The patient was a 32 year old female. Her height was 181 cm and weight 78kg. She worked as an accountant and was married with no children.
Her chief complaints were chronic anxiety and obsessive-compulsive traits (never medically diagnosed). Her anxiety, even by her own admission, was quite irrational. When at a beach she wouldn’t go near any rocks due to fear of octopuses. When she was 6 years old an octopus washed up on her foot and she has had an octopus-related phobia since. She got goosebumps even telling me about it! She also has a fear of dark water, where she can’t see the bottom.
Other triggers for anxiety include her credit card going over $1000, the health of her cat, getting moles removed (although this has never occurred), needles, dentists, having her feet touched or wearing constrictive shoes. She will only let nurses take blood, not doctors (the former ‘have more experience in this area’). She avoids the local large shopping centre due to the size of the car park.
The patient’s obsessive-compulsive traits manifested in multiple forms. She needed structure and order in both her personal and work spheres, having a strong aversion to clutter and mess. She always wore sandals when walking around her house, hated dirty hands or even the feel of moisture on them, double-checked doors were locked and had a fear of intruders. Her workstation was neat and ordered. She had an aversion to changing lanes when driving and doesn’t like turning right onto roads at intersections; in Australia this requires crossing the centre of the road. She plans overseas holidays four trips ahead.
The patient is a perfectionist and a has a strong fear of failure. She has high standards concerning the image she projects and hates it when a fellow employee doesn’t do their job properly. Thinking of having children represents ‘chaos’ to her and she finds the thought of a baby growing inside her ‘weird’. Interestingly I have had other young Arg nit female patients express the same sentiments concerning children and babies.
Other fears include claustrophobia and heights.
The patient can often overeat due to lack of sensation of being full. She has a strong craving for sweets (especially chocolate and lollies) and salty food.
The patient describes her family as toxic. She felt abandoned, forsaken and despised by her parents growing up. As a child her mother turned her against the father. Her father was a very angry man. He used to pick on her about her weight and she became anorexic between the ages of 13-16yo. The mother didn’t want children and had other plans for her life at the time she fell pregnant with my patient. She felt like she was a ‘puppet’ or ‘toy’ to her mother. The patient also has a manipulative brother. She has previously made a decision to shut her mother and brother out of her life.
At her previous work place the patient experienced ongoing bullying and verbal abuse from fellow managers. Her anxious disposition became much more intense after this experience and has remained so since. Six months prior to our initial consultation she resigned from this place of work and began a new job.
The repertorisation of the case was done using Synthesis Treasure Edition in RadarOpus and is as follows:
The core delusion of Arg nit, according to De Schepper (1) is she is despised and forsaken. In the case of this patient, that was what she actually experienced from her parents and home environment throughout her childhood and adolescence. This primary trauma sensitised the patient to any future domestic or external situations which she perceived as being despised or abandoned. One way this sense of being abandoned and despised manifested in her teenage years was in the form of anorexia nervosa. The remedy Arg nit is found in this rubric in Synthesis (Mind, Anorexia nervosa) but was excluded from the repertorisation because it had not been part of the patient’s picture for many years.
Argentum nitricum is well known as the ‘what if’ remedy of the materia medica. It has been my experience, after treating a significant number of Arg nit patients successfully, that an Arg nit person will repeatedly use this prefix (what if) during the case taking. It is definitely one of the most phobic homeopathic constitutions. Kent alludes to this strong anticipatory anxiety of Arg nit when he states: When looking forward to something he is about to do, or that he has promised to do, or in the expectation of things, he is anxious. (2)
One of the main compensations for Arg nit’s core delusion is to exercise excessive control over herself and her environment and to always have an exit strategy/plan B. In other words, to never feel trapped. In this patient, we can observe this compensation manifest in the obsessive need for order, planning several holidays ahead and ritualistic driving behaviour. These are all designed to ward off potential future ‘what if’ scenarios. Obsession with cleanliness (aversion to dirty hands and walking barefoot around the house) also reflect this compensation of control.
As I mentioned above, I have had several young, female Arg nit patients who have an aversion to becoming pregnant. This patient described as chaotic and weird the idea of carrying a baby within her. We discussed this in some detail and I pointed out to her that although a baby grows within its mother’s body, the mother has no control over its development and what may or may not be happening. As alluded to by my patient, it represents a potential chaotic situation but the chaos is happening ‘within’, not externally, making the sensation of lack of control even more close to home and intense.
Sankaran (3) notes that the situational materia medica of Arg nit is a situation in which she herself has to struggle and nobody is going to help her; she is trying but not succeeding. Finding no love, nurturing or acceptance at the place she should feel belonging (home) creates a deep sense of fault within, which Arg nit patients cover up through compulsions, obsessions, fixed ideas and actions. The primary compensations in Arg nit fit the sycosis miasm, having to do with cover-up; in this case setting high, self-imposed standards concerning the image she projects outward to others.
The workplace bullying and verbal abuse (Ailments from emotional excitement, after being abused) greatly intensified the patient’s anxious disposition chronically. For an Arg nit person, any situation that creates a sensation of isolation, fright or fear (Ailments from fear, fright) will significantly aggravate them and feed in to their core delusion.
The patient’s improvement on Argentum nitricum was profound. (To view the case management in detail refer to my companion article to this case, Wet Split Dosing). Over the next few months her general anxiety virtually disappeared. She became a much more relaxed driver and no longer avoided her local shopping centre car park. She developed a detached disposition at work. A woman at her current workplace, who really intimidated and bothered her previously, no longer pressed her buttons. She can actually stand up to her now. Compulsive checking and re-checking things at work no longer happens. Factors outside her sphere of control at work no longer bother her. Usually there is significant PMT, accompanied by bloating, one week before menses but this no longer occurs. Over-planning, anxiety about being late for appointments, fear of birds and spiders are all resolved. She is now open to trying new activities which involve an element of risk e.g. snorkelling in a strong ocean current when on holidays. Quality of sleep and energy have both consistently improved.
She has stopped craving sweets and salty foods for first time ever and is finding it easy to maintain a diet program, which historically has been difficult for her to do.
She also ruminates less over family members. Her mother texting no longer bothers her and she is getting along well with her father. She now ignores negativity from her brother and has developed a general sense of calmness about family. Emotionally painful incidents from the past, especially throughout her upbringing, are no longer dwelt on or illicit strong emotions.
Editor’s note: See Martin Costigan’s article on Wet Split Dosing in this same issue.
- De Schepper, L. 2013. Discovering Life: Homeopathic Portraits. Full of Life Publishing, Santa Fe, NM
- Kent, J.T. 2002. Lectures on Materia Medica (Reprint Edition). Jain Publishing, New Delhi, India
- Sankaran, R. 1997. The Soul of Remedies. Homoeopathic Medical Publishers. Mumbai, India