Clinical Cases

Alice in Wonderland: A Case of Phascolarctos cinereus

Written by Atul Patwardhan

A patient with digestive symptoms and insecurity is engaged with the Case Witnessing Process.

(Note to the reader: In the case, “H” represents homeopath and “P” represents patient. The Homeopath’s thought process is mentioned in brackets. )

This case is of a 56 y.o. woman with a history of childhood sexual molestation by her father, feelings of abandonment by her mother, loss of her baby brother due to SIDS when she was 3 y.o., and many digestive symptoms. She has experienced amelioration but not cure on many previous remedies.

March 11, 2010:

P: I just feel better and better getting off (acid-blocker); celebrating not using any medicine for anything. I really like that. My stomach stuff is changing, much better, not completely gone. I feel I’m actually digesting my food. I feel more alive there. ..My blanket at home is way too thick. I don’t want two separate blankets; Phil and me. I need a cooler one…

(At this point I am simply witnessing, not directing, staying alert to what may emerge as a focus. I encourage her to express whatever comes up with my body language and extremely open-ended questions.)

My mood is mostly good. I still am a morning person. By evening when sun goes down, I lose interest. I still don’t like to read. I need a quiet place with a good chair. I don’t have the reading place. But also, I don’t want to be isolated; don’t want to be away in another room for too long. If I read in bed I fall asleep. So I’m stuck in the evening.

H: What is the feeling?

P: Empty. All 3 kids are at that age where they want to do their own thing. I feel a little sad about that lack (HG) of community activity. Maybe at that age I would leave the house. But they’re just leaving mentally. I’ve been gardening a lot: my own way of isolating. I really have to face fact that food is not high on [the priority] list for my family. I’ve been in denial about that. I wanted a family that was in love with food, fascinated by food.

Food represents nourishment in more than just the physical way. It’s exemplified in Julie (her adopted daughter); she has such sensitive taste she rejects most food. I can nurture her a little bit with plain white noodles. With my stepson I don’t have quite the same connection with feeding them. He’ll reject food in a way that makes you feel….mixed messages. …

I’ve transferred my nurturing to the yard. I’m excited, putting raspberries, blueberries, lettuce. Things to eat. Maybe I’ll eat outside; say, come get your own, foraging (laughter).

So I get a little moody. Phil (husband) is very mental. I need to meet him on that plane, that mental plane, for him to then meet me on a more emotional plane (HG), to warm up. If he doesn’t feel heard and accepted coming in it from that side (HG), he’s not coming at it with “Hi , how ya doing?” He expects me to be there, to be committed, which I like. But I find it works best if I do a lot of listening, and he feels really heard, and then it’s my turn. [She then talks about her husband’s ex-wife…]

I was disappointed in my parents. She’s kind of a disappointing parent. It affects us. She’s transparent. You just know what she’s going to do. She doesn’t seem to grow or change or learn. She and Phil can’t negotiate things without making each other bristle. I start negotiating mode. Keeps him from being on attack, and from feeling defensive. I feel a little devious. I shouldn’t be enjoying that. I fill myself up with that drama because my family drama is so gone. I have no contact with my Dad.

H: How is that feeling?

P: Still unfinished business. I feel extremely misunderstood by my step-mother. She won’t reach out to me. They won’t move from the house. That’s comforting. There’s a chance that place won’t be sold off. I’m still trying to fill a hole. My Mom died 11 years ago.

(At this point the focus is clear: It is EMPTINESS, a HOLE THAT NEEDS TO BE FILLED. There are also themes of isolation vs. being part of the family/community, nurturance (eating). There is also a repeated reference to being “mental”, which awaits exploration. So at this point I become ACTIVE.)

H: What is the experience of this hole, this emptiness?

P: A lone creature. Like it was my lot in life. I have a fear of losing connection, after kids go off to college. Fear of empty nest. Emptiness on this side, that side (HG). My family is really Phil and I.

(Now the focus is confirmed. She says “A lone creature”. Given the earlier suggestions of animal kingdom (devious, drama, history of abuse, attack, defend, bristle), it is time to completely elucidate the process. To begin the ACTIVE- ACTIVE phase I ask the patient to drop the story and focus on the experience. I tell the patient 🙂

H: Forget about everything except EMPTY. Close your eyes, and focus on the experience of empty. Really experience this empty hole, and as you allow this experience of EMPTY to fill you up, tell me what sensations come to you. What’s the exact experience of EMPTINESS? Forget Phil, forget the kids. Just ABSTRACTLY, what is the experience of EMPTY?

