Miss R. Vi., DOB 1958, is stunningly beautiful but will never marry: she panics at the idea of drinking in the presence of anyone, so declines all invitations. She lives with her nymphomaniac mother, who is getting crazier by the day, who goes so far as to insult and beat her when she calls each passing lover “today’s bastard”. It all started in September 1987, in a perfume shop in Paris (she is a sales assistant). A man offered her a glass of water. “As soon as the water was in the glass, I realised that they would all be watching me drink. He walked behind me. I started to freeze; my nerves stiffened and felt like wood. Just try to take a glass and drink when you are like that. I am now totally incapable of pouring a drink into my mouth and swallowing; everything tightens up into a knot and blocks off. It’s impossible. I stand there, glass in hand, thinking: “You’re going to have to drink now”, but I can’t bring it close to my mouth, no closer than 10 cm. He is standing behind me and can see that I am unable to drink. He’s going to think I’m insane; it’s unreal. It happened again last Sunday in front of my godfather, whom I love: a very intelligent man. He adores me but he is quick to judge. As soon as he saw it, he passed judgement. It’s crazy; it affects the nerves. It happened again with my girlfriend. I feel like beating myself up; I’m afraid it will happen again.” From this moment on, she only leaves home to go to work in her perfume shop.
“I was an only child. It’s not easy to be all alone. Mum just wanted to attract men. She lived the wild life and dragged me along with her. We often stayed out until 2am. There were arguments and I was expected to just sit there and be quiet.
One Christmas when I was eight, Mummy made me take a present to Daddy. He opened it to find a piece of coal. He could see from the expression on my face that it wasn’t my doing but he still threw it across the room. I was taken by such surprise, so deeply shocked, betrayed; I wanted to die. I will never forget it, ever.
My father would have had to accept everything; no one can be ridiculed all the time.”
– How did school and exams go for you?
– “Not so good! I never had any time to study. Mum would pick me up from school and say “Come on, let’s go!” and we were off again. We would often go into the woods with a man. I was embarrassed. She didn’t always strip below the waist but she bared her breasts. She even kept it up when X replaced my father at home. I was only able to study and do my homework when X came to get me at school. My father thought my mother was happy with X. I never told him the truth. When you see things like that, you can’t study philosophy. I failed my final exams, never got my BaccalaurÃ©at (French Certificate of General Education) and never even tried taking the exams again. I was good at languages so I applied for a job in a travel agency but they didn’t take me. I ended up working in the shop. There was no one to help or guide me, no one to help me with decisions; my dad thought mum was taking care of me.”
Her mother took her along in the car when she went to see her lovers. R would wait downstairs in the car. They went on holiday together while the father stayed at home to work. Yet another man would share the mother’s hotel room but R was instructed not to tell. “I knew full well that none of my friends’ mothers had a second man. I lost all interest in school.” One day, R told her dad. It wasn’t long after that that they divorced.
Recurrent cystitis since the age of 15.
1981: swelling of the epiglottis, treated with steroids.
In 1984, she had a flare-up of multiple sclerosis with paraplegia (legs cold and paralysed from the knee down, burning sensation under the skin) and retention of urine requiring a month in hospital. She improved after 10 days on a Solumedrol drip.
When I first saw her, three months after this, her walk was spasmodic and unsure. She was too weak to climb stairs; her reflexes were hyperkinetic, clonus of the kneecap, Babinski’s reflex. Burning sensation when touched or when cold. She still had problems urinating and suffered from constipation.
Pulsatilla came up highest in my first repertorisation but it did nothing.
The symptoms disappeared with Natrum mur, Causticum, Drosera, Cocculus, in spite of the loss, in July 1985, of her dearly-beloved father, who had a stroke after a month of coma.
The obsessive disturbance appeared just when she seemed to be cured. “The fear of drinking became an obsession; it’s unbearable, utter madness”, she says. “It’s crazy not to be able to live normally; there are times when I want to shoot myself.” No joy with Lyssin.
“It’s not hydrophobia, it’s a fear of being watched when eating or drinking, of being judged. I don’t want them to see me as I am. I only wish them well but they are waiting for me to slip up. My worst nightmare is a dinner invitation; I know that I am unable to hold a fork. Will they see the real me through this ritual? That’s when I start to shake.» (17th February 1989).
