As homeopaths, we are forever faced with the question “Was it the right remedy?” And so, when we have cases that we treat for several years and the presenting condition stays the same or gets worse, this question comes up in our minds many over and over. Each time we retake the case and study it more thoroughly, ask ourselves to look deeper, see more, understand more, clarify what it is we are seeing in a patient and we ask ourselves, “What it is that needs to be cured?” We begin to question our books and wonder why they appear so seemingly incomplete when we cannot find what it is we think we are looking for. It is cases like these that make us look hard into philosophy to understand what is happening with the remedy, with the patient. Are we zigzagging for lack of a better remedy? Are these new symptoms, or are they symptoms of the remedy? Are they a progression of the pathology or an aggravation from the remedy? Then, it all fits into once we have found the right remedy. When we go back to the original case all the information was there but it was just obscured by what we know in some remedies and by what we don’t know in others.
This is a case where it took me two years and four months and thirteen prescriptions to get the right remedy. The family was extremely patient.
Amelia came to see me with her mother in February of 1994 with presenting conditions of behavioral problems and warts. She was two and a half years old at the time.
The first thing she does upon meeting me is to kick me in the shin. She doesn’t say ‘hello’. The mother says that this is normal behavior. She screams and kicks and is angry all the time. She still nurses and won’t let any of the other children, two older siblings and day care children, have any contact with the mother. She says “I hate babies” in reference to a daycare child. She wants to nurse all the time and throws tantrums to nurse, even when she’s in the grocery store. She will not let her mother answer the phone or talk to other people. She is very clingy and wants to nurse or sit on mother lap during the entire consultation.
She is growing very fast and is large for her age. The mother cannot take the child anywhere because of the tantrums: she lays on the ground screaming, kicking and cursing. She bites her sister, throws food at her mother. Her mother describes her as having an “alcoholic personality,” she is very possessive, very demanding, she asks for a car and for money. She screams when she doesn’t get what she wants. She wakes screaming and frantic, like she’s lost and disoriented. She runs around the house hooting and howling. She likes to have the dog chase her but when the dog catches up with her she screams. She talks in nonsense on the phone.
She likes to dance. She spins and is very graceful. She is very erotic and strips when she dances. She is aware of, and pays some attention to, her genitals; she fondles and moves her hips. She likes to cuddle with her stuffed animals. She likes pink shiny things, satins and shiny mirrors, fancy cars. She is mesmerized by bright lights and the TV. She has a fear of being thrown up in the air.
She has two warts on her little finger; small bubbly white warts. There is one by her fingernail and one on the joint. She is warm-blooded, she has a huge appetite, is thirsty, and has a tendency to loose stools.
The mother says that during the pregnancy she was full of rage. The pregnancy was uncomfortable as Amelia was breach and then turned late. She felt like her baby never settled in, and that she never connected with her. The labor was long and intense. The mom felt like she would die. She felt that she would check out during the birth and either go crazy or die. Amelia weighed nine pounds at birth and was born grumpy, she was always hungry and never really happy.
This was the presenting case. As I am typing it up I can see the remedy in retrospect. Or rather the seeds of the state that were present but had not yet bloomed into the expressions that were discernible in the homeopathic literature.
At the time, my perception magnified the following symptoms: the temper tantrums, attraction to shiny objects, speaking nonsense, the clinging, prolonged birth, graceful movements, fear of dogs, mesmerized by lights. Needless to say I prescribed Stramonium 1M (single dose). My prognosis was that one or two doses would set her on a good track. In my mind the warts were insignificant, the behavior was at a deeper level and it needed to be addressed. This was the beginning of my journey to understanding this little child. It looked like Stramonium. It looked like it, but it wasn’t.
The mother gave the remedy at a time when Amelia was just beginning to get sick. A slight fever and malaise had started the day before she gave the remedy. The illness progressed after the remedy was administered. Unfortunately the mother didn’t contact me at this time. The fever progressed. She was sleeping a lot and at one point, she turned on the TV and went into convulsions. Jerking body, eyes rolled back, turned blue, saliva out of the mouth, hands clenched, 104¡ fever. The mother called emergency and anti -seizure medication was given. To my knowledge the child had never had any seizures before. The mother did relate that when she was thrown up in the air she had had some of this same jerking and trembling in the past.
Well, this was not what I had expected and, certainly, not what I had hoped. I wondered if it was an aggravation. Was this the natural course of events? Yes, Stramonium covers convulsions. Did the remedy bring them on or would they have happened anyway? Was it too high a potency? Was it a proving? Did the anti-convulsion medication nullify the remedy … if it was the right remedy? I decided to wait and see what settled out.