[5 minutes pass]

P: One of the things that came quickly is falling down a hole. I saw the movie Alice in Wonderland, and Alice falls down a deep hole. Image of swimming alone, kind of like a lone creature. That’s ok, to be a hermit. That’s the way you’re going to live, a permanent condition. It isn’t really temporary. It comes back to idea of feeling like nobody knows me.

H: What would the experience of being known be like?

P: It comes back to nurturing. To feel CARED FOR. Somebody knew what you needed, and they…it’s very primal. Like a baby. You’re being held in the right way, given the right food at the right time. You kind of melt into that person, because you’re being cared for in a way they somehow know exactly what you need, and you don’t need to worry about anything.

H: What that would be like?

P: It’s like losing yourself in the other person. But that would mean they knew you well enough so that you didn’t know you were separate. You’re a part of them. They care for you, and whether it’s carrying you around in just the right way, or feeding you in just the right way. It’s very primal. It’s what you’re supposed to get in the beginning.

(At this point the Subkingdom of Mammals has become clear: it’s about nurturance, relationship of the individual to the community, about learning and maturing. But which one? Here she has given us something very strange, rare, and peculiar: “You didn’t know you were separate”. I tell her:)

H: Forget about everything else. Just describe “You didn’t know you were separate”.

P: It’s very sensual. Feels like you’re skin, your warmth, your temperature is just right. Touch is just right. Environment is just right. I think the feeling is that the other person is doing all the vigilance, they let you know if there’s something you need to worry about. You don’t need to do anything. They expose you to things by their reaction. It’s just the right reaction. It’s the very beginning of awareness. You don’t need to do it alone, by yourself. You do it through the other person. Is that making sense?

H: You’re making beautiful sense. Just keep talking about it. It’s the beginning of awareness?

P: It seems it’s mostly physical. I would read the physical cues; the muscle tension, voice. That feeling connected is when everything is right; if other person tenses up, reacts, I would get a cue that something has changed. Until that happens, I would sleep, rest.

H: Picture yourself in this place, where you’re held; the other person is doing all the vigilance, you don’t need to do anything. It’s the beginning of awareness. Feel it, describe a little more what you feel in this situation.

P: I think it’s love. I feel loved. That’s what love is. The setting is…I’m having a flashback of…my father holding me. In the first house I lived in; it doesn’t last very long. It stops. Something changes.

H: He’s holding you?

P: It felt like he knew how to do that. He knew how to connect with me when I was tiny. The protective thing stopped. The parental units had conflict enough to where they couldn’t take care of me. A shift happened in the energy field. Whether my mother couldn’t nurture me, or my father was trying to….something happened. My last memory involved him more than her. When my mother ran out of breast milk, and he gave me a bottle. I don’t know whether rage I was feeling imprinted on him; him trying to feed me. Some kind of break in my trust in the person who was trying to feed me.

H: Experience of falling down a hole?

P: Not so much a hole. A little bigger space. It’s that tumbling kind of falling (HG).

H: Feeling as you fall?

P: Combination of fear, and flying. Let go, not be afraid. A mix.

H: Why one would NOT be afraid?

P: I’ve had dream where I landed; it wasn’t so bad. I went into water. A soft landing, rather than a hard landing. I don’t picture myself hitting anything on the way down.

H: Feeling?

P: Intimate… I’m uncomfortable in groups. I don’t want to go to my women’s’ group any more. There were a couple of people who grated on me. But more than that, there was this faux intimacy. You come and pretend you’re sharing something important, but it’s really something you’ve always known, and you’re just talking about it. Very few experiences in group that was meaningful. More fluff.

H: Feeling of meaningful connection and intimacy at its maximum?

P: I already told you.

H: Tell me again; I’m dense!

P: When you can’t tell you’re different from person you’re with. When you feel like you’re the same person. You feel blended. Don’t have to explain anything. Merging of senses. When you GET it. You laugh, and they get it. But more intimate than somebody chuckling at what you said.

H: There’s a merging and a blending.

