Dr.Kent’s view on General, Common & Particular Symptoms

As many know, there’s a difference in opinions between Master Hahnemann and Dr. Kent’s method of working. One major point lies in how they understand symptomatology. Hahnemann believes that general symptoms are those are common symptoms to all patients and have to present in all patients, while Kent sees them differently. He defines general symptoms as those a patient mentions about their whole being, e.g. I am thirsty, I am cold, etc.

To clarify this, we have outlined the symptoms as described by Dr. Kent.

Dr.Kent's view on General, Common & Particular Symptoms

1. General Symptom (Kent)

Kent’s generals are those that pertain to the patient as a whole and which the patient relates to his personality as a whole. He uses the first personal pronoun “I” to express this symptom. Kent’s generals are very important in homoeopathic prescriptions because they relate to the inner self. They are the symptoms of the individual and not of any particular organ.

Example: I am weak, I dreamt last week, I am thirsty, etc.

Identifying Kent’s generals:

1. All the symptoms predictive of the patient’s self are considered general.

2. The patient’s desires and aversions are related to the man and not to his organs hence they are considered as generals. Example: Aversion to life.

3. Dreams are very closely related to the mental state. The patient says “I dreamt last night”. They are considered as the expressions of a patient’s feelings, by the psycho-analysts. Hence, dreams are considered as the general symptoms. Disturbance in the will can bring about troublesome dreams, which are clearly related to the personality as a whole.

4. The complaints related to menstruation in females are general symptoms. Every woman expresses “I menstruate ….” it will never be attributed to her ovary or uterus etc. Kent says, “Menstruation so closely relates to the whole woman that it becomes a general”.

5. General symptoms occupy the highest position in the evaluation of Kent.

“The general things are the first in importance. Where there are no generals we can expect no cures” says Kent.

General symptoms can be broadly classified into 2 groups:

i. Mental generals

ii. Physical generals


1) Mental generals:

Because the mental symptom characterizes the inner self or the personality of the patient thus, are very important. Ascertaining the true mental symptoms during case-taking requires special skills. Only those mental symptoms that are peculiar, queer, rare, strange and those which help in differentiating one person from the other, play a significant role in the selection of the remedy.

Mental generals are further classified into 3 groups:

a. Will

• It includes Love, hate, mental emotions, lasciviousness, sexual perversions, fear, greed, dreams, suicidal and homicidal tendencies, desires, aversions on the mental plane, jealousy, suspicion, depression, loquacity, weeping, laughing, impatience, conscientiousness etc.

b. Understanding

• It includes Illusions, delusions, hallucinations, confusion, loss of sense etc.

c. Intellect

• It includes Concentration, comprehension, memory etc.

2) Physical generals

Those symptoms that refer to the physical body as a whole and not the symptoms of one or two anatomical organs are called the physical generals.

 a. Physical desires and aversions

Example: any sexual disturbances, love, hates in sex, appetite, thirst, desires, aversions to food substances, clothing, environment either to cold or hot etc.

b. Reaction of the person as a whole to the external environment

Example: Reaction to heat, cold, bathing, wetting, external pressure, touch, rubbing, jarring, defecation, reaction to weather, dry, cold, thunderstorm, or snow, specific food that disagree etc.

c. Specific periodicity of symptoms about the time, month, season, hour etc.

d. Reaction of the patient’s body as a whole to physical actions.

Example: aggravation, amelioration by motion or rest, by sleep, fasting, eating, passing stool, sexual intercourse, etc.

e. Complaints related to the side of the body

Complaints related either to right or left, unilateral, oblique, alternating sides and changeability from one side to the other etc.

f. General subjective sensations

Like stitching, burning, throbbing, lancinating pain all over the body etc.

g. Symptoms related to the special senses

Special senses are also so closely related to the whole man that the smells that are grateful and the disagreeable smells become generals”, says Kent.

Example: smell of the cooked food nauseates, sensitivity to sound, light, noise etc.

h. General pathological conditions

Examples: oedema, anaemia, atrophy, generalized discolouration etc.

i. Physical discharges like perspiration and menstruation etc that are not related to a particular part of the body.

This text outlines the typical symptoms as described by Dr. Kent. Furthermore, we’ve delved deeper into Common Symptoms to better understand them. Let’s explore them further.

2. Common Symptom

These symptoms are common to many diseases and to the proving of many drugs. They appear in many provers during drug proving. They do not help individualize the patient.

Hahnemann’s generals are Kent’s common symptoms

Example: dragging pain in the bowels is the common symptom of the condition “prolapse of the uterus”.

If we consider this symptom as a valuable symptom, the selection of a remedy becomes almost impossible. This is because “dragging pain” is the symptom of nosological disease and not the individual general symptom of the patient. Moreover, the same expression is present in so many medicines like Sepia, Nux vomica, Lil.tig, Murex, Belladonna, Pulsatilla, Natrum mur etc.

Further, enquiry into the other symptoms that relate to the personality of the patient will make the picture clear. Common symptoms alone are almost useless in the evaluation process.

Now that we’ve grasped the Common symptoms, let’s delve into the Particular symptoms in detail.

3. Particular Symptom

Particular symptoms are those the patient relates to his particular anatomical parts of the body. He expresses them by the pronoun “my”.

Example: my leg is aching, my stomach is burning, my throat is itching, etc.

“The more the symptoms relate to the anatomical parts, the more external they are, the more they relate to the tissues, the more they are to be particular. All things that are predicted of any given organ are things that are particular”, says Kent.

Particulars can be graded according to their importance in the hierarchy of evaluation.

1. High-grade particulars

Those symptoms are rare and unusual

Example: fever without thirst, inflammation without pain, itching without eruptions etc.

2. Second-grade particulars

Particular symptoms with specific marked modalities.

3. Third-grade particulars

Common symptoms that are related to some diseases. They help in diagnosing the disease and not in prescription. Out of these common symptoms again the alternating symptoms or alternating diseases find a high place in evaluation.

Few points to remember while evaluating the symptoms by Kent’s method

1. If one particular symptom is seen in more than two parts of the body, it can be considered general. During the examination of a patient, if you find that his head burns, his skin burns, that there is burning in the arms, burning in urine, etc, then this particular sensation “burning” can be considered as the general symptom.

2. One strong general can overrule all the weaker contraindicating particulars. This is applicable only when the generals are really strong.

3. A considerable number of particulars cannot be neglected in a case where the generals are weaker.

4. Symptoms related to the vital organs are more important than the symptoms of less importance.

For example: symptoms of the heart and central nervous system are more important than the symptoms of the joints, muscles, skin etc.

5. To select a similimum, the case must always be studied from generals to the particulars.

If you have any doubts or need further clarification on Dr. Kent’s philosophy of symptomatology and symptom evaluation, please feel free to comment and let us know. Additionally, we recommend reading some of our popular articles on homeopathy to gain further insights.

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