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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 ‘rounded’ or complete picture examining the ‘remedies as people through their failures and successes, their strengths and weakness. By exploring their unresolved underlying tensions, Whitmonth was able to enrich and deepen our understanding of remedies and their essence’, (Morrell, P. 2012). Whitmont explored the archetypes of psychology, investigating feminine and masculine energy dynamics, Jungian developments of the ego, shadow ego and our subconscious self. Whitmont published several notable books one, Psyche and Substance: Essays on Homeopathy in the light of Jungian Psychology in 1980.

Influence of his writing with ideas of personality typing, classifications with ‘A’ and ‘B’ type profiles, further publications started to appear for example Philip Bailey’s Homeopathic Psychology; personality profiles of the major constitutional remedies, 1995 or Catherine Coulters, Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines, 1986. As a speculative conclusion we may say that in the aftermath of psychology movements alongside the resurgence in homeopathy in the early 1980s, there was a direct step towards ‘new classifications’ implemented to patient’s case analysis in homeopathy. In addition there was new questioning techniques applied in ‘taking the homeopathic case’ with our patients. See the table below displaying chronological dates discussed in this section of the text. Linking the advancements in psychotherapy to homeopathy it can be argued that there was an evolution of ‘taking the homeopathic case’, or ‘the homeopathic conversation’. We could say that ‘Person centred psychology’ and Jungian conceptual ideas of the inner psyche were being adapted to homeopathic consultations, listening ‘carefully’ to the patient’s words, delusions and dreams becoming integral to our analysis.

Background timeline

Prominent modern homeopath’s Jan Scholten, Rajan Sankaran and now numerous others are publishing ‘new methodologies’, ‘mapping systems’, tables and charts. Scholten being the ‘founding father’ of classification systematics in homeopathy, in the 21st century. Scholten took one of the world’s most iconic cultural classification systems, the periodic table and transformed it into a homeopathic tool. A vital tool that changed the way many homeopaths started to prescribe mineral remedies. The periodic table simply put is the ‘map to the mineral world’.

The significance of the periodic table was profound and has paved the way for many others to follow, which are detailed later in the text. Scholten’s Periodic table gave practitioners, a ‘map’ to better understand the mineral kingdom and the unknown materia medicia. The work was first outlined in ‘Homeopathy and Minerals’, 1993, this was the beginnings of ‘group analysis’. Scholtens table, has each series characterised by a common theme. Series include; Hydrogen, Existence, being, space, unborn, time; Carbon, ego, self-worth, value, possessions, ‘separation from mother’; Silicum, relationships, communication, learn, play; Ferrum (iron), duty, order, critical, control; Argentum (silver), creation, ideas, performance, beauty; Aurum (Gold), leader, responsible, isolation, management; Lanthanides, autonomy, self dependence, reflective, deep vision; Uranium (radioactive or Actinides), magic, intuition, old age, universe. Each series is then divided into eighteen stages (vertical) with a common subject according to how the individual perceives where they are in the world. The eighteen stages form a rise, top, decline cycle; ‘each cycle consists of the beginning of a project, the successful accomplishment of this project and then the eventual decline and breakdown (Scholten, J. 2005). See Mapping Chart - Icons of The Periodic Table - illustrated in response to Scholten's and many others work on the mineral kingdom

Scholten’s Periodic Table was a catalyst for change in patient case analysis, with a move away from using classical rubic selection for prescribing in clinical practice. Rajan Sankaran’s classification of the ‘natural kingdoms’ in homeopathy was created with the ‘Sensation of Kingdoms’ first published in The Spirit of Homeopathy, 1991. Sankaran’s methodology, studied the general essence of each kingdom and those of the sub-families within each kingdom; such as plant families correlating to their taxonomic botanical family; minerals and their stages on the periodic table and animals such as vertebra, invertebrate etc. These ideas brought light to the similarities found in families and their ‘sensation’ or ‘vital energy’ of an individual. Using this ‘map of the kingdoms’ brought scope of finding lesser-known remedies. See my Mapping Chart - Icons of Homeopathic Miasms - for an illustrative guide.

Scholten and Sankaran have gone on to develop further mapping and classifications systems; such as Scholten's Plant Theory. Other homeopaths responded back to the classification of the iconic periodic table, designing charts based upon their own philosophies. Such as Michel Yakir’s Wondrous Plant Order, in 2005. Yakir’s system is influenced by the works of Erickson’s ‘Development of the 9 stages’, in addition the separation of the ego from feminine to masculine.

See below listing

'Modern' Classification Systems publications from the period 2008 to 2018.
  • Homeopathy and Patterns in Minerals, B. Joshi, 2008

  • Chart of Carbon Remedies, Roger Morrison, 2010

  • Wonderful Plants (Plant theory map), Jan Scholten, 2013

  • Mind Maps, Alice Lee, 2013

  • Wondrous Order, Michal Yakir, 2015

  • Homeopathy and Patterns in mammals, B. Joshi and S. Joshi, 2016

  • Table of Psyche Structure, Crystals, Peter Tumminello, 2017

  • The Vital Approach Map of Homeopathic Families, Anne Vervarcke, 2018

  • Joshi’s Map of Invertebrates, B. Joshi and S. Joshi, 2018

In Part 2 - blog posts will look into the work of Peter Tumminello's, Table of Psyche Structure, using the classification of crystal structure in homeopathic analysis.

To purchase Icons of the Periodic Table or Icons of Homeopathic Miasm - please go to my online webshop here.

How can it support your homeopathic learning? The illustrations I create are their own ‘language’. Each illustration e.g ‘Carbon’ has the image drawn into the letters which helps our cognitive memory recall both the word carbon and the visual representation. This provides a quick reference, learning tool or aid to homeopathic prescribing. Before drawing each series or remedy, I researched materia medica references from Kent, Vermeulen, Scholten to Sherr and many more. Each ‘Icon’ encompasses the core essence of the remedy. The table was created with the intention for homeopaths to make connections between remedy pictures or a series. Dialogues take place between icons throughout the table. Take a look for yourself and see what you find! Each time it will be something new. We are always learning as homeopaths. Icons of the Periodic table will provide you with a valuable tool to add to your fabulous homeopathic toolkit.

Prefect for throwing in my bag for a busy day in clinic' 'Great addition to my homeopathic toolkit' 'Excited to use this on my mineral cases'

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