The Classical Reaction

Published in The Homeopath No. 64 Winter 1997

17th November 1988
Male d.o.b. 20.8.66 Tall, slender, pale, very nervous, sits all coiled up, tense, hands around face. Consulted for ‘nervous knot like permanent butterflies’ around heart, which ‘pounds fast with nausea’ < anticipation.

HO suicide attempt aged 15 ‘to do with being gay’. Very frightened of adults (earliest memory aged 4 is of father throwing him against a wall in temper). Both parents drank and they divorced 14 years ago, but have just recently got remarried. He is the youngest boy with a brother and two elder sisters.

The overdose was a cocktail (about 40 tablets) ‘all downers’, which resulted in a stomach pump and waking up after two days, crying, ‘freaked out’ and ‘me legs didn’t work’. He had lots of injections in hospital (doesn’t know what) and was on a ward for ten weeks. Seeing the state of the other patients ‘shamed’ him into walking again.

‘It felt very strange being 6′ instead of 3′ tall’ and he remembers ‘terrible aches’ in his legs, tight knees, tense muscles, continuous, preventing sleep. He still gets this when ‘highly strung’. He has constant low back pain, sharp ‘like a nerve trapped’ which radiates in a circle from L3/4 to mid thoracic and over both hips. It starts two hours after getting up, lasts the whole day and is < evening, but goes in sleep. It is not > hanging or yoga.

Always top of class in school, he took his O levels in the 4th year, A levels in the 5th (Art and English). He got a CSE English lit grade 1 ‘without taking the exam’. With his brother, he swam competitively from the age of 6 to 13 years; at 10 ‘they mentioned the Olympics’; by 12 he was swimming for England ‘I loved competition, I loved winning’.

He saw a lot of violence in his youth and had a strangling and a knife attack. His brother bullied him mercilessly. Then he rebelled, ‘cannabis, pills, sulphate, cocaine’, ‘I was out of my head all the time, I thought people were beneath me’. Friends pushed him into his first sexual encounter with a boy at 16 years, which left him ‘lacerated’ after anal sex. He had been a ‘goody goody’, and the rebellion and his parents divorce resulted in the suicide attempt. Since then he had trained in child care and had been a full time nanny, regretting that he’d turned down a fine arts course. He was now out of work and staying in all the time, living with his sister and wondering his next step. He has just broken up with his boyfriend.

Physically, he had a normal delivery, was breast fed, had all the vaccinations, all the childhood illnesses (except mumps), plus scarlet fever age 9 and croup aged 7. He had constant R ear infections, and his ear ‘leaked all the time’ (clear fluid < swimming) with constant ache. He still gets this on occasion. As a child he had lots of styes that would burst.

He has always been very chilly > closed, warm rooms. He never sweats. He ‘loves all weather’. He is either a doormouse or has insomnia, he always feels > evenings and < mornings. His head always ‘thumps like a clamp’ with acute ‘thumping headaches’ 2-3 a month. They always affect the temples and always come on at 4pm <<< sudden movement < bright light < tension.

His skin has always formed a welt from any touch, he showed me by lightly drawing the end of a match along his arm – within seconds, a HUGE, raised, red welt had appeared . He used to do this deliberately to get out of games at school, if he scratches and rubs himself with a towel his face will distort ‘I can look like elephant man’. If he jumps too hard, the soles of his feet will swell up. He has no known allergies, but thinks salt may exacerbate his headaches.

Colds go straight to his chest with a itchy, burning throat that makes him gasp for air < cold air, frost, fog but always > lots of ice cold water to drink. ‘I love water – I want to sit on a rock by the sea and stay there forever’. He is very thirsty for ice water, fresh orange juice and fizzy drinks.

He ‘HATES SALT’ as it was given to him in hot water when he took the overdose. He is also ‘paranoid about having a heart problem’. Everything I eat goes straight to my heart’. He ‘HATES FISH’ with phobic reaction and nausea. He ‘Hates’ vinegar, spicy foods, hot food, yoghurt, sweets (though he has lots of sugar in his tea). He ‘craves’ veal and raw steak with green vegetables raw and beans on toast with cheese. He is a finicky eater that happily goes for ‘days’ without food, and forces himself to eat with no appetite, or sudden ‘hunger binges’. HO kidney stones, painful and frequent ‘I could pebble dash a beach’. He has always passed them OK, his urine is OK, frequent and he forgets to go, with a very strong bladder. His bowels are fine.

He remembers being a bright, enthusiastic child, very aware of fear of male violence due to his father and brother. He was ‘quiet but extrovert’ with temper tantrums. He does lose his temper ‘like a bomb’, he throws things and ends up crying. He cries very easily and in front of people, and he is more likely to cry or sulk than lose his temper < reprimand. He is restless and fastidious, his memory is ‘excellent’ and his concentration is ‘excellent’.

