Reprinted with the permission of The Society of Homeopaths, (from 'The Homeopath' Journal, Spring 1999 edition). Reviewed by Rakhel Shabi.
In this book, Dr Mirilli introduces us to a new concept of repertory, which can be concisely described as a word theme analysis. A result of an extensive research and organization work of the Materia Medica mental/emotional proving symptoms, it consists of a conceptual organisation of this symptomatology into approximately three hundred themes.
In taking upon himself the task of covering and organizing an enormous source of knowledge, Mirilli singled out four thousand modalised, uncommon symptoms out of 17,000 symptoms on the whole. His initial motivation for this research into the thematic classification of Materia Medica symptoms arose when, as a student, he realized that new tools needed to be created if the tremendous amount of homeopathic information wasn't to be dogmatically dictated and memorised. Upon turning to the origins, he sought to apply the methodology of thematically studying and assessing symptoms in order to reorganise the Materia Medica and the repertories and thus create a thematic compilation.
The greater part of this book forms a cluster of thematically associated mental symptoms with a few physical concomitants, whose incorporation goes to stress a certain concept running through a remedy. The rubrics and remedies cited are from Roger Van Zandvoort's Complete Repertory. Following each thematic category of rubrics is a list of remedies with the original language of the proving symptoms relevant to the theme. The quotations from the Materia Medica brought after the relevant rubrics give us the unbiased, simple language of the provers themselves, an essential according to Hahnemann, who in #143 defines 'a true materia medica' as 'collection of the genuine, pure, unmistakable modes of action of simple substances. It is a codex of nature', and then insists it should contain nothing but 'the pure language of nature' (#144).
The next portion of the volume serves as a word index to the preceding eight hundred or so pages, thus enabling the reader to trace a certain remedy by a single word rather than a theme. Consulting this 'side repertory', to use Mirilli's definition, can direct us to the remedy, even though a particular symptom was not included in the thematic presentation. Later is a reversed classification of the material, which sorts alphabetically the Materia Medica remedies with the symptoms and themes to which they relate. This part may well serve as an extraction to the Materia Medica mind symptoms. The sources of the proving data (Hahnemann, Timothy and Henry Allen, Hering and Sherr) are noted throughout. Lastly are appended lists of abbreviations and remedies and of the sources cited in the Complete Repertory.
We may naturally wonder about the necessity of such a book in a computerized era, where the search and cross-reference possibilities seem to meet our practical demands. Having said that, one has to remember not everybody uses a software in daily practice, and moreover, this book offers reference possibilities which go far beyond a standard word search or any repertory format we are acquainted with.
Firstly the symptoms are arranged by themes according to how we think when trying to understand the patient, and then follow the provers' own words. By presenting the reader with the original text, that is by enabling us to compare the 'processed' rubric with the original, live expressions, Mirilli bypasses several limitations of the repertory, that guide book which too often acts as an obstacle.
Although no one questions the efficacy of an alphabetical, technical repertory syntax as a standard for physical symptoms, the Mind section presents us with a greater difficulty. Here, more than anywhere else, when symptoms are sliced and displayed alphabetically with no simple language or a dynamic, live expression in them, the lack of the animated statement is greatly missed. As far as the mind section is concerned, the repertory doesn't give us the melody, the feeling, the dynamic flow only separated notes in 'staccato'. Something is lost in the way, and that something is regained when we access the original manuscript, as we do here. Being a compilation of Materia Medica 5) symptoms classified by similar thematic sense, the Thematic Repertory facilitates the dynamic study of remedies and concepts, and then the selection of a remedy according to certain themes, which appear in its pathogenesis. It evaluates not only words but also patterns, what Mirilli calls the psychodynamics (p815) of a remedy.
This dynamic quality of an otherwise static book, merely a catalogue of rubrics, is particularly valuable in the Mind section, where remedies are often placed inconsistently, and cross-reference, as useful as they might be, don't always point to the right rubric. Many of the terms stand along a line of meanings, where a vocabulary subtlety can turn out to be misleading. This book enables us, once we recognize the theme running through the case, to approach it using the provers1 own expressions, and differentiate between numerous remedies grouped together under a broad title by penetrating their core. The concept which brings together science and art is one of this book's creative advantages: logical, linear, rationally-obtained knowledge, incorporated in a round quality, a connective, creative and flowing frame.
By using only symptoms from original provings rather than including every remedy listed in the repertory, we obtain the data, which may be the most reliable. We have here the grounded homoeopathy, explicit, live, unbiased by opinions, based upon experiment rather than uncertain assumptions. Don't expect this book to reveal to you anything that didn't exist before, don't consult it to find out about 'definitions' of remedies this is not a 'fast food' book, you won't come across easy formulae or over-the-counter essences.
Mirilli's 'new tools' for homoeopaths 'to expand their horizons' (p816) offers the richness of Materia Medica, not always represented in similar repertory entries, with an accessible and user-friendly format. Accessing that original, 'raw', sometimes chaotic material, with an archaic or vague or obscure terminology isn't easy, and this book may well serve as a link.
As mentioned above, Mirilli relies on five MM sources Hahnemann, TF Allen and HC Allen, Hering and Sherr. One can tell the differences both in the way the remedies are presented - Jeremy's protocol is much more intelligible - but also in the themes that come up. We need modern provings for modern times, as Peter Fraser reminded us in the last issues in a modern language.
The broad platform given to recent provings may counterbalance the tendency of over-prescribed poly-crests to dominate the repertory analysis. Where there is no room for opinions, where nothing is stated but pure facts, where everyone is equal before the law, outweighed dimensions of 'old' remedies might emerge, and new remedies might be found indispensable.
Placing provings conducted by Hahnemann in early 19th century Germany next to provings conducted on the threshold of 21st century only goes to validate the homoeopathic truth. I nevertheless wonder what were Mirilli's criteria when choosing not to incorporate in this work other recent, verified, classically conducted provings.
On the whole, the size and weight of this book make it quite user-friendly. I don't know whether the paperback copy I received is the standard or not, yet I thinka1137 page reference book should have a hard cover. Apart from that, the cover and design are agreeable and clear. I can only hope that in future editions the minor glitches and spelling mistakes will be taken out.
Given the contemporary focus on mental/ emotional phenomena in our times, and the prominence accorded to patient's state of mind, Mirilli's Thematic Repertory is a promising concept and a potentially useful reference tool to be consulted in numerous ways. It's clinically applicable, it simplifies the research work, it enables the homoeopath to explore a theme running through the proving of a remedy and thus gain a better understanding of it.
The Hebrew word for 'expensive' means also 'precious'. I think it's appropriate to describe this highly valuable book....