A person who belongs to the animal kingdom has the sensation that life is a fight, a struggle for survival. Everybody wants to live or to stay alive, but people from the animal kingdom experience everything in their life as a survival issue. It is about to live or to be killed, while a mineral talks about ‘existence’ and people belonging to the plant kingdom ‘die’, their life ends, they don’t get killed.
The survival is a matter of eating or being eaten, kill or being killed. They can use all kinds of synonyms like slaughter, murder, execute, slay, exterminate, and finish one off.
The idea always is that somebody is doing this to another.
In the animal kingdom somebody else is the problem, not some thing. During anamnesis one will hear the patient talk about the others who are the enemy: they threaten him, look down upon him, dominate him, betray him etc. Hence the message in the story is: ‘who is the problem’, rather than ‘what’. This can make the main differential diagnosis in an animal case where the aggression and violence is not so much in the foreground, because the animal is the prey, not the predator. Still there will be somebody else doing something to the patient and that is experienced as the main problem. It’s not enough that the patient talks about quarrels or fights: everybody clashes now and then with others. It is the fact that the quarrel or clash is experienced as a fight and in this fight the thing at stake is survival, is what makes it an animal case. Only one can win: there is always a winner and a loser. For the winner it is survival, victory, power, being the best, on top, the first, the conqueror. For the loser it feels like being finished, he’s dead, the victim, loser, the prey, eaten, defeated. There is no win-win possibility. One is the victim and one is the aggressor, one is the weaker and one is the stronger. There can only be one winner: there is no room for both. It’s you or me.
The fight can be for a person, a position or a contest for example, but for a person in the animal realm everything is conceived as a fight or a threat to his survival. Even when he takes the bus he will have the feeling he has to fight to find a place to sit or others will take it from him. In his house he might feel the threat of being attacked and burgled; at his job in the office he feels every word of criticism as an attack to his person, in a relationship he can be very defensive. It is either attack or defense.
What a person feels is done to him, he will do to others. The person belonging to the animal kingdom is the victim or the aggressor: when he feels attacked and victimized he might complain about the aggression of the others and is always in the defense, when he is the aggressor he might feels he is treated with violence and reacts in the same way. The world is a harsh place. One has to fight his way to the top. The winner takes it all.
Female animal remedies often display attractive behavior, or rather attention seeking behavior. They give a lot of importance to their looks, even when it is not so obvious for others. Often the homeopath gets more animated in animal cases, more charmed or amused, but this depends on the subkingdom and whether it is a prey or predator in front of us.
Since there is aggression and a desire to dominate, or a fear of being dominated, power is a big issue.
Power is often expressed as competitiveness or ambition. In itself this is not a pointer to the animal kingdom, but the competition here has the flavor of survival: it is a matter of life and death. It is you or me. There can only be one winner. There can only be one at the top, only one can be the best, the first, the fastest, the winner. The competition is always in a comparison: ‘how am I doing compared to the others?’
Even in a case where the animal features are suppressed or compensated, the person will compare himself to others. It can be quite subtle and presented in little extra remarks intertwined in the story, which might be overloaded with rationalizations. But when they are there, they are not to be denied.
The patient is perhaps troubled by some symptom (like hair loss, skin symptoms, being overweight) that makes him less attractive than others. He may have physical pathology that makes it impossible to do sports like other people of his age. He may feel inferior because his diploma is lower than the others at the office. He may feel others get more, are more charming, faster, dance better, whatever, but the overall idea is that they will always make the comparison. A mother will ask herself is she is as good or better than other mothers, even a client in the therapist’s office wants to be the best client.
There is never an equal relationship: there is always somebody higher and somebody lower. Or the patient has the idea he is higher than another in one aspect and lower in other aspects. The superior/inferior issue will be present in a straightforward or more disguised way but it will be there. Because the feeling of being inferior is so unbearable it might be heavily compensated with for instance, an attempt to be religious or humble… and then of course the most religious or humble of all!
The opposition or quarrel sometimes is expressed in one and the same patient: it’s like two tendencies in himself have a fight for supremacy. In the proving symptoms we see this reflected in the rubrics; ‘antagonism with self’ and ‘two wills’. There is a split in the person and a conflict within.
Or his symptoms are experienced as doing something to him. ‘This throat pain is killing me’.
