Homeopathic Methodology - Todd Rowe
Familiarity with the repertory is vital to successful homeopathic practice. This book fills a much-needed gap by opening a big window on this somewhat antiquated text. Todd Rowe makes the repertory accessible to the serious homeopathic student by clarifying confusing terminology and bringing it to life through careful structured quizzes and cases.
- Author: Rowe Todd
- 158 pages
- Printed in USA
Reprinted with the permission of The Society of Homeopaths, (from 'The Homeopath' magazine, Winter 2000 edition):
Reviewed by Fiona Heubeck:
New student? Overwhelmed by all the old, densely written texts you've been asked to read, digest and regurgitate at college? Like lots of white space, neat lists and ready processed inforÂmation? Then this may be just the book for you! If you have space on your bookshelf and funds to spare, this book could be a helpful, though by no means essential, tool in developing your case-taking and reper-torising skills.
'Don't judge a book by its cover' - well, in this case, the publishers felt that we should do just that. It looks dull and serious, but is clearly and neatly laid out. This really is a workbook; not an original piece of thinking or revelation, not a series of entertaining and informative anecdotes (as so many of the older books were), but an exercise book to work through, ticking off your progress as you practise using your original sources. The fact is, it is only a means of encouraging students to pick up and deal with the real basics: the Organon, Kent's Repertory, medical dictionaries and anatomy books. You can't get away from them, and this book provides various useful tests and short case studies to give you some focus for working through them.
Dr Rowe says that he had two goals in mind in producing this book. He aims to 'create a resource tool for study groups and for homoeopathic educators teaching introductory homoeopathy1. He also wants 'to help individuals take the next step in their own
homoeopathic education'. As a resource tool for teachers, the case-studies and rubric-finding puzzles may well supplement the material they already use. Most students, however, benefit from having lectures explain their thought processes as they discuss these exercises. The book simply has to provide answers which can be checked quickly, with or without understanding. In study groups, students will clearly have more benefit from the discussions. Helping individuals take steps in their own education is something quite different. Students often do feel lost amongst all the archaic terÂminology and seemingly impenetrable lists of 5) mptoms in the repertory, vet this book appears to explain some things, without clarifying other essentials. There is plenty to help revision, but not enough for the individual to learn alone.
For students who are keen to practise manipulating the repertory, the series of lessons in this workbook may well prove useful, though once completed, it is unlikely to be used as a reference book. There are eleven lessons (not chapters), with thirteen appendices. The first three lessons discuss case-taking, just as described by Hahnemann in the Organon, 'hough with some modern angles - 'When did the love die in your life?1 Tell me everything' - going on to discuss cognitive dissoÂnance, pacing, self-observaÂtion and transcendental thinking. All of these are good points, but are only briefly touched upon. Throughout the book there is more breadth than depth, as is appropriate to an introÂductory text, though the range is pretty impressive: from Kent to St Exupery via Jung, Kunzli and AA Milne!
The following six lessons dissect in some detail the .i-'angement of rubrics in Kent s Repertory. As a fan of JT Kent, it seems to me unnecessary to write down in a separate book how the repertory is arranged. Kent wrote his own guide to using it, and with the introduction by Margaret Tyler and James Weir, we already have plenty of guidance.
Kent's consistent method of arranging rubrics becomes clear on studying the different sections. To quote Dr Rowe (and every college lecturer!), The best way to learn to use the repertory is to practise. The more you look up rubrics and find your way around the repertory, the easier it becomes'. He provides lots of short cases and rubric-hunts to this end, but then so will your friends, family, class-mates and even books or magazines if you watch out for them!
I did find the long lists of 'important rubrics' and 'confusing term1 annoying and superfluous. Do we really need whole pages of one-word lines? For instance, discussing the Eye section:
Cataract...all the way to: Winking!
If we want lists of rubrics, why not use the repertory? How can some rubrics be important? (Are the others there for decoration?) There are pages of such lists. Added to these are lists of 'confusing rubrics', amongst which he includes: kleptoÂmania, aneurism, uvula, and canines and incisors. No one would deny that there are confusing terms in Kent's work, but these words are clear and simple. Of course we may not be familiar with all the terminology, but a standard, or sometimes a medical, dictionary will solve most puzzles. We were certainly required to go through various repertory sections at college, in order to ensure we understood the language, and having someone else attempt to do it for you may not be useful.
The last two chapters deal with case analysis, and provide a useful introduction to the various methods of approaching a case. Practice cases are realistic and manÂageable, and well worth working out. The only obvious gap in this section concerns potency. This was the big question for us as students, yet it hardly rates a mention here. The author states that he does not aim to cover materia medica, so perhaps he feels that potency belongs more to that department. Many homoeopaths would argue that potency is a crucial part of case analysis, as the patient's condition is the deciding factor. The subject may have been considered too complex for an introducÂtory text, yet even beginners want to know such things.
In the analysis of the cases given, it might have been helpful to have had more emphasis on explaining why adding up the points from repertorisation does not always produce the 'right' remedy. Just when students think there is a foolproof system for finding the answer, he shows that the top-scoring remedy may not be the simillimum. 'Ultimately the remedy choices rely far more on the materia medica', is all that is said. Despite Dr Rowe's aim of covering repertorisation and case analysis, these cannot be mastered without a little more discussion of application.
If you are already familiar with Kent's Repertory and Hahnemann's instructions for case-taking, and have a good dictionary, then you won't need this book. If you have read the self-help works of Phyllis Speight, Herbert Roberts or George Vithoulkas, then you have already covered much of the work contained here. Ian Watson's Guide to the Methodologies of Homeopathy will give a broader view of the many possibilities in analysing cases, and David Sault's Modern Guide and Index lists far more updated rubrics from the mind section of the repertory. Your lecturers will undoubtedly have taught most of this material already. However, if you have missed your lectures, or feel that you are in need of extra help or revision, or you just can't get enough repertorising, then you are likely to find this book worthwhile.