Homeopathy Book Reviews Materia Medica

Discovering Life: Homeopathic portraits An In-Depth Modern Materia Medica

Dr. Luc De Schepper discusses his new materia medica and provides an extended excerpt of Staphysagria.

This modern Materia Medica, the result of eight years of work, is very different from existing ones. Still based on the old provings, more clarity has been brought into these portraits though depth-psychology, philosophy, and clinical examples, while also addressing the problem of translating the language of the patient into the language of the materia medica and provings. Each portrait tells a vivid story, starting from the Cyber Delusion (or Core Delusion), causalities, and leading to its compensations. Additionally, from the unpublished “Gems and Pearls from Old Masters,” valuable clinically proven tips are added to help the homeopath in his practice.

What is New in This Materia Medica?

What makes this materia medica different from others? Why a new materia medica among the glut of existing ones? One of the most confounding aspects of homeopathy, which I have noticed while teaching throughout the world, is the difficulty that both students and experienced practitioners have in translating the language of the patient into the language of the materia medica. This book addresses that need. This is done partly through sharing observations with creative in-depth applications, avoiding a sterile accumulation of statistical facts that would add nothing to the truths and knowledge of health and disease in the human body. A pure citation of the proving symptoms without in-depth analysis would, likewise, offer too little explanation to apply in the daily practice. In addition to providing practical information that is both accurate and rich in detail, this book also addresses a major issue of the old materia medica: the use of cryptic language which does not always resonate with our present idiom. For instance, in Hering’s Guiding Symptoms, we can read in the provings for the same remedy both “taciturn” and “loquacious”—on the same page. What can the student of homeopathy do with this information? How does one deal with this apparent inconsistency? The addressing of the dominant miasmatic state of the patient when he presents in the clinic leads to ready understanding of such an apparent contradiction; these expressions refer to behaviors that take place in two different miasmatic states (syphilitic and sycotic).

Some modern materia medicas, in their attempts to offer something new, take the road of the esoteric and speculative, disconnecting entirely from the old provings—a mortal sin in clinical homeopathic application. Others simply take on most of the Masters’ cryptic and archaic language without adding anything to it but a few small nuggets from their own clinical findings. The result is that such materia medicas remain, at best, obscure for the modern practitioner; at worst, they may be dangerously misleading. In other words, remedies need to be able to reveal their stories through illumination with additional languages—those of philosophy, psychology, and TCM—while confirming the real provings of the Masters. In such a manner, using accessible vocabulary and describing situations directly applicable in a contemporary clinic, this book tells a fuller, more accurate, and more individual story for each remedy.

This book offers a solution to the difficulties the homeopath encounters in the practice through the application of in-depth, modern psychology and philosophy to the Masters’ proving symptoms. By learning how to translate the patient’s common language into the language of this materia medica, the practitioner will greatly facilitate her work in the clinical setting. This book is the first materia medica to present modern, cohesive stories about remedies: it is as if the patient were present on consult. The rubrics in the Essential Synthesis, as well as Hering’s and T.F. Allen’s proving symptoms, are used as references and put in italics.

I have added live cases from the clinic in some remedy portraits in order to make the descriptions even more accurate and vivid; rubrics corresponding to patients’ statements are added in the text in italics. (Intimate details about these cases are omitted to protect patient privacy.) The connection with the enigmatic language and symbols of dreams is also broached in this materia medica; it provides a homeopath’s introduction to seeing dreams, in an accurate context, for what they are: messengers from the unconscious presenting a view that enlarges, completes, or compensates the conscious attitude. It is beyond the scope of this book to elaborate on dream interpretation (which will be the subject of a future book). But the reader will become aware that dreams are indeed an unconscious reaction to a conscious, individual situation, confirming individuality as a sacred homeopathic principle.

