This is a syco-syphilitic remedy that falls in the cancer miasm. I have found that Staphysagria patients have a tendency to develop cancer.They are morbidly sensitive. The effect of this sensitivity is very deep and long lasting. They set for themselves a task which is nearly impossible. That task is to maintain their dignity despite being beaten down, insulted and humiliated. The main feeling of Staphysagria is one of dignity and honour, like a person of noble birth. He feels that he should live up to his sense of dignity and honour (which is often far more than needed in a man in his position). He should not do anything that is undignified, even though others may do so. He should never lower himself to the other man’s level (and retaliate by acting as he does). He must never lose his control, since it would be very much below his honour and dignity to do so. If somebody insults him, he has to keep control as befits his noble birth. He cannot lose his temper and become abusive or violent. Were he to do so, he would feel very upset and feel that he had done himself an indignity and this, to him, would be worse than the effect of the insult itself. Hence the sentence in Phatak’s Materia Medica: “Great indignation about things done by others or by himself; grieves about the consequences”. This for me is a very significant sentence. He worries about the effect of such a lack of control on his reputation. The sentence in Phatak’s Materia Medica is: “Very sensitive to what others say about him”. The feeling seems to be that his survival depends upon maintaining a very high reputation and self-control, of being a very superior, calm and dignified person who wins the respect of all by his noble actions… a person who is much above the ordinary.
Staphysagria shares with Aurum a “Fear of heights, of falling”. He should bear all the humiliations but must not respond or he will lose his dignity.At a point, the Staphysagria person can find it too much to keep the control. He starts to lose it and the first signs are found as the suppressed anger begins to surface:
- Trembling in anger.
- Voice lost during anger.
- Face red in anger.
- Weakness after anger.
- Hemiplegia after anger.
- Anger, throws things away.
- Strike, desire to.
These are the first signs of losing control. Later, when the situation has become desperate and he feels the demand on him is too much, he may throw to the wind all his reputation and honour, and become the opposite, i.e. a person of ill-repute, who is looked down upon and treated with utmost disrespect. Here we have the rubric: “Libertinism”. On the physical level, there may be loss of control over muscles. He can get: “Convulsions from being unjustly accused” (Synthetic Repertory, Vol. II).
Staphysagria imposes on himself a very strict code of honour and is very indignant with himself if he doesn’t uphold it. So, he has to suppress a lot of his urges, especially in the sexual sphere. He is very timid and cowardly, and has feelings of guilt. He cannot express his increased sexual desire directly for fear of being hurt and out of a sense of shame, and because of his self-respect Staphysagria is not one who can ogle at women. He therefore suppresses his desire and we get the characteristics: “Dwells on sexual matters”. There is also a prominent tendency to masturbation. To control the anger and the passion – to swallow the ego and hurt – becomes a survival mechanism. This is the situation that can present the maximum problems, for example in the area of sexuality a person intensely concerned with his honour and reputation will be too embarrassed to express his sexuality openly and this aspect will be suppressed, expressed only in his fantasy (“Ailments from embarrassment” and “Sexual-minded”). But even these fantasies can produce intense guilt and fear in a Staphysagria person, guilt that he is indulging in such fantasies and fear that it may be discovered by others. The whole edifice of honour and reputation that he has built up and guarded will collapse. This leads to an intense state of anxiety, a neurotic anxiety with the feeling that somebody is behind him, and so he constantly keeps looking back. The need to keep perfect control, to live far beyond his capacity makes of Staphysagria a syco-syphilitic remedy. The sycotic aspect is manifested in the reserved, almost secretive nature and the constant apprehension that others might find his weakness, which is the losing of self-control. This need for control is sometimes seen in the struggle to give up smoking.
The main characteristic of Staphysagria is extreme sensitivity and reactivity, both emotionally and physically. If you touch the Staphysagria patient at his sensitive point, which is his honour, reputation and self-respect, there will be an immediate intense reaction though it is often suppressed. Kent writes: “A man insulted by someone beneath his station could not react outwardly, went home sick, weak and trembling.” Physically too, Staphysagria is indicated in extremely sensitive conditions like a painful surgical scar or a sensitive tooth. In Phatak’s Repertory it is the only remedy listed in the rubric: “Sensitive, morbidly”. Also there is hardening, to cover up the sensitivity as is shown by a tendency to styes and tumours. This sensitivity could only be found in a plant and not in a metal, salt or animal. In its nature it has the softness of a plant rather than hardness of a mineral or the competitiveness of an animal.
In my experience, I have seen that with Staphysagria there can be two extremes, one which has such suppressed emotions where the person will say: “I last got angry seventeen years ago”, and the one who cannot control – as Phatak says: “Violent outbursts of passion”, “Always angry”. The Staphysagria patients we see in practice lie somewhere between these extremes, and the common theme which links them all are matters of honour and respect, and the internal feeling that they have is of a very high reputation to live up to.
