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Kent’s Life and Works

Dr. K. Banerjee

Dr. J. T. Kent is acknowledged as the ‘Master of Homoeopathy’ and is considered as one of the pillars of Homoeopathy. He brought classical homoeopathy into the 20th century and spawned a whole new generation of homoeopaths.

James Tyler Kent graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute in 1871 and set out practicing as an eclectic physician. It was the prolonged illness of his wife during the years I877-78 which brought him to homoeopathy. Every eclectic and allopathic medicine was tried without success and the disorder became more serious. On the suggestion of Mrs. Kent a homoeopath was brought in to consult on the case. James was quite skeptical when the good doctor stirred a few small sugar pills into a glass of water and gave a teaspoon to his wife. The homoeopath left instructions with James to check his wife later in the night to see if the dose needed to be repeated. Kent retired to his books and became so engrossed in his study that he forgot the time. On remembering the instructions, James rushed to his wife’s room to find her peacefully asleep for the first time in months. Mrs. Kent fully recovered and Dr. Kent began his study of homoeopathy with great zeal. James was awarded a homoeopathic diploma from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Missouri in 1889 in honor of his great learning.

Dr. Kent was famous for teaching Materia Medica. He taught Materia Medica in various colleges and institutions. He was so famous that students from England, European countries, India and other parts of the world sought admission to the insitution where he taught.

His ‘Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica’, ‘Homoeopathic Philosophy’. ‘Repertory of the Materia Medica’, ‘What the Doctors need to know’ and New remedies, Clinical cases, Lesser writings are most popular and known to most homoeopaths. Dr. Kent is acknowledged as the master of homoeopathy and is considered as one of the pillars of homoeopathy.

Kent began practicing low potency homoeopathy as did many eclectics of his day but he was not satisfied. His first experiment with a high potency was a 30c Podophyllum that he made himself. The action of this immaterial dose so impressedhe young homoeopaths that he started to study the teachings of the classical homoeopaths. He tried to practice Boenninghausen’s methods but he did not seem to be familiar with the complete Boenninhausenian system. Kent’s studies eventually brought him to the study of the writings of Samuel Hahnemann and ‘The Organon of the Healing Art’. The budding homoeopath quickly realized that the way he was using homoeopathic remedies was not in line with the cardinal principles of Hahnemannian Homoeopathy. From this time forward his path became clear and he became one of the homoeopathic lineages greatest teachers. Kent’s methodology exemplifies the single unit dose, wait and watch philosophy of the first edition of The Chronic Diseases (1828) and the 4th edition of The Organon (1829)* James Kent brought Classical Homoeo-pathy into the 20th century and spawned a whole new generation of homoeopaths.

The Kentian homoeopathy is a reflection of the philosophy of the 18th and early 19th century Enlightenment when the free-thinkers of the day were seeking to unify philosophy, metaphysics and psychology. The Church and State could no longer suppress the works of the ancient Greeks, the writings of the middle age alchemists, and the Muslim scholars stimulated a second renaissance in the healing arts. The vitalist lineage found its rightful heir in homoeopathy while the orthodox school held tightly to their mechanistic interpretation of science.

Kent has been severely criticized for bringing ‘philosophy’ into the ‘science’ of homoeopathy and creating a false system called ‘constitutional homoeopathy’.

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