A woman readily reveals her remedy’s source, but how do we make sense of it?
This case was taken over two days. Susan Sonz wanted to demonstrate to the clinic class how she takes a case in the style of Divya Chhabra, who had just given a seminar the weekend before.
Gwen’s first consultation took place in March 2012, with three follow-ups in clinic between 2012 and 2015, and regular telephone follow-ups. Gwen is a 33-year-old woman who has severe mood swings that can last up to ten days before she gets her period. She has “a heightened level of anxiety” before her period. But, she quickly assures us, “I don’t want to say anxiety. I’m not anxious – and sometimes I really don’t want to talk to humans today. I don’t tear their heads off. I’m jumping down people’s throats.” During these times, “I want to scream to release something… I’m not a puncher of pillows. Occasionally, I would yell in my car. I don’t scream that much. My chest will get tight. I can’t breathe as well. I’m asthmatic. I want to boil over. …I start not panicking. So I don’t give myself an asthma attack.”
As soon as she starts to describe her chief complaints, she begins to deny how she feels. She speaks in negatives, which tells us that her state is very intense. Not being able to breathe puts her “stomach in a knot” and her chest becomes “tight,” as if there is “a vice around my lungs, like there are fists grabbing my lungs. [hand gesture of grasping and jerking in front of her chest]…Like a water balloon chopped in half. There’s all this tension – I get massages.”
At this point, she offers, without prompting, a most peculiar stream of consciousness:
“The toxin release during a massage is very important for me. Toxins are like skulls with crossbones living in my white blood cells. Once they are released, they start floating around and they have to get pushed out to get out of me. If you push water into your system, it’s like a lasso.”
She is on a roll:
“The toxin’s too entangled, too intertwined in my system. The toxins are tied up in a rubber band ball or something. Something has to release it or free it. Tangled is better than restrained. If you’re restrained you can’t move. You can’t talk. Like my sleep paralysis! I remember waking up and gasping for air.
No way to move, scream or communicate. In my head, I’m saying, ‘Get up!’ and I can’t. I thought I was paralyzed. I think of myself as restrained, tied down in my bed, with a rope going all around me, over me….no, I never envisioned a rope. Total loss of control of limbs.”
This is a very intense (delusional) experience that she offers us spontaneously in response to a question about her PMS. She is asked to talk about being “restrained.”
“Restrained is tied up mouth, tied up limbs. The dire need to bust out of this restraint. I can’t imagine being restrained. I would just implode. I think if you can’t bust out of something you’re confined in it and you’re stuck. My mind would be racing and I’d keel over and die. Off switch.”
As she describes the restraint on her body that she experiences during sleep paralysis, Gwen is reminded of her stepmother, who has MS, but was once strong.
Strong is “not weak. If you’re weak, all your strength is gone, like the floor has dropped out. Shaky, it tips, wavering and wobbly. Wobbly is fluid, loose, not steady. Like walking on a waterbed. Wobbly. Tipping back and forth [hand gesture] constantly. Like a trampoline, you’re always trying to keep your balance. Fun, carefree.”
It is very unusual to liken “weak” to being on a trampoline. What is the feeling of a trampoline?
“Wow, you’re up in the air! You’re so high up in the air, not thinking. Now we’re going to flip! Floating in the air, doing flips. Same way that you enjoyed roller coasters, the same rush, stomach moving, that Hooooh, that surge that goes over you. That Hooh! [hand gesture of ascending] Then you come down then you go back up – big rush – then you go down and go back up. That’s why you keep jumping. When you first go on the roller coaster, you have that scared feeling – ‘what if I die?’ – and as you’re halfway down, you get that feeling, YES! I don’t ever think of dying.”
When she denies (and implicitly affirms) a fear of dying, she is ready to talk about fears in general. What are they?
“Oh, I’m totally afraid of spiders! If I see a spider it’s like an asthma attack. [Big gasp] I was driving my car and all of a sudden, a spider comes down from a thread and I huuuuh….almost about to touch my face. It just gave me this huge surge of whatever…. Spider is associated with poison. They are THE Killer insect. [giggles] People have died from spider bites. It’s commonly known. The brown recluse spider can kill kids. [Giggles a lot.]”
This is the delusional talk of a spider’s prey. She confirms it when she describes her overreaction to the feeling of a hair, which she mistakes for a spider:
“The feeling of a spider on you is creepy, crawly. Like if you took a hair and you feel it, and you think, ‘OMG it’s a spider!’ and then ‘OMG, it’s just a hair, stop being ridiculous!’ [Giggles.] Ticklish. I’d punch someone who tickles me.”
