A group analysis evaluation Anhang 2


Group Analysis Research at Durban University of Technology (DUT)

In addition to the work on group analysis as mentioned Masters students at DUT have also employed the group analysis method as follows:

Wulfsohn (2005) analyzed the Graminae (grass) plant family of homoeopathic remedies and found Sankaran’s method of group analysis could be successfully

applied to unexplored plant families. Wulfsohn (2005: 79-81) also stated that it is important to use remedies that are well proven and documented and to be aware that

“most small remedies are unlikely to have adequate mental and emotional symptoms to determine a central theme/essence as done by Sankaran”.

As can be seen by the difficulties encountered by some of these researchers when using poorly represented or poorly proven remedies, for the group analysis approach to be

successful there needs to be adequate homoeopathic literature available.


Computer Software and Group Analysis Group

Analysis is becoming increasingly popular due to developments in computer software which now make this method quicker and easier to use. This research study employed

Encyclopaedia Homeopathica and RadarOpus, both from Archibel.

Encyclopaedia Homeopathica is a search engine with access to an extensive database of materia medicas, therapeutics, journals, philosophies, cured cases and seminar transcripts.

This database includes classical texts that are currently out of print as well as the most contemporary writers.

RadarOpus (Archibel, 2015) is a software program that acts as an interface between homoeopaths and their tools –repertories, materia medicas and patient files.

Together these software programs enabled the researcher to quickly access vast amounts of homoeopathic literature and extract rubrics specifically for the purpose of group analysis.


Criticisms of Group Analysis

Levy, Ajjawi and Roberts (2010: 1322) argue that despite more than 200 years of continuous practice, little is known about the actual decision-making processes of homoeopaths

and that significant tensions exist between advocates of different styles of homoeopathic practice.

The hostility between advocates of group analysis and their critics is one such example of this tension. The world-renowned classical homoeopath, George Vithoulkas (2008), refers

to group analysis as one of the new “spurious theories” and says “with all these irrational and arbitrary new ideas the modern teachers are defaming homoeopathy and demolishing

the corner stones that constitute its scientific edifice”. In an article against such methods he wrote, “This is essentially the old idea of signatures’ abandoned as useless hundreds of

years ago, now presented as an enlightened modern solution for easily finding the indicated remedy”.

Other critics of group analysis have also associated it with the doctrine of signatures, a theory that the appearance of a substance suggests its healing properties. Mangialavori (2010: 4)

acknowledges that “had homoeopathic medicine adhered to this doctrine, it would have been ridiculed and never gained credence in scientific circles” and he argues that his work is

not about simply applying the doctrine of signatures which is “often limited to superficial analogy”; rather, it is about discovering a “deep analogy between systems”. To emphasise this

point, Mangialavori (2010: 25) wrote: “Superficial isomorphism is not very helpful in studying the principle of similitude, whereas deeper structural analogies and system processes are

essential.” Saine (2001), although no advocate of group analysis, argues in support of a possible deeper structural analogy existing between remedies and their sources. He writes:

At the time of Hahnemann the ‘doctrine of signatures’ meant simply and only that the shape of a substance could be used to determine the organ the plant was likely to help (for example

a bean-shaped leaf applies to kidney ailments). This rudimentary doctrine was criticised by Hahnemann. But nowhere does Hahnemann criticise the idea that the source of the remedy

has a bearing on the symptoms it produces. Why are nine of our snake remedies listed for fear or dreams of snakes? Why do numerous plant remedies have their aggravations at the exact

hour when the species opens its flower (Pulsatilla at sunset, etc.). Why are so many of our remedies made from creeping plants found to have dreams or desire to travel? Is this

coincidence or is it possible that the life struggles and habits of the remedy source do influence the feelings of the provers? We cannot explain how this might take place but why should

this concept be so implausible? ...And if the physiology of the remedy source can give us clues, why would we ignore the possibility of using these hints? Would any responsible

homoeopath use only this type of data in formulating a remedy decision?

Decidedly not (Saine, 2001: online).

Another critic of group analysis is Chandran (2012). He finds group analysis “totally unscientific and illogical” and claims it “illustrates the pathetic level of scientific awareness that

rules the propagators of the ‘Sankaran method’”. He argues that this method “has nothing in common with classical homoeopathy, where symptoms belonging to mentals, physical

generals and particulars, with their qualifications such as causations, sensations, locations, modalities and concomitants decide the selection of simillimum” and that “Sankaran’s method

will result in gravely disabled incapacitated homoeopathic practice, preventing homoeopaths from utilizing the unlimited potentials of our materia medica.”

The researcher feels that Chandran’s (2012) unequivocal statements fail to take into account that Sankaran’s method does rely on the use of repertories, materia medica and the faithful

recording of symptoms and their qualifications. Sankaran (2006: 20) says “any real progress in homoeopathy is impossible without a very firm footing in homoeopathic philosophy, the

materia medica and the repertory” and as this study will show, the themes of a homoeopathic family or group are founded solely on information provided in repertories, materia medica

and provings. The first step in Sankaran’s method is to extract from repertories all rubrics pertaining to the selected remedies and use these as a base for data analysis. Group analysis is

not based on the ‘old idea of signatures’ but rather on themes that have been developed through a thorough analysis of both materia medica and repertories. Scholten, Sankaran and

Mangialavori have not developed their theories through simply looking at the source of remedies, but rather through countless hours of studying homoeopathic literature and analysing

cured cases.

