This is one of my favourite cases from 5-6 years ago. I think it illustrates our possibilities as homeopaths when repertorisation or our existing materia medica knowledge only helps us to a certain point but does not take us all the way.
It illustrates our mind’s ability, based on all our knowledge acquired so far, to suggest a complete picture of the patient using our primitive brain, bypassing conscious processes. Coaches call it Level 3 listening’ – listening with all your senses, listening with your whole body.
Sometimes, when patient and homeopath meet in total congruence, under each other’s full attention, a coherent energetic field entwines them, encompassing the experience of the patient him/herself and the energetic sensation of the homeopath of that particular patient.
On that particular morning, I made a point of clearing my mind and opening myself fully without judgment to whatever this client would bring. I noticed I was in total ’flow’.
Ariana, a Russian born 21-year-old university student asked for help through homeopathy. She came into my office a little shy, tall, slim, blonde haired, beautiful, softly but well-spoken, attending a science course in her 2nd year.
She had every reason to be confident of herself, yet my impression of her after one minute in the consulting room was very different. She behaved younger than her age; like a child would, wanting to make herself smaller, sitting on the edge of the seat as if not entitled to take her own space, waiting for me to ask her questions, and answering with an uncertain voice, like when somebody is in need of guidance.
My observation was: gentle, timid, childlike, needing somebody’s support.The expression came to my mind out of nowhere: she was ’nyuszi’– the Hungarian expression meaning bunny,with also the symbolic meaning of ,timid, shy, afraid. I put it to the side and took her case.
She presents with low blood sugar with a constant desire to eat, as well as depressed spirits and anxiety. (her own words).
My blood sugar jumps up and down, just like my spirits. If I don’t eat every 2-3 hours, I get irritated and grumpy. My day is like this, up and down and up and down [she gestures with her hand an up-down-up-down motion, like jumping, in the air]. (I note the immediate gesture, which corresponds to the word jumping she uses when illustrating her main complaint)
I did test my blood sugar twice, but it was normal (So, I think it’s not the blood sugar…)
My spirits are low. I just want to be alone. I want to escape, to get away from people, from everything.
What am I like? I am nervous especially when I have to do new things, face new people, or when I just have to do things differently than before. If I eat different food than my normal food, my digestion goes like this, too: [gesture of up-down-up-down motion in the air]”. (I note the repeated ’jumping’ gesture)
It’s a panicky feeling. I get tense, my shoulders tense up, they go like this (she forcefully grabs both her shoulders from above, her hands gesturing as if claws). My thinking becomes one-directional. I know it’s rude. I just wanna go home. People overwhelm me. I feel too boring, not interesting enough compared to them. Since my boyfriend Gregoryhas been away, for about two weeks, I totally stopped going out.
Why? (Her energy visibly changes to a high-alert state before she speaks).I just feel very threatened outside. I immediately want to go home. I feel threatened by new people. I don’t even go out to get milk. I stopped going to my study group, my friends are worried about me. Two of my close friends invited me out for coffee, and I was procrastinating for days… finally didn’t go out.” (Ok, here we are. This is what is asking to be healed in her. Going from safety to the outside, where it’s dangerous. This gave me a feeling of someone being hunted down, which I can’t take for sure, but need to understand this bit a little more.)
You ask what is it like? When I am stressed, I can feel my nerves in my body….a tingling feeling, especially my arms and legs. My eyes also go funny, like when they become very tired. I went to the iridologist, but she said there was no problem….though she did saymy eyes were unusual,circular patterned, like that of a horse or a rabbit.” (I note the objective symptom, a curiously non-human aspect, but try to ignore it! and move on)
For the last five years, since my teens, I have been in a relationship with Gregory – he is much older, he is 35 years older than me. (I write ’Lolita’ on the margin of the case notes. Even though she is not a pre-teen, like Lolita was, her timidity and the age difference suggests this symbolism)
He offers me safety and tenderness. I know it is not the right setup – what about as we both get older..? – but it suits me. Because of his age, Gregoryhas always been the dominant one in the relationship, and me the more conformist one. Now I am growing up and would also like to assert my own wishes sometimes. It causes problems. (I note the issues of safety and security within the immediate family and dominance vs submission)
I tried to end it many times…but we always get back together. He makes me feel safe, secure.I’m stuck. I cannot be without someone. I really like the routine aspects of relationships: shopping, reading a book, travelling together. We do everything together, which makes it very secure. When Gregory is away on a business trip, I stay at home alone feelingsad and lonely, I become isolated. I am stuck in this relationship. Can’t get out. (The stuckness is palpable in her energy. I note the correspondence between not being able to leave the house and not being able to leave the relationship. Her inability to leave the realtionship is reflected in her inability to leave the house. She is asking for help to be able to make that step. This is what I want to focus on).
