History of Repertories

A History of Repertories and the Synthesis Project by Dr. Frederik Schroyens

Repertories have helped conscientious homeopaths in their search for the right remedy as long as homeopathy has existed. Hahnemann himself made some preliminary steps in structuring his information into some kind of repertory.

However, it was his immediate disciple and collaborator of the first hour, Clemens von Boenninghausen, who is credited with creating the first usable Repertory in 1832. Different authors expanded on later versions of this repertory, e.g. Allen, Jahr, von Lippe, etc. Some created completely new structures, as did Gentry and Knerr.

It was Kent, however, who published different parts of a Repertory from 1897 to 1899, with a structure and a hierarchical logic that would stand the test of time. Kent released different versions of his repertory--the second edition in 1908, and a third manuscript edition at his death in 1916 (printed in 1924). Later editions never achieved the quality of Kent's third edition manuscript. They were slightly changed and edited by his followers and his wife Clara-Louise.

Nevertheless, for a few decades no other Repertory succeeded in taking up the challenge of progress. In 1973 Barthel and Klunker initiated the publication of their "Synthetic Repertory", adding information from 14, and later from 16 authors to the 5 main chapters of the Repertory (Mind, Generals, Sleep and Dreams, Male Sexuality and Female Sexuality). Although Barthel and Klunker did not expand their work to include additional authors or chapters, many considered their Repertory a new reference. Other articles report in detail on the evolution of Repertories, so here we turn our attention to Synthesis, the newcomer.

History of Synthesis

Synthesis is the Repertory used for the RADAR software project. It is based on the Sixth American Edition of Kent's Repertory, and contains all of its rubrics and remedies. Since 1987, Synthesis has been used as the database for the RADAR program in the daily practice of leading homeopaths. It has been continuously commented upon and thereby improved, giving it an outstanding label of quality. Additions of authors and remedies have been made to all chapters. Corrections of the existing data, including Kent's work, have been integrated. This book didn't just fall out of the air; it is a fruit that has been maturing for a long time.

Version 2 was released in April 1988 and occupied 10.5 Mb of hard disk space. Synthesis 3 followed in September 1990 with 11.5 Mb: it contained mostly corrections of the previous version and offered 136,000 additions from about 130 authors compared to Kent's original Repertory.

Chart 1: Stepwise additions:

This chart shows the incremental addition of information in successive versions of Synthesis. The lower (dark blue) part of each column indicates the number of new additions compared to the previous version. In December 1992 the fourth version of Synthesis was released and was used by nearly 2000 RADAR users around the world. It contained 178,000 additions from about 200 authors. Many additions were confirmed by different authors and thereby made more reliable.

We believe that the best policy is to increase the number of additions stepwise. There was a 24% increase in new information from Synthesis 2 to Synthesis 3. There was a 30 % increase in new information from Synthesis 3 to Synthesis 4. Every edition of Synthesis has been used in hundreds of thousands of cases worldwide. When these changes are made too quickly, the expanded rubrics bring out differences that ultimately lead to confusion. Hastily introduced new information might be incorrect or irrelevant.

In other Repertories, new rubrics are often positioned illogically. A stepwise increase in information is the only means to avoid chaos. Quality should increase faster than quantity. At each step the quality has been improved, especially in the creation of version 5. Compared to version 4, only a few thousand additions had been added, because we focused on increasing the quality, which is the main topic of this report.

Chart 2: Increase in quality:

The maroon line, indicating an increase of quality, shows that there was a real breakthrough with the creation of version 5. Although errors had been corrected with each subsequent version of Synthesis, the decision to print Synthesis caused some extra reflection. If this Repertory was to be printed, it should be done only if we could offer a dramatic increase in the quality of the Repertory, its structure, its language, and the consistency of its information. We have worked towards this achievement since the beginning of 1992.

In July 1992 the homeopathic part of the job for Synthesis 4 was finished and we focused exclusively on quality. Although there is more than can be indicated with numbers, we estimate, based on various criteria, (such as number of corrections made, symptoms edited, words modified, synonyms and cross-references added, etc.) that the increase in quality can be graphically represented by Chart 2. This focus on quality has been a project of homeopaths worldwide.

All aspects of Synthesis will be discussed following this introduction. One aspect, however, still needs special attention: our desire that this Repertory effort incorporate worldwide collaboration among homeopaths. Since the beginning, non-RADAR users have been collaborating with us. We expect that the printed version will further increase this input. Our computer technology is only the means to create this unique totality of information. With the printing of the book, it will be available to even more colleagues. The other feature that is making Synthesis a unique meeting point is the existence of editions in several languages. Homeopathy, despite its German origins, has become very dependent upon the English language.

For the level of communication and understanding needed in our profession, it appears that many homeopaths have major difficulties with the English language. Consequently, for three years we have been working to present Synthesis in different languages. At this moment the German edition, containing the same vast amount of corrections and additions, is a fact. Translations into Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese have been released. The number of homeopaths who will be able to use Synthesis will thereby be multiplied several times. We trust that the feedback will increase accordingly. We are ready to centrally process all remarks made in different languages and all editions will be updated with the sum of all new corrections and additions.