Hyoscyamus (Hyoscyamus) is a very interesting and intriguing remedy, which has many subtle presentations beyond the caricatures often described in books. It’s a remedy with some common mental and emotional themes running through all its various expressions. Along with the clearly provocative characteristics of Hyoscyamus, we want to perceive its indications in less obvious situations, where the person has learned to compensate the expression of their state.
One description which fits Hyoscyamus is ‘any attention is better than no attention’. Attention-seeking behavior through verbal or sexual provocation is a well-known feature of this remedy, and behaviors can be quite dramatic (lewdness, shameless, wanting to be naked, singing obsene songs, etc.). But these tendencies are extreme examples of the Hyoscyamus state, and such clear indications are not often seen in practice. From a deeper perspective, what would predispose someone to behave in this manner, and how might the expression of that state be less apparent?
One common etiology of the Hyoscyamus state is emotional neglect in childhood (delusion, deserted, forsaken). This stress leads to adaptation in the will to have one’s emotional needs met. The Hyoscyamus person can gain attention by shocking, annoying or provocative speech and behavior (inciting others, mocking, mania to ridicule, disposition to contradict, desire to fight). Hyoscyamus individuals may tell risque jokes or act like ‘clowns’ (jesting), and although not listed in the books, some Hyoscyamus individuals describe an attraction to, dislike or fear of clowns. The desire for attention leads some to behave like chameleons when in company, but these multiple personas undermine a truer sense of self-identity, as the desire for attention distracts them (and those in their company!). The sense of self-esteem or self-worth is often very low, and Hyoscyamus individuals may feel a strong sense of guilt (anxiety of conscience, delusion that he is a criminal, self-reproach).
Along with the Hyoscyamus stresses of emotional abandonment or neglect, the desertion may have been complicated by sexual abuse. This abuse leads to many conflicts later in life–an abuser may offer some ‘attention’, but not the emotional support they truly need. Fundamentally, their trust has been betrayed, and sensitivity to betrayal is a key theme underlying many behaviors in Hyoscyamus. In those situations where that trust was not learned, Hyoscyamus can also experience problems in gaining trust from others (reveals secrets, gossiping, meddlesome, indiscretion).
Hyoscyamus individuals can be understandably suspicious of other’s motives, but can also be jealous if they feel the little attention they receive is being threatened. A sense of this threat can be seen in the rubric ‘jealousy between children, when a new sibling takes the family attention away.’ Hyoscyamus can ‘act out’ if they feel such a threat, and be manipulative in their desire to gain others’ attention. Some adults describe themselves as ‘drama queens’, consciously or unconsciously creating drama in their lives so others will not ‘neglect’ them. Unfortunately for the Hyoscyamus individual, such behaviors can be self-defeating, as people tire of reacting to such needs. Many Hyoscyamus individuals describe anxieties related to situations of being deserted or abandoned by lovers, friends, etc. (ailments from disappointed love).
The opposite pole in Hyoscyamus could be described as ‘it’s better to have no attention than to have someone look too closely’. This tendency appears to stem from the challenges Hyoscyamus individuals experience with intimacy, and relating to people in a trusting manner. They can experience great difficulties learning to be vulnerable in a relationship. The Hyoscyamus adult has not been taught to trust, or if they did trust in the past, the trust was broken. So to have someone really ‘see’ them, with all their fears and defenses exposed, can be very threatening. They may expend a great effort to maintain defenses against this possibility (deceitful, sly).
Vermeulen describes the Hyoscyamus ‘fear of exposure’ with feelings of shame and strong aversion to undressing, or aversion to men because “all they want is sex”. Sankaran also conveys this fear by describing a woman who couldn’t face anyone if she was dressed informally (embarrassment, reserved, bashful timidity). There are often times where both ‘poles’ of Hyoscyamus are seen alternating in the same person. One Hyoscyamus client complained her breasts were too small and no one paid her any attention; then she described a past eating disorder to stay small-chested so men wouldn’t ‘stare and whistle’.
Hyoscyamus can become paranoid about others looking at them (fear of people, delusion – watched, desire to hide, agoraphobia), and what others’ motives truly are. When one feels no trust in relating to others, it may seem others are ‘out to get them’. This helps to explain the rubrics: fear of betrayal, fear of being sold, fear/delusion of being persecuted, fear/delusion of being injured, fear of being poisoned and fear to drink what is offered. Other common fears of Hyoscyamus include water, dogs and dark and alone.
In spite of all the above, many well-adjusted Hyoscyamus individuals have a great deal of insight into their challenges–it’s just that they may not know how to get beyond them! Hyoscyamus characteristics can be found in such positive rubrics as precocity, intellectual, introspection, inquisitive, and clairvoyance. Hyoscyamus may be compared to pulsatilla (complementary–Hyoscyamus demonstrates a more extreme need for attention), magnesiums (fears of abandoment), lachesis and other animal remedies (loquacity, themes of attractiveness), veratrum (themes of persecution), thuja (chameleon personality, reproaches oneself) and belladonna and stramonium (other members of the solanaceae family). The reader may read the proving and examine other rubrics for Hyoscyamus in order to fill out the above description.
In summary (with apologies to Shakespeare!), the Hyoscyamus state can be respectfully characterized as: ‘To be exposed or not to be exposed, that is the question.’