I have played out and exhausted all options that can happen. Don’t know what I want. Happiness always alternates with doubt: I am too young, what about the future? Am I doing it wrong? (I note she examines her options intellectually but without emotional maturity)
Gregory is very sexual, I am less so. I did have a sexual experience outside the relationship while we weren’t together. This opened up a brand new side of me, a sexual side, that wants to come out.
Sometimes I am angry with Gregory: why can’t we have a proper home? why can’t we have proper furniture?
My father was murdered when I was young. For months, we didn’t know if he lived or died, then his remains was found. I remember my immediate reaction: I was so angry with him! It was like being wounded, he let us down by going and dying on us…how could he do this to me? And the worst thing is, nothing has been done about it. (’Wounded’ and ’he did this to me’, can point to the animal kingdom.Let’s see how the case progresses)
Mother was married more than once but was never looked after. Mother told me to stop this relationship with Gregory, but I can’t be that harsh… and I feel protected by him. (I realise she is comparing herself with her Mother. Again she emphasises protection)
My childhood? During my childhood, I didn’t play with the new children, I was embarrassed to talk to them… would they laugh at me? I felt the safest thing was to blend into the background and avoid any attention on me. (The picture she give suggests an agressor vs prey situation)
My confidence is low. It even threatens me to invite people into my own house. I hate the attention being fully on me, when I have nowhere to escape” (Here it is again: the situation of a prey animal)
Fears? I am concerned about my eating disorder/problem. I like to look attractive. Being fat is disgusting and threatening.At 16 I put on weight and I became very unhappy. I like to be ’within a certain range’. Out of this parameter, I get threatened.”(Attractiveness can also be an animal theme)
My health overall? I have always been healthy. I only had one ear infection when I was young and was given grommits (ear tubes), but nothing else. As a child I had depressive tendencies, but suppressed them. I had depression before, when I was 15, and was given Nat Mur by a homeopath in my home country, which helped a lot.
I broke my nose at 20. What else…?For the last 10 years I have had thrush once a month, worse when I drink beer. My digestion is ok, it is only beer that gives me bloating. My stools and urination? Ok. Periods? Regular. Oh, yes, I get very sore nipples after running, they are painful and last for a while. I also have some blocked pores on the right areola, but they don’t bother me.
I love biscuits, tea, herbal teas…warm drinks. I am a chilly person, so I love the summer, the warmth. Animals? I love giraffes! And recently I got a new dog.
My sleep is good. My dreams involve Dad; I know I am dreaming and I enjoy having him near me.
My Dad had depression, grandparents had Parkinsons and type II diabetes.
Her mental state dominated the case, it was the centre of the case.I summarised it as I am stuck: I need to step outside from the safety of my home, but it is too dangerous, I feel somebody may hurt me.
In her current life situation, driven by her need for security, she is stuck in a relationship with a much older man, whic is echoed in her complaint. This is whatis asking to be healedin this case. To help her be able to step out into world and pursue her life path as a young adult. To replace the scared child-like attitude stuck in indecision; to move on to a place of confidence, adventure and limitless possibilities enjoyed bynormal early adulthood.
Her hypoglycaemia suggestion was not supported by objective blood glucose readings, so I dropped it from the analysis. I took her symptom simply as a desire to eat regularly.
Even though I had some thoughts on kingdom and subkingdom during casetaking, I started with looking at rubrics first. It was a difficult case to repertorise, as few rubrics covered the situation she decribed in its completeness. I looked at rubrics such as:
- MIND – DELUSIONS, imaginations – danger – of
camph. fl-ac. kali-br. macro. plb. Stramonium valer.
- MIND – DELUSIONS – danger, impression of
camph. carneg-g. fl-ac. gard-j. haliae-lc. kali-br. lac-del. lac-lup. macro. maias-l. mez. moni. olib-sac. Stramonium toxi. valer.
- MIND – FEAR – danger, of impending
aether ambr. arg-n. camph. carc. caust. choc. Cicuta cimic. Cocc. crot-c. Dulcamara fl-ac. gels. granit-m. kali-br. lac-del. macro. Maias-l. meli. nat-m. olib-sac. samb. samb-c. sanic. tarent. Tritic-vg. vanil.
