Homeopathy Papers

Untangling the Web: Individuality, Purity and the Totality of Symptoms in Homeopathy: A Complete System Of Medicine

Homeopath Gill Graham discusses the importance of prescribing on totality and with a single remedy. She offers a case synopsis to illustrate.

webIntroduction

The inspiration for this article is drawn from a ‘journey to healing.’ not initially a progressive one, experienced by one of my own patients, which took her from initial consultation with her GP, to a psychotherapist, back to the GP and ultimately to me as the homeopath. During the course of this journey she had varying consultations, a combination of pharmaceutical drugs, psychotherapy, and homeopathy. In the light of this case, which will, for the sake of brevity and clarity be briefly discussed only, the purpose being not to analyse the remedy choice or prescription, rather to explore the ‘medical’ journey that lead to the homeopathic consultation, I will demonstrate why homeopathy should be seen as a first line of treatment in many conditions, and why treating symptoms in isolation, ignoring the totality, is problematic and unsatisfactory, whatever the medical discipline.

Given that the focus of this article is very much on the ‘totality of symptoms’ it is significant in this context to clarify that the homeopathic approach is strongly representative of ‘holism’ where the inference is that the totality, i.e. the person in her entirety, is considered as opposed to part of her body. This is particularly true of classical, constitutional homeopathy where the simillimum is given to cover the ‘whole’ person. Holism does not imply isolation. ‘Holism acknowledges that the person’s spirit, mind and body interact together to produce an individuality which goes beyond any one single aspect of the self. Thus holism requires a transcendence of the mind-body split which is implicit in reductionist scientific method.’ (Stone and Matthews, 1996.) Conversely, the allopathic approach is to see each symptom in isolation and treat separately, potentially leading to a chaotic state induced by pharmaceutical drugs, the combined interaction of which has invariably never been tested.

To an extent, the same could apply to polypharmacy in homeopathy; Dr Luc de Schepper states: ‘Polypharmacy, giving many prescriptions at once, is harmful in homeopathy as well as in allopathy. Remember that the remedies bear a powerful force. If they can consistently cure the so-called “incurable diseases,” they must be highly active agents. Each remedy delivers an energetic “punch” to the Vital Force, and it is the secondary response of the Vital Force which acts against the illness and heals the patient. Giving too many remedies at once can leave the Vital Force punched down like a boxer staggering to his knees. (De Schepper, L: 1999) However, the purpose of this article is not to dispute the method. The potential drawbacks of polypharmacy in every field have been alluded to and should be taken seriously. Rather it is to demonstrate that the following illustrative case was ultimately treated, resulting in healing, with a single remedy, covering all the patients’ symptoms, mind body and spirit, associated modalities and concomitants.

Evidence of mental and emotional symptoms often being the cause of pathological physical issues is relatively well known but invariably not addressed. Less well known are physical symptoms causing mental problems which will be highlighted and cited appropriately. Whitmont (2002:202) states ‘Is the body the deepest level of the unconscious or the psyche the highest level of biological differentiation? One may go on splitting hairs indefinitely, failing to realise that the whole question rests on a priori dualistic splitting into mind and body of which it a functional unit manifesting to our sensory experience as though dualistically separated.’

Similarities between homeopathy and other psychotherapeutic disciplines will be exemplified drawing clear and undeniable parallels particularly in the approach to case taking. Additionally, homeopathy is often unfairly criticized and reduced to the idea that our treatments are nothing but placebo, discouraging referrals from every source. For this reason, the term placebo will clarified and discussed. Whilst accepting that all medical disciplines are subject to some degree of healing through the therapeutic consultation, homeopathy has, on many occasions, both in ‘scientific’ RCT’s and observational studies been proved to be significantly more powerful than placebo. [1]

The following case deals with ‘depression’ and ‘gynaecological complaints.’ Each person manifests a ‘disease’ in a unique way, and this is abundantly clear to physicians of every discipline Labelling with an allopathic diagnosis, although admittedly possibly helpful in giving an outline of a condition and possible disease progression, is not treating the person, it is treating the disease. ‘The disease is not to be named but perceived; not to be classified but to be viewed, that the very nature of it may be discovered.’ (Kent, JT 2003: 646.) We are human beings, with complex mind/body interactions occurring all the time, not robots where if you fix one part all is in perfect working order again. This has been recognised for thousands of years as is evidenced here: ‘The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole, and also no attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul, and therefore if the head or body are to be well, you must begin by curing the mind: that is the first thing … For this is the error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.’  (Plato, Chronicles)

 

The Case, As Discussed, Symptoms In Brief

 

Details given to the GP; same symptoms, reported to me, laterally as the homeopath, although clearly expanded on exponentially during homeopathic consultation.

GP Visit 1: consultation approximately 10 minutes.

42 year old female, married, 2 children 10 and 12.

She did not feel like herself. She was tearful and upset a lot of the time. Normally sociable she had started to distance herself from friends. Always tired and felt unmotivated. She was having difficulty in sleeping, and was not interested in eating. She wanted to be back to her old, fun loving self. She resented other people trying to encourage her to be sociable and simply wanted to be left alone. She was finding the relationship with her husband tedious and uninspiring and her libido was low. Friends were worried that she had lost her sparkle and energy in life. She felt she had become dull and that she had no energy left, to give to anyone, or even herself.

