I started to introduce Rajan Sankaran’s “sensation method” into my practice about 7 years ago. I have had a lot of ups and downs with the method, but in certain cases it has produced brilliant results which I probably would not have been able to achieve otherwise. I am presenting such a case here. The patient was very open and with gentle prodding she was able to access herself at a deep level. This case also gave me a much more profound understanding of the remedy which was prescribed.
I met CW socially a few times before she came as a patient to me. I really liked her and respected her as a kind of wise woman but what I experienced when being with her was a sort of uneasiness emanating from her which I didn’t fully understand. The reasons behind this dis-ease became apparent when I took her case.
The patient (CW) is a slightly overweight woman in her 60s, divorced for many years, with 2 grown up children. She works as an astrologer and rebirther and has immersed herself in spiritual work – specifically paganism and magic. She has suffered from osteoarthritis for about 30 years but had sought homeopathic treatment for a very painful acute flare up of sciatica.
First Appointment – 23rd September 2010
Would you like to tell me about your symptoms?
CW: Yes, it started with a pain in the hip with a feeling of muscular contraction and then it began to shoot down my leg. It was kind of like a gradual progression from just the pain in the hip to the sciatic pain which felt unbearable – I felt I was going mad with it, it was almost relentless, and regular pain killers didn’t touch it. They did help me to sleep but for about 4 or 5 days I kept waking up with it and got very little sleep.
Which leg are we talking about?
CW: The left leg.
What was the pain like? Can you describe it?
CW: Yeh, alternately like molten lava running down my leg or freezing cold, it was quite odd. Also it varied. The acuteness of it was like fire and ice. But then it would become a dull ache which felt like pressure, almost like my leg was being crushed. And the pain in the hip felt like and feels like a sort of punch. And, again, sometimes it feels like a dull ache, like now, or a griping contraction, a spasm.
(This is a very vivid description of her pain – like molten lava running down her leg! At this point I cannot pin too much on this, as it could just be imagery rather than source language. I need to ask also about the other sensations of punch, dull ache, pressure and contraction.)
So it started with a pain in the left hip, like a contraction, then there was a shooting down the leg. Where in your leg?
CW: It is sort of outside here. Then it crossed the knee and went down the front which is still quite tender. It always got worse during the night.
What time during the night?
CW: Well, it was probably at its worst at around 3 o’clock in the morning. Between 3 and 4 – the hour of the wolf.
And what would you do at 3 or 4 in the morning?
CW: I would have to get up and walk around, well limp around really, just to try and ease it, because it seemed to be worse when I was lying down. Sometimes the walking round would ease it so that I could, I suppose, cope with it. And then at other times the pain was relentless.
How did this pain make you feel?
CW: Like I was going mad. All over the place, like I didn’t know what to do with myself. I would be walking around, swearing and also praying for relief. I would be limping.
So you would be swearing and praying…
CW: Yes, I would be a bit angry with it. Angry and frustrated that I couldn’t somehow stop it or ease it.
(So the symptoms and state are very intense. The patient feels angry with the pain.)
Apart from walking around, did anything else ease it, like hot or cold?
CW: No, nothing.
Going back to the pain, you said it felt alternately like molten lava or freezing cold, just tell me a bit more about that.
CW: Well, it would be like a fire running down my leg. It felt like it was burning and then it would feel like it was freezing, but not like freezing as in just being cold, but really really cold, like cold metal.
(We have sensations of burning and freezing which I will ask about later. I wanted at this stage to get clear about all the modalities of the case.)
And you said the pain would be shooting down the leg?
CW: Yes, it would shoot and then stay and then ease a bit and then shoot again and then ease in terms of the acuteness. It would never go away, but it would ease in terms of being less acute.
And when you went to bed, were you lying on it?
CW: No, I couldn’t lie on it. It was too sensitive to lie on it, it would hurt. And I couldn’t lay on my back either. That would hurt it as well.
So how were you lying?
