Carbo animalis belongs to the group of small remedies and we may rarely think about it, because its sadness and nostalgia are covered by polychrests. With good knowledge of repertory, we can easily use small rubrics to better understand specific states, which lead us to the specific remedy.
We can find many homeopatic remedies that dwell on past unpleasant occurrences. Unpleasant occurrences and experiences can leave a person with deep wounds, which is a main cause of illness for most people. The patients often feel loss, anger, unjustice. Only three homeopathic remedies have the problem of dwelling in the good old times which makes them ill. Those remedies are: Carbo animalis, Carcinosin and Sachharum Album.
Georg Vitoulkas describes Carbo animalis in this way: “The feeling of homesickness is particularly prominent in this remedy. In the repertory we find it in bold letters, and rightly so. Very characteristic of Carbo animalis is a strong emotional attachment to the family, which is the only place he feels secure, and he always returns to this safe place, his home. In Carbo animalis people, there is such a yearning for the childhood love of their parents that was experienced while at home and eventually lost in the challenges of life, that they return again and again to these feelings with an almost irresistible desire to return home. The homesickness of Carbo animalis is so acute that it is painful“.
Clark compares it to Calcarea phosphorica because it consists in itself a high percentage of Calcarea phosphorica and both remedies have indurations and suppurations, while Carbo vegetabilis doesn’t have indurations which Carbo animalis has. He explains the similarity to Cocculus because they have the same weakness and exhaustion, but points out the difference between those two. The weakness of Carbo animalis is caused by the loss of fluid, while the weakness of Cocculus happens as a concequence of the general state of the remedy.
Hahnemann puts it in the antipsoric remedies. Other authors point to the bad, changeable mood, the feeling as if everything has changed and they are forsaken from those dear. They want to be alone and they are indolent and passive. Many authors say that Carbo animalis dwells in the past happy moments, in the morning, when they wake up. However, Carbo animalis has a lot of bad symptoms in the morning, and if we are only looking for the good mood in the morning as a key symptom, we could miss this remedy. For a better illustration, let’s take a look at some of his rubrics:
MIND – ANGER – morning – waking; on
MIND – ANGER – waking; on
MIND – ANXIETY – morning – rising – after
MIND – ANXIETY – morning – rising – on
MIND – ANXIETY – morning – waking; on
MIND – ANXIETY – waking, on
MIND – FEAR – morning
MIND – FEAR – waking, on
MIND – FORSAKEN feeling – morning
MIND – HOMESICKNESS – morning
MIND – VIOLENT – morning
MIND – SADNESS – waking, on
MIND – SADNESS – morning
MIND – MOROSE – morning – waking, on
MIND – IRRITABILITY – waking, on
MIND – IRRITABILITY – morning
MIND – WEEPING – morning
While Materia medica offers the skeleton of the remedy, we still have the hard task in connecting the words with the words of the patient. Sometimes it can be hard to recognize the remedy from the patient’s description. A few cases will help clear the image of this remedy and make it more recognizible in practice.
In the middle of January, an old patient asked me for help. A woman 72 years old, she got a spasm in her chest and complained about having bronchitis. She had the feeling of dry lungs and she felt that if she coughs, her lungs will tear up.
Her constitutional remedy was Platina and it helped her many times, especially in hysterical conditions. In acute states like this she was given Lobelia, because she often had the feeling of spasm in her chest and gave herself the diagnosis of bronchitis without medical consultation. After two or three doses of Lobelia, which had a fast and strong effect, the spasms disappeared and the next day she felt perfectly fine. This time she was given Lobelia again and it helped her at the moment, but the next day the problem returned. The potency was raised to 200C and the patient had a short-term improvement again. After that, she started feeling even worse than she felt at the beginning, and this time it really seemed as if she had the pneumonia.