He is clairvoyant, having had ‘visitations’ since childhood, ‘from nuns, from an old man who used to visit at night’, he used to sit and talk to them ‘the nun came to me in hospital and sat on my bed and told me it would be OK’. He turns it on and off at will and remembers clearly as a child telling his mother ‘when I was a man I had big black horse and a house’. ‘Michael’ seems to want to be his spirit guide, but ‘I am not really interested, I feel him occasionally linear to my own form, he is not troublesome’. He admits to being a ‘bit freaked’ by the light that surrounds everyone, but he mostly ignores it as ‘its always there’.

He meditates and reads ‘vast quantities – always reading’. He has constant vivid dreams, being shot at, heights, of helping people in a war, stopping a woman jump off a bridge, telling people they will get better, of speaking different languages, of being sucked into a mirror by something evil (just before suicide attempt) when his brother saved him by pulling him out by his arms (his brother did actually save him by making him vomit before the ambulance arrived).

As I was a student under supervision in 1988, I took the case to my home tutor and my college tutor group. Much animated discussion followed. Lachesis, aurum, nat mur, apis and stramonium were discarded in favour of syphillinum 1m.

Prescription syphillinum 1m given 30.11.88

On 3.12.88, he had a violent temper outburst involving head banging car windscreens, tearing up a seat in a cinema, bending iron railings with his hands, he then attacked his best friend, but was luckily held down by five friends. He then came round to my house and smashed in my front door. Oddly enough, I was not frightened of him, I merely told him to go, reminded him there were children present and he ran off in tears. He was a child and not dangerous. I phoned his sister, and twenty minutes later she appeared, hand on hip walking her brother down the street by his ear. He was sobbing and they came in and sat down and in the end, we had to give him the tea towel to mop up his copious flood of tears as he’d used up all the tissues. The crying storm lasted a good hour. ‘I did it because others were enjoying themselves and I felt alien’. I did give him some nux vom 30cs to take home with him!

Within a month of this reaction, this man changed his boy friend, his hair colour and style, his style of dress, his job, his home, his career and his outlook. He moved to the other side of London and took up a professional job. I still get postcards from him now and then, he’s never looked back and he thinks homeopathy is ‘brilliant’. He has never needed another remedy to date.

But I learned a huge lesson from this classical reaction. Awesome power? Whoa! This is a great weapon in our ……. Hang on a minute that’s rather warlike terminology.

I have stepped back from this spot a good deal since 1988. Firstly, to the Organon, where in 270 Hahnemann talks of it as a ‘spirit like’ medicinal power. I have pondered great deal on what aggravations really are, and why spiritual? Healers don’t get them.

I would like to pose a question regarding the unfoldment of the vital force under the influence of a true similimum remedy. My problem is what do we do when the pent up emotional and mental energy is released when the symptoms are removed, and the circumstances of this release. Can we judge the force with which the organism has taken up it’s stance?

Can we really comprehend what has happened to some people or are we too scared to do so because of the implications this has on our own connection to the Sacred, the Profane and the Taboo parts of our nature? Do the symptoms represent a ‘really intelligent position’ taken up by the vital force; a defense posture?

lf the central disturbance results in a certain pattern of symptoms to balance that central disturbance, what happens when we come along with a remedy and affect that balance? Do we simply see amelioration? Classically, this is what we are taught. A “melting” of the central disturbance, a release on every level and a relaxation of the “Mexican stand off” within. The centripetal direction of the Vital Force is encouraged to flow in a centrifugal, healthy expression of energy. So have we simply just removed the organism’s “defense” posture? The stance the Vital Force has taken up in interaction with the world, contaminated and affected by the miasmatic inheritance?

The question I do not feel is being addressed here is the function of the symptoms, because they are serving a function. They are protecting, intelligently, the organism. If we remove/affect these by prescribing a remedy – the central disturbance must surely come up to the surface to be addressed and to be reworked.

Client who presented to me with chronic obstructive airways disease. She explained that it started with arrested breathing from shock upon discovering her murdered daughter four years previously. Her son in law had beheaded his wife in my client’s kitchen. Aconite 200c one dose released the breathing and the whole symptom picture disappeared. Great? No! She antidoted the remedy three weeks later because she couldn’t cope with the rage/anger/confusion/grief that was underneath.

She now has her chronic obstructive airways disease back, an invalidity pension, a chair lift to get her upstairs provided by the social services, and she has made a bargain with her inner emotional state and her symptoms. She is coping with and leading her life as best she can. I lost this client because she couldn’t dig about in her inner emotional state as she couldn’t dea1 with it. Her own struggle with the reconciliation of this issue requires the symptoms to remain!

