Clinical Cases

The Lava Icicles in the Night Monster: Behavioral Problems in a 7 yr Old Boy

capsicum annum
Written by Doug Brown

Homeopath Doug Brown explores the deeper aspects of a remedy family to solve a young boy’s fears.

Initial Visit: Sept 12, 2005

I’m enemies with my sisters. I don’t eat my breakfast, so they give it to the dog, and I get blamed (an impish smile). I feel mad at them, but that hardly happens. I’m lucky that it doesn’t happen now. Whenever I go to my bed, they throw the baby dolls under there. I have to kick them back out, because my Mom will make me clean them back out. Plus my Mom will think I stole them; I was trying to hide them. I don’t think I would steal them; I would throw them away.

You would throw away your sister’s baby dolls?


Tell me about that. Why?

Because usually they hide them under my bed, and I always check under my bed, and I find these baby dolls…(a kind of chuckle, looking away from me).

So they hide their baby dolls under your bed, and the reason they do that is to make you clean them up? (He is grimacing and smiling at me as I ask the question)

Yeah, so I make it go under their bed. I slide it across the room.

But sometimes, instead, you throw them away?

Uh, uh. I want to, but…I don’t.

So tell me what it’s like, living with these two mean girls?

Bad! Whenever I’m on the swing, and the buzzer goes off, they set it for one minute, set it on the floor, I’m like ‘No’! When (sister) gets on they set the buzzer for 5 minutes. They give her more minutes, and I’m like (makes a strange face) “glahhh”.

How does that make you feel?


What’s the meanest thing they ever did?

The meanest thing was our frogs. Once I caught a frog, a few frogs, and they put them in the creek. When T____ and me tried to find a bunch of frogs. We found 10. We put them in a water tank, and the girls drowned the water tank.

What happened to the frogs?

I don’t know…they’re at the bottom of the pond.

So you and your friend caught the frogs, and what did your sisters do to them?

The girls picked up the fish tank and let it go down the creek. They pretty much got killed because they were in the tank and couldn’t get out. When the girls told me that I tried to get in the creek but I knew my Mom and Dad wouldn’t let me….because the creek sinks.

(Looks to his parents) Mom and Dad, tell him about when (sister) overflowed the toilet.

Mother: You can tell him.

She was in the shower, and didn’t know she was overflowing the upstairs. I wasn’t really scared; just mad at my sister.

So it’s pretty intense between you and your sisters?

Umhmm. Sometimes we’re friends, but hardly. I antagonize them (chuckles).

What’s your favorite way to get them in trouble?

Tell on them. That’s what I always do (smiles and looks at his father). But usually I get in trouble instead.

I don’t like tomatoes.

Anything you’re scared of?

I’m scared of the dark.

What’s the exact feeling you get?

Ghosts! But not with the teddy bear. I act nice to it. I think that it’s like a ghost, sort of. So whenever I have it by me I think that if I’m nice to it, it will protect me. I’m not scared of it these days. Of course I’ve only had it for 2-3 days. Teddy is like a ghost. Its eyes are always open, like it’s staring at me the whole time. Scary eyes.

More about ghosts?

I like to watch movies about them. But they freak me out at night. Once I got really scared and I threw up (smiles, looking at mother). Mom and Dad told me not to come downstairs, so I didn’t…that’s the kind of situation where my sisters were downstairs, and I didn’t want to get in trouble. So I (hand gesture of vomiting) into the toilet.

Describe ghosts a little more?

They’re white. Mouth like a circle and (hand to eyes) black air.

What about them is most scary?

They can fly and they’re scary. Sometimes whenever I hear a bumpety-bump-bump I feel there’s a ghost around me.

The dark is also scary. I feel like I’m in a huge mouth.  Whenever I look at the roof I feel I can see teeth.

Describe that a little more.

The roof has those little picture things, and if you look at them, you can make out (i.e. imagine) different things; and I make out a bunch of teeth.

If it were true that you were in a huge mouth, what would the creature be, whose mouth you were in?

The night…would probably be a monster. Like a night monster or something. But I would say a ghost.

What could a mean ghost, or a night monster do, if you were in its mouth?

Make me fall asleep and make me have a bad dream of itself. Makes me scared.

Can you describe a bad dream?

I’m in a mouth running, and I feel like I’m jumping off cliffs.  I try to jump on to these levers, but I hit the ground. If I hit the ground, I wake up. I get scared, and don’t go down to Mom and Dad. The hard thing is that whenever I slow down, it starts getting hot, and catches on fire. Cause (the levers) are wood.


