Clinical Cases

Case of a Fearful Child

Case of a Fearful Child

Homeopath Cynthia Kingsbury presents the case of a fearful child (wind, waves).

Male, 4 years 6 months old; height 40” (101cm); weight 37.6 lbs (17kg); pale complexion with blondish brown straight hair; brown eyes.

C.C.  His mother reports: emotional stress, fears, separation anxiety.

Homeopath’s questions are italicized, shortened from the original.

NOTE: Intake begins with both subject and mother in room. He watches a video game while we talk. His mother asks him to quit; he doesn’t. He answers a few questions while continuing to play:

What’s your favorite thing to drink? Orange juice. I like it cold. I like milk.

Favorite thing to eat? Candy. Candy canes and cake.

Foods you really don’t like? Broccoli. Green beans. Stuff like that.

What are you afraid of? [no answer]

What’s your favorite thing to do all day? Play video games.

Afraid of anything? Wind. And the waves.

Why? I’m afraid the wind will blow me away; I’m afraid of the waves…

How do you like to sleep? I like the covers off. Why? They’re too hot for me.

Mother to son: “I’m going to put on the computer in the other room.” Son: I don’t want to. “What do you want to watch?” Son: I don’t know. I forget. [Subject leaves to be with father]

Mother: The wind phobia is the most paralyzing; keeps him from doing fun things. Runs away when he sees the trees sway. Started a year ago, when my mom was here. Didn’t like her being in the house; didn’t like the way she speaks [another language]. The separation anxiety started two months ago, when I started working full-time. He went from 2 days/week of daycare to 5. Even though he loves the school, every night he asks if tomorrow is a school day; says “I don’t want to go to school because I miss you all day.”

He had a tooth extraction last month. One front tooth had turned brown. He wouldn’t allow any dentist to touch him. Surgery required total sedation. Took 5 people holding him to get the shot into his neck. Always been scared of doctors and dentists? Didn’t look like it upset him until a year ago, maybe when mom was here. Most fear problems started then. There were a couple of vaccinations when she was here. The fear was a problem then. Since the wind phobia he doesn’t run as much or bike or swim. He’s not the kid I used to know. Wind is the most prominent fear, but in the bathroom he’s afraid the pipes will clog and it will flood. I hope he’ll get his confidence back, like a year ago. Started climbing when he was very young; going on top of things was how he learned about them.

What was different when your mom was here? The language [her mother does not speak English]. Her and I would talk often.

Mother: He strikes people as very alert. Well coordinated; physically, he’s advanced. Always been super strong; not fragile at all. Biking since 2 and a half years old. Learned to swim last year; doesn’t want to now.

His pain threshold? Pretty high. But the thought of pain scares him a lot. A fear of doctors, hospitals, “Is this going to hurt?” With the vaccinations, he gets lied to: the nurse says it won’t hurt but then it does. He falls and gets lots of scrapes; no problem.

Best time of day? Most active 9am-noon, and evenings after 7pm.

Sleep? Moves around a lot. Gets 9-10 hours; does better getting 10-11.

Sweat? Doesn’t sweat much. Only with a high fever. Likes his feet to be cool.

Feet sensitive? They’re tough. Walks everywhere without shoes. But on a hot day, he wants socks and boots on. He doesn’t complain of his feet being hot. They’re never sweaty. He’s fine going out without a jacket; dislikes them most of the time. He does not like hot, not the tub, not covers.

His digestion is very good: regular, right amount. Definitely gravitates towards carbs and dairy. Likes spicy stuff.  Complains of stomachache after eating ice cream. Has a bowel movement right after, but not diarrhea. Rarely has that. Definitely prefers cold drinks.

Gets 1-2 colds/flu a year. Most colds start in his nose. Often complains of his nose being blocked; often has both fingers up his nose. How often fingers in nose? Not every day but often; seems like it can’t be a cold that often. At least a couple of times a month.

