Book review: The lacs: A Materia Medica and Repertory by Patricia Hatherly
A thorough and well-presented collection of Lac remedies appropriately compiled by the Australian homeopath and lactation consultant, Patricia Hatherly, this impressive and comprehensive compendium brings together all of the existing material on 20 Lac remedies. This reference book is indispensible if one wishes to review a significant amount of the current research on a Lac remedy or to pinpoint the appropriate Lac, once one has narrowed down the field to this unique grouping of animal remedies. Included in this book are chapters on the more documented Lac remedies as well as some lesser-known and newer ones such as Lac llama glama, Lac macropi gigantei, Lac maternum (human milk plus colostrum), Lac oryctolagus cunicilus, Lac phoca vitulina, and Lac suillinum, among others. Interestingly, at the end of the materia medica one finds a chapter (albeit brief) on the remedy Sus – a remedy that is a synthesis of the blood, milk, saliva and semen of a pig specifically bred for xenotransplantation and xenografting. The first half of this work consists of the materia medica and the second half, the repertory. In the former, each remedy is presented with a title page that summarizes the main polarities of that remedy in a useful and succinct manner. Hatherly then goes on to list the provings from which she has drawn the information. She continues with a Keynote essence and then, subsequently, Themes; Miasms; Rubrics, including a detailed section of provers’ dreams; Differential diagnosis; and, finally, Additional reading. Evidently, there was an attempt to present this material as a mind-map with rubrics summarized, at times, and grouped thematically and/or in polarities.
In my opinion, the written text is organized in a visually appealing fashion and according to discernible guidelines; this allows for skimming and scanning with ease. Hatherly has worked collaboratively with Roger van Zandvoort to ensure that her publication reflects the Lacs as found in his Complete Repertory. Furthermore, Hatherly has been mindful to include as many provings as possible; using information from older provings conducted in the late 1880s through to some more current ones from this twenty-first century. On the whole, they are Hahnemannian provings. However, she has chosen also to incorporate some dream and some seminar provings without prejudice, because (as Hatherly notes) she found corresponding rubrics that ran throughout the provings, despite the various proving styles. Along with the new provings have come a number of new rubrics and these are appropriately credited to the contributors. Interspersed throughout the materia medica, Hatherly has introduced boxes containing relevant and informative nuggets; be they facts or quotations for further enlightenment.
Hatherly claims to have laid out the repertory more in the style of Boericke than in that of Kent although, as a consequence, one has to pay special attention to the unusual order of the sections. This may prove to be rather bothersome and problematic in the event of trying to locate specific rubrics, especially without the help of an index. The repertory starts out with a breakdown of the Lac remedies according to Miasms, after which there follow sections on Themes; Affinities; Modalities; Generalities; and Sensations as if. All these precede Mind and the rest of the usual sections. Two significant inclusions in this repertory are, firstly, a new and essential section on Mammae (which follows the Female chapter) and, secondly, a free-standing, separate and lengthy Dreams section, which orders the themes alphabetically.
Apparently, the format of this repertory is intended to double as an index – one formed by a listing of the remedies rather than by giving page numbers; however, one wonders if that will prove to be a sufficient index. One big difference with this repertory is the lack of grading of the rubrics. Hatherly writes in her acknowledgements that she leaves this job for future editions, after more clinical work has emerged. Another point worth mentioning here is that there are many entries in the Repertory in which only one Lac is listed; however, in many instances, that symptom could be true of all Lacs. As we take more of a whole groups approach, we begin to see that symptoms which initially emerged through a proving and which were first attributed to that one remedy are later understood to be universal for the entire group.
As a student of homeopathy I appreciate this resource, seemingly one of the most complete Lac compilations to date. I find it a very appealing book in that visually it is easy to read. Furthermore, the materia medica contains many nuggets of information, some of which have already given me added insights and help in understanding the similarities and differences between the many Lac remedies. I am also thankful for the occasional use of more natural, modern language given that the traditional, archaic terms are not to be found in the everyday speech of our patients. I am appreciative of the detailed footnotes, as well as the additional reading lists contained at the end of each remedy chapter, which allow me to go back to an original source or to further my understanding by reading more. On a final note, I found it apt that the book is enclosed in a milky white cover!
Maria Reid lives in Ottawa, Canada and is currently working toward her Practitioner Diploma with the School of Homeopathy.