When I first read a Pure Materia Medica I was amazed by the chaotic organization of the symptoms and so for several years I stayed away from them, choosing to study instead the Clinical Materia Medica where the symptoms are organized. During my classes on Kent’s and GEHSH’s course of studies I could not believe the struggle to study the symptoms, which was something totally unintelligible to me.
By the time I understood the experimental nature of homeopathic symptoms and checked the precise description of the symptoms, a complete change happened in my perception of homeopathy and I became a researcher. Thinking about how hard it was to study the symptoms that are spread along the several volumes of Materia Medica, I wondered if there was not an easier way of organizing the symptoms for homeopaths. When I discovered Bernal’s thematic work I foresaw the possibility of organizing the homeopathic symptoms of the Pure Materia Medica by themes.
When I started to use a computer for my homeopathic research, I began to classify the mental symptoms by themes into the data bank Micro-Isis. Since in 1989 there were no MMs computer programs, the original idea was to make the PMMs symptoms available to homeopaths. Although today there are many homeopathic programs including several Materia Medica, most homeopaths have no access to computers and for that reason I decided to make a book out of my research.
Initially I attempted, on reading the homeopathic symptoms, to classify the themes they approached. At the same time I did an analogical research of the key words of the symptoms in English and later on I used those words to create the themes, concluding that was the most appropriate method to work with.
I was astonished by the original wealth of the homeopathic symptoms before they were severed and displayed in alphabetical order in the repertories. The life of the homeopathic symptoms, expresses itself in the several themes that actually are in the symptom as a whole. We may also see the psychodynamic of each medicine in the successive unfolding of the several themes in each symptom, increasing the conviction that new instruments must be created for us to organize and draw out the essence of the PMMs symptoms. I have created approximately 300 mental themes using the PMMs’ original words, attempting to classify more than 4,000 symptoms selected amongst the 17,000 mental symptoms that are in the PMMs (Hahnemann, Hering, Allen). I published a home made edition of the book in English together with another volume, The Thematic Repertory, with almost 4,000 symptoms out of the 8,000 of Barthel’s Repertory, classified by themes and using the same method. The Thematic Repertory in both English and Portuguese being broadly accepted, has revealed itself much more interesting, and gave us the opportunity to see how hard it is for many colleagues to read any English material. Thus I started to translate the PMMs into Portuguese. It took me more than one year to accomplish the task, besides another five years I had already spent on researching and organizing the PMMs symptoms.
The repertories were the main attempt to classify the homeopathic symptoms, so they could be used by homeopaths for fast medical advice; but they were limited.
The first and probably the most important limitation is related to the symptoms being severed and classified in alphabetical order, with no connections in the Repertory, thus loosing their dynamic, live expression with their succeeding details and following changes that for homeopaths, expresses the human suffering.
The second limitation is related to the symptoms being classified in alphabetical order, coming from several repertories of different languages and organizations, and thus similar symptoms are in different places and are not related.
The third limitation is related to the fact that the symptoms described in the Pure Materia Medica are not totally represented on the repertorial rubrics. The symptoms that express helplessness, for example, are represented on the PMMs by a very different medicine than the ones that appear in the helplessness rubric on the Repertory. In my opinion, that is due to the fact that the symptoms in the Repertory express the clinical experience of their author or their bibliographical sources with no reference to the experimental PMMs. We can see the same phenomenon in many other symptoms. The work of physician Deniza Futuro confirms that conviction. When she initially tried to realize a bibliographical research over the clinical symptom “Angina pectoris” of Kent’s Repertory, comparing its 53 medicines with the symptoms explained on the PMMs and Clinical Materia Medica, she was surprised to see completely contradictory informations. Medicines related to classical angina symptoms and explained in clinical healings described on the PMMs were not represented with enough gradation in the Repertory. Furthermore, medicines with few or no cardiological symptoms at all are represented on the Repertory with maximum degree. And this may be a shock for you, but even among the Clinical Materia Medica and the Pure Materia Medica there were enormous differences regarding the content of the cardiological symptoms for the same medicine. I made a research in the computer of the word “asthma” on the PMMs, and I found in Hering dozens of modalities not explained on the repertories. I think new methodologies should be created to provide that such great differences among the several homeopathic sources would not occur. I am not saying the information in the repertories is worthless, but we should consider the PMMs sources of experiment and compare them with the clinical symptoms of the repertories to assure that one source may contribute to the other and there may be a coherence between the concepts and contents of the MMs and repertories.
The fourth limit is due to the fact that there are great differences of vocabulary between the Repertory and the classical Materia Medica. In the Materia Medica, the symptoms are described in a simple language, neither organized nor classified. In the Repertory, the symptoms are organized according to an arrangement that I call “cultural” and not by description, meaning that is the form the author can use to organize the symptoms according to the boundaries of his perception and awareness of reality. Those boundaries are imposed by his cultural background and are tied up to the values of his time. The idea that the description and understanding of the symptoms should be free of values seems artificial to me. Thus I prefer to think that man can only understand reality from an explanation based on his cultural values. We cannot just accept being guided by the concepts of understanding the repertorial rubrics without a critical view about the way we consider them, as they occur in time and space. That is why I believe the classical classification of the Repertory does not consider the demands of modern man’s mentality. It is not enough just to add new medicines in the rubrics, but we have to review its concepts and create new rubrics, expressing human suffering in modern language.