“I met Dr. X (the one who made the diagnosis); he walked around me to observe me from all angles, as if I were an animal at a show.”
In spite of it all, a man asks her to marry him, which takes her by total surprise. In her opinion he was an “old man”, age 44 (she was 30), “a pervert”. For once, in this day and age, a man who falls in love asks for the girl’s hand in marriage!
I prescribed Cenchris (on the themes of losing teeth, seeing what hides under the surface, of experiencing sex like rape, 17th February 1989), then Ambra grisea, (3/3/89, 3/7/89), Ignatia (7/9/89), Cotyledon (sensation as if the stomach doesn’t exist, remedy close to Ambra and Ignatia 11/12/89 and 9/1/90), Kali Sulph (unable to act, 10/4/92), then Ambra is repeated several times, then Sarracenia (takes insults without defending herself, a symptom also of Ignatia, 12/10/92), Carcinosin (panic-stricken fear of failure, worries about her family, meticulous, emotionally dependant, timid, < consolation 1/4/93).
Partial improvements from all of these remedies, especially Ambra. Little acute problems are resolved, and above all, there were temporary increases in overall energy and ability to cope.
Loves and thinks of others, forgets self, sacrifices self for others.
I’m a very nice person; I like everyone. I go out of my way for everyone; this is the story of my life: I become obsessed with other people’s problems (Causticum, Cocculus).
When I was ill, I never prayed for myself; I often forget about myself (Cocculus, Ignatia, Causticum).
My great love was Mum. (Emotional dependency: Natrum mur, Ignatia, Carcinosin).
I finally realised that my dad loved me when I was ill. He came to see me in the hospital. I would rather be ill and learn that my dad loves me than not. (Her father left when she was 12 and never called or visited until this illness).
I am always ready to forgive and find excuses for everyone.
That’s not to say that I am a saint, but…. (this comment appears twice in the notes)
If you come across as someone who thinks of others, they think you are crazy.
At school they called me Saint Vincent de Paul.
Dream: An enormous gust of wind causes a tree to break in two. I make Mum and X run for shelter but a gigantic stone falls on me and crushes only me. I suffered the effects of this terrifying dream for two days.
Prayer and intervention for others
When I was ill, I never prayed for myself. I often forget about myself (Cocculus, Ignatia, Causticum).
My urine retention ended miraculously after I went to communion. I was certain that I would be healed because I had prayed so hard for everyone and not for myself; I had completely forgotten about myself. I had prayed incredibly hard and I told myself “God will look kindly on you for this.” Something phenomenal happened in this church. I was floating above the ground and there was nothing but my voice praying; my only focus was what I was saying. It was as if I were bathed in light, I wasn’t even myself, I was only a voice and there was nothing else. I knew that after this event, something would happen. Eight days later, I fell ill. (29/5/89).
“I broke the prayer chain. What disaster will happen to me now?” (In fact, first her dog died and then her father died. Eventually, I was able to persuade her that there was no cause and effect link there).
“The woman who is with my father is in hospital and I prayed over and over again that she would be all right. I force myself to think of her; I know that if I think of her, she will get better. I am an only child, so I have to think of everyone.”
“God knows how much I asked not to be ill. I mean, He really could have given it to me elsewhere!” (facial herpes, 22/12/86)
Dream: I am no longer able to say the Hail Mary; I’ve forgotten the words. I’ve heard it over and over so many times.
Heartbreak and rejection of consolation (Natrum mur, Carcinosin, Ignatia.)
“When Daddy left, I used to cry all alone. I didn’t want Mummy to see my devastation.”
“I have never known true love. I am very demanding in love. Maybe the good Lord wanted it to be like this: that I would never manage to find a partner. Mum never knew how heartbroken I was.” “I never cry in public; I cry on my own at home. I find words of consolation irritating, intolerable.”
She is kind and others are mean (Drosera)
“At school, the other children were mean to me. They used to tell me ‘Give us sweets and we won’t tell anyone that your Daddy is gone.'”
“So many people have played tricks on me; people are so mean, but I don’t bear grudges.”