When there is no compensation, the power issue will be at the forefront with arrogant, intimidating, domineering, haughty, proud or even menacing behavior. There can be violence in the language with cursing and swearing and desire to kill somebody. The patient might not be able to control his anger and violence, and may start fights with, or beat up people whom he feels are attacking him. He can get enraged and out of control and this may be his chief complaint. At the other end of the spectrum: the victim of such an aggressive person who is beaten, abused, threatened and manipulated, may need an animal remedy too. Sometimes this is the actual story, and sometimes the person feels like this even with relatively minor fights but it is always their experience that counts.
Often we see huge anger in animal cases, be it on the side of the victim or the aggressor. The anger can easily flare up or be suppressed, because the person feels he might kill if he loses control. There might be triggers like jealousy or an attack from outside, but the anger slumbers in the person, if not in his daily life, it can come up in dreams or in a love for violent movies.
Sometimes it is expressed the other way around: when, violence done to animals, which are not able to defend themselves provokes indignation, anger or a desire to pay back the evil doers.
There are cases where the patient is feeling especially touched by the violence done to a particular animal and it is wise then to probe deeper into the matter, as it might lead to the source.
People who need an animal remedy often talk about ‘humans’ as a group they don’t belong to. They make remarks like: ‘humans are not to be trusted, humans are cruel, I don’t understand humans, humans always create rules and values’ etc . It is as if they distance themselves from humans, they are looking from the outside t, they are not talking about ‘we’ but about ‘them’. This can be a pointer to an animal remedy.
Not surprisingly sex, procreation and territory, in fact all the instinctive features in a person, are prominent in an animal case. Again: all humans have these features but in a person belonging to the animal kingdom they are in the foreground and will be important issues in the case. In plant or mineral cases they might not even be mentioned as the problem lies elsewhere.
In animal cases the fact that the patient is male and the homeopath female, or the other way around, can be more or less subtlety mentioned by the patient. He can just casually make remarks that are inappropriate for the homeopathic setting. They remind the homeopath that the patient is from the opposite sex and that the need to do that comes from the patient’s animal-like awareness of gender. Sometimes the sexual issue slips into the case spontaneously and as always: when a statement of the patient seems to be unnecessary or out of place, it is doubly important and it is most likely coming from the vital level.
Procreation features are seldom mentioned as such but problems often start with pregnancy, lactation, conceiving children, in the male or the female animal patient.
The territory issue can come up in many different ways, but it is good to remember as a general rule that animals have their specific habitat. This means they feel best in a particular environment and they will defend what they consider to be theirs.
Depending on the subkingdom the features will be different and we will go into more detail into this later.
We should listen carefully to the special words referring to animals like: hierarchy, go hunting, herd mentality, my nest, poisoned, decoy in a trap, poison me, cub, fur, catch, claw etc. They can all be pieces of the puzzle and part of the coherent pattern. In animal cases it is not so much in the repetition of the same thing but in the building up of the pattern that we come to our conclusion.
The fears in the animal kingdom are about survival as well: being chased, caught, imprisoned, killed, eaten, slaughtered. There can be a tremendous threat and a sensation of danger, which can be vague but nevertheless life threatening. The patient finds many expressions for this: fear of suffocation, being taken by surprise, being raped, overpowered, beaten, injured. It is important in the case taking to insist on being exact and to ask all details of this fear. I’d even suggest repeating the question more than once in different forms, asking for images, or for a description of the worst case scenario. A fear that in the beginning sounded quite general like ‘fear of persecution’ or ‘fear of high places’ sometimes turns out to be a very specific fear of being chased, hunted, thrown in a deep well, being taken and drowned, body parts being bitten off and so on. The patient might give an image of a predator hunting and bringing down a prey and then biting it to death or devouring it or slowly, slowly suffocating it.
The pictures he gives can be in dreams and that is just as useful: dreams come from the subconscious part of the psyche but they contain Level information as well.
Not every dream is valuable: it depends on the common sense of the homeopath to know when and how to use dreams. The archetypical dreams come from the unconscious and are the ‘classical’ dreams many people have: like being unprepared for an exam or being late for an appointment, refer to the broad sensation of needing to perform. Children dream of being chased or eaten by the wolf or a witch, yet they don’t all need Belladonna. Those dreams belong to normal childhood fears and the images are given in the stories and fairytales we tell our children. In the same way people use images of happenings during their day or what they’ve seen on television that night, in their dream but the feeling in the dream is theirs. It pays to persist in asking them to describe the dream in all its detail.
Maybe the patient will say: it is not exactly a fear but disgust.
