My experience in Africa is that, if I may put it in this way, many cases are solved because the symptoms “lie on the surface” so to speak. The culture and environment of Kenya and Africa is very much oriented to physical survival. On one hand, deep psychic traumas are certainly there, yet that also shows on a very physical level.
The trauma of childhood rape and incest can scar for life. Kezia (name changed) had been repeatedly abused as a child by her brother and a cousin. As an adult Kezia is severely depressed, unable to make decisions or hold a job, anger bursts out of her uncontrolled and unpredictably, and she has strong suicidal tendencies.
When she came to me for help, I realized I was not able to help her alone and I referred her to Carole, a psychologist specializing in trauma therapy, who donates her time at Abha Light. She has been seeing Kezia for nearly two years with the progress understandably slow, though steady. A few months ago, Carole and I had a discussion about the possibility of using remedies with psychiatric patients.
After two years of therapy, Kezia was able to intellectually define her problems, but there remained a disconnect between her intellectual understanding and the emotional healing that still needed to take place. That’s when she returned to me.
To be frank, I was totally baffled. While I was having heady discussions with Carole, I could toss around the names of remedies that related to psychic trauma – you know – Nat. Mur., Ignatia, Anacardium, Aurum, Staphysagria. Well, I thought, that’s about my limit. My experience in dealing with suicidal behaviour, chronic depression and other psychoses are limited indeed.
I thought I was only taking a “mentals” case, and so ended up with a rather feeble list of symptoms. Kezia was able to recite her list of problems rather blandly, after all she’d been through it with her therapist over and over again:
- she feels shame & guilt (of the incest forced on her in childhood)
- she has low self-esteem
- she feels she’d be better off dead
- the depression is worse in night
That’s not very definitive homeopathically, but she thought she had said it all and closed up after that. I was intimidated about asking much more. Indeed she’d been in therapy for so long and had probably recited her problems again and again. I started Kezia off on Aurum 200c, and later tried Ignatia. Nothing changed, so Carole sent her back to me.
This time Kezia was coughing. I asked her about it and this is what I got:
- She has a lifetime of “allergies” and coughing with “bronchitis” several times a year.
- Sneezing, coughing with expectoration
- Pain in the lower lungs, lower sides of the chest
- Pain with pressure
- < cold; she covers her face with a blanket every night
- < sudden drops in temperature; <perfumes; strong odours
- Other observations: her voice is not clear – that is, slightly hoarse. She talks speedily with a low voice. Her anger and irritability can just flare up at the slightest cause
The “covering of the face at night” tipped me off. I then confirmed Hepar sulph:
- She loves sour and vinegary tastes and eats some vinegar every day (it’s an unusual food choice in Kenyan diet)
- She likes the rain, which makes her calm (again unusual in that in Nairobi weather, “rain” and “cold” go hand in hand)
For those unfamiliar with Hepar sulph‘s relevant symptoms (from Murphy’s Lotus Materia Medica)
- Generals – Great sensitiveness to all impressions. Sweating patient pulls blanket around him. Chilliness, hypersensitiveness. Craving for sour and strong things are very characteristic. Feeling as if wind were blowing on some part.
- Lungs – Bronchitis of old, exhausted people. Loses voice and coughs when exposed to dry, cold wind. Dry, hoarse cough. Cough excited whenever any part of the body gets cold, or is uncovered, or from eating anything cold.
- Nose – Hay fever. Sinusitis after coryza.
- Temperature – Chilly in open air or from slightest draught.
- Food – Longing for acids, wine and strong-tasting food.
- Modalities – Better in damp weather. Better from wrapping head up and from warmth. Worse inhaling air, cold air, dry winds, slightest draught, open air. Worse in the night, on awakening, when blowing the nose. Worse from single parts of the body getting cold.
Now the mentals of Hepar sulph:
- MIND – Dejected and sad. Depression, sure of death and desires it. Forgetful. Anguish in the evening and night with thoughts of suicide. The slightest cause irritates him. Ferocious. Hasty speech.
Can Hepar sulph be a remedy for suicidal tendency and depression? Who would have thought it?
I gave her Hepar sulph 200c for the first week. In the next therapy session with Carole (who shared her progress with me ), Kezia finally had the emotional breakthrough in therapy that Carole was waiting for. She also had a few days where she felt more “up” than “down”. The next week, Kezia made a leap in therapy by finally following her therapist’s assignment to keep a diary, through which she started to have certain realizations about herself.
Two weeks later I followed up homeopathically. Kezia wasn’t coughing but also didn’t report clearly on whether her physical symptoms had changed much. I gave Hepar sulph 1M.
Kezia now continues to make progress in her therapy. Her therapist has asked her to assert herself in looking for a job.
Many of us look on Hepar sulph as a respiratory remedy and generally only as an acute. Yet we can see in this example that when a person is resonating to a remedy, they resonate it through and through. In a truly core-remedy case, the physicals reflect the mentals as much as the mentals reflect the physicals; either way you’ll reach the remedy.
In severe depression, the mental symptoms are very much dominated by the “symptoms of the disease”. It could take hours and repeated visits for a homeopath, untrained in psychology, to unearth a relevant symptom that would uncover the case. In this example, even with an extended case-taking, Hepar sulph would have been easily lost as a minor remedy to affect change, and may never have been found by a psychological case-taking.