The next idea was giving her Platina again, but that would be a rote prescription. The patient was asked if something happened before she got sick, and she told me this:
Her daughter got divorced two years ago, got a job abroad and moved away with her children. The children had a hard time dealing with their parent’s divorce and moving to another country and the patient was worried about them. The kids were usually eating fast food and they had digestive problems. She often traveled to see them, took care of them and cooked for them. The daughter complained how she didn’t have enough money, so she took an airplane and brought food for the children. She was more often absent from her job and the number of her clients started to fall.
“I’m very worried about my job”, she told me. “I was walking down the street where my daughter used to live with her children. I saw the house where they lived and the memories came back to me. I remembered when they were younger and they were here. We went everywhere, we were on holidays together, we ate together and everything was alive. In that moment I realised that they were gone and they will never return. I felt crazy from sadness. I was scared of dying on the street. I barely got home. After that, bronchitis appeared. I have nothing left. I’ve lost my perspective. Everything went to hell. I don’t believe I’ll ever have clients again. I wrote myself off.”
“The hardest times for me are the ones when I don’t have enough work. No new clients, old ones go away. I ask myself where would I go, what would I do, I’m worried that I’ll sink. I’m afraid that I won’t have enough money to pay my rent. I’m afraid of poverty.
“One stage in my life is over. I’m alone, useless”.
The key of sensitivity
Nothing recognizable of Platina appeared in that statement. The casehad to be taken again from the beginning. A few things were pointed out as important:
- Patient stated that after recalling the memories of the good old days when her grand children were there, when she had quality time with them, travelled with them and shared their joy. That was the key tof her sensitivity.
- She felt sadness and she was worried.
- She felt abandoned and
- Nothing was the same. Everything changed.
We can easily follow this state through the following rubrics:
Prescription: Carbo-an 30C, split dose.
The next morning she felt much better. Asked how she feels, she answered “Detached”.. I detached myself from the feeling that overcame me.” “The only thing that matters is that we are all alive and healthy. What happened, happened.”
She needed a few more days to physically recover completely, but nothing was prescribed for her physical state. She was asked to take herbal teas and syrups. She wasn’t worried about her physical symptoms anymore, so she took my advice.
A month and a half later, she was in a similar condition. She wasn’t happy because of the way things go, but she accepts that. She said: “The new phase of life cycle has begun. What can I do, it’s normal”. She’s still worried about her grand children and she helps them as much as she can, but she’s not overtaken with fear and worry about them anymore.
Two and a half months later she claims that she feels very well. She slowed her travelling to her daughter’s and she’s not depressed anymore.
Case number 2
A woman nearly 60 years old, long term patient, was given Sulphur constitutionally which helped her in almost every situation. She asked for help when she had herpes which had spread almost over her entire forehead. As she felt very well a few months before, it was shocking to see her in that condition. She complained about exhaustion, sleepiness, headache, forgetfulness. She was asked about the things that happened before the herpes appeared.
This woman was living the high life. Her husband was very successful businessman. Three years ago, her son married a girl she wasn’t content with. At one point of time, she realized that her daughter-in-law is actually a good person and caring mother. She realized that her son is not as perfect as she thought he was before, and she even started to take her daughter-in-law’s side in some situations, but it was too late. They already had divorced. She felt guilty about that.
She got sick during the Christmas holidays. She loved the tradition of family gatherings over the Christmas table, and being together. This was the first holiday after son got divorced. She faced the fact that some chairs will stay empty for the first time, because her daughter-in-law went to her mother’s, and the patient won’t see her granddaughter until the next day.
She remembered what the Christmas table used to look like when they were all together, happy and smiling and how she used to play with her granddaughter. Now she doesn’t have that anymore.
“My huseband retired a few days ago and now he’s sitting at home all day. I look like unicorn with this herpes. My granddaughter became spoiled and disobedient, she refuses to eat. It’s typical behaviour of a child from the torn family. Nothing is the same.”
Prescription: Carbo-an 30C, split dose.
