Concomitants cannot come into consideration except as in connection with an objective condition. Study the patient and everything of the patient. If you do not grasp this you do not receive Hahnemann’s idea of training the patient. I would urge you to shun concomitants as it leads away from the idea emphasized by Hahnemann.

The hip-joint patient has pain in the knee, perhaps some trouble in the uterus, or headache which is said to be due to constipation. To what is the constipation due? Perhaps they had not thought of that. Which are the concomitants? By thus centralizing on a part of the body you fail to grasp Hahnemann’s thought which is essential to the existence of Homoeopathy. With the thoughts centered on a thing in one part of the body, then on the concomitants and then the modalities, as recommended in the preface of Boenninghausen, you are led far away from the trend of Hahnemann, and Homoeopathy is destroyed by such methods. If that method were successful, I would not oppose it; but it is not in line with Hahnemann’s methods,-it does not lead to the characteristic symptoms of the case. What you want is to be led easily, simply, to that which characterize  the patient

If you do not work with this aim you stray from the idea of going from center to circumference and go to the other idea. It must be from center to circumference always, from first to last, from things prior to things ultimate. I have thought along this line for twenty-five years, and must make it most forcible in maintaining the idea of Homoeopathy.

1. The center of man is his loves. When the loves go wrong he is sick in his will, the very center. This we find in dealing with those who threaten to destroy their own life or the life of another. A faithful, noble wife has no fault to find with her husband in her natural life, but finds herself with an aversion to him, does not want him to touch her. This is a symptom of the innermost of man, it is not on a par with the skin and the toe-nails. According to the other plan, this is only a concomitant. Love of things is not always all in the brain. Cravings for things for acids, for sweets, etc., are expressions of the patient’s loves, but must be expressed through the stomach. In the loves which are affected and are different from the normal, you have a description of his sick self. Temperaments which are natural demand no consideration. Hering introduced temperaments into the Materia Medica, but temperaments are not in the provings. Morbid changes of the mind are the basis of the prescription. Proceeding toward the circumference, work on those remedies related to the disordered affections first. Any remedy not in this group cannot cure.

2. The second point of consideration in the study of the patient is the intellectual functions, the reasoning faculties. As many remedies suited to disturbances of the affections are found also to have intellectual disturbances, you proceed next to consult those related to the intellectual disturbances and may thus eliminate a few more remedies. Among symptoms related to the affections, also those related to the intellect, some are common, less important than those more rare. Consult the most important, those most strange, first.

3. Memory disturbances come next in order in the mind but in study are less important. The lists of remedies are so long that you will seldom eliminate many remedies from those of the preceding lists. Memory disturbances are the most common of mind symptoms.

4. Next to the mental symptoms in importance are the physical generals. The physical generals cannot be cured with remedies that do not have the mental conditions. The physical generals are those things which can be predicted of the bodily condition in its entirety. First of these to be considered is the patient’s relation to heat and cold. He may be very warm, desiring cool things, cool air, cool applications, cool food and light clothing; or he may want heat, cannot be too warm. He may be so cold that there is lack of vital heat. Now what has this to do with the hip-joint, the kidneys, the liver, the stomach or the uterus? Nothing, yet these things relate to the man as a unit. They are general in their application to his entire bodily condition. His desire for motion or rest is the next important physical general. Perhaps he cannot keep quiet, never comfortable unless he is walking. At the same time his shoulder may be more painful on motion of that part; working the arm from the shoulder, and all that relates to that part, may be worse from motion. The patient is better when walking, but the shoulder is worse from motion. It would be foolish to start with the part to try to see the patient himself. Many remedies have the modalities of the part differing from those of the patient. Take first the things first; the patient is first before his parts. Again you may have the patient himself worse from motions, and all his aches and pains worse from motion. How he is affected by the air is another physical general. He may be better or worse in the open air. If the patient is a woman, her menstruation must be considered. This is not particular, menstruation is a function of the body, and she will say that she is worse or better during menstruation, or worse just before or just after menstruation. The patient as a unit may be worse or better after eating; himself all over may be better or worse after the rectal evacuation, better after stool; these are important generals of the body. Two things run through the conditions, and must be distinguished, the bodily conditions which are aggravated from various modalities, and the particular aggravations from them.

Among the conditions relating to the bodily condition are weakness, pallor, and, frequently, the colour of discharges when the colour is due to a condition which represents the loves. As the blood is, so is the love. The colour of the discharge expresses the condition of the blood when there is a deterioriation which renders them greenish. The greenish colour to discharges from the vagina, as in cancer, represents the condition of the blood. A laudable condition of the discharge is common. When a symptom is common to all or to many remedies it is not important. Hahnemann’s emphasis is upon the symptoms strange, rare, and peculiar. These are most important. The common symptoms in each group are left until the last in the symptoms of the affections, of the intellect, of the memory and of the physical generals. These are all generals. We go first to the generals and then to the particulars, proceeding from center to circumference. You may have a long list of symptoms that would baffle a strong mentality in a man, without an idea of order. In a case without symptoms of the affections, no intellectual symptoms, no physical generals, with only a long list of particulars, what can you do? When a patient is properly examined and all is reduced to writing, then, as Hahnemann says, the greater part of the work is accomplished.

When a case is properly taken, with all these symptoms brought out, it is easy to work it out to a small list of remedies. It is not a short cut, there is no such thing as a short cut. It is the proper way, working from center to circumference of the man himself.

When you come to the physical generals perhaps only one in the list of mental symptoms is worse from heat. Then what need you care about the particulars? You have the man himself, and the particulars will take care of themselves. As the affections are, so is the man, extending from center to circumference. When you know his affections you know what trend is taken.

James Tyler Kent
James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) was an American physician. Prior to his involvement with homeopathy, Kent had practiced conventional medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He discovered and "converted" to homeopathy as a result of his wife's recovery from a serious ailment using homeopathic methods.
In 1881, Kent accepted a position as professor of anatomy at the Homeopathic College of Missouri, an institution with which he remained affiliated until 1888. In 1890, Kent moved to Pennsylvania to take a position as Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his magnum opus, Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica. Kent moved to Chicago in 1903, where he taught at Hahnemann Medical College.