Throughout the portraits, differential diagnoses with common complementary remedies are analyzed, again facilitating the homeopath’s work in the clinic by encouraging an understanding of the fine nuances of remedies in the same rubric. Delusions, rather than possessing obscure meanings, are explained and often grouped in a central theme so that their enigmatic message truly becomes the beginning of the remedy’s story. Initially, in my student years, I buried myself in thousands of the Masters’ papers that were stored in the belly of the medical library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor—the place where Kent once taught homeopathy. I then put the information together for my own use in a manuscript I called Gems and Pearls; this manuscript was available to some of my students, but I never published it officially. These wonderful tips from the practices of the Masters deal mainly with the physical aspects of disease (without neglecting the emotional and the picture as a whole) as homeopathy at that time was (as it still is) far ahead of allopathy when it came to conquering common daily illnesses as well as epidemics of measles, scarlatina, pertussis, typhoid fever, dysentery, malaria, cholera, and others. For the first time, this information is now added and expanded to each portrait to enhance the full picture and to present characteristic, clinically proven physical indications for both acute and chronic conditions of the remedy in question. You will find them under the heading “Golden Tips from the Masters” at the end of each portrait. It must be said, as a reminder, that these clinical tips in no way indicate specific remedies for specific diseases: as always, the totality of the symptoms must be taken into account before prescribing the simillimum. The Golden Tips, though, often serve as a key to unlock the creaky gate to a true treasure.


The Cyber Delusion

Staphysagria’s Cyber delusion is someone walks behind him (Staph, Sil, Anac, Med and Calc). For the remedies belonging in this rubric, “walking behind him” has different meanings and can be negative or positive. Silica needs a stronger positive force in the outside world to boost his confidence and has also the delusion someone walks besides him. Calc-c needs the same protection to boost his immature and fearful ego (he talks about nothing but murder, fire and rats); he needs a family member or friend to hold his hand as he is anxious that people will observe his confusion and to keep him from falling victim to his Cyber delusion, he is about to sink into annihilation. The person behind him is an assurance that he is supported (“I have your back!”) and protected from everything that can happen on the outside; the person behind him gently nudges him forward from his inert, hesitant attitude. Calc-c needs a little push to spring into action as he mulls things over. Medorrhinum, as he projects his own shadow, is suspicious of everyone (as he is the one hiding certain aspects of his life—the sexual one, for instance) and therefore looks constantly over his shoulder to see if anyone wants to harm him, projecting the darkness and evil of his unconscious onto others. For him, the person behind him is always a threat, someone suspect. In Anacardium’s case, it is an oppressive negative force, a controlling and dominating father figure that brings Anac to the brink of dissociation and schizophrenia. For Lachesis, this delusion is a mixed bag. On one hand, it is negative, as he is often overcome by the CD he is about to receive an injury and he is wronged; he is indeed fearful of bodily harm, like Nat-m, but the accompanying person can also be positive: Lachesis can be under the influence of a powerful being, often one who supplies him with nighttime inspiration for his fertile, active mind. A rather negative aspect of this delusion is that Lachesis gives his power away, projecting it onto a mana personality (for Polynesians, a mana personality is he who is full of power and wisdom) who acts as his guru and life force. Giving his power away will always hinder him on his path to individuation; his individuality is stifled when he subjects himself to the judgments of a more enlightened person. Mag-m, suffering from ailments from deceived friendship and anger, is always anxious and hurried as the peacemaker and caretaker with a strong sense of responsibility; her delusion she is friendless and neglected makes this person walking behind her a rather negative influence. Sanicula, a very touchy and low-energy person who cannot bear to be touched and has a great fear of the darkness, constantly looks behind her like Medorrhinum and feels rather threatened by the dark figure that follows.

