Collating a Proving

Turning a proving into something that is useful not only to the participants but also to others in the homœopathic community.

A proving is rewarding, if often difficult, experience for those who participate and those who come into contact with them during the proving. However, it should be remembered that the primary objective of a proving is to discover the nature of a remedy so it can be used to restore the sick to health, to cure.

In order to do this it is necessary to process the information and put it into a form that will easily reveal the nature of a drug and the characteristic nuances that make it different from other drugs. The collation of the information is a three stage process. The symptom must be extracted from the provers' and supervisors' diaries. It must be arranged so that the published proving has a form that is easy to grasp and which reflects the gestalt of the remedy picture. The proving then needs to be repertorized and made available to other homœopaths.

Extracting the Symptom

A symptom needs to be a complete and self-contained thing. It must have all the information about what happened to the prover, but nothing that does not relate directly to that symptom. This is not as easy as it sounds. The sentence that becomes the proving symptom needs to contain both an accurate and objective description of what occurred but it must also contain the more subjective information of how the prover felt. Thus it needs to be in the provers common language. Similes, metaphors and images that come to mind as descriptive of the symptom are always helpful. The sensation of an elongated neck that feels like a giraffe is very different from one that feels like a chicken, but it is almost impossible to describe the difference except by such comparisons. There is always a temptation to translate the symptom into repertory language. This loses the flavour of the symptom which is just as important as its appearance.

The different parts of a symptom should both be there if they are related but if they are separate they need to be represented separately. If one symptom always follows another or occurs with another then they are related an should be kept together, however, if they do not affect each other they should be kept apart. A modality that affects the whole person is different from one that is specific to a symptom. A back ache that is worse on lying down should not be separated into "felt worse lying down" and "backache" on the other hand if the prover felt generally worse on lying down but their backache was unchanged it is important to keep the two symptoms apart.

The description of every symptom should therefore contain, what it was, where it was, what it felt like, how intense or powerful it was and what images or comparisons it brought to mind. Consideration should be given to what caused or provoked it, when it occurred and when it went away, what made it better or worse and what else happened at the same time.

When each symptom is in a format that describes it accurately in the prover's idiom and contains all the relevant details it should be entered on a relational database with the prover's number, the time and day of the proving at which it occurred, the type of symptom (old, new, altered, or cured) and which section of the Materia Medica it belongs to (mind, dreams, extremities, stomach, etc.).


When I got angry I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen just above and to the left of my navel. It felt like a red hot needle. It passed quickly when I pressed on my abdomen with my hand. Day 3 19.00 NS Abdomen Prover 2

Theming the Symptoms

These symptoms can now be printed out and examined to find some order or pattern that will make the final proving both easier to read and easier to understand. There are many ways of doing this and the method itself can be an important indicator of qualities expressed in the proving. In a proving where strong contrasts and polarities were expressed it might be worth arranging the symptoms in a way that brought this out. In another proving there might be a gentle progressive movement from one symptom to another and again the layout should express this. In some provings the physical symptoms echo the mental ones more clearly than in others and in these it might be worth putting the physicals with the mentals. In some provings time is important and in these the arrangement could reflect this.

If each symptom is classified by one or more "themes" on the database it is then possible to print the Materia Medica of the proving in a number of different ways depending on how you want to use them.

Repertorizing and Publishing the Proving

Repertorizing the proving is one of the most difficult and labour intensive parts of the job. A single symptom can lead to many rubrics that need to be carefully chosen to encompass all the features of the symptom without theorizing or assuming anything that is not part of the symptom. A good check is to work backwards. If a remedy is represented in a rubric it should be possible to pinpoint exactly a symptom that justifies that rubric. If possible established rubrics, should be used, however a successful proving should reveal a number of distinctive symptoms that warrant the creation of new rubrics. These rubrics should, when extracted from the repertory as single symptom rubrics, give a clear picture of what is most distinctive and characteristic about the remedy.

Much of the repertorization can be done by anyone with a sound knowledge of the repertory. However, there are always a number of symptoms that require careful deliberation by experienced homoeopaths and often clarification from the prover.

The final publication, which can be in book form, in a journal or in electronic form on disk or on the net, should include the Materia Medica, the repertorization, information about the substance and its toxicology and an introduction by the person responsible for the proving. This introduction should explain why they chose that substance and give their view of the remedy picture.