In a modern approach I created the term “repressed”, for example, which to me represents the intentional expression of a group of symptoms; the concept did not exist until its creation by psychoanalysis, while in the classic texts, that behavior is described as “suppressed” with no equivalent in the Repertory. It is not necessary to support the concept since it has become a popular fashion in describing and explaining a certain behavior and part of the popular expressions so highly considered by classical homeopaths. I am not saying that psychoanalysis should guide homeopathic classifications, but we must be aware of its influence in our understanding of modern man. Classical symptoms such as “anxiety of conscience” are explained nowadays as the “guilt” psychoanalytic concept, even if often unconsciously. Nowadays it is obvious that any classification of the symptoms must be consciously influenced by the cultural concepts that are part of the expression of modern man’s suffering.
We have used several dictionaries. “The American Heritage” gave us the opportunity to know the etymology of the words, while “Webster’s” (the old unabridged edition, 1939, 3 volumes – the most complete Webster’s) gave us the meaning of obscure words such as “Philoprogenitiveness” (a symptom related to the medicine Ox-ac. – Allen,19), a term not found in modern dictionaries meaning “desire to procreate”. We also used the “AurÃ©lio” Portuguese Dictionary, the “Houaiss” English-Portuguese Dictionary, and the CD-ROM “Microsoft Bookshelf” which includes the third edition of “The American Heritage”, the “Roget’s Thesaurus” Dictionary of synonymous, and the “Columbia Dictionary of Quotations” where you may find samples of words as they appear in classical English textbooks. And finally the “Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus”, a Dictionary of synonymous.
The thematic research is only beginning and each time I classify the symptoms, new themes appear, which gives way to classifying them into new themes. That is the reason why I ask for suggestions related to new themes and evaluations of the actual themes, which would make it possible to improve the quality of the book in future editions. I really hope the book may be a new source of research and that your evaluations and suggestions will be useful to the development of homeopathy. Just in time to explain the nomenclature of the bibliographical references; after the abbreviation of the medicine there comes its source (a- “Ha” on the numbering below 200 for the Chronic Diseases’ symptoms and above 200 for the Hahnemann’s Pure Materia Medica symptoms; b- “Al” for the T. F. Allen’s Encyclopedia, “Al-S” for the supplementary symptoms of the tenth volume; c- “Al-N” for the symptoms of the H.C.Allen’s Materia Medica of the Nosodes; d- “He” for the symptoms taken from Hering’s Guiding Symptoms). Thus when in doubt we may compare the symptom with the original one. And we may also consult the source to know what is the origin of the symptom (experimental, toxic, or clinical cure). After the symptoms there are the themes they motivated, so we may observe its possible intentionalities. After the list of the thematic classification, there is the list of symptoms for each medicine thus representing their Materia Medica.
The Study of Words
In the very beginning of my homeopathic studies, I understood that because of the great amount of information that is part of the Repertory and the Materia Medica, I should also dedicate myself to a better organization of homeopathic knowledge. Everybody recognizes that homeopaths are not able to dispose in their mind, all homeopathic knowledge. For this reason we need instruments to help in the search of symptoms. At this time, the Clinical Materia Medica and Kent’s Repertory were the main sources of study for most homeopaths. Homeopathic knowledge was transmitted in a dogmatic form. I wondered about the origin of Repertory and CMMs symptoms. Only when I got in touch with Pure Materia Medica did I see the experimental nature of homeopathic symptoms. My studies were dedicated toward the foundation and organization of the symptoms from the PMM.
When I understood the Thematic study of homeopathic symptoms, I saw a great possibility for this method to be applied to reorganize the PMM and the Repertories.
The classes I attended, formerly at the Kentian Course, and after with Dr. Masi Elizalde himself, and later at the Training Course of the GEHSH, directed by Dr. Aldo Farias Dias, inspired my dedication to the compilation of a TMM able to express the thematic Philosophy of the study of homeopathic symptoms. It was a hard task starting the study of the PMMs from the beginning, searching to organize the symptoms by themes.