It is a rather extreme response to tickling, and we want to understand it:
“I don’t breathe when I am tickled. That’s why I am so mad when I am tickled. Same thing with the lungs – just don’t breathe. When you take the air out of the water balloon – the constriction [hands clench] – you’re frozen. That’s it! That’s the fucking restraint. You can’t move. You have to bust out of it.”
Here, she suddenly recognizes something significant – the same experience connects the fear of spiders, being tickled, how asthma feels, how her PMS feels. This is a breakthrough in the interview. It is important not to ask her to make explicit the connection, but rather, explore something that lies outside of conscious cognition – dreams – so that we can corroborate the connection. Dreams, for the homeopath as they are for the psycho-analyst, are a goldmine as they sidestep our deliberate compensation for our fears. They are a window into the source that the client resonates with.
Gwen’s dreams include flying. She would “jump from one place to another, jump really high to go where you want to go. Jumping and landing super fast. Jumping up at lightning speed [is] like flying – and when you jump down, it’s just like the roller coaster feeling. Like I have springs in my shoes.
Springs – I don’t think of springs as connected to things. It just drops and it bounces. Like bouncing on a trampoline. The rush of feeling when you’re up and down is euphoric! But now I don’t want to be on a trampoline. I feel the recoil when I go down. The extra 15 pounds is like jello under your skin. Your body feels like everything’s coming down.”
While euphoria and recoil may seem like totally opposite responses, they both relate to the core experience of jumping and landing very fast that she has already mentioned in relation to riding on the roller coaster and bouncing on the trampoline. However, we do not seem to have enough material to connect all the experiences, the fears and the delusions that she has revealed. She comes back for a second interview the very next day. We start by asking for her an episodic memory of her childhood. A child has relatively few filters. We try to get her to return to a specific time and place to describe what she experiences with her five senses.
“Lots of my childhood memories have to do with smells. The smell of the laundry room comes in a wave – smell hits you in the face. [gesture: pushing in a wave-like motion] I remember taking naps…planes going by, a drone in the background, street noise, oh, there’s a cricket!
Soothing noises, airplanes are always passing, not like jet noise, not like swooshing, not a drone. The repetition is just soothing…A bug will make the same sound over and over again. Insects have their calls. They do it on a cycle. Mating call, regular cricket noise, whatever noise they make over and over. It all becomes one symphony of insects. When you go camping and you are going to sleep, you hear cricket noises, locust sounds, clicking cicada that gets really high then really soft…da da…da da…da da. Mating and dying and then digging down into the ground for another 17 years. Bugs mating all day long. Cicadas have red eyes; flies have multiple eyes. Like a flying grasshopper. They all look like flies to me.”
Smell is the most primal of the human senses. It is the only sense that connects to the limbic system. When she recalls the smell of the laundry room she is transported to an experience that is at once authentic and primal. It unlocks very vivid memories. She hears sounds. The drone of the planes is to be expected in an urban setting, but the sound of the cricket is an unexpected intrusion into this urban soundscape. “Oh! There’s a cricket!” is a JUMP, in Divya Chhabra’s terminology, a break from the rational talk. It is not appropriate to the context. It gets us closer to her source. It leads her to a heightened experience of the insect world, where “it all becomes one symphony of insects.” We can be quite sure that she is very in tune with her remedy’s source.
Now, without being asked, she becomes conscious of the predators of her remedy’s source:
“Bats are all over the country. If you see something flying at night, it’s a bat! The whole country is highlighted. Camping, I heard the grass move. It was the quietest place I’ve ever been. I heard shooow… a huge frigging rabbit. I heard the big black wing flap far away. Then there was a spider on our saucepan on the camp table, the size of a quarter. A crazy bug, humongous, it looked like a mutant bug.”
She is truly in her source now. It is time to drill down into the specific sensations that she related the previous day.
“Being tied up. Arms tied up behind my back.”
“It’s busting out of the rope. Carefree and relaxed.”
“A hand grasp, felt in my gut.”
“Ha! Like someone is taking the life out of you. I don’t think squeeze could be good. Squeeze the hell out of someone. The air is pulverized. It is destroyed. Squeeze till it’s broken.”
“Disintegrated, disappearing, broken down to molecular structure and its gone. It’s gone, disappeared.”
“A trap door opening – a person gets sucked into it. It looked like it opened up and looks like a door with an invisible line.
Someone was pulled into the trap door.”
“Me jumping. Wow, I jumped really far. I was coming out of nowhere from up above.”
“Off balance, more fluid, like walking on a waterbed. Or a gel, liquid or jelly. Like one of those big bouncing houses.”
“I thought of a thermometer when it boils up – in cartoons they show anger that way – and then when it calms down it goes way down. I used to be such a hothead. Your blood is boiling over till you yell or punch. I used to throw stuff.”
“Interconnected muscles, knotted, tense, tangled.”