CW: On my right side.
And when you went to bed, would you fall asleep and then be woken up by the pain?
CW: Yes, although it would take a while to get to sleep unless I had taken a couple of painkillers. And then I would wake up with it.
And this would be around 3 or 4 in the morning?
CW: Yes, and then I would have to get up and walk around and ease it off a bit. It would ease off a bit walking around but then as soon as I lay down again it would start. Or I would doze for half an hour or an hour and then it would wake me up again.
Have you ever had this before?
CW: Not quite the same, but similar on the other side.
And when was this?
CW: About ten years ago when I prolapsed a disc.
Can you remember whether it was the same type of pain that you experienced?
CW: Yeh, except that I got more relief from lying on my back with my legs over a bean bag with my knees raised. It was a sciatic pain and diagnosed as such but it was more difficult to walk with that.
So all the symptoms you have described were when it was at its most acute. And now, what is the state of play?
CW: It is less acute but more persistent in that it is like an underlying ache which seems to locate mostly in the hip and occasionally will shoot down. Although my leg is very tender.
You no longer have the burning and the freezing?
CW: No. Or not as much – it still happens occasionally.
You said that with the hip, it feels like a punch.
(I need now to investigate all the other sensations the patient mentioned.)
Can you describe this a bit more.
CW: It feels like someone has gone like that (makes a punch gesture) in my hip but it almost feels like it is still there. There is a sense of spasm or pressure or contraction, the muscles have gone really tight.
CW: Like a fist (makes gesture of fist), being gripped, or the muscle has just gone like that (fist gesture). It feels really intense.
Does that remind you of anything?
Tell me more about restriction.
CW: When I was a child one of the punishments was to be put in the airing cupboard with the dog. There was a space at the bottom of the airing cupboard where the dog lived and I would be put in there, curling up really tightly.
(Here the patient spontaneously links the sensation of restriction she feels physically to episodes in her childhood where she felt a similar restriction. The feeling of restriction must be a deep and recurring sensation as the patient is leading me to her childhood experiences so I need to follow her here.)
Tell me more about that.
CW: I actually quite liked being in the airing cupboard on one level, because it meant that I was out of the way and I had the dog for company. It was a little Jack Russell called Lady. But there was also this feeling of being in a ball, needing to hide all the time. I used to go and hide under the table as a child. This feeling of constraint, being constrained, like I can’t move.
Tell me more about restriction, constrained and can’t move.
CW: Like I am tied up somehow, my whole body is sort of bandaged up, wrapped up. I can’t quite breathe, I can’t move, other than my head. It feels like my arms are like this (puts themstraight down against her body) almost like a mummy. I keep getting the image of a baby wrapped really tightly in a shawl or blanket. I can’t make a noise, my throat feels choked, it is getting tighter and tighter. There is a pressure, there is panic.
Tell me about the panic.
CW: It sort of sits in my gut, it wants to scream, it’s like a volcano. It is getting tighter and tighter and the more I struggle the tighter it gets. I have to hold my breath. My whole body feels rigid, so tight and rigid that I can’t actually move.
What is going to happen to you when it is so tight and rigid?
CW: I am going to break, snap.
And what will happen if you break and snap?
CW: I’ll just crumble, I’ll just crumble away.
And what will happen if you break and crumble away.
CW: I’ll just disappear into the wind (voice is very quiet at this point and there is a long pause).
And what is happening now?
CW: It’s almost like I can’t let go. I can’t stop being tight, can’t stop from breaking.
What is the image that comes to you?
CW: Being something very brittle.
What is that like?
CW: It’s painful and fragile, I am aware that I am nervous about being knocked.
Tell me more about being fragile and nervous about being knocked.
CW: It’s like nobody knows that fragility, no-one understands. There is constant fear. A constant feeling of bits being chipped away.
Tell me more about fragile and bits being chipped away.
CW: Any kind of rough treatment will break bits off. I have to cocoon myself, I have to hide myself, I have to keep myself protected.