Staphysagria can have many fears: fear of being insulted, of being mortified, fear of being killed; he can be afraid even of his own shadow.I have observed that Staphysagria is very apologetic during the consultation, as if to ward off any rudeness of the physician and to avoid being reprimanded by him. He has anticipation because of sensitivity to hurt. The patients apologize for everything – if they missed their turn in the consultation; or if they have not taken the medicine for a few days and are not feeling better, they usually blame themselves for it. I recall a patient who when entering the consultation room paused and asked if she should leave her slippers at the door. We see here someone who is careful and cautious in finding out what is the norm of the clinic before she does anything, because she does not want a reprimand from me and doesn’t want to be admonished. Behind this sensitivity to being reprimanded and being admonished, one can perceive the expression of a delusion, which is that as long as she is following the rules of the person in authority, she is okay. Her perception of reality is that she is always under somebody whom she has to obey and whom she has to follow.
It is as if Staphysagria has made a contract with the rest of the world regarding just behaviour. The problem is, he has signed it, but the world has not.
The situational Materia Medica of Staphysagria is that of a man who comes from an honourable background, but at present is poor or dependent, or under someone who humiliates him. He cannot openly revolt or show his anger since he feels he would be belittling himself in doing so. It is a situation of being unjustly treated by a person on whom he is dependent, so there is:
- The need for justice.
- Insulted feeling.
- Suppressed anger.
- Occasional violent outbursts of anger.
But it is not like the rage of Lyssinum with its biting and kicking. It is not a situation of being tormented like Lyssinum but just being treated unfairly, mortified, insulted. It is not something active, not taking a stick and poking the ribs. Telling you to get out creates the Staphysagria feeling, whereas taking a stick poking your ribs three times a day creates that of Lyssinum.
Here I recall the situation of Mahatma Gandhi. He was born in a country ruled by the British, who had a contempt for those with dark skin. However, Gandhi showed such nobility and uncompromising dignity that he won the respect not only of his countrymen, being called Mahatma or Great Soul, but also of the very people who oppressed and insulted him. He did this by showing self-control, control on violence and by his rigid persistence with truth and morality.
Harilal, the eldest son of Gandhiji, in my view was in a completely given up state of Staphysagria. He was already born with the Staphysagria state inherited from his father. To add to it he had to live up to a reputation of being the son of Gandhi. He coped well at first, joined the freedom struggle in South Africa and like his father was imprisoned several times. But soon, with the increasing demands on him, both from society and from his father, super-added to an already Staphysagria state, he gave up completely and took to all kinds of bad habits, bringing much dishonour to his family.
I have observed that Staphysagria does not have the attitude of Platinum. He is not outwardly egoistic nor does he put on airs like a king or queen. I have found these persons to be soft, quiet, reserved, often humble-looking, but have strongly felt in their presence the need to treat them with honour and respect. Their sensitivity to being spoken to rudely or to being treated disrespectfully is palpable. This very contrast between their appearance and their sense of honour is the “indication” that I have used time and again to spot the Staphysagria patients, sometimes in the very first minute of an interview.
Besides Staphysagria, the other cancer miasm remedies belonging to the plant kingdom that I know of are Ignatia and Anacardium. Carcinosinum is complementary to Staphysagria but the Carcinosinum situation is caused by being heavily controlled by the person on whom one depends, whereas that of Staphysagria is caused by being insulted by him.
The other remedy complementary to Staphysagria is Sulphur. The Staphysagria state is the one in which the person feels humiliated and insulted. Naturally this state will arise more easily in one who originally had pride and egotism than in one who did not. We know that Staphysagria is often followed by Sulphur. In other words a Sulphur state of egotism predisposes to a Staphysagria state of humiliation.
- Ailments from indignation.
- Ailments from anger, suppressed.
- Ailments from embarrassment.
- Ailments from honour, wounded.
- Ailments from rudeness of others.
- Ailments from scorn.
- Ailments from sexual excess.
- Anger, throws things away.
- Anger, trembling with.
- Anger, violent.
- Fear, high places, of.
- Fear, self-control, of losing.
- Offended easily
- Sensitive, moral impressions, to.
- Sensitive, reprimands, to.
- Convulsions, accused, from being unjustly (Synthetic Repertory, Vol. II).
- Tobacco, remedies to produce disgust for (Synthetic Repertory, Vol. II).
- Voice, lost, from anger.
- Respiration, difficult, anger, from.
- Trembling, from anger.
- Face, red from anger.
- Craves condiments.
- Fear, of financial loss.
- Fear, shadow, of his own.
- Hemiplegia after anger.
- Imagination, of insult.
- Sensitive, to whatothers say about her.
- Sensitive, morbidly.
- Sleep afternoon worsens.
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