This is a case of a 34-year-old male, who consulted Dr. Mahesh Gandhi, Senior Consultant and Faculty at ‘the other song’, for his depression from which he was suffering over the past 7 yrs. The patient owned a small hardware shop in Bihar which he ran along with his brother. In the midst of talking about his shop, he suddenly started weeping. When asked about this weeping, he went on to narrate that his younger brother, on his honeymoon, had visited Mumbai where the patient’s uncle kindly offered him a job in his business. The brother dutifully asked the patient for his permission to leave the hometown and come and work with the uncle in Mumbai. The patient duly consented, but only half-heartedly, because he never wanted his brother to feel that he had prohibited him from grabbing a good opportunity.
Ever since then, the patient had been feeling alone and was always wondering as to how he would manage his work alone. He felt confused and lost and often tried and wished that his family were back together. Sometime later, his mother who was chronically depressed committed suicide. The patient was shocked at his mother’s death. His brother who was working and staying in Mumbai came back to their hometown for their mother’s last rites. After gentle persuasion from him, the patient too winded up his work and personal effects and shifted to Mumbai at his brother’s and uncle’s suggestion. At this time, he said he was very depressed as only a short while ago they were all united, but now he suddenly felt that everyone had scattered.
When I asked him about his present complaints, he said that he was worried about having not much work opportunities in Mumbai. Also, he said that he was unable to work due to the sedative effects of psychotic drugs he was on. He also complained of having fear psychosis and was suspicious about many things. He could not explain this further, but then went on to say that he felt anxious when he was alone, which he largely felt especially when his brother left their home to come work in Mumbai. He does not like if someone shouts at him or contradicts him.
When asked about his dreams, he said that he had dreams where he saw himself smiling at Lord Shiva, Ganesh and Goddess Parvati (Hindu dietes). As he was not able to describe his complaints any further, I decided to interview his wife and brother who had accompanied him, so asked him to wait outside. His wife said that all his complaints started after his brother moved to Mumbai in 2002. The patient complained of headaches and became very sad and depressed gradually. He would suddenly become tearful and say that he was all alone as his brother was now far away.
The wife said that after sometime’s the patient’s mother also went to Mumbai to stay with his brother. Then, he would often bemoan that they were totally alone as now even his mother had gone away. The patient was extremely attached to his mother since childhood, so much that he would often ask permission from his mother before visiting the washroom. With these turn of events, his health started deteriorating and he would often complain of an upset stomach, sometimes having bowel movements 10-12 times a day.
After his mother passed away, the patient felt very alone and transferred all his finances from Bihar to Mumbai though he was completely unsure about his future, just to be with his brother and in order to again unite the family. His wife reported that this uncertainty about future still persisted. He was extremely suspicious of his sister-in-law, whom he always suspected of being responsible for separating both brothers. His wife went on to say that his suspicious nature extended even to her, where he suspected that she may kill his mother or would run away with another man. He was suspicious about the society at large as well, always fearing that it was dangerous and evil and that someone would easily kill him.
The patient’s wife said that somewhere along the time when he started being depressed, he was robbed after being drugged with cannabis by someone in Banaras and had to be hospitalised as he fell unconscious. The patient has no memory of this incident as he was put on heavy anti-psychotic drugs thereafter. His brother said that he was very dominating by nature and would get very angry if anyone contradicted him. He would shout in anger and his wife added that only a few days ago when he was unwell, he slapped her. After losing his temper thus, he then touched her feet for the next few days asking her to please forgive him. The patient also got anxious if anyone at home was unwell. He would often behave like this with her, even that day morning, when she wanted to use the bathroom before him, so he said, “Should I touch your feet so that you allow me to take bath before you?”
The patient was very religious. In his depressive episodes, he often visited temples and then no one could stop him from doing that. He dreamt a lot about God, she said. He was unable to sleep over the last 4-5 days, but for a fortnight before that, he slept for 20 hours at a stretch. When he was alright he thought of God like his uncle, his guardian. He revered his uncle when he was well, and would do anything he asked of him, even playing a gatekeeper or sweeping the floor. He obeyed him all the time and would leave work only when his uncle told him to. Whereas, when he was unwell, he always felt that his uncle cheated on him.
When I enquired about his childhood, his brother said that if he were to misbehave or make any mistakes in payment for purchases, the patient would immediately complain to their mother. Giving further insight into his nature and behaviour, his wife said that he had slapped her once as she had washed her hair on a Saturday, which was against his mother’s beliefs. Also, after marriage, if she wanted to eat anything, the patient insisted that she first ask his mother’s permission before he would get anything for her.
I learnt from his wife that the patient wanted to be very successful but could not achieve his dreams. He had a good business set-up in Bihar. He was extremely responsible, organized and independent and took good care of his brother and sister. He had the tendency to build air castles and often was heard telling his aunt that he will build a big bungalow in California and that they would all live together there. (On enquiring, I found that he may have chosen California as he may have come across it when reading and hence imagined going there).
The main complaint of the patient – depression, arose from being separated from the family. This point comes up again and again as a causative factor at various places in patient’s as well as in his wife’s narration. So the main theme if we are to see is being together and then being separated; family being together and then being separated, which set off all the complaints in the patient. We see a lot of sensitivity in the patient, him being affected by the separation of family and him reacting to the situation by being depressed and suspicious. This is typical of the plant kingdom. According to the Sensation Approach, the remedies are mainly classified into 3 kingdoms – Plant, Mineral and Animal. The main experience of the plants has to do with sensitivity, of being affected and reacting. The main sensation of the Mineral kingdom is all to do with structure, whether I am lacking, if I have to complete myself, or if I am losing my structure; while the main experience of the Animal kingdom is survival.1
The Sensation approach helps us understand that the patient will need a plant remedy. However, the question is, which one? In psychiatric cases, this often becomes a challenge, when the case history is limited. The few aspects of the case and the observations that are available need to be carefully analyzed in order to come to a prescription which will help the patient. Once the kingdom is available, there are parts of the case which are available to us, like his need for the family to be together, his suspicious nature, the feeling of insecurity. A successful prescription is the one where we make use of all available data. For this, we often have to look beyond and into the research and advances occurring in our field, with their bases in the fundamentals of our sciences.
In this case, once I am sure that the patient belongs to the plant kingdom, I made use of the theory of the Evolution of Plants. This idea of the Evolution of Plants is very similar to the Periodic Table in the Mineral Kingdom. These ideas are from the work of Michal Yakir, a Botanist and a homoeopath from Israel. I had an opportunity to learn from her about the evolution of plants and its application in Homoeopathy. Each mineral suggests a developmental point in an individual’s life. Similarly, these human issues reflect in the evolutionary stage of development of an individual, even in the Plant Kingdom. The Plant Kingdom can be organized in a hierarchical order, which is called the Evolutionary Tree.