Describe rough treatment.
CW: Being knocked about, being pushed and shoved, being hurt, both emotionally and physically.
And when you cocoon yourself?
CW: It’s padding, making a layer that things bounce off. Hiding.
Describe this cocoon.
CW: Soft and resilient. (Long pause)
Where are you now?
CW: Feeling the cocoon.
Tell me more about being in the cocoon.
CW: It’s like being in a big soft duvet. It’s still, very still.
Can you remain in the cocoon?
CW: No. It gets suffocating. I have to fling it off and stretch.
Tell me about the cocoon becoming suffocating.
CW: it’s very hot and I can’t quite breathe, so hot, feels like I am on fire, I have to throw it off and cool off and stretch, and move about a bit.
And what is it like when you throw off the cocoon?
CW: It’s like a deep breath, it’s alright for a while and then I get cold again and I have to go back into the cocoon. It feels alright for a while but I can’t quite live. It’s like I can’t quite do anything because I keep having to go back.
And when you go back into the cocoon?
CW: It’s comfortable for a while and then the pressure starts to build up again, the heat.
And what’s that like?
CW: Frustrating. It’s like I can’t be here and I can’t disappear either.
Tell me more about that, I can’t be here and I can’t disappear either.
CW: I can’t just dissipate, but I can’t stay. I can’t fully live but I can’t die either. I can’t completely engage, if I engage too much I will break, but I can’t withdraw completely because then I will be trapped.
Tell me more about if I engage too much I will break.
CW: If I completely open up to life then bits will get chipped off and I will be damaged, I’ll shatter, become fragments. It will explode. Exploding. Lots of little bits. I will burn. Like a volcano. Like being the fire of the volcano, and the covering of it at the same time. Torn between holding it together and exploding it.
Tell me more about being torn between holding it together and exploding it.
CW: I keep a lid on it all the time, keep the covering on, keep the top on because if I don’t it will explode and destroy everything.
What will that be like if it explodes and destroys everything?
CW: Like nothing survives, nothing, just burns everything away in its path.
And if the lid is kept on?
CW: It keeps it all hidden, all underneath. More safe but it is suffocating, choking, pressure, hidden and secret.
Describe this a bit more.
CW: I can hide the fire, I can hide the volcano, but it hurts to keep the lid on.
What happens if you keep the lid on for too long?
CW: It hurts, it is a struggle, painful, pressure and choking.
Where are you now?
P: Trying to stop my own interpretations!
(At this point I feel I have understood the case in terms of the patient’s sensations and need to move elsewhere and get further confirmations of the remedy I am thinking of. So far I have understood that the patient feels the need to keep a lid on herself, to go into her protective cocoon, because of a sense of deep vulnerability and the fear is that if she lets go of her energy she will destroy both herself and others. She talks of the volcano erupting and burning everything. However, if she remains in the protective cocoon she starts to experience uncomfortable feelings of pressure, heat and suffocation. As she says herself, she is torn between holding it together and letting go.)
Okay why don’t you come out of this now. Let’s move completely away from this now. Any other symptoms which bother you? You have osteoarthritis. Where do you have this?
CW: Hips, knees, shoulders, major joints. Diagnosed at 35. They seize up, my joints seize up so I have to keep moving them as an act of will sometimes to loosen them, or to keep them more flexible.
What is seize up like?
CW: They become stiff and then if I sit in one position for too long I have to move about in order to release them again.
And the pain in the joints?
CW: It varies from sharp to dull persistent ache. It is sharp when I overdo things. I have come to realise that there is a release pain which is like when you massage an aching muscle, and it eases gradually. Or there is a damage pain when I have overdone it.
What effect does this osteoarthritis have on you and your life?
CW: it curtails some activities, it slows me down, I feel very frustrated by it. Other than that, I try to ignore it.
(So basically the osteoarthritis has a very restrictive effect on the patient’s life. At this point I want to delve more into her emotional self and nature in order to cover all the levels. )
Describe to me what type of a child you were. Your nature as a child.