Disgust is a general feature in animal cases. It may be scenes they are disgusted by, or smells or behavior. Often they feel disgust for other people or loathe themselves. The contempt, loathing, disgust, feeling of being dirty, are themes of animal remedies in general and it doesn’t matter if they are interwoven in a story about themselves or somebody else. There is nobody ‘out there’, remember. All we see is a reflection of ourselves. Therefore what we tell about somebody else, we tell about ourselves.
Because the overall feeling of the animal kingdom seems to be a feeling of disgust and of being dirty, it led many to the conclusion that the miasm must be leprosy. In my understanding this is a confusion between sensation and miasm. The disgust is a sensation and belongs to all animals and the miasm seems to be unclear in animal cases. The reason for this is, as far as I have observed in my cases, that the same remedy is represented by different patients in different ways and intensities.
We should keep in mind that homeopathy is based on symbolic representations of a vital experience. The instrument of homeopathy is mainly language. Even if we observe the patient and the way he behaves and expresses himself, we translate this body language into words: we are still in the realm of language, and therefore symbols.
Animals are rich and strong symbols. We tend to project a lot of identifications and qualifications on them, we use them as totems, or in ritual or shamanistic practices.
Many patients therefore will identify with a particular animal but this does not mean they need an animal remedy. Projection comes from Level . It is a product of the imagination or in a broader perspective, the psyche. In most cases it has to do with the wishes or the longings of the patient. Even when he needs an animal remedy the identification with a certain animal might very well be the opposite of what he needs: maybe he identifies with the eagle and needs the mouse. A good tip then is to look for what it is in the picture of the animal that the patient describes, which doesn’t fit.
For instance an 11 year old girl was asked to describe the horse she loved so much. She said: it is so beautiful and sweet, you can comb it and brush it and take care of it, it knows who you are and is always welcoming you. It has such a beautiful body and when it runs the mane waves in the wind. Well, the depiction of the looks of the horse might be right and realistic but the ‘sweet, welcoming, loving and taking care of’ doesn’t belong to the horse. This means it must belong to the girl. (In her case she needed a mineral from the third row)
In the proving we usually see only one aspect of the remedy, for instance the proving of Lac Leoninum gives a picture of the male lion (‘Talks with an air of comment, wants to fight’) But if a woman needs Lac Leo she most likely will show another side of the same remedy. Her role is completely different and we expect to see a complete focus on the children. Again a little boy or girl needing Lac Leo will display different aspects altogether. Which is then the miasm?
This is even more prominent in domesticated animals. Dogs, cats, horses, goats, cows, etc. come in so many various breeds, and we use them for so many purposes, that they sometimes hardly look like the wild version of themselves.
Can we can rely on the proving of one particular dog to represent the whole range of possible dogs? Again when we remind ourselves of the symbolic nature of homeopathy, it is clear that there is sufficient ‘dogness’ in every dog, because this is exactly what got them into that category: a minimum set of meaningful characteristics.
But in the patient it is not so much the question which dog he is (pit bull or a schnauzer) but rather which dog quality is represented in the patient. I’ve seen patients who feel themselves ‘second class’, a very typical dog-expression. What is conveyed is the idea that even though they live with humans, they will never get the same status or be treated at the same level. Another dog case can focus on loyalty, the desire to do a good job, to perform well in order to please the boss. In yet another dog case the center of attention might be the (fight for ) the place in the hierarchy/family. It is hard to define the miasm that pervades all these cases. I’ve seen bird cases where the patient was experiencing the bird coming out of the egg into a new world, while another talked about the hindrance, the trap versus the freedom, and again another example of the same bird gave a very detailed picture of how she was flying during her dreams and the utter bliss she felt while doing it. Could all these cases belong to the same miasm?
But now comes the good news: we don’t really need to know the miasm in an animal case. I agree it would help if it pointed to certain remedies and excluded others but thus far we don’t seem to have attained that knowledge.
Maybe the miasms don’t even make much sense in animal cases. If the issues are a feeling of inferiority, a fight for power and supremacy, a threat of being killed and eaten: how can one cope with this? Are there coping mechanisms we could imagine in those situations? Can one even think that the inferiority is a crisis that one has to overcome? Is it logical to accept the fact that there is a threat that one will be killed? Isn’t it a bit odd to feel unfortunate because of a power clash?
For those reasons my conclusion so far is that the miasms in animal cases are unclear, unreliable, unknown, confused with sensations and incomplete, and as a consequence cannot be relied upon to help analyze a case.