When he gets what he’s asked for, how is he afterwards? He’s excited, expressive.  When he asks for food? He’s excited to get it. He’s very strong willed; will tire us down. “Can I have this?” repeats 3 times. I often give in. I’m not that structured; he pushes the boundaries.

[Head-to-Toe of anything not yet covered]

Eyes: had conjunctivitis 3 months ago; used topical antibiotics

Ears: has been more sensitive to some sounds in the last year, mechanical sounds

Teeth: has had a lot of cavities

Chest: first bronchitis in February; cleared up fast

Overall energy on a scale of 1-10: 10 is his upper limit

Initial Analysis: Although it is clear that the boy’s state changed with his grandmother’s visit last year, there are several possible causations: jealousy/not getting as much of his mother’s attention; a vaccination reaction; some fear triggered by the grandmother and/or fear triggered by a doctor. Unfortunately there is no one clear causation. But that the fear of wind and waves started then is clear. The fear of doctors and dentists also started at that time. Spending more time away from his mother since her outside job started 2 months ago has worsened his state. These fears are definitely impacting his life, in that he is not wanting to do things outside like before. The one physical aspect that shows weakness are his teeth. He has a forceful personality, and is mentally engaged in his world.

Repertorization and Remedy Comparison

In this case, the mental characteristic of the subject’s fear of wind is so striking–and unusual in someone who was formerly fearless–that I decided it justified being identified as a Strange/Rare/Peculiar (SRP). Thus I started the repertorization with this symptom.

Mind. Fear, wind, storm, of:  PLUS  Mind. Intolerant, wind of:

Mind. Obstinate:

Teeth. Caries:

Extremities. Uncover, inclination to, feet:

YIELDED THESE FOUR REMAINING REMEDIES:  Aloe, Chamomilla, Lachesis, and Sepia

Aloe: This is one of those situations where a remedy comes through the repertorization, but does not actually have much overlap with the subject. When Aloe does come up for constitutional treatment, it’s going to look more like a worn-down alcoholic than a vibrant young boy. The key physical affinity for Aloe also does not match: diarrhea is prominent, while with the subject it is constipation that is more characteristic.

Chamomilla:  One of Chamomilla’s keynotes is “fear of wind.” The symptom’s intensity is striking, as it has greatly influenced an otherwise active and strong-willed child’s behavior. Roger Morrison’s Desktop Guide shows many other Chamomilla characteristics to fit this subject. There is an angry response to pain, warm-bloodedness, and thirst for cold drinks. It describes children who strike their parents or doctors. One keynote describes children who “must be carried;” this is not an exact match, but I would argue it may fit the “separation anxiety.” Chamomila has an affinity for toothaches and caries; and has the keynote for hot feet that want to be uncovered in bed. Given the breadth of coverage of mentals, generals, particulars, and the SRP, I will choose Chamomilla as a first choice.

Lach: Three of the causations that are associated with Lachesis :fright (doctor’s office), jealousy (the grandmother taking his mother’s time) and disappointed love (his mother leaving him at daycare)–are very likely part of the reason for this subject’s change in state. The subject is vivacious, a quality Lach has. Morrison says the Lach child cannot stand to be under another’s authority. They are also prone to phobias. The subject and Lach tend to run hot. Perhaps the only quality that Lach covers less well than Cham is the tooth affinity. I will keep Lach in mind as an excellent second choice.

Sep: Morrison describes the Sep child as having many fears, and over-sensitivity, which the subject has. Beyond these, I see more differences than similarities: Sepia’s tend to be cold. Sepia is worse in the evening; that is his best time of day. The subject desires to be consoled by the mother; most Sepia’s are worse consolation. Not enough overlap to seriously consider this.

Based on my comparison above, I chose to give one dry dose of Chamomilla,  200C. There is no underlying pathology known to be present which might have led me to start with a lower potency. His vital force is quite strong: is rarely sick, recovers quickly without sequellae.

1st Follow-up (6 weeks later):

The subject himself: “I don’t want to do the appointment [with you]; I don’t like it.’ [Agrees to answer some questions if I ask his playmate questions too.]

