Vera Resnick-Weisz, DHom Med (Lic), IHM. Classical Homoeopathy. Local and online homoeopathic treatment available
It’s a popular myth among some – patients and homoeopaths – that what we’re really looking for when you come to us with a cough or cold or backache or diarrhea that we’re looking for a really interesting symptom, something very strange, something highly unusual, and that will instantaneously lead to an a-ha moment to beat all a-ha moments. And then to a remedy which will cure all that ails you, in this incarnation and all others past and future…and quantum…
And sometimes case-taking can look like this:
Me: When do you sneeze most, morning, afternoon, evening?
Patient: Well, it’s very strange, and so interesting –
Me: (silent groan…)
Patient: – I’ve noticed that my sneezing is so much worse when my husband is in the room. We haven’t been getting on well lately – actually, even when I’m on the phone to him, I sneeze.
Me: And are you usually talking to your husband when he’s in the room, or on the phone?
Me: And when you talk to other people, in general, do you find you’re sneezing?
Patient: Hmm, now you come to mention it….
Let me make a point here, a reminder about what homoeopathy is about. We give highly diluted, potentized substances which have been tested for their effects on healthy people. When these substances cause artificial symptoms – such as sneezing – we know that given in the form of a highly dilute potentized remedy, they can cure such symptoms in the sick.
We’re all familiar with substances which in our daily lives will cause artificial symptoms – raw onions, coffee, etc. But substances cause symptom pictures, not just individual symptoms. So the flowering of a particular plant may cause sneezing in paroxysms of three, four, or ten. And some substances cause people to feel worse when they talk, in any of their symptoms or in the specific symptom we’re discussing.
So my patient’s “unusual” symptom is that she feels worse around her husband. On a basic level, I can’t use that symptom to prescribe. There is no homoeopathic remedy which causes sneezing from contact with husbands. This symptom, if that’s what it is, has no connection with the homoeopathic principle of cure by similars.
But there is a symptom here – talking makes the sneezing worse. And there are substances where talking can make specific symptoms worse, or make all symptoms worse. This is a symptom which is unusual – but unusual to a cold, not unusual and strange in and of itself. These are the kinds of symptoms we homoeopaths look for, the symptoms which reflect the individual expression of a common illness in the individual patient. Not everyone will sneeze more while or after they talk. But often people are so used to their own versions of the common illness that they don’t think of volunteering this kind of information. They think everyone has the same experience of a cold, a cough, flu, backaches.
In England, while I was growing up, if anyone ever felt sick, or dizzy, or unwell in a public place, people would always come up offering glasses of water. While the well-meaning kindness of the act can in itself be what some people want, others may get angry. They don’t want to be fussed over, they want to be left alone, and the thought of drinking anything makes them physically sick.
Back to our lady of the sneezes. So she may have sneezing, worse for talking. Perhaps further investigation will bring up that she also sneezes after eating, perhaps after exercise, or going to the loo. To pun on the Bard, there are more sneezing combinations in heaven and earth than have ever been dreamt of in any patient’s philosophy.
But let’s say she has no other modalities. She actually doesn’t have an ongoing cold. Whenever her husband comes into the room she sneezes. She sneezes in bed. She sneezes whenever she’s on the phone with him. And that’s all. She says they haven’t been getting on well lately. When did that start? Three months ago. Did the sneezing start at the same time? Yes.
At this point, the nature of this case has to change. Something happened three months ago, which concerns our fictitious patient’s husband, and their relationship.
As some of you may know, when it looks like an emotional trauma is at the root of a symptom, I look for what has changed in my patient, how the emotional trauma changed them emotionally, what other physical and emotional symptoms began at the same time.
I ask for the central emotion of what happened several months ago. I prefer to ask the question without context. Perhaps her husband told her he’s having an affair. Perhaps he said she’s too fat. Perhaps he asked her to stop inviting a friend of hers who he dislikes. And although as you read this, you may be going through varying emotions on her behalf, anger, indignation, humiliation, sadness – we don’t know how she felt until she tells us. And her feeling may be different, even socially unacceptable, when viewed within context. So without the context, at least initially, I’m more likely to get an accurate response.
Let’s say my patient tells me she’s feeling totally humiliated and has done so for the last few months. Nothing eases it and she can’t shake it off. And she hasn’t been able to talk about it with anyone.
I now have a collection of symptoms which are part of the full picture which has changed:
She feels humiliated and can’t shake it off. And it’s not usual for her.
Talking makes her feel worse. And she usually feels better from talking.
Talking makes her sneeze. Being with her husband makes her sneeze. And that’s not usual for her either.
Do you see how the case can be built in this way? Feeling humiliation isn’t unusual. Feeling worse for talking isn’t unusual. And sneezing certainly isn’t unusual. But when brought together in seeing how this patient has responded to the trauma which occurred in her relationship with her husband, we can see a picture which is this patient’s individual expression of her illness.
And now I can look for a remedy.
What do I expect from a remedy in this kind of case? I certainly expect it to resolve the sneezing, and to resolve the way talking triggers sneezing, and to lessen the way being with her husband triggers it. I also expect it to work towards easing the emotional distress, the humiliation she feels. But I will also recommend that she looks into some form of counseling or talk therapy, as the trauma in her relationship is making inroads on her health.