AV: We pointed to the vital sensation while discussing the other levels. I consider it as personal as your own signature or your facial features: it belongs to you as part of your blueprint. Of course a human being is a creature of enormous complexity and the vital sensation is only one little element in the whole program, or you could say: it is only one instrument in a whole orchestra. But because it is out of tune it can spoil the whole symphony.
AvdM: That’s a nice image!
AV: I have to use images or comparisons because it is a level of experience that is preverbal. This means that the baby or the young child has this experience of himself or herself as well but they can’t express it in words yet. So all the expressions will be by gestures, behavior, rhythm, desires and aversions, bodily symptoms or characteristics.
AvdM: You mean like redness, coldness or restlessness or weakness? More or less our generalities section in the repertory?
AV: Exactly. But we don’t have to prescribe on the second level with these symptoms. We can try to understand the whole pattern behind them: what are this behavior and this body language pointing to? And of course we need the description of the parents as to behavior in particular situations, for instance when the child is afraid, or what he dreams or any peculiarity about him. Often the parents will give the final information of the fifth level by verbalizing what the child is demonstrating. They complete the picture, or put words to what you are observing.
Anyway, this fifth level vital sensation is so familiar to us we never even think about the possibility there are other ways to feel and to react to outer circumstances.
AvdM: Or we explain them in a psychological way.
AV: Because we are so used to think in causeandeffect patterns, yes. If we have some feeling, emotion or behavior pattern we tend to search in our childhood to understand where it comes from. We already discussed this: in my understanding it doesn’t come from childhood. The state comes first and determines how the childhood is experienced.
AvdM: The ‘Nature over Nurture’ premise. But: if the vital sensation is the most characteristic of the patient and hence, according to Hahnemann what you have to look for to base a prescription on, does everybody have a different vital sensation then?
AV: I struggled with that question as well because that is the logical consequence of individualizing. I dealt with it in The Charm of Homeopathy30 and concluded we have to content ourselves with ‘close enough” to resonate and provoke a healing impulse.
AvdM: Could it be then that the closer we are to the innermost vital remedy the quicker the reaction? And that explains why some people react prompt to a remedy and others seem to react very slowly to what seems to be their similimum?
AV: It could be but honestly: I don’t know. How to measure more or less close to the essence? And what does ‘close’ mean? And how close do you need to come? It is a vague concept and it doesn’t help much, although I don’t deny you could be perfectly right.
AvdM: Can I make a summary of this vital level? It is beyond mind and body; this means it is not a product of the mind but influences mind and body. It belongs to the individual characteristics of the patient, determining how he experiences himself and the outside world. When we treat a patient: what happens to this vital level then? Does the vital sensation disappear?
30 Vervarcke, Anne: The Charm of Homeopathy, second edition, published by Bjain, New Delhi, India, 2006.
AV: That is a good question. Of course your individuality will never disappear and that is not our endeavor. But since the patient comes to us with ‘signs and symptoms’, this is proof the vital level is disturbed. If it weren’t, the person would be healthy, happy, balanced and without complaints. Let me give another image: for instance a person has gastritis. He has pain, discomfort, can’t digest well. His food patterns are disturbed, his sleep is disturbed and he feels drained and listless. On top of that he can’t enjoy food and is limited in what he can tolerate; he worries about his diet and is irritated because so many things aggravate his stomach: food and drinks, noise, stress, loss of sleep. He dislikes the medication, is afraid of the side effects, worries about being incurable, of having cancer. You can see he is disturbed on every level, because all the levels interact. If the doctor gives him a good allopathic drug now and his gastritis goes away, the pain and distress disappears, he can eat and enjoy again, no more irritation on the emotional level, no more tormenting thoughts on the mental level. No more symptoms anywhere but he still has a stomach! It works silently and quietly in the background without asking for attention. And that’s the same with the vital sensation: it is only experienced when disturbed. When it is healthy and balanced it doesn’t produce symptoms but it is still there! It works silently in the background without asking for attention by worrying thoughts, disturbing emotions, energy drain or physical symptoms.
AvdM: That makes it much clearer.
AV: There is only one more thing I want to add: it is only an image and not completely right. The interaction of levels is not always well understood. There is an influence from the body on the other levels, as in the example I just gave. This is normal: to a certain degree everybody will react with physical symptoms in a similar way. If you have a headache you can’t think or concentrate, you don’t like to socialize, you can’t stand noise and often you are emotionally disturbed by the pain and the loss of time etc. Now if you give a remedy that makes the head ache disappear, it is logical that all the symptoms on all levels that were provoked by the headache disappear with it. That doesn’t mean a remedy is working on the emotional or mental levels! It can still be a level 1 or 2 clinical prescription, in other words on the pathology, not on the patient. But a successful clinical prescription that makes the symptoms disappear will look in the beginning like a ‘deep’ remedy because of course the whole mind of the patient clears up… that is: the disturbances that came with the headache. But the same applies to an Aspirin or other painkiller: when the pain goes away, the patient feels better overall. This doesn’t make Aspirin a deepacting remedy.
AvdM: That is perfectly clear. We will have to make this distinction in the evaluation of the case then.
AV: Yes, and this we will do while discussing casetaking and management.
AvdM: But first: the advantages of the five level diagram: as you write on your schemes and explain in ‘The Vital Approach’: kingdoms and miasms can be determined on the 5th level. Even in ‘The Charm of Homeopathy’ you wrote about the advantages of spotting the characteristics of groups of remedies. I fully agree: if you have to make your choice of the remedy for the patient out of only one group, it limits the choice to manageable possibilities.
AV: And it helps a lot when you repertorize and end up with let say six or ten possible remedies. If you can then limit your choice to a particular kingdom or even subkingdom, you make a much more purposeful choice.