A Long-Term Case Study of Phosphorus
Reprinted with permission from the journal Spectrum.
The rows of the periodic table mimic the development of a person, beginning at birth and ending in old age and death. If we perceive that a patient belongs to the Mineral Kingdom, we must find the stage of development that he is stuck in, and then pinpoint the row.
In the Third Row, the main issue is the development of one’s identity and the expressions of it as image, choice and ego. The central question in this row is “I am separate, but who am I?”
The third row represents the progressive development from dependence to independence in the areas of care, nourishment, and choice. If your inner song comes from the third row of the periodic table, you exist as an entity on your own, but you are apt to be unsure of your identity.
The elements of this row are Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Silica, Phosphorous, Sulphur, Chloride and Argon.
From Sodium to Aluminium there is an absence of individual identity. Sodium feels that he has an independent existence, but he does not have a distinct identity or capacity to find one. There is no sense of identity and there is confusion about him. Magnesium is starting to build his own ideas but he is afraid of expressing them. He is scared of being forsaken if he expresses himself, so he adopts the identity that others want. Aluminium is confused about his identity; he is not certain whether he has an independent personality or if he is what others want. Silica is sure about his identity and he has a well-defined image of his own. Phosphorous has an identity apart from what was given. Sulphur is proud of his identity and he knows that he is better than others. Chloride has an identity that is the opposite of what was given. Argon has his own identity and he is happy with that.
Individuals in this row have developed the structure of existence and are separate, and now it is the stage where the child (or an individual stuck at this stage of development) starts discovering and asserting his own individuality and identity.
It is the stage of development in a child of approximate age 3-6 years where he begins to develop and assert his choices, to develop and demand the ability to do things for himself and to become conscious of himself and of other peoples’ impressions about him.
It is also the stage where the child needs warmth, nourishment, care and emotional support. It is also when children start developing fears of natural, unknown and unfamiliar things and start realizing the difference between the known (familiar) and the unknown (unfamiliar) and between right and wrong. There are also issues related to growth and development.
In my practice I frequently encounter cases that require row 3 remedies, which have led me to believe that the issues of this row are of great significance for adults as well. It is an important issue in man to develop his individuality, have an identity, choice and ego.
One has to keep in mind that this row is not indicated only for children’s cases. Any individual, irrespective of age, stuck in this stage of development will need a remedy from this row and they will show all the features mentioned here.
Developing Their Identity
This is the stage where the child has developed its physical existence and established separation from the parent figure, so now they are ready to develop and express their individual will (or choice). In order to exercise his will he is also developing the ability to be independent. In
the beginning of the row (left hand side) this issue is undeveloped but as the row advances, the development happens.
For example, “Which clothes should I wear for the party?” So far the parent decided for them but now they have their own choice and they want to act accordingly. We see children at this stage where they start knowing what they want and becoming clear about their preferences and choices. For example, they know what color or style of dress they want, or what game they would like to buy or what they want to eat when they go to a restaurant. They start becoming very clear about this and also start expressing it.
Along with the development of identity comes the feeling, ‘This is mine and not yours. This is mine and that is yours.’ So the child starts recognizing what belongs to them and what doesn’t belong to them.
In Sulphur, these feelings are well-established and expressed as selfishness or self-centeredness. It’s a more advanced development of a sense of self. On the other hand, Natrum, as the first of the series, will totally give up everything for the other person. Depending on which column the person falls in, they may either give up (identity), or become confused, or insist on their choice, or try to get their way with the parents in letting them decide or they outgrow this stage and it is not an issue anymore (like in noble/rare gases).
Developing A Sense Of Right And Wrong
They want to be the one to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, rather than being told by their parents. At best they are willing to listen to the parent given the pros and cons of a situation, but they still want to be the ones to decide. This can lead to conflict with the parental figure and the child may be called stubborn or contrary or rebellious. This sense of right and wrong will later on in life develop into the feeling of conscience.
Comparison With Row 4
In Row 4 this feeling about doing anything right or wrong has more to do with issues of legality, social acceptability and crime: “If you do something wrong then you can be caught, punished and put behind bars.” It is more about cheating somebody or being dishonest in a criminal sense. Right and wrong in row 3 is about deciding for oneself what right and wrong is, rather than accepting the definition of the other. This is a part of developing ones’ identity and individuality.
Doing Things For Themselves
At this stage children start developing the ability to take care of themselves and their basic needs and start developing the ability to make decisions for themselves. For example, they want to comb their hair or tie their shoe laces or pack their bags. They want to take care of their own basic needs by themselves.
When a person needs a particular remedy from this row, like Magnesium carbonica or Magnesium sulphurica they will say in the chief complaint, for example with rheumatoid arthritis, “You know doctor, the problem is that I am not even able to comb my own hair. I need someone to do it for me.”
Here the pathology rather than the delusion or the sensation, will predominate. Whereas in the fourth row the concern would be, “I am not able to work or earn money, or do my task or duty.” In the fifth row they would say something along the lines of, “I am not able to pursue my skill or talent”.
So you have to see where the pathology is affecting the person, at what row. For example in the third row they say, “My legs are so badly affected that I cannot even feed myself and my husband has to feed me.”
Developing The Ability To Express
Along with the development of identity and choice children also develop the ability to express themselves. In the initial stages, since they are not even sure what they feel or what they want, they find it difficult to communicate. Later in the row their ability to communicate develops. In patients it can be seen as difficulty in expressing themselves and difficulty in communication or being communicative. It can also be seen as desire for communication and disappointment when such communication is missing.
The important issues of Row 3 can be summarized as follows:
- Developing an identity
- Developing a sense of right and wrong
- Doing things for themselves
- Developing the ability to express
- Care and nourishment
- Becoming self conscious
- Conscious about appearance
- Wanting to be different
- Lost and direction
- Attachment to specific things
- Growth and development
- Fear of natural things, unknown, unfamiliar, left alone in dark unknown place, etc.
- Issue of complete and implicit trust, understanding, familiarity, comfort, communication, and confidence
*Note: The name of the patient has been changed for privacy reasons and content of the case has been edited for clarity, brevity and publishing purposes
Swati* came to me on February 23, 2004. The main complaint was her irregular menstrual cycle, which first began at the age of 30. At the time of our consultation, she was 32-years-old and also had associated complaints such as hair loss, pain in the breasts and mood swings before menses. Her menses came every 20-21 days and also was very heavy in the first two days and then stopped or was very light for the last two days. Another major issue that was troubling her was weakness and tiredness.