The men she fell for were harsh but she was affectionate and she suffered. “I give of myself completely; others don’t.”
“I’m not the kind to judge others; I only see the good in people. I don’t see the bad.”
“I don’t know how to defend myself. You can call me all the names in the book and I won’t say a thing. I’ll let you off the hook. (Ignatia, Sarracenia). If you could give me a dose of something to make me a bit mean, just to defend myself, it would help.”
She will cry easily over the misfortune of others. (Causticum, Carcinosin).
“I get so upset when others are ill.”
She experiences others’ problems as if they were her own (Causticum, Lyssin).
“People devour me; my life is a confessional: a widow comes to cry at my house every day, another one comes to cry because her daughter is not normal, etc. etc….. ” She donates money for Ethiopia, for the poor and homeless….
Animals, the dog who is a person, not an animal.
In March 1986, when the newspapers are full of aspersions cast by the SPCA over the way her father treats his horses, she gets attacks of intermittent cramps with pains in the heart extending first to the left arm and then the left leg: “They came to see me in the shop, thinking that I leave animals to suffer.”
Her dog dies in April 1985:
“He was like a younger brother to me, like a person; he was so intelligent. I prayed so hard but no one heard me. Where was God then when I needed Him? I would have given anything for that little dog to live. Besides, he wasn’t an animal, he was a person.”
Dreams of blue and ginger cats, black rats and mice, rats turning into cats, horses, very beautiful ducks.
Haunted by grief
Her father dies on the 31st of July 1985:
“I loved him so much; he had such deep inner charm, he was like a god for me. The devastation is beyond measure but it is something I must endure. I keep it to myself They tell you it will get better but that doesn’t help. The sorrow will last forever. I am haunted by it, by memories. We didn’t have the time to work out all the things that had gone wrong.”
11/3/86: “I miss my dad; I understood him so well, it was as if he was my child, as if he were me. I knew his weaknesses, his thoughts, the right things to say to him. I was always afraid he would have an accident. My life was a waste; I would have preferred for something to happen to me rather than to him. Daddy, when I heard his voice on the phone, I felt better. It wasn’t the same with Mum. She’s a business woman; she’s stronger.”
“I dream of my dad.”
“My mother wanted me to see a shrink because a doctor told her it wasn’t normal for a girl to be so attached to her father.”
Solitude and being unfit for the world
27/5/87 : “I’m so lonely and sad (she cries). I’ve been ill, I’ve lost my father, I’m on the verge of tears all the time; I can’t talk about it and they tell me I’m pathetic. I wasn’t made for this life. I don’t belong here. I would be better off in a convent. I’m dying of loneliness. My godfather told me to become independent. What would I do if I were ill? And Mum would die if I were to move into a flat of my own.”
29/6/88: “A psychologist came to find me in the shop; my mother had mentioned me to her. She babbled on and on to me for an hour about my shyness and my celibacy. That evening I was in tears over it all.”
“Mum told me ‘You will never marry because you are of a different era.’ That hurts, and I keep thinking of it, and then when I am faced with a man who might in fact be a good match for me, I start to shake.”
“I’m not prepared for this life.”
Perfection (Carcinosin, Arsenicum), but she has nothing else in common with these remedies).
“I was very anxious at school; if there was a spot on my notebook, it was horrible.”
“I have a desperate need for perfection; everything has to be perfect. If what I am doing is not perfect, it sends me into a spin; it makes me think over and over and over.”
“I am pathologically meticulous. You can give me any task and it will always be done perfectly; it takes up all my time.”
She has never found anyone as virtuous as she, which leaves her feeling very lonely (and it’s true that she is the most virtuous of all when compared with those around her; this is no fantasy).
“I cannot live with this madness or I will take the vow. But are nuns perfect? They are not flawless either, you know.”
“I called in desperation (herpes outbreak on 22/12/86 which resolves with S.L.) because I wouldn’t have been able to live another day like that without seeing you. You know how I like things to be perfect.”
“I saw a psychic and my father spoke through her. He said ‘I am fine; I am pleased that you are so spiritual.'”
“I know my faults: I care too much for people; I look after others and give too much. I can’t help it. I was born that way.”