The case was taken on Friday. She took the first dose immediately, and the second one before she went to sleep. She gave me a call on Monday. She said that she had a long and hard night, full of nightmares after taking the remedy. She was in pain, and that state remained the next morning. At 10 o’clock the next morning she was desperate because she wasn’t able to make a family lunch for her older son and his new girlfriend who was coming to her house for the first time. One hour later, she suddenly felt relieved. It was like coming out of a dark cloud, she said. She thought it was temporary, but the good condition lasted. She regained power and brightness. She covered the herpes with her hair. The lunch was prepared in time and she was in a good mood. The same day, the herpes started to retreat, leaving the scab. On Monday, when she called, the scab fell off leaving nothing but a reddish skin in the place where the herpes was. She felt great. Today, two months later she still feels great. About her sons’ divorce she claimed: “I shouldn’t have done that, I was wrong. But I’m not the only one to blame. If they really loved each other and were strong, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. They are to blame, too, it wasn’t only me.”
The symbol of family table
Families are much more than family relationships. In them we find love, peace and shelter. Parents go to work every day, kids to kindergarden and schools. The family table is a place where the whole family gathers and has an opportunity to share emotions with other members.
In the first case it wasn’t pointed out, but I was familiar with the fact that the patient used to cook for her grand children until they moved away. Their mother didn’t realize the importance of taking care of her children’s diet, while the patient cares a lot about that and thinks it’s very important for children to eat healthy at the family table. She was successful in her job, and she often didn’t have enough time for cooking, so she hired a woman to cook for her and her grandchildren from time to time. When the kids moved away, her greatest worry was if they will have enough to eat, and to eat healthy food. The strength of this feeling can be described in the picture of her carrying the frozen food in the airplane just to make sure the kids weren’t hungry.
In the second case, the patient stated clearly that she makes the food for her family, and how important it is for her to have the family gathered around the family table. Her ailment started during the Christmas lunch time.
When we look at this from a sociological point of view, the family is the basic unit of the society, and her role and function had changed over time. Today, we can say that the family has:
- Biologicaly- reproductive and emotional functions in which members of the family meet their needs for posterity and deep emotional needs for love and belonging between spouses and children.
- Economic function in which one or both parents make a living and feed the family.
- Protective function which means raising and taking care of family, caring about their health, moral and property protection.
- Socializing function where the social surroundings (family, in this case) has a strong impact on personality development and socialization.
Home is a place where the family lives. Every member of the family has his own obligations and activities and the family table is a place where all the other activities stop and the family just sits together.
Food, referring to both physical and emotional, is the topic of the first two functions, although we can come to that topic indirectly in the last two functions as well. In the first emotional function, we have the need for love and belonging. We have phrases like “hungry for love”, “hungry for attention”. The family “feeds” with love and attention. In economic functions we have material nutrition. Food gives us energy and is the main requirement for our existence on this planet.
In both cases we heard the sentences:“Everything has changed”, ”Nothing’s the same“ and the rubric for that is MIND – DELUSIONS – changed; everything is.
What is the delusion here? The first patient says: “Everything changed”, the second says “Nothing is the same”. The words “everything” and “nothing” are the objects of this delusion. Objectively, things and relations in both cases did change. The situation in life changed, but that can’t be everything in their lives. There are a lot of things that didn’t change, a lot of family relationships that remained the same, business relations or friendships that are still lasting.
Here, we can see the feeling that overtakes those patients and spreads over all aspects of their lives, even over ones that objectively didn’t suffer the dramatic change. The other side of this delusion is that both patients are stuck in some moments and they can’t perceive properly the continuity of relations, where everything has to change in every moment. Their delusion is that the good old times were fixed, and they remember them “in one piece”, and then they perceive the change as overall and violent.
According to this, we can find Carbo animalis in two different stages:
- First, when he hasn’t faced the change yet. Although he’s conscious about the changes that happened in his life, deep inside he lives a double life in which he fails to accept them, and continues living like nothing has happened. In my opinion, the patient won’t come to us in this state, or he will do it rarely.
