EL: Liz, you’ve written a book called Homeopathic Psychiatry. We should probably mention that B. Jain is the publisher…I have it here somewhere….
Ah yes! So, I was hoping you would talk to us about it. The interesting thing is that it isn’t simply a materia medica; you’ve gone an extra mile, so to speak. Would you like to explain?
LL: Hello Elaine! Thanks for having me back and giving me the opportunity to talk about my book. It is a materia medica, but it’s a materia medica that’s geared towards understanding how a particular remedy profile will present in all the different phases that are characteristic to it. So, take Thuja for example. If the remedy is going to be Thuja, a conflict between delusions of grandeur or grandiosity on the one hand, and exaggerated perceptions of weakness (thin, fragile–everything we normally associate with Thuja) on the other hand, must be evident as they are talking in the interview. Or, if I think someone is Platina, they MUST have, in their language, exaggerated perceptions of abandonment.
Let me jump in here because you just mentioned “all the different phases” and this, in fact, is the cornerstone of your book, is it not? The 5 stages a patient will progress through in case-taking as they struggle to come to terms with their illness; and the 5 stages are: 1. Denial, 2. Forsaken, 3. Causation, 4. Depression and 5. Resignation; and you say in your book, for example, that the remedy can’t be X if the patient is in denial and X has no delusion rubrics relegated to “Denial”!
You’ve got it, Elaine, the five stages that a patient with serious illness goes through. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross treated people who were dying. She outlined stages that people went though in illness. And for a long time in consulting, I started to notice also that when people were dealing with serious illness, they started going through very similar stages to what Kubler-Ross had been talking about. So, I would find that… well… let me give an example. I have a patient who’s just died and I’ve been treating this patient a long time, maybe 20 years; he was a good age–he was 85–so, one would expect at that age that his time might be near, and, in fact, he had a primary cancer in his lungs and then he ended up having cancer everywhere, which happened very quickly. He went from being well to having cancer; which is not that unusual in the elderly. I knew this man very well because I’d been treating him over the years for lots of very minor ailments; he was an incredibly healthy man, very fit. But, he was also extremely arrogant. He had achieved a lot in his life and had the right to be arrogant. So, it didn’t surprise me that when he came in, and looking at a sure death sentence (and this all happened within a week) he came in with an exaggerated perception that he would beat this cancer, overcome it, and survive! So therefore I knew that if I was to be able to help him, I knew that the remedy had to have, within its profile, many delusions of denial, because he was so sure, in his grandiosity, that he would actually survive this process! That is the first stage of severe illness that people often go through–Denial. It’s when someone basically says to you, “I’m not sick, and I will be cured and I will cure myself and … I am so special! I should never have gotten sick and this should never have happened to ME.” That’s basically Denial. So, if you’re picking up a remedy for this person, and the remedy you’ve chosen has no delusions of grandeur…
…you know you’ve got the wrong remedy! So this is the value of allocating the remedies into stages!
So for example, if someone comes in and their first reaction to their illness is about Abandonment…
Another one of the five stages….
Yes, the “abandonment” would go something like this: “Why has my body let me down? Why did this happen to me? Why have I been singled out? It’s not fair that this should have happened to me in my life, it’s not fair that I’ve got this.” So, abandonment and persecution is about, “My illness has been caused by other people, I have been cheated.” And so if you’re going to pick a constitutional remedy that hasn’t got predominant features and rubrics allocated to abandonment and persecution, then you know you’ve got the wrong remedy.
The other predominant thing that somebody would come in with, in a very serious illness, is the statement, “I know why I’ve got this illness, I know why I’ve got my cancer.”
This falls under “Causation”, I assume.
Let’s say they’ve been exposed to asbestos and they say, “I know why I’ve got this cancer.” That’s not a delusion. But if I say, “OK, so why do you have cancer?” and they say, “When I was 5, I did this…and when I was 8 I did that, and when I was 20 I did this,” and most of the time they’re not talking about a very serious “sin”. It’s an exaggerated perception. So if you’re picking a remedy for somebody, like if you’re picking Nat-mur for someone who’s got an auto-immune condtion, and their mother had the auto-immune condition and their grandmother had it and so it’s obviously hereditary, and they tell you, “I know why I’ve got this condition!” and it has nothing to do with the hereditary nature of it, then that is a delusion of grandeur, it’s a delusion of causation, it’s a delusion of original sin, it’s all the delusion rubrics that relate to “I’ve done something really wrong, I’ve sinned away my day of grace, I’ve committed a crime”, all of those rubrics, and there’s a lot of them, and though people may not literally say, “I’ve committed a crime,” they will say, “I’ve done something really wrong.” But the point is, you wouldn’t be picking Nat-mur for that patient because Nat-mur has no delusion rubrics allocated to delusions of “original sin”!