What does Staphysagria’s CD mean? Is the shadowy figure a benevolent presence or a threatening one? It looks as if there is always a person walking behind Staphysagria, navigating and controlling her slightest movement. She cannot be herself! In other words, she is constantly letting someone else invade her boundaries, submitting her ego to someone else. The latter is also the essence of the Carcinosin victim, and Staphysagria is the number one associated remedy of Carcinosin. In practice, this means that when a patient is stuck in a Staphysagria situation, he is betraying his own soul and on his way to creating cancer in his body; cancer serves as a final warning for him to change the direction in his life. It is interesting that we find Silica and Calc-c also in the rubric someone walks besides him, indicating in their cases the benevolent character of the shadow person. But we don’t see Staphysagria, Medorrhinum, or Anac in this rubric. Staphysagria’s CD reflects a lack of freedom of choice and of decision-making; someone is shadowing her, but not necessarily in a benevolent and protective way. This is confirmed by other delusions that express how she feels about this guidance: delusion she is pursued; she is persecuted; she is unfortunate; she is criticized; of insults; and she will be murdered.

The fixed ideas of being criticized and belittled and of receiving insults indicate the real character of Staphysagria’s relationship with that shadow figure. There is no talk of being under the influence of a powerful being as there is with the mesmerized Lachesis, who actually derives support and inspiration to follow her chosen path from this delusion. Staphysagria feels persecuted, unfortunate, and that she will be murdered—all expressions of her loss of control over her life. What is already being killed, murdered, and obstructed is her personality and individuality, her freedom of choice. In other words, she is totally dominated, leading to much anxiety and even anguish. Staphysagria never achieves authenticity, as authenticity entails honoring one’s own emotional needs and desires. This control is by a person on whom one is dependent on an ongoing condition, not a question of episodes as it is with Lyssin, who intermittently loses support from the one he depends upon. The Staphysagria person has received so many black eyes in her relationships that it has become part of her persona. The abuse prevalent in Staphysagria has created a permanent state of anxiety, worse even after escaping her cruel reality in a short sleep (anguish after a nap), a state that Staphysagria eventually considers normal. It has become part of her luggage, of her personality, expressed by the delusion past anxious thoughts and things are present. Nothing is forgotten! This fixed idea has become part of her identity! The truth is, though, that some unbearable deeds are too painful to acknowledge, too heartbreaking to face. For this reasons, investigating and understanding recurrent dreams can be a wake-up call for the patient. The Staphysagria person often dreams of being driven in a car with someone else at the wheel of the car, a symbol of her life being directed by others and of her not being in control of her own destiny. Dreams only recur when the patient neglects to listen to the message, just as a bill collector comes back for unpaid bills. Hopefully, through intake of homeopathic Staphysagria, her inner voices will begin issuing stentorian commands.

But what happens initially? How does Staphysagria deal with the shadow figure? Staphysagria is almost like a split personality. On one hand, she endures all this cruelty, control, and criticism; on the other hand, her pride forbids her from reacting to the perpetrator directly and immediately. There is a little voice in her saying: “Don’t react; don’t show your anger.” The delusions, as to the greatness of her body; things appear small and humility of others while she is great (a delusion she has in common with Platina, who really is convinced that she does not belong to this world) tell us that Staphysagria does not want to stoop to the level of the perpetrator. She is above all this, and the little voice in her reminds her that she is a much better person than her antagonist. She chooses the mighty high road, but is this beneficial for her? Only her story will tell! What can be foreseen is that a continuous barrage of insults chips away piece by piece at Staphysagria’s exterior armor.

One of the least known aspects of Staphysagria is haughtiness. The idea that Staph shares the delusion humility of others while she is great with a character like Platina may raise some eyebrows—but, as usual, things are not as they might appear on the surface. This fixed idea must lead to different compensations and probably has an altogether different meaning and causality for each of the two personalities. The roads of these two remedies may share a starting point, but they diverge quickly when Platina and Staphysagria are compared. The delusion humility of others while he is great is a problem of perception for these two as they are both sensation types. They both have this delusion of grandeur and can be haughty, yet the interior distortion behind the delusion could not be more different!

Platina covers her feelings of isolation with a true superiority complex, and the delusion of grandeur comes from a basic belief that she has no equal: delusion, being noble, he is a great person, as if exalted. She can find no one who is her sexual or spiritual equal, and has the delusion, she is alone in the world; delusion, is deserted; and she has no place in the world. Her Achilles heel is her egotism, and the compensation for Platina is that she has developed a very inflated view of herself, leading to the delusion people seem mentally and physically inferior; a delusion, as to greatness of her body; while everything in the room is diminished, while she is tall and elevated; Platina feels enlarged, is very tall; her head is enlarged; is swollen; things appear small, he himself seems too large and on entering the house after walking; everything seems too narrow. These delusions are the mental equivalent of a loss of sense of proportion in ocular vision. In her mental vision, objects seem small, and this makes Platina look down on everyone with pride. She lives to gratify herself as if only she mattered, as if only she were in the world. Her world is truly small, as she seeks to satisfy her passions with no concern for others. The irony in considering herself to have spiritual superiority is that her greed is largely for temporal things: delusion, of wealth. Hers is an egoistic hedonism compounded by narcissism. She can be pompous; feels important, and squanders money; she is a boaster; braggart and ultimately discontented with everything. And so, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Platina ends up alone in the world. She becomes depressed and tires of the world. As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. So it is for this ice witch whose goal is self-glory. This is quite different from Staphysagria’s story as shown before!



Indignation and Lost Honor

There are many ailments from (A/F) for Staphysagria; however, though many are black type, they are not equally weighted. The primary NWS is ailments from indignation on every level: emotional, mental, and physical; it is for this reason that Staph is known as the rape remedy. A rape can occur on any of these levels and be perpetrated by different people: at home, at work, in different relationships, and even during recreation—we are all familiar with obnoxious coaches! Though being berated at work or benched at a game doesn’t seem life-threatening at first glance, it must be considered that one’s identity is very closely tied to those groups; strong criticism threatens one’s sense of membership as does the fear of exclusion, abandonment, and ostracism. Criticism makes a person feel attacked and unloved, and can be so damaging to a person’s sense of self that it has an effect similar to abuse. One common manifestation of indignation and rudeness, especially in the workplace, is the behavior of the bully boss. Such a boss misuses power and humiliates people in front of others. She can be verbally abusive and overly controlling as she micromanages. He quarrels with his victim and, as he does so, contemptuously and unfairly lobs criticism at his subordinate. At home, a spouse may belittle his mate in front of others—and then insist it is all in good fun, though the victim is seething with rage, heartbreak and mortification. A variant of indignation and hostility is passive aggression, which is demonstrated in such behaviors as dragging one’s heels on a project, remaining silent for a whole day as if the other person is a ghost, failing to respond to a meaningful request, or failing to disclose useful and necessary information to a colleague. As can be seen, instances of rape are more common on the mental/emotional levels than on the physical level, the one most often associated with this hideous crime. There is even the unjust loss of position (meaning losing one’s job to suit the financial interests of the stockholders and CEO of the company, common in today’s corporate environment), which can be considered an ailment from indignation that turns Staphysagria into an individual who cannot support injustice, into a remedy picture of Causticum, bent on vengeance to even the score.

About the author

Luc De Schepper

Luc De Schepper

Luc De Schepper, M.D., Ph.D., Lic.Ac., C.Hom., is a licensed physician and acupuncturist in Europe (since 1971) and the US. (since 1982). He studied and practiced homeopathy extensively for many years, wrote 15 textbooks of homeopathy, alternative medicine and acupuncture and has the largest school of homeopathy in the US. He spends part of his time helping the poor in South Africa, Kenya and Sri Lanka and teaches all around the world, lately bringing homeopathy to China. For more information visit www.drluc.com


  • Great book for homeopathic practitioners and students. Luc De Schepper presents clear images of different remedies, taking the reader to the essence of it. He describes how the language of the patient has to be translated into repertorium rubrics. On his path to the core of the remedy, he sticks to the information found in classical provings, no nonsense about dream provings or intuitive provings…
    A must-have for all dedicated homeopaths!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *