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Historical review of Homeopathic Mapping systems

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

‘A Homeopathic Journey from cinchona bark to A4 laminated maps’

This blog post is an extract adapted from my research paper, ‘Modern Mapping Systems in Homeopathic Practice’. This blog post – part 1, shall discuss the historical development of materia medica; highlight links between advancements in psychology with homeopathic prescribing and list some of the ‘modern’ homeopathic mapping systems. The journey will take us from Samuel Hahnemann’s discovery of cinchona bark to an A4 laminate map!?

So what is a mapping system or in other terms a classification system? Everything, object or person can be classified into a system, which exists in the world. Spanning from the stars in astronomy, animal kingdoms, words we use or numbers, prime or otherwise! Even the miscellaneous can be placed into a category or classified into a systematic model. A map is defined as ‘a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc’ (Oxford, 2019). A map is ‘a two-dimensional representation of the locations of ‘things’.

Why do we use maps and classification systems? What is their role and how does this relate to Homeopathic analysis? Simply put a map allows us not to get LOST in NEW territory. A classification system allows the user to find an ‘individual object quickly on the basis of its kind or group; allowing it to be easier to detect duplicate objects’, (Oxford, 2019). So will these mapping systems, tables and charts enable the ‘modern’ homeopath to NOT get LOST in a NEW patient terrain?

How do we ‘Journey from cinchona bark to a laminated map in Homeopathic practice?’

Firstly we begin at our homeopathic principles, established by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). During this period there was a state of unrest within the academic community beginning to challenge the institutionalised religion. In Germany, this time was dubbed the land of ‘Dichter und Denker’, ‘writers and thinkers’. Whilst there were revolutions travelling across Europe in industry and politics, Hahnemann was studying medicine and chemistry at Leipzig University. Where he was particularly influenced by the writings of William Cullen, of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, a prominent figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Cullen’s publication Treatise of the Materia Medica, 1789 demonstrated the successful treatment of malaria with Cinchona bark. This finding was a catalyst to Hahnemann’s development of the law of similias encouraged by his dissatisfaction of medical practices in bloodletting and severe drug side effects. We are all very familiar with the provings Hahnemann conducted on himself and in particular with cinchona bark in 1798. This then went on to his development of homeopathic materia medica and his 6th edition of the Organon. Hahnemann proved roughly 100 remedies in his time, which were quickly expanded upon by his predecessors.

A VERY brief overview of the development of the repertory - Starts with the work of Boenninghausen, whom created several material medica’s, the therapeutic pocketbook plus advanced development of the first repertory in 1832. Materia Medica’s and repertories soon became our two main classification systems for prescribing homeopathic remedies. Hahnemann’s 100 remedies evolved to over 1000 in Boericke’s publication. In the early 1900s Kent made further developments to the repertory updating several editions. Advancing to 1973, ‘Barthel and Klunker started the publication of a first version of their “Synthetic Repertory", adding information from 16 authors to create 5 main chapters of the Repertory (mind, generals, sleep and dreams, male and female sexuality)’, (Schroyens, F. 2018). The publication of Synthesis repertory happened to coincide alongside the resurgence of homeopathy in the early 1980s. In 1970 they were said to be ‘only 50-100 physicians who specialised in Homeopathy in the United States, and yet by the mid-1980s, there were an estimated 1,000 physicians specialising in homeopathy. According to an article in the Washington Post, the numbers of physicians in the U.S. who specialise in homeopathy doubled from 1980 to 1982.’

At this time Synthesis and Radar, 1987, combined forces to created the first computer software repertory programme based on Kents works; now in 2019 Synthesis is on version 9.1 with over 150,000 new remedy references; 350,000 new author references and hundreds to thousand new remedies!

As the revival of homeopathy started we can propose that homeopaths were looking for ‘new’ methodologies and ‘new’ formats for patient case analysis to practice within. New schools opened worldwide such as J. Sherr’s Dynamis School, 1987. Fresh ideas were coming to the surface and new methodologies of practicing homeopathy emerged.

Interesting to note alongside the ‘revival’ of homeopathy appears to coincide with innovative movements in 'modern psychology and counselling'; with the works of Carl Rogers, ‘Person centred counselling’, although first published in 1942 or the works of Carl Jung. Also, in the wake of growths in psychology, regarding ‘Psychological types’, person centred counselling, development of the Ego or Erickson’s developmental stages. There was a change in how homeopathic remedies and materia medica were being ‘mapped’ in the teaching of classical homeopathy.

A notable homeopath and Jungian, Edward Whitmont, work was fundamental in our understanding of remedies as personalities going beyond proving’s and turning them into characters. This had already been seen in Kent’s lectures on Materia Medica. However Whitmont being a Jungian psychologist was able to provide homeopaths with a more ‘roun