Clinical Cases

Revisiting: Mission: Impossible (Not!)

Written by Elaine Lewis

Kelly’s son, Mr. Phelps, is sick. Did you guess the right remedy?

Did you vote in last month’s quiz?  If not, here it is again below, followed by the answer:


Just in time for the September issue, my son, “Mr. Phelps”, became ill.

Kelly Young

Finally, Kelly, your kids are getting sick on time; I have deadlines, ya know.  Do you have any idea how many people want my job?

I’ll just take a guess and say no one?

How did you know?

The Arbitrons are out.  But, not to dwell on your ratings, maybe I should just resume my recitation of Mr. Phelps’ case.

And why are you and little Mr. Phelps not on first-name speaking terms?

Elaine, “Mr. Phelps” isn’t his real name!  Don’t you get it?  Mr. Phelps?  “Mission: Impossible”?  I was thinking we should have a picture of Tom Cruise for the featured image.


Because he played Mr. Phelps!

Kelly, for your information, Peter Graves played Mr. Phelps!

Elaine, have you done nothing at all since the ’60’s?


No one has the slightest idea who Peter Graves is!

Oh yeah?  Well, Tom Cruise is no Peter Graves, I’ll tell ya that!

Well, my son happens to be Tom Cruise!

Tom Cruise 2

Who in his right mind would cast pretty-boy Tom Cruise as a CIA agent?  He doesn’t look a day out of grammar school; not unlike…your son.  OK, forget it.

Can I go on now?

Yes, and remember, I have a very short attention span!

I’ll try to keep the case moving.  Ahem!  So, as I was saying, my poor little son, Tom Cruise Phelps, had a headache in the morning a few days ago, and then later on the same day developed a fever.  The headache was mostly in the forehead area.  His face and ears were red and his skin very hot to the touch.  He said he felt a little dizzy and his eyes hurt when he looked at bright lights.  He was also chilly.

Mr. Phelps laid on the couch not wanting to do much of anything, which included talking!  He wasn’t particularily thirsty but would drink little sips of water when I reminded him.  He said he was hungry but never got up to eat.

I gave a remedy.  His fever improved as did his appetite and energy.  By evening however, things took a turn for the worse.  His fever rose, he became lethargic, hot and red-faced again.

I redosed with the same remedy, succussed, in the morning to no avail.  Mr. Phelps at this point was dizzy, lethargic and spacey.  He was very chilly and couldn’t leave the couch without being wrapped in a blanket.

I decided to try the next remedy, _______ 30c in water.  My kids have had their share of colds/flu/fevers over the last several years and with Elaine’s help, I have gotten pretty good at figuring out remedies and usually have a sequence of them in my head so I know which one to look at next if the first one fails.  I gave 2 doses of _____ a half hour apart then needed to leave for a short while.  My husband reported via phone that Mr. Phelps was feeling much better as I witnessed myself when i returned.  No fever, minimal headache and no dizziness!  His fever rose slightly before bedtime and I gave a third dose of_______30c in water, succussed.  He slept peacefully, cool all night.

The next morning Mr. Phelps was fever and headache free!  No dizziness and no eye pain.  Mission Homeopathy: Accomplished!  Get it Elaine?  “Mission: Accomplished”?

I wonder if we should make Peter Graves our centerfold….

Isn’t he, like, 90 years old at this point?

Shouldn’t you and your son be out looking for terrorists?

With pleasure, as this building is due to self-destruct in 5 seconds!


Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find the correct remedy and save Mr. Phelps.  Send your top-secret remedy pick to Elaine Lewis at [email protected].  Good luck!


So, how did we do this month?  Apparently, homeopathy isn’t easy!  Remember my article last month about the hierarchy of symptoms?  I believe it was called “Acute vs. Chronic Remedies, the Hierarchy of Symptoms, and the Kitchen Sink“?  Anyway, at the end of the article I gave a sample case showing how you might be tempted to prescribe on a symptom from the bottom of the hierarchy and in so doing only palliate your case at best, while a remedy matching a symptom from the top of the hierarchy may not be well-known for the local complaint at all but will nonetheless cure?  I think this case is a good example of that!

Once again, here is the standard hierarchy:

1. Etiology (“Ailments From” or “Never Well Since” a certain trauma or illnesss–the CAUSE, in other words)

2. The State the person is in (the diagnosis, for example; measles, sprained ankle, asthma, flu, etc.)

3. Onset (sudden or gradual?)

4. Delusions and Strange/Rare and Peculiar symptoms

5. Mentals (symptoms like confusion, forgetfulness, dullness, apathy, etc.)

6. Emotionals (irritability, clinginess, crying, silliness, anxiety, cheerfulness, etc.)

7. Physical Generals (the “I” symptoms–I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m thirsty, etc.)

8. Local symptoms (the “My” symptoms–my eyes itch, my throat is sore, my nose is running, etc.)

First, let’s talk about why we have a hierarchy of symptoms.  Why aren’t they all equal?  Why can’t you just repertorize all the symptoms in your case, add them up and give the remedy that “wins”?  Our friend Rajiv did just that and came up with China.  I wrote back to him saying, “You know what you did wrong?  You repertorized!”  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you can and should repertorize because sometimes there are no mentals, nothing peculiar, no known etiology, just a bunch of local symptoms.  Maybe this should be the topic of a future article; but, suffice it to say at this point that all symptoms are not equal!

