I had a case of a skydiver once who was heedless and defiant of people’s warnings about opening his parachute too late. He eventually had an accident and needed surgery and I gave Arnica which acted very deeply in his case. This got me thinking about the further potential of Arnica, so to make my class think, I gave them the assignment:
How does defiant fit the nature of Arnica?
-Murry Feldman, Director, The Vancouver Homeopathic Academy
When we consider the mental state of Arnica, we can see connections to the idea of defiance. But if we take a conceptual, more expansive view, and explore other aspects of Arnica with this idea of defiance in mind, we can see it as a theme that runs through many features of the remedy.
In viewing some of the causative factors of Arnica we can see loose associations with defiance in either the cause itself, or the reaction it evokes.
• AILMENTS FROM SHOCK, BOTH PHYSICAL (injury) AND MENTAL (trauma)
The classic Arnica response when in a state of shock, is “I’m okay”. There is a very defiant character in this response!
• AILMENTS FROM OVER-EXERTION
What is over-exertion? Pushing beyond the body’s limits, defying the limits.
• AILMENTS FROM MECHANICAL INJURIES RECEIVED YEARS BEFORE
There is a persistent, defiant quality to the injury itself that comes through in the Arnica picture in this type of situation.
• AILMENTS FROM INJURIES TO THE HEAD
An alarm always sounds when we hear of head injuries. Why? The head holds the brain, the seat of the central nervous system which is vital to our very existence. Isn’t a head injury then, a close call with death itself? We could say it is defying death.
Arnica displays characteristic sensations that also have associations with the concept of defiance
• If we look at some of the language that is used when describing these sensations we find “SORE, LAME BRUISED FEELING, AS IF BEATEN” -the word “beaten” conjures images of a fight or a struggle. Fights usually involve an aspect of defiance, going against someone or something. Beaten can convey the after-effects of a struggle or act of defiance.
• There is an oversensitivity of the body -oversensitive to pain, cannot get comfortable. “THE BED FEELS TOO HARD.” Kent describes this sensation as leading to a restlessness in which “he moves and thinks that now he is comfortable, but he is only comfortable for a second.” This is not the state of ease or rest that the body longs for, but an active, “at odds” state reminiscent of the adversarial quality of defiance.
Doctrine of Signatures
When we look at Arnica in it’s natural environment using the Doctrine of Signatures model, here too, we see a defiant essence in the substance itself.
• Consider where the plant grows -on mountainous, rocky slopes; places where extremes of weather (wind, cold, heat) are inescapable. It grows in areas where trees have been felled, the soil torn apart. It can be found in places where the soil is poor. A less bold, more delicate plant would not survive -it takes a certain defiance to grow in such conditions!
• The plant itself has bright yellow flowers -it is visible, not hidden. According to Gibson, “the ligulate florets, notched at the tip, are in such tidy disarray as to give the impression that the head of the plant had been bashed, perhaps by the mountain gusts.” This leaves an impression of a plant that is defiant in appearance (untidy, bold colour), and takes us back to the tenacity and defiance it possesses to grow in harsh terrain. Note too the use of the word “bashed”. Once again the image of “opposing something” is evoked.
It is on the mental level of Arnica that the theme of defiance is most directly expressed. In the mind section of the repertory (Synthesis), these are some of the rubrics we find:
-rage, fury (2)
-shock; mental (2)
-answer; when obliged to (2)
-aversion to answer (2)
-refuses to answer (2)
Censorious, critical (2)
-aversion to • desire for solitude
Contradict, disposition to
-well, declares she is (2)
-arrested, is about to be
-well, he is
Dictatorial, domineering, dogmatical
-business affairs, to
-questioned, when (2)
-sends doctor home; says he is not sick (3)
-touched, when (2)
Spoken to, being
-indisposed to (2)
Touched, aversion to being (3)
-says he is well when very sick (3)
A quick read of these rubrics creates a picture of a person who is daring, challenging, displays a certain boldness and disregard for what is normally considered as acceptable behavior.
In Gibsons’ Materia Medica -Studies of Homoeopathic Remedies -he writes: “A French physician describes the Arnica subject thus: ‘Over-excitable, laughs without cause, when told something disagreeable gets mad and shouts at the top of her voice. Capricious; wants a whole lot of things and then has no use for them. Quarrelsome, up against the whole world. He wants to know better than everybody; no one can take him up; is disdainful and imperious. Worried about the present and the future; in despair; becomes indifferent towards everything, lazy, averse to and incapable of all forms of work; extremely opinionated and obstinate. Foolishly gay, fickle, mischievous.’ Altogether quite a mixture, with ill-humour predominating.”
We get the picture and defiance is definitely a part of it. But what about some of those Arnica symptoms that at first glance, don’t fit this image quite so easily? In homeopathy we always consider the opposites, as they represent the two poles of the same mechanism that is trying to find a balance. If we look at some of these symptoms we can see by their opposite nature, that they are a striving for balance. They represent the other end of the pendulums’ swing.
Some of the clearest opposites are:
Ailments from remorse
Anxiety, conscience of
Cares, full of
-others • touched, lest he be
-death, of • sudden death of
Kent teaches us to look deeply into symptoms to see their fullness. In his Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica he pays special attention to the two fear symptoms listed above. Even within these fears, we can speculate upon an element of defiance. Kent writes:
“He does not want to be touched or approached; he feels that anything that is coming towards him is going to hurt him.”
We can surmise that this aversion to touch is an act of protection, a compensation for the oversensitivity to pain. The behaviour -rejecting contact -to an outside observer can read as defiant but is driven by it’s opposite, the need to protect.
“Horrors in the night. He frequently rouses up in the night, grasps at the heart, has the appearance of great horror, fears some dreadful thing will happen. A sudden fear of death comes on at this time; …thinks he is going to die suddenly…This is repeated night after night in persons who are fairly well in the daytime…”
We can imagine this state. Every night they feel they are facing their death, yet do not succumb. Defying death. By day they manage to overcome this primal fear. In this act of overcoming can we not see an element of defiance?
And so it is in this way that we can look at each of these opposite symptoms and see that in some way they are either a reaction to, or on the continuum of defiance.
“Good Old Arnica”
And finally, what is the first remedy we study? What is the first remedy in every first-aid kit? What remedy name rolls off our tongue without hesitation for the multitude of mishaps that happen around us? Arnica. Hardworking, dependable, sure-fire Arnica. How many countless little miracles do we witness with this remedy? What would we do without it? Often when I give it and see yet another marvel performed, I smile, shake my head, and say “Good Old Arnica”. There is a boldness about it; it rarely refuses our demands, it rarely fails. We could liken it to the image of a stalwart, bold little trooper, always ready to do it’s job, to rise to the challenge.
Somehow, in the way we “hold” the remedy, in the way we use it, we know that Arnica, in the most positive sense, is defiant. A defiant worker, facing all it’s challenges…Good Old Arnica!
Ms. Kim Boutilier is a second year student at the Vancouver Homeopathic Academy in British Columbia