The need to talk
“I have a desperate need to talk; it’s liberating to be heard.” (Ambra, Causticum).
The devil (Ambra)
Fear of being possessed.
“I dreamt that I was being blackmailed, and I was afraid that it was the devil who was trying to make me think bad thoughts.”
Premonitions (possibly a theme of no interest because the mother was always consulting psychics, except that it is inconsistent with her belief in God which appears to be so strong).
“I broke a prayer chain; now what will happen to me?”
“I dreamt that I was pregnant; now I’m afraid that this dream of pregnancy is an omen of death.”
“I dreamt of blackmail; I hope it’s not a sign of my own death.”
Dream: a woman was telling fortunes with multicoloured flowers (after this she dreamt of the tree and the stone).
Difference between right and wrong
“I’m afraid God doesn’t distinguish between right (her own good intentions) and wrong (others’ intentions), that He doesn’t acknowledge the virtue of my intentions. I wish that He could see their falseness and duplicity, that He would distinguish between right and wrong, at least at the end. It’s the final judgement I care about.”
“I have to explain to God what I think about my father. Daddy never spoke. I wouldn’t want God to think that my father wasn’t spiritual (she was the only one in the whole city who thought that he was spiritual!) I want God to know about all the good he did, the people he made happy, his desire to live (that was for sure!). I need to speak for my father.”
(This ability to judge others, even better than Jesus Christ, made me think of Cenchris).
Shy, no self-confidence, doesn’t like being watched (Ambra).
“I cannot stand being watched. I blush; it’s moral paralysis. I’m afraid of making mistakes in French, of not knowing what to say.”
“When I come across the neurologist he stares at me without saying a word. He observes the way I walk; he is just waiting for me to have a relapse and I don’t even know anymore if I can walk.”
“I cannot eat or drink in front of people; I can’t swallow. It’s not hydrophobia, it’s the fear of being watched. I start to shake and my worst nightmare is a dinner invitation; I can’t even hold a fork.”
“If I tell myself: ‘You’ll never be able to put the cap on this pen’, there are no two ways about it: I won’t be able to do it.
Eating and drinking: cf. the beginning of the case.
The body no longer exists
“I was nothing but a voice, that was all there was of me.” (during the famous prayer).
“There are days when it feels like my stomach is dead, like it no longer exists. From the waist down, it’s not me, I don’t exist. I touch my stomach to see if it’s still warm.” (Symptom which does not shift with Cotyledon).
After the MS her senses remain affected: she doesn’t feel hot or cold below the waist.
Constricting pain in the heart when she meets someone to whom she feels inferior, someone who knows a great deal.
“My godfather is very intelligent …” (see above, consultation on 3/3/89)
– “Is intelligence very important for you?”
– “Oh, yes. My godfather is extraordinary; he is so knowledgeable. He knows so many things. It does become a bit of a problem when you end up in front of very intelligent people. I have a different kind of superiority, the kind God prefers: I have very strong faith. No one can beat me on that one. I’m way above all the others. I have an enormous asset which was given to me by Christ. I can’t have everything. My faith is really solid. Some people can talk all day about geography, but for me it’s faith. When I speak of Jesus Christ, it’s very clear. I’m enlightened and when I speak of faith, I come alive.”
“Others play sport but I don’t. Others go out. I don’t. They invite each other over, they look at each other, they spend time together but I’m not like that at all. I didn’t come prepared for this life. The place where I am stronger than the others is inside myself.” (and in fact, she’s right, because she has the wealth of the poor. In the absence of anything better, she has managed, through her own mercy, to achieve ego reduction.)
“I’m afraid that Mum will get cancer from all her worry about me; that’s my worst nightmare. The woman who lives with my dad is in hospital; I have prayed so hard for her, that she will be all right. I have to think about her. If I think about her, she will get better. I don’t have any sisters so I’m the one who has to think for everyone. My godfather has shingles so I worry about that. If an animal is unwell, I worry myself sick. I’m always afraid that my dog will catch something; that would be the end of me.” (consultation on 20/12/84).
She’s afraid of catching her godfather’s shingles when she goes to visit.
“I’m afraid something horrible is going to happen to me.”
Fear of injections/needles.