CW: Excited, adventurous, curious, loving and fearful.
Tell me about your family background.
CW: Father was a miner, alcoholic. Mother a regular person. Very angry, very chaotic. Both parents were angry, my father particularly when he was drunk and he became very violent. Oh shit. He would explode suddenly, and whoever was in the way would get it but it was usually me, I wasn’t aware of my brothers getting the same kind of treatment.
When you said “oh shit”…..
CW: Well I suddenly saw that thing of holding on and then exploding. How I perceive my full aliveness to be destructive.
(The patient perceives a link between her own delusion and the behaviour of her father’s.)
Tell me more about that.
CW: There is always a feeling of if I really let go I will damage either myself or others. And so, I hold on. Control, or go off into my own world.
And so father would explode suddenly and whoever was in the way would get it, usually you. And the effect on you?
CW: I became very introverted, very repressed, very damaged, wounded, sometimes physically.
Because he would hit you?
CW: Yes, sometimes with his fists and with a belt.
How did you react to these things?
CW: I went into escapism. I went into a fantasy world. I was reading novels by the time I was 7. I also joined a Sunday school. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was kind of a saviour. It put my suffering into some kind of context in that I could identify with Jesus. And that somehow made it more bearable. But it also was an invitation to escape into higher realms. I became a very committed Christian right up until my early twenties. I even converted to Catholicism (I was a Methodist) with my first marriage.
What seems central to your case is this holding on and the fear of explosion. What is the effect of holding on?
CW: Tension, rigidity, sometimes frustration, and inhibition really, and an inability to relax physically, to relax my body.
(I realise that this is the feeling that I notice emanating from her when I have been in her company socially)
Have there been times when you have let go?
P: Oh yes! (laughs)
Tell me what that was like.
CW: At extreme times it was smashing everything in sight, everything breakable that I could get hold of. Like an eruption of rage I suppose.
And how did you experience that?
CW: As scary but also quite enlivening in many ways. On a more creative level I sometimes experience that letting go in dance where I just let go and become the dance in a funny sort of way.
Any dreams that have repeated themselves throughout your life as a child or as an adult?
CW: I have had quite a few dreams of being lost, I have been in a house looking for something or not knowing where I was. And dreams of someone showing me a particular way, or a theme of being drawn out of the lostness by what seemed in the dream to be a positive energy. Also I have had several dreams when I was at university of being able to shoot lightening out of my hands. I was seeing a psychotherapist at the time and she would talk me through the dreams. There was one particular one where in my dream I was going to tell her something and I needed her assurance that she wouldn’t laugh at me and so she gave me her assurance and I told her and then she laughed at me. And then I fired this lightening bolt but at the last minute I deflected my hand so it went out of the window and it shattered the garden pedestal. And I was appalled that I might have killed her. I remember calling on Bartzebal – Bartzebal is the angel who is associated with mars – and he was the one who gave me the ability to shoot lightening out of my hands. I also saw him as a protector.
Describe the sensation of being able to shoot lightening out of your hands, what was the feeling in the dream?
CW: Power. Being able to annihilate my protagonists – is that the right word? (I think patient means hereantagonists or opponents rather than protagonists). We followed it through with a session where the protagonist became my father and I called on Bartzebal not to destroy him but simply to stop him. I just wanted it to stop. So Bartzebal stopped him but didn’t destroy him.
And your experience of your father?
CW: I suppose alternately a god and a monster. He was always in charge and in control of everything and of everybody. And then he would erupt into this mindless bully. He was a big man, a miner, very strong physically. Like most miners he worked hard, played hard, drank hard.
And did you get angry when you were a child?
CW: No, it was never allowed. I learned to suppress from a very young age.
Is there anything else that you feel is important?