- MIND – FEAR – going out, of
bar-c. dys. kali-p. Lyss. pneu. sep. tarent. tarent-c.
- DREAMS – HIDING – danger; from
hippoc-k. lac-d. lac-del. lac-e. lac-h. lac-leo. lac-lup. tritic-vg.
I chose to focus on the last rubric–DREAMS – HIDING – danger; from – as it was the only one out of the above that covered Ariana’s entire situation: preferring to stay in the safety of her home, hiding away from people and the world, for fear of threatening outside danger. I felt the the chosen remedy either had to be in this rubric, or will have to be very similar to one of the remedies in this rubric.
I saw immediately that the rubric had a high number of Lac remedies (mammals) in it. If we accept that delusion, dream and fear rubrics may be used interchangeably within the repertory, the patient couldeasily belong in the subkingdom of mammals, or be similar to the seahorse or wheat.
I put this aside investigated further. I looked at the following rubric, as this symptom was practically the first thing she mentioned when she walked in and presented with her main complaint.
- MIND – IRRITABILITY – hungry; when
This was her main complaint, so could be a very important rubric. Unfortunately it was also very small, with only three remedies in it. Then I looked at her marked fear of people, and new people in particular, usingthe below rubrics:
- MIND – FEAR – people, of, anthropophobia
acet-ac. Aconite aloe alum. alumin-p. am-m. ambr. Anacardium Anh. Arist-cl. ars. ars-i. ars-s-f. Aurum aur-ar. aur-i. aur-s. bar-act. Baryta carb. bar-i. bar-m. bar-s. bell. bufo bufo-s. calc. calc-i. camph. carb-an. Carb-v. carbn-s. carc. Causticum chin. CIC. clem. cocc. Conium crot-h. crot-t. cupr. dios. dys. ferr. ferr-ar. ferr-p. fl-ac. gels. germ-met. graph. hep. hydrc. HYOS. ign. Iodium Kali-ar. kali-bi. kali-br. Kali-c. kali-p. kali-s. lach. Ledum LYC. M-aust. meli. merc. morg-g. Nat-ar. NAT-C. Natrum mur. nat-s. phos. Platina plb. Pulsatilla rhus-g. RHUS-T. sel. sep. sil. stann. staph. stram. sul-i. sulph. tab. tarent. til.
- MIND – FEAR – strangers, of
ambr. Baryta carb. bufo Carb-v. carc. caust. Cuprum dys. kali-p. lach. lyc. plb. puls. sil. stram. Thuja tub.
I put all the main rubrics above in Radar (below) with the „DREAMS – HIDING – danger; from” rubric at double weight, being the centre of the case where I anchored myself:
No single remedy stood out for me from the ones offered by the repertorisation. So I decided to look at kingdom analysis.
I excluded the plant kingdom as an extreme and detailed reactivity to her environment did not feature in the case, so I examined if there were any indications of mineral. Minerals would present as the lacking in structure, the thriving for completion, for adequacy, with targets and achievements. Ariana did have issues of inadequacy in herself and incompleteness without a partner, however the balance swung to the animal kingdom because:
- feeling of being wounded (’he did this to me’)
- feelingthreatened bywhat others would ’do to her’ –her friends, her relatives, people in general, by other kids in childhood
- gave an agressor vs prey feeling during the consultation (my observation)
- wanting to blend into the background for safety (prey animal)
- compared herself to others (Mother)
- she presented her complaints as a connected story, animals often do this
Having done very well on animal remedies myself, I always test my animal assumptions thourughly to avoid projecting my own animal traits onto the patient. The animal analysis was not entirely convincing; I was aware that I didn’t go very deep into her sensations, yet it seemed satisfactory.
So for the time being I restricted my repertorisation to the animal kingdom, after which it looked like this:
Six out of the top twelve remedies were still Lacs, but they didn’t appear to cover many other rubrics. I put this down to the incompleteness of the repertory and looked at the other remedies coming up. Apart from the mammals I only got Lachesis (which, according to Bailey, can easily be confused with Lac-Equinum) a few more sea remedies like Calcarea, Sepia, Spongia and Nat-Mur. So she could be a mammal or a sea remedy. I dropped my focus from sea remedies at this stage because they didn’t appear to cover the central rubric/feeling in this case.
