A Comparative Study on Kent’s repertory & Murphy’s Repertory

KentDr. Rita Chakraborty 

Editions   -1st – 1993, In India 1994.
2nd – 1996, 3rd – 2005 (Homoeopathic Clinical Repertory)

Success in repertorising depends on the ability to deal with symptoms which are collected through proper case taking for both acute and chronic cases and the repertories are the indices of symptoms of homoeopathic materia medica with their corresponding similar medicines arranged systematically. So for the selection of a similimum in both acute and chronic diseases the use of repertory is equally helpful. The repertory’s aim whatever be the structure and construction of it, is to simplify the process of selecting a similimum. It even suggest the competing remedies so that the choice and the judgement remains with the physician. The optimum use of repertory enhances the knowledge of materia meidica as it brings out the minute details of the drugs, their spheres of action and even their relationships.

A small attempt is to understand Murphy’s Repertory’s importance and effectiveness in practice in comparison with Kent’s repertory

Homoeopathy is a science of experiment and art of practice on the human beings. The methodology deals with the multiple type of symptoms ranging from those of mind to the organs, which can be significant as well as vague from the point of totality of the patient. With the evolution of dynamic theory in homoeopathy the qualitative study of drugs and patients got accelerated. The provers recorded a more of mental and physical symptoms. Knowledge of such symptoms was useful for the treatment of acute, chronic diseases as well as for constitutional therapy but it became confusing for the practitioners to find out the similimum out of many similars. Therefore a need was felt for a manual of symptoms, and the repertory was born.

Boger says, “It is a book of index of medicines under symptoms. It is well related with materia medica, therapeutics and organon.”

Bidwell defines, “ It is like a dictionary, a book of nature relating to the meaning of myriads of pathological phenomenon. It is a ground key for successful exploration of homoeopathic remedies.”

Dr. Knerr explains, “In repertory we have separation by analysis for the purpose of classification and ready reference, in materia medica combination by synthesis to enable us to study drug effects in their ground and relationship.”

Homeopathic Medical Repertory was to be a modern, practical and easy to use reference guide to the vast homeopathic materia medica. To achieve the goal a complete new repertory had to be created. The alphabetical format was chosen as the most natural method to organise large amounts of information, thus bringing the repertory in line with all the large homeopathic materia medica which are also alphabetically arranged. All of Kent’s & Knerr’s sections were used as the foundation for building the new repertory.

Homeopathic medical repertory By Robin Murphy, Preface. Ist Indian edition 1993)

Dr. D.P. Rastogi opines,
It is a reorganised and expanded version of Kent repertory with Knerr’s format. This book is compact, practical and easy like Kent’s repertory. Dr. Murphy has updated the language of the repertory in many places for which many new generations of homeopathic students will thank him many times. There is a bold organisation and expansion of repertorial (analysis) information with many practical rubrics such as the ones having to do with children, pregnancy. The environment, dreams and delusions including use of modern diagnostic terminology as Alzheimer’s syndrome, polycystic ovaries etc. He has created sections which make it easier to locate an experience such as symptoms related to music. Besides the separate sections which have music as a modality. There are plenty cross references and a very useful word index in the back of the book to locate difficult symptoms.

Similibus Homeopathic Digest 1998, Philosophical Background & Application of lesser known and latest repertories by D.P. Rastogi. Pg no.12 

When one thinks of the bewilderment and despair of uninitiated, engaged in a first tussel with Kent’s stupendous Repertory, one is haunted by the old time story of the man of great authority from Ethiopia, sitting in his chariot, reading as he journeyed, to whom a stranger joined himself with the pertinent question. “Understandest thou what thou readest?” and the prompt reply, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” There are mazes yet that badly need the “Silken clue” … Kent’s Repertory is such a maze.

Kent’s repertory is based on the philosophy of deductive logic: i.e from general to particular. The generals are dealt with in depth followed by particulars and minute particulars. A master of materia medica, Dr. Kent noticed that particulars do not fall in line with generals in all cases and hence he emphasized the importance of generals. In order to understand a person his expression at the level of generals must be noticed and relied upon. The symptoms noticeble at the level of parts come next in the order of importance. He said, “Man is prior to the organs. Man is the will and the house which he lives in, is his body.” What is expressed on the parts is always preceded by a deviation in the state of health of a person. Such deviation can be known through expressions at the level of generals.

This repertory is built to work the cases from general symptoms to particular symptoms. If a case is worked out merely from particulars it is more than probable that the remedy will not be seen and frequent failure will result. This is due to the fact that the particular direction in which the remedies in general rubric tend have not been observed and thus to depend upon a small group of remedies relating to some particular symptom, although not yet observed. But by working other way, from general to particular, the general rubric will include all the remedies that are related to the symptom.