P: Image of a baby. It’s basic, but say a naked baby, held by their parent. Maybe parent has clothes on, but there’s some skin contact. The baby feels safe. Merging comes from relaxing. Feeling protected and safe. And understood, and that there’s no danger. If you’re cuddling in bed, warm and safe, nothing bad happening. ..I want to make an opportunity for that to happen, if it’s going to happen (HG) (palms together). Make space for it.

H: When there’s this merging, blending, what is it like?

P: Feels good. Relaxed, safety, the feel of being understood…life is good, be in moment. Not thinking about future, past, what’s going to happen tomorrow. Just right here, right now, feels full.

(Note that FULL seems to be the polarity of our focus, EMPTY)

H: Full?

P: There’s no room for doubt, worry. The ultimate ‘be here now’. (pause). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being acutely aware of how alone you are. It’s kind of painful, but it doesn’t have to be. Aren’t we all, pretty much….(hands over face). It’s that existential angst. It nags at me, cause I want the connection. If I don’t feel any connection for awhile, I start acting out. I told my husband the other day I might be depressed. I feel it right now.

H: What would be the exact opposite, the extreme opposite, of urge to blend in?

P: Being HIGH, high stoned.

[This response completely surprised me! It seems totally new. But is it connected to the idea of being “mental”?]

It’s similar. Not necessarily safe. You have no worries, but it’s all happiness. The connected thing is all about contentment, safety, security. This is FREE, HIGH, unencumbered, no worries. But there’s a lot more freedom in this other opposite thing. The connection is really held (HG). I like this feeling, but there’s this other kind of free spirit, that’s also living in the present, in the here and now, but not (HG), not contained, more spirited, alive. That was what I felt as a teen, what I felt as a teen, a way to avoid all feelings of fear, anxiety. I don’t know why I’m thinking about drugs. I tried things like mushrooms, peyote, marijuana…I sort of liked that feeling of carefree. I’m so serious, and it would lighten me up..

H: Stoned, high?

P: I saw that movie Alice in Wonderland; was curious about it. It reminded me of times I’d been high before. They did special effects; you didn’t even have to be high. Shapes off, colors brighter. It stuck with me. I have flashbacks of that movie. I sort of feel I’m healing in a way that is bringing up old things like that. Changes in my body…I feel I’m reverting back to things I’ve had before.

H: Such as?

P: For a long time this area of my body was…not really numb (abdomen); it didn’t have vitality. I was out of touch with solar plexus. Didn’t feel comfortable in here. As I’ve been , last couple of months, I can feel my core again. This area is more lively; not so sedentary. It was a lump feeling. I am thinking about the few times I took mind-altering substances.

H: What is high feeling like? Experience?

P: It’s self-induced. I’m getting in touch with it being here now. Euphoria. I have my own little endorphin thing going. Kind of free. No fear. The opposite of feeling safe by being held….that’s coming from someone else, being protected. This is more being safe inherently. Everybody is safe; I don’t need protection in this opposite place. It’s more than fine. You blend with your environment. Same blending with the contact thing (HG); but this is blending with the world. I can walk down the street. The tree is me and I’m the tree; it’s all one. Even if something bad happens, you’re part of it, there’s enlightenment, no judgment, trying to be somewhere else. It’s perfect. I can do it again, just talking about it. I can bring myself to that place now.

H: Allow that.

P: It’s a loss of boundaries, but not from power, or fear. It’s just flowing. Things just kind of flow. It feels like nothing has ever been wrong. It’s kind of forgetting the past, not worrying about the future. I seem to only like to drink out of a bottle, small amounts. I don’t want to be flooded with water like slosh. For some reason I need my mouth smaller, so I can swallow it more carefully. I’ll sip on a cup, but won’t gulp out of a cup.


We need a mammal remedy that has a feeling of complete merging, and many drug-like qualities. There is a proving of Koala, Phascolarctes cinerius, carried out by Robbins and it is published in Reference Works. Since Koala is a marsupial, the newborn baby climbs from the va-gina to the pouch margin, and then falls in for a soft landing. He remains completely enveloped, protected by the pouch, completely merged with the mother.

Interesting information about the Koala: The male koala is polygamous, taking from three to seven females for its family group. Once formed these family groups do not easily break up, and they seldom trespass on the territory of another family. Family members like to congregate in the same area, feeding almost exclusively on Eucalyptus leaves of particular types. Koalas spend about 80% of their lives sleeping or resting and almost 20% eating, leaving less than 1% to move from tree to tree and do everything else.