Instead I investigated the mammal themes in the case. These were:
- dependence vs independence (she wishes for independence but is dependent on Gregory)
- importance of nurture and connection with immediate family (in her case, her partner)
- safety is achieved through/within the immediate family or group
- issues of identity, dominance within the group (nb. Gregoryused to be very dominant and fatherly at the beginning of the relationship, which later became an issue for her)
- being let down (identified as a specific Lac feeling in Lacs by Kees Dam in LINKSMateria medica of Milk)
Mammals appear to fit the case at a system level and covering the central feeling of the case. But which mammal?
One of the three remedies in the small ’MIND – IRRITABILITY – hungry; when’ rubric was the horse. I checked Lac-Equinum in Philip Bailey’s Lac remedies in practice and found that the key feeling in a depressed Lac-Equinum is indeed a feeling of frustration, a kind of ’stuckness’ – a word she used herself – and the issue of ’thwarted efforts’ (proving by Nancy Herrick); however, I felt Ariana was lacking in effort and many of the other sides of this remedy didn’t add up to her either, like being feisty and highly strung, restlessness, love of freedom, mania, loquacity, pride/aloofness.
At this point I did what I sometimes do, when I have no other sensible clues in the case. I summarised the key aspects of the case I understood so far:
- jumping / up-down-up-down energy pattern
- early sexuality / Lolita effect,
- a childlike indecision,
- safety and security of homevs threat going outside
- grabbing shoulders from above
- prey feeling
…and focused on these to listen to what comes up in my mind, how can these be connected.
Intuitively the picture of a scared trembling rabbit accured to me, who must leave its burrows to feed on the grasses but once she leaves the safety of her den, she is totally exposed and at the mercy of flying predators, such as a bird of prey, from above. I remembered my first impression of Ariana, the „shy bunny”. I pondered in wonder how her repeatedly expressed energy pattern – the jumping / up-down-up-down energy – potentially corresponded to the movement of the animal. It was also one of the animals the iridologist curiously identified in Ariana’s eyes.
Out of the other ’jumping’ mammals the kangaroo didn’t occur to me (was it because I knew they have few natural predators?). I never prescribed rabbit before and looked up the proving of Oryctolagus, to see what the remedy would offer. The mental themes corresponded beautifully to the case as I received it from Ariana:
- A combination of sexuality and innocence, of animal sexuality that surprises and overcomes innocence, seems to be central to the remedy.
- A weakness of will, resulting in indecision.
- Childishness is a key feature.
- Sense of danger. Not wanting to be seen. Feeling worried and frightened. Fearful. Feeling very small. Feeling singled out and vulnerable.
- Timidity, lack of assertion and anxiety. There is a general anxiety and apprehension.
- Thoughts of gentleness and tender care.
- Jumping up and down with excitement. (nb. symbolically)
I thought to myself: if I can find at least one of Ariana’s physical symptoms in the proving, I will chose this remedy. I looked for objective symptoms and found:
- Appetite increased.
- Itching of outer labia (a symptom of thrush).
- Numbness and tingling in the arms and the legs.
- Tiredness of the eyes during an anxiety attack.
- As with all milks and mammal remedies the mammae are involved but in Rabbit there is a particular soreness of the nipples.
Ariana received a single dose of Oryctolagus (Rabbit hair) 200C. Note that the hair of the rabbit was the easiest rabbit remedy I could get hold of at the time. I was relatively certain about Rabbit, but wanted to remain conservative with the potency – I could always increase it later. We scheduled an appointment for 6 weeks later but I asked her to report on her progress within 2 weeks.
She reported ’I feel like a different person’. The day after taking the remedy, she developed a fever, which lasted for 2 days. Then she got ’the worst yeast infection ever’, which however went quickly. She went downhill emotionally for a few days: crying, feeling better then feeling worse again; in her words: „up-down-up-down” again. She had a highly potent sexual dream,in which dream she held back from moving in forever with Gregory. The meaning of this dream for her was ’can I forego my safety to pursue my independent goals’.
One week later, Gregory left her for good. Ariana cried about it, but she was ok. She started going out with her friends and has become ’less grumpy’ with them, more relaxed. She still needs to eat every 3 hours, but in every other aspect she is a changed womanandI could see it for myself at the next consultation. When I saw her 6 weeks after the remedy, she presented a totally different energy: she was dressed fashionably and moving about confidently, smiling and taking charge of the consultation (and her life). We both knew that this remedy was special for her.
I gave her another dose of 200C to take only if symptoms return. She didn’t require further treatment.