After one month things seemed pretty stable. She had returned to exactly how she had been prior to the Stramonium. Perhaps I had given the remedy in too high a potency. As things still looked the same I gave Stramonium 12C for three days. Very little effect was noticed.
Several months passed and more of the state emerged. Not only was she extremely preoccupied by her temper tantrums, but it was becoming more obvious how removed she was from other people. Her world was the only world and her world was demanding, expressive, tactile, self-absorbed, self-consumed; tantrums resulted when she didn’t get her way. It was as if she felt a contempt or repulsion for others. I watched as others related to this self-absorbed child. They stepped back, they shunned her, they couldn’t believe the atrocities of her behavior.
This was the beginning of a long string of remedies, each a few months apart so that the action of one, if there was any action, could do its work. In some instances, the remedy was repeated at the same potency or higher potency. But each time only minor changes would be noted, her temperament would be more mellow for several weeks or so, and then the behavior problems would return more intensely.
The following remedies were given: Chamomilla, Tarentula, Belladonna, Thuja, Nitric acid, Medorrhinum, Antimonium crudum, Lac caninum and Cimicifuga (Cimicifuga would very likely have benefited the mother during the birth, and has since helped her constitutionally for five years now). With each remedy, except Belladonna, a few more warts appeared. By the time I found the correct remedy she had about thirty warts on her hands and on her feet too. I thought that perhaps they were a sign that the remedy was acting by aggravating the physical symptom, so I would wait longer before the next prescription.
As the years went by, several themes emerge.
Warts. They keep growing and are beginning to merge together. They are on her hands, palms and wrists. They are splitting and cracking and patches of them have become fused. The wart on her foot is a plantar wart.
Hunger. She eats all the time, anything and everything. She eats large portions and always asks for seconds and thirds. She is one foot taller than kids her age, she is a little on the chubby side, she weighs fifty pounds and is only four and a half years old. She is greedy and won’t share the food, she worries that there won’t be enough, worries that others will take the food.
Animals. She was recently bitten by the dog; she runs through the house galloping, screaming and shrieking and the dog chases her and it finally bit her. She hates this but also loves it and wants the dog to do it again. She likes to dress in a leotard with a tail sticking out the back-side. She likes to talk about spiders and snakes (even though she has a tremendous fear of spiders and other creepy insects). She draws many pictures of animals, horses, fairies, dragons and butterflies. She likes to cuddle with stuffed animals, or have something soft and fury to hold. Sometimes she is menacing to the animals and she will torture them. Other times she plays with them.
Disconnection. One side of this is that in her preoccupation with herself, she cannot relate with other people on any level. She doesn’t play well with other children, she doesn’t like them. She is very demanding, bossy and spoiled. “She is not like most children,” her mother says, “she’s morose and preoccupied with herself and shows no concern for any others.” She doesn’t like to go out; other people are repulsed by her.
Disgust. The other side of this is the feeling of disgust for herself. She says she wishes she didn’t have this body. She tells her mom that she will jump off of a cliff so she’ll never have to see her again. She wishes she wasn’t in this world, she wasn’t born and she says she hates her mother. She thinks she’s fat. She say’s “I’m so stupid, I’m dumb and ugly.”
Refinement. She has become very artistic and draws beautiful pictures, demonstrating intense concentration and fine dexterity. She drew a picture of her hands, warts and all, very detailed and exacting. She is now aware of the difference between her family’s run down, dirty house and houses that are modern and clean. She likes crystal wares, velvets and satins. She screams when it’s time to get in their rusted car with the torn upholstery and is attracted to bright, shiny new cars. She is disgusted with her father, who is rather slovenly.
Sexuality. Puts things in her vagina, plays with her genitals.
Dirt/disease. She is disgusted by dirt but is unconscious of the dirt on herself. She wonders if the dirt will make her sick. Will other people’s dirt make her sick? Will her own blood make her sick?
Fear. Spiders and descending down stairs, hills and narrow paths.
To find the simillimum I had to step outside of what I knew in homeopathy and step outside of what the books described; I had to stand back and ask myself what in this world do I know that behaves in this way? I knew it had to be an animal remedy-preferably an animal that is chased by dogs. And low and behold, what do we have but Lac felinum.
I had attended a seminar where Divya Chhabra gave a presentation on a proving of Lac felinum and told the story of how domestic cats originate from the Egyptian cat. The cat chose to domesticate itself to man rather than the other way around. “The trick had been to control their fear of humans, learn to tolerate handling and even enjoy it, as the necessary price that had to be paid for an easy life. In a way they had to prostitute themselves, but once they mastered the art, the rewards were impressive.” (Chhabra, Homeopathic links 1/95). Genetically, they became smaller and less furious in their process of domestication. The idea of prostitution of one’s dignity in order to survive emerges.