As we know that the patient makes himself known to the physician by signs and symptoms and that the totality of symptoms is the sole representation of the patient, the patient presents a large number and varied type of symptoms but are they equally important? So it depends on physician’s’knowledge of case taking. “A case well taken is half cured” , one of the master said. For a good homoeopathic prescription a great deal of information is essential. The homoeopath must know his patient, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and sociologically. He must give as much time as he needs to acquire this knowledge. Then it is the time to analyse the case. In order to do so we must go about it logically, we must have a starting point and a place to end. The start is made with the generals and the particulars end it. That is evaluation of symptoms. Kent has evaluated into 3 classes – general, particular and common and in his repertory he divides each into 3 grades – first, second and third. The generals and particulars have the greatest importance in our prescription.

Dr. Kent made use of the earlier materia medica but those which had been clinically observed and rejected numerous symptom of drugs which were sufficiently confirmed. Thus his repertory contains only 591 drugs though other drugs were known at that time.

Though Kent’s repertory has continued revisions upto 6th Edition with numerous additions but still it lacks many rubrics, medicines and especially its language which is very important to comprehend for using. Its logic as well as its language have already been and even today obstacle to correct use of this repertory. Many authors have attempted to do something about it viz. Dr. P. Schmidt, Dr. Barthel & Klunker, Frederick Schroyens, R.V.Zandwoort and Robin Murphy, etc. They did not only intend to complete the repertory, but they also had in mind the translation of the work.

The repertory is, only if one has efficient knowledge of its structural arrangement and understanding of the authors’ directions for its use, an unique tool. The homoeopathic Materia Medica contains about 3000 drugs with ever enlarging, ever advancing and new contributions which call for revising & updating. Homoeopathic Repertory meets the demand. This is modern alphabetical repertory written by Robin Murphy, N.D, published in 1993, U.S.A & India in May 1994. It is his 4 years’ work for compiling, editing, sorting & updating the work of Kent. It is reorganised and expanded version of Kent and Knerr’s format. There is no distinctive philosophy behind this Medical repertory but as it is based on Kent & Knerr’s format and Kent’s repertory has the philosophy of its own, Knerr’s one does not have any but it is a very good reference book. So it serves both the purposes.

The Homoeopathic Medical Repertory bears total 67 Chapters in which 30 new chapters are erected with 39000 new rubrics and 200000 new additions with updates. All of Kent’s Repertory and some sections of Knerr’s Repertory were used as the building block for constructing this new Repertory. In each of 67 chapters all the rubrics and sub rubrics are sorted into an alphabetical format. Thus Kent’s complicated system (side, time, modalities and extension) is tried to simplify here. Chapters start with Abdomen and end with wrists.

This study has two mottos. The first one is to study the plan & construction of Homoeopathic Medical Repertory & Kent’s Repertory of Homoeopathic Materia Medica through comparison. Though the Medical Repertory is based on Kent’s philosophy but there is basic difference in plan & construction.

  1. Kent has followed the Hahnemannian schema with 37 chapters & Medical Repertory has 67 chapters arranged in alphabetical order which is the first change that makes the searching very easy. There are 30 new chapters. These new chapters are created mainly splitting Kent’s bigger chapters like extremities, chest, generalities, etc. Some very small chapters are concised into one like.
  2. Prostate is put into chapter Male
  3. Urethra under Bladder
  4. The chapter Extremities is very big and makes biggest problem because of its arrangements i.e. side, time, modalities & extension. For searching a rubric “aching in hand” it is to be searched – Pain, aching ® Bones ® Joints ® Upper limbs ® Shoulder ® Upper arm ® Elbow ®   Forearm ® Wrist ® Hand
  5. It is laborious and confusing. Medical Repertory has split this Extremities chapter into 12-13 small chapters viz. Ankle, Arm, Bones, Hand, Joints, etc. So it has become very easy to refer.
  6. There are many new chapters like Emergency, Toxicity which contain very useful indication for bed side prescription.
  7. The weak sides of Kent are very well improved in Murphy’s Repertory like Children, Pregnancy, Environmental factors, etc
  8. It is to be noted that certain anatomical regions have no corresponding section in Kent e.g. neck which is under throat external & back. It creates a problem for proper searching. But this problem is solved in Medical repertory making a chapter Neck.
  9. Further more lungs, heart, aorta, axillary glands. breast, breast milk appear under chapter chest in Kent. It is very difficult to locate these in Kent but this is made easier in Medical Repertory by creating small chapters with above names.
  10. Even there is no section for circulatory system, glands & nervous system though Kent’s Repertory is not based on system but parts of these systems are found scattered throughout the book under allied anatomical headings So these are other lacunae in Kent. Medical Repertory has brought this solution making the chapters like nerves, circulation, glands, etc. which contain full of pathological generals. The pathological generals tell the state of the whole body & its changes in relation to the constitution. They help us to concentrate on more concrete changes to select the similimum. They are like – Atrophy, Induration, Haemorrhagic tendency, Chlorosis, Convulsion, Muscles in general affection, Nerves in general, Obesity, Uraemia, etc.
  11. Clinical Rubrics – Medical Repertory has got highest number of clinical information which shows the drug affinity,  generic & Specific similarity (pathogenecity).

