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Clinical Cases

She Won’t Say a Word – A Case of Selective Mutism

Homeopath Anke Zimmermann shares a case of selective mutism in a girl of four. A remedy fitting people who love animals and who don’t interact with humans proved transformational.

Chelsea was almost four years old when I first met her. She had curly brown hair and hung on tight to a stuffed toy animal throughout our visit. The mother had brought her for a consultation because Chelsea refused to speak to anyone but her.

​She attended a Montessori preschool and would not speak to any of the other children or interact with them at all, even though she had been there for six months. She did not speak to the teachers either, who were quite concerned about the child. Chelsea did not even speak to her own father

At this point she had been diagnosed with selective mutism. She did not say a word during the hour-long consultation. I asked all the usual questions, thought about it a bit and prescribed a remedy which – did nothing. I gave another one – nothing again. I felt that I did not have enough information and asked the mother to come back and tell me everything about the family history, especially about any people in the family who were somehow similar to Chelsea.

A Good Clue

“Well, her grandmother is a very peculiar lady. She does not interact with anyone either. She lives alone in the country on a farm with a lot of animals, horses, dogs, cats and birds. She just loves her animals. I’m sure she prefers animals over humans any time. She is absolutely devoted to them and takes in rescue dogs and horses. She’s been like that all her life.”

Then I remembered a lecture by a famous homeopath, George Vithoulkas, which I had attended in New York about five years prior to meeting Chelsea.

He had vividly described a case of a man who was totally devoted to animals and did not interact with people at all. I don’t remember what the man was being treated for, but in homeopathy the remedies are generally prescribed for the person rather than the specific condition.

The remedy was called Aethusa and it stuck in my mind as I’ve also been very fond of animals all my life. Aethusa is usually thought of in infants who can’t digest their milk and in various neurological symptoms. Not all of Chelsea’s symptoms fit the remedy, but the animal connection was interesting and perhaps the selective mutism could be considered as a neurological symptom.

It was worth a try. Please note that this is not a remedy for selective mutism per se, but rather for the total state of the person. There are many other remedies that might help a child with selective mutism.

Recovery with Aethusa cynapium

So, Chelsea received a single dose of Aethusa cynapium, 200 CH. When I saw her again a month later, she was a transformed child. She had started to talk to everyone and was beginning to play with other children. Another two months later she was normal in all respects. Everyone was amazed, especially the teachers.

I did not see her again until I ran into her mother at the local library a couple of years later. Apparently, all was well, and Chelsea never needed another dose of the remedy.

​I have only used this remedy three times in my professional life and only once with such profound effects. Homeopathy is so much like detective work, if you get the right clue the case can be solved.

​In this case it was grandma’s love for animals which pointed the way to an excellent remedy for a little girl.

About the author

Anke Zimmermann

Dr. Anke Zimmermann, BSc, ND, FCAH, is a naturopathic doctor specializing in homeopathy. She also has a special interest in childhood developmental disorders and CEASE Therapy. Dr. Zimmermann has been in clinical practice for 23 years and works and lives in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada. Visit Dr. Zimmerman at her website:


  • This is such a strange thing, that a misprint becomes conventional.

    Not uniquely so, mind. In classical Chinese there’s even a class of written characters which are known misprints, often through mistakes in transcription. No matter.

    The proper name for this is “elective” mutinism. Not even mutism.

    “Elective” because the patient appears to make a choice.

    Mutinism, refusal to speak. Same root as mutiny.

    It seems that someone knew the word “selective” but didn’t have the educational background to recognise “elective”.

    Ho, hum.

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