But what about clients who do want to continue, and is it possible to prescribe in such a way that these emotional states can be released safely and less painfully? Can we not dissipate them, this would be even better? This is what we are led to believe in college and when we go to seminars, the cases are just simply ‘better’ in the follow ups. I have never heard any mention of this problem before, not until I started to prescribe that is!

Client who suffered from a stomach ulcer, psoriasis and post divorce stress. Sepia 30c one split dose acted for ten months with steady amelioration throughout. Then an old infected cyst site under her arm pit discharged great volumes of old green pus, with an acute fever and then her psoriasis covered her from head to foot. Phosphorus 200c one dose, given as an acute, resulted in an initial flare up of her psoriasis and then continued steady amelioration of the whole physical condition.

However, this time it was accompanied by a release of deep childhood upsets and memories and emotional grief and trauma incurred during early adult life. By this time, she has no physical symptoms left at all.

However, imagine my shock when the client summoned me AT ONCE to tirade me with anger and fright about a memory of a totally suppressed rape that she had pushed so far out of consciousness that she had ‘totally forgotten it”. It had taken three days and nights to come up into consciousness, getting her out of bed at night, she sat downstairs in the dark alone, sweating and shaking and drinking tea as the whole sorry memory reformed in her conscious memory.

Her question to me was why? Why couldn’t it stay down and forgotten? Why did I bring it out with the remedy, what was the purpose of digging around in this stuff? Now she had to deal with it and examine all the issues around this awful experience and she hated it, me, the remedy, the process, everything!

Great! All the homeopaths cry, it has to come out, better out than in – the professional jargon falls onto the page! In this case, she was able to deal with it and of course, she is now fine. My first case example refused the ride.

The symptoms the two women were expressing must reflect the central disturbance state in an equal and an opposite reaction to the original disturbance of the central state. The strength with which these symptoms were somatised may give us an insight into the energy with which the central state had taken up it’s stance. The remedy will ameliorate this central disturbance and allow her to adopt another stance.

Is this not the moment that the underlying central disturbance will become exposed; the original reason for the Vital Force adopting this stance in the first place as a “really intelligent reaction” to this experience? An underlying central disturbance that resulted in such a violent and powerful reaction from the Vital Force that one client couldn’t breathe and the other was festering and covered in psoriasis? Limiting as these women’s symptoms were, they were serving a function.

I would like to believe that we will simply see amelioration. This is what Hahnemann wants in the first paragraph of the Organon. This is why Hahnemann was studying LM potencies in the last years of his life, to reduce aggravations (he had then too then!)

However, it seems to me that there will always be these aggravations if we come along and remove people’s defensive postures by affecting their symptom state with an energy medicine. This has very serious implications in cases of deeply buried trauma, and classical prescriptions can be quite cruel in these cases.

The fact is that some clients will have deeply suppressed emotional and mental issues, suppressed for a very good reason – they couldn’t dea1 with them! If we remove defensive postures (commonly known as the symptom picture) then as practitioners, we must be able to deal with the results honestly and appropriately.

The other important point is that we have the clients permission to “cure” their bunions and their mouth ulcers etc., but do we really have their permission to dig around in their inner emotional baggage? Do we make this clear in consultation?

The myth of amelioration without aggravation must be taken apart and looked at afresh. We have to face the fact that if we prescribe on the central disturbance, we are altering their energies. We will have removed a functional stance, altered the central state and opened Pandora’s Box. Like it or not, the client will then have to adopt another stance or face the consequences.

The altered state of the Vital Force (minus bunions, piles or mouth ulcers etc.) is not a static state. It is moving, evolving, interacting. Also it is a container of the sum total of all the impressions and experiences accumulated. Whatever is in will come out, but where is the bottom of the well?

To return to the young man given syphillinum, if he had not been surrounded by friends, he could have easily ended up in the cells with more negative experience and who knows where that would have lead him? If he hadn’t had a courageous sister and a steady reaction from me, it could have still gone bad.

We are responsible when we give a remedy. We can’t sit back, wash our hands and let karma take its path, or simply jump in with both feet either. Heisenberg has proved that by observing something, we alter it. Giving classical prescriptions every time may not be pertinent, it depends on the case. I would re-write Julian Winston’s comment to say ‘history will show that the practice of classical homoeopathy is not pertinent for every client’. It is not honest to criticise homeopaths who have understood this and seek to find gentler, more humane techniques. It is the client that is important, not fixed academic arguments. I wish Hahnemann was here to tell us what to do, but he is not. I, for one went straight off and learnt some ?eclectic?alternative?complimentary? techniques as fast as possible.

Sue Young RSHom
August 1996

Copyright© Sue Young