They’re these hot icicle things. Whenever I slow down, the place starts to shake a little. If I hold on, the hot ice cube things come down and hits the thing so it catches on fire.

It’s a hot icicle?

Uhhuh. Sort of like a lava icicle, except it’s like lava, holding on. Like a drip of lava.

Father, to son: Remember the time we were driving through Idaho, you and me, and we stopped in that big lava field? And I told you that at one time it was all molten lava? You got really scared, and I was trying to explain to you that it wasn’t going to hurt us. Why were you scared?

Cause I thought that inside it there was hot stuff. And one of them looked like the thing in my dream. I was pretty much in the lava field except there were those bars. Except that place is dark. There’s a small light ahead that has a whole bunch of fun stuff. I’m trying to get across, but I never have gotten across. Whenever I try to walk across there’s a huge pit. I try jumping in the pit, but all it does is scare me when I wake up.

You know how if you let water go down your arm? And then my thing starts to catch on fire, so I have to get to the next one. I never get to the last third one. I can’t get that high. Sometimes when I drop I don’t die, and then I figure out I’m in the night monster. Sometimes, if I’m in the cave too long, the cave will start to shut with the lava (shows fingers of both hand s approaching each other, fingers interlocking) icicles going like this.

What’s your feeling?

I can’t get away. There’s a whole bunch of fun stuff on the other side; like anything I’d want. Like Nintendos. I’m trying to get over, across. The lava icicles are coming and crashing down, close to me. It’s pretty scary. I only have a certain amount of time before the teeth start shutting. Even if I run then, the lava icicles fall off the teeth. And the teeth never get smaller.

What’s the worst part?

When a little bit falls, but it’s as big as this room to me. When the teeth come together it’s like an earthquake. Every hot icicle tooth, a little bit falls big as this room. I can’t get away. It turns into a gate. Covers up the whole mouth, gets closer. Whenever I let go, it doesn’t catch on fire. Whenever I hit the ground there’s no doubt I’m going to be running from something. Because I wake up. I get hit, and then I wake up. I feel hot whenever I get hit. Whenever I wake up I’m sweaty.

Other dreams?

The one I had (in town where he used to live) was the scariest. Every time I went to sleep there were these two trailers. There would be this rhinoceros coming that would kill people. But they couldn’t get inside stuff. I would get picked up by one of the rhinos and try to land inside a trailer.

What was the scariest part?

The rhinoceroses. A few times I died. In another dream a monster ate me, and all I saw was my bones falling into blackness. It was a black pit, and it looked really hot at the bottom.

Mother (after child leaves the room): He’s so often upset, defiant. He’s much harder to deal with than the girls are. He’s really unhappy. Saturday we went to Home Depot; we’re remodeling our house. He didn’t want to come in. I said he could stay in the car. We had the girls with us, so we were just going to go in for 5 minutes. We went in, got what we needed, and came back out. He was gone. We went back inside and started looking for him. He wasn’t anywhere to be found in there. So (husband) said I’m going to drive around; you stay at the store. He found him at ¾ mile; he said he was running away. He had been upset. Neighbors were having a yard sale, and had given him a Play Station game. Well, he doesn’t have a Play Station, so I said, well, give it back to them. We’re not going to need that. He said, “I’m going to give it to my friend A., who has a Play Station. I said, “OK, you can do that.” On the way to Home Depot he said, “Well, I’m going to keep it.” I said “No.” That’s why he was running away. Often when it’s time to transition he’ll throw a fit, start crying, screaming. He’ll be really upset; it seems out of proportion.

When you moved from (old town) to here, was he nostalgic, homesick?

Yes. We’ve moved a lot. He still calls his friend from (old town) his best friend. He’s very much more homesick than his sisters. His sisters don’t mention the old town at all. He thinks he’d be happy if we still lived there.

First Follow-up, 40 days later:

I’m good. The remedy helps me not be as sad. I’m happy.

How have your sisters been? Are they mean?

Not really. Every once in a while.

How are your dreams?

I don’t have any more bad dreams.

How do you feel about going to sleep in the dark?

I think it’s pretty fun. I actually like it.

Father (patient has left room). There are still some moments where he gets upset with things, but his recovery time is a LOT quicker. In fact, sometimes it’s just a matter of seconds, whereas before it would be hours, if not a whole day. He would hold a grudge, and make everybody’s day miserable.

Mother: His attitude has really changed. There’s just less arguing going on, if you ask him to do something. I’m hearing “Yes, Mom” more. He’s doing a lot better.