But wait, isn’t Nat-mur well known for having feelings of guilt?
The difference between what guilt is and “I’ve done something really wrong” is that guilt is where you do something and you don’t feel comfortable about it and then you feel guilty and terrible afterwards. And Nat-mur will feel really terrible, that’s true; they’ll feel really guilty. But they don’t believe they should be punished! They will feel really terrible but they will tell you, “It wasn’t really my fault!”
Ohhhhhh!!!! Ha-ha! (Me, laughing hysterically!)
For example, a Lachesis, talking about the sins and the crimes that they’ve committed, will turn around and say, “It’s not really my fault.” A delusion is an out-of-proportion perception. So we listen to our patients talking…and Lachesis can dramatically switch from guilt and shame to accusation in a minute! They have that polarity. But when they’re talking about what they’ve done wrong, it’s a greatly exaggerated perception!
I did not know that! Don’t we think of Lachesis, usually, as having a “sharp tongue”?
Well sure, they have the delusion rubric, “Hatred of others”, and persecution rubrics that they’re being criticized, that there are conspiracies against them, they’ve suffered a great wrong; but on the other hand, they’re also in rubrics pertaining to having committed a crime and having done something really wrong.
In fact, they probably have!
Sure, but, it’s not so much the reality of the situation that’s the issue. So, you take a child, for example, who’s been abandoned. That’s the reality. But the exaggerated perception of what the patient then does with that event, how they process that inside themselves…it’s that that you’ll be using to find a rubric. It’s what’s out of proportion, it’s the peculiar aspect of what the patient has said that sets off the alarm bells in your head.
You’ve mentioned Denial, Abandonment, Causation (“original sin”, as you call it)…. What about “Depression”?
Yes, there’s Depression. The attitude is, “I’m never going to get well and I’ll never succeed and I’ll always fail! It’s my fate.” So if someone comes in, and the first thing they say to me is, “I really don’t think you’re going to make me well, Liz,” I know that I’m immediately going to consider a lot of the remedies that are in the Depression list in my book. If they say, “I really don’t think it’s possible that I can get better,” I know that I’m basically looking at a lot of constitutional remedies that have depression and “never succeed” as an issue. And then people will come in who are dealing with a very simple thing like eczema and they will say, “I can’t do this! It’s too hard! I’m too fragile, I’m too weak! I can’t do it!” They have exaggerated delusions of hypochondria. So obviously, whatever remedy you pick for this person, would have to be present in delusion rubrics related to hypochondria.
Is that one of your lists? Hypochondria?
Oh, “Resignation”. OK.
Resignation is when you’ve given up, you have an exaggerated perception that you can’t actually do it. You’re going to die. So all the delusion rubrics in Resignation are “dying, about to die, that you’ve got an incurable disease, that your health has been ruined, that you’ve got cancer, that you’ve got every disease, that you’ve got one foot in the grave….” The very first remedy that I discuss in Resignation is Aconite! If you’re thinking about Aconite as a constitutional remedy, you can’t possibly give it unless they have the exaggerated perception that they’re going to die. And people do come in, and it’s the first thing they’ll tell you!
So let’s take Tarentula. I have a friend who’s a homeopath who wanted to get Tarentula from me for her daughter. Now, I’ve treated her daughter, and I know very well that her daughter’s not Tarentula! We all know the delusions of grandeur that Tarentula presents with, and this may be why she wanted it. But for the remedy to be Tarentula, there must also be the delusion that their body is very small, that they’re sick all the time and that their legs are cut off. It’s as if they’ve lost their body, their strength, which is why they’re so interested in being disassociated. And so, Tarentula has, in the “Denial” catagory, the delusion rubrics: religious, illusions of fancy, has visions, floating in the air; and so, what I did in my book was take all of those and explain what they actually mean. Illusions of fancy and floating in the air represent a need to disassociate. And the reason why Tarentula has the need to disassociate is because it has numerous delusions of persecution–that they are insulted and assaulted and persecuted. They see faces and hear voices, and it’s all about persecution and fear of annihilation; they’re scared of being hunted down and cornered and poisoned and we have to psychologically and psychiatrically understand what the patient is saying. So we have to comprehend the whole picture. Did that answer your question?
Question? I don’t remember asking a question. Can I ask another one?