Furthermore, Chandran (2012) implies that Sankaran limits specific emotions or symptoms to specific kingdoms. He uses fear as an example, saying: “according to Sankaran,

fear indicates the ‘vital sensation’ of ‘survival instincts’, which needs ‘animal remedies’” and asks: “I want to know, from where Sankaran got the idea that only ‘animal remedies’ have

‘fear’ and ‘survival instincts’?”

Chandran (2012) repertorises the symptom FEAR and finds remedies listed from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. Hence he argues that Sankaran’s method is not sound. It is

important to note here, that Sankaran (Cooper, 2006) defines his method as a “system approach, rather than a symptom approach” and does not allocate specific symptoms (such as fear)

to one kingdom only. In group analysis, any remedy can experience fear. It is how they experience and express this fear that is important. For example, ‘animal remedies’ may express it

through aggressive, competitive behavior; ‘mineral remedies’ may express it through becoming excessively organised, fastidious and structured in their day-to-day life; and ‘plant remedies’

may express it by being unusually sensitive and reactive to situations.

The researcher feels that it is more the use and application of group analysis that is open to criticism rather than the methodology itself and she agrees with Traub (cited in Lewis, 2007)

who wrote the following: “It always saddens me when people take a brilliant concept and reduce it to ridiculous proportions in an attempt to simplify homoeopathy. I have seen a

homoeopath give Apis because the patient wore black and yellow stripes to the interview.

I hardly think that this is what Sankaran intended”. In the words of Saine (2001), “If some misuse the work, should we throw out the concept? Do some people carry these ideas too far?

Yes, but let's us not throw out the baby with the bathwater”.

Even the ‘masters’ of group analysis caution homoeopaths in its use and application, stressing that it should not replace a systematic, logical repertorisation of symptoms or be used too


Scholten (1993: 23) acknowledges that group analysis is not the most successful method for local, physical complaints and is best applied to the level of the mind.

Chauhan (2007), another well-recognized expounder of Sankaran’s method, explains how important it is for a homoeopath to treat the case as it is directly in front of them. In other

words, if a patient has gangrene of the leg then the homoeopath needs to treat the gangrene first before looking for the patient’s simillimum.

Having completed their Master’s dissertations in group analysis, Wulfsohn (2005: 80), Vogel (2007: 128), Weston (2010: 152) and Chhiba (2013: 168) all caution homoeopaths in how

they apply group analysis, saying that if it is applied carelessly or incorrectly it can lead to false, inaccurate interpretations and unreliable, misleading results. Experienced homoeopaths

who have a profound knowledge of homoeopathic philosophy and materia medica combined with many years of clinical practice and case-taking, in which they have developed their own

intuition, employ group analysis with great success. However, students and novice homoeopaths who are not yet proficient in homoeopathic philosophy, materia medica and case-taking

need to apply it with caution.

According to Levy, Ajjawi and Roberts (2010:1323) “students and novices tend to store knowledge in a more disorganised and disjointed pattern and to retrieve it in a trial-and-error


They lack sufficient knowledge of homoeopathic materia medica (comprising over 3000 medicines) to make accurate pattern recognition decisions, and are heavily reliant on deductive

reasoning”. As Vithoulkas, in an interview with Bhatia (2010) says, “bypassing hard work of studying remedies properly in order to find easy ways for prescribing, will finally prove

disappointing to both the Homoeopath and patient”.

Advocates of group analysis argue that one of its strengths is that it enables homoeopaths to use remedies that have not yet been proven but that may be an individual’s simillimum.

However, this apparent ‘strength’ is also often seen as its ‘weakness’. Vithoulkas (Bhatia, 2010) argues that if one learns properly the remedies already available, the homoeopath will

have no need for new unproved remedies and that “to teach that those new unproven remedies are the basis of modern homoeopathy to the novices, is a disaster”. In direct contrast to

Vithoulkas’s reliance on provings is Mangialavori’s (2010) belief that it is cured cases and not provings that are of the utmost importance. Sankaran (Cooper, 2006) argues that the

science of homoeopathy is constantly evolving and that homoeopaths need to evolve with it: “Hahnemann, in his own lifetime, changed the Organon six times, introducing new concepts,

new ideas, and depths of understanding each time.

So to remain stuck to what Hahnemann said, as the last and final word, is in a way going against his very spirit. One has to go by what one observes and what one sees, and, following

on the method of Hahnemann, using the logic, using observation, testing it out, testing the concepts, being self-critical, being circumspect, one has to advance in order that we get better

and more consistent results.”

The researcher believes that the most suitable conclusion to the debate on group analysis is embodied in Saine’s (2001) bold words: “Let ideas and clinical results speak for themselves”.

She feels that more research needs to be conducted on group analysis, more cured cases applying this method need to be published and, most importantly, these need to be viewed and

tested with open minds.



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