- The second stage occurs more often. It comes when for some reason the patient gets the insight about things that really happened. In the first example: “They moved out, and they’ll never come back”, although that was a year and a half ago, or in the second case when the patient who knows that her son and daughter- in- law were separated for months, faces the facts when she realizes that some chairs will remain empty.
Although different, those two cases share the same topic. The family has torn apart, everything has changed and they are no more making and having meals together. That makes this remedy suitable for old people who have lost someone and can’t continue with their lives, so they dwell in the past happy moments and that increases their suffering.
Let’s look at some Carbo animalis rubrics:
MIND – ANXIETY – eating – after
MIND – EATING – after – agg.
MIND – WEEPING – eating – while
Every memory of a family that is no longer there, gathering over family table which is the symbol of unity, harmony, concord, family happiness, causes arrgavation for Carbo animalis. No more food, no love, support, protection, safe place as a base. From this state, it’s easy to develop the feelings of being abandoned, sad and worried.
Empty chairs at empty tables
During the work with patients we should avoid prejudice. The potential trap for this remedy is that we will often search for Carbo animalis patients between old people who have lost a lot in their lives. If we specifically connect this remedy to the idea of family table, we could miss some other Carbo animalis patients. Table is a place where not only family meets, but friends as well. Friends can meet at other places too, but the friendship, sharing of emotions, information and ideas almost always happen at some table, family, business or restaurant, so the topic of table is as well the topic of gathering and sharing mutual emotions. And that is not connected to the specific age. This topic is universal.
In literary work, “Les Miserables“ from Victor Hugo was set at a theater and movie screen as a musical. In a movie version Eddie Redmayne sings the song “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” and describes the picture of Carbo animalis. The video with this song can be found on Youtube. Here are the lyrics to the song:
“Empty Chairs At Empty Tables”
(performed by Eddie Redmayne)
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken (1)
There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone
Here they talked of revolution
Here it was they lit the flame
Here they sang about tomorrow
And tomorrow never came.
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now! (2)
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade..
Oh my friends, my friends forgive me.[The ghosts of those who died on the barricade appear.]
That I live and you are gone (3)
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Phantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor (4)
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.
Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more…
Carbo animalis is in the rubric MIND – DELUSIONS – town, he is in deserted. The city was abandoned when people had left. The city is a much broader concept than family and it’s not made only of members connected with blood. The feeling of Carbo animalis can spread from families to people around them, friends and others who are gone. “I’m alone in this town which everyone had left to be forgotten are the verses of the song “Don’t give up Ines“ from Arsen Dedic. This song also has the same topic – past, happy moments and refusing to let them grow old and fade. Although he talks about the time that was decades ago, he says:
“Don’t give in to age, my Ines, to different moves and habits,
Because your room is still warm; Cozy setting and rarities”. “ I won’t have anyone to stay young with if all of you get old, And that youth will be difficult for me”.
Let’s consider a few more rubrics of Carbo animalis:
Remorse is the feeling of being extremely sorry for something wrong or bad that you have done. The definition can be expanded to being extremely sorry for something that you haven’t done and now you think you should have done it. When we manage to understand this, we will understand the meaning of our patients’ claims: “Since he’s gone, my life doesn’t have a meaning anymore. Why didn’t I die with him? I should have died when he did”. Although it is not in our power to chose when we should die, the feeling of regret in these patients can be so strong that we can choose this rubric, the following symptoms, instead of facts. Because these people have strong regrets for staying alive.
Let’s find out some other situations in which we could use Carbo animalis:
- Probably every one of us heard for some case in which the person goes to the cemetery daily, or every Sunday, and talks to the person who was long gone, as if he/she were still alive.
- Grandma who makes coffee for two, or makes bed every morning and evening on both sides, many years after her husband died.
- Grandpa who buys flowers every year on the 8th of March for his wife who was long gone.