It’s about the Medorrhinum case in your book. My jaw dropped to the floor!!!!!! It’s about the patient who made sculptures out of used tampons and bones. Now……….why isn’t that sufficient information right there? What more do we really have to know?
That’s a very good question!
So the question is, does one stop at that point; or, does one ask, “Why are you doing that?” So what I found out was that she had a need to be unconventional. And that was just one way she had of doing that. I had to ask her, “What does the sculpture mean? What’s the reaction that people have to it? Why do you like that reaction?” And come to find out, she gets a kick out of shocking people! The whole point was her need not to conform, to remain unconventional, because Medorrhinum has the “Mind” rubric, “aversion to responsibility”–the need to remain “outside of” the norm; and they love shocking people.
So, Medorrhinum loves to shock people?
Yes, they get a thrill out of being non-conventional.
I did not know that.
She said that she doubted her ability to accept and to function in society’s construct of reality, she said she had an inability to conform to this construct. How am I going to find her remedy if I sit there and think, “Oh my God, this woman is crazy!” But I have endless cases like this!
How nice for you. So, one of the things you said in your book was, “If you don’t ask leading questions, you will struggle in the repertorization.” Now, I have to tell you, the trend in homeopathy today is not to do that; to, in fact, say as little as possible, other than, “I see…………” and, “Do go on!”
OK. Now if a patient tells me that she has just had a conversation with the Witch on the lake to find out if she should come and see me, what am I supposed to do with that information? And this really happened, by the way.
It did? Where did you say you were from? Because I wouldn’t want to accidently move there. But, I don’t know, what do you do with that information? Because you can’t really repertorize it.
Exactly! That’s the point! So I had to say to her, “Why do you have to go to the lake every day to talk to this woman? How does she help you? What do you talk about with her? What does she tell you to do or not do?” The the entire first consultation was about what the witch told her! This was a China case. It was a China case because she had persecution issues, she thought she was pursued by enemies which is one of the delusion rubrics of China! So, she had to go there every day to find out who was going to torment her and persecute her and who was her enemy! So the bottom line was she had to find out if I was going to be her friend or her enemy. So the point is, how are you going to repertorize this case without asking “Why?” OK, I’ll give you a simple case.
On second thought, I don’t have any simple cases.
I don’t have one of those either.
Well, let’s say somebody comes in with hemorrhoids. We are taught to ask, “When do the hemorrhoids flare up? Do they hurt? Do they bleed? What color are they? What do they look like?” An endless amount of questions! Well, excuse me, but, why aren’t the rules the same for the mental/emotional cases????? Why do we suspend the rules?
I don’t knooooooooowwwwww………..
Why do we just sit back and go, “Uh-huh…..”?
Do go on!
We have to ask the person, “Why do you think like that? Did something happen in your life that precipitated this line of thought? Have you always felt this way?” If it’s a small matter that’s turned their life upside down, you have to find out why they’ve so over-reacted to it. “Is this similar to something that’s happened to you in the past? Is that why you’re so upset now?” And invariably they’ll tell you that yes, something like this did happen when they were a child. And then you find out what happened when they were a child. People don’t walk out of their childhood without baggage! We all have baggage that causes some degree of irritation and aggravation; we have to actually find out what that is. So, here’s an example. A person is always getting colds at work. So you say, “Where do you work? What do you do there? Who do you sit next to at work? Tell me about that person. Do you like that person? What’s your workplace like?” “Oh,” they say, “there’s this one woman at work whom I can’t stand!” “Why don’t you like her?” “Well, because she does this.” “Oh, OK. Well, why does that irritate you?” “Well, because I’ve always had this thing about that.” “Oh. Why?” “My mother used to do that!” “Ohhhh!!!!” So now we know why the person is constantly getting sick at work. But how do you find that out? By exploring and searching and asking more and more questions.
So what you’re saying is, you really have to be engaged and not passive during case-taking and you shouldn’t be afraid to keep asking “Why?”. You talked about “transference” in your book and I’m wondering how that cues you into the remedy? Can you give an example?
There’s a case that I teach. And while I’m teaching it, I always stop and ask the homeopaths, “How do you feel?” And some will say, “I can’t cope. I’m falling asleep. I feel like I’m disassociating and floating in air….”
Oh, I get it! Yes, how the homeopath feels when sitting with a patient is definitely a clue to what the right remedy is.
Elaine, would you mind waiting? My cat just came in and she’s soaking wet!
Oh, by all means! Take all the time you need!
[…ten years later….]
Hello! Liz???? I have to go now….. Is that OK??????? I’ll just show myself out….I’ll be down by the lake.