Pathology speaks the language of the individual. It is dainted by the colour of the constitution. It shows the reactive pattern so far the guiding indication. Where gross pathological changes are taken place, signs & Symptoms are not available – these clinical rubrics are very helpful as they are organ remedies so to find the similimum among so called specific & where palliation is mandatory for fast prescription in bedside practice. There are about 5 – 6 new additions in pain sensation which are used in patient’s language, e.g. sharp pain, violent pain, wandering pain, etc. Nosodes are well introduced.

Another important contribution is constitution & temperament which contain about 26 types – can be used as eliminating rubrics & narrows the area of selection.

Language of Repertory is different from the language of Materia Medica, different from the language of the patient because repertory uses more limited vocabulary. People may use different words & descriptions to express the same thing. The core of the expressed symptoms or idea will be found in one way in the repertory. It is laborious task to change each expression into repertorial language. We will have to think of all possible synonyms. In this context Medical repertory has tried to solve the problem using patient’s language along with all synonyms & cross reference with medicines in one place. e.g.

  1. Crying (weeping), Bleeding (Haemorrhage), Humiliation (Abusive, mortification)
  2. Homesickness (Nostalgia), Bedwetting (Enuresis), Childbirth (parturition), Belching (Eructation), Food undigested (lienteric)
  3. This makes the reference work easy and faster.
  4. In Kent’s Repertory we find many sub-rubrics are scattered here & there and those are very difficult to locate. In Medical Repertory all related rubrics & sub-rubrics are put under one heading, viz.

This study is comparative and an analytical one where the Murphy’s Repertory is taken for comparison with Kent’s Repertory, both of which are based on Herring’s Guiding symptoms
. But many of the symptoms of Herring’s guiding symptoms are to be found as rubrics in Kent’s. In order to bridge this gap Murphy’s Repertory is made more comprehensive where almost no symptom of Herring is left out and rather enriched from other 55 authentic sources.

As many rubrics are updated, simplified and patients language is used so it makes the repertorisation easier, authentic and reduces the confusion.

Many new chapters are included viz. Emergency, Toxicity which bear rubrics very useful in bed side practice.

There are some chapters which are created splitting bigger chapters of Kent which are really helpful for locating the exact rubrics e.g.- regarding food-in Kent it is to be searched in two places stomach and generalities but in Murphy’s Repertory it is in chapter food only.

Greatest improvement is alphabetical listing of chapter and rubrics (avoiding side, time, modalities and extension of Kent). Another important chapter constitution which contains 26 types helps as eliminating rubric.

The new inventions which strengthen weaker side of Kent’s repertory are children, pregnancy, constitution. These are very useful.

Murphy’s Repertory is enriched in clinical rubrics and pathological generals also. So Boger’s & Boericke’s method can be applied. As a whole any type of case can be repertorised by Murphy’s Repertory.

Dr. Rita Chakraborty
Professor, Dept. Of Repertory
Fr Muller Homoeopathic Medical College,Mangalore
Email : [email protected]

Download full paper : www.homeobook.com/pdf/study-kent-murphy-repertory.pdf

1 Comment

  1. Nice to discover where Murphy got his information from. As I learned Kent for 20 yr before Murphy’s repertory came along, I have always found it difficult to know where Murphy has put something. He modernises the language but in his own way. Did he understand words the same way as Kent? For example, Kent lists two remedies for “Disturbed, averse to being”, Barthel’s Synthetic lists 4, Synthesis Treasure 23, and Murphy 2nd edition 33. Do all these authors understand ‘disturbed’ the same way? Did Kent really miss 20 or more remedies? More likely he had a more limited definition of this symptom. But we have no record of what he took it to mean.
    This makes the repertory a difficult subject. I find the older ones give more reliable results in general.

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