- When a person keeps one’s partner’s possessions for too long, holds onto them, reminiscing the good times and occasions of happiness
MIND – DELUSIONS – hearing – tone – world; as from another.
We can understand this rubric now in a context of Carbo animalis. Those people communicate inside their heads with their loved ones. They even hear their voices from inside, for real. In a way they are already there.
MIND – WHISTLING – involuntary
First, we’re going to explain the term “involuntary” by comparing it to a word which has a complete opposite meaning. Let’s take a look at both terms in the Oxford dictionary.
INVOLUNTARY – an involuntary movement, etc. is made suddenly, without you intending it or being able to control it
VOLUNTARY – done willingly, not because you are forced.
When we do something involuntarily, we are not consciously making a choice to do that, we’re somehow forced to those things and that kind of behaviour. On a conscious level, we don’t have control over our behaviour.
WHISTLING – technically, whistling means making a high sound or a musical tune by forcing your breath out when your lips are closed. But here, the point is not about the technical meaning of this word, it’s about the meaning of this act in our emotional life. When we’re sad, we can cry, run away from people and crowded places. When we’re angry – we can scream and shout, we can fight, start hitting and banging things, we can become destructive. But what do we do when we’re happy? We laugh, we sing, we make jokes, we whistle. Whistling is always a sign of a good temper.
When we manage to understand those terms, together we can come to the meaning of this rubric: A person who unwillingly whistles has an internal urge to be happy, or precisely, he/she refuses to accept circumstances as they are. That person is not capable of facing sorrow. This rubric actually talks about the mental state of the patient, about her unconscious mind. Now, the rubric dwells in the past happy moments, gets even clearer.
We could use an example of a girl who was overweight. She had problems in school and relations between her parents were very bad. Her life was hard and sad in so many ways. It looked as if food was the only thing that could make her enjoy life. She was describing so vividly every meal she ate that day, or the day before. She could describe her meals in the correct order, taste and smell of the food, the feeling that she had in that moment. She remembered how hot or cold the meals were, even if the meal was juicy or crispy. If you listened to her, you would have a feeling as if she was eating it again and enjoying every bite, at the moment she was talking about it. If the girl was my patient, I would give her Carbo animalis, with a lot of confidence.
Here is another interesting claim that could lead us to this remedy. When I asked a girl why she had such a big belly, she laughed, patted her tummy and asked me: “Do you know how many beautiful things there are inside?” Rationally, of course there are not such beautiful things in there anymore, they are either implanted to the organism in the form of grease, or they left the body as feces. But for her those beautiful things were still inside and she was enjoying that feeling.
MIND – CHEERFUL – alternating with – sadness
ALTERNATING – means to make things or people follow one after the other in a repeated pattern.
If we take a look at two opposite terms like CHEERFULNESS and SADNESS, which are the two most distant positions on a scale, and when we manage to understand that they apear alternately, that one alters the other, then we can understand that Carbo animalis patients lack those stages in between, which are present in other people’s everyday lives, such as being a little satisfied, a little unsatisfied, a bit sad, or a bit happy. This person doesn’t have the capacity to bear the sadness and to get through it. Instead he/she runs away in pleasant memories, and stays there.
Good old times
The tendency to dwell on the good old days is also present in young people’s lives, who used to live better. We could carefully expand the topic to the trans generational level, where where our ancestors, primarily parents, lived in better times, had a happier childhood, lived a better life. What we have now is only torment and anguish, because times have changed. This feeling is especially present in the case of children who have grown up in families that were well-off, and then because of business, political or other circumstances, became impoverished. Those children aren’t able to make peace and accept their situation and they are looking for someone to blame. They can’t adapt to the new circumstances. This feeling is close to Nat-mur patients, with one important difference: Natrium muriaticum lives in the past unpleasant moments and doesn’t have the ability to separate himself from the bad memories, while Carbo animalis lives in happy ones, although it is not his reality anymore.