“I’m afraid of illness but I would rather be sick myself than to see someone I love unwell.”
“I have an outbreak of herpes; it’s horrible. When I saw it this morning I would have hit my head against the wall. I don’t dare touch anything for fear that I will infect someone, and God knows how much I prayed not to have this affliction! I mean He could have made me get it elsewhere!”
Dream that her teeth fall out and choke her.
Sexuality experienced as rape (Cenchris)
A man asked her to marry him which came as a great shock: an “old man”, all of 44 years old (she is 30) – “he’s a pervert!”
Love experiences (Consultation of 5/11/84)
“I have never known true love; I am very demanding in love: he would have to listen to me, take my needs into consideration. All the men I have known were only concerned with their work. It was them first and me last. I give all, everything, and they just take life easy. I may be sad but I bounce back quickly: it’s not a big deal. I rationalise and tell myself: ‘Never mind, you’ll find another.’ I tell myself that God wanted it like this and that I wouldn’t have been able to live with someone else. I was led into each relationship so that I could learn something from him, something I wouldn’t have been able to learn alone. They were all very different. I am stylish and attractive. Mum knows how to satisfy my desires; she sacrifices for that. The boys I’ve known never gave me anything but I always gave them presents. Even my current boyfriend: presents don’t mean anything to him. I gave him a Christmas present worth 240 Francs but he gave me nothing. It’s hard. I’m affectionate but he is harsh. When I was in the hospital, he only spent fifteen minutes there to smoke a cigarette in the corridor. It’s the bane of my existence.”
On 30/5/84, her mother tells me: “She met a boy who wasn’t right for her; he was too young (he was 26 and she was 28). I have lived too long with her and she too long with me. He has no job; he’s not like us, not our kind. Psychics have told me that she will marry an older man so she knows he’s not the right one, but she’s too molly-coddled with me; I smother-love her, too strict. I never let her go out and the few friends she had are all gone now. She calls me every evening while he watches TV.”
In March 1986, R tells me : “I’ve broken off with my boyfriend because he didn’t grieve over my dad. People have no idea what the word love actually means.” There hasn’t been a man in her life since then.
General symptoms (Consultation on 5/11/84)
“I get overheated very easily. I go out with very little on in winter. I don’t feel the cold. I am always amazed to see all the clothes other people wear.”
History of sunstroke.
Food likes and dislikes:
Doesn’t like salty; even prefers food with no salt. Craves deli foods, cold meats.
Dislikes cakes, fruits.
Tends to lose her appetite, especially when annoyed or upset.
Heavy runny discharge at ovulation and then pain in the ovaries until her period starts, “as if a volcano were waking.” (November 1986), “like something dead which is waking up inside me.” (3/3/87).
Migraine for four days before her period when upset.
The very first panic attack over the idea of drinking in front of a man was just before her period.
Aetiologies of the pathology
– “What made life difficult when you had your MS?”
– “Nothing. I think being sick was quite simply the only way to get my daddy back, and that’s what happened: he came to see me every day in the hospital. I was looking for my dad in that young man but it wasn’t right. I fell ill, Dad came to see me, I was happy, it was wonderful, and then six months later, he was dead.”
The Multiple Sclerosis started when she was trying out living with the lover who was not very attentive.
The neurological or urological flare-ups were connected with worries of all different kinds: concerns about the shop, about inheritance, meetings with the lawyer (“the lawyer is spineless, sitting there at his desk. I told him: ‘You are cruel, Sir, I won’t be insulted like this.’), but above all the death of her dog, then her father’s death and later anything related to memories of her father (e.g. anniversaries of her father’s death), respect for her father, her family’s non-observance of her father’s wishes: “I agreed to sell Daddy’s hotel because he wasn’t happy there, but not his horses. Yes to the colts because he hadn’t known them for long.”
A new instance of urinary retention for two hours after receiving an invitation (13/10/86): “The younger people there were all in couples so I stayed with the older ones and felt lonely. I needed someone to hold my hand. My mother annoys me; she’s not what I need.”
The herpes flare-up on 22/12/86 was triggered by a comment from her cousin who told her what she had heard people say about her, i.e. that she was ugly, dressed like a nun and would never get married.