The patient required several repeated doses of 200C in the 6 months that followed; after a 1M, he remained well.

Understanding the Case

Initially, I had the feeling that this would be a case from the Animal Kingdom, as the boy talked about so much interpersonal conflict with his sisters. I anticipated a victim-aggressor story.

But the case really “came alive” when asked about fears. The patient seamlessly went from fear of the dark and ghosts to these vivid dreams, in which lava icicles intermittently fell around him, as the toothed opening to the cave-mouth from which he can’t escape gradually closes, blocking his goal of getting to the good stuff just beyond.

In one last attempt on my part to elicit a specific aggressor I ask the patient what creature this mouth may be a part of. And he responds: The Night Monster! And when I ask what the worst thing this night monster could do would be, he responds, “Make me have a nightmare of the Night Monster!” So we have arrived at the end of our quest for the bottom of it all.  As U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt said during his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (1) The remedy family which has fear and terror, especially of the dark, and the sensation of death at its core, is of course, the Solanaceae, the Nightshades.(2)

But which one is indicated here? One way of solving the case would be to assess the miasm. The lengthy dream tells us that he feels stuck, harassed, and intermittently attacked by the lava icicles. His dependence of the teddy shows aspects of sycosis. Stuck, dependent, intermittently attacked are the features of the malarial miasm, which combines the stuckness, dependence, acceptance, and hiding of sycosis (hiding the dolls, hiding the truth), with the sudden attacks of the acute miasm. The remedy for the malarial miasm in the Solanaceae is Capsicum, for which we have the keynote symptom of homesickness.

Capsicum annum

Capsicum annum

But in this case it’s equally possible (and more fun) to see the source itself speak through the patient’s dreams. Capsicum is the hot pepper, and it is only when we consider the source of our patient’s state that we can begin to understand the “nonsense” of lava icicles, the fear of the remnants of prehistoric lava flows, the sensation of heat when he gets hit, or wakes up. Capsicum sheds light on the heat at the bottom of the black pit of our patient’s misery.

Nowadays I almost always have a child of this age leave parents behind in the waiting room for case-witnessing. But in this 2005 case I invited the parents into the consulting room with the child. It’s remarkable how well the parents did in supporting the case witnessing process, speaking only minimally, and encouraging the child to speak for himself.

In reviewing this case, I would also have to say that a 1M potency would probably have been more appropriate right from the start, as the patient so easily and spontaneously spoke at length at the level of dream and image.

In conclusion, this case helped me understand more deeply the difference between the Solanaceae’s sensation of death and the Animal Kingdom’s experience of competition and survival. In the Solanaceae, there is no specific shape or form to the aggressor, competition is not at the root of the distress, and there is no inner split between predator and prey. Rather, it is the fear of fear itself, the terror of the black, dark night, that leads the Solanaceae patient to fall into the pit of dis-ease.

(1) In March 1933 the world was experiencing the Great Depression. The official U.S. unemployment rate was 25%. FDR’s full statement was: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life…” In that remarkable speech he went on to say “The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” Economists tell us that fear itself, or lack of confidence, underlies a falling stock market. The precipitous drops in share values on “Black Saturday”, “Black Monday”, etc. led to legends of investors throwing themselves from the upper story windows of Wall Street skyscrapers. Falling is an important theme of the Solanaceae.

(2) That there is something like an Animal Kingdom quality to the Solanaceae remedies is affirmed by Gerbert Grohmann, in his fascinating and scholarly two volume anthroposophical work, The Plant. Of the Solanaceae he writes, “The fact that these plants take into themselves something that is beyond the plant nature (earthly astrality) in their luxuriant exuberant growth, throws light on the special nature of the Solanaceae and explains their poisonousness. Rudolf Steiner once described Henbane as “having become very terrestrial.” With all its vegetative vigour it has not been able to maintain its pure plant nature. It is on the way to becoming part animal, and one must be really blind if one does not see it.” [Volume II, p. 159]

About the author

Doug Brown

Doug Brown, CCH, RSHom(NA) serves as a director for A Promise of Health. He is a former sociologist with Cornell University’s American Indian Studies Program, and a Family Nurse Practitioner educated at Yale University. He graduated from Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in 2001, and currently enjoys teaching and mentoring homeopathic students and practitioners. Many of his articles can be found in Hpathy, Homeopathic Links, Interhomeopathy, the American Homeopath, and on his website, Doug lives and practices homeopathy in Portland, Oregon.
His website is:

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