The Eucalyptus leaves, which constitute the overwhelming part of their diet contain over forty different chemical substances, including many alcohols, aldehydes, esters, terpenes, phenols and ketones. This diet probably accounts for the drug-like, sleepy state of the koala.

Robbins writes that a drugged-like experience was one of the most important aspects of the proving. Other themes of the proving which were expressed by our patient were:

  1. Laid back, sense of total contentment.
  2. Free falling
  3. Isolation/alone
  4. Can’t trust: not safe
  5. Being part of a group vs. being an outsider
  6. Old injuries flare up

Awareness Phase at Conclusion of CWP:

H: t this point I tell the patient I will give her Koala, and observe her reaction.

P: I’m fine with giving that a try….One of the ways I feel loved is if someone gives me a hug. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get the hug. One of the first books I read was “Man in the Trees”. He decided he could live in the trees. He never left; he would go from tree to tree. That was the best book! It was the independence. He needed to be alone, but he didn’t want to die. Communing with nature. Not “I hate life, I’m going to die!” But he couldn’t be in a group. He built trust slowly for the tree. It was a really cool solution for feeling alienated, and needing to be alone.

Rx: Phascolarctos 200c/one dose

Results of treatment:

Nov. 6, 2010 (8 months later)

I think it’s the right remedy. I can’t remember that emptiness. I’ve just been feeling really good. Content. I’ve been busy, but not falling apart. I stopped my reflux medications; there’s no food coming up.

I’ve stopped exercising completely. I love it. Before I craved it. “Sloth” comes to mind. I love sitting around. I want to sit still, like an observer.

It’s like a view from a tree. It gives perspective. But I’m also getting more into nurturing the kids. Before they were stressing me out.

I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my stepson. I’m going to all of my daughter’s track meets. I’m more reflective and supportive. I’m not quite as freaked out when people are away from home at night. I don’t catastrophize anymore.

I’m reaching out to my brother more. That’s good. I’m able to be honest, emotional, solid. Not as many filters around whether someone’s going to judge me. I’m more happy, open. Before I was more paranoid.

I’m worried about it wearing off, slipping away. I have a skin eruption. It’s rough. A mole. It popped out of nowhere and it’s growing.

I had a dream of a car. It’s an enclosed space. Was it a quilt? It was comfortable. I’m sensitive to noises. If I’m traveling through space I want to be comfortable. I don’t want to share my car, my space. Having my own transportation is very relaxing. The world is so jarring.

H: What would be extreme comfort?

P: A sanctuary, not too warm, not too cold. The perfect temperature. Physical comfort. There can’t be pain say from an arm falling asleep, the back not being supported. It’s what any newborn wants.

H: How is the drugged feeling?

P: Not there.

H: How is level of trust?

P: Sometimes I want to hold on to what is going to go away. When a loved one goes too far away, I get nervous. There are so many catastrophes in the world. News of car bombings, violent crime, oil slicks in the news. I have experience with people just dying. A big car is a safe pod. Someone could run Phil over. If something happened to Phil, would the boys just go to live with their Mom? Would I just be an ex- Step-Mom?

Rx: Phascolarctos 1M/one dose.

Patient continued to respond beautifully to the remedy each time it was repeated. She has had a total of 3 doses of the 1M, and feels very well at the present time.

Case Ends.


About the author

Atul Patwardhan

Dr. Atul Patwardhan graduated with BHMS from Pune and later did his masters (M.D.) in the subject of Organon and Homeopathic Philosophy. He has been associated with Dr. Dinesh Chauhan sfor eight years, applying and enhancing the case witnessing process in his practise. Dr. Patwardhan has been conducting lectures and seminars in Pune and Trichy, and also conducts clinical courses for students in Pune. Drug Proving has been his area of interest and research. He is currently working with the water remedies and has conducted two drug provings so far.


  • DEAR DR,

  • Hello Dr Patwardhan,

    Hats off to you for treating such a complex case! I had a break in my Homoeopathic career. I moved back to India last year and getting in touch with all the remedies. I see lots of new remedies in this journal that aren’t in Kent or Boericke. How do I learn about these new remedies? Please advise.

    Arpana Sali

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