Diagnosis:

Depression

Adjunctive advice, given by the doctor

‘Try to get out more, you will feel better.

Treatment:

Referred by GP to a psychotherapist, who was also a counsellor. Objective: trying to avoid the need for medication, at this stage, which could be seen as commendable.

 

Outcome after 6 months

The patient attended weekly psychotherapy sessions. In short, although the talking and listening skills of the therapist were helpful initially, it was not enough and the patient, after 6 months returned to the GP with similar emotional symptoms as those outlined above, with added despair of recovery and a worsening of the physical symptoms, which still at this stage had not been solicited by either the GP or the psychotherapist, although clearly not the remit of the latter, under normal circumstances.

 

GP Visit 2, 6 months after first GP consultation

The patient re-iterated the emotional symptoms and at the end of what was a 20 minute consultation as she had booked a double appointment, was prescribed Prozac.[2] She also mentioned, in desperation and hurriedly due to time constraints the physical symptoms, which now had increased and could not be ignored, such as anxiety; palpitations, weakness and sudden fainting, worse before periods. Periods becoming irregular with exceptionally heavy flow. Total loss of sexual libido. Worried about her mental health as often irrational and unusually irritable whilst having to deal with the family when all she wanted to do was be alone.

To help with the ‘physical’ and hormonal, menstrual symptoms, the GP recommended the Mirena[3] coil to the patient to regulate and control her menstrual symptoms. She left the surgery with hope that both medications would help, emotionally ‘lifted’ with a glimmer of joy that finally she was finally getting the treatment she needed

 

Outcome one year later; her account, first homeopathic consultation.

I encouraged her to just talk freely, before any interjection from me.

Totally disillusioned and now desperate, a friend recommended the patient to me for homeopathic treatment.

 

My Observations:

Pale and tired looking, almost sallow skin, demeanour exhausted, no light in her eyes, deep set wrinkles which made her look older than her years. No makeup, or apparent care in her appearance, an almost dishevelled look. Hair not brushed, long, unkempt; looks like she could be attractive but had given up. She slumped in the chair and noticeably avoided direct eye contact.

Throughout the previous year, the patient, without questioning and trusting in the proposed ‘cure’, had the coil inserted and took the Prozac. In retrospect, she was at the mercy of a system that knew no better and which did not intend to cause harm. To add insult to injury the combined medications were a disaster, with the initial problems now being compounded, with the addition of new symptoms. It is of course possible that some people would not have reacted in the following way; we are all unique in our responses to treatment. In short, she, in her own words, became restless and found it difficult to sleep, often experiencing bad dreams and almost hallucinatory type symptoms. Her libido was now non-existent and she gained 7 kg’s in weight over this period of time, making her already fragile self-esteem suffer. Some of the anxiety had diminished and she felt quite ‘laid back’ at times, however there were occasions where she would experience frightening attacks of palpitations far worse than before, one of which resulted in a visit to A&E. The menstrual symptoms resolved only in that the monthly heavy bleeding stopped; instead, she was bleeding lightly, most of the time, often accompanied by cramping which she previously had not experienced. In her reporting much of this to me, there was an element of disbelief, tears, and black humour, which was a welcome in what could potentially have been a long, dark, consultation. Humour, as long as it is not misplaced, I have found is a wonderful way to lighten a consultation and gain trust; it is mutually beneficial to both the homeopath and the patient, often breaks the ice and is confirmatory of our shared joy and recognition in humanity. It was the beginning of a wonderful rapport, the basis of which lay in empathy and understanding and a feeling of trust, enforced by the innate knowledge of confidence in the next steps: ‘A key element in the development and maintenance of rapport is the display by the doctor of empathy, or emotional sensitivity towards the patient.’ (Usherwood, T: 1999:27)

About the author

Gill Graham

Gill Graham

Gill Graham BSc (Hons), BA (Hons), DHMHS, RSHom lives and practices, for most of the time in rural North Buckinghamshire, England. The rest of the time she lives in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from Purton House School of Homeopathy (University of West London) in 2009. She went on to do a 'Special Advanced Graduate Program' at The Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine. Over the last seventeen years she has qualified in, and practiced many other holistic therapies and is constantly updating her knowledge in the field of complimentary medicine. She has a passion for writing, both professionally, and creatively. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada (www.ARHFC.ca).

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4 Comments

  • Another thought provoking piece from Gill, I agree entirely with her approach here, so often our patients come with such a “history”. Well done.

    • Thank you Gwynne. Yes, it is really important to delve into all aspects of a patients health, particularly for chronic conditions. This should be applicable to all medical disciplines, as discussed.

  • Beautifully written, Gill. I hope the medical community will dance for joy when learning the benefits of homeopathy. It may mean they will need to hit the books, take a course, learn more about the depth of homeopathic remedies and how to take in the “totality” of each case. We are social beings. Building a relationship between patient and physician will produce a wholistic outcome for all. Blessings, Debby

    • Thank you Debby! I think if the medical community danced for joy on learning the benefits of homeopathy and started to understand and recommend/refer to us more, I would join them!! I wait for that day with great anticipation, in the knowledge that seeing a patients symptoms in their totality is clearly the way to go.