Alumina is the oxide of the metal Aluminium. In the Periodic Table, Aluminium belongs to group III-A and is associated with Boron (from which the remedy Borax is made). Alumina is one of the greatest anti-syphilitic remedies along with Syphilinum, Aurum and Mercurius.
In Syphilinum, there is a total absence of hope which is one of the most essential things to the life of a human being. Phatak mentions: “Hopeless despair of recovery” – total hopelessness. Therefore, Syphilinum is a remedy of death and destruction; he can be suicidal or homicidal.
In Mercurius, the person’s independence, another thing essential for life, has been taken away, and so he becomes revolutionary, defiant, homicidal or suicidal. Then you have a need for acceptance in society, some religious feelings; you take this away from man and you have Aurum – suicide again. In Alumina, the person’s identity or individuality has been taken away, and there is confusion.
The Alumina person’s identity has been so much suppressed that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. He is so confused because someone has tried to shape him into something that he is not. It is one of the most important remedies for confusion of identity in our Materia Medica. The situation of Alumina may arise as for example from a conflict between parent and child, where the child is not being given an identity. Whatever the child does, they say: “No, not this!”
His individuality and identity have been broken down. Whatever the child says is not right – “You are no one, you know nothing!” Then comes despair: “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I am, who I am. I don’t even know what I want, what I want to be. I am so small, so timid and completely dependent on the parent.”
Alumina is listed under the rubrics: “Irresolution, timidity and fear”, “Delusion, head belongs to another”. The patient doesn’t even know to whom his head belongs. He feels as if somebody else thinks for him, and he can’t think for himself.
He feels as if someone else heard or said something when it was he who heard or said it. His real identity is being suppressed, is being pushed in, so that he has to mold himself according to what other people want. Sometimes the parental control is so strong that the child loses his identity and becomes impulsive; for example, he may grab someone’s hand, or has impulsive acts of violence.
In failed cases of Alumina, there is a tremendous sense of desperation to the extent of suicidal tendencies: “Morbid impulses to shoot himself”, “Impulse to cut herself even though she abhors the idea”. This shows the impulsiveness, the destructiveness, irresolution, timidity and fear.
Control is a big theme in Alumina. A lot of his problems have to do with control – control of the body, of the limbs, impulses, a fear of losing control. As the mental will has been undermined (symptom: “weakwill”), so also the will is taken away from the muscles too, and he can’t move properly, he has no balance.
At the same time, Alumina likes to be in control of situations. Being a mineral, there is also an element of organization, of fastidiousness. A man who has lost his identity has to be fastidious, has to do everything perfectly according to someone else, otherwise he feels completely humiliated and finished.
He feels he needs to be hard and rigid in order to keep up his identity, thus in the coped-up state the Alumina-patient can be quite hard and rigid.
Hence the rubrics:
- Timidity alternating with assurance.
- Obstinate, resists the wishes of others.
One case of Alumina that I remember well is that of a patient who spoke of himself as if speaking of an object, or as if he were reading a weather report. He sounded detached hardly ever using the personal pronouns “I” and “my”. For example he said: “The itching sensation was almost wild. It became a permanent feature on the face.
There was a lot of sticky fluid on scratching… It appeared and the face became bright red. It is worse from sunlight.” He also argued a lot, almost endlessly, as if to establish his own identity by arguing. When someone needs to argue endlessly, it is only to create and maintain the identity he does not feel he possesses.
Alumina might be a good remedy for left-handed children who have been forced to write with their right hand. They are forced to lose their identity and become confused as to whether they are left-handed or right-handed. When you force a child to be something other than what he naturally is, you encourage the Alumina situation.
- Confusion, identity, as to his.
- Delusion, head belongs to another.
- Delusion, identity, errors of personal.
- Contradictory to speech, intentions are.
- Impulse, morbid.
- Suicidal disposition, seeing blood or a knife, she has horrid thoughts of killing herself, though she abhors the idea.
- Ailments, scorn, being scorned.
- Obstinate, resists wishes of others.
- Choking, oesophagus, swallowing.
- Fear, impulse, of his own.
- Soles soft, furry.
- Talks, through him, other person, as if.
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To read about the philosophical approach to developing these remedy pictures, see Dr. Sankaran’s introduction to Soul of Remedies: