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The Threefold Principle Applied In Anorexia Nervosa

Jeroen Holtkamp
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Jeroen Holtkamp elaborates further on his threefold principle in homeopathy, analyzing anorexia nervosa as an example. From this perspective he suggests remedies that may better cover this ailment.

People have shown a sincere interest in my therapeutic approach, which is based on the threefold principle. They also indicated that they would be helped if I could clarify the threefold approach in more detail through a case presentation. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to share a case with like minded colleagues. However, at this point in time I am not in the position to present cases responsibly, because I didn’t elaborate on the threefold classification structure yet. Measures have been taken to be able to publicise case histories in my book, which I hope to publish near the end of 2013. Alternatively I will demonstrate how the threefold principle can be useful in deepening our understanding of anorexia nervosa and how it can be helpful in its treatment. Hopefully this will help the reader satisfactorily. First I will give a recap of the threefold principle and elaborate a little more on it.

The purpose of life, health and disease

In my opinion life has a purpose and so health and disease must have a purpose too. As a consequence health and disease are the two sides of the one coin, namely development. One can compare it to learning how to walk. You can’t learn how to walk without falling. Falling is the downside to learning how to walk and likewise disease is the downside of our development. Disease is the part of our development that we simply don’t like. We have the on-going intention to improve the circumstances of ourselves and to a lesser degree of the other. The better we know ourselves the better we know what we really need to improve in our lives. This process of realising one’s self here and know, also known as self-actualisation, is the most essential activity in human existence. Self-actualisation is a very individual process, which leads to acceptance of the burdens of life and a truly realistic outlook. Self-actualisation leads to an increased sense of completeness.

The threefold principle

The threefold principle is based on the individual experience via all physical senses and receptors. Somewhere and somehow the signals produced are transformed into real vivid sensations, impressions and experiences. Even though we acknowledge that each individual experiences the world in a different way, we all have in common that we perceive, reflect and attempt to be self-aware in relation to our experiences. Each individual without a disability and an open mind can, irrespective of time and location, investigate and come to a similar conclusion with respect to the threefold principle. There are 3 primary states of awareness in relation to the physical senses, namely:

  1. Perceptive awareness requires us to connect with the senses and increases sensitivity. Being too much involved in the senses is experienced as over-sensitivity.

  2. To become aware of our reflections we have to withdraw from the senses and turn inward. When we reflect we relate our experiences and impressions functionally to one another. Through reflection we create our concepts of the world, which we are inclined to protect and control.

  3. The third and highest state of awareness in relation to our physical senses and receptors, emerges when impressions and reflections lead to a development of self awareness. It’s the conclusion of BEING here and now and is characterised by increased acceptance of life’s circumstances.

Just like the similarity principle, the threefold principle can, in contrast with the concept of miasms, also be discerned in other fields of science. The materia medica is basically threefold for the same reason. The essential need for self-actualisation is a relatively new phenomenon that came up with the collapse of social conventions and the increase of individualism. With these changes, also new challenges and related diseases occurred. These related problems are nothing but accidents on the way to self-actualisation. Nowadays effective homeopathic help in all cases requires a complete acceptance of the individual and his/her point-a-view, which above all, includes the acknowledgement of self-actualisation.

The acuteness of self-awareness development and its therapeutic approach:

Truly individualising symptoms are obtained from the struggle to self-actualisation that takes place here and now. This tendency to completeness in each patient is facilitated by a form of case taking in which the spotlight illuminates the positive experiences, the negative experiences and the aspects of life that the patient has learned to accept. It is really worthwhile to ask specifically for the positive experiences and to search for the things the patient really wants to do, because it provokes spontaneous expressed highly individualising mental, emotional and general symptoms. That is what we want for making the application of the similarity principle really effective. This way of interviewing also helps the patient to make sense of it all during the consultation. The questions have to demonstrate a genuine interest in the whole person, creating an atmosphere of complete acceptance. This will increase the chance that the homeopathic practitioner really meets the patient. It’s the moment when you realise that if you were in the same situation as the patient, you might for example have committed similar sadistic acts. But instead of condemning them you will perceive them as very serious accidents; accidents for which the patient nevertheless has to take responsibility in order to heal.

Satisfaction of life:

A personal measure for wholesome health is happiness or the satisfaction we derive from life. We will obtain the highest degree of satisfaction from a realistic outlook which is based on acceptance of the ordeals and enjoyments through self-actualisation. The possibility for self-actualisation increases with age. Infants and children are predominantly in a development of perceptive awareness; teenagers more or less in a development of reflective awareness and in young adults a development of self-awareness might become dominant. This self-awareness has, to a certain extent, always been there since approximately the age of three. In young adults however self-awareness is, like a guitar, sufficiently tuned-in with other instruments so that it is able to contribute to harmonising the whole.