The provers’ dreams were of rape and prostitution; the feeling of doing something not worthy, feeling prostituted and compromised; their dignity and respect affected; feeling dirty and disgusted. Dreams of some white fungus on her hands that couldn’t be removed, each time she tried it just spread more and more. Some other symptoms were: enjoying the sensuousness of red satin on her face, scratching of the toes like the biting of ants, desires to eat a lot, feeling that people are looking down at her. The proving had an overall feeling of the proud behavior of the cat, sensuality and intolerance of hunger (Chhabra, Homeopathic links 1/95).
Some other symptoms from earlier provings include:
Fear of falling downstairs. Rushes from room to room screaming (from agonizing headache). Illusion that the corners of furniture or any pointed object near her were about to run into her eyes. Very cross at everyone. Morose. Morbidly conscientious, every little fault appears a crime. Critical as to own appearance. There is a conflict between being dependent and the desire to be independent.
The prominent physical symptoms in the earlier provings include many eye symptoms. Shooting pains from the eye backwards, extremely sharp with a sensation as if eyes extended backwards. Aching pain in eyes worse reading, letters run together. Great photophobia to artificial light. Much pain in the forehead, occiput and left side of head. Sensation tongue was scalded. Much mucous in the throat. Desire to eat paper. Bearing down of the pelvis like falling of the womb, agg. standing. Furious itching of the vulva. Oppressed breathing, difficulty bringing breath into lower part of the lungs. Entire right side from crown to sole feels terribly weak, heavy and distressed so that it is difficult to walk.
Alize Timmerman presented a seminar in Vancouver where she shared several cases of Lac felinum. Her understanding is that the story of patients needing the remedy Lac felinum is one where the symbiotic relationship between the mother and child is broken at too young of an age. The independence is brought on too fast. The feeling that develops in that child is the feeling that nobody understands him or her, that he or she is forsaken and dissociated from the world. This dissociation can go so far as to cause the person to feel, in some ways, less like a human and more like a feline.
Now if we go back to the case we can see this dissociation, and the delusion she is a cat. Looking back at the history we remember that the mother felt as if she had never connected with her child while she was in the womb.
Jeremy Sherr has presented the idea that human experience is a paradoxical microcosm of the universe. From conception through fetal development, birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and on to old age and death, our internal experience is mirrored by the evolution of matter in the universe. If we become blocked at any point in time then we can say that we never developed past that.
We start off as a unicellular organism and make our way through gestation, mirroring fish, amphibians, and birds. In our development throughout life our relationship to the minerals we absorb develops as does our relationship to every thing in the universe, plants, minerals and animals. This is where our vital force learns what nourishes the body and what destroys it. We become stuck if, due to our life circumstance and our susceptibility, we become indisposed to a particular aspect of the universe. From here disease develops. As homeopaths we explore where it is that our clients are stuck. And then, with potentized remedies, we mirror back to them their limitation. In this regard, it appears as if Amelia has found resonance with the nature of a cat.
Amelia received Lac felinum 200C in May of 1996, and within a week, all of her warts had disappeared. Half of them fell off, the other half were reabsorbed. Slowly she mellowed in her temperament. I saw her six months later and for the first time in her life I could finally connect with her. Instead of the morose, self-absorbed person that I had formally seen, I saw a gentle little person with curious eyes displaying consideration for others. Her behavior had changed, she wasn’t so demanding, she was more able to go places with her mother. Over the years she has received several doses of Lac felinum. She is now more sociable at school, the kids want to play with her. She is no longer disconnected from those around her.
Sometimes she relapses, or the remedy wears off, and her state redevelops as that of a cat. She’ll spend hours in the back yard playing chase games with the neighbor’s children, growling and pouncing, hissing and snarling. Her appetite is still enormous and she draws many detailed pictures of animals. She still prefers to stay at home, she’s more shy when they go out as it brings up her internal conflict, am I a cat or a human? With continued treatment I expect this conflict to resolve.
For me what this case brings up is that as homeopaths we must always be searching, whether it is in understanding our clients, understanding our remedies or else just understanding the world around us. Not withstanding the fact that we can successfully help many, many people with the remedies we know whether or not these remedies are the exact simillimum, the likelihood of finding the simillimum for every person with their own unique experience, or set of limitations, with the known materia medica is actually quite slim. Hopefully if we keep our minds open what we need to know will be presented when we need to know it and we will continue to help many people.
Kate Birch, Graduate of the Pacific Academy of Homeopathic Medicine, Berkeley CA; The Dynamis School of Advanced Homeopathy, Jeremy Sherr, England, and is presently in clinic at the North Western School of Homeopathy in Minneapolis. She has been in practice since 1994.