Evaluating Polarity Analysis
Evaluating Polarity Analysis
As a homeopath addressing to students and colleagues evaluating Polarity Analysis is meaningful to me in the context of my past struggles with case analysis. What are the pros and cons?
Selecting reliable symptoms
I have been using Dr. Heinner Frei's work with reliable symptoms based on the Boenninghausen rep. I use those 4 pages of reliable symptoms mainly in choosing a few remedies that I will compare later. Usually, using his online repertorization program, I come up with a few remedies. The remedy differential is easier than the way I used to do homeopathy because I don't need to consider so many remedies.
Tricks of choosing salient symptoms
So, how do I come up with 2 or at most 4 remedies that I need to compare later? I have to put in the most salient symptoms of the person into the repertory. These are not necessarily neurological. Restless, cold, and worse laying on the painful part may describe a neurological condition, but they could also describe a stiff joint. In addition, I or Dr. Frei's questionnaire will ask about digestion, sleep, sex instinct and etc. Not in great detail. The questionnaire of reliable symptoms focuses only on very few easily observed objective symptoms. I know that in a specific case I am problems choosing the salient symptom because slight changes in my repping symptoms will bring up a very different list of remedies. Sometimes I miss the curative remedy because I put in symptoms that seem to match the case, but I failed to confirm all of the symptoms that discount a remedy because of a contradiction (see below). Just one symptom can change the line up of remedies. So, the logic behind choosing the salient symptoms is a little tricky. I use all of the typical classical homeopathic tricks for choosing symptoms. So, this is not that difficult for an experienced homeopath.
Avoiding pitfalls requires experience
But, I have made mistakes and have to try another remedy. I forgive myself and excuse myself to my patient. This method is not totally foolproof. As I do more cases, the pitfalls seem more evident.
Who was Boenninghausen?
Before describing other problems, let us back up and consider the reliability of the database that Dr. Frie's research is based on. I am selecting from symptoms that are covered by the Boenninghausen Pocketbook. This is a small rep written by the top student of Hanehamann, Boenninghausen. Boenninghausen invented the repertory style of homeopathic analysis. A repertory is a dictionary of symptoms. Note that some homeopaths swear that they use only the Pocketbook (their favorite edited version). This is considerably more difficult than Dr. Frei's method but easier than working with a large modern database repertory. Luckily, Frei's work is not only based on the high reputation of Boenninghause. He adds another technique that also reduces mistakes in remedy choice. (I personally constantly refer to the large modern databases and appreciate the support from those editors and software companies that help us to mine the gold from them.)
Polar symptoms and contradictions
When the symptom has the opposite symptom in a higher grade (more clinical evidence, in the proving), then that symptom will be contradicted. For example, the patient is hot in the first grade, but most provers of that remedy were cold. Grade one is supported by only clinical evidence. The contradictory symptom is the cold grade four. This is the opposite of the patient's symptom. That the contradictory symptom (cold) has both proving and clinical research backing it up. It is contradictory because grade four is more reliable than grade one. So, that warm symptom disqualifies (contradicts) that remedy from the short list of remedies that I will research after I have finished statistical analysis. Remedies that have contradictions in those reliable symptoms are not considered in the statistical analysis of symptoms without good reason.
I need to check contradicted symptoms
Sometimes I go back to the patient to check to see if perhaps my contradicted symptom was not actually true of my patient. If I find that I have made a mistake in understanding my patient, I eliminate that symptom and the contradicted remedy is no longer eliminated along with other symptoms that were affected by that symptom. After that rather difficult task of checking all of my symptoms, normal comparative research into the remedies suggested by the repertorization is needed.
Statistical research on cured cases
Dr. Frei has been following the impact of contradictions and the reliability of each symptom in the Boennhausen rep for 20 years. He is keeping track of symptoms in his own cured cases. His research is statistical and often done in comparison to conventional treatment in his local university hospital in Switzerland. So, his statistical reseach does not only depend on the memory of the masters. His research is based on recorded data. That is the basis of his repertory. (Incidentally, I see that the Master edition of The Complete Dynamic Repertory now helps up to keep track of symptoms that appear in each case. So potentially, homeopath's can follow Dr. Frei's lead and track their own "reliable" symptoms. This will lead to much better research.)
Weighing pros and cons
Since 2002, I have been struggling with typical homeopathic software and researching remedies to discover a curative remedy. By eliminating remedies that I would have had to research in the past, Dr. Frei's research brings out remedies that I would not have considered. Often, they would not have appeared at the top of repertorization statistics from the extensive databases of modern homeopathy. Usually, Dr. Frei's program's suggested remedy makes good sense. Sometimes, it does not appear as a typical or even a possible remedy for the particular problem, tissue etc. Nevertheless, I use it because Dr. Frei suggests that we follow the suggestions of his repertory even when they are not obvious. Usually, Dr. Frei is right.
My difficulties with case analysis are minor in comparison with my past experience.
Then I also make mistakes in choosing symptoms as described above. I do not necessarily know exactly where the error occurred, but sometimes the remedy does not work. But, the problem of choosing the right symptom in a repertorization is basic to all homeopathic analysis. It is not specific to evaluating Polarity Analysis. Polarity Analysis is only simpler because the number of symptoms which I can choose from in Dr. Frei's repertory is relatively few. So, really this problem is minor compared to the struggle that was typical or me prior to discovering Dr. Frei's work.