If the ability to derive satisfaction from a dominant developmental state is frustrated or impossible, it will be compensated by one or two of the other sources of awareness. Take for example the frustrated desire for a toy in infants. The only thing infants can do in accordance with their undeveloped nature is to cry out for it in their own individual way. In teenagers a reflective-awareness development becomes more dominant alongside their already existing perceptive-awareness. Teenagers have more and better possibilities for satisfaction of life than young children. Beside that, they have also more ways to compensate frustrations of fulfilment, or of its complete absence. These compensation mechanisms form the essence of BEING ill. In the threefold approach it is important to understand:

  1. What developmental process is compensated?

  2. If or what alternative state(s) of awareness is/are involved?

  3. What is the objective of this specific compensation?

The conventional perspective on anorexia nervosa :

Many of you will – or have encountered cases of anorexia nervosa. As one of the eating disorders, anorexia nervosa is especially prevalent among teenage girls, but can also manifests in young men. Binge eating (bulimia) followed by induced vomiting and the use of laxatives and diuretics (binge-purge behaviour) occurs in 50% of anorexics.i Self-imposed starvation can lead to a range of physical health problems depending on the chronicity. The following signs and symptoms are beside the obvious emaciation often seen in anorexics: Gastrointestinal complaints like abdominal pains and constipation resulting from starvation and abuse of laxatives. Starvation causes also a disruption of the endocrine system, which manifests firstly in amenorrhea and on the longer term in unusual hair growth on face, back, arms and legs. Increased or decreased urination, anaemia and are anaemic appearance are also common. A healthy functioning of the liver is at stake which might be apparent from the yellow discolouration of the skin, especially on the palms of the hands. Most alarming however are the cardiac, fluid and electrolyte disorders which manifest among other things in arrhythmia, dehydration and metabolic acidosis.

Researchers are currently attempting to identify the particular gene or genes that might affect a person’s tendency to develop this disorder. Other evidence has pinpointed to a dysfunction in a part of the brain, the hypothalamus (which regulates certain metabolic processes), as contributing to the development of anorexia. Other studies have suggested that imbalances in neurotransmitter levels in the brain may occur in people suffering from anorexia.ii

While some professionals remain of the opinion that family discord and high demands from parents can put a person at risk for developing this disorder, the increasing evidence against the idea that families cause anorexia has mounted to such an extent, that professional mental-health organizations no longer ascribe to that theoryiii.

General psychological characteristics, like fear of failure, perfectionism, sadness and many more, are not really helpful as they are not individual enough for effective application of the law of similarity.

The threefold principle applied in anorexia nervosa:

The threefold principle is what all individual expressions of health and disease have in common. That is why the threefold principle can help us to gain insight into conditions, like anorexia nervosa, that validates the individual point of view. Knowledge derived from the application of the threefold principle complements knowledge from the dualistic point-a-view.iv

Take for example a 16 year old girl. Like many other teenagers she is predominantly in a development of reflective awareness. Of foremost importance is that she can develop her individuality in an atmosphere of love and affection; that she feels, as an emerging individual, first of all accepted and appreciated by her parents and siblings. If for some reason the vital love and affection is not sufficient or not present at all, she will have to compensate it. The love and affection which confirms her whole being is compensated (compensation 1) with the satisfaction that she derives from the perfection of her bodily appearance. The objective of this compensation is the unification with what the senses have to offer. That type of satisfaction is limited but her need for love and affection is infinite. She becomes a prisoner of her own body.

She will be depending on the control of her own desires to supplement the lack of love and affection even further (compensation 2). The objective of this compensation is to evade her dissatisfaction through letting go of ideals that hinder her satisfaction from control.

Here I think of ideals like friendship or an intimate love relationship. Definitely this attempt to compensate will result in the contrary. It will not increase her possibilities to feel loved and will possibly result in hostility towards her own body (compensation 3). She might tell you that she hates her body and admits that she gives in to self-harm, like starving herself or self-induced vomiting. The reader might find it hard to accept this as compensation, but it is. When self-harm has become a reasonable option, she attempts to lead the situation herself in a decisive direction through which she intends to annihilate those aspects (the objective of compensation 3) that obstruct a satisfying existence.

What we see is:

About the author

Jeroen Holtkamp

Jeroen Holtkamp

Jeroen Holtkamp, I.S.Hom. studied homeopathy in the Netherlands and has been practising in Ireland since 2003. From his mid teens Jeroen has had a passionate interest in physics, philosophy, psychology and spirituality. Throughout his study and professional career he maintained and gradually developed, an independent but integrative vision on health, disease and homeopathy which benefitted his practice immensely.

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4 Comments

    • Dear Manfred,

      Thanks for reading my article. Perhaps, if time is at your hand, you might find an opportunity to write something about your findings. Could you please let me know in what way the threefold approach is beneficial to you as homeopathic practitioner?

      Thank you in advance,

      Jeroen Holtkamp, I.S.Hom.

    • Dear Dr. Vatsala,

      Thank you very much for reading my article. I am curious to know to what path the threefold approach has led you. Hopefully my next article on the importance of our therapeutic intention will be published in this months issue.

      Best regards,

      Jeroen Holtkamp, I.S.Hom.