Food you hate? Broccoli. [Leaves to play with friend]

Mother: He’s made huge progress; hasn’t mentioned the wind since we’ve been back [from visiting her mother abroad]. We got a kitten, so he’s not playing video games as much. He went biking with his dad 2-3 days ago: that’s huge; no mention of the wind.

Eating habits are better, more regimented. We cut down treats to one per day. He asks. But I’m more comfortable saying “no.” It’s easier for both of us now.

Overall shift in stubbornness? Yes, he’s more easily talked into things. With the stricter boundaries, he knows where he stands.

[While abroad] he was so wonderful with my mom; I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. I was able to leave him with her. He communicated with her with body language. He did have one small tantrum every day. In the scheme of things, he did really well. Tantrums since returning? None of that magnitude. His new kitten’s the focus since returning. He took going back to school really great. Yesterday he said, “I didn’t miss you at all today.” He still has a deep fear of the doctor. He fell off the couch and was so upset, “I don’t want to go to the doctor!”

Any changes in what he wants to eat? Not much. But he is so much better about accepting to eat what I tell him to eat.

Confidence now? Much better. Example? He’s getting back on his bike; not being inside all the time. [When we were travelling] he was curious, taking things in. The clinginess has changed because of the cat. Before when he would wake up, he’d want to be carried to the couch and snuggle; when I put him down he’d start crying. Now he gets up and goes to the cat; he’s not clingy anymore.

Assessment: Clearly the Cham has initiated a curative reaction. The key concerns of the mother–his wind phobia, his impaired confidence and the separation anxiety–have resolved. The intense dislike of his grandmother also resolved; furthermore, he was able to enjoy being in a foreign country, an experience that could have been very fearful and/or frustrating. He is also exhibiting less stubbornness, and less clinginess (which we didn’t know was an issue outside school). These all indicate shifts on the deepest level, an excellent direction of cure. It’s not possible to know exactly if his desire for sweets has decreased; but he is at least able to accept not getting them as often. The fear of doctors is still there, although not impacting him on a day-to-day basis. Because he does not seem to be declining in any way and is better in several ways, there is no reason to do anything at this time.

Brief email check-in 4 weeks later: the mother says, “His phobias have completely disappeared. There’s no mention of wind. Better taking ‘no’ for an answer. No separation anxiety. Wants to go to the beach every day, ride the waves, goes under the water even if it’s windy and cold.”

2nd Follow-up (4 weeks after last email; 3 months after first dose):

Questions directly to the subject: How are you? Good.

Favorite thing to do these days? Play in the water, going underwater.

Favorite food now? Candy!

Anything you don’t like to eat? Broccoli.

How’s your nose? Good.

Does it still get plugged? Actually, it doesn’t get plugged and I can smell.

How are your feet? Right now they’re hot.

What are you afraid of these days? Nothing. [Eventually leaves.

Mother: Even though we’ve had a lot of houseguests the last month, he’s coping really well. With sweets, even when he’s offered them, he only eats one. [But] it’s a battle to go shopping. If I slip once, he’ll ask over and over for the next 10 days. Different than before? It was better. Hearing “no”? That’s hard. It’s not entirely his fault. When was his last tantrum? Two nights ago. His first one in a long time; cried a long time. Pushing boundaries? It only comes up with buying things.

Fears? He said the other day, “Do you remember when I used to be afraid that the bathroom was going to clog up?” I said, yeah; asked if he still thought that. He said no. And yesterday he was in the ocean; he’ll go until he’s blue-lipped. Confidence? Really good. He’s not afraid of the ocean at all.  Wind stuff? Doesn’t come up ever anymore.

Separation anxiety? No problem at summer camp.

Finger in his nose? He hasn’t done that in awhile.  Hasn’t had any colds.