If you have a clear etiology in your case—and remember, etiology is at the top of the hierarchy—you may not have to look any further!  I’ll give you an example, someone has headaches after a head injury.  What’s the remedy?  Don’t repertorize, it’s Nat-sulph!  Ailments from head injury, it’s the main remedy!  The point is, the etiological remedy may not match a majority of the symptoms in the case; in fact, it may not match any of the symptoms in the case, and yet, that’s the remedy!

At the bottom of the hierarchy are all the symptoms of the local complaint.  These are all the “My” symptoms: My hand feels numb, my arm hurts–and by the way, my arm DID hurt yesterday, in case anybody’s interested!  It was a very weird pain and I had no idea where it came from!  It was kind of a shooting/radiating pain, a burning pain, and a kind of numbness….I didn’t know what to make of it!  I took Hypericum because it had kind of a neuralgic quality to it but that didn’t work.  So I thought to myself, I need a remedy that has more than one sensation going on at the same time; so, thanks to all of Kelly’s issues and injuries that I learned from down through the years, I came to be quite familiar with the remedy Ruta!  “I’ll bet it’s Ruta,” I said; so, I tried it and within half an hour the pain was gone!  It came back later on in the day, I repeated Ruta 30C and again, in half an hour, the pain was gone and never came back!  Well, that’s homeopathy for you, that’s what it’s all about, it’s as if you just swat these troubles away and don’t look back!  Anyhoo…

Why are the local symptoms at the bottom of the hierarchy?  Because when you have a local complaint, you are not as sick as you are when you feel sick in GENERAL and we are always aiming our remedy at THE WORST THING in the case!  “What is the worst thing?” we always ask.  All your “I” symptoms are worse than your “my” symptoms.  The “I’s” are the “Generals”.  The Generals are higher up in the hierarchy than the locals.  “I feel nauseous” is a much worse symptom than “My arm hurts.”  I can still get through my day with arm pain; but, if I’m nauseous, my whole day stops and I’m lying down in bed!  If we give a remedy that lessens the arm pain but leads to nausea, we’ve made a big mistake!  That remedy must be antidoted immediately.  However, your doctor would be just fine with that outcome; in fact, it pretty much defines their practice!  Have you seen their shameless commercials?  I think they only show them in the US and in New Zealand:  “This drug may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, suicidal thoughts….”  You see?  This is their business, turning “locals” into “generals” and they are just fine with it!   In our business, this direction of “cure” would not be tolerated!

Now, in the Quiz, over half the voters saw the clear local symptoms of Belladonna—red face, hot skin— and said, “This case has to be Belladonna!”  And, in fact, this is exactly what Kelly did!  And Belladonna did have a fleeting positive effect on this case.  But, as so often happens when you give a close remedy, it seems to potentiate or inflate the symptoms of the real remedy you should have given, as if to say, “No, no, let me help you, don’t you see it now?!”  So, interestingly, what happens the day after Belladonna?  “Mr. Phelps” becomes lethargic, dizzy and chilly!  You know what it is now, right?  Well, three of our readers were not fooled!  Anonymous (of course)!  Then there was Slavica Peic from Serbia, and finally, our Miss Brooks explained the situation so well that if I’m not careful, she’ll have my job (which luckily, nobody wants!)  Here she is now:

Kelly started Mr. Phelps with Belladonna – picking up on headache, fever, red face, hot skin, sensitivity to light, lack of thirst.  However, that did not account for the dizziness, apathy, lethargy, extreme chilliness, better for lying down, and relatively slow onset/development all of which point more towards Gelsemium.  Unless, of course, it was something totally different.  I am getting on in years, after all.

Signed, Peter Graves (the REAL Mr. Phelps, aka Brooks)

Thank you, “Peter Graves”!  How do we know it’s Gelsemium?  Here was my clue, the famous Gelsemium lethargy and indifference: “He’ll drink if you remind him…. He said he was hungry, but he never got up to eat.”  That’s it, people!!!  That’s the case!  Apathy, indifference, dullness.  If your case has a mental / emotional state, the remedy has to match that, it’s at the top of the list of “Generals”.  Even though Belladonna looked so good for the heat and fever and the redness, photophobia, etc., this just isn’t the Belladonna mental state, that’s why it can’t be Belladonna!  When you see a Belladonna child, you have that urgent feeling that something has to be done NOW!  There’s an urgency about the case. The mental state is excited.  All the senses are acute.  The patient can be frantic, screaming from pain or complaining loudly.  But we don’t have this urgency here; and that sudden onset, which is so typical of Belladonna acutes, doesn’t match with the case either.  So even though the local symptoms were saying, “Belladonna, Belladonna!”, the generals were saying, “Gelsemium!”:  “I’m cold, I’m apathetic, I’m dizzy, I want to lie down, I don’t want to talk…”  That’s  Gelsemium.

So, Dr. B, what do we have for Slavica, Brooks/aka “Peter Graves” and, once again, Anonymous?


Today’s winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Hahnemann’s house!



Elaine takes online cases.

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About the author

Elaine Lewis

Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine is a passionate homeopath, helping people offline as well as online. Contact her at [email protected]
Elaine is a graduate of Robin Murphy's Hahnemann Academy of North America and author of many articles on homeopathy including her monthly feature in the Hpathy ezine, "The Quiz". Visit her website at: and

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