CW: The confusion that I sometimes feel between knowing that actually I am really robust and quite strong and a survivor but also being aware of just how sensitive I am, that feeling of brittleness and fragility, sometimes feeling that as a conflict. And one of the things that I suddenly saw (although I was trying not to interpret) was the duvet as my weight. I have been overweight since I was 13 and although there have been a couple of times when I have lost weight, generally around relationships, I have put it back on. It is only recently that I have lost 3 ½ stone, very gradually over a period of 18 months to 2 years, and I have reached a place where I was aware of getting on the scales and realising that I had lost a couple of more pounds and feeling fearful about that. I recognised that there was a desire to eat almost as if I was afraid of losing any more.
What is the fear of losing more weight?
CW: The fear is of being vulnerable, of losing my cocoon and duvet because I saw the duvet as being my weight. I have known for a long time that I put on weight in order to protect myself as a child and I actually remember making the choice to get big.
Just describe this sense of brittle and fragile.
CW: It’s like, do you know the stone Kyanite? It is like it is really pretty, but it can actually be damaged, shattered because it is almost like a very fine glass, and it can damaged just by handling it, bits flake off. It is a bit like that.
I was very clear by the end of the session that the patient required the energy of the volcano – Hekla lava. She herself mentioned the volcano a few times during the course of the session. She was caught in a catch 22 – out of fear of explosion, rage, destroying everything, herself included (she had feelings of being very vulnerable, brittle and easily breakable) she felt that she had to keep a lid on herself, but then that produced uncomfortable feelings of suffocation, pressure and heat. The explosive energy however was linked with her sense of power. By having to put a lid on her energy she also had to suppress her power in the world. On the emotional level she had suppressed her anger since a child after experiencing the very damaging anger and rage of her alcoholic father.
I decided that the patient was predominantly at a delusional level so I would give her a 1M.
Rx: Hecla Lava 1M
2nd Appointment – 29th November 2011
How have you been since I saw you last.
CW: There has been a gradual improvement with one or two dips. I’ve not had sciatica since, although I have had some pain in my shins, but not requiring painkillers. They have a tendency to ache at night. There has been an upturn both in my physical and psychological state. Since Samhain (Celtic new year, 31 October) I have turned a psychological corner. I am more optimistic and positive but can’t find the motivation, but I am not depressed. I feel I am waiting, gestating something. There is a feeling of waiting. I feel very relaxed – a real settling down happened. Like a deep sigh. No striving, no real highs or lows. Feels like a state of contentment – temporary contentment. Good. There has been a certain pressure to clear my flat of clutter but not such a pressure that I am actually doing it yet! All I want to do is to listen to audio books and watch DVDs and it is okay to do this.
What about the feelings of brittleness and fragility?
CW: Feel sensitive rather than fragility. Much more aware of my sensitivity now and it feels okay. I find Richard’s driving (Richard is a friend of hers) is usually terrifying but I’ve noticed how relaxed I have been. I used to be rigid with fear at the way he drives. I noticed was completely relaxed yesterday – nothing like it has been.
How are the physical symptoms that you had?
CW: The sciatic leg feels fine. The back and hips where arthritis is, there is much less pain and there is less pain in my knees. My back aches a little bit, depending on how much I walk. I walked up here and it feels more flexible. Feel a lot more flexible. Even had a little dance the other day.
I feel a break in the flow, a resistance. I have projects lined up, none of which I am able to engage with. Don’t feel anger or sadness. Feel on balanced even keel and have a feeling of well-being.
How much percentage improvement has there been in terms of your arthritic pain since the remedy?
CW: Previous pain was 90 per cent and now it is 40 per cent. There is more movement, more flexible, although left ankle is a bit twingey. If I sit I will stiffen up and then it will ease. Getting up in the morning is much better, there is greater ease. I feel a rise in my libido, a greater pleasure in my body. There is more love in my physical state. What I want is to be in touch with the love that I am, opening my heart. Being heart centred. Being more loving. I feel there has also been a decrease in my critical nature as well.
How is your appetite?