[Read before the 68th Convention of the Southern Homoeopathic Medical Association, Miami Beach, Florida, October, 21, 22, 1952.]
Journal of the American Institute of Homoeopathy-June, 1955.
The individualism which is one of homoeopathys greatest, if not the greatest, characteristics, runs through its practitioners as well. The most successful of them have all been great individualists and independent thinkers. No two work alike, yet they have more or less arrived at certain conclusions in common, each in his own way.
All of the above is shown by the various ways of presenting remedies, the difference in the repertories constructed and the manner of their use.
The one point to be borne in mind is that the repertory is only a tool. It is not the magic key to the remedy and not a push- button to an easier life. Like any tool, it must be learned to be used by constant practice. No two men use a hammer exactly alike and yet a certain class will do equally good work with it. One cannot pick up a hammer and think that by so doing some mysterious force will suddenly place before him a completed house- he must really hammer a lot before the house is done. So, the repertory will not present one with the remedy by merely opening the book.
Perhaps most prescribers in using Kent follow the classical method presently by him at the beginning of his repertory. This, perhaps, is the most certain and fundamental way to use the repertory. One works from generals to the particulars and does not let contradictory particulars rule out generals, especially if the latter are strong.
Many men with an excellent foundation in materia medica barely use the repertory as more than an aid to the memory or to try and find some unusual point in a case. My father used to do this most of the time. Long clinical experience will help to cut down on much repertorising.
Many are addicted to the grading of remedies and look eagerly to the final score for the highest ranking drug. This is very dangerous and can lead one astray. The greatest check to this error is to refer to the materia medica before actually deciding. Often a highly graded remedy as to several chief points may give a very fine result, but it is risky business. It has been used by the writer when pressed for time, but he far from advises it as good practice.
The greatest testimony to individualism is evinced by the different types of repertories produced. The first really successful one and the one still in use today by those trained in its application, is Boenninghausens Therapeutic Pocket-book. The late C.M. Boger extended this repertory considerably. To use it well the prescriber must be good at generalisation. One rubric may have to cover a number of things. Bogers card repertory makes this even more necessary. Experience has made it a must to change many of their gradings as remedies were more fully developed clinically.
Kents is probably the fullest of all and also the best arranged. It has three great defects to the writers notion. In some places it is over generalised; in other parts over- specialised; lastly, there is a dearth of concomitant symptoms. Why anything as unimportant as the extremities from the basic standpoint of our philosophy should occupy the largest section of the book and be particularised to the nth degree, when the mental symptoms are over-generalised and yet supposed to be the most important guiding symptoms, is a fact that this person cannot understand.
Another great book is Knerrs Repertory to the Guiding Symptoms of Hering. To my belief it is the greatest clinical repertory we have. There is so much of it and so closely printed that it is slow to use, but it is certainly a gold-mine of information. Gentrys Concordance is more like an index. One may occasionally get a lead from it, but that is about all.
There are numerous special repertories, each with its own arrangement and valuable in its limited field but it is not easy to work out a complete case with them. Boenninghausen, Kent and Boger certainly lead the field for the latter purpose.
Having pointed out some of the individual differences in repertories and the various manner in using them, it might be well to summarise some of the things said above:
1. The Repertory is a tool. It is not a piece of magical equipment. Its use must be learned by practice. It is only a time-saving device and not a guarantee of an accurate prescription. Some cases may even defy the Repertory, yet one skilled in Materia Medica may see the remedy at once. The Materia Medica, and not the Repertory, is the court of last resort.
2. The classical method of Kent and his Repertory are perhaps the most sound and safe.
3. Specialized repertories have their uses and are extremely helpful, but it is difficult to repertorize a case in full by using them.
4. One must develop his own method of use, the one which suits him best.
5. Do not pass up any repertory you can get your hands on.