Interpretation of reaction
Her reaction to the remedy was a textbook reaction, with initial aggrevation (fever and jumping emotions), a return of old symptoms (thrush) and a relevant healing dream, followed by a general amelioration of her mental-emotional state, which allowed her to move on make and start pursuing her own life path. Her physical symptoms did not need further treatment.
Did her renewed state cause Gregory to leave? We don’t know. What we know is she finally got ’unstuck’ and took the step into the world as the grown-up Ariana as she hoped for when she came to see a homeopath.
After I decided to write up this case in an article, I found some further information supporting on Oryctolagus:
Claire Bleakley on her proving of Rabbit’s Milk (Lac Oryctolagus): ’Rabbits’ milk can be given to women …who are blaming themselves for being convinced by others over following their own conscience. Procrastination, or dithering over a decision is also an indication for rabbits’ milk. The patient is often young and still under the influence of parental norms. She’s out in society for the first time and is stunned by the headlights…it is about naiveté and the mistakes you make when you take your first adult steps into the world alone.’
Recent work by Bhawisha and Sachindra Joshi on the correspondence between different animal groups and the rows of the periodic table in their Quick Book of Minerals and Animals identifies the place of rabbits (Lagomorpha, small prey mammals) in Row 4 – presenting with theissues of adulthood, sustenance and protection against any threat in the world. The book describes the animal features of Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares and pikas) as ’small, social, hiding or withdrawing in danger, active, quick to escape’ and its human reflections as: low self esteem, fearful, panicky, quick to withdraw or retreat, restless, fidgety, hurried in their actions, voracious appetite, love for dark, warm, damp, cozy places”. In the same group with Rabbits (Lagomorpha) as small prey mammals are rodents (Rodentia).
Every homeopath dreams of a single remedy making a total change in the patient’s life for the better. Many patients come to a homeopath in the West expecting a single remedy to turn their life around. It is as possible as it is rare, as anybody who tried it knows, and it is easier to achieve through well analysed mental-emotional cases than with deep pathology. A full attention on the patient’s energy, combined withthorough repertory work, system-based thinking and accurate proving information provides a solid basis for prescription. The process can’t be controlled: we must stay open to all possibilities offered by the consultation. The homeopath’s knowledge or intention is not always the determining factor. Sometimes intuition offers new possibilities to test. We must trust the process and go with it, giving our best even with limited information.
Knowing what I know today, I would have gone more into that repeatedly ’jumping up-down-up-down’ energy experience and the ’grabbing’ sensation of the patient with sensation method casetaking techniques It would be interesting to see where that would have led the case.I feel by asking questions similar to these below, more animal themes could have come up in the case, or deeper feelings (e.g. feeling small, vulnerable…) could have emerged:
- How does it feel to be dominated? How does it feel when you can’t assert your wishes?
- Describe this threatened feeling a little bit more.
- How does it feel when there is no way to escape, when all the attention is on you?
- Describe this place of safe and secure, what is your feeling? (safe, secure vs threatening outside)
The reasons why I chose to write up this case is that I haven’t come across many cases of this remedy before; also to show how we can trust the homeopathic process even if (a) repertorisation only gives us a starting point to finding the remedy required and even if (b) we don’t go deep into the sensation case receiving process.
My learning points from this case were:
- If you cannot solve the case with repertorisation, there are other methods to analyse the case, even if you haven’t taken the case specifically with the aim of looking for the source/sensation. You may look at the case from a miasmatic angle, a systems point of view or an intuitive point of view.
- If you look at the case from the systems point of view, see if the information you have (eg. objective repertory rubrics dominated by a certain kingdom/subkingdom, the patient’suse of words, behaviours) points to a certain kingdom or subkingdom to limit your options and reduce the number of remedies to choose from. From here on, you can either use original provings or system-specific materia medica to find your best match of remedy.
- If you go for an intuitive approach at any stage,
- do trust your mind freely to put together the pieces and make you sensible suggestions, but
- don’t accept just anything easy coming out of it (focusing solely on the jumping pattern and foregoing the mammalian analysis could have led anyone wrongly to the subkingdoms of frogs or jumping insects eg. grasshoppers in this case) but
- always check the original proving or the system based materia medicas available before you decide on a remedy: the chosen remedy must fit your patient’s actual symptoms. If it doesn’t, de-invest from your mind’s suggestion and analyse from another angle.
- Trust that the patient will offer the right information – all you have to do is find the right approach to unlock the key to healing.
Names and minor circumstances in this case have been altered to protect patient identity.