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- What is HFA?
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The foundation principles of HFA are :
- Miasm + totality = remedy (or group of remedies to choose from)
- Totality = sum of symptoms sorted into hierarchy using frequency, impact and distinction as indicators of importance
Symptoms are sorted into three categories:
- Mentals (life themes, impacting moments, strong/influencing emotions)
- Generals* (environmental factors, modalities, discharges, appetite, thirst, sleep, grouped symptoms by type occurring in two or more places)
- Particulars (specific physical symptoms)
*Generals are the best rubrics to use where possible. They are easy to see in a case, objective and easy to find in a repertory. Although they are "general" and often large and don't seem to discriminate between remedies when cross combined and then filtered with the HFA methodology they are a useful pathway to finding accurate remedies quickly.
Four to eight rubrics are chosen that reflect both totality and importance within the case then those rubrics are entered into the software to bring up a graph of possible remedies.
A miasm filter is applied that highlights matching miasmatic remedies from that graph.
The HFA methodology is not based on the pure ideas of any one practitioner. HFA is the culmination of many aspects of our homeopathic heritage. It is built upon the guidelines of Hahnemann, Kent and Boenninghausen and others but not necessarily every single thing they advised. To see where HFA lies in regards to the different authors and methods see http://www.soulandsurvival.org/content/hfa-comparative-charts
When using HFA methodology, the software’s only purpose is to be a search engine for rubrics and a calculator for remedies within those rubrics. The hierarchical sorting of rubrics is accomplished prior to commencing the repertorisation by the practitioner, using their own analysis of the case in front of them. Therefore any software package can be used to search rubrics and then add up the remedy choices, as the emphasis of the case is chosen before the software is used.
The weighting of rubrics and/or remedies using algorithms to enhance or reduce their impact in the final graph, is not in keeping with the HFA method. The HFA method relies on the practitioner knowing the case in front of them and weighting the importance of the symptoms by their choice of rubrics for the final repertorisation. It does not matter if the remedies displayed are rated 1, 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5).
These ratings have been allocated to remedies within repertories based on proving symptom alone, multiple provings and/or clinical success (with or without a proving). However these ratings mean little in a system where the existence of one symptom within one proving by one prover is enough to have this symptom entered into the repertory. Whether a symptom is more commonly used or has been seen only once in two hundred years is not relevant to the patient in front of you, or to the system of homeopathy, which has always recorded every aspect of a proving no matter how minor. If that symptom is important in the patient’s case and it matches the remedy being considered, then being a 1,2,3,4 or 5 is irrelevant. If we work with the premise that higher ratings make a remedy more important we are denying the individuality of the symptom that although not common, might be important to our patient.
Another important factor is how the repertories are built. There are a number of dedicated practitioners around the world who gather information and allocate the symptoms to rubrics. But there is no central body within homeopathy, and the rules vary slightly depending on the interpretation of the practitioner which are mainly taken from older authors and their interpretation of Hahnemann’s work. More importantly, clinical verification can only occur where there is feedback into one or more of these systems, and most practitioners never send this feedback to the different software companies, even when they have years of experience. Despite these anomalies, the base information in our repertories (particularly covering the polychrests) is usable and successful.
Both the major software packages (Radar, KHA and Complete Dynamics) also have “expert” systems built into them. They are based on one or a group of practitioners and their own personal experiences with those remedies or rubrics. This type of categorisation is the same as the essence classification of remedies and has its pitfalls limiting our choices through the assumption that the practitioner/s that develops the expert system or materia medica picture has seen every type of patient that might do well on that remedy. This is of course not possible. Polychrest remedies have between 5000 and 15000 rubrics allocated to each of them. The possible combinations of patient type become endless when we consider that we are choosing less than ten aspects of the patient to find that remedy.
Differentiating remedies through materia medica pictures and software programs has become an ongoing drive of our profession because rules help us to know where we are. When dealing with even a hundred remedies with up to 15000 aspects each, there is so much data that the human brain has to sift through, that some type of system had to be developed to find a way to sort, classify and then find the appropriate remedy. The HFA method provides its own way of classification and process - but the foundations are opposite to the way contemporary homeopathy classifies information.
Generalising allows for conceptual thinking and endless possibilities, while rules allow for firm decision making. Both are required for good homeopathic prescribing - not all of one, or all of the other, but a blend of both. A grounded yet flexible system has a set of base rules, and then superimposes a creative flexibility upon those rules without ever denying the foundations.
In the HFA model the miasm is based on rules that are unchangeable, while the interpretation and choice of rubrics/symptoms is as flexible and individual as every patient. In contemporary homeopathy miasms are given flexible interpretation, while rules or at the very least judgments/ratings are imposed on symptoms and rubrics.
The chart below demonstrates the differences :
Rules and specifics
Generalising and flexibility
In HFA the miasm is the foundation of the case with the face always telling the practitioner the miasm. The case analysis is generalised and requires a flexible approach, where all weighting and decision making is done prior to repertorising. The HFA method acknowledges that only a practitioner who knows the full case can assess their patient in an individual way. Another practitioner’s experience with a remedy or a proving symptom may not be relevant to your patient.
A software package need only be chosen on cost, familiarity and ease of use. If you are using HFA methodology basic packages are usually satisfactory, as the repertorising software's main purpose is to sift the rubrics and display remedy choices prior to reducing the overall choices with a HFA miasmatic filter.
- You are the expert of your case
- Repertorising is the crux of finding remedies
- Rubrics are easy to find
- The HFA methodology filters out incorrect remedies and highlights correct ones