Assessment: The curative action of the first dose of Cham has held for the deep-seated fears of wind and waves. Also, his confidence and lack of difficulty separating from his mother remain in a healthy state. His cravings for sweets have likely lessened, since there is less struggle over that. However, the stubbornness has resurged; temper tantrums have just now begun again. Because he did so well with the last dose, we will continue with the Cham at the next higher potency. He was given one dry dose of Cham 1M.

3rd Follow-up (2 months later):

His mother says still no sign of the phobias coming back. Separation anxiety is still better: he’s doing fine when she leaves him at daycare. Mother is doing better sticking to their regimen. He continues to be very persistent when he asks for things, but hasn’t had any tantrums lately. Physically, he has been very healthy; no colds or flu.

Assessment:  There is no decline here, and there’s likely some improvement in the temperament, as he has stopped having the tantrums that had begun again in August. The deep disturbances that he began with in May–fear of wind and waves–have not re-appeared.  There is no reason to do anything at this time.

4th Follow-up (2 months later):

Questions directly to the subject: What’s your favorite food these days? Pancakes.

Favorite drink? Lemonade. And orange juice.

Favorite thing to do? Play games. Games on the computer. Hide and seek.

Anything bothering you these days? No.

How’s your nose? Good.

Your feet? Good. Cold or hot? Both. I’d rather not wear socks. Why? Because they’re too warm.

How do you feel about going to the doctor? Scared. Have you been recently? No.

Any foods you hate? Broccoli.

How is it when your mom drops you off at school? Fine. [Gets tired of questions, leaves.]

Mother: These are happy times. On the weekends when I get to sleep in, he’ll get himself up and do his own thing, eat something, play with the cat. He used to be more disruptive. Going to the store, his demands have increased again, gets into “I want, I want!” I had a blow out the other day, really exasperated.  How bad has it gotten? He’s had maybe one tantrum. I threatened to leave the store; he started crying; he recovered.

With foods, how is he when he doesn’t get what he wants?  Has less tantrums when he’s told “no” for sweets. But he’s still very consistent asking, even when he knows “no” is the answer.

Fear stuff? During the recent big storm, his teachers talked about it a lot. He started asking lots of questions; said things like “what would be scariest is if the winds came and —“ But when it actually happened he wasn’t scared. But he also mentioned the wind a month ago as something he’d been scared of. Bathroom pipes? Started mentioning them again recently.

Confidence? Good, both with me and with interactions with kids.

How is he in his sleep? Still hot, still throws the covers off.

Nose? Hasn’t had his finger up it; hasn’t been plugged recently. Got a slight cold a month ago; everyone at school got it. It wasn’t bad.

New things? Both eyes are really red and dry, he’s been picking at them. Started a month ago. One eye looks a little bruised [outer corner]; has really red rims. He rubs them a lot.

Assessment:  Again, the obstinacy lessened, and is now on the rise again. It’s interesting to note that a couple of his fear topics have re-surfaced also, although they haven’t impacted him much.  Cham is one of the few remedies under “Eye. Dryness, margins.”  Thus I concluded that we are justified in repeating another dose of the Cham. However, there is some evidence that we may need to shift to another remedy. The fear of doctors remains. And the obstinacy seems only to abate for short periods. Perhaps this is something that it will be possible to bring into long-term balance. He was given one dry dose of Cham 1M.


–Dr. Horst Barthel’s Synthetic Repertory  in 3 volumes; 3rd improved edition, 1987. B. Jain Publishers, India

–Dr. James Tyler Kent’s Repertory of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica, 1897; Reprint edition 1992; B. Jain Publishers, India

–Roger Morrison’s Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms [1993. Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, California]

–Notes from my 4 years’ study at The Institute for Classical Homoeopathy in San Francisco, CA, 2005-2008

–William Boericke’s Materia Medica with Repertory, 9th Edition [1927]

About the author

Cynthia Kingsbury

Cynthia Kingsbury is a Certified Classical Homeopath trained at the rigorous 4-year program at the Institute of Classical Homoeopathy, located in San Francisco. She has been treating clients since 2006, and practices in Santa Cruz, CA, and via Skype. To contact her, call 831.431.0855 or see her website:

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