The result was amazing: totally revolutionary aspects were discovered. The Repertory symptoms were enriched with new medicines coming directly from PMMs, and new rubrics were suggested. The organization methodology itself was in check, because of the thematic richness of PMMs symptoms that were not supported by the entries of the repertories. And, most surprising, the thematic classification gave us the possibility to observe the psychodynamics of each medicine, relating the successive and consequent concatenation of themes that are part of the complete homeopathic symptoms from the PMMs. In the Repertory, the same did not happen, because the symptoms were divided in parts and presented in alphabetical order. In the Barthel’s Repertory, for example, we can observe that symptoms of Pulsatilla are related to the forsaken theme: – Delusions; alone, she is always,, – Delusions; alone world, she is, in the, – Delusions; deserted, forsaken, is – Delusions; neglected, of being, – Fear; neglected of being, – Forsaken; isolation, sensation of. In the Hahnemann’s PMM, we have the complete symptom (Ha,1143) : “Her head is so quiet and all about her is so empty as if she were alone in the house and in the world; she does not wish to talk to any one, just as if all around her were no concern of her and she belonged to nobody.” In this case, we can see the symptoms apart from the Repertory, and psychodynamically presented.
The study of the theme-words, i.e. the most important words from the PMMs symptoms, gave us a broader richness of vocabulary in relation to that of the Repertory. For example, we can create new repertory entries based on theme-words from the PMMs, Far-away, sensation of: Cann-s: He, 5; Al, 44 (distance); Med: He, 9 (far); Syph: He, 11 (far-away); Thuj: AI, 5 (distance). In this case the words distance, far, far-away, all refer to the sensation of far away that the patient relates.
The problem was how to transmit those conclusions to Homeopaths, and more than that, how to strengthen the possibilities of the right choice of medicines, based upon a greater evaluation of a patient’s homeopathic symptoms. It was logical that new tools should be created, making it possible for homeopath to expand their horizons. Those new tools, necessarily, should be capable of showing the richness of the PMMs symptoms and, at the same time, should be available for fast consultation, giving homeopaths the possibility of using them at their homeopathic clinics. This was an ambitious enterprise, because everybody recognizes the difficulties of studying the PMMs, where the symptoms are dispersed in dozens of volumes randomly presented, not to mention the difficulties for the foreigners reading texts in the English language. Since the beginning, I was aware that the work was not only to add more medicines to the rubrics, nor to create new entries, but to create a new concept of organization of homeopathic symptoms.
I started to organize by themes, the symptoms from the main PMMs, dispersed among 25 volumes (4 Hahnemann, 10 T. Allen, 10 Hering, and 1 in the Nosodes de H. Allen). More than 4,000 symptoms from 17,000 that compound the PMMs mental symptoms were selected. The result was amazing once more, since the TMM (formed by 300 mental themes) was organized from almost 11,000 PMM citations (a single symptom can be pointed in different themes).
In a careful examination of PMM symptoms, we can observe that certain words give significance to symptoms, and these are the theme words. We can make a group of theme words and create thematic groups. Those groups are the same PMM symptoms linked by their most significant words. It was necessary to deeply scrutinize the meaning of the most important words present in symptoms in the English language, and to search for their analogues, and look for resemblances. A Dictionary with more than 4,000 words in the English language was created, with the main words of PMM mental symptoms, and their synonyms and similar words. Words, instead of being defined as Dictionary entries, are exemplified, in this case, by the symptoms in which they occur. Throughout the reading of many symptoms described by the same word, we can capture its meaning in the context of the homeopathic symptom (and not simply like a Dictionary definition). The word hypochondria, for example, in the PMM classical texts, can be, in some symptoms, similar to melancholia or other symptoms – fear of illness, or illusion of illness – like in the contemporary meaning of that word. These studies resulted in the compilation of the Thematic Dictionary.
Now, I present an opportune combination of the Thematic Materia Medica and the Thematic Dictionary in the same volume. The symptoms from the PMM are generally cut and dispersed in the Repertory in alphabetical order, that when in an integrated form as in the PMM, show us how the isolated symptoms dynamically act in each medicine. Symptoms in the TD are listed in each theme, observing the alphabetical criteria of their main theme-words.
We can observe by thematic technique that symptoms, as a whole, have one or many purposes, that are themes; they are the subject that symptoms are about, in an explicit or implicit form; and we can see a specificity or modality that is the theme-word, i.e., the most important word that gives significance to a symptom, where we can find the peculiarity of each theme, in each medicine. We consider the TD as a Repertory of theme words, followed by the main theme words that compound the PMM symptoms.
I have used the TD in my clinic as a side repertory, extending the entry menu of traditional Repertories. I can always remember the case of a child presenting a pattern of chronic allergy, in which the main local symptom was a night cough that condemned him (and his family) to insomnia. At the evaluation of mental symptoms, the most characteristic, after his mother, was that in games, he always wanted to win, and when frustrated, he suffered in excess, and because of this, he had a peculiar behavior. In the Repertory, there is not the “Winning, desire of”. For that reason I looked for the word “win” in TD, and as I did not find it, so I looked for its opposite: “to lose”, and then, I found the symptom (Hering, 37, Nux Vomica) in which the patient spent all night suffering on a process in which he could gain or lose very much money. Afterwards, I verified that many symptoms of Nux Vomica are related to money and ambition themes. At additional consultations of this patient, I could evaluate general and local symptoms.