“Messy, intertwined, you move one thing and it undoes something else. Not a tangled knot, it’s still one thing if it’s tangled. A knotted ball, no end to it, a circular piece of rope that has no end.”
“A rope that comes untied like a navy rope, not super thick. You loosen the rope to get out of something. It loosens up the rope and you are free and gone.”
By the end of the second interview, we felt confident that Gwen needed a remedy that belonged to the insect sub-kingdom. She has a huge fear of sudden death that would come to her in a flash while she is in the middle of an activity – riding in a roller coaster, or driving. She spoke in a rapid-fire fashion. These are all traits of insects. Moreover, she spoke repeatedly of the joy of jumping and landing very fast, of trampolines and roller coasters. We felt her remedy was a jumping insect – a prey of bats and spiders.
But which prey? She mentions crickets, locusts – both jumping insects. She is fiercely aggressive – and both these insects can be aggressive, though in different ways. Crickets are naturally aggressive, so much so that there is a tradition of holding cricket championships in China. The locust, normally peaceful, only turns aggressive when overcrowded and then it swarms. She mentions nothing in this regard. Both crickets and cicadas make rhythmic noises. But the cicada is not aggressive.
We decide to give her Cricket – Gryllus Campestris 1M, a rather high potency to match the intensity of her state and the frequency of spontaneous denial, as she mentioned the cricket in an offhand, unexpected jump. It makes rhythmic sounds, and is very aggressive. Its predators include bats and spiders.
To be taken as needed.
Gwen had a herpes breakout – a return of an old symptom – almost immediately after taking the remedy. It was milder than her usual breakouts. The weekend after taking her remedy, she could vomit after over-drinking, something she had been unable to do for years.
Gradually, her PMS improved to the point where she would be taken by surprise by the onset of her menstruation. She gained greater clarity. She could concentrate better, and could stop make decisions easier, instead of “over thinking into a frenzy.” Her seasonal allergies improved to the extent that she only needed medication once where she had previously taken it for a whole season in the fall. She has not felt that she needed her asthma inhaler for months at a time.
A year later, the remedy seems to have worn off. She needed her remedy more frequently, and eventually the remedy did not seem to help with her mood swings, even after the onset of flow. She was also more confused and could not regain equilibrium.
We try a 10M. Initially she did very well on it, becoming calmer, more rational, better able to prioritize the demands on her. However, within 5 weeks, she had become very aggressive and emotional. She would cry several times a day and was unable to speak to people for a week before her period.
We felt that she would be better off on 1M. There is some amelioration, but it wasn’t consistent. In July 2013, I suggested that she should take the remedy mid cycle, every month.
By September 2013, it was clear that mid cycle dosing has affected her dramatically. For the first time since April 2012, Gwen had “nothing eventful” to report. She consistently reported being “great” despite having to cope with challenging family circumstances.
It has been almost 4 years since Gwen first started on her remedy. She has really turned her life around. She has become a very supportive, present mother who stands by her daughter through crises. She has saved enough money working two jobs to take her daughter on a vacation to Europe, and has reduced her debt dramatically. She is at peace with her family and is focusing on the things that really matter to her. She is in a committed relationship that is truly reciprocal. When she forgets to take her remedy during the mid-cycle mark, she notices a difference in her mood. Then, she realizes how she can help herself – it is no longer the systemic problem that it once was.
Photo: Jairo Alzate
Denial and break from rational talk are used so effectively as signposts toward the remedy. Patient’s answers to the rapid-fire one word questions ( Divya’s style) bring out the patient’s state so well.
It is interesting to read that 1M brought relief but wore off after one year. 10M gave much aggravation after a brief amelioration. How ever, when the prescriber recommended a monthly mid-cycle dosage, the relief continued for over four years! Such prescription ideas are rarely seen in text books!
Well done Jiuan. Thank you for sharing this case.
Thank you for your comment!
This is Susan Sonz replying here…
I took this case over 2 sessions in clinic; afterwards Jiuan followed the patient very closely and wrote this case up beautifully for this publication. As a group our clinic analyzed and discussed the case, and we came to this remedy selection. There was quite a bit of lively discussion about cricket vs cicada vs grasshopper as possible remedy choices, which is why we brought her back in the next day for a 2nd interview.
As the student homeopath following the case, Jiuan spoke with Gwen very frequently, following her reactions closely. She would email the group about Gwen’s improvement and issues, and each time as a group we would agree on management decisions- including potency and frequency. It made sense to match the periodic nature of her pathology to the dosing strategy when Jiuan suggested that mid cycle might be a good time for re-dosing- she also suggested that it was a date that Gwen could easily remember. We all agreed. It worked out very nicely in this case.
Not every case of PMS calls for mid-cycle dosing – but it has worked for us in a few cases. What is your experience of working with the monthly cycle?